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OpenMarket: January 2009

  • Whither Union Transparency?

    January 20, 2009
    As Barack Obama is sworn in as the nation's 44th President today, Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) will likely be the next Secretary of Labor. As I've noted here recently, her cozy relationship with organized labor should raise concern among not only lawmakers and the public, but among rank-and-file union members who could soon find it harder to find out how union leaders spend their dues. The Department of Labor, under outgoing Secretary Elaine Chao, has enacted stronger reporting requirements. Reports The Los Angeles Times:
    The federal government has adopted new financial disclosure rules for labor organizations that officials say would help expose the sort of corruption allegedly found in...
  • Departing President Bush to Establish "Freedom Institute"

    January 20, 2009
    The Washington Post reports that President Bush will be starting something called the "Freedom Institute" as part of his presidential library in Dallas. This institute would focus on a what the Post describes as a "broad portfolio of topics, including the expansion of democracy abroad and education reforms of the kind Bush implemented during his presidency, according to organizers." The Post story goes on to talk about the institute's goal of focusing on debate:
    "The president's vision is for it to become an incubator of ideas, discussion and debate about the issues that were front and center during his presidency, including the controversy," said Dan Bartlett, a former counselor to Bush who is acting as a spokesman for the project. "The idea here is to have...
  • Britain Prays for Obama Miracle

    January 20, 2009
    With a trillion dollar national debt, a currency crisis and their own bank bailout having conclusively failed, Britain is on the edge of bankruptcy. That is why Brown and his cronies will be watching today's inauguration with an audacious hope in their hearts.
  • A Tide Turning?

    January 20, 2009
    Very interesting new poll from Rasmussen that suggests a significant reversal in public opinion over the causes of global warming.
    Forty-four percent (44%) of U.S. voters now say long-term planetary trends are the cause of global warming, compared to 41% who blame it on human activity. Seven percent (7%) attribute global warming to some other reason, and nine percent (9%) are unsure in a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Democrats blame global warming on human activity, compared to 21% percent of Republicans. Two-thirds of GOP voters (67%) see long-term planetary trends as the cause versus 23% of Democrats. Voters not affiliated with either party by eight points put the blame on planetary...
  • HIGH NOON--Inauguration Global Warming Temperature Watch

    January 20, 2009
    When President Bush leaves office today, will the capital be warmer or colder than when he was sworn in eight years ago? It's not scientifically meaningful, but it is interesting. Bush has been heavily criticized for doing precious little to curb our emissions of carbon dioxide. During his eight years in office, atmospheric CO2 levels climbed by over four percent. So what did Bush's dilly-dallying produce in terms of deadly global warming? The temperature at noon in Washington DC will give us one factoid. It's a scientifically meaningless factoid, since the local temperature on any one day, let alone any one hour, tells us nothing about long-term temperature trends, but it's heavy in symbolism. When Bush was first sworn in, in 2001, the temperature at noon in DC was...
  • Economic Hype We Can Believe In?

    January 20, 2009
    As millions gather on the national mall today to witness the inauguration of Barack Obama, many are looking to the new president as a leader capable of saving us from economic disaster. Yet, it seems that the economy may not be in as bad a shape as some would have us believe.
  • Stimulus Bill Lacks Bold Ideas for Reform

    January 20, 2009
    USATODAY.com reports that the stimulus plan has swelled to $850 billion but lacks the bold ideas that are needed for the economy to truly recover.  As USA Today reports:
    Obama had proposed an economic stimulus package that aides, including adviser David Axelrod, estimated at $775 billion, nearly 40% of which would be taken up by tax cuts, including a $3,000 job-creation tax credit.
    The tax cuts are a good start, but that leaves 60% of the proposal composed of spending programs.  The spending programs are a mixed bag, but many of the suggested programs set a high price on job creation.  A program to modernize Social Security sets the price of job creation at $1 million per job.  Other programs attack the employment issue by hundreds of thousands of dollars to create just one...
  • The Dishonesty of Poltical Adjectives

    January 19, 2009
    Rhetoric is a noble field — the ability to use language skillfully to clarify and justify a policy. But the political use of language is often used In a far less honest fashion. Consider the language of some policy positions advanced today:

    Fair Trade: No one likes to be seen as a protectionist.  Protectionism—the idea that a nation should help its own industries by taxing their foreign competitors—is now widely viewed as a discredited policy.  This is largely due to the failures of protectionism's past, like the Smoot-Hawley Tariff policy which exacerbated the suffering of the Depression and was one of many causes of WWII.

    Thus, modern protectionists favor trade that is “fair.”   This term signifies that voluntary exchanges between individuals is only justified if it meets the criteria of a wide array...

  • Land Grab Bill: Senators Check Principles at the Door

    January 17, 2009
    I have heard several Republican congressional leaders say that the party has learned its lesson from their disastrous losses in the past two elections. From now on, it's back to being the party of limited government, fiscal discipline, lower taxes, and against pork barrel spending. Sounds good, but Senate Republicans have blown their first opportunity to demonstrate that they mean what they say. The first bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) brought to a vote in the 111th Congress is the omnibus land grab bill that was blocked in the waning days of the last Congress by Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). It was re-introduced by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, as S. 22. It contains around 160 titles. Lots of new National Parks, Wilderness Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers, National Trails, and National Heritage Areas....
  • $6 Billion For Broadband, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And LOL At The Recovery Act

    January 16, 2009
    Speeding its way across the Internetz today are copies of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Eager policy analysts, lobbyists, and grassroots organizations all over the country are scouring its 258 pages as we speak. As a tech policy analyst who is very interested to see what was going to happen with the Promised One's Broadband Stimulus plan, I too dove into the fine reading that my giant PDF copy of the proposed act would provide. Prior to my study of the bill, as I sent the document to my printer, visions of the sorcelations such a mighty plan might bring wrought both excitement and fears for the future of the Internet. I grabbed the freshly printed document from the copier, my fingertips brushing the pages and sending chills that delivered the grandeur of the most daring broadband project ever conceived on the face of our planet to my mind's eye. The thought was...

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