A Picture is Worth Zero Words

We are told that a picture is worth a thousand words. A picture, we are supposed to believe, can convey truth far more effectively than an essay. A picture, the argument goes, captures true reality while words can be twisted and their meaning obscured.

In truth, a picture is worth zero words. Or, as philosopher […]

In Defense of Price Gouging

When hurricane Harvey struck the Texas coast, state officials trotted out their usual warnings about price gouging. Under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, price gouging can result in civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation and up to $250,000 per violation for victims over 65 years old.

When an item is in short […]

Localism and Hypocrisy

The Texas legislature has attracted considerable scorn for its effort to reign in local governments intent on violating property rights. According to one critic, “It does this by kicking respect for democracy to the sidelines and squashing municipal initiatives like a bug.”

Democracy means unlimited majority rule–the majority may do what it pleases simply because […]

Justice for Students

I welcome the recently reported justice department decision to further look into cases of race based admissions standards that are alleged to discriminate against whites and Asians in favor of blacks, Latinos or native Americans. I welcome it if the focus is on justice.

Every individual student has huge potential to advance himself or herself […]

A Clash of Cultures

Much is being made of the Texas legislature’s attempts to reign in local governments. From “bathroom ordinances” to ride-sharing regulations, from plastic bag bans to tree regulations, local governments are increasingly infringing on property rights. The state government is properly putting an end to many of these regulations.

But the state’s local governments aren’t happy […]

Mayors Versus Freedom

On Monday, Gov. Gregg Abbott warned that local governments were threatening property rights. As examples, he cited tree regulations, permitting, and property taxes. The following day, eighteen mayors, including Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner submitted a letter to the governor asking for a meeting.

In part, the letter states:

Harmful proposals such as revenue and spending […]

A Victory over Evil

For three years, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) investigated Spec’s Wine, Spirits, and Finer Foods, the state’s largest liquor retailer. At the conclusion of its investigation, the TABC sought to pull the licenses for Spec’s 164 stores, unless the company paid a fine of $713 million.

The TABC alleged that Spec’s had accepted millions […]

In the Name of Competition

This past Sunday, the Chronicle editorial board revealed how confused and unprincipled it is. An editorial called for the federal government to use antitrust laws to block Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods.

Amazon’s business model is to become a monopoly. Buying Whole Foods gives the online retailer its first major foothold in the brick-and-mortar grocery […]

Why Discrimination is Inescapable

Last week, California banned state-funded travel to Texas, saying that a new adoption law passed by Texas is discriminatory. California law restricts the use of state funds to travel to places that “authorize discrimination” on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Seven other states are on California’s no-travel list.

Ironically, in issuing such […]

Lobbying and Cronyism

Chronicle columnist Chris Tomlinson makes an issue out of the fact that Uber lobbied the Texas legislature to block local efforts to regulate the company:

When Houston’s city council refused to bend to Uber’s demands, and Austin voters threw Uber out of the capitol, Kalanick hired a team of high-priced lobbyists to buy friendly statewide […]