Dennis Cakert

Over 65,000 People Sign “Ridesharing Works for Austin” Petition

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Posted by Dennis Cakert on Wednesday, January 20th, 2016, 2:42 PM PERMALINK

More than 65,000 people in Austin, led by local community organizations Austin Music People, ATX Safer Streets and The Old Austin Neighborhood Association, took action to protest regulations on Uber and Lyft put forth by Mayor Steve Adler and the Austin City Council.

The outrage comes from the requirement (section E1 under “Driver Eligibility”) for all drivers to register their fingerprints with the city. The city is then “authorized to submit the fingerprints to the DPS [Department of Public Safety] for a search of the State’s criminal history record, and the DPS is authorized to forward a set of the fingerprints to the FBI for a national criminal history check.” Uber and Lyft decided that was too much government overreach into their business and vowed to leave the city once the rules took effect.

Wanting to keep their favorite means of transportation, the petitioners surpassed the 20,000 signature mark needed by law to force Austin City Council to review the regulations. The council is now faced with two options: adopt the new ordinance submitted by “Ridesharing works for Austin”, or put it on the ballot for a vote on May 7.

The new ordinance submitted by Ridesharing Works for Austin includes a section under Driver Eligibility that states “Nothing in this section shall require or be construed to require fingerprinting as part of any criminal history search.”

Seeing as the 65,103 signatures is more votes than any mayor in the history of Austin has received, the people have clearly delivered their message.    

Mayor Adler and The Austin City Council have until February 1 before their regulation takes effect. 

In His Own Study, De Blasio Proves He Was Wrong About Uber

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Posted by Dennis Cakert on Tuesday, January 19th, 2016, 9:13 AM PERMALINK

In a NY Daily News Op-Ed in July, 2015, Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio claimed “More than 2,000 new for-hire vehicles are being added to our streets every month, overwhelming the most congested parts of Manhattan” and made it his goal to “ensure that our streets aren't flooded with tens of thousands more cars before we can stand up new rules to govern the marketplace.”

He vowed to institute a cap on the number of ridesharing vehicles in New York City. In response, the mass of two million Uber users in NYC rose up in protest against the Mayor’s protectionist regulations. 

De Blasio retreated and agreed to conduct a study before taking any actions. After much delay and procrastination from the Mayor’s office, the report was finally released on Friday.

He was wrong.

According to the report:

“Reductions in vehicular speeds are driven primarily by increased freight movement, construction activity, and population growth… Construction permits in the CBD [Central Business District] are up 6-7% since 2009 and pedestrian counts in the CBD are also up 18-24% since 2009.”

As for Uber:

“Increases in e-dispatch trips are largely substituting for yellow taxi trips in the CDB. Because these e-dispatch trips are substitutions and not new trips, they are not increasing VMT [vehicle miles traveled]. Additionally, there is no clear evidence to suggest decisive capacity effects driven specifically by e-dispatch pick-up, drop-off, and parking behaviors in the period. Therefore, e-dispatch does not appear to be driving the additional congestion.”  

The delay in delivering the study is a slap in the face to New York City taxpayers who funded the $2 million report, which is probably why the Mayor’s office decided to dump the long-awaited study on the Friday before a three day holiday weekend.

Musicians Protest Fingerprinting for Uber Drivers in Austin

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Posted by Dennis Cakert on Friday, January 15th, 2016, 9:54 AM PERMALINK

After Austin City Council voted to require fingerprint background checks for Uber and Lyft drivers, the ridesharing companies threatened to leave the city. In response, musicians and community leaders have formed a grassroots campaign against this example of government overreach.

Austin citizens rely heavily on Uber and Lyft to commute to and from work and avoid drunk driving, not to mention the amount of people who use the services for additional income. It would be a significant economic and social loss if the services left town and citizens are not taking this lightly. Petitioners expect to gather well over the 20,000 signature mark required for their campaign to be heard by Austin City Council.

As reported by local Austin NBC affiliate kxan “It’s the city’s job to establish these ordinances. It’s private industry’s job to decide whether or not that ordinance works for them,” said Jennifer Houlihan, executive director at Austin Music People. “We believe the ordinance we’ve proposed and that the petition supports is meaningful compromise that gives safety, and part-time jobs, and all the other benefits of [transportation network companies].”

AZ Gov. Doug Ducey to the Sharing Economy: You Are Welcome Here

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Posted by Dennis Cakert on Tuesday, January 12th, 2016, 12:18 PM PERMALINK

In his State of the State address on Monday, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) outlined his state’s plan to allow the sharing economy to flourish. Unlike neighboring California Gov. Jerry Brown (D), Ducey is dedicated to removing corrupt regulations “designed to kill competition or keep out the little guy” asking the legislature to “send me legislation to allow agencies to wipe [regulations] out, easier and faster. And I’ll sign it.”

He also called out the city of Phoenix for standing in the way of Uber and Lyft operating at the state’s most important airport. More than 40 million people use Phoenix based Sky Harbor International Airport to travel to Arizona, but ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft are barred from competition by “unelected bureaucrats at city hall” protecting special interests. Gov. Ducey calls “on Phoenix city government to lift these unnecessary regulations immediately.”

Ducey also promised to reform the excessive occupational licensing regime:

“Arizona requires licenses for too many jobs – resulting in a maze of bureaucracy for small business people looking to earn an honest living. Believe it or not, the state of Arizona actually licenses talent agents. I say, let’s leave the job of finding new talent to Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani – not state government. The elites and special interests will tell you that these licenses are necessary. But often they have been designed to kill competition or keep out the little guy. So let’s eliminate them.”

This is a blessing for the sharing economy, which has come under attack from entrenched interests across the country.

Ducey also used an executive order to create The Governor’s Council on the Sharing Economy, consisting of five unpaid experts with experience and knowledge of the sharing economy:

“Moments ago, I signed an executive order creating the Governor’s Council on the Sharing Economy. Its mission: Stop shackling innovation, and instead – put the cuffs on out-of-touch regulators. I want startups in the Sharing Economy to know: California may not want you, but Arizona does.”

Since Ducey took office, Arizona added “56,000 new jobs, and 100,000 new citizens” leading Forbes to proclaim Arizona as “the best state in the country for future job growth.”

Citizens can look to Arizona to continue to add jobs under the leadership of Gov. Ducey.   

Union Bosses Take Front Seat in Seattle

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Posted by Dennis Cakert on Friday, December 18th, 2015, 7:30 AM PERMALINK

An example of bad policy, Seattle’s City Council voted unanimously this week to condemn Uber and Lyft drivers to the mercy of organized labor.

If a majority of drivers who have completed at least 150 trips in the past 30 days give statements of interest, regardless of an individual driver’s consent, Uber and Lyft will be forced to provide “Qualified Driver Representatives” (union bosses) with “the names, addresses, email addresses (if available), and phone number (if available) of all qualifying drivers they hire, contract with, or partner with.”

But Uber and Lyft drivers do not want to be compelled into the rigid structures of a union. According to a study from Alan Krueger, former chairman to President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, and Jonathan Hall, head of policy research at Uber, the top two reasons why drivers contract with Uber and Lyft is “to earn more income to better support my family” and “to be my own boss and set my own schedule.” 73 percent of drivers prefer to be their own boss and have a flexible schedule. Over 70 percent of drivers say the flexibility in the service is what makes it so appealing to them.

Simply talking to Uber and Lyft drivers is enough to understand that drivers use the services because they can be their own boss. Most drivers have other jobs and only drive during their free time to make money. They do not want or need another person, or “Qualified Driver Representative,” telling them when and where they can work.

The actions taken by the Seattle City Council undermine the reason why drivers work for Uber and Lyft in the first place.


The Grover Norquist Show: Arthur Brooks' New Book: "The Conservative Heart"

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Posted by Dennis Cakert on Wednesday, December 9th, 2015, 5:22 PM PERMALINK

In episode 49 of the Grover Norquist Show, ATR President Grover Norquist and AEI President Arthur Brooks discuss Brook’s new book “The Conservative Heart”.

The conservative movement is founded in principles that benefit all people, not a particular group of people or political party. Brook’s calls us to resist the temptation to use angry rhetoric and instead to use our hearts. Conservatives should demonstrate we are fighting for people who we need and who need us.

The Grover Norquist Show: Technology Changes, the 4th Amendment Does Not

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Posted by Dennis Cakert on Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015, 9:00 AM PERMALINK

In episode 48 of the Grover Norquist Show, ATR President Grover Norquist discusses the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), a bill that is going to stop the IRS and other civil agencies from mucking around in citizen’s emails.

As it currently stands, federal agencies can access private information in emails without a warrant. The ECPA sets out to change that and stop the government from reaching into email correspondence. Of all the bills in the House, the ECPA has the most support with 304 cosponsors– well past the 280 benchmark for a super majority. “Technology changes, but the 4th Amendment doesn’t,” says Grover. For more info click here

Leave Craft Beer Alone

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Posted by Dennis Cakert on Tuesday, November 24th, 2015, 11:43 AM PERMALINK

According to the Obama administration, brewers and consumers are incapable of making healthy life choices when they are left alone. Impending Obamacare regulations will require all craft beer brewers to supply detailed calorie information for every beer they brew starting in December of 2016. Fear not, consumers, magnanimous Uncle Sam wants to order your beer for you.

The Obamacare law requires all brewers to provide information on the calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, dietary fiber, sugars and protein in their products. The legislation also encourages restaurants and bars to group together beer on menus based on their calorie levels.

The burden of reporting these statistics hits small breweries disproportionately hard, as larger breweries can diffuse the added costs over a larger sales base. Adding insult to injury, small craft breweries do not focus on producing light beer and, as a result, will be grouped together in a special section of the menu.

The Obamacare regulations are hitting the craft beer industry at the wrong time. The beer industry has decentralized in recent years and is trending towards small, local craft breweries: 90 percent of all breweries fall below the “small brewery” benchmark of 7,143 barrels per year. From 2013 to 2014, the Brewers Association reports a 13.4 percent increase in regional craft breweries, a 27.8 percent increase in microbreweries, and a 10.3 percent increase in brewpubs. Altogether, the beer industry is now a $252.6 billion industry and pays out $79 billion in wages to 1.75 million Americans. At just over $45,000, the average beer industry employee earns more than double the salary of the typical food service employee. “The resurgence of American brewing is far from over,”says Brewers Association Chief Economist, Bart Watson.

The tremendous growth in the craft beer industry comes despite the fact that the most expensive ingredient is government intervention. Federal, state and local taxes combine for over 40 percent of the cost of beer. Not only is Uncle Sam joining you at the bar, but you get to pick up his tab too.

North Carolina, South Carolina, and Wyoming state legislatures have started to deregulate the thriving the craft beer industry. There are also a number of bills gathering signatures in the House that would significantly lower the federal tax burden on small craft brewers, most notably the Cost Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2015, which would cut the craft beer tax in half.

Politicians realize the best thing they can do for the beer industry is to leave it alone. The only party interested in adding regulation to the craft beer industry is the Obamacare bureaucracy. 


Obamacare Regulation Takes Aim at Craft Beer

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Posted by Dennis Cakert on Thursday, November 19th, 2015, 4:02 PM PERMALINK

Amidst Obamacare’s 3,000 pages lies a regulation that may squeeze craft beer brewers out of business. Why would federal healthcare bureaucrats want to meddle in this thriving industry? Well, regulators claim that American consumers are not healthy because they are blissfully unaware of the amount of calories in beer.

As of December 2016, Obamacare dictates that all brewers must include a detailed calorie count on every type of beer they produce. Failure to comply with the new regulations means craft brewers will not be able to sell their beer in any restaurant chain with over 20 locations. Because this is a major market for selling beer, it hamstrings smaller craft brewers if they do not comply.  

The Cato Institute estimates the Obamacare calorie labeling requirements will cost a business as much as $77,000 to implement. For larger beer companies, this is a drop in the bucket, but for small, local craft brewers it represents a substantial cost that they must pay. As a result, it creates a significant disadvantage compared to larger beer companies who can better absorb the cost of this new regulation.

According to Bart Watson, chief economist of the Brewers Association, “Most of the new [craft beer] entrants continue to be small and local, operating in neighborhoods or towns. What it means to be a brewery is shifting, back toward an era when breweries were largely local, and operated as a neighborhood bar or restaurant.” The increasingly small size of craft breweries means they are faced with a tough decision in light of the impending regulations: cut costs and possibly lay off workers to pay for the calorie labels, or be shut out of one of the most profitable markets for their product. Either way, it is a lose – lose situation for the craft beer brewers and drinkers, an industry that grew 27.8 percent from 2013 to 2014 when it was left alone.

The calorie labeling regulation is just another example of the excessive and wasteful burdens put forth by Obamacare under the guise of protecting our health. A recent study performed by Arizona State University showed that only 16 percent of people even read the calorie information when restaurants voluntarily provide it. 

The fact is, the government has no business telling consumers what they should and should not do. By imposing this new regulation, the Obama administration is threatening the vitality of the thriving craft beer industry. 

New Report Shows that Skilled NHL Players Choose Low Taxes

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Posted by Dennis Cakert on Friday, October 30th, 2015, 11:59 AM PERMALINK

NHL players flee from teams located in high tax jurisdictions to teams located in low tax jurisdictions, according to a new report. The study, Major Penalty for High Taxes, released by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) and Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and compiled by CTF Research Director Jeff Bowles, examines competition between NHL teams to attract players and the tax rates where teams are located.

54 percent of the 116 Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA) and 60 percent of players with no-trade clauses who changed teams picked teams with lower taxes, saving a combined $4 million this past offseason.

Players who are high skilled and bring more value to teams are paid more money than players who are not. Taxes are structured in the United States and Canada so that “the more income you make, the higher tax rate you pay.” Therefore, an NHL free agent who makes the league maximum $13.8 million will lose a greater percentage of his salary to taxes than a free agent making the league minimum $550,000. As a result, there is an incentive for high skilled players to seek out which of the 30 NHL teams have the lowest tax burdens.

Attracting skilled players to win the Stanley Cup is certainly a hope of many taxpayers, but the implications of this study transcend the hockey rink. If high taxes chase away high skilled hockey players there is a good chance the same holds true for other professions. High skilled professions, like doctors and engineers will similarly flee from high tax jurisdictions to low tax jurisdictions.

Understanding the dynamic between high skilled labor and taxes is important for local towns, provinces, states and federal governments when considering their own tax structure. NHL players only have 30 locations to choose from, but doctors, engineers and other skilled laborers are free to bring their talents wherever they choose.