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OpenMarket: August 2008

  • The Nutrition Nazis are Back

    August 30, 2008
    The consume'rs right to know. It's hard to disagree with the nanny-state proposal now before the California legislature (I know, I know ... what nanny-state procedure isn't before the California legislature!?) to require full disclosure of calories on menus by restaurants. The target, of course, is supposedly unhealthy fast food outlets. Once people see the calorie count, it is assumed that they will desert en masse to the local veggie bar.  But as Jacob Sullum of Reason points out, if people really wanted that information, companies would compete to provide it. It's fair to assume that most people who show up at McDonald's don't expect a healthy meal! They certainly aren't likely to change their eating habits.  Writes Sullum:
    The only chain where a substantial share of customers said they noticed...
  • Happy Labor Day!

    August 29, 2008
    Today, in time for Labor Day weekend, I've got two new articles out on current goings-on in organized labor. In The American Spectator, my op ed asks "What does Big Labor want?" -- from the enormous amounts of time and effort it's spending on this election. Meanwhile, a longer article in Capital Research Center's Labor Watch looks at the growing trend among labor unions to leverage their pension funds to pursue policy agendas at public company shareholder meetings -- policy agendas that may not benefit the union members on whose behalf they're supposed to be managing those pension funds.
  • The word 'absurd' does not do justice

    August 28, 2008
    Today in the WaPo we see that plans by the University of Chicago to establish a research institute named after the late Nobel prize-winning economist (and U. of Chicago alum) Milton Friedman has caused a bit of an outcry from the leftist professor crowd that typically congregates at exclusive and elite universities like U. of Chicago.  That in itself is not a surprise, nor is it as absurd as statements made by some of the folks who helped draft and circulate a petition to block the establishment of said institute:
    Critics say that they are concerned the institute will be a partisan, elitist...
  • Brookings Winds Up Doomsday Clock

    August 28, 2008
    The Brookings Institution is the most establishment of establishment think-tanks. Old-fashioned, genteel, liberal, they do a lot of good work while at the same time perpetuating a lot of ideas whose time passed long ago. I would never, however, have called them alarmist. Until today, that is, when its President put his name to an op/ed in the Washington Post that is laughable in its alarmism. Drawing from the language of the 1980s doomsayers and their Doomsday Clock, the op/ed is entitled "7 Years to Climate Midnight." Here's a sample:
    Reflecting a consensus of hundreds of scientists around the world, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC...
  • "Pre-crime social dangerousness"

    August 28, 2008
    In a move reminiscent of Minority Report, the Cuban government has arrested punk rock singer Gorki Aquila Carrasco, for charge of "pre-crime social dangerousness." His real crime, of course, is criticizing the Castro government in not-very-polite terms. (Video contains very strong language. Thanks to Tom Walls for the Miami Herald link.)

    ...
  • A note from Fred Smith on the battle for free trade

    August 27, 2008

    Some thoughts on why our side is losing in its efforts to promote and defend free trade:

  • Does Government Need to Fund Energy R&D?

    August 26, 2008
    The Breakthrough Institute, whose willingness to think outside the box I greatly admire, issues a challenge of sorts to my friend Jim Manzi, who has been particpating in a debate with them over at Cato Unbound. They say: “If Manzi thinks it is not the government's role to make large investments to enable the emergence of new industries then he should explain how America could have become such a rich nation without having invested in the railroads, the highways, the electrical grid, the Internet, microchips, the computer sciences, and the biosciences.“ Let's go through them one by one: Railroads: were actually built by private enterprise, very much following the similar model in the United Kingdom. Government's role was not as investor but as facilitator,...
  • SEIU's California Scheming III (and Michigan, too)

    August 26, 2008
    The scandal that broke at the largest union local in California earlier this month, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, has spread to Michigan, where the head of that state's largest local has been forced to resign, less than a week after Tyrone Freeman, the head of the California local was forced to resign and the SEIU national organization removed all of the California local's officers. One interesting aspect of this story, in today's...
  • Russia Bears Down on European Energy

    August 26, 2008
    Incisive article in the Wall Street Journal today on how Russia is using energy supply as part of its strategic renaissance. An excerpt:
    Despite Russia's repeated use of energy as a political weapon in Eastern Europe, Western Europeans keep repeating the mantra that Russia has been a reliable supplier to “Europe.” They also choose to ignore that natural-gas giant Gazprom serves as the Kremlin's leading foreign-policy arm. The company is primarily state-owned, and many members of Gazprom's leadership are current or former government officials. The Kremlin's present occupant, Dmitry Medvedev, until recently was the chairman of Gazprom. His replacement there is former Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov. The Russian plan is rather simple: Punish countries that refuse to come under its...
  • Anna Tomalis, R.I.P.

    August 25, 2008
    Last Friday, I attended the funeral of a remarkable 13-year-old girl named Anna Tomalis. For the past three years, Anna had been battling terminal cancer and, more recently, trying to get the Food and Drug Administration to grant a "compassionate use" exemption so she could try an experimental cancer drug now being jointly developed by the pharmaceutical companies ARIAD and Merck. Unfortunately, FDA rarely grants exemptions. If too many exemptions are granted, it would become harder to enroll patients in clinical trials, where they have as much as a 50-50 chance of getting a placebo. Anna was too young and too sick to be admitted to any of the clinical trials, so that wasn't at issue here. But, of course, the whole point of FDA is to keep individuals from making their own decisions about...

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