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OpenMarket: April 2009

  • Obama to Sign $6 Billion National Service Boondoggle; Mandatory Service Mulled

    April 21, 2009
    President Obama will sign into law a $6 billion "national service" boondoggle. In the March 31 Washington Examiner, I described how the "Americorps plan will waste money on ideological causes" like rent control and more lenient sentences for violent criminals: "Despite exploding deficits, President Obama and congressional leaders are backing a $5.7 billion "national service" boondoggle. Obama's proposed budgets, which break his campaign promise of 'a net spending cut,' will already increase the national debt by $...
  • Between the Headlines:"Sustainability" Means Sustainably Poor

    April 21, 2009
    "Mars Sets Goal for Sustainable Cocoa Sources" Another Washington Post story suggests that "sustainability" --whatever it may mean -- still can stir the cold hearts of capitalist managers.  Utopians have long been distressed by the differential working conditions around the world.  Poverty does have less pleasant impacts than affluence.  The problem is that associated with all egalitarian policies. Our desire to improve the plight of the poor too often merely cuts away the rungs on the ladder out of poverty.
  • Hans Bader on Government Ownership of U.S. Banks

    April 21, 2009
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  • Nationalizing the Banks? Stock Conversion May Backfire

    April 20, 2009
    The Obama Administration wants to convert the preferred shares the government got from banks in the bank bailout into common shares. In theory, it could help expand lending, but in practice, it could politicize the banks, harm the economy, and waste taxpayer money. Common shares, unlike preferred shares, vote on who manages the company. The Government could use its votes to make banks waste money on ideological causes -- the way it recently did with Freddie Mac, in order to promote mortgage relief for even high-income borrowers, and is now attempting to do with banks...
  • Between the Headlines: "Russian Voting Tinged with Green"

    April 20, 2009
    "Russian Voting Tinged with Green" This Washington Post headline from earlier this month illustrates one of worrisome side-effects of authoritarian rule.  Political freedom is denied the citizenry but the pressures to allow some form of dissent remain.  Religious dissent often is treated more liberally - and the eco-theocratic values of today are the dominant religion of our secular society.  The risk the Russians face is that in their effort to escape Red tyranny they may rush into the hands of the Greens.  That would be tragic -- Virginia Postrel noted long ago that she preferred the old Reds to the new Greens.  Both restricted economic and individual freedom but, at least, the Reds aimed at helping...
  • Whither Hemispheric Trade?

    April 19, 2009
    In his post-Summit of the Americas remarks in Trinidad and Tobago today, President Obama stated his administration's commitment to improving relations with countries around the hemisphere. He rightly noted how unhelpful it is when other countries' main interaction with the U.S. is either though military or drug interdiction efforts. However, he failed to mention an immediate policy to improve both hemispheric relations and economic growth in the region: Commitment to win ratification of pending free trade agreements between the United States and other countries in the region. To date, ratification of trade agreements with Colombia and Panama -- two strong U.S. allies -- remains stalled on Capitol Hill. For more on the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement see here...
  • Tea Party Protesters Are Right

    April 17, 2009
    Tea party protests questioned the constitutionality of some of the massive bailouts over the past year, which amount to trillions of dollars. That drew bizarre attacks from leftists, who argue that these peaceful protests will somehow lead to another terrorist incident like the Oklahoma City bombing, and that the tea party protesters, like the Founding Fathers, are just a reactionary "bunch of white males who didn't want to pay their taxes." Not all of the bailouts are illegal or unconstitutional, but some of them are...
  • Endangerment finding: Legislative Hammer or Suicide Note?

    April 17, 2009
    The CO2 litigation campaign that begat Massachusetts v. EPA turns out to be too clever by half. As Roger Pielke, Jr. and Michael Shellenberger astutely observe, Team Obama's threat to regulate greenhouse gases via the Clean Air Act (CAA) unless Congress enacts cap-and-tax legislation is tantamount to a promise to commit political suicide. However costly cap-and-tax might be, litigation-driven CAA regulation of greenhouse gases is potentially far more damaging to the economy. Instead of being a hammer that beats opponents into submission, EPA's forthcoming endangerment finding--the first step in regulating greenhouse gases under the CAA--should strengthen Congressional Republicans' resolve to fight...
  • Stop Thief! NYT steals Examiner's AIG scoop with no attribution

    April 17, 2009
    One week after Washington Examiner ace investigative reporter Timothy P. Carney broke the blockbuster story reporting that American International Group's post-bailout CEO Edward Liddy owned a large stake in Goldman Sachs. a top recipient of the AIG bailout, the New York Times has decided that this is news "fit to print." But for some reason, the so-called paper of record didn't think it was "fit" to give any credit to the original source of this story. Almost all of the significant details in the Times story  by Mary Williams Walsh, posted last night on its web site, were reported in Carney's column in the Examiner a week ago...
  • Tech is Key in Ideas Battle

    April 16, 2009
    Earlier today, Competitive Enterprise Institute President Fred Smith delivered an informative but lively, entertaining speech about the role of NGOs.  The speech was delivered at the Washington-based Atlas Economic Research Foundation, an umbrella organization that sponsors the creation of free-market NGOs worldwide. Smith acknowledged that the libertarian movement, although weaker than its opponents, is gaining ground through the Internet, online video sharing and other peer-to-peer technologies.  The latest example of the successful usage of such technologies is yesterday’s landmark Tea Party protests, a spontaneous action on Tax Day led by regular American citizens.  CEI housed a supply of one million tea bags originally meant to be dumped at the White House, but a lack of adequate permission to legally make the delivery prevented the initiative. ...


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