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OpenMarket: May 2008

  • Klaus's anti-communist lustre

    May 28, 2008
    I wonder what Matt Welch means when he accuses Czech President Vaclav Klaus of "resisting most efforts to come to public (let alone legal) terms with the Communist crimes of the past." Klaus is a strong longtime supporter of the Czech policy known as "lustration," which, "forbids [communist secret police] StB agents and their informers, as well as senior Communist Party officials, members of paramilitary units and intelligence agents, from holding high government posts." That may not be the most democratic policy, and could well be over the top, but branding the Communist regime's most powerful institutions as criminal organizations hardly strikes me as commie-coddling.
  • The Cuban Embargo

    May 28, 2008
    Barack Obama says he would keep in place the 47-year old Cuban trade embargo if elected President. CNN says Obama views the trade restrictions as "leverage to push for democratic change on the island." Yes, those sanctions have been so effective. Just look at how much freer Cuba has become since the embargo began. (Pardon the sarcasm.)
  • Canada Treats Animals Better than Humans

    May 28, 2008
    What can you say about a health care system that treats animals more quickly than humans?  Reports Macleans:
    Dr. Danny Joffe is only half joking when he says that if he'd fallen asleep on the last day of vet school in Saskatoon and woken up some two decades later in his current workplace, he would not have believed it was an animal hospital. Joffe is one of 11 specialists at the C.A.R.E. Centre, a 28,000-sq.-foot palace of veterinary medicine built two years ago in Calgary by a consortium that owns 23 vet clinics and animal hospitals across British Columbia and Alberta. It has four operating theatres, a $100,000 CT machine, two ultrasound machines, a digital X-ray unit, an endoscopy centre, a lab and 16 examination rooms. Its intensive care unit boasts 20 cages and eight...
  • "Green" Agenda?

    May 27, 2008

    The Washington Examiner has an editorial today titled "Environmentalism is not about the Environment."  Indeed.  The title says it all.  When most Americans say they are environmentalists, they express the simple desire for clean air, clean water, and an appreciation for wildlife.  But today's environmental movement is much more focused on expanding government controls and bureaucracy than anything else.  Much of what they advocate unnecessary and needlessly expensive.  The impact on freedom and the economy is far greater than most people realize....

  • Environmentalism: Often, It's About Power, Not the Environment

    May 27, 2008
    The Washington Examiner has an interesting editorial today called "Environmentalism Isn't About the Environment."  It describes how environmental measures expand and metastasize government power in ways that have little to do with protecting the environment.  It points to a wetlands bill pending in Congress that would define every "prairie pothole," "sandflat," or "isolated basin" in America as a federally-regulated wetland that that cannot be developed or used without approval from federal bureaucrats under the Clean Water Act. Very often, environmental measures backfire, harming the environment and causing tragedy, as CEI's Iain Murray explains in detail in his best-seller, "The...
  • Credit Card Holders Beware

    May 26, 2008
    In the Washington Examiner, Daniel Ballon and Lawrence McQuillan criticize a bill pending in Congress that would lead to credit card companies reducing their rebates to credit card holders.  It would restrict the fees the companies can contractually charge retailers to process payments from their cardholders, leaving them with less margin to pass on to consumers.  Right now, I receive up to 5 percent in rebates from my credit cards for the purchases I make, but if this bill passes, those rebates will surely fall, costing me more for gas and groceries.  Ballon and McQuillan point out that if the bill passes, it "will result in fewer cards, higher annual fees, rising interest rates and the end of rewards programs."  ...
  • Child Seizures Unjustified

    May 26, 2008
    In the National Review, Timothy Lynch explains how Texas's Child Protective Services ignored state law and common sense in seizing 465 children from members of a strange religious sect that advocates polygamy (FLDS).  Texas's CPS, he says, overreached in many ways, treating lawful teenage marriages as sexual abuse, parents as guilty until proven innocent, and the sect's religious teachings as emotional abuse per se.  CPS also interfered with parents' right to counsel, he says.  As he notes, "A Texas appeals court ruled Thursday that Texas's Child Protective Services (CPS) failed to justify the seizure of the very young children and teenage boys. The Court said there was simply 'no evidence' of immediate danger to them."  Law professor Eugene Volokh gives the...
  • End Ethanol Tariffs

    May 25, 2008
    The federal government massively subsidizes corn-based ethanol production, even though it consumes as much energy as it generates, thus doing nothing to cut greenhouse gas emissions.  Yet the federal government imposes a tariff on imported ethanol that prevents costly ethanol mandates from being satisfied by less wasteful forms of ethanol production overseas.  In today's Washington Post, Paul O'Connell criticizes the "U.S. tariff of 54 cents a gallon" that keeps imported sugar ethanol, which has a better "energy savings ratio" than corn ethanol, out of the U.S.   Environmental advocates like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg have long made the same point, noting that "corn ethanol does not yield more energy than it...
  • The Other Washington is a Mess Too

    May 23, 2008
    Mose Americans realize that Washington is dysfunctional and perverse.  So is Washington, D.C.  The city has long been unfriendly to business, encouraging enterprises to locate in the suburbs.  Now the city fathers are upping business costs again by mandating paid family leave.  Such a policy is unfair to all employees except those who take leave, since it shifts rather than expands benefits.  And the law will further discourage job creation in the city. Explains Carrie Lukas of the Independent Women's Forum:
    For the nation's capital, it's one step forward, another step back. D.C. has long been recognized as one of the nation's least friendly business climates, but in recent years, officials have attempted to lure employers into the city...
  • The Farm Bill: Enriching the Prosperous

    May 23, 2008
    If the last seven years have proved anything on Capitol Hill, it is that there are no fiscal conservatives in Washington.  The bipartisan desire to spend is overwhelming. Consider the Farm Bill. It's not obvious why farmers--and not, say writers or engineers--deserve to be subsidized by Uncle Sam.  But it's crazy to raise crop supports when prices are rising.  Yet that's what our spendthrift legislators are doing. Editorializes the Wall Street Journal:

    Since the last farm bill in 2002, the price of cotton is up 105%, soybeans 164%, corn 169% and wheat 256%. Yet when Mr. Bush proposed the genuine change of limiting farm welfare to those earning less than $200,000 a year, he was laughed out of town. The bill purports to limit subsidies to those earning a mere $750,000, but...

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