Even if the EU would pay a whopping 250 EUR per dose and 500 EUR per resident, it would end up paying merely a third of what’s being earmarked for the recovery fund.
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Even if the EU would pay a whopping 250 EUR per dose and 500 EUR per resident, it would end up paying merely a third of what’s being earmarked for the recovery fund.
Explaining the Indian Telecom Sector and the complexity behind competition existence?
The Indian Telecommunication Sector has experienced exponential growth and development in the past two decades. Liberalization and regulatory reforms allowed the sector to accept investments from both domestic and foreign investors.
The non-restrictive policy of the government in the 1990s allowed the inflow of cash for the sector to flourish. Private players were allowed in the market after a process of establishment of norms and regulations vital for the growth of the sector.
This was done as a part of the Liberalisation-Privatisation-Globalisation policies that the government undertook to overcome the fiscal crisis and balance of payment issues in 1991. The institution of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India was established by the government to reduce its interference in deciding the tariffs and policies.
Towards the 20th century, the government was more inclined toward reforms and liberalism. This brought more private players and foreign investors to the Indian market. Furthermore, the license fees were greatly reduced that allowed every middle-class family in India to afford a cellphone, and thereby input more surplus to the entire telecom sector. In the Indian telecom sector during the late 90s and early 20s, the liberal policies became paramount, I would quote this as what Prof Eli. M. Noam referred to as, “the centrality of telecommunication infrastructure is a country’s economic and social life.”
Telecom performance reports showed that about 10-14 mobile providers were existing in the country during the time and at least 5-6 providers were providing services in each of the connected areas. The competitive forces exerted by these players aided the adoption of wireless services and also helped reduce tariffs throughout.
Despite the major policy initiatives of the past, the telecom sector is now on the verge of collapse. After years of growth, the sector is witnessing a fall due to the commercial operation of Reliance Jio. The change in tariff rates and reduction of data charges by Reliance Jio changed the economics of many telecom players. This facilitated their exit from the telecom sector.
The declining user base and increasing adjusted gross revenue made it difficult for healthy competition to equivalently exist among players. Low revenues, high taxation policies, and huge investments on spectrum and infrastructure have been causing dire trouble to the industry thereby impeding competition in the Indian telecom market.
How can one bring back competition in a scenario of restrictions and the existence of a soon-to-be-monopolized telecom sector?
The companies are being pushed by the regulatory bodies to align the prices in line with the costs of production, and this makes it difficult for competition to exist. In a digital India, the telecom sector needs survival, and for this, we need three players who are not on the brink of a dire financial crisis. The sector needs decentralization of purchasing and decision power to regulate more efficiently. The profit margins are decreasing and telcos need to level up the information and communications information to adapt to a digital transformed way. This can be done by creating a strong cross-functional interface.
IT and connectivity should be updated and should be reliant on technological innovations and customer expectations. Establishing policies to abolish the license fee based on adjusted gross revenue needs to be looked into. The adoption of regulatory disclosures and transparent norms to address the asymmetry in the telecom industry needs to be established. One can note that effective competition can be incorporated through three concepts: “Allocative efficiency, technical efficiency, and dynamic efficiency.”
To increase profits, the market power exercised by the company should not be restricted. This would help in efficiently allocating the resources and contributing to the economy invariance to the price adjustments to the consumer needs. There needs to be an initiation of equilibrium between promoting competition and checking anti-competitive practices. Being a capital intensive sector, competition needs to be incited by operators who would lower the costs through production efficiency and keep up with the latest economic models about digital trends.
There needs to be the symmetry of information and proper economic and policy legislations for competition impact assessment to easily get processed. Bringing in VNOs (virtual network operators) to buy bulk capacity from telcos for resale to end-users could be a vital point for expanding the market for existing services. Although there are high levies and restrictions for VNOs, easing those would prove to be highly beneficial for the sector to thrive.
Adopting the high-frequency spectrum by simplified access of the E band and V band spectrum will essentially support high-speed data transfer and thus promote competition between players and technologies. This would be done by de-regulation of the utilization of these spectrums. The foremost thing to be done is to lessen the regulatory burden for expanding consumer choices rather than focusing on the government’s revenue for vitalizing the sector’s growth.
By receiving direct support through cheap capital, land, support would essentially make India globally competitive. Thus, there needs to be a mechanism for the competition authorities and sectoral regulators to be existing together. For competition to be easily facilitated, the market needs to be free from any sort of unsatisfactory product quality. No players in the market should be suppressing the entry of new products or stifling innovation. The competition needs to stay out of any malicious interferences, predatory activities, or fraud against the customers or suppliers.
We need to have a transparent regulation that would avoid excessive entry resulting in operators not achieving the economies of scale. Excessive price competition in revenue generation needs to be avoided for the inevitable result in the inadequacy for procuring investments and innovation otherwise.
It has been argued that for the sake of consumer benefits, every telecom industry should at least have five “reasonably comparable rivals”, the numbers can vary slightly depending on the situation, and as of now India only has two players in the lead, with the second player close to financial risk.
Moreover, no firms have to hold a dominant position (this would mean a market share of 40% or more should not likely exist). The main purpose of policies and telecom regulations need to impact the market outcomes in ways that will move the prices, output, provide better service quality, service innovation, and healthy competition.
As Alfred Kahn once explained, “It is sometimes tempting to try to change outcomes to something more comfortable politically than the results of full competition.”
This is important to note because telecom regulators in India have attempted to constrain many service providers. The attempts to have the competitive outcomes biased by favouring the firms induce lower efficiency and harm consumers in the end. The government needs to take strides to maintain a kind of normalcy that existed during the liberal times.
The telecom industry needs to tread with caution, the government needs to imbibe liberal policies and promote competition. Failing to do so, the consumers will end up getting distressed when the thin line between crony capitalism and genuine relief ceases to exist. By doing so, the plans to achieve the $ 1 trillion economies for digital India seem a far-fetched idea for the time being knowing that each sector has been facing regulatory issues.
The decision lies with the policymakers and the regulators to know when intervention in the telecom sector is appropriate and how the intervention can benefit customers and their choices.
Uppal, Mahesh. “In defense of free telecom markets. Or, how to make Indian telecom competitive while offering cheap services.” Times of India, 2020,
Kathuria, Rajat. Strengthening competition in telecom is key to realising India’s digital ambitions. The Indian Express. Accessed 2020.
Prasad, R.U.S. “The Impact of Policy and Regulatory Decisions on Telecom Growth in India.” Stanford University: Center for International Development, 2008.
Parsheera, Smriti. “Challenges of Competition and Regulation in the Telecom Sector.” Economic and political weekly, 2018.
Sometime last week, Neeraj K. Agrawal, the communications director for the DC-based cryptocurrency think tank Coin Center, tweeted a link to an empty website: whitehouse.gov/bitcoin.pdf.
The idea he was trying to convey, in Internet speak, is that hopefully, one day we can look forward to the day when the Bitcoin whitepaper would be hosted on the White House’s website.
That would signal that the executive branch has endorsed elements of the cryptocurrency, and hosted the fundamental founding document to build confidence in the government using Bitcoin as a unit of currency.
That’s futuristic, crypto-fueled optimism that was nothing but a cheeky tweet in that moment.
Taking that to the next level, tech investor and entrepreneur Balaji Srinivasan put forward a challenge: which forward-thinking country or US state would host the Bitcoin white paper on their main domain?
Enter North Carolina Congressman Patrick McHenry.
Hailing from Gastonia, a town I once worked in as a newspaper reporter, McHenry represents the 10th district in the northwestern part of the state, home to NASCAR drivers, the mighty Catawba River, and stretching to the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains.
He once represented part of Gaston County in the State House and was later elected to Congress as one of the youngest congressmen in 2004.
As the ranking member on the Financial Services Committee, McHenry has often been involved in regulatory debates and discussions on cryptocurrencies and financial projects, including Facebook’s Libra project.
At least in previous statements and letters, McHenry usually joined hands with his Democratic colleagues to oppose any competition to the US dollar, as we’ve noted in past press releases.
However, it seems McHenry is changing his tune on the future of innovation in the cryptocurrency space.
On Wednesday, he took on the challenge originally posted by Agrawal and followed by Srinivasan: he posted the Bitcoin whitepaper to his own website.
Not only that, but he stated that “policymakers should be on the side of innovation and ingenuity, which are vital to American competitiveness,” and urged his colleagues to join him.
Is this North Carolina Republican Congressman hawking Bitcoin? It seems the answer is yes.
Looking into it more, he’s grown more bullish on Bitcoin and tech-related financial services in the last two years and even clarified his position on why projects like Libra do not represent a true cryptocurrency.
Appearing on series of podcasts, including one with fellow Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw, McHenry has been more vocal on why Bitcoin’s technology is like nothing before, and in fact, represents the future of financial and digital services.
And top it off — he posted the Bitcoin whitepaper on the congressional web server!
If McHenry’s statements are true, and if he is using his position as a Financial Services committee member to advance those ideas, I think we may have a consumer champion congressman to follow in the next two years.
As a fellow North Carolinian and advocate for consumer-friendly policies, I have been critical toward McHenry’s various positions in the past, specifically on legitimizing financial services for cannabis-related companies.
I believe the exact tagline I used was “The North Carolina Republican singlehandedly blocking progress on cannabis banking“.
Obviously, McHenry’s ideas and policies are more nuanced and deserve a closer look. I look forward to him expounding on that much more. So while we may not agree on cannabis banking, there still could be much to agree on with the congressman.
If more politicians in DC and various statehouses approached this issue like McHenry, perhaps our governments would be better vehicles for fostering innovation and helping grow consumer choice.
Kudos to you, Rep. McHenry.
Yaël Ossowski is deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center
The recent uptick in downloads of privacy-focused messaging apps such as Signal and Telegram is a great testament to the power of consumer choice in the digital sphere. It should deal a heavy blow to the attempts of breaking up or regulating WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook as the market is quite evidently not dominated by one monopoly. Moreover, intrusion into private companies will ultimately result in stifling consumer choice, and thus, should be abstained from.
Today’s consumers and developers have far greater power than ever before. No company is spared from the continuous battle over users as switching to a competitor in the tech world takes a few clicks and an app store. A great number of tools and services are at constant disposal for anyone, who is looking for a better solution to his individual problem.
Given these market dynamics, app creators are incentivised to create solutions for every niche problem to satisfy their target user group, compete in a global market, and scale their solution worldwide. Some apps may access your data to provide a better service by analysing usage patterns. Others may protect your privacy but compromise on another feature. The ability to choose between these options (or to use both for different use cases!) constitutes a consumer choice paradise rather than a monopoly worth regulating.
Furthermore, interfering in markets by breaking up companies or regulating them seldom comes at no cost. Any infringement harms innovation and reduces investment.
Facebook, for instance, purchased Instagram and WhatsApp for $1 billion and $19 billion, respectively. Although both had an existing user base, neither was generating large sums of revenue before being taken over. There is simply no telling if without investments in innovation from their new parent company, those services would have generated any long term profits and delivered the services to their users that they love today.
Retroactively, turning back the clock would set a dangerous precedent for any company that wants to invest in creating superior experiences for their user-base and show that no investment is safe from regulators. The price for innovating to enrich all of our lives would be an uncertain return on investment. The ultimate victim of over-regulating a naturally liberal market: consumers.
Fears of harming innovation as a consequence of overzealous regulators are not purely theoretical. The effort to split Microsoft’s software and operating system from another in the early 2000s did little to liberate markets. Rather, it inhibited the company that developed the most popular operating system from innovating by dragging them into the courtroom for pre-installing the Internet Explorer on Windows machines.
In the end, no regulators were necessary to decide on behalf of consumers. As more browsers naturally emerged, consumers replaced Internet Explorer as the most popular browser regardless of it being delivered out of the box. However, there is no telling how much damage has been done to Microsoft and users alike by the regulatory efforts to destroy a company simply because of its success.
Today’s efforts even go beyond break up fantasies. Another favoured approach by lawmakers across the globe is imposing interoperability, ordering messaging services to communicate with each other to lower barriers of entry. On first sight, the idea makes sense: let users choose their preferred service and allow them to communicate with anyone regardless of their preferred option. Unfortunately however, interoperability will also only harm consumers.
Interoperability necessitates common standards. Emails for example are interoperable as you can communicate with anyone regardless of their provider. The standard may have been the gold standard a few decades ago. But by today’s standards emails are not secure, they are not user friendly, and there have been no significant improvements to the protocols for decades. Similarly, text messages are interoperable, which is hardly a plus as they are simply inferior to messaging apps.
Absent any regulation, developers can tailor these apps to their users, introduce new features, and innovate to win users. This liberty to innovate is why freely available apps provide the safest way to communicate that has ever existed by superior encryption standards. It also allowed millions of users to switch to an alternative app last week, seeking conditions that are not standardised by law and more applicable to them.
Any governmental effort to define these encryption standards, as would be necessary to allow for interoperability, would also make it easier to break these privacy seals that consumers desperately desire. Lawmakers need to understand that their actions are not providing value to consumers. Neither breaking up so-called monopolies nor imposing arbitrary regulations is in the interest of their people. Consumers are more than capable of making their own choices. Millions of them have done so in the past week as they did not agree with a new policy imposed on them by WhatsApp.
Kya Shoar is a Digital and Tech Fellow at the Consumer Choice Center.
On Wednesday, we saw the worst passions of the American Republic storm through the doors of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
For hours, people around the world watched as marchers and protestors transformed into rioters who ransacked various congressional offices, posed for photos on the House floor, and terrorized hundreds of congressmen and women, senators, staff, journalists, and Capitol hill police.
The march outflowed from a “Stop the Steal” rally held by President Donald Trump in the hours prior, decrying the results of the 2020 Election and fueling various allegations of voter fraud and manipulation.
He urged his supports at the rally to turn their attention to the U.S. Congress, where both bodies were deliberating the final tally of the Electoral College votes.
Our organization, the Consumer Choice Center, advocates for lifestyle freedom, innovation, and consumer-friendly policies, and we wouldn’t normally interject on issues of law and order. But considering how close yesterday’s events came to the heart of the American Republic, it is impossible to overlook.
What transpired at the Capitol yesterday was something no one should tolerate in a liberal democracy such as the United States. The ransacking of a seat of the federal government, by any force or group of individuals, is an act of aggression that should no doubt be prosecuted.
It was, no doubt, a result of demagoguery and a violent urging at the hands of U.S. President Donald Trump.
There are many items of concern that our organization has broadly agreed with President Trump on: questioning the role of the World Health Organization early on in the pandemic, dismantling burdensome regulations that quash innovation, pushing for the safe and orderly opening of the economy after devastating coronavirus restrictions, and more.
At the same time, we have opposed the Trump administration when it was most needed: issuing disastrous tariffs that raise prices for all consumers, introducing drug pricing plans that will set back innovation while making drugs more expensive, and a federal vaping flavor ban that will deprive former smokers of the ability to choose a less harmful alternative.
Personally, I have opposed Trump’s desire to severely restrict and reduce immigration to our country. My family immigrated to the U.S. some 30 years ago, and we have enjoyed a much more fruitful life because of it.
But those policy arguments and disagreements are secondary to the very real threat of a violent parade of hysteria through the halls of the U.S. Capitol.
We advocate for ideas to improve society based on the rule of law and democratic order. We use the means of free expression, free assembly, and the right to petition our government to ensure that policies that help every consumer and every citizen will be the law of the land.
Seeing a mob trample into the primary seat of one of America’s branches of government achieves none of that, and should be rightly condemned.
Our decentralized republican democracy based on a time-honored Constitution, a system that is unique to the United States and has allowed for some of the most promising economic and social innovation in the world, was threatened. And we cannot excuse these actions in the slightest.
As I wrote in Huffington Post shortly after Trump’s 2016 victory, we must understand the pivotal role of government in our lives, and this to protect our life, our liberty, and our pursuit of happiness:
“The role of government is not to solve every dispute in society, reflect the diversity of its people or even to advocate on behalf of a particular worldview apart from that of freedom.
It is, as most all founding documents claim, to protect the life and liberty of its citizens. To ensure domestic tranquility and to protect against the infringement of certain liberties so that citizens may be allowed to flourish and live their lives as they see fit.”Yaël Ossowski, Huffington Post, November 10, 2016
From this point forward, we must restore the rule of law and advocate for liberal democratic principles to advance the American project.
That President Trump should continue to serve out the last two weeks of his term, after this insurrection and rebellion in our nation’s capital, is unacceptable.
Whether it be through his removal from office by the invocation of the 25th Amendment by Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet, or articles of impeachment in the U.S. House and swift removal by the U.S. Senate, something must be done to show to the world what happens when order and liberty are transgressed in a representative liberal democracy.
When the actions of certain individuals go too far, and when demagoguery threatens the very system that allows us to freely enjoy our liberty and pursue happiness how we see fit, that is an appropriate time to use the tools at our disposal to rectify injustice.
Let us hope justice conquers after the events of this week.
Every consumer will know this problem: you come home from a long trip but the fruits, vegetables, and yoghurt are still in the fridge. “Expiry dates are just an industry trick to sell more food” is a thought that leads some to disregard the mould that has formed on all of these items over time, or even to consider that the food is therefore healthy.
According to a study by the University of Copenhagen, many consumers believe that mold is a sign of “naturalness”. “What is objectively referred to as dirty is less frightening to us than apples which never rot. Similarly, having dirt under one’s nails has become a sign of health”, says Kia Ditlevsen, associate professor of UCPH’s department of food and resource economics.
However, the reality is very different. Mould carries mycotoxins, which are dangerous to human health, and in some cases, can be deadly. These toxic metabolites are divided into subcategories, namely aflatoxins, ochratoxin A (OTA), fumonisins (FUM), zearalenone (ZEN), and deoxynivalenol (DON – also known as vomitoxin), which can all be ingested through eating contaminated food, including dairy products (as infected animals can carry it into milk, eggs, or meat).
In a home fridge, mould can develop through bad storage — the electricity went off for long and the cooling chain was interrupted, or direct sun exposure for a long period of time — or simple expiry of the product.
Most disconcertingly, up to 28% of all liver cancers worldwide can be attributed to aflatoxins, and its immunosuppressant features leave humans weakened against other diseases. The features have been known to modern science since the turn of the century.
In Africa, this is a deadly epidemic. Aflatoxin exposure is more deadly than exposure to malaria or tuberculosis, with 40% of all liver cancers in Africa being related to it. Mycotoxin contamination can occur through inadequate food storage, but more importantly, it occurs in the absence of the correct crop protection measures, including chemicals.
In modern agriculture, we prevent most of the exposure to mycotoxins by using fungicides. However, chemical crop protection products have been seen with increasingly critical eyes. All too often, those calling for bans of XYZ chemical pretend that farmers ought just use “an alternative”, but all too regularly these alternatives do not exist, or have, as with the example of genetic engineering, been outlawed already.
Gene-editing technologies such as CRISPR-Cas9 can help solve farm safety concerns such as the ones raised by fungi. Fungal pathogens, such as Fusarium proliferatum, which attacks diverse crops, including wheat, maize, rice, asparagus, date palm, garlic, onion, can be studied and better understood using this technology. In the case of Fusarium oxysporum, which befalls both plants and animals, gene-editing can disrupt the genes of interests. A different method of genetic engineering, known as gene-silencing (arrived to through a method known as RNA interference), can create aflatoxin-free transgenic maize. Particularly for developing nations, this would mark a breakthrough improvement of consumer health and food security.
However, if the European Union keeps its current legislation on genetic engineering, and goes even further by exporting these rules and regulations to development aid partners in Africa, then these innovations will not be of use to consumers domestic and abroad. In order to tap into the potential of the gene-revolution, we need to change outdated legislation and Europe and usher in a new century of biotechnology.
We owe it to ourselves.
2020 marked a first in the history of the Nobel Prize. For the first since its creation, a science Nobel Prize has been awarded to two women. Jenifer Doudna from the University of California, and Emmanuelle Charpentier from the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin were awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, for the development of CRISPR-Cas9. The gene-editing method revolutionises the scientific understanding and practice of working with genetics, and has widespread applications in the fields of medicine and agriculture.
Together with the Genetic Literacy Project, the CCC released the first Gene-editing Regulation Index, that shows how the world compares in its regulation on gene-editing. Unfortunately, we see that regions such as Europe have, through outdated legislation, limited their ability to innovate.
Let’s take a look at three recent innovations in the realm of gene-editing.
Researchers at the VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology in Belgium, together with researchers at the University of Wisconsin have discovered, through CRISPR-Cas9, a method of reducing the amount of lignin in trees, which eases the process of making paper. This would reduce the carbon footprint of the paper industry, as well as for the production of bio-fuels and bio-based materials.
The communication from the entrepreneurial non-profit research institute VIB, which works in close partnership with five universities in Flanders, Belgium — Ghent University, KU Leuven, University of Antwerp, Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Hasselt University — also says: “The applications of this method are not only restricted to lignin but might also be useful to engineer other traits in crops, providing a versatile new breeding tool to improve agricultural productivity.”
Researchers at the Norwegian institute Nofima are investigating whether CRISPR-Cas9 can help reduce or completely squash the prevalence of sea lice in Atlantic salmon. It is known that North American salmon does not deal with sea lice, thus the scientists are trying to replicate the phenomenon through genetic engineering.
If successful, this does not imply that gene-edited fish will be available immediately, as there are still a lot of procedural and regulatory hurdles to overcome. That said, making Atlantic salmon immune to lice would mean more efficient fishing in European waters, and more affordable salmon for European consumers.
With tens of thousands of people dying each year of opioid overdoses, Professor of Pharmacology at Oklahoma State University Craig Stevens writes that it doesn’t have to be that way. Using CRISPR-Cas9, he claims that gene-editing a patient’s brain would prevent opioids bind opioid receptors on respiratory neurons — in plain English: during an opioid overdose, the patient dies because he or she stops breathing. Through gene-editing the brains of 10% of opioid patients, Stevens claims that the United States could save thousands of lives and save $43 billion.
Make Canada Great Again?
Believe it or not, that’s what is at the center of President Donald Trump’s latest executive order aimed at trying to lower the cost of prescription drugs for Americans.
Trump’s plan, dubbed the “Most-Favored-Nation-Price” model, would effectively import price controls on pharmaceuticals from other nations with single-payer, government-run health systems, including Canada.
With this order, Trump will force Medicare to pay the same negotiated rates as other countries that don’t have the same level of innovation or access to medicines as the U.S
That means that while drug prices for certain seniors will be lower in the short term, it will mean higher costs in the long-term, jeopardizing future drug development, and access. And that will be bad for every American, not to mention our retirees on Medicare.
As an example, modern drug development requires not only massive investment but also time and the ability to experiment through trial and error. Only one of every 5,000-10,000 substances synthesized will make it successfully through all stages of product development to become an approved drug. That’s a big risk and one that only pays off if these drugs can be sold and used.
Many projects fail to bring even one drug to market. Investing in life sciences requires a healthy risk appetite, and therefore an incentive scheme that rewards those able to create value is necessary.
By the time a medical drug reaches the regular patient, an average of 12.5 years will have elapsed since the first discovery of the new active substance. The total investment needed to get to one active substance that can be accessed by a patient is around $2 billion. And that is just for medicines we already know we need.
There are over 10,000 known diseases in the world but approved treatment for merely 500 of them. It may be easy to dictate lower prices for these medicines, but that will mean that drug developers will not have the same means to invest in research for the remaining 95% of diseases we cannot yet cure.
Added to that, the U.S. can count on access to all sorts of innovative medicines because of our innovators and inventors.
By forcing lower prescription drug prices for our elderly, Trump seems eager to harm our ability to find cures for those who still hope for the development of a cure for their untreatable diseases and future access to the medicines we need.
Such a move may play well in voter rich Florida, with a large population of seniors anxious about drug prices, but it shatters the unique mix of both innovation and entrepreneurship that leads the U.S. to be the world’s top creator and supplier of badly-needed drugs. Half of the top pharmaceutical companies in the world are headquartered in our country, and for good reason.
Trump, for his part, claims that this will stop “free-riding” from other nations on the US’ relatively high drug prices. And that is indeed a concern that touches many of us. But such a rash plan will put a chokehold on innovation across the entire sector of our drug industry.
If Trump wants other countries to “pay their fair share” on drug prices, the best method is by trade agreements and negotiation, not by emulating anti-innovation policies from other nations.
To achieve cheaper drug prices, there are simpler and cheaper ways to tackle this.
For one, the president should be open to a reform of the Food and Drug Administration. Too much time is lost trying to get drugs approved across every industrialized country. If we recognized drug approvals from all other countries in the OECD, this would lower costs and accelerate the pace of bringing drugs to the US market.
We cannot risk our entire drug infrastructure for the hope of short-term lower costs. If the Trump administration wants our nation to remain a shining beacon of innovation and allows its patients to access state-of-the-art medicine, we should not import bad policies from abroad.
Yaël Ossowski is deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center.
With the stroke of a pen, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order this week banning the sale of emissions-producing cars by the year 2035.
Effectively, this means no gas-powered cars will be for sale in the nation’s most populous state in less than 15 years. It’s not only the most populous state but the state with the most cars overall.
If the 15 million cars registered in California were their own country, they’d be the 73rd largest by population.
That means no prospect for a 2035 Camaro, Mustang, or even Honda Civic powered by gasoline on the streets of California in the near future.
Newson says climate change is why this moratorium is needed. Heatwaves, wildfires, and faltering energy supply to millions of Californians.
How will this impact ordinary consumers?
This ban is concerning for two reasons.
First, California’s market is the largest in the United States. That means any and all legislation they make impacts consumer products sold across the country. We’ll call that the California Spillover Effect.
No manufacturer wants to design or create items to sell at scale across the entire nation only to have to retool them for California. That means many larger suppliers decide to comply with California’s burdensome regulations as a rule. That’s without the say of the populations and legislatures of other states, even if the laws are unconstitutional and economically backward.
(Many officials are already stating the order will be easily struck down by the EPA or the courts)
It is a fact that, over time, our cars are getting more efficient. Engineers and scientists are combining different elements to maximize fuel efficiency in internal combustion vehicles in order to reduce emissions, lower costs, and provide better cars for drivers.
This has been a market and consumer-led revolution. Consumers demand more efficient cars that won’t force them to the gas pump every two days.
Those preferences have signaled to carmakers that they need to provide quality vehciles with better gas mileage and they have delivered. In most cases, the mileage efficiency goes beyond the mandates imposed by California and the EPA in Washington.
Regardless, with an executive order outlawing gas-powered cars, that means California drivers will be forced to switch to using electric cars wholesale. That will mean much higher prices that many people just won’t be able to afford. That will harm lower-income individuals who still depend on transportation by car for their work and home lives.
What the state of California is effectively doing here is endorsing a particular technology — electric vehicles — that may even be obslete by 2035.
This rebukes the principle of technology neutrality, the idea that the government should not pick winners and losers in the tech sphere. Not only will there be better and more efficient solutions by the year 2035, but government has a poor track record of defining which technological solutions will win consumer favor in the end.
This is also concerning because California is in the midst of an energy crisis. Rolling blackouts are the norm, large wildfires threaten electricity infrastructure, and persistent water mismanagement has led to many areas with less than adequate water supply.
Energy policy that can provide stable power to millions of homes is a challenge in California, and a mandate to switch the entire vehicle fleet to electric will put even more pressure on energy supplies, driving up costs for ordinary consumers who may not even own electric cars in the future.
There is no question that electric cars are more economical on the road, but they are also less reliable for longer drives, maintenance, and will still depend on the fossil fuel economy for electric charges.
Most, if not all, electric cars draw their power from the energy grid, we’re still relying on coal power to provide energy for the charge. That’s anything but an environmental panacea.
Further, the resources needed to build and power electric cars, including the mining of precious minerals, still contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
By the time an electric vehicle has rolled off the assembly line, it has already been responsible for more than 25,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, more than twice that of a traditional internal combustion vehicle.
As political scientist and economic Bjorn Lomborg explains in the video below, over the lifetime of a modern electric car, it will only be responsible for three to five tons less of CO2, including production, energy consumption, and scrapping.
(Also check out our interview with Bjorn Lomborg on Consumer Choice Radio on all things environmental policy and smart solutions for the world)
If California wants to reduce emissions, there are consumer-friendly ways to do so.
Reforming zoning laws to encourage development and reduce the need to commute long distances for workers and consumers is one step.
Encouraging innovation by entrepreneurs to come up with alternative fuels is another. And so is the embrace of nuclear technology, fracking for natural gas, and Compressed Natural Gas as a fuel for public transportation and governmental fleet vehicles, as is done in other countries.
The path toward a cleaner and more prosperous planet is not through bans, restrictions, and piecemeal technology ensorsements. It’s through innovation, consumer demand, and creative solutions.