Tag Archives: Regulation

Hungarians must unite to save their democracy

This op-ed was authored by Máté Hajba and Patrick Hannaford.

Late February, on an otherwise quiet Tuesday morning, a group of thugs occupied the Hungarian National Election Office. They were there to stop members of an opposition party submitting their referendum proposal.

Such congregations are never a good sign in Hungary. They highlight the growing influence of the far-right, which openly venerates the Nazi regimes of world war II.

But these thugs weren’t connected to the neo-fascist Jobbik party, they were acting on behalf of the governing Fidesz party, which is increasingly taking an authoritarian approach.

This is a serious threat to Hungarian democracy, and if the Hungarian people don’t unite against it, their democracy may be gone for good.

It’s well known that Fidesz opposes western style democracy, defined by rule of law, checks and balances, and civil rights. In 2014, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán openly declared his plan to turn Hungary into an “illiberal democracy”, based on Russia, Turkey, and China – a statement that lead Senator John McCain to describe Prime Minister Orbán as a “neo-fascist dictator”.

Orbán and Fidesz have been strenuously implementing this plan since taking office in 2010. They have tampered with election laws, tailoring the process and gerrymandering constituencies to retain their two-thirds majority in 2014. They have centralized power throughout society, creating new government bureaucracies and nationalizing private industries. Worst of all, they have curtailed the powers of the constitutional court, so that nothing can challenge the government’s frenzy.

This approach is already causing problems.

Thousands of students and teachers are protesting the new national curriculum, which has placed schools under the control of a centralized government agency, eliminating their autonomy and leaving them without basic supplies of pens and paper. The country’s healthcare system is crumbling; hospitals are in disrepair, and patients are more likely to die from an infection in hospital, than in a car crash. And corruption has become so ingrained that even the EU’s anti-corruption funding was embezzled.

Fidesz is still the most popular party, but their proposed laws are increasingly meeting resistance. Plans to tax the internet, for example, were abandoned after tens of thousands took the the streets in protest.

But this resistance hasn’t altered their approach. The government has continued to clamp down on private industry, proposing to ban Uber, and forcing shops to close on Sundays.

It was this Sunday trading issue that caused the latest thuggish tactics.

Continue reading at CapX.

New E-cigarette Regulations Benefit Big Tobacco

The e-cigarette industry has blossomed into a $2 billion business, providing thousands of manufacturing and retail jobs while offering smokers a safer alternative. Unfortunately, this thriving market is under threat due to new rules finalized in May by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The new rules expand the regulatory authority of the FDA to cover all tobacco or tobacco-related products — including e-cigarettes, many of which contain no tobacco whatsoever.

Like cigarettes, other forms of tobacco consumption can be addictive because of nicotine — which is why the FDA has asserted regulatory authority. While most e-cigarette products do not contain tobacco, they still use flavored juices that contain nicotine. Smokers can use e-cigarettes to supplement or, in some cases, replace their regular tobacco usage. The FDA worries that these products will increase nicotine addiction rates, especially among youth, and thereby lead to increased tobacco usage overall.

While it could be argued that e-cigarettes and other tobacco-related products should be regulated in a way that puts them on an even playing field with cigarettes, the rules do not limit the FDA to making regulations fair. The rules give the FDA broad authority to regulate tobacco products in whatever way the agency wants. For many of these rules, the FDA will issue “guidance” rather than spelling out the restrictions in the finalized regulations. Unlike formal rules, guidance does not need to go through a formal approval process. Thus, there is simply no oversight to ensure equitable regulation.

Continue reading at RealClearPolicy.

Don’t let conservatives fool you: Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt is about regulation, not abortion

Hours after the Supreme Court released its 5-3 decision blocking unfair and unconstitutional abortion regulations in Texas, House Speaker Paul Ryan released a tweet condemning the court’s decision and promising to continue to “protect women’s health & promote life.”

This isn’t a surprising perspective from Ryan. It is a refrain that follows a long pattern of unprincipled policies by Ryan and his ilk of pro-life GOP politicians. Nevertheless, it requires a great deal of intellectual gymnastics to make sense of that opinion in light of his beliefs and the GOP platform more broadly.

It’s important to stare into the heart of the Whole Woman’s Health decision to see exactly how this is: “The plurality added that ‘[u]nnecessary health regulations that have the purpose or effect of presenting a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion impose an undue burden on that right.’”

One might ask, “Unnecessary regulations? Where have I heard that before?” If one scrolls up just few tweets on Ryan’s Twitter page, the answer appears: “We need to take a smart approach that cuts down on needless regulations while making the rules we do need more efficient and effective, particularly for our small businesses that shoulder a disproportionate share of the federal regulatory burden.”

That’s from Ryan’s economic portion of “A Better Way,” the recently released policy platform guide for GOP lawmakers.

If one removes the particularities of the service in question — abortion and women’s health — the message within the GOP platform and the Supreme Court decision are one and the same: Needless regulations place an unfair and unconstitutional burden on the individual seeking services and the provider of those services. Why, then, does abortion change the equation?

Continue reading at Salon here.