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OpenMarket: July 2007

  • Opera funding -- public or private?

    July 31, 2007

    (Maria Callas in I Puritani)

    Over at CafeHayek, Russell Roberts has a post on how opera companies and audiences are burgeoning in the U.S. He quoted from an article in The American about this phenomenon and asked the question — how reliant are opera companies on government funding?

    It turns out that government funding represents about 5 or 6 percent of total U.S. opera companies' funding, according to The American. For the arts in general, that amount is about 12 percent. The rest is from private sources — individuals, foundations, and corporations.

    The...

  • Bergman and Antonioni -- a personal appreciation

    July 31, 2007
    Two great filmmakers died in succession this week. On Monday, Ingmar Bergman died at the age of 89; yesterday Michelangelo Antonioni at 94. The end of an epoch in innovative film-making that began in the 1950s and is imitated even today. Both Bergman and Antonioni were favorites of my small clique of foreign-film buffs at the girls' school I attended. In high school — still in our uniforms — we'd go to the downtown “art theatre” that showed Bergman's early films. In that far distant time, “art theatres” mostly showed porno movies, so we were a bit nonplused by the other audience members — mostly older men slumped in their...
  • They Say They Are A Revolution

    July 31, 2007
    Friends of the Earth is trying to organize a YouTube "revolution" on global warming, starting with unhappy pop stars. Climate Resistance isn't impressed:
    We at Climate-Resistance have no time for celebrities lecturing us about climate change. None of the celebrities speaking on behalf of the campaign appear to have a clue what it is even about. It is the most shameful indictment of Friends of the Earth that they have to recruit pop-stars to endorse their project because it lacks the content to generate its own momentum. The constituency of this campaign are not politically-engaged individuals, but inebriated festival goers and adoring fans - the two least critically-minded groups we can think of. And what kind of demonstration calls for more law - especially law which regulates...
  • Michael Eckhart apologizes to Marlo Lewis -- or does he?

    July 30, 2007
    Dear Marlo: I've received quite a lot of correspondence from people around the country about my July 13 email to you, and they have persuaded me how wrong I was. No matter that I thought I was fighting for Free Speech and against what I saw as Paid Speech, I had no right in our American system of freedoms to threaten your career over it. As a moderate-conservative who believes in the Constitution and all it stands for, and as a moderate-liberal who believes that there are important issues to be addressed in making our society better, I was wrong to attack you. It was against my own principles. I apologize to you personally. At a professional level, the matter took root two years ago when you said me that you believe that global warming is occurring, that you are personally a bit concerned about it, and that you could actually make a compelling argument either way, but...
  • How much will the Farm Bill cost the average family?

    July 30, 2007
    WashingtonWatch today listed the cost of the farm bill (H.R. 2419) just passed by the House last Friday. It seems like the average American family will pay $2590.27 for this bloated program that the Democrats -- in pushing it through -- claimed had "something for everyone." According to the Congressional Budget Office, the House bill will bring total spending of programs administered by USDA to $286 billion for the period 2008-2012. It extends major farm income support programs for major commodities -- direct and countercyclical payments, crop loans, and marketing loan programs -- gives increased funding for export promotion and for rural development. It also includes significantly increased funding for nutrition, research on organic agriculture...
  • Should Disaster Insurance Be Compulsory?

    July 30, 2007
    A masthead editorial (full text by subscription only) lays out a compelling case for mandatory purchase of catastrophe insurance. I've long supported something close to a mandate for health insurance purchase, but I'm not sure if anything like that makes sense for property insurance. Under all circumstances, I do think that government does have an obligation to rescue people in serious trouble (although it might well send them a bill if they're able-bodied and ignored clear evacuation orders). But, unlike health care -- where longstanding ethical rules make it impossible to deny treatment altogether -- I can't think of anybody who would...
  • Google: Open to Its Own Model

    July 30, 2007
    Openness--in our culture filled with feel-goodery and self congratulation openness is seen as a good thing--a trait that any liberal and modern person should hope to have. But is openness always the best policy? Google sure thinks so. It's advocating that the 700 Mhz spectrum--soon to be freed up by the transition to digital TV--should be auctioned with openness in mind. Eric Schmidt, Google's CEO, has asked FCC Chairman Martin to limit the auction to models that would include open applications, open devices, open services, and open networks. Sounds great doesn't it? After all, other open things in the political world are good. Open government, open hearings--both good. But would we want open phone conversations or open...
  • Species Conservation -- Turtles and Tigers

    July 30, 2007
    A recent Reuters article and video noted the plight of the leatherbacked turtles as it reported on the release of hundreds of baby turtles on the east coast of Malaysia by conservationists. Yet, the article noted:
    Despite strict laws banning egg sales, moves to safeguard nesting sites and efforts to build hatcheries, the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) warned last year that the number of leatherback turtles had plummeted because of egg harvesting and turtle hunting.
    Just last week at a CEI seminar, Barun Mitra, head of the Liberty Institute in New Delhi, India, used the example of tiger conservation in China to show that economic incentives and private ownership may provide a better model for species preservation than prohibitions on use and sale of wildlife. See his earlier New...
  • FDA Tobacco Regulation Bill Tramples Free Speech, Advertisers Say

    July 30, 2007
    Advertisers are objecting to the bill that would subject the tobacco industry to FDA regulation, saying that its restrictions on tobacco advertising would violate the Supreme Court's ruling striking down tobacco advertising restrictions in Lorillard Tobacco v. Reilly (2001). They also claim that it would set a bad precedent for advertising restrictions in other industries. There are many other objections to the bill, such as the fact that it would make it harder to sell smokeless tobacco to cigarette smokers, even though smokeless tobacco is less dangerous than...
  • Google Demands Fairness, When Convenient

    July 30, 2007
    Google's Policy Blog today makes a succinct argument for why its purchase of DoubleClick should be approved. While I find their reasoning compelling and logical--in fact, I don't think any justification should be necessary--I find it hard to be sympathetic to a plea for fairness when Google is asking DC to stack the deck in its favor on other issues. Example: Google has issued an ultimatum to the FCC, asking it to offer up the 700 Mhz spectrum--the radio waves that will be free when TVs switch over to digital in 2009--with conditions attached.  These conditions make all potential bidders conform to Google's business model. What other example in history do we have of a company actually demanding strings be attached to an FCC auction such as this? If anyone can think of such an example I...

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