Yahoo News: Bail reform is good for law and order

This article was published on Yahoo News.

It was also featured by other outlets including the Charleston Mail-Gazette (West Virginia), the Deming Headlight (New Mexico) and the Jacksonville Journal-Courier (Illinois).

Fearing for their political lives, many elected officials in New York are hurriedly backing down from previous commitments on bail reform. The measures had rolled back the use of cash bail, except for some violent crimes and other exceptional circumstances. That meant an end to jailing people before their trial for months or years, for the crime of being unable to pay their bail.

Now, it seems cash bail is back on the menu, despite all the evidence suggesting that will be a bad thing for law and order.

A new study, The Hidden Costs of Pretrial Detention Revisited, examined data from 1.5 million people booked into jail in Kentucky between 2009 and 2018 to investigate whether cash bail is as effective and vital as its supporters claim. The researchers’ findings were striking. Not only is the widespread use of cash bail ineffectual but in fact counterproductive. It makes communities less safe.

It might be counter-intuitive, but avoiding putting people behind bars until we have no other choice makes the public safer. In other words, jailing defendants before they have been found guilty of any crime makes them more likely to reoffend and less likely to turn up for their trial. It therefore makes bail less effective and undermines law and order more broadly.

Think of it this way. If you were falsely accused of a crime, you would have the constitutional right as an American to a fair trial — a right you would be very grateful for, no doubt. But how would your attitude to the justice system change if you were then detained for months — or in some cases even years — before your trial has begun? You would have been put behind bars practically indefinitely without even the chance to voice your defense before a jury of your peers.

Would finding yourself in that predicament inspire confidence in the justice system? Would it make you believe in its sincere desire to rehabilitate criminals and prioritize public safety above all else? Of course not. Unsurprisingly, foregoing the presumption of innocence and instead incarcerating people who have been found guilty of no crime stokes resentment in American institutions and inevitably leads to worse outcomes for everyone.

As if that were not enough, the cash bail system also represents disastrously inefficient government spending. According to data from the Prison Policy Initiative, on any given day, a whopping 400,000 people presumed innocent are held in pretrial jails across the country. They make up more than two-thirds of jail populations. That means your tax dollars are being spent incarcerating thousands upon thousands of people who have no need to be behind bars and have not been found guilty of any crime.

The heart of the problem is that the cash bail system decides who to release and who to detain based on wealth, rather than danger to the community. Too often, those charged with non-violent offenses are incarcerated entirely unnecessarily, at great cost to them and the taxpayer. Bail reform does not mean allowing violent, dangerous offenders to walk free, but rather limiting the use of pretrial detention to cases when it is truly merited.

Despite the fears of New York officials, there is no data whatsoever to suggest a link between bail reform and the recent spike in crime. But the populace is always right, and since politicians prioritize self-preservation above almost everything else, they seem worryingly willing to give in to the counter-factual narrative and back down on bail reform.

That is a bad thing for the American justice system and for taxpayers’ wallets. It means tax dollars are used less effectively and it means we are less safe. For all our sakes, politicians must put facts above feelings and consign the unnecessary overuse of cash bail to the history books.

Free The People: A Flavored Tobacco Ban in Colorado Would Harm Public Health and the Rule Of Law

This article was published by Free The People.

Lawmakers are considering a bill which would prohibit flavored tobacco and nicotine products. While it is no doubt well-intentioned, passing the bill into law would be a grave mistake. A flavored tobacco ban is a very poor way to confront addiction. It would put businesses and jobs at risk, lower tax revenues, and pose a danger to communities through illicit markets.

The economic costs of a ban alone would be substantial. It would hit the more than 5,000 licensed Colorado business which sell tobacco products to adults aged 21 and older. In the last decade, those businesses sold around $4.6 billion in flavored tobacco products in entirely legitimate transactions which would be criminalized under the new legislation.

What’s more, the ban would hit everyone’s wallets, not just those who trade in tobacco. A ban on flavored products would take a huge chunk out of the annual $406.3 million of tobacco excise and sales tax revenue in Colorado. By banning the sales of flavored tobacco products including menthol cigarettes to adults, approximately $1.2 billion in revenue would be at risk over the next ten years.

Either the state finds itself with considerably less money to spend overnight or, worse, politicians decide to increase other taxes on hardworking Colorado residents to make up the shortfall. In either scenario, it is likely that programs which rely on government funding such as housing, local governments, K-12 education, and even tobacco prevention programs would lose out, since they depend specifically on revenues from the cigarette tax.

Alongside the economic impact, a short-sighted move to ban flavored tobacco products would bring additional costs for Colorado communities by stoking illicit trade. Removing these products from the legal market would create a whole new market operating outside of the law, meaning cashflow moves from licensed businesses to criminal networks, which then profit from tobacco smuggling.

Based on what has happened in the past in similar cases, there is no doubt about how this would play out—prohibiting entire sections of the consumer market always leads to a boom in the black market. That would heap additional pressure onto already stressed law enforcement organizations like the State Police, County Sheriffs, and City and Town Correctional Departments, as well as courts and correctional facilities.

A ban would also put ordinary consumers of tobacco in unnecessary danger by forcing them to resort to unlicensed, unregulated, unaccountable vendors to buy their tobacco products. They will no longer be confident that the products they consume are safe and tested.

Perhaps most damningly of all, going ahead with the ban would be undemocratic. Voters are staunchly opposed to it. The data suggests they overwhelmingly view these kinds of laws as a new form of prohibition and resent them for that reason. 77 percent of all voters say being aged 21 or older means you, not the government, get to make choices for yourself, including what legal products to buy. People want to be treated as adults.

Protecting children from tobacco and nicotine addiction is a laudable aim, but a blanket ban would bring with it too much collateral damage. Instead, Colorado should focus its attention on harm reduction solutions. Cigarette sales to under-21s are already illegal. The strategy for confronting youth tobacco use should center around enforcing the law as it stands.

There is plenty more that can be done to help without fueling other issues, too. For instance, investment in education and cessation support would go much further towards safeguarding public health than a ban. Marketing restrictions and licensing rules, for instance, should be tightened to bring regulation of smokeless e-vapor products in line with those for cigarettes and traditional tobacco products.

The proposed ban, then, fails on all fronts. It would be bad for criminal justice, bad for public health, and voters do not want it. There are ample unexplored avenues to help address the underage use of tobacco without prohibiting adult choices. We are all better off exploring those long before considering ineffective and harmful blanket bans.

International Policy Digest: Cash Bail Leads to Jail Overcrowding – And That’s a Waste of Your Tax Dollars

This article was published by the International Policy Digest.

On any given day, an estimated 445,000 people are incarcerated in American jails before their trial has even begun. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, pretrial detainees represent more than two-thirds of jail populations.

Throughout the pandemic, disgruntled Americans have written countless thousands of words about excessive government spending and wasteful use of tax dollars. But one of the most egregious examples of wildly inefficient use of government money is the millions and millions of dollars spent each year on holding people in jail before their trial.

The American justice system promises a presumption of innocence before trial. Why, then, are so many resources expended on incarcerating those presumed innocent pretrial, in much the same way as they would be thrown behind bars if they had just been found guilty?

Cash bail is the heart of the problem. Judges often decide that defendants must fork out substantial bail sums if they want to remain free before their trial. If they are unable to pay up – which happens very often – they end up behind bars, sometimes for years, awaiting their trial. Every defendant who finds themselves in jail before their trial is an additional strain on America’s purse strings.

Holding people in jail before their trial is bad for justice outcomes, too. According to a new study, “The Hidden Costs of Pretrial Detention Revisited,” time spent in custody pretrial has no consistent public benefit. For example, increasing the amount of time spent in pretrial detention was consistently associated with an increased chance of rearrest.

Perhaps worst of all, the current system does not even achieve what it sets out to do – encouraging defendants to turn up at court. The research, based on data from almost 1.5 million people booked into jail in Kentucky between 2009 and 2018, found no relationship between the amount of time spent in pretrial detention and the odds of a defendant failing to appear in court.

The cash bail system, then, leads to overcrowding of jails and gratuitous wastage of tax dollars. It is harmful to both the defendant and the wider public and it represents yet another unnecessary logistical challenge for the already stretched American justice system.

The system badly needs rethinking. Firstly, we must stop so readily jailing people during the pretrial phase. Those who pose a serious threat to public safety must, of course, be kept behind bars but those cases should be treated as the exception, not the rule. There is no reason for you and me to pay, through our taxes, to incarcerate many thousands of people who do not need to be in jail and may yet be found innocent.

There are plenty of ways to get around the all-or-nothing approach of cash bail versus incarceration. For instance, other countries around the world have found creative ways of keeping tabs on pretrial defendants, such as having police regularly knock on their door to ensure they have not left town or asking them to sign in weekly at a police station. Even electronic tags are a much more efficient, less harmful alternative to pretrial jail time.

It is imperative we educate judges, prosecutors, and the public on how pretrial detention undermines community safety and wastes government resources. The current system is unnecessarily costly and does not make us any safer. We must reconsider it.

RealClear Policy: Censoring Online Pornography Is A Slippery Slope For Free Speech

This article was published by RealClear Policy.

Covid-19 taught us a great deal about misinformation online — or it should have. In the space of a few months, the Wuhan lab leak theory went from fringe conspiracy theory in need of censorship, lest it spread, to the consensus among the mainstream scientific community. The episode brought into sharp focus how hard it can be to tell harmful content from harmful censorship, and the flaws of any attempt to centralize and codify content moderation.

Ever determined to ignore the lessons of recent history, politicians are pressing ahead with a censorship agenda. A new wave of content moderation bills has cropped up across the country. From Minnesota to Tennessee to California, lawmakers are inserting themselves into the relationship between the internet and the consumer, this time under the guise of protecting children from harmful content such as pornography.

Thousands of pages could be written about the individual issues with each of the dozens of similar bills, but they are all cut from the same cloth. They represent an approach to policing the internet whose flaws have been repeatedly exposed. Government cannot unilaterally block access to content it deems harmful, nor should it try to.

Using the government as an adult content watchdog is a slippery slope. If we permit the state to prevent access to pornography, there is no clear logical conclusion to that line of thinking. Once we have consented to sidestepping our First Amendment rights, where does it stop? Will we also allow the government to determine the types of videos we can watch when it comes to other forms of entertainment? How about political speeches? Do we really want politicians creating lists of websites we are forbidden from viewing, even when their content is perfectly legal?

Mission creep is a real problem. Lawmakers are incapable of staying within their bounds. They are practically guaranteed to use any new powers we grant them to grow the extent of their influence over our lives as far as they can manage. If you think Big Tech censorship is bad, it is nothing compared to what would happen if our leaders gained the right to dictate what content you can or cannot see.

Ironically, there is huge overlap between the politicians who bemoan — rightly — the apparent suppression of counter-mainstream views about the origins of the coronavirus and those who believe government should have the right to decide what content adults can and cannot access.

There are few limits to how far the pro-censorship lobby want government to go in cracking down on content they do not like. What would a state-censored internet look like in America? Perhaps the Department of Homeland Security will hand out criminal penalties against people working in the porn industry, and consumers themselves. While that would no doubt create a substantial new revenue stream for the government, it is not representative of how a free, civilized country treats the internet.

Before long, the black market would rear its ugly head. Prohibitions or onerous new restrictions on legal pornography will only push the industry underground, where cooperation with law enforcement will be non-existent and porn money would flow much more easily into the wider criminal world. Such a popular, profitable industry being forced out of the purview of the law would be a boon for criminals who operate on the dark web.

The push to criminalize porn will do little to protect children, who are increasingly au fait with using VPNs and other tools to circumvent censors, but it will open a backdoor to further censorship and fuel criminality.

Jason Reed is the spokesperson for Young Voices and a policy analyst and political commentator for a wide range of outlets. Follow him on Twitter @JasonReed624.

Townhall: We Cannot Ignore The Privacy Implications Of Going Cashless

This article was published by Townhall.

Little by little, our society is going cashless. More and more people are jettisoning cumbersome coins and notes in favor of the convenience of instant electronic transactions. They might be quicker and easier in the moment but going cashless comes with grave implications for our privacy which we risk forgetting.

When it comes to privacy, nothing comes close to cash. It is the most private form of transaction and the most anonymous. By contrast, electronic payments involve providing personal information not just to merchants, but also third parties.

Electronic payments, on the other hand, present privacy risks that cash payments do not. The convenience of paying electronically means, inevitably, your data and your money must be stored remotely elsewhere. That makes it vulnerable to being exposed in data breaches. It exposes you to fraud and makes your personal data ripe for hackers and other criminal actors.

It is easy to dismiss that idea as an abstract threat. What are the chances of that happening to me, you might ask. In fact, it probably already has happened to you. Alarming research suggests that 15 billion credentials are in circulation on dark web marketplaces used by criminals to trade stolen data.

Every time you sign up to a paid service which involves non-cash transactions, even something as innocuous as an online streaming service, you are willingly pouring information about yourself into yet another remote database. If someone nefarious accesses it from the backend, you will probably not find out until it is already too late.

The heart of the cashless debate is this. Any number of organizations currently hold your data as a result of online transactions you have completed in the past. Many will be organizations you have never directly interacted with, and perhaps never even heard of, since there are often several parties involved in the backend processing of payments. Do you truly have faith in the integrity and trustworthiness of each and every one of those organizations which know a great deal about you? In fact, how can you, since you do not know who all of them are?

Even more pertinently, do you trust that each of those organizations will take the proper care of your data, and guard it with the same vociferousness that you do yourself? They probably deal with personal information from thousands of different people at a time, as part of enormous spreadsheets. The slightest slipup can expose vulnerabilities to hackers, especially in the modern age where data can be retrieved from a laptop on the other side of the world without a trace.

More than crime, perhaps the greatest threats to privacy come from state actors. An increasing number of state and local governments have eliminated the ability to pay for access to key services like public transit and highways with cash. By going down this cashless path, they are encroaching on citizens’ privacy and increasing their ability to monitor and surveil the movements and activities of the population.

Politicians are not blind to the new powers they are acquiring as we abandon cash en masse. In fact, the federal government has become increasingly intrusive in monitoring transactions. For example, in 2020, federal regulators issued a proposed rule, “modifying the rule implementing the Bank Secrecy Act requiring financial institutions to collect and retain information on certain funds transfers and transmittals of funds,” lowering the threshold for reporting from “$3,000 to $250 for funds transfers and transmittals of funds that begin or end outside the United States.” This ought to be of grave concern to anyone who values their privacy and their independence from the government.

A cashless society would be a society with diminished privacy for all. When it comes to privacy, cash is still king. Naturally, the convenience and speed of electronic transactions is hard to resist. But we must not make momentous decisions like abandoning cash without first considering the risks, and ideally maintaining a prominent place for cash in our society and economy as a reliable fallback option.

There are accessibility risks in the rush to go cashless, too. Going cashless may freeze out the most vulnerable, those with lower incomes who cannot afford to tap away freely on contactless card machines and need to keep a close eye on how much money they have to get through the week. It also presents new barriers to completing simple, everyday tasks like buying groceries for those with some disabilities or who struggle with technology, like the elderly.

Of course, in the free market, businesses may abandon cash payments if they so wish, and their customer base has no objection. But as a society, we ought to consider carefully the possible risks of such a momentous shift in the way we trade and barter with each other.

Jason Reed is the spokesperson for Young Voices and a policy analyst and political commentator for a wide range of outlets. Follow him on Twitter @JasonReed624

Counterpunch: Cash Bail For Non-Violent Offenders Is Costly, Harmful And Unconstitutional

This article was published by Counterpunch.

The American justice system is based on liberty, the right to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence – or so it should be. So why do we routinely incarcerate people for months or years before their trial has even begun?

The answer is money. If a judge sets cash bail for someone accused of committing a crime but they cannot afford to pay, they have no choice but to wait behind bars until their rial date. On any given day, an estimated 445,000 people are held pretrial in jails across the US – all of them presumed innocent, but all of them incarcerated. They represent a whopping 67% of the entire jail population.

Your tax dollars are going towards keeping people in jail who have not been found guilty of any crime. But even more worrying than the wasteful spending is the implications for justice.

A new study, The Hidden Costs of Pretrial Detention Revisited, exposes the harm done by keeping people in jail before their trial. Based on data from almost 1.5 million people jailed in Kentucky between 2009 and 2018, researchers found that any time spent in detention pretrial – even if only a short stretch – is bad for the public.

The study found a clear link between pretrial detention and a higher likelihood of arrest for a new crime before case deposition. Unsurprisingly, putting defendants behind bars before they have been tried did not inspire faith in the justice system, and in many cases seemed to lead to reoffending.

The cash bail system is broken. It undermines our constitutional rights – the sixth amendment specific the right to a speedy trial. The eighth amendment calls for reasonable bail and the fourteenth amendment guarantees the protection of liberty and property. By relying on cash bail and putting people behind bars because of their inability to pay up, we contravene their most basic rights.

Reforming the nation’s pretrial system is not about letting people with histories of violence go free. It’s about promoting risk-based decision making on a case-by-case basis that honors due process for the accused. Balanced reforms ensure judges and magistrates preserve individual liberty – which demands freedom from imprisonment until proven guilty – while providing the tools to protect public safety, including the use of pre-trial detention when deemed appropriate.

Keeping the public safe should be a priority for all parties but bail doesn’t achieve public safety. Jails overcrowded with defendants who pose little to no risk, who haven’t even been convicted of the crime they are being held for, and who are being kept away from their families, jobs, and communities, is the avoidable result of a system that doesn’t allow judges to find an appropriate balance between individual liberty and public safety on a case-by-case basis.

Reforming bail should be rooted in the presumption of innocence, right to due process and conservative tenets of freedom – grounded in natural rights to achieve the careful balance between liberty and public safety.  Getting this balance right is a test of a nation founded under the belief that among our natural rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Times & Democrat (South Carolina): Another shot in war on vaping

This article was published by the Times and Democrat, a newspaper based in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

This was a republication of my earlier article for Inside Sources.

Vaping increases your risk of diabetes.

That is the contention of a new study by a team of scientists at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland. They analyzed data from 600,000 Americans and they say their findings, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, show a clear link between e-cigarette use and high blood sugar.

Should vapers be worried? Absolutely not.

This study is just the latest in a long line of alarmist reports that seem intent on convincing us that, one way or another, vaping is much more dangerous than we first thought. The issue of vaping has become so intensely politicized that the so-called science swirling around it is nothing more than a pool of harmful disinformation.

The sheer volume of ailments supposedly caused by vaping is staggering. In just the last few months, separate studies from reputable research institutions have claimed to discover some as-yet-unknown link between e-cigarettes and cancerstressgum diseasedry eye and even erectile dysfunction. The methodology behind these studies has been shown up for its fundamental flaws time and time again, but the world of public health science continues to churn them out.

What next? Will we soon be told that vaping is single-handedly responsible for obesity and Alzheimer’s too? Don’t bet against it. The immensely powerful anti-vaping lobby will stop at nothing to villainize electronic cigarettes, even if that means citing them as the cause of every public health issue they can shake a stick at.

We don’t have to search very hard to understand why. Like so many that went before it, the new Johns Hopkins study alleging a connection between vaping and diabetes bears the name of Michael Bloomberg. Vaping alarmism is unscientific and transparently political, and Bloomberg is the man behind a great deal of it.

In 2019, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched a new program designed to combat what it called “the youth e-cigarette epidemic,” backed up by a whopping $160 million of funding. Since then, Bloomberg has effectively positioned himself at the epicenter of the anti-vaping lobby. His fellow travelers on this venture include the World Health Organization, whose Tobacco Free Initiative project boasts Bloomberg Philanthropies as a partner.

Ironically, that project spends most of its time and resources bashing e-cigarettes and issuing diktats to governments around the world to crack down on vaping, despite them being tobacco-free. And that is precisely the problem with alarmism and misinformation around vaping: it is based on politics rather than science.

The conflation of vaping and smoking by Bloomberg, the WHO and countless other organizations is actively dangerous. The science on this is crystal clear that vaping is much healthier than smoking. It is around 200 times less likely to give you cancer. (And no, it does not cause erectile dysfunction.)

Crucially, vaping is not just healthier than smoking — it is also the silver bullet that helps people escape the harms of tobacco. Electronic cigarettes are by far the most effective tool we have ever discovered for helping people quit smoking traditional cigarettes. When smokers use vaping to quit, they are successful approximately three-fourths of the time. That’s a much higher success rate than using nicotine patches, going cold turkey, or indeed any other method of quitting.

Across the world, people are quitting smoking en masse. They are spontaneously making the choice to adopt a healthier lifestyle. But quitting smoking is not easy. It is an addiction, after all. If we believe in freedom of choice and agree that people who want to quit smoking should be able to do so, the best course of action is to make freely available all the information and resources smokers will need to move on from cigarettes. Vaping is an indispensable part of that.

But thanks in large part to Bloomberg and the World Health Organization, that’s the opposite of what is happening. Vaping is shrouded in misinformation and more and more governments and regulatory agencies around the world are bringing the hammer down on vaping. It is doing immeasurable damage to public health and our most basic liberties.

AIER: The Politicization of Vaping Studies

This article was published by the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER).

This was a republication of my earlier article for Inside Sources.

Vaping increases your risk of diabetes.

That is the contention of a new study by a team of scientists at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland. They analyzed data from 600,000 Americans and they say their findings, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, show a clear link between e-cigarette use and high blood sugar.

Should vapers be worried? Absolutely not.

This study is just the latest in a long line of alarmist reports that seem intent on convincing us that, one way or another, vaping is much more dangerous than we first thought. The issue of vaping has become so intensely politicized that the so-called science swirling around it is nothing more than a pool of harmful disinformation.

The sheer volume of ailments supposedly caused by vaping is staggering. In just the last few months, separate studies from reputable research institutions have claimed to discover some as-yet-unknown link between e-cigarettes and cancerstressgum diseasedry eye and even erectile dysfunction. The methodology behind these studies has been shown up for its fundamental flaws time and time again, but the world of public health science continues to churn them out.

What next? Will we soon be told that vaping is single-handedly responsible for obesity and Alzheimer’s too? Don’t bet against it. The immensely powerful anti-vaping lobby will stop at nothing to villainize electronic cigarettes, even if that means citing them as the cause of every public health issue they can shake a stick at.

We don’t have to search very hard to understand why. Like so many that went before it, the new Johns Hopkins study alleging a connection between vaping and diabetes bears the name of Michael Bloomberg. Vaping alarmism is unscientific and transparently political, and Bloomberg is the man behind a great deal of it.

In 2019, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched a new program designed to combat what it called “the youth e-cigarette epidemic,” backed up by a whopping $160 million of funding. Since then, Bloomberg has effectively positioned himself at the epicenter of the anti-vaping lobby. His fellow travelers on this venture include the World Health Organization, whose Tobacco Free Initiative project boasts Bloomberg Philanthropies as a partner.

Ironically, that project spends most of its time and resources bashing e-cigarettes and issuing diktats to governments around the world to crack down on vaping, despite them being tobacco-free. And that is precisely the problem with alarmism and misinformation around vaping: it is based on politics rather than science.

The conflation of vaping and smoking by Bloomberg, the WHO and countless other organizations is actively dangerous. The science on this is crystal clear that vaping is much healthier than smoking. It is around 200 times less likely to give you cancer. (And no, it does not cause erectile dysfunction.)

Crucially, vaping is not just healthier than smoking — it is also the silver bullet that helps people escape the harms of tobacco. Electronic cigarettes are by far the most effective tool we have ever discovered for helping people quit smoking traditional cigarettes. When smokers use vaping to quit, they are successful approximately three-fourths of the time. That’s a much higher success rate than using nicotine patches, going cold turkey, or indeed any other method of quitting.

Across the world, people are quitting smoking en masse. They are spontaneously making the choice to adopt a healthier lifestyle. But quitting smoking is not easy. It is an addiction, after all. If we believe in freedom of choice and agree that people who want to quit smoking should be able to do so, the best course of action is to make freely available all the information and resources smokers will need to move on from cigarettes. Vaping is an indispensable part of that.

But thanks in large part to Bloomberg and the World Health Organization, that’s the opposite of what is happening. Vaping is shrouded in misinformation and more and more governments and regulatory agencies around the world are bringing the hammer down on vaping. It is doing immeasurable damage to public health and our most basic liberties.

Townhall: How This One Simple Experiment Can Transform Every Policy Area – From Finance to Transport

This article was first published on Townhall.

Start-ups often struggle to penetrate markets which are dominated by industry giants with deeper pockets. That hurts innovation and progress.

But what if there was a way to neatly sidestep that problem?

Regulatory sandboxes represent a fantastic step forward. They provide a red tape-free bubble for certain companies to do business free of much of the regulation which would otherwise hold them down. Some rules, such as those protecting consumers (e.g. product liability) remain in place but other than that, companies are broadly given free rein to disrupt the market.

That’s a silver bullet for competition and innovation.

The problem regulators face is balancing competing interests. On the one hand, they want to prevent monopolies. When a particular company gains too much power over their sector, it’s bad for everyone, especially consumers. On the other hand, regulators also want to allow the incumbent giants in the sector to continue doing their thing and providing for their consumers.

We don’t want Apple, for instance, to crowd out its competitors and become a monopoly in the technology industry. Regulatory sandboxes are a great way to allow smaller, newer tech start-ups – innovators and disruptors – to explore the industry, build their brand and consumer base and stoke competition.

And that doesn’t only apply to tech, of course. Regulatory sandboxes can be used in every sector, from finance to transport, to make things better for consumers by keeping prices low and fuelling innovation, so that private companies are always striving to find new ways to make our lives better.

Regulatory sandboxes also provide a solution to the issue of regulator sluggishness. When new developments emerge like drone technology or cryptocurrency, regulators often react slowly and haphazardly thanks to the bureaucracy of centralized law-making.

The pace of innovation is always accelerating – and that is a very good thing for all of us. Have you ever considered how difficult it would be to explain modern technology to people who had never encountered it before?

How would you go about communicating to someone who lived just a couple of centuries ago that it is now possible to store an entire library’s worth of information on a tiny metal chip? The late boss of IBM, Thomas Watson, was famously thought to have said there would only ever be global demand for five computers. It is incorrigibly difficult to imagine a world so radically different to one’s own.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the cumbersome apparatus of the state struggles to keep up with innovation. Governments are necessarily instruments of bureaucracy and expecting them to understand ever-changing technological advancements deeply enough to be able to regulate them effectively is always going to be a lost cause.

It is hard to forget, for instance, the countless examples of lawmakers very publicly failing to understand the basics of how modern technology works, such as Google searches and social media. Clearly, the current system is failing us.

By providing regulatory sandboxes, new technologies can be explored in a safe, controlled environment, without the burden of having to pre-emptively regulate emerging industries and technologies.

Too often, regulators use other tools such as taxes and new regulations instead. They are often working towards laudable aims, such as preventing monopolies, but by using those outdated methods, they cause a great deal of collateral damage.

Taxes only make the end product more expensive for the consumer, which is a particularly bad idea when we’re heading into a cost-of-living crisis. Drowning new innovations and developments in red tape is actively bad for competition because it cements the position of the incumbent industry giants at the top of the food chain, since they can afford the extra costs and delays that come with clumsy regulation, but start-ups often cannot.

Plus, excessive taxes and regulations make America an unattractive prospect for investors and entrepreneurs, leading them to take their ideas – and their money – elsewhere.

So many world-changing innovations have humble beginnings. When someone is chasing the American dream by working on a new gadget in their garage which has the potential to change the way we live our lives, the role of government is to pave the path for them to success – not make their life more difficult and encourage them to waste their talent and drive.

That’s where regulatory sandboxes come in. They have a proven track record of success, such as in the insurance and legal industries in Utah, and now it is time to roll them out more widely in states across America to truly unleash the potential of the free market.

Jason Reed is the PR Manager at Young Voices and a policy analyst and political commentator for a wide range of outlets. Follow him on Twitter @JasonReed624

Inside Sources: Anti-Vaping Study With Bloomberg’s Name on It

This article was first published by Inside Sources.

Vaping increases your risk of diabetes.

That is the contention of a new study by a team of scientists at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland. They analyzed data from 600,000 Americans and they say their findings, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, show a clear link between e-cigarette use and high blood sugar.

Should vapers be worried? Absolutely not.

This study is just the latest in a long line of alarmist reports that seem intent on convincing us that, one way or another, vaping is much more dangerous than we first thought. The issue of vaping has become so intensely politicized that the so-called science swirling around it is nothing more than a pool of harmful disinformation.

The sheer volume of ailments supposedly caused by vaping is staggering. In just the last few months, separate studies from reputable research institutions have claimed to discover some as-yet-unknown link between e-cigarettes and cancer,stress, gum disease, dry eye and even erectile dysfunction. The methodology behind these studies has been shown up for its fundamental flaws time and time again, but the world of public health science continues to churn them out.

What next? Will we soon be told that vaping is single-handedly responsible for obesity and Alzheimer’s too? Don’t bet against it. The immensely powerful anti-vaping lobby will stop at nothing to villainize electronic cigarettes, even if that means citing them as the cause of every public health issue they can shake a stick at.

We don’t have to search very hard to understand why. Like so many that went before it, the new Johns Hopkins study alleging a connection between vaping and diabetes bears the name of Michael Bloomberg. Vaping alarmism is unscientific and transparently political, and Bloomberg is the man behind a great deal of it.

In 2019, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched a new program designed to combat what it called “the youth e-cigarette epidemic,” backed up by a whopping $160 million of funding. Since then, Bloomberg has effectively positioned himself at the epicenter of the anti-vaping lobby. His fellow travelers on this venture include the World Health Organization, whose Tobacco Free Initiative project boasts Bloomberg Philanthropies as a partner.

Ironically, that project spends most of its time and resources bashing e-cigarettes and issuing diktats to governments around the world to crack down on vaping, despite them being tobacco-free. And that is precisely the problem with alarmism and misinformation around vaping: it is based on politics rather than science.

The conflation of vaping and smoking by Bloomberg, the WHO and countless other organizations is actively dangerous. The science on this is crystal clear that vaping is much healthier than smoking. It is around 200 times less likely to give you cancer. (And no, it does not cause erectile dysfunction.)

Crucially, vaping is not just healthier than smoking — it is also the silver bullet that helps people escape the harms of tobacco. Electronic cigarettes are by far the most effective tool we have ever discovered for helping people quit smoking traditional cigarettes. When smokers use vaping to quit, they are successful approximately three-fourths of the time. That’s a much higher success rate than using nicotine patches, going cold turkey, or indeed any other method of quitting.

Across the world, people are quitting smoking en masse. They are spontaneously making the choice to adopt a healthier lifestyle. But quitting smoking is not easy. It is an addiction, after all. If we believe in freedom of choice and agree that people who want to quit smoking should be able to do so, the best course of action is to make freely available all the information and resources smokers will need to move on from cigarettes. Vaping is an indispensable part of that.

But thanks in large part to Bloomberg and the World Health Organization, that’s the opposite of what is happening. Vaping is shrouded in misinformation and more and more governments and regulatory agencies around the world are bringing the hammer down on vaping. It is doing immeasurable damage to public health and our most basic liberties.