1 month ago

Don’t regulate Facebook — That’s what Zuckerberg wants

If Facebook disappeared forever this afternoon, I wouldn’t exactly be upset about it. I’m astounded when I see people post loads of personal information on the site, including posts about all their travel plans, their shopping habits, their daily routines, and their family members. Long is the list of people who have been harassed by law enforcement agencies or “child welfare” agencies in response to something they said or did on Facebook. And, given what we know about Big Tech’s willingness to collaborate with government agencies, people who are fond of posting their every move in Facebook might as well hand over their daily itineraries to the FBI.

Similar problems exist with other tech platforms as well, from Twitter to Google.

However, there is a fairly easy way to minimize the amount of information Facebook and other platforms collect on the user. The user can stop using the platform, or at least stop using it so often. Unlike the state, which is free to mandate that people use their “services,” consumers are still free to not use Facebook.

Also, it is still the case that producers are free to create new firms that will compete with Facebook. And many have done so. Recent data suggests that Facebook users are spending less time on Facebook, and younger users are preferring to spend their time elsewhere. Facebook is expected to actually lose users in the under-25 category this year. Some will keep using Facebook-owned Instagram, but many will go to services not owned by Facebook, such as Snapchat.

For whatever reason, whether it’s increased competition or a decline in social media use overall, Facebook is not bulletproof, and it is facing competition from others. True, none of Facebook’s competitors are just like Facebook. But that’s how competition works. Other firms offer a choice for consumers, and offer different products.

After all, we’ve already seen firms like Facebook be beat by competition in the past. Remember MySpace? It was once bigger than Facebook. And now it’s not.

If consumers want to use social media platforms that aren’t Facebook, and which offer different choices, the answer lies in greater competition. But, if greater competition is what we want, barriers to entry must be kept low, government regulations must be abolished or minimized, and consumers must be free to use or not use firms as they please. So long as this is the case, Facebook will never have a true monopoly. Consumer preferences can always change. And sometimes they change drastically.

Get Ready for More Regulation

Unfortunately, this week’s Congressional hearings with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg suggest that things are going in a direction that will only end with increasing whatever monopoly power Facebook currently has. Washington politicians are interested in regulating the social media world, and ultimately, this will only strengthen the big firms that dominate the industry now — while making things harder for smaller start-ups and future competitors.

Oh sure, politicians are making a big show of how concerned they are about everyone’s privacy, although it is embarassingly obvious that the elderly and out-of-touch-with-reality members of the Senate have no idea how social media works. They most they could do was read questions written for them by staff and try to understand Zuckerberg’s answers.

(These people, by the way, will be the ones voting on any future legislation that regulates social media.)

But even if members of Congress had a wonderful grasp of the internet and social media, would anyone benefit from any new regulations on the industry?

Well, yes, of course some people would benefit. Those who would benefit include the government agents who will get jobs as regulators, the politicians who can score political points for passing new legislation, and the large incumbent firms that now dominate the social-media market.

Dominant Firms Want Regulation

It should not surprise us, then, that even before he testified to Congress, Mark Zuckerberg was calling for his own industry to be regulated:

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said on Wednesday that he’s open to having his company be regulated. “Actually, I’m not sure we shouldn’t be regulated,” Zuckerberg said in an interview…I actually think the question is more ‘What is the right regulation?’ rather than ‘Yes or no, should it be regulated?’” Zuckerberg told CNN.

But why so open to regulation? Zuckerberg cleared this up himself in one of his answers to questions from members of Congress:

I think a lot of times regulation puts in place rules that a large company like ours can easily comply with but that small start-ups can’t,” Zuckerberg said as he testified for the second consecutive day on Capitol Hill.

Indeed.

Government regulations such as minimum wages and financial mandates are especially burdensome on small firms because small firms have less access to capital and enjoy fewer benefits of economies of scale.

It’s far easier for a firm like Walmart, for instance, to pay higher wages than for a small start-up. And, should the economy fall on hard times, higher costs can be weathered better by large firms that can borrow large amounts to get through a crisis. Small firms have far less borrowing power.

One example of this can be seen in the decline of small banks in the wake of the new banking regulations found in the Dodd-Frank legislation. Compliance costs created by the new legislation have led to fewer small firms, fewer start-ups, and fewer community banks. Huge financial institutions have benefited greatly from additional legislation. Market share for small firms, meanwhile, is being destroyed.

These barriers to both entry and survival for small firms, end up destroying competition. Per Bylund notes: 

Regulated markets are different from open, free markets in that they have artificial barriers to entry: they redistribute costs of business to protect some incumbent firms by forcing the cost on (some) entrants. In other words, there are fewer new businesses and thus less competition.

Moreover, this decline in competition then means that the surviving large firms can afford to be less responsive to the desires of consumers. Efforts to reduce prices also fall by the wayside and competition wanes. Bylund continues:

Under interventionism, businesses do not always need to discover accurate consumer prices because the threat from new entrepreneurs entering the market is smaller than it otherwise would have been.

In other words, government regulations diminish consumer sovereignty by reducing both competition and thus the incentive to stay in tuned with what consumers want.

Dominant Firms Control the Regulators

The other great danger in regulation exists in the fact that regulatory bodies have a tendency to be taken over by the large dominant firms themselves.

This is a common occurrence in regulatory schemes and is known as “regulatory capture.” When new regulatory bodies are created to regulate firms like Facebook and other dominant firms, the institutions with the most at stake in a regulatory agency’s decisions end up controlling the agencies themselves. We see this all the time in the revolving door between legislators, regulators, and lobbyists. And you can also be sure that once this happens, the industry will close itself off to new innovative firms seeking to enter the marketplace. The regulatory agencies will ensure the health of the status quo providers at the cost of new entrepreneurs and new competitors.

Moreover, as economist Douglass North noted, regulatory regimes do not improve efficiency, but serve the interests of those with political power: “Institutions are not necessarily or even usually created to be socially efficient; rather they, or at least the formal rules, are created to serve the interests of those with the bargaining power to create new rules.”

After all,  how much incentive does the average person have in monitoring new regulations, staying in touch with regulators, and attempting to affect the regulatory process? The incentive is almost zero. The incentive for regulated firms, on the other hand, is quite large.

So, once Congress begins its process of regulating social media firms, you can be sure that Facebook and the other major firms involved will be at the table, and will be key in writing the legislation, and in guiding it through the legislative process. And why wouldn’t they be allowed to be closely involved?  As The Verge has already shown, Facebook freely writes checks to members of Congress as “political donations.” And once the new regulatory bodies have been created, Facebook will be involved every step of the way, from selecting regulators, to writing new regulatory rules.

Needless to say, it won’t exactly be a priority for Facebook to make sure that start-ups and other small firms get a fair shake at slicing off a piece of Facebook’s market share.

Mark Zuckerberg isn’t pandering when he says that he welcomes new regulations from Congress. He doesn’t want Facebook to end up like MySpace, and new regulations are among the easiest ways to crush the competition.

Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is the editor of Mises Wire and The Austrian.

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8 mins ago

‘Party Like It’s 1776’ theme too offensive for school prom

A New Jersey high school principal apologized Friday for a “Party Like It’s 1776” theme at prom.

Dr. Dennis Perry, principal of Cherry Hill High School, posted on his Twitter feed an apology for the theme printed on prom tickets, calling the decision “insensitive and irresponsible,” reported Fox News.

“I especially apologize to our African American students, who I have let down by not initially recognizing the inappropriateness of this wording,” Perry wrote in a statement.

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To make up for what he deemed an indiscretion, the principal said students would not need to bring their prom tickets in order to get into the event — they would instead only need to state their names to be matched up with a list of who bought tickets. Cherry Hill High School would also give every student attendee a “commemorative” ticket displaying a new design at the prom. Perry stated that a “diverse group of people” would review information distributed by the school prior to its dissemination, in the future.

Lloyd Henderson, president of the Camden County NAACP East Chapter, saw the incident indicative of a school culture “where African American students’ needs are not considered along with the rest of the school,” but mentioned that he appreciated Perry’s speedy response.

Cherry Hill High School made headlines in February when it suspended social studies teacher Timothy Locke after Locke told students to remember him if he died defending them during a school shooting.

(Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.)

1 hour ago

Alabama boy drowns in rough surf along Florida’s Gulf Coast

A 5-year-old Alabama boy died after getting caught up in rough surf on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

The News Herald reports Christian Doyle of Dothan, Alabama, was one of three swimmers pulled from the water off Panama City Beach on Saturday evening. Officials say single red surf warning signs were flying at the time, notifying beachgoers of the poor conditions.

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Panama City Beach fire rescue crews and a bystander performed CPR on the boy, but he died a short time later at a hospital.

The conditions of the other two swimmers, who were also from Dothan, were not immediately available.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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Why Christians should visit holy lands


Listen to the 10 min audio

Read the transcript:

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, last week, we talked about the opening of the new embassy in Jerusalem by the United States. Guatemala, later in the week, also moved their embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem.

Harry, in the aftermath of what happened on that day, there were, as we talked about, a number of Palestinians that were trying to breech the security border fence in Israel and they were pushed back by Israeli soldiers. A number of Palestinians were killed.

Later last week, we found that, indeed, while there were a number of Palestinians protesting, they were infiltrated by a number of terrorists and, in fact, there’s video evidence that Hamas was paying children to be involved in that group and some of those children lost their lives.

WHY VISIT THE HOLY LAND?

DR. REEDER: Tom, I’m going to be over there while this program is airing. People ask me, “Why do you go there?” It’s a principle I’ve learned in my own life and I use it in teaching others: If you can get direct access to the environment to where things occur, you pull in all of your senses when it comes time to learn and that enhances your learning — you get insight while you’re on-site.

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As we are spending the time there, we’ll go to the various places. I have a wonderful guide that goes before us and checks all the logistics and then makes her statements about the area. She’s very knowledgeable and then she steps back. And then I start going into connecting the dots — Old Testament, New Testament, what happened here, why’d it happen here — and the providence of God.

SITES OF JESUS’ MINISTRY CAN BRING THE BIBLE TO LIFE

I take people to the city of Naan — that’s where Jesus raised the boy who was being carried out of the city. I actually have found the place where that occurred and, not long after that, interestingly, an archaeological team working from the United States working in Israel found that the gates of the city were actually right there. And the way I found it is I found the ruins of an old church that used to be there, knowing that, early on, they would build churches on sites where certain things had occurred. That’s how I found it and then archeology, there was a big article on this in Biblical Archeological Review, they begin to dig and, sure enough, they found out that here’s where the gates of Naan were.

Now, there’s a lot of reasons to weep when your only son died if you’re a widow. In the surrounding societies, widows lost their legitimacy of existence when their husband died. What could preserve them is their children, in general, but the firstborn male, in particular.

Therefore, with her husband gone and her child gone, if she actually had been in another country, many of them, they just put them out and let them die or even, in some cases, put them to death because such women were considered as a burden upon society and no longer a productive member of society.

In Israel, that was not the case because the Lord had embedded the dignity of women into the ceremonial laws, in general, and the Law of God, in particular: “Honor your father and your mother.” “Do not commit adultery” — the sanctity of marriage and, therefore, the wife’s position in a marriage, that a wife was not just property.

He raises the boy and she’s got a lot of reason for joy and the people are amazed and they say, “He’s a prophet.” What a lot of people don’t realize is that there was a great prophet by the name of Elisha and that is the very area where he ministered. He, of course, raised a widow’s son as an affirmation that he had followed Elijah, who raises a widow’s son.

And, right there in that very area, they would be fully aware of that, very sensitive to that story and, when Jesus comes in and raises up the widow’s son in that same area, no wonder they cry out, “This is the prophet of whom we have waited.” What you can see is the amazing connecting of dots of all that takes place in this rather small country, about the size of New Jersey.

WHY IS ISRAEL SO CONTROVERSIAL?

TOM LAMPRECHT: And, Harry, as we look at Israel and the miracles that took place — some of the stories that you just shared with us just now, yet today it seems to be somewhat of a powder keg ready to go off at any moment. Harry, is that coincidental or is there a spiritual implication there?

DR. REEDER: We’re constantly amazed at how accurate the Bible is, both what it has recorded as history and then what it prophesies as history. Prophecy in the Bible is pre-written history and God has already told us of these conflicts that are going to be there, the conflicts that are going to exist throughout the world, and the particular conflicts that are going to be there in terms of the enmity of the nations.

Now we should, as believers, always pray for the peace of Jerusalem, we should always promote peace in the area and we need to deal justly with all sides in the conflict that is there. And you need to remember that you have brothers and sisters who are Jewish, who are in Christ and know the Lord, and you have brothers and sisters who are Palestinian who are in Christ and know the Lord. Therefore, we’re always laboring for that peace in the area.

However, Tom, while I’m there, I hope to let people see their Bible come alive and then, when we get back, I get people writing me all the time, “Can I tell you what that means? My Bible now is so alive when I read it because I was right there,” –getting insight while you’re on-site.

One of the places that the people will go is the Golan Heights and, when we go there, we’ll be looking over into Syria. Not only is there tension on the southern border of Hamas and Egypt and the Gaza, but there’s also, as you know, quite a bit of tension with Syria because Syria has become a proxy for Iran and Iran has already attempted some incursions. We’ll be taking a look from the observation post that they allow you to look from.

IT IS IMPORTANT TO SHARE THE GOSPEL

While we’re there, we’re going to share Christ with people and we’re going to pray for Israel. Let me just also say, Tom, that 30 years ago, it was less than 1 percent of Jewish people confessed Christ as Lord and Savior. It is now believed that they’re rising up to 5 percent. Now, that doesn’t sound like much, but that is an extensive multiplication.

There’s also some evidence within the military of an underground movement of the Gospel taking place in the Israeli country and there have been a number of churches that have been able to secure some freedoms that Christian churches have not enjoyed in the past but now do enjoy, which then has opened up other doors in ministry as well.

When I pray for the peace of Jerusalem, I not only pray, certainly, for the peace among the nations and the ethnicities, but I also want to pray very specifically for the Gospel of Peace so that men and women can be right with God through the redeeming work of Jesus Christ, filled with the Spirit of God.

When you’re filled with the Spirit of God, then you have the fruit of the Spirit — love, and joy, and peace, and patience, and kindness, and goodness and faithfulness, and gentleness and self-control — and then pray that the Gospel of saving grace in Christ that brings men and women at peace with God would promote their peace with one another and then, in fact, reach out in peace, certainly not to the detriment of the security of the nation, but in order to promote the security of the nation.

And I do pray that, somehow in some way, God uses our country here, America, as a part of both of those desires that I pray for. One part is that America will have believers who are praying for and sending those who can share the Gospel throughout the land of Israel. And, secondly, that the leadership of our nation might be able to assist in some way to bring a political, and national and ethnic peace among the peoples that are there but, all the while, seeing that movement of the Gospel of peace of Jesus Christ and the redemptive work of Christ bringing the true shalom — shalom, that wonderful word of peace.

COMING UP TOMORROW: OUR GOVERNMENT BRANCHES IN JEOPARDY?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, on tomorrow’s edition of Today in Perspective, I want to take you to a report that was released by the New York Times last week which ought to be somewhat concerning for all of us. It really describes how the separation of the three branches of our government are starting to erode.

DR. REEDER: Not only is it the law that is king in America — not any individual or any one branch of government — but how that wisdom needs to be embraced once again.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

2 hours ago

Trump: Hire America also means helping former inmates get work

President Donald Trump’s Hire American plan includes helping former inmates find gainful employment, he said Friday at the White House Prison Reform Summit.

“When we talk about our national program to hire American, this must include helping millions of former inmates get back into the workforce as gainfully employed citizens,” the president said. “At the heart of our prison reform agenda is expanding prison work and the programs so that inmates can reenter society with the skills to get a job.

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“We also want more mental health services so released inmates can cope with the challenges of life on the outside, and some of those challenges are not easy. We’re developing more effective drug treatment so that former prisoners can remain drug-free,” he said.

“Prison reform is an issue that unites people from across the political spectrum,” Trump said, adding, “Our whole nation benefits if former inmates are able to reenter society as productive, law-abiding citizens.”

He said over 62,000 inmates are released from mostly state prisons, and they struggle to find a job, stay off drugs, and “avoid old habits that lead them back to a life of crime, back to prison.”

“Drugs are playing a tremendously big role in our lives — in so many lives — not only having to do with prisoners, but having to do with people that never thought they’d be addicted, that never thought they’d have a problem like this, that are having a really hard time coping — drugs. We’re doing a big, big job on drugs. It is a scourge in this country,” the president said.

“In this effort, we are not just absolving prisoners of their central role in their own rehabilitation. There is no substitute for personal accountability, and there is no tolerance for those who take advantage of society’s generosity to prey upon the innocent,” Trump said.

The president said he supports prison reform efforts, and he pledged to sign prison reform legislation that clears Congress.

“As we speak, legislation is working through Congress to reform our federal prisons. My administration strongly supports these efforts, and I urge the House and Senate to get together — and there are a lot of senators, a lot of Congress people that want to get this passed — to work out their differences. Get a bill to my desk. I will sign it, and it’s going to be strong, it’s going to be good, it’s going to be what everybody wants,” Trump said.

A bipartisan prison reform bill backed by the White House cleared the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

The FIRST STEP Act (H.R. 5682), sponsored by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and co-sponsored by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries,” provides for programs to help reduce the risk that prisoners will recidivate upon release from prison, and for other purposes.

The bill authorizes the Bureau of Prisons to spend $50 million a year for five years on job training and education programs to reduce recidivism. It also clarifies current law to allow inmates up to 54 days of credit for good behavior each year. It was previously interpreted to allow only 47 days a year.

The bill also has the support of Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Several Democrats – Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and John Lewis (D-Ga.) – wrote to their fellow Democratic lawmakers Thursday urging them not to support the bill, spearheaded by Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, because they say it is “flawed” and doesn’t include sentencing reform.

(Courtesy CNSNews.com)

3 hours ago

4-year-old Alabamian Austin Perine feeding the homeless with huge heart and wise words: ‘don’t forget to show love!’

Most 4-year-olds live with only a few things on their minds: Mom, Dad, siblings, play, eat and drink.

Not Austin Perine.

He feeds the homeless.

Ask him why, and be prepared for a simple but wise answer.

“If you were homeless, would you want to be fed? Well, that’s why I’m feeding the homeless, because they’re hungry,” Austin responds.

(Austin Perine is a young Alabama Bright Light who proves some heroes do wear capes from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.)

Austin wears a superhero cape when he goes on his feeding outings with his father, T.J. Perine. At Linn Park recently, the little guy handed sandwiches and drinks to the homeless. Every time, he exclaimed, “Don’t forget to show love!”

Show Love is the name of the nonprofit the elder Perine started.

“This whole thing started when we were sitting at home watching Animal Planet and a baby panda was abandoned by its mom,” Perine said. “Just to give him an answer, I told Austin that the panda would be homeless. Then he asked, ‘Well, are people homeless?’ and I said yes. That sparked an idea for him to want to come and feed the homeless, so here we are just a few months later.”

A few of the homeless at Linn Park knew little Austin with his superhero cape, and exchanged hugs and fist bumps. Those who did not know him were flabbergasted. One homeless man said he’d never seen anything like this.

Most people are concerned with their own well-being. The few who show this level of dedication to serving others are usually adults with a giving spirit. For Austin, it’s not about age but empathy.

Austin explained how doing this makes him feel inside.

“When I feed the homeless it makes me really happy and I think what I do is very special,” Austin said. “When I grow up I want to be president. My jobs when I become president would be to feed the homeless and to chase the bad guys out of schools.”

Austin’s efforts have garnered worldwide attention from media outlets interested in his story.

“We’ve been on CNN, NBC and CBS, and we’ve been covered by news in France, Germany and England,” Perine said. “Austin has been doing his thing and has no idea; he’s just being Austin. I think it’s remarkable. Every day I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m still alive, because this is like a dream.”

Austin continued handing out sandwiches and drinks when he got a huge hug from a woman sitting on the steps at Linn Park. She had a grocery cart full of bags and clothes and other items, most likely all she owned.

“When I get hugs from the homeless, it makes me feel great inside,” Austin said.

Remember this: Austin Perine is only 4 years old.

To donate or for information visit, www.presidentaustin.org

(Courtesy Alabama News Center)

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