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OpenMarket: August 2012

  • Today's Links: August 24, 2012

    August 24, 2012 10:23 AM

    OPINION


    AMELIA HAMILTON: "Government Regulation Slowing Energy Jobs and Economic Growth"

    "With unemployment in the United States at 8.3%, job growth is something which should be encouraged. However, it would seem that the government is only interested in jobs that support their agenda. In the field of oil and gas, for example, the government’s misguided policies are preventingthe creation of 64,805 new jobs and $15 billion in economic growth."


    KYLE SMITH: "Legalize Sports Betting, And Let Gov. Chris Christie Spike The Football"

    "Christie wants the state’s racetracks and casinos to be making book on sports by the end of the year, but the NCAA and the four major professional sports leagues in North America sued him earlier this month in federal court in Trenton. They cited a 1992 law, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, sponsored by then-Senate basketballer Bill Bradley, that limited sports gambling to the states where it already existed: Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon."


    RYAN GALLAGHER: "FBI To Give Facial Recognition Software to Law-Enforcement Agencies"

    "The speedy onward march of biometric technology continues. After recently announcing plans for a nationwide iris-scan database, the FBI has revealed it will soon hand out free facial-recognition software to law enforcement agencies across the United States. The software, which was piloted in February in Michigan, is expected to be rolled out within weeks. It will give police analysts access to a so-called 'Universal Face Workstation' that can be used to compare a database of almost 13 million images. The UFW will permit police to submit and enhance image files so they can be cross-referenced with others on the database for matches."


  • Clinton Vs. Clinton (And Obama) On Deregulation

    August 23, 2012 4:52 PM

    With little success on the economic front, President Barack Obama in 2012 is embracing much of his message on the economy from 2008. And from that playbook, he has two basic strategies.


    One is to blame the supposed deregulation policies of the Bush administration that Obama and his surrogates endlessly say "got us into this mess." And the second is to hug former rivals Bill and Hillary Clinton as hard as he can and harken back to the prosperity and economic growth of the 1990s.


    But there is just one problem with this theme. The Obama campaign's twin messages of bashing deregulation and embracing the Clinton years are inherently contradictory. Despite yesterday's much-hyped new pro-Obama ad in which Clinton warns that a Mitt Romney president would "go back to deregulation," on financial regulation, Bill Clinton as president was actually more of a deregulator than Bush.


    Clinton pushed for and signed the very deregulatory measures that have been blamed (wrongly) for causing the financial crisis of 2008. What's more, Clinton administration officials have credited these policies for contributing to the ‘90s economic boom -- the very "shared prosperity" that Obama says he wants to go back to.


    Late in Clinton's tenure, the White House put forth a document celebrating "Historic Economic Growth" during the administration and pointing to the policy accomplishments it deemed responsible for this growth. Among the achievements on Clinton's list were "Modernizing for the New Economy through Technology and Consensus Deregulation." That's right, a Clinton White House document credited part of the administration's success to that now dreaded d-word, deregulation.


  • If Demography Is Destiny, We're Screwed (So To Speak)

    August 23, 2012 4:25 PM

    "Things will get better."


    Such sentiments frequently fall from the lips of ever-loving economic optimists who -- while noting the current distressed condition of things -- nonetheless insist that recessions have come before, and have always been followed (eventually) by recoveries. I know a few of these optimists, and they’re quite right -- to a point.


    Because what these sunny souls forget is that every recovery depends upon a plentiful supply of Earth’s most precious resource -- human beings. And it is a resource that is becoming increasingly scarce, especially in the industrialized democracies.


    Until recently, the United States was famous for bucking the plummeting birth-rate trend that has haunted other advanced countries for years. But apparently Americans are now caving to the peer pressure (“Come on, Yanks! Everyone’s -- not -- doing it!”). According to a recent report in newgeography.com:


    “…the 2010 Census showed that in the past decade America’s birthrate slipped below at least one European country (France) and under the pace necessary to replace our current population.”


    Never mind, you say, immigration can make up the difference, right?  Maybe not:


    “Immigration, both legal and illegal, is also slowing, in part due to plunging birthrates in Mexico and other Latin American countries.”


  • CEI Podcast for August 23, 2012: Bailouts as Corruption

    August 23, 2012 2:35 PM

    Senior Fellow Matt Patterson argues that when government is big and powerful enough to dispense favors like bailouts, special interests will flock to Washington to get a piece of the pie. Corruption is the inevitable result, as the GM/Delphi/UAW bailout showed. The only effective way to limit corruption, Patterson argues, is to limit government.


  • Colorado Voters Ready To Tell State To Follow Constitution

    August 23, 2012 2:33 PM

    In Colorado, Douglas County School Board members are questioning the district’s current collective bargaining system due to arcane provisions and a decaying relationship with their union. And rightfully so. Currently, taxpayers pay the salaries of teacher union bosses who do not teach or perform government duties and the district acts as the union’s bill collector free of charge.


    During an August 22 board meeting, county officials proposed submitting three ballot measures for the November general election to let voters determine how to address the board’s concerns. According to The Denver Post, voters will be asked:


    1. Should the district be prohibited from engaging in collective bargaining with the union?

    2. Should the district be prohibited from using public funding for the compensation of union leaders?

    3. Should the district be prohibited from collecting union dues from employee paychecks on the union's behalf?

    Although recent results in Wisconsin and California indicate voters are fed up with paying for lavish government union contracts, voting on the second and third possible ballot measures is redundant to what is already in the state’s constitution. Article XI Section 1 of Colorado's Constitution reads:


    1. Pledging credit of state, county, city, town or school district forbidden.


    Neither the state, nor any county, city, town, township or school district shall lend or pledge the credit or faith thereof, directly or indirectly, in any manner to, or in aid of, any person, company or corporation, public or private, for any amount, or for any purpose whatever; or become responsible for any debt, contract or liability of any person, company or corporation, public or private, in or out of the state.


  • Regulation And The Green Bay Packers

    August 23, 2012 12:43 PM

    The NFL has a 53-man roster limit, but it doesn't prescribe how many linemen or quarterbacks the team must carry. That's up to the GMs. Not only does this type of regulation open up another level of competition for fans to enjoy -- front offices, not just players, trying to outmaneuver each other -- but it prevents cheating.


  • FDA Rules Won't Work, Will Harm Small Farmers

    August 23, 2012 10:31 AM

    The FDA recently decided to delay implementing about $1.4 billion of food safety regulations until after the November election. We think the FDA should scrap the rules entirely for two reasons: ineffectiveness and rent-seeking.


  • Prominent Lawyer: Obama Administration Illegally "Eviscerates Welfare Reform"

    August 22, 2012 3:13 PM

    In The Washington Times and a recent study, attorney Andrew Grossman explains in detail how the Obama administration violated the law in claiming the authority to waive the work requirements in the 1996 welfare reform law. (Grossman, who received an award from the Library of Congress, has helped write federal legislation, and handles high-profile Supreme Court cases.) The fact-checkers at The Washington Post may consider any such legal violation to be a mere "process foul," but I think the Obama administration should have complied with the law forbidding such waivers regardless of whether they are supposedly good for welfare recipients' careers in the long run (an idea that clashes with the "work-first" philosophy behind the 1996 law). Congress has the power to rewrite laws, not the president, and the Obama administration's action flouted the language, structure, and purpose of the welfare-reform law.


    Other experts have also concluded that the Obama administration has gutted welfare reform, conclusions summarized in my essay, "Obama guts welfare reform, independent experts say; work requirement weakened."


  • Regulation And Government "Science" Cost Us More Than Dollars

    August 22, 2012 1:04 PM

    Today, the Independent Women's Forum blog highlights a new NERA Economic Consulting study (produced for Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation) on the costs of regulation. IWF's Emily Wismer notes:


    According to the report, a major federal regulation is one for which compliance costs more than $100 million per year. Using cost estimates from the federal government, which the Washington Post calls conservative, Clinton averaged 27 major regulations per year, Bush 35 per year, and Obama has averaged 44 per year in his first three years. ... Regulations are meant to keep us safe and should increase the quality and competitiveness of American products. Yet when compliance costs $164 billion per year, it is appropriate to question the role of regulations and whether or not 44 regulations per year costing over $100 million really make sense. We should also note that these regulations tend to come from federal agencies and are divorced from Congress, the body responsible for writing the laws guiding our nation and affecting Americans.


    Meanwhile, environmental activists and others complain that the Obama administration's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is holding up too many regulations. In a story for Inside EPA last week, a coalition of environmental groups suggested that Congress or the president himself (via executive order) should eliminate policies demanding regulatory review and cost-benefit analysis at OMB. But this is a very bad idea.


  • Tampa Express Lanes Planning Director Corrects Record Distorted By Honolulu City Planner

    August 21, 2012 3:37 PM

    Over at Peter Samuel's invaluable TOLLROADSnews, we learn that Marty Stone, director of planning for Tampa's successful all-electronic reversible tolled Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, has a bone to pick with rail-obsessed Honolulu planner Toru Hamayasu. Specifically, Stone writes [PDF] to the Honolulu Advertiser to correct Hamayasu's "intentional[] misrepresent[ion of] the facts associated with the cost and operation" of the Tampa toll road. Samuel provides an excellent summary of Stone's corrections here.


    OpenMarket readers may recall Honolulu's proposed elevated rail project to nowhere. Honolulu suffers from serious traffic congestion problems, yet rail advocates have opted to build a multi-billion-dollar rail transit system that will do nothing to alleviate congestion, will ruin Honolulu's famous ocean views, and will do little to address existing environmental concerns. The Cato Institute's Randal O'Toole has been covering the Honolulu rail project for some time and in great detail. One of the latest galling aspects he flags was a claim made by Honolulu's transit agency that the 1964 Civil Rights Act required them to issue expensive, pro-rail propaganda.


    For more information on Honolulu's ridiculous planned rail boondoggle, see HonoluluTraffic.com. And here's a campaign ad from former Hawaii Governor Ben Cayetano, who is running for Honolulu mayor, which highlights the absurdity of this project:


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