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OpenMarket: October 2009

  • Madison on National Health Care Reform

    October 14, 2009

    Here is the letter I wrote that appeared in the Los Angeles Times in response to Erwin Chemerinsky’s article on the constitutionality of health care reform.  Chemerinsky teaches at UC Irvine's law school.

    Chemerinsky argues that according to Supreme Court precedent, the proposed health care reform bills will be considered constitutional. Unfortunately, he is probably right. The author of our Constitution, however, would...
  • Congressional Conference Committee Attempts to Turn Hate Crimes Law Into a Speech Code

    October 14, 2009
    Hate crimes are irrational, and what sets them off is often unpredictable. The hate-criminal whose sentence was upheld in Wisconsin v. Mitchell by a unanimous Supreme Court attacked a young white boy because of the outrage he felt after watching the movie Mississippi Burning, which depicted racism against black people in the Deep South. To him, two wrongs made a right. If the victim had attempted to sue the makers of Mississippi Burning for inciting the hate-crime, the lawsuit would have been dismissed under the Supreme Court's rulings in Brandenburg v. Ohio...
  • More on Public Sector Unions

    October 14, 2009
    Slate blogger Mickey Kaus explains how public sector unions are driving state and local governments to the brink of bankruptcy (via Nick Gillespie at Reason Hit & Run, via Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit):
    The justification for public sector unionism is way weaker than that for private sector unionism. "[Government] workers are not extracting a share of the profits but rather a share of taxes," as former N.Y. Liberal Party leader Alex Rose puts it. And the right to strike, in the hands of key public unions, approaches a blackmail power. But the political strength of the unions is such that even most...
  • Regulation of the Day 60: Hybrid Car Noise

    October 14, 2009
    One advantage of hybrid cars is that they are quiet. Too quiet, some would say. Blind pedestrians may not hear a hybrid coming around the corner until it’s too late.
  • Silencing Criticism through Libel Law

    October 14, 2009
    The physicist turned science journalist Simon Singh has been sued in a UK court and, this past summer, found liable for libel for an April 2008 commentary piece in the Guardian in which he explained that there is no evidence that chiropractic spinal manipulation can safely and effectively treat back pains. In a world of global print and Internet publishing, the UK has become a venue for so-called libel tourism, in which slighted plaintiffs from all over the world bring suit in British courts against defendants located outside the UK merely because their comments have been published or re-posted in magazines, books, or websites that happen to appear in Britain. There is no doubt that British libel law exerts a chilling effect on free speech generally, and on criticism of quack science and bad governance more specifically.
  • Fighting Eminent Domain Abuse

    October 13, 2009
    Popular outrage over eminent domain abuse may have waned a bit since the Supreme Court's poorly-reasoned Kelo ruling in 2005, but economic development takings remain incredibly unpopular throughout the country. Public opinion polls indicate that more than 80 percent of Americans oppose eminent domain for economic development, which is surprising when one considers the relative inaction on the part of state legislatures to meaningfully protect their citizens' property rights. However, there are reasons to be optimistic. Brooklynites fighting the proposed Atlantic Yards development...
  • LibertyWeek 64: Regulators Gone Wild!

    October 13, 2009
    Richard Morrison, William Yeatman and Ryan Young bring you episode 64. We take on health care, energy technology and the warming that wasn’t there. We continue with the British expense scandal and new rules and regulations.
  • Senate Finance Passes Health Reform Bill

    October 13, 2009
    Earlier today, Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Me.) announced that she would vote in favor of the health care reform bill authored by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.). And, just about 30 minutes ago, the Finance Committee reported the bill out to the full Senate by a 14 to 9 vote, with all the Democrats and Snowe voting in favor.
  • Senators Lindsey Graham and John Kerry: Yes We Can (Raise Your Energy Prices and Send Jobs Abroad)

    October 13, 2009
    Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) published a curious op-ed in Sunday's New York Times titled, "Yes We Can (Pass Climate Legislation)."  The bill that they claim to support and that can pass the Senate is not the 821-page draft bill that Senators Kerry and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) released two weeks ago.  It is a fantasy designed to get the support of Senator Graham and other fuzzy-minded Senators with visions of lots of new nuclear plants, billions for technology to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, less dependence on imported oil, and tariffs to protect American manufacturing jobs in energy-intensive industries.  We can have it all with a few waves of the federal government's magic wand. But even a glance at their article shows how little...
  • The Wages of Government Unions

    October 13, 2009
    The Economist's current Lexington column highlights the growing public resentment at the widening disparity between compensation and job security in the private and public sectros -- which are largely the result of increasing unionization of government employees. (Subscription required for the Economist link.)
    Those who are still employed have seen their wages stagnate and their pensions shrivel in the stockmarket crash. Their health insurance is insecure, but they don’t trust Congress not to make it worse. Meanwhile, they can see that one group of Americans has been practically unaffected by the recession: government employees. Their hours have not been cut, their benefits are gold-plated and they are almost impossible to sack. In good times, few Americans notice...

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