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OpenMarket: October 2009

  • Mortgage Meltdown Was Caused by Government Mandates

    October 21, 2009
    The mortgage meltdown was caused partly by the government, which created an artificial market for bad mortgages.  The Washington Examiner cites a recent study by Peter Wallison, who had prophetically warned about risky financial practices for years, finding that two-thirds of all bad mortgages were either "bought by government agencies or required to be bought by private companies under government pressure." Now, the Federal Housing Administration is...
  • Fumento yells "Sooo-eeeee!" on Liddy

    October 21, 2009
    I bent G. Gordon Liddy's ears back today on his radio show (easy to find them, given his lack of hair) on my current crusade to get people to understand that it's not just that the risk of swine flu has been exaggerated but that it's being exaggerated for political reasons. Even battle-hardened veterans like Liddy are surprised to hear that the World Health Organization didn't create a pre-fab pandemic just to gather more power and increase its budget but rather is using it to promote social engineering and redistribution of wealth between nations, as I noted in Forbes Online. Yes, it really is that bad.
  • More Hypocrisy Regarding FTC Blog Regulations

    October 21, 2009
    Michael Masnick at Techdirt offers up another incidence of government inconsistency in light of the FTC's blog-watching rules, reminding us that "clinical research on drugs isn't even remotely trustworthy, as it all-too-often seems to involve doctors who have serious conflicts." Doctors with conflicts-of-interest, who push and promote certain drugs while receiving all kinds of goodies from pharmaceutical companies, seems, at the very least, like a more justifiable place for regulators to stick their noses (although there's definitely an argument to be made about the medical industry being over-regulated already). Forgive me if it's difficult to digest the...
  • Obama Accepts "Blasphemy" Exception to Free Speech

    October 21, 2009
    In USA Today, liberal law professor Jonathan Turley is criticizing the Obama administration for endorsing a “blasphemy” exception to free speech: “Around the world, free speech is being sacrificed on the altar of religion. Whether defined as hate speech, discrimination or simple blasphemy, governments are declaring unlimited free speech as the enemy of freedom of religion. This growing movement has reached the United Nations, where religiously conservative countries received a boost in their campaign to pass an international blasphemy law. It came from the most unlikely of places: the United States.” Granted, blasphemy may be patently offensive to significant numbers of people, but it is precisely such hard cases for which...
  • Banning Bake Sales

    October 21, 2009
    The American Enterprise Institute held a panel discussion yesterday on food safety. They discussed congressional proposals aimed at addressing contaminants in our food, such as pathogens like Salmonella and E. Coli. Panelists actually agreed on a few things … well, actually, they agreed on what they don't know. First, no one could answer the question as to whether legislation would significantly reduce risks, nor could anyone determine where the real risks lie. And no one could provide an adequate justification for increased government action because food safety has not declined in recent years—it is more likely improving. Nonetheless, David W. K. Acheson...
  • Science and the Sustainable Intensification of Agriculture

    October 21, 2009
    The UK Royal Society's long-awaited study on improving agricultural productivity and increasing food security was released this morning. it suggests that a healthy concern for protecting the environment necessitates the greater adoption of sophisticated agricultural technologies, including fertilizers, pesticides, and bioengineered (or GM) crops. Why? Because protecting the environment will require growing vastly more food without bringing new land into agriculture--what the report calls "sustainable intensification."
  • Data deflates threat-multiplier hype

    October 21, 2009
    The new, more 'nuanced' rationale for energy rationing is that global warming will aggravate several pre-existing environmental and health threats that cause or contribute to instability and conflict. Chief among the conditions that will allegedly become worse in a warming world are drought and flooding.
  • Is Cognitive Dissonance an Insured Condition?

    October 21, 2009
    Rep. Diana DeGette is proposing: 1)That health insurers' antitrust exemption be removed. 2) Require, by law, that people buy health insurance. What one hand giveth, the other taketh away.
  • Bank of America to Impose Annual Fees on Some Credit Cardholders, Thanks to New Credit Card Law

    October 20, 2009
    Bank of America recently announced that it will impose annual fees on some of its cardholders.  This is in response to the CARD Act (Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009), which effectively shifts costs to responsible people from irresponsible people, forcing banks to increase charges to responsible credit card holders. The CARD Act has also...
  • American Society Now Responsible for Saving Journalism

    October 20, 2009
    Creative destruction is never easy for an economy to digest, especially when the industry involved has an exceptionally loud megaphone to amplify its screaming. In a report released on Monday, former Washington Post editor Leonard Downie Jr. (with co-author Michael Schudson) insists that Americans take "collective responsibility" for fostering journalism and news reporting (saving unprofitable, poorly-managed news outfits). Of course, Downie doesn't directly ask citizens for money - that would be uncouth. Instead, he suggests that universities and nonprofits, internet service providers and telecoms, and (of course) the government cough up the dough. Downie's idea of putting news in the hands of universities is destined to fail. Calling on universities to become news...

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