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OpenMarket: January 2009

  • Stimulus Bill Triggers Legislative Logjams, Perpetuates Credit Crisis

    January 27, 2009
    Obama's stimulus package is the problem, not the solution. No one wants to make any hard decisions until they see what goodies they may get from Obama's trillion-dollar stimulus package, which many economists oppose for good reason. The result is a deepening credit freeze that makes it difficult for small businesses to meet their payrolls, and delays passage of state budgets. All the talk of a stimulus is resulting in a logjam in state legislatures as legislators put off hard choices in the hope that Washington will bail them out, delaying passage of state budgets. In Virginia, for example, the Washington Post reports that "...
  • White House Distorts Ledbetter v. Goodyear Ruling, in Backing Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

    January 27, 2009
    The White House is making false claims about the Supreme Court's Ledbetter v. Goodyear decision. In that case, the Supreme Court enforced the 180-day deadline for bringing pay discrimination claims contained in the federal discrimination law with the shortest deadline, Title VII. (Other laws, like the Equal Pay Act, have much longer deadlines, like 3 years). The White House claims that "The Court ruled that employees subject to pay discrimination like Lilly Ledbetter must file a claim...
  • Stimulus to Hunger

    January 27, 2009
    Great. Now USDA head Tom Vilsack is saying the US ethanol industry needs to be protected in the borrow-and-spend bill, and beyond:
    "The ethanol industry is under particular strain," Vilsack said in a conference call with reporters. Loan guarantees for the industry, distributed by the USDA as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, "can help more of these companies stay in business," Vilsack said, though he warned that "there will be a premium on ethanol producers who can stay efficient," a clear warning that there is overcapacity in the US industry. Vilsack expected more aid to the industry would be forthcoming in a later energy package, though he said that aid from the Farm Bill provisions for the ethanol industry "would be the first step in stimulating the economy." The grant program...
  • Land of Liberty? No Longer in Belmont, California

    January 27, 2009
    I'll confess that I've quietly applauded the spread of no smoking establishments.  I don't believe the government should ban smoking in restaurants, bars, and airplanes, but I've enjoyed the new smoke-free atmosphere. Nevertheless, it should not be a matter of the law.  The health argument misses the larger point:  people should be free to make choices, and that includes not only smoking, but smoking in restaurants, bars, and airplanes so long as the owners will let them do so.  People who don't like smoke can go (and work) elsewhere. There's no reason that every business must have the same rules.  Why, for instance, in California, a state of 37 million people, is it illegal for even one bar in one city to allow smoking?  This is fascism with a human face, the demand that everyone else submit to one's personal preferences, never mind what everyone else desires. Now a town in...
  • The Thrilling Feeling of Spending Other People's Money

    January 27, 2009
    There's nothing quite like using someone else's credit card. No wonder the Washington Post headlined a front-page article today: "Stimulus Bill Sends Thrill Through Region." It's enough to give a local pol or bureaucrat the chills! Just think of the fun of wasting cash provided by people around the country for local boondoggles that your own taxpayers would never pay for! Reports the Post:
    As Congress prepares legislation to pump more than $800 billion into the economy, governments in the Washington region are lining up for their share: dollars that could mobilize stalled projects to mend water mains, repave roads and rebuild schools, as well as plug other budgetary holes.
    Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) said yesterday that a stimulus...
  • Stay Put, Now Go

    January 27, 2009
    Today, Spiked Online features two worthwhile pieces on two different ways in which environmental correctness can be deployed to disguise class snobbery -- against two different segments of the great unwashed. Brendan O'Neill on how green elitists want the traveling masses to stay put:
    Under the heading ‘Chav-Free Activity Holidays’, AA [travel agency Activities Abroad] said: ‘...Children with middle-class names such as Duncan and Catherine are eight times more likely to pass their GCSEs than children with names such as Wayne and Dwayne. This got us thinking. Are there names you are likely to encounter and not encounter on an Activities Abroad holiday?’ (1) It did some quickfire research and discovered that on an AA trip you are unlikely to encounter people called ‘Britney, Kylie-Lianne, Dazza,...
  • Geithner confirmed -- but with bipartisan "nays"

    January 26, 2009
    The U.S. Senate voted to confirm Timothy F. Geithner tonight, but the vote was closer than expected with more "nays" than any previous nominee of President Barack Obama. The 60-34 confirmation was also the first nomination vote of the Obama administration with any Democrat voting no. Because of the nagging questions remaining about Geithner's failure to pay four years worth of self-employment taxes and his role in designing the Troubled Asset Relief Program, four members of the Democratic caucus joined with 30 Republicans in opposing Geithner's nomination. (10 Republicans unfortunately voted for him). Those four are Tom Harkin of Iowa, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the independent self-proclaimed socialist who usually caucuses with Democrats. "Had he not been nominated for treasury secretary, it's doubtful that he would have...
  • Apparent Hold on Solis Nomination

    January 26, 2009
    The confirmation of Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) as Labor Secretary has run into an unexpected delay, as an unidentified Republican senator appears to have placed a hold on her nomination. That may not prevent her nomination, since presidents get fairly wide latitude in cabinet appointments. Still, as a Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial notes today, Republican senators are right to ask more questions:
    Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming, ranking Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, has been outspoken in his criticism of Rep. Solis' testimony in her confirmation hearing, focusing his criticism on her responses concerning the "card check" bill that would allow unions to...
  • John Berlau on the Geithner Confirmation

    January 26, 2009
    As Timothy Geithner receives 34 No votes on his confirmation, John Berlau reflects on how Geithner can right his wrongs. He can start by calling for an end to government policies that prop up failing institutions with taxpayer dollars.
  • Krugman is Wrong - Again!

    January 26, 2009
    Boy, that wacky Paul Krugman. The newly-crowned Nobel laureate (they should be allowed to wear a laurel wreath everywhere they go, so we'd know of their brilliance), fresh from revealing how little he understands the history - or purpose - of liberalism, shows he knows diddly-squat about Air Traffic Control. In today's column he argues, plonkingly,
    Here’s how to think about this argument: it implies that we should shut down the air traffic control system. After all, that system is paid for with fees on air tickets — and surely it would be better to let the flying public keep its money rather than hand it over to government bureaucrats. If that would mean lots of midair collisions, hey, stuff happens.
    Unfortunately for...


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