Health care costs in the U.S. have been rising so steadily for so long that containment barely seems possible. Even optimists don’t dream of cutting the price tag. As its official name — the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — suggests, Obamacare aims for affordability, not radical reduction.But at a time when we’re all […]
When you type a website address into a browser, you might have noticed that the letters “http” appear at the front. “HTTP” stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. In typing a Web address, you are actually sending an HTTP command to transmit that website to you. Hypertext Transfer Protocol is the means by which information is […]
Picture the scene. It’s 2020. You’re at the checkout in a convenience store with a carton of milk. But you’ve got no cash and you’ve left your cards at home. No problem. You scan your right index finger; the green light flashes. Purchase approved and you leave. Easy.Is this a realistic vision of the future, […]
After a week of reckoning about the American oil and gas boom… I’ve got to get something off my chest.I can’t stand it when a coworker takes credit for something I did.Whether it’s a special report I wrote or just a little investing trick I found on my own — if someone takes it and […]
Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously used the term “forgotten man” in a 1932 speech to describe those at the bottom of the economic pyramid who, he felt, government should aid.But the originator of the phrase “forgotten man” had a whole different meaning in mind. He aimed to expose the seeming good intentions of government to reveal […]
I want to share some insight and give you a front-row seat to America’s next big shale play.Let’s get to it…Over the past 10 years, the U.S. has turned the ship around, quite literally.We’ve gone from a country that was expecting to import massive amounts of oil and gas — to a country that’s sitting […]
Whatever your views on the role of government, one thing is clear: There will be no way to pay for it if the economy doesn’t grow. And I’m not talking by a measly percentage point or two. If we can’t find our way back to 5% annual economic growth or above soon, America’s accumulated federal […]
What if I told you that the march of human progress could be traced in a direct line from the Epicureans of Ancient Greece… through the 18th Century’s cure for smallpox… to where Steve Jobs and Bill Gates found inspiration as scrappy teenagers… to the flying car of tomorrow?Stay with me and I’ll show you […]
Real progress happens through real people, ideas, and innovations. Not by legislation argued and debated in Congress. Right now, one of the most influential technologies is changing the way people do business. And reinventing the future in the process.
Innovation can change the world… if the world lets it. Unfortunately, society’s gatekeepers make it a point to constrain, regulate, and control these ideas. But their power is limited, and the power of innovation is too great. Unfortunately for regulators, there are some technologies they can’t control.
What’s the #1 reason a start-up fails?It runs out of money!And why would it run out of money?Because nobody wants the product it’s selling!For early-stage investors, this presents a bit of a conundrum:If a product doesn’t exist yet, how do you figure out if there’s demand for it?And how do you figure it out before […]
A cushy job in Hawaii that pays six figures. A beautiful girlfriend/boyfriend. Job security and professional experience that gives you plenty of future opportunities. Would you throw that all away to do what you think is right? Last year, one government contractor did just that. And now you see the world the government tried to hide from you.
Every time Bitcoin crashes, it winds up at a price greater than it’s previous high. Yet the experts still call it a currency fad that will fade away. But a little over a year since it really took up, the digital currency is still going strong, and is once again seeing its price rise. But is there another reason why people are buying Bitcoins.
According to some estimates, one man - whose name you're probably not familiar with - has saved over a billion lives. Who is he? And how has he influenced the current crop of innovators? Josh Grasmick explains...
Edward Snowden’s one year visa in Russia expires at the end of next month. With only a few weeks left before he finds himself without a safe country to live in, he sat down to give an exclusive interview. Here are the most important things he wants you to remember from his recent sacrifice.
Biotech breakthroughs and other transformative innovations are a few of the brightly shining spots in the U.S. economy. In fact, Paul Mampilly believes this is the golden age of biotech investing, and that you can earn massive returns while investing in companies with drugs that benefit all of humanity. Read on for his latest example...
Harold Hamm isn’t your typical entrepreneur. His life’s story shows you success in America doesn’t always depend on a fat checkbook
Obama recently claimed this was the “Decade of the Brain”. But it not the first time the government made that promise. The last time they did it, they wasted millions of your tax dollars. Now they’re back for round two. But this time, their failure could mean more than squandered money. It could mean making Alzheimer’s even worse for those who suffer from it.
Does owning a gun mean you’re guilty until proven innocent? Considering what happened to one man from Florida, that might be the case. But there’s more to this story than just a case of police overreach. Police departments across the nation could be implementing a new technology that puts the burden of innocence squarely on your shoulders.
American ingenuity. It’s the stuff of lore and legend, and it’s what drives the global economy. We literally bank on the next disruptive entrepreneur — and innovative new technology — to completely redefine or create new industries. It’s what America does really well, our goose that continues to lay golden eggs.And yet, maybe not.The truth […]
When Michael Lewis’ new book Flash Boys came out, the author caused a stir while making the media rounds to promote it. “The stock market is rigged,” he told 60 Minutes flatly. His comments set off a firestorm of debate as to whether sharp techies and their fast computers are screwing small investors.As titillating as […]
Last November, when the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) proposed moderating years of escalating mandates by reducing the amount of ethanol that must be mixed into gasoline, a top ethanol lobbyist seemed perplexed. “We’re all just sort of scratching our heads here today and wondering why this administration is telling us to burn less of a […]
Why Is U.S. Health Care So Much More Expensive?After years of research and many conversations with health policy experts, I see three key culprits of expensive health care in the U.S.In no particular order, they are the third-party payer system (i.e., employer-provided health care), malpractice suits, and administrative support costs/paperwork.The unintended consequence of institutionalized employer-provided […]
At the recently concluded Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russian security officials used state of the art facial recognition software to identify potential terrorists. Today, Byron King takes a closer look at this sophisticated new technology and what it means for the future of national security. Read on...
Back in the 1980s, John Nestor became infamous for single-handedly causing massive traffic jams on the Capital Beltway. But in his professional life, he created a completely different kind of traffic jam... one that may have contributed to the deaths of thousands of innocent people. Juan Enriquez has the full story. Read on...
Entrepreneurs innovate. Bureaucrats regulate. It’s the eternal struggle that exists in our modern economy/government. The people in power try to make the playing field as even and fair as possible. While innovators buck the rules and push the world toward a better tomorrow.
Technological progress moves the world forward. It finds ways to do things better, for less money, while using fewer resources. And if you ask any politician, they’ll tell you that’s the way to grow the economy and get America back on track. But if that progress threatens one of the government’s sacred programs, then that’s a different story. One that results in a crackdown on progress, and protection of the status quo.
How would you like to drive from New York to Los Angeles with just one stop for gas? It seems incredible and wonderful, but it can happen. In late 2010, the Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion set a new world record for the “longest distance traveled by a standard production passenger car on a single tank of gas.” It travels 1,526.63 miles. It translates to a fuel economy of 75 miles per gallon.
Sweet! Only one thing — this passenger car is for the U.K. You can’t drive this car in the United States. We have a Passat, but it gets nowhere near this excellent mileage. Even stranger, many of the engines in these, which are driven all over Europe, are actually built in the U.S. The trouble is that it can’t jump through the regulatory hoops in the land of the free.
This fact was first brought to my attention by a video blogger who had been driving a van version of this amazing car in the U.K. He came home to ask his Volkswagen dealer about it. The dealer quickly informed him that this model is not allowed on U.S. roads. The Passat in Europe runs on a 54.1-fluid ounce common-rail four-cylinder engine. The standard in the U.S. is a 67.6-fluid ounce engine. For this reason and a few others, the version you can drive here gets 45 miles per gallon.
The blogger was furious as he reported this, and he further explained the absurdity. It seems that the emissions regulations are calculated based on a per gallon basis. The U.K. Passat does not pass because its emissions pollutants are slightly over regulation.
The blogger further pointed out the silliness: The car goes much farther than the American version on a single gallon, resulting in less overall pollutants. But that doesn’t matter, given the manner in which fuel-efficiency happens to be calculated. In the U.S., a car with low emissions could get 1 mile per gallon and pass, but one with slightly higher emissions couldn’t get through, even if it went 100 miles on a gallon.
Infuriating, yes. But because the video was widely circulated, the revisionists started getting to work to debunk the claim. One blogger called Volkswagen. The spokesman made several salient points. A gallon in the U.K. is actually slightly larger than in the U.S., thereby reducing the mileage disparity between the U.K. and U.S. models. Further, these 54.1 engines are actually not that popular in the U.S. market because Americans don’t really care that much about mileage. Finally, mileage is actually calculated differently in the U.K., so the cars aren’t quite comparable in this sense.
Now, that’s all very interesting, and provides an interesting corrective, but it begs the critical question: Can this record-breaking, high-mileage car be sold in the U.S.? It would appear that the claim of the original video blogger stands: It cannot. You might want this car. VW might want to sell it. Europeans love it. But we, as Americans, are not permitted to buy it, and VW is not permitted to sell it. Regardless of the details, these are facts. The VW spokesman was really just talking around the point, as all corporations do when they are confronted with the awfulness of regulations.
The original blogger suggested conspiracy. But then, there is Hanlon’s razor: Never attribute to conspiracy what can easily be explained by stupidity. Regulations are inherently stupid because they presume the perpetuation of an existing technology and production model. They can never account for change or improvement.
No matter how you write them, no matter how smart you are, there will come a time when the intended results of all regulations will reverse themselves. They will inhibit, rather than advance, progress. They will degrade, rather than improve, products. They will block, rather than inspire, technological improvement. This is an unavoidable fate, no matter how smart the regulators are.
In a private market, rules and standards adapt to change. This is because private parties get that the point of a rule or standard isn’t the rule or standard but the results. The point is to achieve results. If the exact reverse of the point is observed, the rule is changed over time. In this way, private markets are flexible in ways that government regulations can never be.
Let’s raise a point about another incredible and wonderful thing: the flying car. It appears that the Terrafugia “roadable aircraft” is finally going into production and might be available for purchase sometime next year. It has recently been subjected to vast media attention, and that’s all to the good.
Now, one might suppose that the journalism on this car would focus on what an amazing thing this really is, how it takes us a step toward the Jetsons’ world, how it might make a contribution to unclogging highways and so on.
But no, that’s not what the stories have been about. It seems that the major “work” that has gone into the engineering behind this flying car has nothing to do with making it amazing for you and me. It is all about the endless government regulations that have stood in its way. The bureaucrats, not the consumers, rule the day.
Imagine: It’s hard enough to build a car that complies with regulatory bureaus. It’s hard enough to build an airplane that complies with the mandates of regulatory bureaus. It appears to be darn near impossible to make something that complies with both! It has to pass emissions tests, crash tests, navigation tests, design tests, mileage tests and a million other tests. Then there’s the problem of licenses for the drivers and fliers and the compliance with airport and road regulations. What a nightmare! It seems that the bulk of the energy of the company has been spent on this.
The actual reality of the flying car has been around since the 1930s. It keeps being revived again and again. What’s making it flounder? The problem is that this innovation is neither fish nor fowl from the point of view of government bureaucrats. Therefore, they don’t know what to do with it.
The results are, quite frankly, rather disappointing. The Terrafugia is a small plane with foldable wings so that you can drive it around. That’s it. There will be no levitating out of traffic. There will be no landing in your driveway. You have to drive it like a car to the airport, and then take off, fly, land and drive home again. That’s kind of cool, yet it raises the question: Why not just park your car and hop in your airplane?
You have to have a wild imagination to see the world that would exist were it not for government controls. These controls wreck innovation. They deny us access to seeming utopias. They kill the entrepreneurial spirit and set society back. They thwart progress and forbid us from working toward a future that is better than the past.
We will never know what we are missing so long as we continue to allow government to throw the whole of society into a regulatory thicket. Life is pretty amazing, true, but it could be far more so. Instead, we suffer in ways we don’t know. This is the big, horrible picture.