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OpenMarket: October 2006

  • Ralph Harris, RIP

    October 20, 2006
    Ralph Harris, guiding light of the UK's Institute for Economic Affairs, has passed away. The Times has an extensive obituary: For three decades at the epicentre of free-market thinking, Ralph Harris was decisive in converting the British political consensus back to liberal economics. He did this chiefly by informing — and often inspiring — an ideological underpinning for Margaret Thatcher and Sir Keith Joseph as they remodelled the Conservative Party after 1975. Supplying the motivating energy (as its general director, 1957-87) behind the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), the most enduring and intellectually substantial of the think-tanks made famous by the Thatcher phenomenon, Harris had exhibited great character in maintaining his...
  • Cars, Women and Minorities

    October 20, 2006
    The magazines Black Enterprise, African American Golfer's Digest and Divas On-The-Go are hosting the African-American Empowerment Weekend here in Washington this week. We've talked a lot in the past about how free market ideas can do just that - provide economic empowerment to members of historically disenfranchised minority groups - and how any number of government policies have done just the opposite. One of the most interesting of these examples is the role the privately owned automobile has played in expanding economic opportunities for women and minorities. Transportation policy analyst...
  • News of YouTube's Death Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

    October 19, 2006
    An argument from Peter Hartlaub of the San Francisco Chronicle on why big business can never be cool, even when it acquires something that is: The circle of life on the Internet is very cruel: When giant corporations take interest in online cultural phenomena, they instantly become exponentially less cool. From Napster to MySpace to "Snakes on a Plane" -- all stopped being a good thing once the Man showed up in the room. In the wake of Google's acquisition of YouTube, parents groups are already calling for a safety czar to regulate the user-built video library, much like the one that MySpace appointed when News Corp. purchased that site. And is there anything that kills a party faster than a safety czar? In a sense, Google's purchase of YouTube will almost certainly kill YouTube. Of...
  • Small Government Hate Speech?

    October 19, 2006
    Craig Bannister of CNSNews just passed on a story out of Marquette University in which graduate student Stuart Distler was banned from displaying the following Dave Barry quote on his office door: "As Americans, we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government." Lots to agree with there if you're a fan of smaller government. The chairman of his department disagreed, however, and removed the quote from Distler's office door, saying that the quote was "patently offensive," and that "hallways and office doors are not 'free-speech zones.'" One wonders where on Marquette's campus one can express one's ideas freely. Perhaps, like some modern airports do with smoking, there will be...
  • Frank Luntz, Save Us!

    October 19, 2006
    The Powell's Books website has an interesting review (via The New Republic) of George Lakoff's latest book about politics and language, Whose Freedom? Lakoff argues, as many others have, that framing political issues with the proper metaphors goes a long way toward winning the debate: Political debates, according to Lakoff, are contests between metaphors. Citizens are not rational and pay no attention to facts, except as they fit into frames that are “fixed in the neural structures of their brains” by sheer repetition. In George W. Bush's first term, for example, the president promised tax “relief,” which frames taxes as an affliction, the reliever as a hero, and anyone obstructing him as a villain. The Democrats were foolish to offer their own version of tax relief, which accepted the Republicans' framing; it was...
  • And Now for a Word from the Critics

    October 19, 2006
    We've just heard that our friend Marc Morano will be one of the panelists at the upcoming Society of Environmental Journalists conference in Burlington, Vermont. Marc will be debating with the AP's Seth Borenstein and The New York Times' Andy Revkin on whether or not reporters are "playing up the fear factor and skirting inconvenient uncertainties" when it comes to global warming stories. Open Market will also be there in Burlington, blogging, meeting and greeting the attendees. Keep an eye out for posts October 27th-29th.
  • They're Coming to Audit Your Avatar

    October 19, 2006
    Fox News this morning raises the alarming prospect of the IRS taxing financial transactions taking places in online virtual communities like Second Life and World of Warcraft. So far people like Rep. Jim Saxton of the Joint Economic Committee are giving the proposal the thumbs down, but I guarantee we haven't heard the last of it.
  • Vote for Alternative Energy with Your Feet

    October 19, 2006
    Tokyo rail users will now be expected to not only pay for their own tickets, but also to power the machines that sell them. "A Tokyo rail company has put footstep-powered generators under its ticket-vending machines; the tread of passengers generates electricity to power the machines." Another wonderful thing from Boing Boing.
  • Decoy Files on P2P Sites Become Ad Vehicles

    October 18, 2006
    From The Wall Street Journal, via \. The unusual alliance demonstrates a new tack being taken by the music industry to deal with the challenge posed by widespread music piracy. For years, the industry has been suing individual downloaders and file-sharing services, hoping to discourage the practice. In a tactic little known outside the music industry, record labels have also started to hire outside companies to plant "decoy," or fake, files on the sites. (One such company, ArtistDirect Inc.'s MediaDefender, says it has deployed decoys for as many as 30 of the top 100 Billboard songs at any given time.) The decoy files frustrate users because they fail to download even though, thanks to the...
  • The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Revisited

    October 18, 2006
    Marc Morano over at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is drawing our attention today to an op-ed in L'Express last month by distinguished French geophysicist Claude Allegre making the scandalous claim that "the cause of climate change remains unknown." I guess Mr. Allegre didn't get the memo that every scientist in the world has already agreed otherwise, as we are constantly reminded. One wonders how many dozens of prominent climate skeptics will have to crowd onto the public stage before the alarmists acknowledge that they exist.

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