Author: Lauren Ames

FCC Ruling on Wireless Service Could Set a Dangerous Precedent

On Friday, the Federal Communications Commission asked for public comment on whether police or a public agency should be able to shut down cellphone and internet service to protect public safety.  The issue came to the FCC’s attention after the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) turned off cellphone service for three hours last August to discourage a citizen protest against the fatal shooting of a man by a BART police officer. Not only does cutting cellphone service violate the FCC’s ban on cellphone jammers or other communication interference; BART’s policy is reminiscent of the same suppression of free speech used during the Arab Spring protests last year.  For instance, President Mubarak suspended Egypt’s internet and cellphone access on January 29, 2011 in response to escalating protests against his regime, shortly before he resigned and transferred control to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.[1] Similarly, Iran limited internet access during protests of its 2009 presidential elections.[2] Cellphones and the internet greatly contributed to the success of the Arab Spring by facilitating free speech.  Limiting public dissent by blocking wireless communication is not only unconstitutional; it puts the United States in the same category as these authoritarian regimes. BART argues that turning off service protects “the safety of district passengers, employees and other members of the public,” preventing substantial disruption of transit services and thwarting attempts to...

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All’s Fair in Danish Taxation – But What About the U.S.?

  Two weeks ago, when President Obama announced his plan to ensure that millionaires pay at least the same tax rate as middle-income Americans, tax cut advocates came out in force. Some fiscal conservatives rumbled against the United States’ overly progressive taxation system, arguing that many countries, like Denmark, have flatter tax rates than the United States. Others argued that lower income earners should step up to the plate and pay more taxes, especially since wealthy Americans are supposed to pay 35 percent of most of their income in marginal taxes  (though 2009 IRS data indicates wealthy Americans actually pay 24 percent). Still others, like Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called the plan “class warfare.” Dr. Richard W. Rahn, an economist and chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth, argued in an op-ed published in The Washington Times entitled “Growing the Economy for Dummies” that even Scandinavian countries tax their citizens much more fairly than the United States does.  He also cited Denmark as an example, where the bottom third of income earners pay 14.1 percent of all taxes and the richest pay 48.7 percent, while the bottom third of Americans pay only 6.1 percent compared to 65.3 percent for the top third. The argument that the United States could learn from Denmark or other Scandinavian countries’ flatter tax systems, or that lower income Americans should “pull their weight” ignores the...

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