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OpenMarket: June 2007

  • Free NYC Garbage!

    June 22, 2007
    New York City Lawmakers are all worked up about garbage. It should be simple to collect and dispose of waste, even in a big city. But when it a government project, it becomes a major crisis. New York officials manage waste using 20-year plans—much like the economic plans that the Soviets used “manage” their economy. The waste plans work about as well. They are subject to never-ending political wrangling. In the late 1990s, the closing of the city's "Fresh Kills" landfill in Staten Island led to an uproar elsewhere as New York increased trash exports to Virginia landfills. But that doesn't work politically, so New York officials want to export less. To that end, they plan to continue the city's expensive and inefficient recycling program, which Mayors Michael Bloomberg, David Dinkins, and Rudy Giuliani all unsuccessfully tried...
  • A "Choice" We Can Refuse

    June 22, 2007
    The Senate will soon vote on the card-check organizing mandate perversely known as the "Employee Free Choice Act." This law would allow unions to circumvent secret ballot elections whenever they ask the National Labor Relations Board to let them do so. Today I chime in on this in The American Spectator.
    Union organizers never, ever intimidate workers whom they are trying to recruit. Believe me? Great! I've got a bridge to sell you. Sound crass? Well, Big Labor and their allies in Congress are trying to sell America just such a proverbial bridge -- the deceivingly named Employee Free Choice Act (pdf) (H.R. 800, S.1041), on which the Senate will soon vote... Facing a...
  • Manhattan "farmers" get a lot of pork

    June 22, 2007
    Great farm subsidy database -- now updated -- maintained by EWG using USDA and other government data. Here's just one example: a map of Manhattan showing a lot of red dots signifying farm subsidy recipients living in the Big Apple. You can click on the dots and get the names of the recipients. Much more on this website, such as that only 19 percent of the congressional districts account for one-half of all crop subsidy payments between 2003-2005; and the top 10 percent of crop subsidy program beneficiaries accounted for 66 percent of subsidy benefits.
  • Four nation talks on Doha trade round break down

    June 22, 2007
    Talks broke down among a group of four countries -- the U.S., the EU, India, and Brazil -- to move forward on the WTO Doha Round negotiations. The discussions in Potsdam were considered important in trying to reach agreement on greater market access in both agriculture and manufactured goods. Previous talks saw the U.S. and the EU blaming each other for the lack of agreement. But this time, those countries blamed India and Brazil for not wanting to move at all in opening their markets further to outside goods and products. With Trade Promotion Authority expiring at the end of June (which gives the Bush administration the ability to negotiate trade agreements with an up-or-down vote by Congress), some had thought that progress at this meeting might spur support for renewing TPA. With...
  • Biofuel pork

    June 20, 2007
    A column by Doug Cameron in today's (June 20, 2007) Financial Times (”Animal plan incites pork-barrel politics“) provides more evidence (as if any were needed) that energy politics in the nation's capital are driven by pork (legal plunder) and anti-fossil fuel demagoguery. A provision in the 2005 Energy Policy Act provides a $1-a-gallon tax credit for production of biodiesel fuel. Most lawmakers expected biodiesel to be made from vegetable oil, generating profits (at taxpayer expense) for farmers. But lo, other clever people figured out how to cash in. Oil giant Conoco-Phillips teamed up with poultry giant Tyson Foods to make biodiesel from animal fats. A veritable food fight has broken out:
    The [Conoco-Tyson] plan has managed to upset just about everyone but its backers. Animal...
  • More on the income inequality gap

    June 20, 2007

    Just came across this article on income inequality by Nobel Prize economist Gary Becker and Kevin Murphy.  It's relevant to my post earlier today on the new OECD report.

    Becker and Murphy argue that the positive side of income inequality in the U.S. is that there is a significant payoff for those having a college education compared to those without.  And in today's world, there is a greater demand for more educated and highly skilled workers:

  • Coal to Kyoto: We will bury you

    June 20, 2007
    You have probably heard that China is building new coal-fired power plants at the rate of one every week to 10 days. In late 2004, The Christian Science Monitor reported that three countries—the United States, China, and India—are planning to build nearly 850 new coal plants, “which would pump up to five times as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as the Kyoto Protocol aims to reduce.” These new plants will “bury” Kyoto. The Monitor elaborated:
    By 2012, the plants in three key countries - China, India, and the United States - are expected to emit as much as an extra 2.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide, according to a Monitor analysis of power-plant construction data. In contrast, Kyoto countries by that year are supposed to...
  • OECD looks at globalization's effect on workers

    June 20, 2007
    A new OECD report that looks at the effects of globalization on employment points out that while technological change is a major driver in the transformation to a competitive global economy, public perceptions about globalization's impact on job insecurity and wage disparity need to be addressed through better social protection systems. To avoid a “backlash,” governments should do more to improve the skills of workers and help them adjust to increased job mobility. The annual Employment Outlook (available to media and for purchase on the OECD website) provides some interesting statistics about “earnings inequality” in OECD countries. It graphs the earnings increases of the 10 percent best-paid...
  • Farm bill update -- more feeding at the trough recommended

    June 20, 2007
    A House agriculture subcommittee yesterday recommended extending the 2002 Farm Bill's commodity programs instead of reforming the massive taxpayer- and consumer-funded farm subsidies and support programs. As the ag website noted:
    This retains the basic farm safety net by extending marketing assistance loans, direct payments and counter-cyclical payments and keeps intact the percentage of base acres for which farmers may receive payments. The committee also considered and rejected amendments representing alternative Farm Bill proposals.
    Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns criticized the action and said he...
  • Do We Worry Too Much About Earmarks?

    June 19, 2007
    A recent CNN investigative effort shows--surprise, surprise--that the Democrats haven't kept their promise to back off on earmarking. But I think that earmarks also get far too much attention relative to their importance. Last year's "record" earmark budget was only about 1 percent of federal spending. Highway earmarks--always the single largest chunk of earmark money--almost always involve specifying a particular purpose for money that would go to a state anyway. Eliminating them would give local governments more autonomy but it would not save tax dollars or reduce the scope of government. Many earmarks, furthermore, involve members of Congress grabbing credit for things that would be done anyway. In any case, I don't see a clear reason why the federal government should ever provide money to states for ...

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