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OpenMarket: December 2009

  • TSA Praises Itself After Year of Security Lapses; Obama Administration Backs TSA Unionization at Public Expense

    December 31, 2009
    In a year-end message to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) staff, the agency praised itself for a "very good year" in airline security, despite repeated security failures.  But, as ABC News notes,
    The message made no mention of TSA snafus during 2009, including several highly critical reports by the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security and the inadvertent posting on the Internet of confidential documents revealing airport security procedures.
    Recently, a Nigerian terrorist nearly managed to...
  • Louisiana auto insurance at a crossroads

    December 31, 2009
    Louisiana drivers pay the third highest expenditures for auto insurance in the country (with N.J. taking second and D.C. taking the top honor). On average, consumers pay $1,096 a year for their insurance. This Friday it will get even more expensive as the new minimum coverage mandate is adjusted. The reason for the increase, among other things is due to the rising costs for medical care and accidents. While the actual amount of increase is likely to be minimal (an additional $71 per year per policy according to the chief actuary for LA's dept. ) the unintended consequence (as noted in the NYT article) could be the reduction in auto coverage state-wide not an increase. The folks who couldn't afford more insurance before the...
  • Latest Victim of the State--Your Dog

    December 31, 2009
    It used to be that mostly Landfill operations and chemical plants were subject to the so-called NIMBY (which is short for "not in my backyard") syndrome. Homeowners and even renters have fought siting of such facilities for decades--making it nearly impossible to open valuable businesses no matter how well-designed and unobtrusive the facilities were. But NIMBY is now used to attack a wide range of private property uses. And some of the latest victims are not even human. Pet hotels and doggie daycare centers are increasingly relegated to industrial parks and rural areas, even in cities where dog owners need a place close to home or work for their pets to stay and play. Sure, such facilities can pose issues for neighbors; but neighbors should not be able to preempt any business because it "might" annoy them. And the concerns of some...
  • Year-End Fun: Scroogenomics

    December 31, 2009
    Today's Washington Times contains my review of Joel Waldfogel's book Scroogenomics: Why You shouldn't Buy Presents for the Holidays.
  • Florida Attorney General Questions Constitutionality of Healthcare Bills in Congress

    December 31, 2009
    Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is questioning whether it is constitutional to force people to buy health insurance, as the health care bills backed by the Obama administration require.  This "individual mandate" is unprecedented and appears to exceed Congress's power under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. As the Congressional Budget Office...
  • Regulation of the Day 92: Camping at the Beach

    December 31, 2009
    In Oregon, it is illegal to set up a tent at most beaches.
  • Swine flu also unexceptional in contagiousness

    December 30, 2009
    With a massive amount of data indicating swine flu is vastly milder than seasonal flu, a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine also puts the kibosh on the claims that it spreads like gangbusters. Researchers found that in households in which one person had swine flu it spread to 10 percent of other household members. During the flu pandemics of 1957 and 1968, 14 percent to 20 percent of household members were infected while normal seasonal flu spreads to 5 percent to 40 percent of the rest of the family. In other words, once again we see there is absolutely nothing "pandemic" about swine flu. It's a term the World Health Organization applied to serve its own interests. It would serve our interests to replace the WHO with a body that cares more...
  • No, yet again, cell phones do not cause cancer

    December 30, 2009
    If you're getting a headache from spending to much time on your cell phone, it's probably from yakking too much. But it's not from brain cancer. Not from the phone, anyway, as yet another shows. No, this wasn't one of those "let's put some mouse brain cells in a Petri dish and stimulate it with magnetic waves and see if it makes them do anything unusual" tests. This was an epidemiological study of lots and lots of Scandinavian cell phone users. Specifically, as reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, "national registry data from Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden from 1974 to 2003 showed rates of the brain cancers glioma and meningioma had either remained stable, decreased, or followed the same gradual increase observed...
  • MI Senate not "FAIR" and it's a good thing

    December 30, 2009
    The Michigan Senate recessed last week without passing the proposed insurance reforms that would, among other things, prevent insurers from using factors such as education level, occupation, credit scores, and would prevent them from setting rates without approval from the state's insurance commissioner. The proposal which was passed in the House hopes to reduce Michigan's exorbitant premiums which rank among the highest in the nation. Of course, simply suppressing rates insurers charge has never really worked in the long-run, usually causing more problems on a catastrophic scale. Additionally, this proposal completely ignores the actual reason for Michigan's high premiums:...
  • For the Birds

    December 30, 2009
    An environmental group is suing to cancel an upcoming AC/DC concert in Austria because they think loud music poses a threat to birds.

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