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OpenMarket: June 2007

  • Washington, DC: We're #1!

    June 5, 2007
    ...in "sun protection awareness," that is. According to a press release citing a poll by the American Academy of Dermatology, people in the DC area know the risks of unprotected UV exposure better than anyone. Maybe that's why we spend all day indoor blogging - no one ever got melanoma from a comment thread. Of course, if we want our previous number one distinction back, we're going to need some visionary political leadership.
  • Conservatarian Thoughts on the FCC

    June 5, 2007
    Our friend (and former Open Market editor) Peter Suderman makes an excellent free market point at The Corner today about broadcast obscenity and the FCC on the heels of the Commission's recent Supreme Court loss.
    HBO...tends to run kids shows (or movies) on Saturday morning and save the R-rated fare for later in the evening. The network could run whatever it wanted during the day, but it generally sticks to less graphic fare—not because it has to, but because it's good business. I don't see why the same wouldn't occur on networks if given the chance.
  • A "legacy" of gasoline regulation

    June 5, 2007

    University of Illinois Law Professor Andrew P. Morriss has a new and insightful paper on regulation and gasoline markets. Titled “Gasoline, Markets, and Regulators,” the paper looks at the century-old and market-distorting “layers of regulation.” Morriss points out:

    Unfortunately gasoline markets are buried in layers of regulation that obstruct the normal market processes that generate these signals to balance supply and demand. Because the aims of these regulations are often mutually contradictory, the impact of the thicket of regulation is even worse than first appears, distorting decisions on everything from the search for oil to investments in refineries. The legacy of more than a century of federal and state interference in market processes is that gasoline markets are...

  • A Tale of Two Googles

    June 5, 2007
    Google, the company turned into a common verb, has come under fire recently because of the fear that many have of the potential misuse of the troves of data piling up at the ol' Googleplex. Although these fears aren't totally irrational, I recently pointed out in CEI's tech newsletter C:\Spin (C-SPAN for nerds) that Google and other similar companies do a great job of handling our data. Moreover, they do a much better job than the alternative guardian of our data, the federal government. Think of the mayhem! A C:\Spin reader was kind enough to point out that, while I was right to defend Google against the anti-trust regulators and the privacy hawks, Google isn't exactly an innocent party. While I think that Google is a tremendous force for innovation and has created and will create more wealth than can be measured, they do also...
  • NYT on Carson

    June 5, 2007

    Today, columnist John Tierney takes on the legacy of Rachel Carson in the New York Times Science section, offering a critique of Carson's alarmism and lamenting the adverse impacts of that approach, similar to CEI's critique on RachelWasWrong.org. I guess this means that Tierney is also worthy to appear along with me on the Jerry Springer show (see my other post today "Greens Attack Rather than Debate")! Kidding of course. Check out Tierney's great piece, and share your insights on Tierney's blog on the topic entiled "To Spray or not to Spray."

  • Greens Attack Rather than Debate

    June 5, 2007
    Environmental activists from Environmental Defense, the Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA), and the Silent Spring Institute refuse to debate me (and probably anyone with my view) about Silent Spring's malaria legacy. I can't blame them. After all, who would want to defend their indefensible position? They refused an invitation for a radio debate/discussion this past weekend. We all were invited for an hour-long interview on Food Chain Radio with host Michael Olsen. The host simply wanted one environmentalist to participate, but could find none. Rather than offer substantive arguments by participating in the show, the groups drafted a joint letter, which Olsen read on the air. Based on their letter, I am not worth their time to debate and instead I would be better...
  • The Quarter Century

    June 5, 2007
    In celebration of its 25th anniversary, USA Today is creating 25 top 25 lists. (Link goes to the first one.) They make for pretty interesting reading although I'd have some quibbles here and there. While I can't argue with Harry Potter on top of the books list, the books list contains only one serious novel (Cold Mountain) and seems awfully skewed towards more recent work. The technology list, likewise, leaves out some obvious but important inventions like electronic fuel injection. Anyway, well worth reading.
  • Will Jefferson: A Man of Political Convictions?

    June 4, 2007
    It's official - Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) has finally been indicted for bribery and on other related charges. As you might remember, he's the legislator who was found with a suspiciously large block of U.S. currency stored in his freezer (approx. $90,000), and without a non-corrupt explanation for its existence. bribeloc_rs.jpg Despite being stripped of his seat on the Ways & Means Committee, Jefferson is still a member in good standing of the House Democratic Caucus. Nancy Pelosi, of course, reminds us in a press statement today that...
  • SCOTUS On Insurance and Credit Reporting

    June 4, 2007
    A Supreme Court Decision handed down today, Safeco v. Burr, mostly sided with two insurance companies in a dispute over notifications related to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The real question at hand was to what extent insurance companies had to notify policy holders when they offer them rates other than the lowest as a result of credit histories. The Court found that GEICO did not violate the law and that if Safeco did, it did not do so recklessly. This should let insurance companies breathe a little easier when they use credit scores to determine rates and, insofar as allowing the use of more information leads to rates that better reflect risk, it's likely a good thing. But the use of credit scores for insurance in the first place strikes me as a little screwy. Insofar as someone who skips out on a VISA...
  • Banning "Discrimination" That Might Protect Safety

    June 4, 2007
    Politicians love to vote against "discrimination." It makes them feel saintly, even if the law they vote for has unintended consequences, saddles businesses with red tape, and interferes with public safety. Soundbites matter more than sound public policy. Thus, the House of Representatives recently passed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2007, which will probably sail through the Senate as well. There is little evidence that anyone is being subjected to irrational discrimination based on their genes. Genetic discrimination of any kind is extremely rare. And on rare occasion, genetic discrimination may be rational, such as when genetic testing reveals that a bus driver is prone to seizures that may cause him to crash the bus he is driving. But the House has just voted to ban it in...

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