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OpenMarket: January 2009

  • The Bureaucratic Mind at Work

    January 9, 2009
    In an increasingly rare example of investigative journalism, the UK Times finds a 'ghost bus' designed to spare ministers' blushe. The bus, which is expected to run without passengers, represents an alternative to complying with rules relating to the closing of passenger rail routes. Yet this is no invention of the Labour government. The Conservatives did it as well, as I remember having been in Railways Directorate of the Department of Transport at the time. What it does represent is a rational response to a regulation that imposes tremendous cost. What is most interesting, however, is that this response depends on legislative language that the Department of Transport itself had a hand in drafting. In other words, government is quite happy to allow itself loopholes in its own laws. For the...
  • Amazing How Many People in Europe are Sick

    January 9, 2009
    Europe has a very generous social welfare system--basically, just say you aren't feeling quite right, and you get paid. Surprise, surprise ... people take advantage of the system!
  • CEI in Time Magazine

    January 8, 2009
    Our CEI colleague Drew Tidwell and I fired off a letter to Time Magazine recently; one of their columnists fell for the old broken window fallacy. Drew and I must have done a good job knocking down that economic myth, because Time ran our letter in their latest issue.
  • Short-seller praised by Mass. Democrat at Madoff hearing

    January 8, 2009
    In the House Financial Services Committee hearing Monday on Bernard Madoff's $50 billion alleged Ponzi scheme, some good points were raised by Congress members of both parties. One was particularly relevant: Representative Stephen F. Lynch, Democrat of Massachusetts, said short-sellers seemed to know about the Madoff fraud and the S.E.C. should have seen it coming. “The short-sellers knew it was coming and they invested in it — how did they know and the S.E.C didn't,” Mr. Lynch asserted. “These short-sellers were able to diagnose it, bet on it and make a killing on it.” Lynch's point was a little unclear. Madoff's company was not publicly traded, and thus couldn't be shorted in the traditional sense. Lynch could have been referring to two related issues though. One is...
  • Come Sail on our Internship

    January 8, 2009
    A special alert to college students, grad students and recent graduates: CEI has an excellent intern program, and we're always looking for new applicants. Interning with us gives you the chance to write and research in addition to the standard office tasks. In fact, we don't even make you fetch coffee for the senior staff. Past interns (like myself) have gone on to all kinds of exciting positions of power and influence in the pro-freedom movement. So start making plans for summer and apply today. Details here. In related news, our good friends at The American Spectator are also looking for interns. I'll let Managing Editor J.P. Freire describe the gig:
    Just a friendly reminder that we do, in fact, have internships, and we're very flexible on starting dates. They're typically paid, depending on how long you can work with...
  • Change Is Coming, To Benefit Trial Lawyers

    January 8, 2009
    Obama promised change, and it's already happening, at the expense of the poor, consumers, and small business. "Regulations set to take effect next month could force thousands of clothing retailers and thrift stores to throw away trunkloads of children's clothing." That's the result of a law championed by Obama and trial lawyers, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which imposes draconian requirements and penalties on sellers of childrens' toys and clothing. As a result, used clothing stores for poor kids, like Kid to Kid, are going out of business...
  • Massive in Massachusetts

    January 8, 2009
    The people of Massachusetts, who until now have been entirely clueless about the fat content of any food, will finally be set free from their ignorance thanks to the wisdom of Governor Deval Patrick and the other wise and caring officials of the Bay State.
  • Pittsburgh, Knocking off the Rust

    January 8, 2009
    Yesterday's NYTimes had a good article on the city of Pittsburgh and its surprising resurgence.
    A generation ago, the steel industry that built Pittsburgh and still dominated its economy entered its death throes. In the early 1980s, the city was being talked about the way Detroit is now. Its very survival was in question. ... Entrepreneurship bloomed in computer software and biotechnology. Two of the biggest sectors are education and health care, among the most resistant to downturns. Prominent companies are doing well. Westinghouse Electric, a builder of nuclear reactors, expects to hire 350 new employees a year for the foreseeable future...
  • Soderbergh: Historically Illiterate or Willfully Ignorant?

    January 8, 2009
    In a new interview, Steven Soderbergh, the incredibly overrated Hollywood director whose new paean to the disgusting Che Guevara is getting a lot of attention these days, claims an ignorance of history that, if willful, smacks of seeking to avoid ugly facts -- and if not, is just plain dumb.
    When I started, though, I had a blank slate, which was either a perfect way to start, or a terrible way to start. I really didn't know anything, and I'm not Latino, so I was truly a kind of agnostic about Che.
    Agnostic? Now imagine if someone described himself as "agnostic" toward, say, Joseph Stalin. Moreover, whatever else he was, Che Guevara was a major historical figure, so not knowing anything about him should be a source of embarrassment to any...
  • Tightening Energy Rationing by Strategy

    January 8, 2009
    Many energy companies have embraced cap and trade schemes as a means to minimize the cost of reducing their carbon emissions, something that they feel under political pressure to try to do. However, they may be in for a rude surprise, as green activist groups seek to buy up emissions permits toward a very different end. As ClimateWire reports on a recent emissions credit auction:
    The Clean Air Conservancy, an environmental group in Cleveland, bought 1,000 allowances in the first auction and 2,000 in the last sale. All will be retired. Michael Short, the group's director, is surprised that other environmental groups aren't taking advantage of the first program in the nation's history that lets them actually reduce the amount of carbon that is released into the atmosphere. "We want to bring down the cap. If we got $...

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