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OpenMarket: April 2009

  • Enough Water?

    April 9, 2009
    Cheers to Bill Nemitz for his very insightful piece “Enough Water: Let’s Figure it Out” in the Portland Press Herald. He showed that the amount of water that Poland Spring would have purchased for $900,000 from the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Wells Water Districts represents 0.14 percent of the water that falls in the region each year. He rightly criticizes the activist group that prevented that sale for their claims that operation would threaten such resources in the future. Nemitz’s point applies to a much larger debate. Activist groups are around the nation offer silly arguments about water resources being “finite” and in danger of depletion. But properly constructed bottling operations do not deplete community water supplies....
  • America - full of Socialists?

    April 9, 2009
    Almost half of Americans either prefer socialism to capitalism or are downright confused, according to a Rasmussen poll released today. Twenty percent of Americans polled say socialism is better, and another 27 percent say they are undecided. That just can't be good. On the bright side, 53 percent say capitalism is preferable. So, basically, about half the people think it might be a great idea for government bureaucrats to run their lives. Too bad those people won't do the decent thing and form a club collective, leaving the rest of us free to run our own lives. Or, perhaps the liberty-minded among us can do a better job convincing the undecided (at least) that wealth and prosperity are created by capitalist pursuits, not government taxes and programs...
  • Waxman-Markey litigation shell game

    April 9, 2009
    When I first eyeballed the 648-page draft cap-and-trade bill, authored by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA), I was perplexed, even stunned. Secs. 831-834 of the draft bill exempt carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases from regulation under the Clean Air Act's (CAA) National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) program, Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP) program, New Source Review (NSR) pre-construction permitting programs, and Title V operating permits program. This surprised me for two reasons. First, it is tacit admission that free-market and industry analysts were correct when they warned that EPA could not control the cascading effects of CAA regulation of CO2 once it starts. It is implicit confirmation of...
  • Trojan Horse "Food Safety" Law

    April 9, 2009
    A misguided bill, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, may shut down farmer's markets and "drive out of business local farmers and artisanal, small-scale producers of berries, herbs, cheese, and countless other wares, even when there is in fact nothing unsafe in their methods of production," warns Walter Olson at Overlawyered. Ignorance about the law's broad reach (and how it will be construed by the courts) has thwarted opposition to the bill, which will likely pass Congress. For example, a newspaper claims the bill "doesn't regulate home gardens." The newspaper probably assumed that was true...
  • CBO catches up with CEI on ethanol

    April 9, 2009
    Well.  The Congressional Budget Office has finally caught up with what CEI has been saying for years --  misguided ethanol policies cause higher food prices without providing significant environmental benefits.  In a report released yesterday, CBO noted this about food prices:
    CBO estimates that the increased use of ethanol accounted for about 10 percent to 15 percent of the rise in food prices between April 2007 and April 2008.
    And what about ethanol's highly touted reduction of  greenhouse-gas emissions? Here's what CBO found:
    Last year the use of ethanol reduced gasoline usage in the United States by about 4 percent and greenhouse-gas emissions from the transportation sector by less than 1 percent. In the long run, if increases in the production of ethanol led to a large...
  • Smith on Smith (and Gjerstad)

    April 9, 2009
    In a letter in today's Wall Street Journal, CEI's Fred Smith references Steven Gjerstad and Vernon Smith's earlier op-ed to point out that radical egalitarianism policies have been one of the driving forces behind the housing bubble and the resultant financial crisis.  As Fred notes,
    Steven Gjerstad and Vernon Smith suggest one unexplored aspect of our financial crisis: the role of egalitarian policies. To see this, note their distinction between the impacts of the $10 trillion loss in the 2000 stock market collapse and the $3 trillion loss of the recent housing collapse. A driving force behind all this has been radical egalitarianism -- the idea that something that can be afforded by some should be made available to everyone....
  • Baptist-Bootlegger Alliance on Tobacco

    April 8, 2009
    In today's Washington Examiner, Tim Carney has an excellent column on how the bill to place tobacco under FDA regulation would reduce competition in the tobacco industry and enrich the biggest company -- Philip Morris -- at the expense of consumers and competitors alike. Although the bill is supported by leading anti-smoking groups (which indirectly receive money from Big Tobacco through the $246 billion Master Settlement Agreement), the bill's...
  • Ideologies Are Like Cults

    April 8, 2009
    Herbert Hoover ran up big budget deficits in response to the 1929 stock market crash, in an unsuccessful effort to stave off the Great Depression. That's incontrovertible history. Even the web site maintained by the Obama White House, which has proposed record-setting budget deficits over the next decade, says Hoover ran up deficits. But when someone points out that Hoover was a deficit-spender, liberal ideologues falsely claim in response that Hoover pushed for a balanced budget. Nothing supports those claims. But they are necessary to argue that deficit-spending is a miracle cure for the recession -- and to defend Obama...
  • One Down, Six to Go!

    April 8, 2009
    Oh the Worries of Our Modern Malthusians! In Washington this week, the Anarctica and Arctic Councils met for the first time.  Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, used the occasion to discuss the problems that global warming was “causing” in these areas.  Among the myriad disasters is the possibility that the region’s energy resources will become available and that an all-year passage around the pole might open.   As I recall my history, European explorers spent centuries searching for a Northwest Passage.  Given the massive increases in global trade, the efficiencies...
  • Interview with Sam Kazman on the Auto Bailout

    April 7, 2009
    [youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c31kKtLECbQ 285 234]

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