The Danger for Wisconsin Consumers and the Nation of Over-Regulating Freight Rails

…body or the Congress – then it stands to reason that investment in the rail network would fall, and quite likely so would its dependability and efficiency. For Wisconsin businesses and consumers that depend on freight rail, that would be a huge problem. What’s more, a less well-funded and efficient rail network in the state would result in shippers shifting their products to transport on trucks that tear up state roads and bridges. Look no further than a February 2020 feature story in the New York Times to understand why this is increasingly dangerous. Roads are crumbling and need funding – no guarantee as gas tax revenues remain down. Light-touch regulation in the rail sector has long benefited consumers and the economy at large, something that Sen. Johnson understands. The government now and in the future should steer clear of broad regulations that would hinder this private infrastructure mode. Published in and available at WisPolitics.Com….

Coalition Opposes Continuing Taxpayer Funded Energy Subsidies

Today, ACI joined twenty-three other nonprofit organizations in opposition to extending production tax credits and investment tax credits that are used to subsidize solar and wind energy. The intent of the subsidies was to give initial support these “infant” industries. Now, after years of support and an established foothold for these industries, solar and wind subsidizes are no longer needed and pose a burden on taxpayers and consumers. The letter is available online….

North Carolina Drivers Deserve Transparency and Competitive Prices

Several years back, the American Consumer Institute conducted a survey and found that 80% of North Carolina drivers would oppose any plan that to make good drivers pay more so that risky drivers could pay less. That is not surprising, considering better drivers tend to have fewer accidents and violations, making them less risky and less costly to insure. What is surprising, however, is that most drivers in the survey did that know that they are already paying a state surcharge to subsidize these riskier drivers. That is a shame that some consumers are unfairly paying more than others. However, the bigger shame is that North Carolina drivers are completely in the dark about these charges. This is because state law prohibits insurance companies from disclosing these charges on consumer bills. Instead, these hidden surcharges are simply lumped into the automobile liability premiums you pay. Unfortunately, many state legislators and…

The Necessity of Protecting End-to-End Encryption

…phone of the San Bernardino Shooter instead of forcing Apple to compromise the security of their encryption software. By solving the issue without compromising the encryption software in question, the FBI showed that there are alternative means to seeking justice without risking the privacy and security of every single other user of the encryption software they are seeking to break. If this bill were to pass, it would have extremely detrimental effects for businesses and consumers alike. It would force companies such as Facebook and Apple to re-design all of their products so that they could be decrypted at the request of a judge. This would drive up costs for both companies and their consumers alike. It would also destroy the degree of privacy and security most individuals have while working or communicating online. Although the desire to find a way to protect Americans from threats being carried out using…

ACI Files with the EPA Requesting a Chemical Risk Evaluation of D4

Today, ACI filed comments with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), requesting the EPA to conduct a timely, transparent, and scientifically-sound risk assessment of D4 (octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane). In our comments, ACI emphasized that conducting a timely risk assessment of D4 will further help provide clarity for consumers and business owners on this chemical substance. You can read the EPA filing online….

Inside Sources: Study Meant to Promote Municipally Owned Broadband Actually Does the Opposite

With the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting the persistent “digital divide” between low-income and rural Americans and the rest of the country, Congress is poised to allocate significant funding for broadband expansion. How it does so, however, will have a big effect on consumers and taxpayers. One strategy is to encourage municipalities to build and operate their own networks, rather than relying on investment from the private sector. Advocates argue that government-owned networks stimulate competition, drive down prices for consumers, and provide service to remote areas where private companies cannot operate profitably. Both theoretically and empirically, however, these claims have serious flaws. You can read this entire op-ed in Inside Sources….

Misleading E-cigarette Claims Meet Reality

…survey of young adults who use both e-cigarettes and combustible cigarettes indicated that bans on e-liquid flavors would lead to reductions in e-cigarette use and simultaneous increases in combustible cigarette use. Another study found that while the availability of different flavors had no impact on non-smoking teens’ interest in e-cigarettes, the interest in e-cigarettes among adult smokers was affected by the availability of different flavors. Therefore, sweeping measures to reduce consumers’ access to e-liquid flavors may impose high costs on adult smokers and deliver few benefits to non-smoking teens. Minton also dispelled the myth that the spate of hospitalizations linked to vaping in the U.S. in 2019 were likely caused by commercially-available e-cigarette products. In the vast majority of cases, patients reported having vaped tainted THC oil, often obtained on the black-market. Cracking down on commercial e-cigarette operations, as some jurisdictions did in response to the outbreak, only drives up…

Economic Standard: The Need to Reform the National Flood Insurance Program

…under optimistic assumptions, by 2100 experts predict sea levels to be at least one foot above the 2000 benchmark. Flooding is not just becoming more frequent, it’s also becoming more costly. In 2017, for the first time ever, the average NFIP claim surpassed $100,000. The NFIP’s latest financial disclosure shows more than $20 billion in outstanding debts to the U.S. Treasury, partly a remnant of the massive payouts related to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Harvey, as well as Superstorm Sandy. But not all of the NFIP’s fiscal challenges can be blamed on bad luck. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the NFIP faces an average long-term annual shortfall of $1.4 billion, while the Government Accountability Office continues to categorize the NFIP as “high risk,” a designation reserved for programs vulnerable “to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, or that need transformation.” The biggest structural problem the NFIP faces is…

FCC Must Keep C-Band Auctions on Schedule

…agenda, and the agency should not be tempted to postpone the date of the mid-band auction. The process of repurposing mid-band spectrum into 5G is not a quick procedure at the best of times. It will likely take several years for wireless providers to incorporate widespread 5G use into their service, and so American consumers cannot afford additional delays. Compared to 4G, the download speeds on the 5G network could be up to 60 times faster than on a 4G network. A season of Netflix that would take an hour to download on a 4G network could be done in several minutes on a 5G network. Consumers would benefit from faster speeds and more home broadband choices as soon as they started using 5G. Smartphones are likely to change with the adoption of 5G. With some 5G smartphones already on the market, Android and Apple plan to include 5G chips…

Postponing Federal Digital Privacy Legislation Will Backfire

…provide a long-term solution for consumers across the country. For example, the Attorney General of Arizona recently sued Google over allegations that the company was monitoring the location of its users through the GPS on their smartphones. Additionally, a suit by the Attorney General of New Mexico alleged that Google violated its privacy policy by mining student data for its own commercial purposes. Consumers are not happy about giving away data without their consent, and for good reason. Federal privacy legislation would clarify their rights and protections. It is important that consumers understand what data is protected and what protections they may choose to forego when agreeing to a privacy policy. Tech companies ask consumers to accept lengthy and nebulous user agreements that give consumers little idea of how their data is being used. More consumer-friendly agreements are needed to give consumers a better idea about the use of their…