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OpenMarket: July 2007

  • Mandatory Purchase

    July 9, 2007
    In a piece in Saturday's Washington Examiner, I examine the parallels between auto insurance and health insurance, and, for the most part, find that they're not that great. Here's one point I make:
    To begin with, borrowing the most talked about feature of auto insurance—mandatory purchase—won't actually provide coverage to all of the 47 million Americans who lack it. While over 95 percent of American motorists live in states that mandate auto insurance purchase, about 13 percent of accidents involve drivers without coverage. Countries like Switzerland, Israel, and Germany that require individuals to buy private health insurance, likewise, find that not everyone complies. Mandatory purchase would decrease the number of uninsured, but, alone, nobody can seriously contend that it would actually result in universal...
  • Live Earth's Ratings Meltdown

    July 9, 2007
    As Iain noted earlier, in the UK, TV ratings for Live Earth were dismal for an event so hyped. Now the Nielsen overnight ratings are out in the U.S., and the news for the concert's TV broadcast are downright disastrous:
    NBC's three-hour primetime "Live Earth" special, which included highlights from Saturday's global concerts, failed to generate much enthusiasm in the ratings.

    The estimated 2.7 million viewers was slightly under the 3 million viewers NBC has averaged on Saturday nights in the summer with repeats and the Stanley...
  • Bad apple doesn't fall far from the rotten tree

    July 9, 2007
    Leaders of bloody revolutions very often come from the middle and upper classes, not from the downtrodden they claim to represent, many historians will note. Now a new book on Fidel Castro's youth confirms this observation. In The Boys from Dolores: Fidel Castro's Classmates from Revolution to Exile, author Patrick Symmes follows his subjects, Castro's classmates from "the Colegio de Dolores, the elite Jesuit prep school in Santiago, Cuba," across both the U.S. and Cuba, "[s]hifting among Havana, Santiago, Miami and New York," notes Washington Post reviewer Wendy Gimbel.
  • Ambushed by the Unruh Act

    July 9, 2007
    California's Unruh Act is a trial lawyer's dream, and a nightmare for the rule of law. It has been interpreted to ban "discrimination" against customers based on an infinite variety of categories, few of them even listed in the Act. Its text broadly declares everyone to be "equal" and bans discrimination "no matter" what the plaintiff's race, sex, religion, etc., but does not expressly say that the categories it lists are the only categories covered by the law. So courts in California have held that all sorts of categories, ranging from the commonplace to the bizarre, are protected against discrimination by California law. The Unruh Act's protected classes include men with long hair, John Birch society members, ACLU members, and Holocaust deniers, all of whom are deemed protected against any "discrimination."
  • Irrationality of Mandated Recycling

    July 9, 2007
    I've said it a million times: Recycling isn't environmentally beneficial if it uses more resources than it saves. That is why many government-mandated recycling programs are often wasteful. However, many people still don't get it. A recent blog post by Duke University political scientist Michael Munger offers yet more examples on why a blind devotion to recycling makes no sense environmentally or economically. It's worth checking out.
  • The Tragi-Comedy that is California Energy Policy

    July 9, 2007
    For the setting of this melodrama, we have California foolishly passing AB32 to reduce her greenhouse gas emissions 11 percent by 2010, 25 percent by 2020, and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. She then directs the California Air Resources Board to develop the regulations to cap these statewide emissions. Enter dashing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wants to do his part to keep the sky from falling, too, and writes an executive order mandating a low carbon fuel standard by 2008. California next turns to her loyal helper, the University of California, to figure out how to accomplish these monumental goals. Regarding the low carbon fuel standard and initial goal of reducing California's passenger vehicle fuels by at least 10 percent by 2020, UC concludes,
    California has or...
  • Bong Hits 4 Jesus Fallout

    July 9, 2007
    Julie Hilden has an interesting column at Findlaw on the recent Supreme Court ruling upholding a teenager's suspension for holding up a "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner across the street from his high school, and how the ruling may affect other First Amendment cases.
  • Live Earth Tree Falls in Silent Forest

    July 9, 2007
    Well, Live Earth has been and gone like a tree falling in a forest with no one around:
    Just 22% said they followed news stories about the concert Somewhat or Very Closely. Seventy-five percent (75%) did not follow coverage of the event. By way of comparison, eight-in-ten voters routinely said they were following news coverage of the recent Senate debate over immigration.
    It didn't even make a sound in the UK, where I thought it would be moderately successful:
    BBC's live afternoon television coverage attracted an average British audience of just 900,000. In the evening, when coverage switched from...
  • National Geographic Cover Story on Malaria

    July 7, 2007
    The July issue of National Geographic features an excellent cover story on malaria. It notes the importance of DDT, highlights many problems with relying on bed nets alone, and even takes on Rachel Carson a little bit. The editor's note (on page 4) opens with a personal story of contracting malaria…because a bed net had a hole in it. The story notes:
    Malaria is a confounding disease—often, it seems, contradictory to logic....Rachel Carson, the environmental icon, is a villain; her three-letter devil, DDT, is a savior...In 1962 Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, documenting this abuse and painting so damning a picture that the chemical was eventually outlawed by most of the world for agricultural use. Exceptions were made for malaria control, but DDT became nearly impossible...
  • 222,623.63 Miles of Smug

    July 7, 2007
    Britain's Daily Mail has estimated Al Gore's Live Earth concerts' environmental footprint, and calls the event "an exercise in hypocrisy on a grand scale."
    A Daily Mail investigation has revealed that far from saving the planet, the extravaganza will generate a huge fuel bill, acres of garbage, thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions, and a mileage total equal to the movement of an army. The most conservative assessment of the flights being taken by its superstars is that they are flying an extraordinary 222,623.63 miles between them to get to the various concerts - nearly nine times the circumference of the world. The true environmental cost, as they transport their technicians, dancers and support staff, is likely to be far higher. The total carbon...


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