Faculty Sampler: Short takes from recent op-eds

 

“How to Deregulate Cities and States”

Professor Cass R. Sunstein ’78 and Harvard economics Professor Edward Glaeser

The Wall Street Journal Aug. 24, 2014
Faculty Sampler-Sunstein (HLB Fall 2014)

Credit: Andy Martin

“In 2011 the Obama administration, with bipartisan support, called for an ambitious process through which federal agencies would periodically evaluate existing rules, eliminating or streamlining them when cost-benefit analysis suggested that elimination or streamlining was warranted. … States and localities should engage in comprehensive lookbacks of their own, eliminating and streamlining burdensome requirements, including occupational licensing. In some ways, in fact, states should be able to go far beyond the efforts of national government, because of their relative ability and incentive to experiment. We envision a kind of competition at the state level to activate creative thinking about how to institutionalize regulatory simplification, freeing up the private sector without jeopardizing public safety, health, the environment and quality of life. Now is the time to begin.”

“Obama’s Breathtaking Expansion of a President’s Power To Make War”

Professor Jack Goldsmith

Time Sept. 11, 2014
Faculty Sampler-Goldsmith (HLB Fall 2014)

Credit: Andy Martin

“The [Obama] administration has said since August that air strikes in Syria were justified under his constitutional power alone. But yesterday it switched course and maintained that Congress had authorized the 2014 campaign against the Islamic State in the 2001 law that President George W. Bush sought to fight the Taliban and al Qaeda. The administration’s new approach allows it to claim that it is acting with congressional approval. It also lets it avoid the strictures of the War Powers Resolution because that law does not apply to wars approved by Congress. … The largest irony here is that President Obama has long hoped to leave a legacy of repealing the Bush-era authorization and declaring the ‘war’ against al Qaeda over.”

“Could Trade Law Curb Chinese Hackers?”

Professor Noah Feldman

Bloomberg View Sept. 3, 2014

HR_Harvard3a

“[U]nder the conditions of cool war, where China and the U.S. are simultaneously engaged in peaceful economic cooperation and geostrategic, quasi-military competition, the pressure to use international trade law as a tool will be very great, as my colleague Mark Wu has been arguing. After its servers were hacked and it withdrew from the Chinese market in search services, Google Inc., like [solar panel producer] SolarWorld, went to the U.S. government and asked for trade sanctions on the theory that it had been discriminated against because its search services were less easy to censor than those of Chinese competitors.

“The government never took final action on Google’s request, and it may well choose not to pursue SolarWorld’s. But instance by instance, the case for some sort of trade-based sanctions against China will continue to grow. When it appears that China is so fully integrated into the world trade regime that it cannot credibly threaten to withdraw, we can expect to see such claims advanced. They might even succeed.”

“The Case for Kill Switches in Military Weaponry”

Professor Jonathan Zittrain ’95

Scientific American Sept. 3, 2014
The Case for Kill Switches in Military Weaponry Zittrain (HLB Fall 2014)

Credit: Andy Martin

“It is past time that we consider whether we should build in a way to remotely disable such dangerous tools [as Humvees, helicopters, antiaircraft cannons and M1 Abrams tanks] in an emergency. Other technologies, including smartphones, already incorporate this kind of capability. The theft of iPhones plummeted this year after Apple introduced a remote ‘kill switch,’ which a phone’s owner can use to make sure no one else can use his or her lost or stolen phone. If this feature is worth putting in consumer devices, why not embed it in devices that can be so devastatingly repurposed—including against their rightful owners, as at the Mosul Dam [where ISIS used stolen American weaponry to fight U.S.-backed Kurdish defenders]?”

“The Mystery of ‘Living Will’ Rules for Banks”
Professor Hal Scott

The Wall Street Journal Sept. 3, 2014
The Mystery of Living Will Rules for Banks Hal Scott (HLB Fall 2014)

Credit: Andy Martin

“The Fed and the FDIC required the banks to make contingency plans detailing how in a crisis they would be wound down without suspending critical financial services, and without public support. The two regulators announced jointly last month that no plan earned a passing grade. …

“Until regulators clearly define the criteria for a living-will passing grade and focus on their mission of sorting out critical from noncritical functions, bank by bank, they risk undermining the process and their own credibility.

“But if regulators assure the market that any of a large bank’s critical functions will remain operational when a bank becomes insolvent—while assuring taxpayers that no public support will be necessary—and if we also equip regulators with tools to combat contagious runs, then no bank will need to be ‘too big to fail.’ The resolution process will have earned not only a passing grade, but high honors.”