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  • Libertarians Know How to Swing

    October 12, 2006 4:06 PM

    Cato's David
    and AFF's David
    have a fascinating new study out on trends
    among the voting public, charting the recent swing in major-party support by the

    Analyzing data from the Gallup
    Poll, the Pew Research Center,
    and the American National Election Studies, we find that about 13 percent of
    the electorate and 15 percent of actual voters are libertarian -- not
    libertarian in the Mill-Hayek-Cato intellectual sense, but distinguishable from
    both liberals and conservatives on questions about values and issues. “They are
    a larger share of the electorate than the fabled ‘soccer moms' and ‘NASCAR
    dads,'” we note.

    Perhaps the most interesting news
    for political strategists is that libertarians swing. “Libertarians preferred
    George W. Bush over Al Gore by 72 percent to 20 percent, but Bush's margin
    dropped in 2004 to 59-38 over John Kerry. Congressional voting showed a similar
    swing from 2002 to 2004.” In House races, the libertarian vote for Republicans
    dropped from 73 percent in 2000 to 53 percent in 2004, while the libertarian
    vote for Democrats increased from 23 to 44 percent. There was a similar swing
    in Senate races.

    This leads naturally into the topic of last night's AFF
    Roundtable, Election
    2006: Do Republicans Deserve to Lose?
    Stay tuned for the podcast,
    coming soon.

  • You Want that Social Conscience Expression for Here or to Go?

    October 11, 2006 2:36 PM

    One of capitalism's greatest virtues is the wide array of preferences it allows entrepreneurs to cater to—including the preferences of those who claim to disdain capitalism. I noticed just just how wide this week while attending an event on antiwar voters at Washington, D.C.'s Busboys and Poets, a new establishment—combination restaurant, bar, café, and lefty bookstore—that seems to be trying to establish itself as a hub of left-wing activism and networking. Just the place to for bandanna-wearing college kids to unwind after an afternoon of hurling epithets towards the World Bank headquarters? Well, not exactly. The first thing I noticed about the place is how new, sleek, and busy it was. In fact, my first reaction was, “What a successful business!” Of course, the décor is self-conscious in its political identity, which is something else it's selling—consumption as a value expression. Reason magazine's Kerry Howley's observation about an earlier iteration of such consumption-as-moral-statement, Fair Trade coffee, could just as well apply to this left-wing theme restaurant:

    "Today, consumers are driving a market for coffee that transforms the act of drinking into a muted act of rebellion against a centuries-old system of exchange. Yet what is revolutionary about Fair Trade is not the brand's focus on poverty but the suggestion that consumption is a moral response to inequality. 'Instead of boycotting the wrong kind of wine or the wrong kind of rice,' explains [Scott] Hamrah, the semiotics consultant [in the field of brand identity], 'we can now buy the right kind, the moral kind, and buy more.'"

  • Registering Some Problems With REACH

    October 11, 2006 1:24 PM

    The Wall Street Journal reports today that U.S. and European
    firms were unsuccessful in an attempt to make the proposed chemicals policy in
    Europe more affordable during committee consideration of the bill in the EU
    Parliament. But even if business had succeeded in reducing paperwork
    costs, the policy would still have adverse effects around the world.

    The program, known as REACH—for the registration,
    authorization, and evaluation of chemicals—would require companies to register chemicals
    they produce, import, or use. The paperwork
    alone will be expensive, but the program is also likely to produce expensive
    bans and other regulations on many chemicals.

    Industry has continually tried to make REACH a more
    reasonable program, but unfortunately they are fighting a losing battle.
    The problem is that REACH is fundamentally flawed and thus, cannot be fixed.

    First, REACH attempts to address unknown/yet-to-be
    discovered, low-level chemical risks, while other laws already sufficiently
    address higher priority, identified risks, according to EU Commission
    studies. As a result, it's unlikely that
    REACH will produce any substantial benefits because the public exposures it
    addresses are insignificant and undetectable. However, REACH will likely lead to unjustified bans of valuable products—which
    could prove dangerous. In the past,
    similarly misguided bans have produced devastating impacts. The prime example is bans around the world on
    the pesticide DDT, which have contributed to millions of deaths from malaria for
    the last several decades.

  • Nobel winner – friend of entreprenuers

    October 11, 2006 12:27 PM

    Berlau, head of CEI's Center for
    , hails the contributions of Nobel Prize in Economics
    recipient Edmund Phelps in an
    op-ed in Investors Business Daily
    . According to Berlau, Phelps “celebrates
    risk-taking by business as essential to growth and prosperity. His writings
    highlight the folly of recent policies, such as Sarbanes-Oxley, that hobble
    innovative businesses.”

  • Foley – a friend to “Big Sugar”

    October 11, 2006 10:54 AM

    Tim Carney, former Warren Brookes fellow at CEI, takes
    a look at Mark Foley's political contributions
    and finds he has been a
    friend to “Big Sugar.” Carney's Examiner article notes how Foley helped save
    the sugar quota program early in his Congressional career.

  • Assessing the Content of Google's Character

    October 10, 2006 11:45 AM

    To continue the Google-YouTube discussion begun by Peter, take a look at what some /. folks are saying about Google's potential exposure to copyright infringement lawsuits. YouTube, of course, has already signed deals with some very large content companies, and more of the same can be expected now that they've got Google's corporate clout (and cash) on their side. It only takes one company with a valid copyright claim, however, to seriously gum up the works. Hopefully the today's content creators will realize (as our own Jamie Plummer had explained) that the best path to protecting their rights lies in new technologies, business practices and cooperative agreements and not in endless negative-PR-generating legal battles.

  • Google Gets Good Marks as Internet Librarian

    October 6, 2006 2:36 PM

    Google raised some doubts (some even from CEI) about copyright protection when they launched Google Library, but now the project is having just the positive effect its backers said it would: increasing book sales. It turns out that making information easier to find means people will seek out more of it. In other words, if Google can lower transaction costs of finding just the right books one is looking for, people will buy more of them. No word yet on whether the RIAA and MPAA have yet learned any lessons from this.

  • Big Money Loves Big Government

    October 6, 2006 2:22 PM

    Reuters is finally catching up with CEI's own Tim Carney. In a story today, Tim McLaughlin reports that political contributions by the biggest Wall Street financial firms are now favoring Democrats, despite decades of conventional wisdom casting the Republicans as the party of the nation's "monied interests." Tim, of course, has been on this story for a long time, explaining why both the wealthiest individuals and the biggest companies often give far more to Democrats than to Republicans, for a number of reasons, almost all of them having to do with a desire to make government more intrusive, burdensome and expensive (for the other guy). Dive into Tim's counterintutive reportage here with "Rich Truths: Billionaires Not for Bush."

    And I almost forgot - if you haven't already, you'll want to make your way to your favorite purveyor of fine books and purchase a copy of Tim's book, The Big Ripoff. You'll be glad you did.

  • CBO Speaks: Deficit Slightly Smaller, Still Huge

    October 6, 2006 2:03 PM

    In what has to be one of this week's worst excuses for good
    news, the Congressional Budget Office announced that the federal budget deficit
    for FY2006
    was “only” $250 billion, down from last year's $318 billion.
    Actually, let's look at that again: the number of deficit-spent dollars last
    fiscal year was 250,000,000,000. That'll buy you a lot of House page uniforms.

    The White House had issued a February prediction of
    $423,000,000,000, and then went on to claim repeated victory on the deficit in
    the intervening months as they revised their numbers down and closer to
    reality. Reuters politely describes the original OMB estimate as having been “thought
    to be unrealistically high by many experts.”

    Even if you can
    manage to define the government overspending by a quarter of a trillion dollars
    in a single year as “good news,” don't break out the champagne just yet. CBO is
    now predicting fiscal year deficits growing to $286 billion for the current
    fiscal year and to $328 billion by fiscal 2010.

  • Update: Foley to Move to Amsterdam, Run for Parliament

    October 6, 2006 1:44 PM

    News out of the Netherlands this week is bearing an odd parallel to DC's most talked about scandal involving a now-former Congressman from a certain peninsular state. In what must be a not entirely unexpected setback, a political party founded earlier this year by Dutch pedophiles looks as though it has insufficient support to compete for seats in the parliamentary general election next month. Children's rights groups sued to have the party banned outright, but a Dutch court ruled that the nation's freedom of expression guarantees extended even to the euphamistically-named "Brotherly Love, Freedom and Diversity party (PNVD)." Maybe this two-party system isn't such a bad thing after all.


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