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OpenMarket: May 2008

  • Nation's CEOs support Colombia trade pact

    May 20, 2008
    According to their press release today, the Business Roundtable convened a policy meeting with CEOs of major companies and members of Congress to urge lawmakers to pass the implementing legislation for the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. The FTA is being held up indefinitely by Congress, which had negated the 90-day time period for them to consider the legislation after President Bush had submitted it. The business leaders said that it was in the economic interests of the U.S. to approve the agreement:
    U.S. workers and companies need better market access so that their goods and services are not isolated from important markets, like the thriving Colombian economy, stated Jim Owens, chairman and CEO of...
  • Paper Money Discriminates Against the Blind, Appeals Court Says

    May 20, 2008
    A divided D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled 2-to-1 that paper money discriminates against the blind in violation of the Rehabilitation Act, in American Council of the Blind v. Paulson.  The ruling upheld a controversial trial court ruling in November 2006 that paper money discriminates because it lacks features that the blind can use to easily distinguish between different denominations, such as bumps or different sizes or shapes.  Sarah Waldeck observed that that ruling was judicial overreaching, for two reasons. First, the Rehabilitation Act and other disabled-rights laws only guarantee the disabled meaningful...
  • Net Neutrality: Priorities, Please

    May 20, 2008
    All data are not treated equally on the Internet. There is only so much bandwidth to go around, so service providers give higher priority to certain types of data. Internet telephony and other time-sensitive applications like video games are sent through the Internet's “express lanes,” while less urgent data sit in traffic. Comcastdoes this with BitTorrent file-sharing, for example. Prioritizing data is an efficient way to use the Internet's limited resources. But ISPs may one day offer express treatment for an additional charge. Such arrangements could benefit consumers...
  • A campaign theme?

    May 20, 2008

    David Brooks' column today in the New York Times discusses the Barack Obama's and John McCain's positions on the bloated Farm Bill in the context of Mancur Olson's seminal work on concentrated benefits and diffuse costs:

    In 1965, Mancur Olson wrote a classic book called “The Logic of Collective Action,” which pointed out that large, amorphous groups are often less powerful politically than small, organized ones. He followed it up with “The Rise and Decline of Nations.” In that book, Olson observed that as the number of small, organized factions in a society grows, the political culture becomes more divisive, the economy becomes more rigid and the nation loses vitality.

    Brooks...

  • Boxer Releases Summary of Awful Climate Bill

    May 20, 2008

    E&E News has an advance copy of Senate EPW Committee Chair Barbara Boxer's summary of the newly revamped Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, and it is much, much worse than I had thought it would be.

    Titles II-IV (“Capping Greenhouse Gas Emissions; Reducing Emissions through Offsets and International Allowances; Establishing a Greenhouse-Gas Emissions Trading Market) describe how a “cap...

  • Genetically-Modified Foods Help Environment and Consumers

    May 19, 2008
    Genetically-modified ("GM") crops help the environment in many ways.  They reduce the need for pesticide use by engineering plants to be more blight-resistant.  And by reducing the amount of land needed to grow crops, they allow forests to survive and expand.  (That's also true of improved agricultural techniques generally.  As agriculture has become more technologically advanced and productive, farmland in America has actually shrunken in much of the country.  As a result, forests have expanded, and now cover more land in America than they did in the early 20th Century).  But opposition to GM foods persists, even though scientists have found GM foods to be safe, and WTO tribunals have found restrictions on them to be based on nothing more than irrational prejudice, and thus a...
  • Institutional Immigrant Assimilation

    May 19, 2008

    Ala Don Boudreaux's style at Cafehayek, below is a letter I sent to the Wall Street Journal last week:

    Jason L. Riley's “Keep the Immigrants, Deport the Multiculturalists” (May 15) expertly describes the optimistic reality of immigration while castigating multiculturalists who wish to destroy the American assimilation machine. To aid in assimilation and increase the economic benefits of immigration many millions more should be admitted.

    According to the 2006 census, 43% of the U.S. foreign born population has at least some college education. Generally, the more educated and wealthy an immigrant is, the faster he will assimilate. But the present immigration system severely restricts the entry of educated foreigners through the...

  • More Good News from Britain's NHS

    May 17, 2008
    Remember, the answer to our health care problems is to turn over health care decisions to the government.  Everyone will have access to health care.  We will all live longer.  World peace will envelope the globe. NOT! Reports the Daily Mail:
    As an ophthalmologist, I have spent my working life in the NHS. And for all its perceived failings, I have been proud of its fundamental role in our society - to provide equality of care for all. Of course, I've heard the term postcode lottery but as a doctor I've only ever provided my patients with the best course of treatment available. So when I've read about people being refused particular drugs simply because of where they lived, I've always believed there must be another reason - even if it wasn'...
  • Immigrants Help the CIA

    May 16, 2008
    This story reveals a startlingly obvious fact: immigrants help American intelligence agencies.
    “The intelligence agencies lack people who can speak the languages that are needed most, like Arabic, Farsi and Pashtu. More importantly, the agencies lack people with the cultural awareness that allows them to grasp the nuances embedded in dialect, body language and even street graffiti.”
    The U.S. government is still dealing with a massive backlog of intercepted terrorist communications (read here, here, and here) and is unable to translate them. Part of that problem is that...
  • More Farm Bill blues

    May 16, 2008

    The new Farm Bill is a done deal — with both the House and the Senate passing the conference report with huge numbers: 318-106 in the House and 81-15 in the Senate.

    The Administration is still holding fast to its promise to veto the legislation, but with those numbers, it seems veto-proof, especially in an election year.

    When the legislation was on the House floor and Rep. Jeff Flake was leading an early effort to try to put obstacles in the steamroller's path, some of the procedural votes got respectable numbers. But, alas, the farm package showed how bi-partisanship often means bad legislation.

    ...

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