Steve Forbes

Steve Forbes: Trump deregulation boosting our economy – Here’s one example

Two big things have been propelling the U.S. economy forward in impressive fashion: the 2017 Trump tax cuts and the president’s relentless drive to reduce unnecessary regulations, which are another form of taxation. One example of the president delivering his deregulation promise came in late May when the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Railroad Administration abandoned a costly regulatory proposal issued by President Barack Obama. The measure would have forced private freight railroad carriers to continue operating with two people in a locomotive cab. This proposed Obama, anti-business mandate was always wrongheaded, and its revocation carries important lessons for how best to regulate. It is also a positive development for the sake of a U.S. economy, whose strength is increasingly connected to the efficient movement of goods. E-commerce will only continue to grow as businesses fiercely compete, and America needs a multimodal transportation system to support this. Despite years of analysis, the federal government did not have data to show that two-person railroad crews – the standard operating model currently for big freight carriers like BNSF or CSX – are any safer than one-person crews used by many smaller freight carriers, like Indiana Railroad, or almost all passenger railroad systems throughout the U.S. The Obama proposal was not a serious attempt at promoting safety. Rather it was featherbedding pure and simple at the behest of unions. Ditching the proposal underscores the fact that regulators should embrace outcomes – such as reducing rail accidents – instead of prescriptions when writing rules. Rather than bow to narrow labor interests, regulators would be better served stating the goals and letting industries figure out the best ways to achieve them. This would encourage innovation and avoid the constant problems of regulators always being behind the curve when it comes to newer and better practices. The Trump Transportation Department deserves immense credit for turning rhetoric into action. A nanny-ish, we-know-best mentality on a decision better left to the private market is simply unneeded as railroads continue to set all-time safety records – a result of private investments averaging $25 billion in recent years. Indeed, as the American Action Forum outlined, “regulators should not impose specific and costly mandates when lacking evidence they will solve a problem. Regulators should also be mindful of the implications today’s regulatory decisions will have on future innovation, particularly when evidence suggests those innovations could improve safety.” Consumers should welcome this news too, as railroads now have a greater incentive to develop technology that will allow them to better compete for freight business. After all, truckers are feverishly working to reduce labor costs by employing autonomous technologies, and drones don’t need pilots to fly them. Instead, with action from the Transportation Department, trucks and railroads, along with the rest of the freight market, can let the market decide what works best. This is deregulation done right. Ironically, excessive government regulation came close to destroying the rail system; deregulation in the early 1980s saved it. Modernizing operations in the future – free from senseless dictates – will be critical for future U.S. economic growth.

Agreed 100!!   Thanks to Steve Forbes for that outstanding op/ed. Steve is Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media. His latest book, “Reviving America: How Repealing Obamacare, Replacing the Tax Code, and Reforming the Fed will Restore Hope and Prosperity”.  Excellent!!     🙂

Steve Forbes: US can beat China in 5G without becoming like China

China’s aggressive push to dominate 5G wireless technology has given rise to calls for the U.S. government to take over the development of a national 5G network. In fact, there is no reason to panic. American companies are rising to the 5G challenge. Socialism and crony capitalism will only undermine U.S. progress in the race to 5G. The success of tech companies like Apple and Microsoft is emblematic of what American innovation and its competitive spirit can accomplish. The companies that have changed the world and kept America at the cutting edge have rarely if ever been the spawn of government. When politicians in Washington team up with special interests, it generally distorts competition and impedes groundbreaking innovation. Fifth generation, or 5G, wireless technology is of cosmic importance and is one of the most significant high-tech breakthroughs ever. It is elemental to what some see as the Fourth Industrial Revolution – not merely upgrading current technology, but enabling a revolution with new technology. The speed and processing power of 5G wireless technology will turn the futuristic visions of smart cities, smart agriculture, telemedicine, autonomous vehicles, and so much more into reality. Within the coming decade, businesses small and large will essentially have to have 5G access to compete and succeed. With the stakes so high, President Trump is hearing calls from aides and outside interests to push for more government control in building out our 5G network. Some Trump administration officials are counseling that beating China to the punch in 5G leadership is so crucial that the federal government should build a nationwide wholesale 5G network. In essence, they are saying that in order to beat China we have to become like China. This myopic and misbegotten advice ignores a rather crucial fact: Private sector wireless providers are already investing in and creating the national 5G network. America’s pre-eminent high-tech network construction leaders, Verizon and AT&T, already have 5G projects underway across the country. U.S. wireless providers, who won the race to 4G without government assistance, ask only that they be allowed to invest and innovate under free-market policies that minimize regulatory red tape and expense. Bringing politicians and bureaucrats into the mix is a surefire way to gum up the process of deploying 5G. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai agrees. He said: “The main lesson to draw from the wireless sector’s development over the past three decades – including American leadership in 4G – is that the market, not government, is best positioned to drive innovation and investment. Any federal effort to construct a nationalized 5G network would be a costly and counterproductive distraction from the policies we need to help the United States win the 5G future.” Advocates of government keeping a huge portion of the spectrum to itself to jumpstart construction of a national 5G network naively believe this would be a limited, light-handed intervention. Their terrible proposal ignores reality. One of the scientific properties of a gas is that it expands to fill the space it’s in; government is not much different. People calling for a national wholesale network may like to believe it will be neutral and immune to interference. But once we start down that road, who knows where we’ll end up? It’s completely possible that at some point in the future, as political tides shift, we could see the government controlling the 5G network, followed by control of messages on that network. In private hands the 5G network is a liberating force. In government hands it would look more like George Orwell’s Big Brother. In the quest for 5G, government at all levels should not supplant but instead should empower the private sector. The FCC has already rewritten some regulations to begin streamlining and standardizing the permitting rules for 5G infrastructure. The FCC should continue to step up the pace for transferring commercially useful spectrum to the private sector to use to develop 5G and even stipulate it be used for that purpose. Some state legislatures and municipal governments have rid themselves of antiquated regulations that stand in the way of small cell antenna placement and taken other steps forward in the 5G process. Preventing greedy local politicians from holding 5G hostage will ensure that we have the universal network deployment necessary to make 5G work for all U.S. families, employers and public institutions. If the Trump administration is serious about winning the global race to 5G and staying ahead of China it will ignore calls for a government takeover or a nationalized 5G network and continue to support policies that allow private sector investment to lead the way. The faster the administration gives American companies the tools, the faster they will finish the job. Have faith in free markets!

Agreed!!!  And well said, Steve!!  Steve Forbes is Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media. His latest book, “Reviving America: How Repealing Obamacare, Replacing the Tax Code, and Reforming the Fed will Restore Hope and Prosperity”.   🙂

Steve Forbes: Lefty mayors’ frivolous climate change lawsuits need to stop

Who or what is actually responsible for “global warming” and how should the individuals, businesses or industry sectors be held accountable? If you listen to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the California mayors of San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond and others, the entire blame rests exclusively with our oil and natural gas industry. Conveniently, these money-hungry mayors and their equally greedy trial lawyers accuse only the largest, most profitable oil and natural gas companies of wrongdoing. Their municipal lawsuits allege that global warming is a local, “public nuisance” issue and the sole perpetrators of our planet’s “warming” are no farther away than the local refinery or natural gas plant. Sound unfair? Add this insane reasoning to the fact that dozens of other industrialized nations are apparently blameless for any of the planet’s climate-related woes. Operators of airlines, asphalt factories, cement plants, auto dealerships and heavy machinery in New York or California are likewise off the hook for any climate change-related issues. These lefty mayors suggest that because the earth’s climate is changing, they might incur expenses years down the road for possible sea level rise, storms, etc., so they want our oil and natural gas producers to pay hundreds of billions in undefined damages. A U.S. district judge in California scheduled a hearing to listen to both sides of the debate in a “tutorial” on climate change. While the energy industry presented logical facts, trial lawyers representing these liberal metropolises offered a tried-and-failed retread of legal claptrap. Importantly, the judge dismissed the notion of a conspiracy by energy companies to suppress global warming science. Referring to one of the documents he reviewed, the judge said, “I read that paragraph 67 the same way; that there was a conspiratorial document within the defendants about how they knew good and well that global warming was right around the corner. And I said: ‘Okay. That’s going to be a big thing. I want to see it.’ Well, it turned out it wasn’t quite that.” A few years ago, several liberal state attorneys general attempted to sue Exxon for alleged damages associated with climate change, attracting fawning praise from the liberal press. But headlines often fall short of actual facts in court and in every claim, the state AG’s quietly retreated from their cases or let them fall inactive. In 2011, six Midwest power companies faced the same legal nonsense. The cases were tossed by the U.S Supreme Court. Liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion in the 8-to-0 decision which ruled that American corporations cannot be sued under local “nuisance” ordinances regarding greenhouse gas emissions as the climate change issue falls under the jurisdiction of Congress and the EPA, which, according to Ginsburg, are “better equipped to do the job than individual district judges issuing ad hoc, case-by-case decisions.” Ginsburg warned that turning the jurisdiction of climate change over to local courts would create a quagmire of dissenting legal opinions across the country and allow an individual district judge to become a “super EPA.” The truth is America should embrace its energy industry and halt these unfounded efforts to sabotage our vital energy sector. The surge of American shale oil and natural gas production has fundamentally improved the U.S. economy and led the way in lowering CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases. In 2005, after the nation’s shale drilling revolution began, C02 emissions began to fall. U.S. energy-related carbon emissions fell 14 percent below the 2005 level in 2016, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). It wasn’t due to renewable fuels that still represent less than 5 percent of our national energy grid. Our nation’s drop in C02 emissions came as our manufacturing and energy sectors began a decisive shift toward natural gas. The market’s move to relatively clean-burning natural gas has been so profound that even if Barack Obama had never decreed the Clean Power Plan, the United States would have already met the CPP’s carbon dioxide reduction target for 2025, according to a recent Carnegie Mellon University report. Our U.S. oil and gas industry has invested $90 billion on emission control technologies between 2000 to 2014, according to a report by T2 and Associates. Just between 2013 and 2014 alone, the industry directly reduced emissions by the equivalent of 55.5 million metric tons of CO2 – equal to taking 11.8 million cars off of the road. Methane emissions from venting and flaring associated with onshore petroleum production declined 40 percent just between 2015 and 2016, according to a new EPA report. The five biggest energy companies — Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Chevron Corp., BP Plc and Total SA — collectively curbed combined emissions an average of 13 percent between 2010 and 2015, according to a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. These city officials should face securities fraud charges because they’ve been caught telling bond investors how any risks associated with climate change in their cities are hardly measurable, while in court they argue how the sky is falling. Sadly, this matter will likely have to go back to the Supreme Court after the left leaning 9th Circuit Court of Appeals surprised no one by allowing these state-by-state cases to advance. In the meantime, our energy producers will have to fend off more groundless charges as they work to provide affordable, reliable energy for us all.

No kidding!!  It’s beyond ridiculous!!  Thanks to Steve Forbes for sharing his common sense with us.