Tuesday: The Labor Department issues a new "persuader rule"
...an employer would likely have to report asking a consultant to study the labor savings of moving to a right-to-work state. An attorney would have to disclose private discussions with an employer over a neutrality agreement to support a union’s organizing campaign...an attorney who advises Employer A about a union organizing campaign will also have to report if he’s conducting, say, a sexual harassment investigation at Employer B. All of this information will be public....The Manhattan Institute estimates the rule will cost about $60 billion over 10 years....The beneficiaries will be unions, which don’t have to report their own persuader activities.Wednesday: Judge blocks Staples Merger, and 45 federal programs,
U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan sided with the Federal Trade Commission, which in a December lawsuit alleged the combination of the office superstores would lead to higher prices for large corporations that buy office supplies in bulk.Many of us remember the econ 101 fable of monopoly which needs government protection. Most of the academic IO and antitrust literature has come to disbelieve this classic story. Staples and Office Depot themselves are recent innovations. There is no distinct market for large box office retail stores. Everything in them can be bought elsewhere, and it's pretty easy to enter. In fact, they are in decline facing competition from the internet and other retailers. The idea that they can lock up the market on paper, toner cartriges, off-brand pcs, and raise prices is pretty silly. Especially for "large corporations that buy office supplies in bulk." Please, the point of the federal government is to preserve low prices for "large corporations" to buy paper?
Shares of both companies plunged in morning trading in New York. Office Depot stock dropped 37% to $3.82, while Staples fell 19% to $8.41...Staples said Tuesday it will cut another $300 million in annual costs and explore alternatives for its European operations, which include more than 200 stores.
Thursday's editorial on the matter puts it better than I did,
Stuck in a declining market, Staples and Office Depot have been reporting reduced sales. Government lawyers might have noticed that people are using less paper and ink these days. Then there are those little competitors called Amazon, Costco and Wal-Mart. Such competition is why the government couldn’t argue with a straight face that a merged company would force higher prices on individual consumers or small businesses. So the government claimed that the victims of the proposed merger would be huge corporations that buy in bulk...the judge made clear that he thinks the Exxons of the country need government help to get a deal on Post-it notes.
Also, on the editorial page,
The auditors at the Government Accountability Office report that there are currently 45 federal programs dedicated to supporting care “from birth through age five,” spread across multiple agencies. The Agriculture Department runs a nursery division, for some reason.Thurdsay A Climate Courtroom Crusade Scorches Due Process.
“Administering similar programs in different agencies can create an environment in which programs may not serve children and families as efficiently and effectively as possible,” GAO dryly notes. Parents can also claim five separate child-care tax credits.
Read the whole thing, if like me you're not a lawyer. It turns out, back in the day, Attorneys general couldn't, on their own, subpoena all your files, comb through them, and then use the results to file criminal charges.
Mr. Schneiderman and other attorneys general have the power to bring not simply administrative, but criminal, charges on the basis of the information they force out of private parties. They thereby dangerously combine the roles of grand jury and prosecutor.File it under decline of rule of law, and increasing ability of political officials to silence opponents.
In more classic gumming-up-the-works, Port-Trucking Firms Run Into Labor Dispute.
The nation’s busiest ports are emerging as a key battleground in the legal fight over whether truck drivers should be counted as employees or independent contractors.
Several trucking companies operating at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles have filed for bankruptcy protection in recent months, citing mounting costs to settle hundreds of legal claims.This is related to the big fight whether Uber drivers are contractors or employees. Independent contractors -- as chosen by the companies and their drivers -- gives us the consumer cheaper services, and allows more freedom to the company and workers. Employee status costs a lot more, makes a few drivers better off, and keeps a lot of potential drivers out of the market.
Friday Tesla Can Build All The Cars It Wants. The Real Challenge Could Be Selling Them
Via Forbes, and a good reminder that so much damaging regulation is state and local. Tesla wants to sell you cars directly, no-haggle, the way you buy computers.
Tesla is prohibited from selling cars directly to consumers in many states, including Texas and Michigan, where laws protect franchised car dealers....its direct-to-consumer sales model has run into a buzz saw of state franchise laws..... In a few states, such as New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, Tesla won permission to operate a handful of retail locations, and no more. But dealer trade groups are objecting. In some states, they’ve filed suit to block retail licenses granted to Tesla; in others, they’ve proposed legislation that would prevent Tesla from obtaining such licenses.