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OpenMarket: May 2008

  • Some Advice For Pro-Immigration Protestors

    May 13, 2008

    Many of the problems affecting America's modern pro-immigration movement were evident during the recent May Day rallies. Unless addressed, they will condemn immigration efforts to failure. Since I sympathize with the activists' overall goals, I would like to offer some advice.

    One, be pro-American. Whatever you do, do not wave Mexican, Guatemalan, or any other flag at your protests. Remember, you want to stay in the United States, not go back to your native countries.

    Two, reject the political Left's multiculturalist propaganda. The United States is a melting pot that has melded a uniquely American culture from myriad national...

  • When burning gas is good for the planet

    May 13, 2008
    OK, so say we accept the premise that CO2 causes global warming, is there any case where energy use will be beneficial for the planet? Yes, according to New Scientist:
    They say the use of biogas plants, which store the decomposing manure and capture the natural gas it releases, could improve rural farmers' livelihoods, while protecting the environment. Biogas digesters are used across the Indian subcontinent, Africa, and Latin America, but few rigorous studies have been done of their overall costs and benefits. So Govindasamy Agoramoorthy of Tajen University and Minna Hsu of National Sun Yat-sen University, both in Taiwan, surveyed 125 rural households in India that use biogas plants.
  • Using regulation to undo what regulation caused?

    May 13, 2008
    Humane Society of the US just released another expose video on animal cruelty in the meat industry. They argue for more regulation so that the responsibility for downer cattle is firmly placed on someone's shoulder. Their ultimate goal is to eliminate factory farming, where cattle are raised one place, transported to a feedlot where they pack on a lot of weight, and then transported to a meat packing plant where they are finally slaughtered. It is meat production by bussing, and it is part of the reason why we have downer cattle, which HSUS are so concerned about. HSUS, which is not related to your local Humane Society in any way, shape, or form, is arguing for more regulation. They want regulation that says who is responsible for downer cattle at the meat packing plant, at the auction houses, and anywhere else....
  • Selling Out Online Advertising

    May 12, 2008
    Wayne Crews and I have a new C:Spin discussing a proposed New York law aimed at protecting consumers from behavioral advertising:

    Online ads can be annoying. From pop-ups to flash screens, it's hard to surf the Web for long without encountering a sales pitch for an unwanted product. A world without these ads might be pleasant, of course, but then who would pay for all the original content websites make available?  Advertising explains why we can browse the Internet without pulling out our credit cards at every turn. But New York lawmakers are now ...

  • Comcast's solution to network congestion

    May 12, 2008

    Broadband Reports ran an opinion piece by Karl last week discussing the rumors that Comcast will soon adopt a 250GB a month maximum with overage fees for excessive consumption.

     As the piece points out, implementing overage fees runs the risk of giving FiOS (and, to a lesser extent, U-Verse) an even bigger edge on cable...

  • Preliminary thoughts on the RFA's PR campaign

    May 12, 2008
    As most ethanol watchers know, the Renewable Fuels Association ran a full-page ad in The Hill magazine last week (May 6, 2008) titled: “Without ethanol, we'd be paying over $4.00 a gallon for gasoline today.” To substantiate this claim, the ad quotes from a March 24, 2008 column by Wall Street Journal reporter Patrick Barta:
    “Without biofuels, which can be refined to produce fuels like the ones made from petroleum, oil prices would be even higher. Merrill Lynch commodity strategist Francisco Blanch says that oil and gasoline prices would be about 15% higher if biofuel producers weren't increasing their output.”
    What to make of this? Some preliminary thoughts. (1) If Blanch's analysis is correct, then proponents of the ethanol mandate, the 51-cent per gallon blenders tax credit, the 54-cent per gallon tariff, and other forms of policy privilege can no longer...
  • GI nuisance from WW2 might be useful for cellulose based ethanol

    May 12, 2008
    New Scientist recently mentioned a really cool method for cellulose based ethanol in their daily 60-second science podcast. During the second world war, our GI's had a problem with a cloth eating fungus that ate through tents and shirts.
    It sounds like something out of a bad science fiction novel. During World War II, a fungus called Tricoderma reesei ate its way through US military uniforms and tents in the South Pacific. It chewed up the cloth and used special enzymes to convert the indigestible cellulose into simple sugars. Now that infamous fungus is getting some good publicity. It looks like it might hold a key to improving the production of biofuels. Scientists from the Los Alamos National Laboratory published a paper on the fungus's genetic...
  • Want Medical Care in Britain? Call the Papers!

    May 12, 2008
    Great Britain's vaunted National Health Service denied a 61-year-old woman a heart operation because she was too old.  Can't waste the money! But then the media got involved.  Reports the Daily Mail:
    However late yesterday, following media interest in Mrs Simpson's plight, the PCT backed down and agreed to fund her treatment. Medical director Dr David Geddes apologised to Mrs Simpson for the "distress" caused by the delay. He said: "We have reviewed the case in the light of the additional clinical information and national guidance and, as Mrs Simpson fits the clinical criteria, we have agreed funding for her treatment." "All decisions are taken on individual clinical needs; we do not discriminate on the grounds of age. "Our procedures exist to...
  • “Right-to-Know or Right-to-Confuse?

    May 9, 2008

    Andrew Grossman of the Heritage Foundation recently released an important paper on a Senate bill to create what some might call a product blacklist of allegedly unsafe products.  Currently, Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports on product recalls based on some level of validated data.  This new legislation would mandate that the CPSC develop and maintain what promises to become a sloppy, inaccurate, and confusing list of complaints about products.  Essentially, anyone could add to the list— including product competitors—products...

  • Farm Bill veto would be richly deserved

    May 9, 2008

    Right after House-Senate conferees announced that they had reached agreement on a new farm bill yesterday, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture said that President Bush would veto it because it didn't reform wasteful farm programs, continued to provide subsidies to rich farmers, and still used some budget machinations to hide the costs.

    Indeed, the boondoggle bill deserves a White House rejection for its almost $300 billion of farm programs that will be paid for by taxpayers and consumers. Farm bills, however, no matter how wasteful, have a way of surviving, and this legislation may be no exception, since it's a case study of bipartisanship gone bad.

    Besides the sugar provisions we've written about...

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