**Written by Doug Powers
CNN anchor Jake Tapper asked Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook on Sunday to answer why an IT worker who maintained Clinton’s private email server referred to a 60-day email-retention policy as a “Clinton cover-up operation.”
In an interview on “State of the Union,” Tapper asked why an employee of Platte River, which hosted Clinton’s private email server, referred to the policy of deleting emails during the time after Clinton was out of office as a “cover-up operation,” a comment the IT worker told the FBI was a joke.
As Bill would say, “it depends on what your definition of “joke” is.
Mook lived up to his name after being asked about it:
“Jake, I’m so glad you asked that question I’m not going to answer.”
And of course James Comey probably gave everybody on Clinton’s side the benefit of the doubt that it was just a “joke,” as was Comey’s conclusion of the investigation.
**Written by Doug Powers
**Written by Doug Powers
The debate open thread is reaching the “fill to here” line with comments, so another area for post-debate forensics is in order.
The evening got off to a friendly enough start:
As for the debate itself, there were three different times I laughed out loud, all courtesy of Hillary Clinton. First up:
She wondered whether Trump isn’t as rich as he says, does not contribute as much to charity as he says, or possibly owes money to Wall Street and foreign banks.
“It must be something really important, even terrible that he’s trying to hide,” said Clinton.
The stillness of the Chappaqua evening air is to this day occasionally interrupted by the eerie echo of hammer-on-Blackberry, so that’s some kind of accusation coming from Queen BleachBit.
Clinton also said that as president she’d call for a special prosecutor and hold people accountable. No, seriously:
And because I hold the same standards as I look at all of these trade deals. But let’s not assume that trade is the only challenge we have in the economy. I think it is a part of it and I’ve said what I’m going to do. I’m going to have a special prosecutor. We’re going to enforce the trade deals we have and we’re going to hold people accountable.
In other words, there’s no way Hillary Clinton is going to tolerate somebody like Hillary Clinton working in her administration!
Hillary jaw-dropper number three: She seemed to think that saying all cops are racist would be painting with too broad a brush, but she found a way around that:
Clinton made clear her willingness to take the baton from Obama and continue to lead America down the path of racial healing:
When talking about race-relations in the country, and the shootings of black men by police officers, debate moderator Lester Holt asked Mrs. Clinton: “Last week you said that we have to do everything possible to improve policing to go right at implicit bias. Do you believe police are implicitly biased against black people?
Mrs. Clinton replied: “I think implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police. I think unfortunately too many of us in our great country jump to conclusions about each other and therefore I think we need all of us to be asked the hard questions ‘why am I feeling this way?’”
At the next debate Clinton will detail her plan to eliminate the unemployment problem by having the government hire and train millions of people to work as Implicit Bias Training Facilitators to head up classes that will be mandatory for everybody who can’t or won’t pony up a donation to the Foundation.
As for Trump, I cringed a little when he agreed with Clinton that people on “terrorist watch lists” should be denied the right to own guns. He should have, A) Exposed the fallacy by pointing out that none of the recent attacks have been perpetrated by anybody on a watch list so it wouldn’t have made any difference; B) Reminded Clinton that recent attacks have been with bombs and knives; C) Pointed out the arbitrary and flawed nature of government “lists” and D) Reminded her that the man who put an end to the St. Cloud attack and saved lives is an NRA-certified firearms instructor who owns a shooting range.
At the next debate, Trump also needs to expand in a more effective fashion when Hillary calls her email games a “mistake” — hey, what high-level government official hasn’t “accidentally” put an email server in his or her basement to skirt the Federal Records Act? And they never even touched on Benghazi or Hillary’s “pay to play” schemes, but that’s partly the fault of a moderator who was unwilling to take the conversation in that direction.
**Written by Doug Powers
Steve H. Hanke
Productivity and economic growth continue to surprise on the downside in most countries. While there is a great deal of handwringing over the so-called productivity puzzle, little attention is given to the real elixir: freer markets and more competition. Indeed, the policy tide is moving in the opposite direction in most places.
With an appeal to the facts, the productivity puzzle is easy to solve. Just slash regulations by mimicking best practices.
To get a grip on the productivity puzzle, let’s lift a page from the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who once said, “You’re entitled to your own opinions, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.” Yes. There is nothing better than a hard look at empirical evidence to see if it supports those who espouse freer markets or those who embrace the regulatory state as models to enhance our prosperity and health.
The World Bank has been rigorously measuring the ease of doing business (DB) in many countries for over ten years, producing a treasure trove of empirical evidence. The Bank publishes its results identifying levels of economic freedom (read: regulatory freedom) each year in a volume entitled Doing Business. Ten sets of indicators that capture important dimensions of an economy’s regulatory environment are quantified. The accompanying table defines each of the ten quantitative indicators. These are each measured by using standardized procedures that ensure comparability and replicability across the 189 countries studied. For each indicator, the scores range from a potential low of ‘0’ to a high of ‘100’.
Using the DB scores, we can determine whether there is a relationship between a freer regulatory environment (a high DB score) and prosperity as measured by GDP per capita. The accompanying chart shows that there is a strong, positive relationship between DB scores and prosperity. For example, the United States’ DB score is 82.15 and its GDP per capita is $55,836, while Indonesia’s DB score is only 58.12 and its GDP per capita is $3,346. All the remaining 187 countries are plotted on the chart. There are only four countries that are “outliers”, with outsized GDP per capita relative to their DB scores: Qatar, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Norway.
In addition to the strong, positive relationship between regulatory freedom (ease of doing business) and prosperity (GDP per capita), deregulation yields increasing returns. That is, each increment increase in the DB score yield larger and larger gains in GDP per capita. With each improvement in the DB score, there is a more-than-proportionate improvement in prosperity. This explains why post-communist countries that embraced Big Bang economic liberalizations, like Poland, have done so much better than the gradualists. The Big Bangers literally got more for their buck.
Economic prosperity is, quite literally, a matter of life and death. The relation between income growth and life expectancy is, of course, complex. Economic prosperity affects life expectancy through many channels: higher individual and national incomes produce favorable effects on nutrition, on standards of housing and sanitation, and on health and education expenditures. While it is true that reductions in mortality have sometimes been the result of “technological” factors, in the larger sense, it is clear that sustained economic growth is a precondition for the kinds of investments and innovations that, over time, significantly reduce mortality. The evidence on this point is abundant and unequivocal.
So, knowing that a freer regulatory environment is associated with higher levels of GDP per capita, we should observe that a freer regulatory environment (a higher DB score) is associated with higher life expectancies. Sure enough, it is. The accompanying chart shows a strong and positive relationship between DB scores and life expectancy — albeit one characterized by diminishing returns (given additional increments in DB scores yield smaller and smaller gains in life expectancy.)
Many of the 189 countries reviewed in the Doing Business 2016 report are far away from adopting “best practice” policies when it comes to the regulatory frameworks they impose on businesses. In consequence, prosperity and health are inferior to what they could be. Just how can that be changed? The easiest way is the simplest: just mimic what is done where “best practice” policies prevail. This is an old, tried-and-true technique that is used in industry, particularly when competitive markets prevail. Just copy what the “good guys” do. If you do so, you will become productive and competitive. These lessons about the diffusion of “best practice” and how it improves productivity are documented in great detail in a most insightful book by William W. Lewis: The Power of Productivity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004. The same strategy can be used by governments to slash regulations.
For example, until 2009, those seeking to import and sell pharmaceuticals in the Republic of Georgia faced the same regulatory review process as one would if the drugs were produced domestically. Applicants would pay a registration fee and file a two-part form with the Departmental Registry of State Regulation of Medical Activities at the Ministry of Labor, Health, and Social Protection. The subsequent review involved both expense and delay, with a fair amount of back-and forth between applicant and bureaucracy as technical examinations led to agency demands for corrections. This process was not intended to exceed about six months, but often took far longer. In addition, the government required all importers to obtain trade licenses from foreign manufacturers, adding to their costs.
In October 2009, however, the Georgian government did something remarkable. Recognizing that its regulatory machinery was, in fact, unnecessarily duplicating that in many developed countries, it adopted a new “approval regime.” It compiled a list of foreign authorities with good regulatory track records (including, for example, the European Medicines Agency and drug administrations in the United States, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand), and pharmaceuticals that were approved for sale by those entities could henceforth gain automatic approval for sale in Georgia. In addition, the registration fee was slashed 80 percent for brand name drugs and packaging regulations were greatly simplified under a new “reporting regime.”
This regulatory outsourcing compressed the time and greatly reduced the expense required to compete in the Georgian pharmaceutical market. The hope was that this would put significant downward pressure on prices and improve access to drug therapies in the domestic market. It did so very quickly. (These results are documented in Steve H. Hanke, Stephen J.K. Walters, and Alexander B. Rose. “How to Make Medicine Safe and Cheap.” Regulation, Fall 2014.)
To grasp the huge potential for increasing productivity, prosperity, and health, let’s look at Indonesia. The accompanying table shows Indonesia’s DB score for each of the ten indicators. Each is compared to the score of the country with the best DB score in that indicator. For example, Indonesia has a deplorable score on enforcing contracts. Indeed, the gap between Indonesia and Singapore, which scores the best on that indicator in the 189 countries studied, is huge. So, the potential improvement for Indonesia by adopting the best practice for enforcing contracts is enormous.
Just what overall improvements in Indonesia’s regulatory regime would do for prosperity is displayed in the last table relating incremental DB score improvement to GDP per capita. Indonesia’s current score is 58 and its GDP per capita is $3,346. So, if Indonesia attempts to slash its regulations and move closer to best practice — let’s say it improved its DB score by 10 points, yielding a score of 68 (the same as Greece and Serbia) — Indonesia’s GDP per capita would be expected to jump by $4,999, or 2.5 times.
With an appeal to the facts, the productivity puzzle is easy to solve. Just slash regulations by mimicking observed best practices.Steve H. Hanke is a professor of Applied Economics at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C.