It’s no secret that taxi unions and Uber have been in competition with each other since Uber’s inception in 2009, but the battle has reached new and increasingly petty heights. New York City taxi drivers went on strike in solidarity with those affected by Trump’s new immigration policy at John F. Kennedy International Airport while Uber continued serving the airport and surrounding areas. Uber even turned off surge pricing (an element of their pricing system that often comes under fire during crises) as they carried protesters, attorneys, and the press back and forth from JFK late Friday evening.
Uber was accused of ruining the strike by continuing to run routes to JFK and the #DeleteUber social media campaign was started on Twitter. Why? To lambast the company for making the decision to increase human mobility and choice by providing uninterrupted service. The irony is clear, given that this was all a response to an immigration policy crisis that restricts human mobility and freedom of choice.
Although the intentions of the striking taxi drivers were undoubtedly good, it’s unreasonable to demonize Uber or to assume that the company was focused only on profiting during a time of humanitarian crisis.
Continue reading at FEE.
While President Donald Trump’s efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare have dominated the news, he also plans to reform a larger and arguably more broken program: Medicaid. In an interview with NBC’s “Today” show, Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway said Trump wants to “block-grant Medicaid to the states” to ensure “those who are closest to the people in need will be administering.”
Conway’s comments echo Trump’s campaign promise to “maximize flexibility for states via block grants so that local leaders can design innovative Medicaid programs that will better serve their low-income citizens.” Block grants would cap federal Medicaid funding and let states decide how to use those dollars. It would introduce flexibility and budget discipline to a program that sorely needs both.
Medicaid Soaks Money Away From Other Priorities
Since its inception in 1965, Medicaid has operated as an open-ended entitlement. The more state Medicaid programs spend on health-care programs for designated recipients, the more the federal government reimburses them. On average, states receive $1.33 for every $1 they spend on Medicaid.
While Medicaid’s current framework sounds like a generous deal for states, Medicaid’s funding formula incentivizes policymakers to expand the program at the expense of core state government functions. A report by the Mercatus Center shows that as Medicaid’s share of state budgets grow, state spending on roads, schools, and public colleges shrink.
Continue reading at The Federalist.
Although the EU-Turkey deal caused seemingly endless troubles, everyone seems to agree on one thing: the deal worked. It managed to drastically bring down refugee numbers. For the new Maltese EU presidency, this seems justification enough to replicate it, just that this time the chosen partner is Libya.
With his new proposal, up for debate at the EU Council on 3 February, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is trying to tie up a deal that would make Libya one of the EU’s closest partners in migration control. However, the price of this partnership would be high. It would not only mean a final goodbye to Europe’s commitment to human rights, but it would create further tensions both inside and outside Europe.
The timing of the proposal makes sense, with Malta just assuming the rotating EU presidency, and the migration influx expected to start in the spring. In order to prevent what he calls a “new migration crisis”, Muscat claims Europe has to act quickly and decisively, with pragmatism taking precedence over idealism. In concrete terms, this means negotiating and funding a deal with Libya in which the Libyan coastguard, de facto dependent on whichever warring faction rules the coastline, would be responsible for turning around boats before they reach international waters. This is supposed to drive down numbers, and disrupt the business of smugglers. In return, reception centers would be opened in Libya, allowing asylum seekers to apply on the spot, with the lucky ones accepted receiving safe passage over the sea. Yet, what sounds reasonable in the beginning, is ultimately heavily flawed.
Continue reading at Vocal Europe.
For the first time since the end of the Second World War, multilateral institutions are losing their influence regarding open trade.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) has gone into hibernation after the failure of the Doha Round, and the European Union (EU) — long regarded as a pro-trade force — is facing its own local protectionist pressures. The EU’s difficulties in ratifying the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada, and even Brussels’ recent attempt to restrict the free movement of labor to satisfy Western Europe’s protectionist claims against Eastern Europe, show how the EU trade agenda is challenged.
Moreover, in the United-States, the election of Donald Trump marks the beginning of a new protectionist era. Trump considers both the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) as contrary to America’s interests. He asked for a renegotiation of NAFTA and even mentioned the possibility of withdrawing from the WTO.
The recent nomination of Peter Navarro, an economist well-known for his hostility against China’s growing commercial influence, as head of the newly created National Trade Council confirms the will of the new administration to engage in a new “trade war” — reflecting the old mercantilist bias that views international trade as a zero-sum game.
Continue reading at FEE.
Today’s Young Voices Podcast features Young Voices Executive Director Casey Given and YV Advocate Dan King on the state of free speech in France since the attack on Charlie Hebdo in 2015 and the future of free speech in America under Donald Trump’s presidency.
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