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OpenMarket: June 2007

  • Mandatory card check checked -- for now

    June 26, 2007
    As expected, cloture for the misleadingly, grotesquely, misleadingly named (hey, I've gotta get these descriptions of this bill's disgustinlgy Orwellian moniker out of my system until the next Congress) Employee Free Choice Act, which would have required the National Labor Relations Board to allow card-check organizing whenever a union requested it, failed today on a party-line vote, 51-48 (with Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania the lone Republican voting for cloture). Under card-check, a union requires only to get over 50 percent of workers to sign union cards -- in public, exposing them to the kind of high-pressure tactics from that a secret ballot protects against...
  • $4 per gallon for Gas and Milk?

    June 26, 2007
    If crossing the threshold of paying $4.00 per gallon of milk feels similar to having paid $50 for a tank of gas, the reasons behind these increases are more closely linked than you know. The reasons are twofold, but ethanol is behind both. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandated that 4.7 billion gallons of ethanol be added to the nation's gasoline supply by 2007, which is only a fraction of the 140 billion gallons of gasoline the U.S. currently uses yearly. However, the government also provides tax credits, incentives, and subsidies that add up to roughly $1 per gallon of gas, causing U.S. farmers to decide that they'd rather be a part of the “Fuel Basket” than the “Bread Basket” of the world. As a result, the risk of new investments in refinery capacity for oil companies because of the ethanol production...
  • AMA wants investigation of store-based health clinics

    June 26, 2007
    Yesterday, the American Medical Association said it had adopted recommendations for state and federal agencies to investigate store-based health clinics. At its annual meeting, the AMA announced that it was worried about possible conflicts of interest, patients' welfare, and liability concerns. Here's the directive they issued:
    The nation's physician leaders meeting at the AMA Annual Meeting voted to adopt the following directive instructing the AMA to:
    1. ask the appropriate state and federal agencies to investigate ventures between retail clinics and pharmacy chains with an emphasis on inherent conflicts of interest in such relationships, patients' welfare and risk, and professional liability concerns.
    2. continue to work with interested state and specialty medical...
  • First Amendment Double Standards

    June 26, 2007
    Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued two First Amendment rulings, one expanding First Amendment protection and the other narrowing it. In Morse v. Frederick, the Court ruled 5-to-4 that a high-school student could be disciplined for displaying a cryptical and nonsensical "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner near a school during a parade that passed the school. The Court resolved a split among the lower courts about whether drug-related speech can be censored by schools. (This was a difficult case, and I predicted the court would do this. As I have explained...
  • Card check update

    June 26, 2007
    The union-backed mandatory card-check organizing bill, misleadingly dubbed the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800, S. 1041), is likely to come up for a vote today -- and fail, thanks to a likely Republican filibuster. But, as I noted last week, "even if it goes down to defeat this time, expect it to come back in future Congresses -- especially if in 2008 the Democrats gain the White House, seats in the Senate, or both."Inded, today, Investor's Business Daily reports:
    The cloture vote may fail, but that's just a first step to getting the idea on the public agenda and making it seem more...
  • A New Way to Fund the Madrassas?

    June 26, 2007
    One complaint from national security hawks about the developed world's use of oil has been that it directs Western money to Middle Eastern sources who then use it to fund the spread of Islamic radicalism. Ergo, they argue, it is imperative to reduce oil use. Several of them have therefore joined forces with green interests in a "strange bedfellow" alliance. Unfortunately, because their interests only coincide tangentially, it is now becoming apparent that the policies each that these individual partners advocates are actually harmful to the aspirations of the other. For instance, national security hawks are very pleased with a move towards ethanol, whereas the environmentalists mostly recognize the harmful effects of ethanol production on the environment and world hunger and also concede that it provides very little benefit in terms of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Today...
  • Tires from China

    June 26, 2007
    Today's news contains word that The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is calling for the recall of 450,000 Chinese tires that apparently come apart on the road. I'm willing to assume assume that NHTSA is right about this and that the tires are somewhat more dangerous than American and Japanese-made brands. It's still unclear how many of the tires really have problems and, in any case, assuming four tires per car, these tires have made it only only 1/20th of 1 percent of the cars in the United States. But here's my question: Could it be possible that these lower-priced tires actually improve safety? All tires, no matter where they are made, wear out after a while. And cars with worn tires skid, hydroplane, and get flats at much higher rates than those...
  • Massive Flaws in Senate Immigration Bill

    June 26, 2007
    The Senate immigration bill supported by Ted Kennedy and George Bush will make things worse for high-tech businesses, according to a news story in The New York Times and an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. While making things worse for many categories of skilled legal immigrants, the bill would allow many categories of illegal aliens with criminal records to receive amnesty without even paying back taxes. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has a list of 20 loopholes in the Senate immigration bill that show that is is nothing more than a scam to deceive the American people. It turns out that virtually everything positive that...
  • Giant penguins in Peru -- in warmer climes 40 million years ago

    June 25, 2007
    Turns out that giant penguins lived in Peru 40 million years ago, confounding scientists who thought that such large flightless birds wouldn't have been found in warmer climes that early. Remains of one of the penguins found in Peru was a giant — five-feet tall with a long, sharp beak. According to the news report:
    Paleontologist Julia Clarke, assistant professor of marine, earth and atmospheric sciences at North Carolina State University, said she was surprised at the new find. ''This is the same age as the earliest penguins from South America. The only other record from the...
  • Dave Barry for Candidate!

    June 25, 2007
    While we at Open Market do not endorse candidates for elective office, we can take Dave Weigel's hint (via Hit & Run) and direct you to a Q&A series with the man who could be the election cycle's most compelling candidate so far: Dave Barry. The Man from Miami has made a great number of fans by mocking the arrogance and stupidity of government programs, large and small, which, as far as I'm concerned, is an excellent qualification to be President of the United States [Ed: please note, this does not constitute an endorsement of Barry's candidacy. If you are a U.S. senator with a name ending in -cCain or -eingold, please stop reading now]. Sure, you say, Dave's a great guy, but how is he on The Issues? Witness a few of his quick fire...

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