This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which deregulated American freight…
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Happy 40th to the Staggers Rail Act, Which Deregulated and Saved the U.S. Rail Industry

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which deregulated American freight rail and saved it from looming oblivion.

At the time of passage, the U.S. economy muddled along amid ongoing malaise, and our rail industry teetered due to decades of overly bureaucratic sclerosis.  Many other domestic U.S. industries had disappeared, and our railroads faced the same fate.  But by passing the Staggers Rail Act, Congress restored a deregulatory approach that in the 1980s allowed other U.S. industries to thrive.  No longer would government determine what services railroads could offer, their rates or their routes, instead restoring greater authority to the railroads themselves based upon cost-efficiency.

Today, U.S. rail flourishes even amid the coronavirus pandemic…[more]

October 13, 2020 • 11:09 PM

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Trump Treasury Department Must Allow Recovery from Venezuela's Socialist Confiscation Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, September 03 2020
The Trump Administration has rightly targeted Venezuela, along with other global malefactors like Iran and China, for its legal and human rights abuses. In order to maintain that record of respecting property rights and the rule of law, however, it must allow the victims of Venezuela’s socialist confiscation to enforce their legal rights here in America.

Venezuela, to everyone except hardened Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren acolytes, provides the latest abject lesson in socialism’s uninterrupted record of catastrophe.  

In the 1950s, Venezuela was the fourth-richest nation on Earth, and as recently as 1997 remained South America’s wealthiest nation.   Over the ensuing two decades under socialist dictator Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolás Maduro, however, Venezuela steadily descended to the starvation-level dystopia the world sees today.  In contrast, next-door Colombia offers a helpful counterpoint in the comparative superiority of market economics.  Once known for its unbearable violence, Colombia under law-and-order leaders like Álvaro Uribe ascended from the depths of cartel carnage to a safer and more prosperous prototype to next-door Venezuela.  

Whereas Barack Obama cordially greeted Chavez, the Trump Administration reversed course by openly lambasting Venezuela’s corrupt Maduro regime and recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaidó as its rightful leader.  

Unfortunately, although the Trump Administration has broadly supported property rights and the rule of law both domestically and abroad, its Treasury Department inexplicably continues to deny a private company named Crystallex its ability to recover compensation for Venezuela’s illegal confiscation of its assets.  

Crystallex is a mining and exploration company, and like so many other private enterprises operating in Venezuela found itself the target of the Chavez-Maduro confiscatory agenda.  In 2011, Chavez commandeered the Las Cristinas goldmine, which directly and indirectly created innumerable jobs for Venezuelans locally and throughout the nation.  Prior to that appropriation, Crystallex had also invested millions of dollars in environmental protection tests, feasibility studies, infrastructure, employees and even local community projects like healthcare clinics.  

But that mattered not to Chavez and Maduro, and Crystallex’s property and improvements were simply confiscated by their socialist regime.  

To its credit, Crystallex fought back.  

In 2016, Crystallex filed a claim with a World Bank tribunal, which rightfully found Venezuela’s regime guilty of theft, and awarded $1.4 billion in damages.  Unsurprisingly, the Maduro regime refuses four years later to honor that ruling, but that doesn’t render it immune from recovery by Crystallex.  

Specifically, Crystallex pursued U.S.-based assets to satisfy its legal claim, such as Venezuelan state-owned CITGO petroleum company.  Those efforts proved fruitful, as Crystallex won victories at the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the D.C. Court of Appeals and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court.  In fact, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Crystallex’s favor and rejected Venezuela’s appeal.  

The Supreme Court’s ruling allows an auction of CITGO’s domestic assets, which can in turn satisfy Crystallex’s award.  

That’s where the problem involving the Trump Administration’s decision-making arises.  Although Crystallex possesses a rightful claim to legal recovery, the U.S. Treasury Department is exercising its power to prevent the aforementioned auction from proceeding due to the wishes of recognized Venezuelan President Guaidó.  He and his representatives assumed effective control of CITGO last year, and have resisted efforts by Crystallex and other deprived parties seeking restitution.  

The problem with the Treasury Department's calculus is that Maduro maintains his dictatorial grip in Venezuela, so the likelihood of Guaidó ever actually assuming the office of President is speculative at best.  In contrast, Crystallex possesses a clear, tangible and confirmed legal right to the compensatory assets in question.  

Simply put, as CFIF in coalition with a dozen fellow conservative and libertarian organizations has stated in a letter to the White House, that denies justice to a private company targeted and robbed by the Venezuelan kleptocracy:  

To be clear, we believe the principles at stake in this situation are much larger than a gold mine in Venezuela.  The course charted by the Trump Administration in the coming months will send a clear signal to property rights owners around the world.  If the U.S. government plays an active role in blocking the ability of private companies to be compensated for theft of their property from socialist dictators, it will contradict President Trump’s strong record of opposing socialism at home and abroad.  On the other hand, if the U.S. government provides a reasonable path forward for property owners, it will offer a strong rebuke of Hugo Chavez’s and Nicolas Maduro’s blatant disregard for free enterprise.  

The Trump Administration has rightly targeted Venezuela, along with other global malefactors like Iran and China, for its legal and human rights abuses.  In order to maintain that record of respecting property rights and the rule of law, however, it must allow the victims of Venezuela’s socialist confiscation to enforce their legal rights here in America.  

It’s time for the Treasury Department to correct course in this important test of American fortitude and respect for aggrieved parties like Crystallex.  

Question of the Week   
Which one of the following was the first 20th century presidential candidate to call for a Presidential Debate?
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Quote of the Day   
 
"We can return to the explosive job creation, rising wages and general prosperity we had before the pandemic. We can have economic freedom and opportunity, and resist cancel culture and censorship. We can put annus horribilis, 2020, behind us and make America great again, again. We can do all this -- if we make the right choice on Nov. 3.The New York Post endorses President Donald J. Trump for re-…[more]
 
 
—The Editors, New York Post
— The Editors, New York Post
 
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