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OpenMarket: November 2007

  • "No farmer left behind" says WSJ

    November 14, 2007

    Today as the Senate is considering its version of the 2007 Farm Bill, the Wall Street Journal editorialized about proposals for massive subsidy and price support handouts to farmers at a time when their income is at an all-time high.

    As the WSJ notes:

    And yet Congress is writing another five-year farm bill as if this were 1936 and the Okies roamed the plains. The House has already passed a $286 billion bill, and the $291 billion version now moving through the Senate may be the largest feast of subsidies ever served up by Congress. The bill's estimated $25 billion in direct crop payments, and another $10 billion...

  • LOST keeps coming back "like Dracula"

    November 13, 2007
    Today, I got the opportunity to ask former American U.N. Ambassador John Bolton to comment on the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), which is now before the U.S. Senate. "It is a bad treaty; it needs to be defeated," he told a group of bloggers, during a briefing to promote his new book on his time at the U.N. Supported by a gang of anti-American Third World governments during the 1970s, when it was negotiated, noted Bolton, the treaty keeps coming back from the dead, "like Dracula" (fittingly, it was voted out of teh Senate Foreign Relations Committee this past Halloween). The treaty's refusal to die, he said, "shows the...
  • Who Needs A High Tech Industry?

    November 13, 2007

    There's a lot of political anger associated with the recent immigration debate. But with all the attention paid to unskilled immigrants from Mexico and the rest of Latin American, most people ignore the large number of highly skilled and educated workers who are also trying to work in the United States.

    Engineers, computer scientists, and other scientists undeniably help the U.S. economy. About 25 percent of the technology and engineering companies launched in the past decade had at least one foreign-born founder. H-1B visas, three year work visas which companies use to sponsor foreign workers, are limited to only 65,000 per year. These visas are also the most sought after by foreign...
  • An Off-Target Response

    November 13, 2007
    Target is replacing its PVC shower curtains with vinyl curtains. Whew, I feel so much safer now! Not really. The move is part of a plan to remove PVC plastic products from the store, following the lead of Target competitors -- Wal-Mart and Toys R' Us. All seek to appease radical green groups, who have attacked vinyl products based on specious claims about risks. Green activists allege that PVC poses a host of risks ranging from birth defects, cancer, to early puberty. Yet there is no definitive body of scientific research demonstrating any of these impacts in real world situations, and there is no data showing that the alternatives are less risky. Check out this Steve Milloy article on the topic and CEI's paper on PVC.
  • Will IPCC Chairman Stick to His Word?

    November 13, 2007
    The International Panel on Climate Change is holding a conference to draft a report on global warming and what can be done to stop it. In an apparent dig at diplomats who might try to influence the report's conclusions, Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, said that scientists were determined to "adhere to standards of quality.” So the head of the Nobel-winning IPCC wants to cut out the politicians' influence, eh? Apparently the U.N.'s top climate official, Yvo de Boer, didn't get the message. He opened up the conference with a warning to scientists and policy makers responsible for drafting the report. Boer told them that their failure to conclude that climate change threatens the existence of poor peoples would be “criminally irresponsible,” and an attack upon the impoverished of the world...
  • Ala carte is not on the menu

    November 12, 2007
    Frank Ahren's “FCC Moves to Place Restrictions on Cable TV” was highly misleading in its description of a “largely unregulated cable television industry” that raises prices for consumers. Contrary to Mr. Ahren's claim, cable television is highly regulated by local and state governments, which routinely grant geographic monopolies to influential cable companies.  Local government place heavy burdens on industry that can be more destructive than federal regulations.  Despite the methodological problems of comparing the price for services across decades, where the basic cable service today is much better...
  • Soothing Green Guilt

    November 12, 2007
    While unapologetic free-marketers can enjoy the fruits of their labors (small or large) guilt free, the rich on the left have to find ways to soothe their consciences, especially when they have massive consumption habits. For some—like Al Gore and John Kerry—that means buying "carbon offsets." For others—like Jay Leno—it means sinking gobs of money (albeit, still a small fraction of their incomes) into green technologies. According to Jay Leno, "If you want to keep living the way you're living, then, hey, you better make your own electricity." In a Los Angeles Times article, he explains how he shoveled out $450,000 for solar panels generate just 41 percent of the energy he uses to run air conditioning and power tools in his "Big Dog Garage." Leno's 17,000...
  • Blue Laws and New Laws

    November 12, 2007
    The funny old laws from my homeland that Lene links to are actually a distraction from the real problem. When Michael Heseltine was President of the Board of Trade in John Major's government, he promised a "bonfire of the regulations," but the only restrictions he came up with to scrap were these sort of 12th century provisions. The actual red tape that was restricting businesses remained intact. The Labour government has added to that, so that now the cost of regulation is about 12 percent of GDP on top of the cost of taxation. Labour has also added about 3000 new criminal offenses, including about 640 within the...
  • Biofuel mandates cause global warming, scientists say

    November 12, 2007
    A leading justification for mandating the sale of ever-greater amounts of ethanol and biodiesel in the nation's motor fuel supply is the claim that this will reduce greenhouse emissions and mitigate global warming. Horsefeathers! Three recent studies show that bio-fuel mandates actually contribute to global warming.
  • ENDA Gay-Rights Bill Passes House

    November 12, 2007
    The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would outlaw private-sector (and some public-sector) discrimination based on sexual orientation, passed the House last week by a vote of 235-to-184. I discuss some of the bill's risks and ironies here. While the typical private employer has no reason to hire or fire based on sexual orientation (and few do), ENDA reaches beyond hiring and firing to vaguely-defined "terms, conditions, or privileges of employment," meaning that a company would potentially be liable for a "hostile work environment" resulting from anti-gay...

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