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OpenMarket: January 2009

  • Paulson speaks

    January 13, 2009
    Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson took time out of his busy schedule wasting 700 billion dollars of taxpayer money (and thereby turning a credit crisis into a depression) to speak at Resources for the Future on Monday afternoon on the subject of how markets can address climate change and other environmental problems. What he meant of course is, how can markets be manipulated by government to achieve outcomes desired by government? He looked somber and did not laugh or smile at the pleasantries made when he was being introduced, but he didn't look exhausted, worried, or baffled, either. I guess that spending money, even when getting so little for such stupendous amounts, is always fun. Despite good questions from RFF President Phil Sharp, Paulson spoke in generalities and didn't give anything away. He did say that the science on global warming was clear and overwhelming. Paulson...
  • Stimulating Who, Exactly?

    January 13, 2009
    Great point by Carter Wood over at the excellent Shopfloor blog of the National Association of Manufacturers. Building on my point at NRO about the tension between infrastructure projects and existing regulation, Carter says:
    There is good reason to fear that any significant project that promotes both quick economic investment and long-term competitiveness — say, modernizing and expanding the nation's electrical grid — will immediately be hit by litigation lasting years and years and years. In which case the only thing being stimulated is the fundraising drives of alarmist, anti-growth environmental groups.
    The plain fact is that any so-called stimulus that relies on...
  • A State-Level Counter to Card Check

    January 13, 2009
    As disappointing as the 2005 Kelo v. New London ruling was for supporters of strong property rights, the ensuing months saw a healthy -- and heartening -- backlash at the state level, as lawmakers in several states, responding to contituent outrage, enacted legislative curbs on eminent domain. Now it would be good to see a similar state-level reaction to organized labor's push to corral more workers into unions by undermining the secret ballot process in organizing elections. Today, soon after the pro-union advocacy group American Rights at Work launched a major ad campaign in favor of the so-called Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which would allow unions to easily circumvent secret ballot elections in organizing drives, former Congressman Ernest Istook (R-Okla.) announced a new state-level effort to enshrine secret ballots...
  • "Smart": The new 'green'

    January 13, 2009
  • Deregulate Detroit

    January 13, 2009
    I have an expansion of my original "deregulatory bailout" plan for Detroit in The Detroit News today. I'm also quoted in their editorial on how energy policy needs to catch up with the auto industry's - and, it seems, consumers' (if polls are to be believed) - enthusiasm for electric cars. The Detroit News, by the way, remains the best place to get news on the industry's design plans - see the box to the right of the editorial, for instance.
  • So What if We Wasted $350 Billion?!

    January 13, 2009
    Washington is so awful it's funny. There really is nothing you can do but laugh. Consider the status of the second $350 billion tranche of "TARP" funds.  Reports the New York Times:
    Republican and Democratic Senate leaders signaled on Monday that they would support the release of the second half of the Treasury's $700 billion financial system bailout fund, despite anger among many rank-and-file lawmakers over the Bush administration's management of the program. As Congress prepared to act, regulators directed thousands of banks to provide more information about how they have used the money received through the bailout program, responding to concern that financial institutions were hoarding the cash rather than lending it to businesses and consumers. President-elect...
  • Bus Drivers Drive as Politicians Dither (and Spend)

    January 12, 2009
    The American economy's current vulnerable state has prompted many people and businsses to trim expenses, but governments seem to be doing precisely the opposite. In today's Washington Examiner, columnist Barbara Hollingsworth notes the cost ineffectiveness of extending Metro rail service out to Dulles Airport.
    A study by the Washington Council of Governments determined that just one in 200 air passengers will ride Dulles Rail to its final destination, with the airport station projected to have the lowest head count of all 75 Metro stations — including the all-but-deserted one at Arlington Cemetery.
    And yet the project refuses to die, propped up by state and local government officials, as well as private parties with government...
  • Nannychusetts Fights Obesity

    January 12, 2009
    The paternalists continue on the march. But don't worry, it's for our own good! Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby writes:
    THE WORTHIES who govern Massachusetts haven't been able to keep the state's population from dwindling, its property taxes from soaring, its budget from imploding, its Big Dig from leaking, or its politicians from getting arrested...
  • Tiger, photographer and local government officials

    January 12, 2009
    From China Daily, a story about tiger, photographer and local government officials: Recently, a photographer was sent to the jail because of a fake photo he provided last year. Southern tigers are widely believed to be extinct in the wild. Many experts believe it is the ancestor of all tigers. The photographer, Zhenglong Zhou claimed he photographed the endangered South China tiger with a digital camera on the afternoon of October 3, 2007. The Shan'xi Provincial Forestry Department rewarded him 20,000 Yuan ($2,915). After he released those photos, some observers accused Zhou of making the images with digital software and the local government supporting Zhou just to bolster tourism. If the photo proved to be authentic, the local government stood to gain a 10-million-yuan fund from the Chinese government for...
  • The Shock of the Not New

    January 12, 2009
    It was, of course, inevitable that after a general election, political observers would be talking about everything in Washington suddenly being new. A new president(-elect), a new administration, a new New Mexico corruption scandal; none of this comes as a surprise. What is interesting, however, is that some people are also referring to the "new leadership" in Congress. Now, as we all know, leadership positions in Congress are often based on seniority, especially in that plush assisted living community known as the U.S. Senate. This means that in order to climb your way to the top of the mountain and become a committee chair, it takes time. The faces you'll see presiding over hearings during...

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