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OpenMarket: May 2008

  • CEI Encounter With Sopranos "Tony" in DC

    May 9, 2008
    In today's fluff news, CEI Warren Brookes journalism fellow Lene Johansen got a nice mention in the Washington Post (Amy Argetsinger's Reliable Source) and DC Examiner (Patrick Gavin's Yeas and Nays). The dynamic writer from Norway met the chief Sopranos mobster at Washington's famous Hay-Adams Hotel on Wednesday night, when a small group of free market warriors gathered to imbibe a few posh cocktails. Anyhow, check out the write up + picture of Lene that appears in both papers. James Gandolfini and Lene Johansen
  • How ethanol producers see the world

    May 8, 2008
    From The Onion. (Yes, it's ironic. )
  • Why I Empathize with Hillary Clinton (and Think Tim Russert Is Full of It)

    May 8, 2008

    The media is supposed to watch the government, but who monitors the media?

    That's what I was asking myself this morning, after I had fully digested Tim Russert's shocking midnight announcement on Tuesday that the Democratic Party's primary was over. Russert is the host of the most prestigious Sunday morning news talkie, Meet the Press, so he is a big player in the world of political coverage, and his word is paramount.

    The establishment took its cue. Twenty-four hours later, every commentator of note had declared the race over. Today, Time Magazine is releasing a cover story titled “And the Winner Is…” accompanied by a glamour shot of the...

  • Slow pace of corn planting -- more pressures on prices

    May 8, 2008

    This year's corn crop is being planted much later than normal because of cool, wet weather in the Corn Belt and other production areas, according to a Reuter's story today.   The slow planting has caused a jump in corn futures:

    Corn futures at the Chicago Board of Trade surged as much as 4 percent on Tuesday, with an all-time high of $6.60-3/4 a bushel set by the July 2009 contract.

    ...
  • President Threatens to Veto Bloated Housing Bill

    May 7, 2008
    President Bush has threatened to veto the bloated federal housing bill pushed by House leaders, saying it would reward special interests  As John Berlau has noted, the bill could cost middle-class investors billions (such as people whose retirement accounts or mutual funds contain mortgage-backed securities).  (The companies that issued risky mortgages typically don't still possess them).  That's above and beyond the billions of dollars that its...
  • Why the GINA "Genetic Discrimination" Law Is Bad

    May 7, 2008
    At Slate, Eric Posner explains why the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act is a bad idea as a basic concept.  The law nevertheless recently passed the Senate 95-to-0 and the House 414-to-1 because politicians' thinking is controlled by labels, not logic or substance, and no one (especially not sanctimonious people) wants to be labeled as being in favor of "discrimination," as Richard Ford notes.  Prior to its passage, I criticized GINA's ban on employment discrimination in the National Law Journal for ...
  • The whims of Capitol Hill have real effects on real people

    May 7, 2008
    The Scientist has research grants as a theme this month, and the cover story tries to figure out what happens when NIH grants are denied because of budget cuts. The agency has gone from a 19.7 percent approval rating on Type 1 grants in 1999 to 9.1 percent approval rating in 2005. For Type 2 grants the approval rating has gone from more than 55 percent in 1999 to about 33 percent in 2005. I am not pointing this out because I lament the loss of research funding, I think this type of funding belong in the private arena and should be funneled through 503(c)'s. I am pointing this out because this is a great story about the end results of the horse-trading that goes on in Congress. This man's laboratory might be the $100,000 spent by Congress on the High Falls Film Festival in Rochester, NY or the $200,000 spent on...
  • Abrogating Peter’s Contract to Pay Paul  Mortgage Bailout’s Billion-Dollar Hit to Retirement Savings (Revised)

    May 7, 2008
    Many commentators, such as CEI's Hans Bader, have done a diligent job tracking the costs to taxpayers of the mortgage bailout scheduled to be voted on this week. The Congressional Budget Office just came out with an estimate of $2.7 billion for H.R. 5830, the so-called FHA Housing Stabilization and Homeownership Retention Act of 2008, which may be rolled into larger housing bills on the House floor. But there could be an even greater cost from the bill to millions of middle-class investors saving for their retirement or the education of their children. The bill has the Federal Housing Administration guarantee the refinancing of a mortgage in return from a “haircut” from the owners of the loan. The bill requires...
  • Re: Sugar and the farm bill

    May 6, 2008

    Hans--

    Glad you posted about the bloated farm bill and how sugar is treated.  A “Sweetheart Deal” — how right the Washington Post is in its editorial today blasting farm bill proposals that would make the U.S. sugar program an even sweeter deal for producers while consumers foot the bill.

     

    The current sugar program — which has expired but has been extended with other 2002 farm programs...

  • Job-Killing Sugar Quotas Continue, Milking Consumers

    May 6, 2008
    Say bye bye to more American manufacturing jobs.  The Washington Post editorialized today about sugar import quotas and price supports contained in the bloated federal farm bill, which have "driven some U.S. candy producers either out of business or overseas" by increasing U.S. sugar prices.  It costs consumers a bundle in higher prices to benefit a handful of subsidized American sugar producers, while antagonizing and impoverishing poor countries in the Caribbean and Latin America.  The President has criticized the bloated farm bill, but may not do anything to block it, given his weak political position and other priorities.  In Reason, Ronald Bailey describes the many ways that the current farm bill wastes taxpayer money and...

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