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OpenMarket: January 2009

  • TV Transition follies: Plaguing consumers then and now.

    January 22, 2009
    Looks like the "digital television transition" to abandon analog and make high-definition broadcasts the standard is not going to happen as planned, but is quite likely to be delayed until June. We never favored government forcing a technology on the public and industry in the first place; But it struck us as at least a little bizarre to, years into the making and planning, to pull the rug out from those who'd teed up for the changeover, from broadcasters to equipment makers, to you and me. It's probably not a huge deal, but I felt like making a snarky comment, imagining what it'd have been like if such shenanigans and government interference had gone on when television, primarily back in the 50s, was just about to appear on a massive scale in living rooms. of America's families.
    1st TV transition,...
  • Public Lose Interest in Global Warming

    January 22, 2009
    Andrew Revkin of the New York Times has just posted a piece on Dot Earth that discusses a recent poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press that finds that global warming has dropped to the bottom of people's concerns. Asked to rate their top priorities from a list of twenty issues, only 31% listed global warming as one of their top priorities. That's down five percent from last year. The biggest drop was for protecting the environment, which dropped fifteen points to 41%. For comparison, the top concerns were the economy at 85%, jobs at 82, and terrorism at 76%. That's the background for trying to enact energy-rationing programs that can only work if they raise energy...
  • Shock, Shock--Politics Infects Federal Bail-Out

    January 22, 2009
    Who would have imagined that the honorable Barney Frank, head of the House Financial Services Committee and chief culprit in the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac disaster, would manipulate the bank bail-out for the benefit of his friends!? Reports the Wall Street Journal:
    Troubled OneUnited Bank in Boston didn't look much like a candidate for aid from the Treasury Department's bank bailout fund last fall. The Treasury had said it would give money only to healthy banks, to jump-start lending. But OneUnited had seen most of its capital evaporate. Moreover, it was under attack from its regulators for allegations of poor lending practices and executive-pay abuses, including owning a Porsche for its executives' use. Nonetheless, in December OneUnited got a $12 million injection from the...
  • John Berlau on Timothy Geithner's Tax Troubles

    January 21, 2009
    [youtube: 285 234]
  • The New Green Economy?

    January 21, 2009
    I've spent a while crunching the numbers relating to energy and environment spending in the stimulus bill. The bill will spend about $80 billion on energy and environment, which can be broadly broken down into the following categorizations: Electricity infrastructure/efficiency - $35.6 billion Renewable projects - $11.95bn (mostly $8bn in loan guarantees and $2.4bn for clean coal) Climate science/general energy academic research - $9.3bn!!! (including $1.9 for nuclear research) EPA programs (Superfund cleanup etc) - $12.2bn Other environmental (National Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management etc) - $10.899bn So that means around $57 billion of the total is aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Thanks to Jonathan Tolman, we can work out how many jobs this...
  • Avoiding Political Erectile Dysfunction

    January 21, 2009
    According to the Congressional Budget Office, "Bailout to Nowhere" money for the proposed new infrastructure stimulus won't be spent within the next two years--far too late to do anything about an ailing economy (granting for the moment that such spending is stimulative rather than destructive, which it isn't). According to the Washington Post:
    Less than half the money dedicated to highways, school construction and other infrastructure projects in a massive economic stimulus package unveiled by House Democrats is likely to be spent within the next two years, according to congressional budget analysts, meaning most of the spending would come too late to lift the nation out of recession. A report by the Congressional Budget Office found...
  • Trillions for Nothing

    January 21, 2009
    Barack Obama claims his plan "will likely save or create three to four million jobs." The House gave us a glimpse of what we're in for last week with an $825 billion bill - page 3 of the bill states a goal "of using at least 50 percent of the funds  for activities that can be intiated not later than 120 days after of the enactment of this Act ".   This at least implies a desire to spend all of the money is one year - although the bill does allow for the spending of some of the monies into the later part of 2010. If the number balloons to $1 trillion (not that unlikely as even the House's top appropriator, David Obey (D-WI) feared that $825 billion was too low) then that's a cost of $250,000 to $333,333 per job.   The overall expenditure number doens't include the $350 billion of TARP monies either, pushing the cost per...
  • The Not So Good, the Bad, and the Really Ugly

    January 21, 2009
    Not all stimulus programs are created equal. If the goal of the latest economic bailout package that Congress is considering is as President Elect Obama has declared, job creation, there is a significant disparity between many of the programs.
  • Waste Not, Want Not ... Or Else!

    January 21, 2009
    The British government is looking after its people, in a motherly sort of way.  It plans to send government officials door-to-door to tell people not to waste food.  Really. Reports the Daily Telegraph:
    Householders are to be visited by officials offering advice on cooking with leftovers, in a Government initiative to reduce the amount of food that gets thrown away. Home cooks will also be told what size portions to prepare, taught to understand "best before" dates and urged to make more use of their freezers. The door-to-door campaign, which starts tomorrow, will be funded by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), a Government agency charged with reducing household waste. The officials will be called "food champions". However, they were...
  • New Federal Regulation Hits a Full Stop

    January 21, 2009
    According to press reports, President Barack Obama has ordered a full stop to all pending federal regulations. Funny, I didn't hear anything about that in yesterday's hours of inaugural coverage. Perhaps it would have killed the mood for some people.
    WASHINGTON -- One of President Barack Obama's first acts is to order federal agencies to halt all pending regulations until his administration can review them. The order went out Tuesday afternoon, shortly after Obama was inaugurated president, in a memorandum signed by the new White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. The notice of the action was contained in the first press release sent out by Obama's White House. The waning days of former President George W. Bush's administration featured much debate over what rules and...


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