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OpenMarket: May 2007

  • Market Signal

    May 16, 2007
    It is a tenet of free market environmentalism that market signals provide information about the environment and its value. Therefore, when people stop buying beachfront property and the price goes down, it is a signal that people are worried about the effects of sea level rise. This should hold true in advance of the phenomenon, too, as rational actors will take into account the effect on resale value in the future. What, therefore, are we to make of the news that Senator Clinton has just bought beachfront property in Dominica?
  • Sell the Elephant to Save It

    May 15, 2007
    The International Fund for Animal Welfare is complaining about people selling items made from elephant ivory on eBay, arguing that such sales hurt elephant populations by encouraging poaching. That's almost certainly true, but only because of the current system of trade which criminalizes profit and ignores the property rights of people in countries to which elephants are native. The answer, as with the dwindling global population of other threatened species like the tiger, is to allow private ownership of wildlife resources. This will encourage sustainable harvesting and give owners the motivation necessary to keep poachers at bay. You can read all about this approach in a book by...
  • Jerry Falwell, RIP

    May 15, 2007
    Rev. Jerry Falwell died today. To say the least, his brand of morality did not win him many friends among libertarians. He made some inane public statements--including one that appeared to blame gays and Leftists for September 11--and, disgracefully, he wanted public schools to teach creationism. Nonetheless, in my judgment, the movement he helped begin did a great deal for the cause of liberty. The so-called "Christian Right" that he helped to found realized that too-powerful state with high taxes and too many regulations tended to corrode the ability of people to live in accordance with their religious beliefs. When the state takes most of individuals' income, it regulates every aspect of their being. It leaves a lot less time and energy to for people to live in accordance with specific views of scripture. It's worth noting that, in Europe, the Christian political movement has...
  • Preview - Myron Ebell on Penn & Teller

    May 15, 2007
    The next episode of Penn & Teller's "Bullshit!" on Showtime will feature CEI's Myron Ebell on nuclear power. For a preview, check out the show's homepage.
  • Climate change -- and the push for biofuels -- will create a billion refugees, says Christian Aid

    May 14, 2007
    A report just released by Christian Aid says that global warming will displace 1 billion people by 2050, and rich countries that are principally creating the problem should pay for the adaptation of these potential refugees. Part of the problem, the report says, is that many peasant farmers are being displaced because of the production of biofuel crops, such as palm oil. The report states:
    As the pressure to cut CO2 emissions in rich countries grows, a solution is being sought by substituting biofuels for oil -- particularly by the US government -- as a way to keep cars and trucks running. The problem is that the potential bonanza for biofuel producers will require vast tracts of land for...
  • CAFE klatsch

    May 14, 2007
    President Bush is set to address the nation this afternoon on plans to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil, reports the Greenwire news service. Greenwire's Alex Kaplun reports:
    [I]t was unclear exactly what steps the administration would take on its own to push forward its proposal, but there are a number of changes the White House could make on efficiency standards and fuels policies without congressional approval, an industry source said For example, the administration could move on its own to boost corporate average fuel efficiency (CAFE) levels, although Bush has said he would not take such a step without receiving congressional approval to alter the structure of the program.
    Were that the case, it's worth to keep in mind this weekend's ...
  • Hate Crimes and Equality

    May 14, 2007
    The Washington Post has just published a very ironic editorial supporting the federal hate crimes bill ("Protection from Hate," May 14). Its editorial is at odds with both its past editorials opposing hate crimes laws and the concept of equality under the law. In 1992, the Post argued that all hate-crimes laws violate the First Amendment by criminalizing biased thoughts, in the course of criticizing a Wisconsin hate-crimes law that the U.S. Supreme Court later upheld in 1993. In 2000, the Post praised the Supreme Court's decision in U.S. v. Morrison. The Morrison decision struck down a federal law that allowed people to sue over gender-based hate crimes in federal court, ruling that the law exceeded Congress's power under the Commerce Clause...
  • "Bipartisan trade deal" serves special interest, not the public interest

    May 14, 2007
    “A bipartisan trade deal” is touted on the U.S. Trade Representative's website and is on the front page of the House Ways and Means Committee website. According to Ways and Means:
    The agreement announced today is a fundamental shift in U.S. trade policy. Pending free trade agreements (FTAs) will be amended to incorporate key principles that will expand and shape trade in ways that spread the benefits of globalization here and abroad by raising standards.
    Indeed, it is a “fundamental shift” — one that promises to subvert trade agreements to non-trade issues, principally labor and environment. Pushed hardest by U.S. trade unions and their proponents in Congress, and pressed by environmental groups and their champions...
  • Chrysler For Sale. Sold.

    May 14, 2007
    The biggest piece of business news this morning is the sale of 80 percent of Chrysler to a private equity firm, Cerberus Capital. As John Berlau, I'm sure, will comment, the fact that a private equity firm is doing this may result in part from Sarbanes-Oxley. Particularly for a vastly complicated company like Chrysler, it must be very attractive to escape from the "Sarbox trap." I don't think that can explain the entire rise of private equity or this merger but, if nothing else, Sarbox has given private equity firms more capital to take over major companies.
  • Rupert Murdoch's Gas-Guzzling Hybrid

    May 14, 2007
    Rupert Murdoch, a hate figure for much of the Left, especially in Britain, has declared that he is proud to go green. One of the ways he is showing his personal devotion to the cause is by buying a hybrid car -- the Lexus GS450h. The trouble is that this hybrid is not as efficient as my old jalopy, a Saturn LS 2000. My Saturn chugs away at an EPA- estimated 27 mpg, emitting 6.7 tons of greenhouse gases every year for the average driver. Rupert's swanky new hybrid gets 26 mpg and emits 7 tons. His hybrid costs $58,000. My old clunker's blue book value is about $7,500. Rupert could have saved himself a ton of money and done more for the environment by going to a second-hand car...


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