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OpenMarket: October 2006

  • Turning Free Speech Upside Down

    October 31, 2006
    Thomas Jefferson once wrote that “to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical.” A similar principle is rooted in the First Amendment, which generally prohibits the government from forcing people to pay for speech with which they disagree. Federal law nevertheless permits states to impose “agency shop” arrangements under which every employee in a unionized workplace, even though not a union member, must pay to the union, as a condition of employment, a compulsory service charge equal in amount to union dues. The Supreme Court rejected non-union employees' challenges to such coerced charges on freedom of association grounds in Railway Employees v. Hanson (1956). But it softened that harsh result by ruling in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1977), that such compelled charges cannot be used over an...
  • The Sweetest Urban Legend of All

    October 31, 2006
    Keeping the holiday theme going, we now turn to the perennial Halloween boogieman, the anonymous candy poisoner. For decades, parents have been warned to check their kids' candy carefully, lest a cyanide-laced Sugar Daddy make in into junior's mouth. As Iain has taught us, however, the record books are mighty slim when it comes to any children actually being harmed by psychos intent on taking advantage of the candy-giving season:
    Every year, newspapers and television programs warn parents about the "threat' [from poisoning trick-or-treat candy, along] with grave reminders to check apples for razor blades and needles. This year [2003], the Food and Drug Administration has joined in the tale-telling, warning parents to...
  • What Is All the Hyperventilating About?

    October 31, 2006
    If you haven't read it already, treat yourself to a radically reasonable op-ed by Prof. Richard Lindzen of MIT on why global warming is the last thing that you should be scared of this Halloween season:
    Yes, there does appear to be warming, but the amount is hardly certain or indisputable. And the amount found does not appear that alarming. The alarm, I would suppose, comes from the notoriously inadequate climate models. As the primary "consensus" document, the Scientific Assessment of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes, modellers at the United Kingdom's Hadley Centre had to cancel two-thirds of the model warming in order to simulate the observed warming. So the warming alarm is based on models that overestimate the observed warming by a factor of three or more, and have to cancel most of the...
  • Better Halloween Through Science

    October 31, 2006
    It turns out that Monsanto, the occasionally controversial biotech company, is hard at work on more than just wheat and maize. They're also experimenting with how to improve other crops like...pumpkins:
    [Monsanto scientist Bill] Johnson said customers want deep orange colors and dark green stems that don't snap off when you use them to carry the pumpkin. His job is to breed varieties with those qualities with other strains that are resistant to certain viruses or the dreaded powdery mildew. Monsanto has thousands of breeding lines of pumpkin stock, Johnson said. Most [of] the work is done in California and Florida greenhouses using traditional breeding techniques of mating the best plants with one another over generations. We don't always realize it, but even as we go about our day-to-...
  • What balance?

    October 30, 2006
    When a journalist publicly declares he doesn't believe in balance on a particular issue, you know things are really bad. When I was a journalist, I had it beat into me to get both or however many sides of the story there might be. Well, ABC News' Bill Blakemore (a network reporter!) told an audience at the recent Society of Environmental Journalists conference that he doesn't “like the word ‘balance' much at all” in global warming coverage. Blakemore was debating Senate Environment and Public Works communications director, Marc Morano, who reported on the dialogue in today's Majority Fact of the Day. Seems to me that Blakemore has been hoodwinked by the liberal enviros and he doesn't even realize it. Correction: Blakemore made the...
  • Kazman vs. Cupcake

    October 30, 2006
    CEI's Sam Kazman had the quote of the day. It happened during a debate on CNBC's Morning Call over whether NYC should ban restaurants from using artificial trans-fats. His opponent showed a 25-year-old cupcake as proof that trans-fats are bad for us. Sam's classic response? Press play to find out!
  • The world will not end tomorrow

    October 30, 2006
    Or in a hundred year's time, for that matter. Today's Stern Review from the British government has been marketed as saying global warming means economic catastrophe if we do not decarbonize our economy now and is therefore being used to justify green taxes in the near future. Well, let's take a look at what the Review actually says. I applauded the announcement of the review because it was obvious that the economic assumptions on which global warming models are based needs to be questioned. Yet the review missed the point and just took these assumptions as read. Actually, they did even less than that. As Tim Worstall show, they only picked one economic scenario (IPCC...
  • The U.S. Secretary of Shady Land Deals

    October 30, 2006
    Judith Burns of Dow Jones' MarketWatch reports on the latest shareholder activism from our friends Steve Milloy and Tom Borelli over at the Free Enterprise Action Fund:
    Goldman [Sachs'] donation of 680,000 acres of remote Chilean forest in 2004 continues to chafe the pro-business Free Enterprise Action Fund, which says the gift hasn't benefited Chile or Goldman shareholders. Fund managers, who raised concerns about the deal at Goldman's 2006 meeting, petitioned the Wall Street investment bank on Friday to have its board review the gift next year as part of a broader study of Goldman's "sustainability" projects. […] Goldman's decision to donate the land to a preservation group appears "...
  • World Series the model to follow?

    October 30, 2006
    George Monbiot — the green activist whose perceived wackiness inspired the label “Moonbat” — is at it again. This time he says sport is killing the planet. In this respect, surely Monbiot should give America some credit. After all, we always hear how no-one outside America is interested in Football, Baseball or Hockey. It's soccer, cricket and rugby that involve the most international travel, to say nothing of Track and Field and Formula One. If more countries played only their own sports, perhaps shared with a couple of close neighbors, this problem wouldn't be as significant. Of course, Brits and Australians would have less understanding of India and Africa, but that's a small price to pay, surely. Monbiot has a recommendation for a sport instead: Ultimate Frisbee. That “Moonbat” label becomes a bit clearer now...
  • The UK Takes An Alarmingly Stern Look at Global Warming

    October 30, 2006
    The international media is in a tizz this morning (afternoon in the UK) over the release of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change. The British government commissioned advisor Sir Nicholas Stern to assess the economic impact of global warming and boy, did they get their money's worth. According to his projections, disruptions from a changing climate could end up consuming as much as 20% of global GDP. That's serious. Except that maybe it's not. We sent out a statement earlier today on the Review, and in it, Myron has this to say:
    The report's estimates for reducing...

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