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OpenMarket: July 2007

  • FDA Authority: Less Is More

    July 19, 2007
    Our good friend (and adjunct fellow) Henry Miller of the Hoover Institute responds in the pages of Regulation to charges that the FDA isn't regulating prescription drugs harshly enough:
    There is an old saying in Washington that when something has been repeated three times, it becomes a fact. The saying's most recent application is the supposed shortcomings in the safety of prescription drugs. The reality is that although all drugs have side effects — which can be serious and/or frequent — modern pharmaceuticals have wrought miracles in the control of pain, the treatment and prevention of infections, and the amelioration of diseases of aging such as arthritis and cancer. Regulators need to balance patients' access to...
  • Just Don't Drink Water?

    July 19, 2007
    The Environmental Working Group (EWG) doesn't want you to drink bottled water because it's a waste of resources. Tap water is just as good they say. Yet today's Washington Post reports that EWG also says tap water is not safe. What is one to do?! EWG suggests: Have the feds regulate more (making your tap water more expensive) and use Brita Filters (also more expensive, and I suspect EWG will someday say these don't work either!). I suggest: Ignore the EWG. Both tap and bottled water offer fine options. In another blog post, I already noted the craziness of the green attacks on bottled water.

    EWG's claims about tap water are equally absurd. They maintain that chlorination—which is necessary to kill...

  • People Always Throw Tantrums When They're Young

    July 19, 2007
    According to the Crypt blog over at The Politico, the most dangerous place to be in Washington is between the Alaska delegation and any legislative pork products:
    Rep. Don Young attacked his fellow Republicans on the House floor Wednesday, as he defended education funds allocated to his home-state of Alaska. "You want my money, my money," Young stridently declared before warning conservatives that, "Those who bite me will be bitten back." Young took extreme exception to an amendment by Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) to strike money in a spending bill for native Alaskan and Hawaiian educational programs. Conservatives have stoked the ire of their fellow Republicans for years by challenging federal spending, both broadly and on specific projects. But it...
  • Farm bill -- Ag Committee gives strong support to energy title

    July 19, 2007

    Today at the Agriculture Committee debate on the 2007 Farm Bill (see the live streaming video here), a significant portion of the debate focused on energy —Title IX of the Chairman's Mark. Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) expressed his support for including energy and fuel issues in an agriculture bill: “Getting us off foreign oil,” he said, is a goal. Not sure why that's a goal of the Ag Committee, other than farmers stand to get more subsidies for energy on top of their agriculture subsidies -- and on top of massive subsidies already included in energy legislation.

    The title provides significant subsidies, grants, and loan guarantees for renewable fuel....

  • Racially Labeling Your Child

    July 19, 2007
    My family is puzzling over what racial label to pin on our children. Because of their different ethnic backgrounds, my daughter and my nephew might not be able to get into the same colleges. Racial classifications are truly bizarre. Under affirmative action, my partly-Spanish daughter, Sarah Amy Bader, would qualify as a "Hispanic" under some government definitions, but not others, since she has ancestors from Spain, not Latin America, and her mother, while born in France, speaks Spanish and cooks Spanish recipes. As law professor Eugene Volokh notes, some regulations define Hispanics as only people from Latin America, while others include people from Spain. (Brazilian and Portuguese people are typically excluded from the definition of Hispanic).
  • Cap-and-Trade: Everything Old Is New Again

    July 19, 2007
    In its story "Big bucks at stake in cap-and-trade allocations", Tuesday's Greenwire (subscription required) offered another in a series of examples of how even (particularly?) journalists who specialize in writing about things like environmettal policy cannot quite grasp certain fundamentals inherent in fashionable environmental policies. Or else are simply bowled over by breathless press releases and rhetoric by the well-heeled Big Green and rent-seeking machine. To wit, consider the following regrettable word choice:
    But key players are split on a critical question behind cap-and-trade: how to distribute credits worth tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars to the carbon dioxide-belching [NB: objectivity alert] industries faced with a mandatory new U.S. carbon market....Ideas abound for how to distribute...
  • Counties Challenge Congress on Climate Change

    July 19, 2007
    Catching up on emails, I see that Tuesday's E&E Daily (subscription required) notes that Senator Bingaman yesterday touted his "Low Carbon Economy Act" before the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, who themselves are preparing to adopt their first climate policy resolution. In this context of associations adopting such vows I must note this recent resolution by the National Association of Counties, which they humorously describe as “a resolution...
  • More on Singletary and Greenie Home Ec

    July 18, 2007
    I have no doubt that conservation and cost savings can sometimes go hand-in-hand. But I do think it's helpful to know your own priorities and research the facts. In other words, decide whether your primary goal is to save money or engage in some enviro do-good. Efforts to save money should be balanced against the time and hassle factor. Efforts to "help the environment" should require some research into whether an action would actually do a wit of good or just make the doer feel good. So, for example, if someone wants to cook meals on the roof using solar power because it's great fun and adventurous, okay, to each his own. But I don't think it's helpful to confuse that with notions of energy conservation or cost-savings. It might save a bit on the gas or electricity bill. But I bet the "hassle factor" is higher. Sort of like, I could walk to the grocery store to do my...
  • Too much union disclosure?

    July 18, 2007
    House Democrats are seeking to cut funding for a government agency. A sign of their newfound fiscal frugality? Well, no. Their seeking to cut funding is rooted not so much on any desire to save taxpayer dollars as to hobble the agency's mission. The agency in question is the Labor Department's Office of Labor Management Standards, which is tasked with collecting financial information from unions -- which are tax-exempt under section 501(c)5 of the Internal Revenue Code -- and making that information available to rank-and-file union members and the public (it does so through the recently established website unionreports.gov). As Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Hudson Institute asks in an op ed in today's ...
  • A Man for All Seasons, Norman Borlaug

    July 18, 2007
    Yesterday Norman Borlaug received the Congressional Gold Medal, America's highest civilian award. This humble and unpretentious microbiologist and plant breeder is credited with saving over a billion lives through the “Green Revolution.”

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