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OpenMarket: December 2006

  • European Health Care – Here We Come!

    December 13, 2006
    The changes in Congress accelerate what has already been a trend toward the “universal health care plan” long endorsed by all “right thinking Americans.” One likely change (a change that a recent survey finds most Americans prefer) would grant the federal government the power to force down drug prices by aggressive bargaining). Many Republicans (and some libertarians) already favored the drug re-importation from Canada and other developed countries, and existing programs to use the leverage of government payment schemes (drug purchases by the Veteran's Administration and the state governments) to drive down prices have faced little opposition from anyone. When government seeks to drive down health care costs, it can do so only by shifting...
  • Ban It – and Industry Will Find a Substitute!

    December 13, 2006
    William Saletan, Science and Technology writer for Slate, has weighed in on New York City's decision to ban transfat use. His rhetorical case against transfats is intriguing: first, he notes that they are “cheap” (note that elites never use the more accurate term, “affordable”; second, they have an “industrial heritage!” An “industrial heritage” — as if all preservation techniques (and the savings they created) were not the result of the science and technology unleashed by the Industrial Revolution. Saletan quotes approvingly, the statements of the New York health department that transfats are “artificial.” He notes that the health department uses that term some 77 times in the paper justifying their ban. The logic that the “artificial” is bad; that the “natural” is good has long been an article of faith by environmentalists (and by Luddites more generally): Pagans tend to...
  • Washington Post fires Last Shot (for a while) at Inhofe

    December 13, 2006
    The desire of global warming alarmists to close off debate was evidenced in a recent Washington Post editorial (of Sunday, December 10, 2006) which set the stage for the “rationalist” era of incoming chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA). Senators Boxer, Bingaman and Lieberman have already announced their intentions to seek immediate mandatory curtailment of carbon based fuels. We'll see. I suspect that when the reality of the impact of carbon rationing becomes clearer, the posturing will give way to reality. Expect rhetoric but little painful reality from the incoming team. Recall, PM Tony Blair's response to a Liberal Democrat critic calling for Blair to support that party's bill to restrict air travel. He...
  • CEI makes Weather Channel’s “Top Ten” – greatest impact on climate change discussion

    December 13, 2006
    The Weather Channel today announced its “Top Ten” list — those people or organizations that have had the greatest impact on climate change discussions. Not surprisingly, former Vice President Al Gore topped the list (he's also trying for an Academy Award). Not surprisingly too is that CEI is the only organization or person on the list that is not part of the “consensus” about global warming policies — that there's no question about global warming science and it's better to beggar the world with energy restrictions rather than focus on adaptation and resiliency strategies. Here's the list: The 2006 ONE° Hot List The Year's Most...
  • Incoming Judiciary chairman to defend privacy rights

    December 13, 2006
    Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), perhaps more famous for his defense of the Vermont dairy industry and the Northeast Dairy Compact, is incoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and says he's going to be a privacy champion. A Reuters headline proclaimed: “Leahy vows to guard privacy rights.” It may not be widely known that Sen. Leahy has been a supporter of civil liberties in relation to the war on terrorism for some time and pushed for the creation of a Civil Liberties Board to help strike a balance between security concerns and civil liberties. He also has...
  • Followup on WSJ letters today

    December 13, 2006
    My favorite quote from the Wall Street Journal Letters today (see Ivan's earlier post) was from Christopher Monckton, former science and technical adviser to former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Lord Monckton wrote re the Rockefeller-Snowe letter to ExxonMobil:
    After a decade of socialism, freedom of speech does not figure in the U.K. constitution. But let me cite the First Amendment to yours: "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech . . . or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." I call upon the two senators to live by those noble words.
  • Yet Another Round of Rockefeller-Snowe objection

    December 13, 2006
    Today's Wall Street Journal features several letters to the editor (subscription required) on the paper's editorial on the Rockefeller-Snowe letter to ExxonMobil. Naturally, it is to be expected that at least somebody would write taking exception to the editorial, but the letter by Rick Piltz of Climate Science Watch has got to be read to be believed -- because it misses the central point so widely off the mark. Piltz simply dismisses the Journal's charge of Sens. Rockefeller and Snowe acting as "bullies" in admonishing ExxonMobil to stop funding groups that disagree with their...
  • REACH and the Perils of Precaution

    December 13, 2006
    Today, the European Parliament voted a final time on the new regulation of Europe's chemical industry. With this vote the proposal is almost certain to become law when the European Council of Ministers votes next week. Called REACH—which stands for registration, evaluation, and authorization of chemicals—this legislation is based on the precautionary principle, and it represents the most substantial application of this principle ever. The principle essentially allows regulators to limit the freedom to sell technologies simply because a technology might have adverse impacts. Regulators need not demonstrate any actual harm before taking existing products off the market or to preventing introduction of new ones. They can just do it. Imagine a world in which all laws are based on perceived potential for harm. In this world you could be put in jail because you ...
  • Sarbox-Style Regulation: Don't Do It

    December 12, 2006
    New York's increased competition from other world financial centers, such as London and Hong Kong, due to the increased regulatory burden imposed by Sarbanes-Oxley in the United States is becoming a real problem for the Big Apple. Now The Wall Street Journal's John Fund and the Financial Times' Gideon Rachman provide two telling quotes that sharply underscore Wall Street's difficulties. Writes Fund:
    "Last year, of the 25 largest initial public offerings in the world, only one took place in America. This year, Hong Kong is likely to end up as the No. 1 market for stock offerings world-wide... "Henry Tang, Hong Kong's financial secretary, couldn't be more blunt on the good fortune Sarbanes-Oxley has brought his...
  • Affordable air travel? How dare you!

    December 12, 2006
    The UK government, which this week doubled air passenger duty to about $20 a flight in a sop to global warming alarmism, wants to go further and impose extra costs on airlines.  So far, British airlines like the flag carrier, British Airways, its rival, Virgin, and the budget champion, Easyjet, had acquiesced, making green-sounding noises about corporate responsibility and so on.  No longer:
    Carriers thought to include British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and easyJet have walked away from talks on a proposed carbon-offsetting scheme being put together by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)...
    Airline executives are thought to have been concerned that the Government was trying to create a scheme that would treat all businesses in...

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