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OpenMarket: November 2007

  • Charter Schools: Same Old Problems

    November 8, 2007
    The New York Times today published an article that juxtaposes charter schools and public schools as if they are differing models for education, but they are not and it should be no surprised that their results are nearly identical. Charter schools, designed and managed by independent contractors, are still publicly funded and overseen by government. This solution is doomed to have the same “spotty” results as the public school system because it doesn't solve the core problem of public schooling: lack of motivation. It is not the demands of parents or the needs of children that motivate the contractors and managers of charter schools; their only concern is to please the government body that provides them with funding...
  • Cramer: Andrew Cuomo Is A Communist

    November 8, 2007
    CNBC's Jim Cramer, no free-market conservative, is nonetheless appalled by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's clumsy meddling in the mortgage markets, which he believes will further destabilize housing markets and the economy. He calls Cuomo a "Communist" and says he's even worse than Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, an inveterate publicity-seeker rated the worst attorney general in America by CEI in The Nation's Top Ten Worst State Attorneys General. Cuomo's predecessor, Eliot Spitzer, was rated the third worst attorney general by CEI. CEI earlier explained how past federal and state meddling has made the mortgage mess even worse,...
  • Leon Theremin may have been on to something

    November 8, 2007
    Space.com reports on the release of a (compressed) sound recording of Saturn's radio emissions, from the Cassini spacecraft, that sounds uncannily like the musical score from the 1956 classic sci-fi movie Forbidden Planet. Space.com notes on the composition of the Forbidden Planet score:
    The soundtrack for the movie was created by Louis and Bebe Barron. The film represents the first instance in which a movie was scored entirely with electronic music. Louis Barron constructed electronic circuits that generated the sounds; most of the tonalities...
  • OFCFAQ.ORG

    November 8, 2007
    If you're interested in the debate over Optional Federal Chartering for insurance companies, you may want to check out CEI's new website OFC FAQ.ORG. It's still a work in progress but, at the very least, it might be worth a quick glance. While it's a far-from-ideal solution, an optional federal charter would do more to free insurance markets than any other option currently under serious consideration.
  • More on Manhunt

    November 8, 2007
    I'd like to second Hans's recommendation to read Manhunt — and I feel a more personal connection: The hunt for John Wilkes Booth was concentrated in Southern Maryland, not too far away from where we have our weekend place. One can take tours of the places where Booth met with his co-conspirators or stayed after his escape from Washington. The church and the site of the tavern where he supposedly met with some of the plotters, the farm where he hid in the woods, and Dr. Mudd's house. (And just a month ago a run-down house where Booth allegedly visited was for sale for $99,000.) Right across the Potomac River...
  • More on Immunity for Telecom Firms

    November 8, 2007
    Phone companies deserve immunity from lawsuits for cooperating the with federal antiterrorism surveillance program, according to a recent report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. It explains that the many lawsuits filed against the companies could indirectly lead to billions of dollars being transferred from American consumers' right pocket to their left, with millions of dollars being skimmed off by lawyers for legal fees. We previously explained why the phone companies merit immunity, and how a legal double standard threatens them with liability and potentially billions of dollars in damages. Former attorneys general from both Democratic and Republican administrations have likewise argued that denying...
  • Climate Change and World War 3

    November 8, 2007

    MSNBC reports that two think tanks, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Center for a New American Security, released a study claiming that climate change could be one of the greatest security threats ever faced by the U.S. The report even compared the ramifications of a warmer world to a nuclear holocaust.

    That's strong stuff. It is also on the fringe of plausibility.

    But what are the geopolitical ramifications of climate policies? Here's a different scenario:

    It's 2012, and the West proceeds apace with emissions reductions. Unwilling to accept a comparative disadvantage to China, which refused binding emissions targets, the West imposes a carbon tariff on all Chinese goods (as French President Sarkozy has recently suggested). As a result of the West's protectionism, the Chinese economy—...

  • Robert Reich Reformed?

    November 8, 2007
    Tyler Cowan offers some generally positive thoughts on former Labor Secretary Robert Reich's new book, Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life. Consider this passage from the book:
    Finally, I will come to some conclusions you may find surprising -- among them, why the move toward improved corporate governance makes companies less likely to be socially responsible. Why the promise of corporate democracy is illusory. Why the corporate income tax should be abolished. Why companies should not be held criminally liable. And why shareholders...
  • Academics: Artistic Freedom Only Protects Left-Wing Provocateurs

    November 8, 2007
    If an artist sticks a crucifix in urine, or a museum displays pictures of children smeared with feces or severed genitalia, liberal academics and judges insist that that such grossly offensive art is not only protected speech, but worthy of a government subsidy, as New York City Mayor Giuliani found when he tried to cut off city subsidies to a city museum (the Brooklyn Museum) that decided to flaunt its contempt for the bourgeoisie, and was blocked by a liberal New York trial judge from doing so. But when non-ideological people create art that is arguably offensive to certain politically correct groups, academics insist that the artists deserve punishment, even if they had no bad motives in creating their art, and did not intend to offend anyone. So it is that Miami University of Ohio, a public university bound by the First Amendment, is now...
  • Nigerians Bring New $44 Billion Lawsuit Against Tobacco Companies

    November 7, 2007
    Nigeria's federal government is demanding more than 5.3 trillion Naira -- or more than $44 billion -- from tobacco companies such as Philip Morris. It cites the health care costs of underage smokers. This is just one of many lawsuits by Nigerian officials against American tobacco companies. A group of Nigerian state governments, led by the bloody rulers of Kano State, previously sued the tobacco companies for billions of dollars, seeking to compel the tobacco companies to pay smokers' health care costs. Nigeria's Kano State is almost...

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