FCC Backs Net Neutrality -- Yesterday, on a party-line vote of 3-2, the Federal Communications Commission decided to back the idea of net neutrality. What that means is that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must treat all data the same; they may not create a "fast-lane" for favored customers who pay more to move their data at higher speeds. The three commissioners appointed by Democrats voted for neutrality, while the two Republican appointed commissioners voted against it. Supporters are claiming a huge victory for the little guy, while opponents say it's government over-reach that will destroy incentives to innovate. Both are wrong. It's just one more adjudication among huge corporations that can be easily reversed. [27 February]
DC's Legalization of Pot Creates Federal Problems -- As of 12:01 am this morning, possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana by persons 21 years of age or older does not result in being arrested in Washington, DC. This clashes with the federal laws that maintain marijuana is as dangerous as heroin and with federal employment practices which test federal employees for drug use. This is a tension that cannot endure, and eventually, the feds will have to legalize marijuana or overturn the democratic result of a referendum held in the capital last November. One expects pot to be moved from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act soon. [26 February]
Keystone XL Pipeline Still Alive Despite Obama's Veto -- Yesterday, President Barack Obama wielded his veto pen for the third time in his presidency. He vetoed a bill that would require the State Department to approve construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. The president made clear that his veto was about Congress usurping executive power and not about the pros and cons of the pipeline itself. In other words, this veto was about keeping the decision making power with the administration, which has yet to make a decision. [25 February]
Advanced Placement Test Shame is How Few Kids Take Them -- The Oklahoma State House of Representatives' education committee just passed a bill that would defund the teaching of Advanced Placement (AP) American History. The bill's sponsor, state Representative. Dan Fisher (R) explained his position, "Under the new framework, the emphasis of instruction is on America as a nation of oppressors and exploiters." That is debatable, but what isn't debatable is the horrifically small numbers of students taking AP tests in all subjects. [24 February]
Greece Bail Out Extension Coming -- Last week ended with an agreement between Greece and Germany over the way forward in dealing with the Greek debt situation. Like most European deals , it was a fudge arrangement where both sides went in saying one thing and came out claiming victory having said another. The Greek government claimed to want to tear up the existing arrangement and negotiate a new one while the German government claimed that nothing could change. In the end, they agreed to a four-month extension of the current accommodation if Greece can come up with some financial ideas that the rest of the eurozone can approve. This was a political settlement, and economics had little to do with it. The euro has always been about politics. [23 February]
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