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OpenMarket: July 2007

  • The R Word

    July 26, 2007

    Recession. I dare to mention the word because the energy bill that the Senate has passed and that the House is now considering will push our economy into one. Our out-of-touch Congress seems hell-bent on passing this bill, irrespective of its promised effect on consumers:

  • "He Only Saved a Billion People"

    July 26, 2007
    Newsweek has a story on Norman Borlaug, the father of the Green Revolution, whose advances in biotechnology saved a billion people from starvation in impoverished Third World countries like India, China, and Pakistan. It's aptly titled "He Only Saved a Billion People." Biotechnology gets a bad rap today, from anti-technology environmentalists and technophobes, but the world would be starving without it. Mexico, which today has an obesity problem like the U.S., was once plagued by recurrent famines, which Borlaug helped end by introducing a variety of "dwarf wheat" that tripled grain production there. Borlaug is a winner of the Nobel Prize, but he is virtually unknown to the public, because he is an agronomist, and most of the media doesn't understand...
  • Update on 2007 Farm Bill -- Administration issues critique -- and warning

    July 25, 2007
    On the eve of House consideration of the 2007 Farm Bill, the Bush Administration has just sent a statement from the Office of Management and Budget that the bill needs further reform measures or it risks veto:
    The final farm bill should include further real reform, should identify offsets without gimmicks or tax increases, and should not include an expansion of Davis-Bacon. The Administration believes these concerns can be addressed by continuing to work with Congress. However, if the bill were presented to the President in its current form, the President's senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill. [Underlining in original ]
    The letter also deals with some measures in the bill which will invite WTO challenges:
    The Administration strongly opposes...
  • Farm bill scheduled for House tomorrow -- Bush will veto, says Ag Secretary

    July 25, 2007
    Today Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns said that the President may veto the 2007 Farm Bill, scheduled for full House consideration tomorrow, because it doesn't include significant reforms in subsidy programs. The Administration had proposed its own Farm Bill with modest reforms, which didn't get support in Congress, mainly because farmers exerted their clout with their powerful legislators not only to continue farm subsidy programs but also to expand those programs and provide them to growers that hadn't received subsidies before. The bipartisan bill, H.R. 2419, has a lot of pork to satisfy farmers' demands. All but the very rich farmers -- those with adjusted gross income of over $1 million per year-- can continue to collect their subsidy checks. To placate big-city politicos, the bill also includes...
  • Brother, can you spare several hundred million bolivars?

    July 25, 2007
    The online version of Foreign Policy features a list of the word's five worst currencies: The Somali shilling, Iraqi dinar, North Korean won, Venezuelan bolivar, and Zimbabwean dollar. What their countries all have in common should be obvious: Lack of any semplance of rule of law. Somalia and Iraq have weak central governments that have proved unable to bring rampant murderous violence under control, while the other three are ruled by insane despots whose whim passes for law. Take the ridiculous measures Venezuela's Hugo Chavez has taken to stem the slide of his country's currency, which his own policies have helped bring about:
    Venezuela's currency has lost 21 percent of its value since January 2007, the worst performance of all 72 currencies tracked by Bloomberg News....
  • A Dopp of Smear

    July 25, 2007
    The Wall Street Journal weighs in today on expose of smear tactics used by Darren Dopp, a communications aide to former New York Attorney General -- now Governor -- Eliot Spitzer, against State Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno (on which Hans commented yesterday). It didn't start with Bruno:
    On Monday, the office of Democratic Attorney General Andrew Cuomo released a 54-page report on Mr. Bruno's use of state helicopters, allegedly for personal political purposes. The investigation had been prompted by the Governor's office after Mr. Spitzer's communications aide and hatchet man, Darren Dopp, saw to it that allegations of impropriety against Mr. Bruno had found their way into the hands of...
  • Cap and Trade not enough for Australian Greens

    July 25, 2007
    Australian Prime Minister John Howard announced July 17 that he will introduce legislation this Fall to set up an emissions trading scheme. "The scheme will include maximum practical coverage of emissions sources and sinks, and of all greenhouse gases, a mixture of free allocation and auctioning of single-year dated emissions permits, a safety valve emissions fee designed to limit unanticipated costs to the economy and to business, particularly in the early years of the scheme and recognition of carbon abatement by firms in the lead-up to commencement of the scheme," Howard said. As such, the scheme represents a culmination of all the hopes of the assorted big business rent-seekers and financial interests that are lobbying for such a scheme to be introduced in the US. Yet it still did not meet with universal acclaim. The Australian Greens condemned it as "electioneering" and said, "...
  • Eliot Spitzer Aides Caught Playing Dirty Tricks

    July 25, 2007
    Aides and close advisers of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer have been caught trying to plant dirt on a political rival, state senate leader Joseph Bruno. While New York's attorney general, Spitzer was featured as #3 on CEI's list of The Nation's Top Ten Worst State Attorneys General. Supporting that list was a portrait of each of the ten worst state attorneys general, including their ethical lapses and misuse of their offices to enrich trial lawyers and political cronies. Spitzer made the list for reasons such as...
  • Thinking Outside the SarbOx

    July 25, 2007
    It's always a delight to see our research trumpeted by the presidential candidates. But resident SarbOx scholar John Berlau must have been particularly pleased to see his arguments picked up by Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, 1 of only 3 congressmen to vote "no" on Sarbanes-Oxley in 2002. Quizzed about a recent SEC move to reform Section 404, a controversial internal controls provision, Paul relied on an extended Berlau quote for the nitty gritty details, then pressed for a full SOX repeal based on constitutional and economic grounds.
    Ron Paul: No, the Securities and Exchange Commission's new regulations implementing Section 404 do not go nearly far enough in lifting the unjustified burdens Sarbanes-Oxley imposed on...
  • Eckhart Update

    July 24, 2007

    Two weeks ago my colleague, Iain Murray, posted on The Corner an email from Michael Eckhart, President of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), in which Eckhart threatened to "destroy" my "career" as a "liar" if I "produce one more editorial against climate change." He vowed to launch a "campaign against" my "professional integrity," and "call" me a "liar and charlatan" unless I repent. That was July 13.

    Two days later, Eckhart claimed to "apologize" on his Blog to those who were "offended" by his email (which began: "You are full of crap"). However, Eckhart's so-called apology was nothing of the sort. In fact, it was the very attempt to destroy my career that he threatened to undertake in his nasty-gram.

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