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OpenMarket: October 2008

  • Private Jet Travel for Me, But Not for Thee

    October 14, 2008
    Steve Milloy and Neil Hrab, both friends of the Institute, have picked up on the amazing travel opportunity (mentioned in today's Daily Update) that's being offered by the World Wildlife Fund to potential donors.
    Who cares how much carbon we're emitting? We're the good guys!
    That's right, you can join the elite of the international environmental activist...
  • It wasn't bailout that caused Monday's market surge -- 3 other factors

    October 14, 2008
    Since the $700 billion bailout was first proposed, whatever the stock markets did, much of the press took that as a sign that the market wanted more government intervention. The markets sinking on Sept. 29, the day the House voted down the first bailout bill (although much of the sinking was before the bailout was defeated), was a sign that markets needed the bailout. Then, when it went up about 500 points the next day, it was somehow explained as anticipation of Congress passing a new bailout. The press was somewhat at a loss for words when the market tanked all last week, just after the bailout had been passed. But yesterday, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average zoomed up 900 points, the explanation was that the markets just loved the forthcoming global bailouts and partial nationalizations. Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert, as he so often does, cleverly mocked this conventional...
  • Let Uncle Sam's People Go!

    October 14, 2008
    One of most outrageous features of the federal social welfare state is that Uncle Sam doesn't want you to be independent.  For instance, if you would prefer to handle your own health care needs as a retiree, rather than subject yourself to the restrictions and irritations of Medicare, you also would have to give up your Social Security benefits.  Never mind that you've been taxed your entire lifetime to support both programs. Now three Washington, D.C. residents are challenging this rule.  Explains friend and colleague Quin Hillyer, a columnist for the Washington Examiner:
    Did you know that American citizens on Social Security cannot refuse Medicare “benefits” even if they wish to save the government some money by paying for their own medical care? U...
  • British Health (Mis)Care: No Complaints Allowed

    October 11, 2008
    The British government has found the right strategy to cut down on complaints about the National Health Service--convince patients that nothing can be done.  Then the bothersome people will simply go away. Explains the Daily Mail:
    One in seven patients using the NHS is unhappy, but most do not complain because they believe 'nothing will be done', a report reveals. Just 5 per cent of dissatisfied patients made formal complaints last year  -  133,600 about the health service and 17,100 about social care.  Those who failed to voice their concerns said they lacked confidence in the system, believed nothing would be done, or thought that they would be branded 'troublemakers'. The report from the National Audit Office, released today, also...
  • Being Male Is a Disability Under ADA, Says Prominent Lawyer

    October 10, 2008
    Earlier, I wrote about how I legally qualified as disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act because of my difficulty sleeping and (in the past) because of my shyness.  Amazingly, Congress recently broadened the ADA even further in response to whining by "civil-rights" groups that the law didn't define "disability" broadly enough. Now, a prominent lawyer has concluded that being male is a disability, too, reports the National Law Journal.  "If...
  • The Swiss are Nuts ... About Plants' Rights, Anyway

    October 10, 2008
    I've visited Switzerland several times.  I've always believe the Swiss to be rational, level-headed people.  Far more sober than so many Europeans.  They've managed to preserve both peace and prosperity; they have a tiny national government; they spend most of their time making money rather than plotting how to run other people's lives or invade other countries.  It all sounds good to me. But it turns out they are crazy.  The nation's constitution protects the dignity of ... plants.  Uh, right. As the Wall Street Journal explains:
    For years, Swiss scientists have blithely created genetically modified rice, corn and apples. But did they ever stop to consider just how humiliating such experiments may be to plants? That's a question they must now ask. Last spring, this small Alpine nation began...
  • The international mark-to-market contagion -- sending global markets in a downward

    October 10, 2008
    Bailouts. Global interest rate cuts. More bailouts. Global government liquidity injections into banks. Direct government buying of commercial paper. And even more types of bailouts. But nothing seems to stop the downward spiral of equity and credit markets throughout the world that have been accelerating this week. But there is one intervention the governments of the world haven't tried yet: Standing up to the high priests of the accounting profession and suspending requirements of mark-to-market accounting for illiquid assets. Markets are more connected across the world than ever before, but, more importantly, so are accounting rules. Over the past decade or so the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the European International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) -- private professional organizations that basically have a monopoly on setting the accounting rules that...
  • Latin America Should be on Washington’s Agenda

    October 9, 2008
    Yesterday, Nelson Cunningham, one of the panelists at a Hudson Institute conference on Latin America's “Radical Populism Challenge” commented that it is better that the presidential campaign and debates don't even mention the region. He said that speaking of Latin America would only bring bad news: illegal immigration and drug-trafficking.

    As a Latin American myself, I could not disagree more. The region is one of the United States' most important commercial partners, with U.S. exports valued at more than $150 billion a year, almost as much as its exports to the European Union, as Inter American Dialogue President Peter Hakim notes.

    A more balanced argument was delivered by Jaime Daremblum, director...

  • Voter Fraud in Virginia Abetted by ACLU

    October 9, 2008
    People openly boast about fraudulently registering to vote in Virginia, a swing state, even though they actually live, and are registered to vote, in other states.  The Norfolk, Virginia election board tried to do something about that, by making sure that people registering to vote in Virginia actually do live in the state.  One way it did that was to send questionnaires to students who came from out-of-state to attend Virginia colleges, and then registered in Virginia, to see if those students really qualify as Virginia residents.   It had every right to do that under federal court rulings, which hold that it is...
  • Is Iceland the New "Cuba of the North"?

    October 8, 2008
    Former CEI Warren Brookes Journalism Fellow Neil Hrab has an interesting take on Russia's offer to help out Iceland with its own personal portion of the current global financial meltdown.
    The West's list of grievances against Russia is long... But one can hear no peep of opposition today from any western country following Moscow's offer to lend 4 billion euros to Iceland. Full Comment reported on that tiny nation's current financial difficulties yesterday. Of all the countries affected by the crisis, Iceland may be hurting the worst. Western elected officials, academics, professional diplomats and military high commands have spend the years since the USSR's breakup laughing at the...

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