I generally find more bad news than good news in the actions of governments, but there have been a few recent bright sports.
15. On August 1, the Canadian government will end its Depression-era monopoly over wheat farmers and allow them to sell to whomever they choose. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what that means for local and global markets, but it sounds like a clear step toward free trade, individual freedom, and a better world for farmers and consumers.
16. CISPA is one of those post-SOPA bills that has been freaking out the Internet, but its latest version apparently contains some encouraging provisions regarding privacy. Techdirt has been accused of overhyping threats to Internet freedom, and they sometimes assert that revisions to bills are worse than their originals, so when they say this new version of the bill “may actually take privacy concerns seriously,” I am encouraged to believe them. It sounds like the howling of the Internet is continuing to affect politics for the better (and the Internet Defense League hasn’t even gotten mobilized yet).
17. The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (whose title clearly is not long enough) has recommended opening 1,000 MHz of spectrum for commercial networks. It’s complicated, both in the way the technology works and in the way the government handles it, but this sounds like a general move in the direction of more options for consumers sending an increasing amount of data through the atmosphere.
18. New York governor Chris Christie signed a bill replacing mariguana jail time with treatment. There are arguments that mandatory treatment comes with its own set of dangerous implications for personal liberty, but I think this is another step away from the ineffectual and destructive “war on drugs.” As the post says, “If Chris Christie, arguably the toughest Republican in the country, is open to new approaches, there’s hope for everyone else.” I also learned that Washington and Oregon are joining Colorado in voting about legalization this November.
19. In potentially the best news of the week, if not the year, North Korea’s new young dictator Kim Jong-un is reportedly preparing to to experiment with economic reforms. Some source (with a track record for accuracy) reported that a powerful military leader was removed for opposing the coming changes. I’ve been hoping that Kim’s Western education might lead to brilliant insights about the differences between the poverty of brainwashed dictatorships and the prosperity of democratic markets.
I usually grimace at the though of governments “experimenting” with the economy, but compared to the military owning it, there may be nowhere to go but up. Of course the reforms may not really come, and if they do they may not really be pro-freedom or may not work (there was a failed currency experiment a few years ago). But from what I’ve heard about the heartbreaking dependency of North Korea’s brainwashed citizens, any slow transition starting from Kim himself may be the best possible way – indeed, the only possible way – for the country to eventually join the rest of the world, as most citizens might not survive a shocking collapse.
It never occurred to me that China, North Korea’s closest thing to an ally, would have an interest in keeping the regime from collapsing, and the large neighbor has certainly felt the benefits of capitalism in the last decade (though they are still trying to keep it caged in a non-democratic box). But the potential future got brighter when Kim’s father died, and it got a little brighter still with these new reports. So for now I will continue to hope.
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