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OpenMarket: November 2007

  • Worse for Kids than Smoke

    November 6, 2007
    What is more harmful to children's' health than tobacco smoke? The answer may be irresponsible parents. In Oregon, a state where the unemployment rate hovers near a low 5 percent and over 60 percent of employers offer health insurance to their employees, there is relatively little excuse for a parent not to have health insurance. It is as simple as asking potential employers if they offer insurance during the interviewing process. If they don't, job-hunters can always walk down the street to the next employer. Chances are better than 50/50 that the next employer will offer insurance. And without a state-run insurance program to fall back on, more employees would increasingly demand insurance and the percentage of employers offering it would most...
  • Free Kareem Rally in DC This Week

    November 6, 2007
    This Friday Bureaucrash and friends will be hosting a demonstration in support of student and blogger Kareem Amer, who has now been in prison in Egypt for a year for peacefully expressing his opinions about religious and political issues in Egyptian society. The crowd here in DC will be joined in solidarity by groups around the world, including scheduled events in Brussels, Rome, Stockholm, New York, Prague, Bucharest, Berlin, Amsterdam, London, Athens, Mexico City, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. See the Free Kareem website for more details. The Bureaucrash media advisory is here. Bureaucrash has previously (co-)hosted rallies in support of Kareem, last February and later in April. Here'...
  • Top agriculture official hits Senate farm bill

    November 6, 2007
    In a tele-news conference yesterday on the Senate farm bill, the acting U.S. Department of Agriculture secretary, Chuck Conner, said that he would recommend a veto of the bill. Conner spoke in particularly harsh terms about the costs of the bill, which represents a new tax burden of about $37 billion. He also criticized the way the Senate bill disguises the true cost:
    If they were to continue the funding for these programs, since the expectation is clearly that the programs will continue, the cost of the farm bill increases by $12 billion. I do not accept that this is just the way business is done in Washington. Business as usual is unacceptable if it means being dishonest...
  • BONG HiTS FOR JESUS Revisited

    November 6, 2007
    In June, the Supreme Court ruled against a student's First Amendment challenge to his discipline for displaying, off school grounds, a cryptic banner that read "BONG HiTS FOR JESUS." I have now published a short law review article in the Cato Supreme Court Review explaining why the Court was wrong to reject the student's First Amendment claim and why its ruling in Morse v. Frederick was inconsistent with the logic of prior Supreme Court rulings. The Supreme Court was right, however, to dismiss the student's demand for damages from the school principal, based on the concept of "qualified immunity," since it was a fairly close case, as I explained earlier here and...
  • GOP Big Spenders, But I Repeat Myself

    November 6, 2007
    Finally, after nearly seven years of approving every big spending bill to hit his desk, President George W. Bush is occasionally saying no to budget bloat. And now the Republicans in Congress appear ready to prove that they, no less than their Democratic brethren, really like spending other people's money. Reports Robert Bluey of the Heritage Foundation:
    Congressional Republicans have tried hard this year to reclaim the GOP's traditional “brand” as the party of fiscal responsibility. They're about to face a test that will show whether their rhetoric matches reality. President Bush's veto of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) on Friday puts him...
  • Social Engineering Doesn't Work, Even in China

    November 6, 2007
    It doesn't matter how often politicians fail. They keep coming back with grand new schemes for transforming their own, and often other people's, societies. And they keep failing. At least in democratic Western societies there is a chance to hold public officials accountable for their mistakes. Not so in authoritarian, collectivist states. But now even China is being forced to acknowledge that all is not well with the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze river. The world's largest and most expensive water project, it has had enormous, and enormously harmful environmental and social consequences. And the price continues to climb. Reports the Wall Street Journal (subscription required):
    Fan Zhongcheng last year joined 1.4 million people forced to flee rising Yangtze River waters caused...
  • LOST Treaty Is Step Backwards for U.S. Interests

    November 5, 2007
    The Wall Street Journal had an editorial this weekend describing the ways that the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) would undermine America's security and business needs. In the Simpleton's Guide to the Law of the Sea Treaty, Richard Morrison explains how the treaty would shortchange property rights and our national interest. Chris Horner summarizes the reasons why LOST should not be ratified here. Ivan Osorio discusses the risks posed by the Treaty here and here.
  • Sugar lobby sweetens pols' pot

    November 5, 2007
    Terrific front-page article on the influence of the sugar lobby in the Washington Post on Saturday by Dan Morgan recounting how the sugar industry's clout extends even to legislators located in Manhattan. Morgan notes that when the House of Representatives was considering an amendment cutting back on the sugar program, the sugar industry received support in defeating it soundly from legislators far from the farms.
    The House sugar vote illustrates the hold that agricultural interests maintain on farm policy even as the number of full-time commercial farmers has shrunk to a few hundred thousand. Sugar groups have used campaign cash and far-reaching alliances with labor unions and politicians to expand their influence far beyond the 15 states and few dozen congressional...
  • Patrick Lynch's Smelly Deal in R.I.'s Lead-Paint Suit

    November 5, 2007
    CEI rated Rhode Island attorney general Patrick Lynch the fifth-worst attorney general in America in its The Nation's Top Ten Worst State Attorneys General, largely for his role in allowing campaign contributors to shake down the paint industry by bringing a multibillion dollar nuisance lawsuit against it for selling lead paint back when it was legal. Legal Newsline and PointofLaw now report on paint companies' challenge to provisions in the sweetheart deal that one company took to get out of the lawsuit. In exchange from being removed from the suit, that company agreed to pay $1...
  • Yet more ado about noting

    November 5, 2007
    Yet another study is out suggesting that air pollution is a considerable risk to our health, as highlighted in today's Washington Post. This time researchers say if you eat right, exercise, and don't smoke, your highest cancer risk may come from the chemicals you breath in on your drive home from work--especially if you live in traffic-laden Los Angeles. Certainly, exposure to very high levels of air pollution can pose serious risks. In fact, high air pollution in developing nations is a serious health problem because wood/cow dung is often burned inside rudimentary residential structures that often lack venting devices like chimneys. But that's a far cry from the pollution levels anywhere in the United States. At best researchers make the claim that U.S. pollution...

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