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OpenMarket: November 2007

  • Coercive Indoctrination Suspended at University of Delaware

    November 2, 2007
    In response to complaints by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), the University of Delaware has suspended its coercive indoctrination of students living in its dormitories.
    Students living in the university's eight housing complexes are required to attend training sessions, floor meetings, and one-on-one meetings with their Resident Assistants (RAs). The RAs who facilitate these meetings have received their own intensive training from the university, including a "diversity facilitation training" session at which RAs were taught, among other things, that "[a]...
  • Farm Bill Follies

    November 2, 2007
    The Senate farm bill is headed to the floor, even as Agriculture Committee chairman Tom Harkin is expressing reservations about some of the programs included. There's a lot not to like in the 2007 farm bill, and now CEI's very own Fran Smith has a video summary of the worst bits. Click below to watch "Farming for Dollars."

    Binary Data...
  • What Does Your District Drive?

    November 1, 2007
    The folks at the National Auto Dealers Association have come up with a neat little web widget for the car curious. You can now use their database to find out what kind of cars you friends and neighbors (and nearby enemies) are driving. They've divided state car registration data by congressional district, and broken it out in two ways. First they count the share of people driving light trucks (SUVs, vans, minivans and pick-ups) vs. "regular" cars, and then break down the light truck section into its four components. The geographical comparisons make for some interesting reading. With this information, you can figure out if a certain part of the country is a hybrid heaven where SUVs are an endangered species, a rootin' tootin' pick-up truck lovin' rural paradise, or an Escalade Elysium where worries about fuel...
  • Is this Washington or Paris?

    November 1, 2007
    New York has its medallions, and D.C. has its zone system -- the bane of each city's taxi riders. However, unlike the medallion system, which shuts out would-be entrants into the taxi driving business, the costs of D.C.'s archaic taxi zone system fall entirely on passengers. Have you ever tried to read one of those D.C. taxi zone maps on a moving taxi? The things are so poorly drawn that it leads one to suspect that they were designed to confuse on purpose. And if you're going to Virginia or Maryland, expect a fare bargaining session worthy of a Middle Eastern bazaar. (One time I got out of a cab whose driver tried to charge me an exorbitant $35 for a trip I'd always paid less for; I got in the cab waiting behind his, and the driver in that one only charged me $20 -- for the same trip!) Finally, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty has ordered...
  • Linda Stein, RIP

    November 1, 2007
    Legendary music manager Linda Stein, whose pioneering work in the early New York punk scene included, "bringing the Ramones to England for their infamous July 4, 1976, concert that helped spark the young British punk scene," was found beaten to death in her Upper East Side apartment on Tuesday, reports AP. (Her ex-husband, Seymour Stein, was the  founder of Sire Records, which along with the Ramones, also took a chance on the Talking Heads, the Pretenders -- oh, and Madonna, too, but no one's perfect.) After leaving music management, she turned to real estate, always continuing to work. As she said in an interview with the...
  • Credit markets: Lift antitrust and let 1000 "superconduits bloom"

    November 1, 2007
    Talk about the blind leading the blind! Superbank Citigroup Inc. was supposed to be a big player in Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson's "superconduit" to provide liquidity for the securitized debt instruments that had their valuation in question because of an unknown number of bad mortgages and other loans. But with an analyst report downgrading Citi to "sector underperform," as well as predicting it will have to raise about $30 billion by slashing its dividend and/or selling off its assets, other financial institutions will now be even more reluctant to follow Citi off a cliff of unspecified height. Let me pull back a minute, lest I sound like a doomsayer. This blog post is about the flaws of Paulson's concept of a...
  • Iowa, the Halloween grinch

    November 1, 2007
    Iowa has decided to put a tax on pumpkins that are not consumed. You have to sign a form promising to eat the thing and you will save 7 percent sales tax. Between the added paperwork for both vendor and customer and the invasion into my kitchen, this is an example of stupid taxation.
  • Give it up already!

    November 1, 2007
    Just as France has put a temporary freeze on growing corn bred with molecular plant breeding techniques, Austria fails to create a majority within the EU for banning the corn altogether. WTO has already said its an illegal ban, and none of these countries can come up with new scientific information to justify further moratoriums. We have eaten the food for 11 years now, and there has not been any evidence, either litigious or trustworthy scientific evidence, that indicates risk connected to consumption. Why spend time and money on a case that's lost?
  • More Senate Mischief

    November 1, 2007
    News from Congress Now on this afternoon's machinations by members of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee:
    Highlighting the difficult straddle facing proponents, a Senate subcommittee today approved landmark climate change legislation over the objections of both a coal-state Western Republican and a liberal East Coast Senator with close ties to environmentalists. The Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Private Sector and Consumer Solutions to Global Warming and Wildlife Protection this morning approved the America's Climate Security Act (S. 2191) on a 4-3 recorded vote. The bill aims to reduce global warming by creating a mandatory cap-and-trade emissions trading scheme that would impact virtually every sector of the economy.
  • Municipal Internet Refuses To Die

    November 1, 2007
    Today the Senate Commerce Committee passed the Community Broadband Act, ArsTechnica reports. The bill preempts state laws banning publicly funded Internet and allows towns to offer broadband through public/private partnerships. Public/private partnerships are thinly veiled redistributionist schemes. When government tries to provide private goods, misallocation of resources is the inevitable result. This is a classic example of governments facing the economic calculation problem. Without price signals, how can local officials know how much money to allocate to infrastructure spending?...

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