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OpenMarket: February 2010

  • Ralph Nader's shocking solution to the Toyota "problem"

    February 28, 2010
    The answer to the problem of Toyotas running amok, says Ralph Nader in a Los Angeles Times op-ed today? Choose one response: 1. More regulation. 2. More regulation. 3. More regulation. 4. All of the above. He observes that the budget of the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has declined to half what it once was, thereby making disasters like this more or less inevitable. Yet he also admits that every year cars get safer and safer. They were getting safer when NHTSA's budget was growing, and safer when NHTSA's budget was shrinking. Some people might say that indicates there are factors at play other than federal regulation, but not Ralph Nader. I have repeatedly blogged on the...
  • Good quotes from the Honda case

    February 27, 2010
    Quotes from the court's order. On the appropriateness of disparate class treatment (pp. 25-29):
    Courts generally are wary of settlement agreements
    where some class members are treated differently than
    others. See, e.g., In re General Motors Corp. Pick-Up
    Truck Fuel Tank Prods. Liability Litig. (“In re GMC Pick-
    Up Litig.”), 55 F.3d 768, 808 (3rd Cir. 1995) (“One sign
    that a settlement may not be fair is that some segments
    of the class are treated differently from others.”).
    Compare Hanlon, 150 F.3d at 1021 (rejecting objection to
    settlement where settlement “does not propose different
    terms for different class members”). ...

    As in Acosta [v. Trans Union, LLC, 243 F.R.D. 377 (C.D.
    Cal...
  • Torches, Pitchforks, and Congress

    February 26, 2010
    "It occurred to me that this panel would only take place, of the industrialized nations, in the United States of America.  That in every other industrialized country, they've made the threshold decision that health care would be provided in some fashion, maybe through the public sector, often entirely through the private sector...to all of their people." "I want to tell you something.  I think that a 39% rate increase, at a time when people, Americans, are losing their jobs, losing their health care, is so incredibly audacious, so irresponsible...." These are the words of borderline apoplectic Representative Schakowsky during a congressional hearing yesterday on Anthem Blue Cross’ recent premium hikes for insurance purchasers in the individual market in California.  The quote came during her questioning of WellPoint’s (Anthem's parent company) CEO, Angela Braley.  Her comment was...
  • Biden announces retirement (savings program)

    February 26, 2010
    Vice President Joe Biden announces retirement (savings program). If only we were so lucky. (In reality, it doesn't matter. As he recently said, "It's easy being vice president—you don't have to do anything.") Biden, with the White House, revealed a new consumer financial protection program today. The new proposal, while still light on details, includes new regulations protecting consumers from financial products, additional consumer protection in the mortgage industry, and additional protections for retirement security. The irony is overwhelming. The proposal writes: "In the wake of the Madoff scandal, it is...
  • CEI Weekly: Marlo Lewis' Music Video Against Climate Change

    February 26, 2010
    CEI weekly is a compilation of articles and blogs from CEI's staff. This week features Marlo Lewis' music video, "How I was not Al Gored Into Submission."
  • Obama Names SEIU's Stern to Deficit Commission

    February 26, 2010
    President Barack Obama has appointed Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Andrew Stern to a new commission tasked with coming up with recommendations to help reduce the federal deficit. While disappointing, this is not surprising. Stern's appointment is merely the culmination of a series of appointments by the Obama administration of individuals closely associated with SEIU to government posts. These include Patrick Gaspard, a former vice president for politics and legislation for SEIU Local 1199, a giant New York health care workers union, who was named White House political director following Obama's election, and SEIU Treasurer...
  • Disturbing parallels between the Toyota hysteria and the Audi 5000 debacle

    February 26, 2010
    Toyota stands accused of 34 sudden acceleration incidents over the last 10 years that are "linked to" or "associated" with fatalities, a figure that in just the last few weeks has jumped from 19. About 2,000 Toyota owners in that decade filed complaints with the National Highway and Safety Administration (NHTSA) that their vehicles suddenly accelerated. But the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is holding hearing on the Toyota issue, has tacked on an additional 600 to that, for 2,600. Back in the mid-1980s Audi was also deluged with sudden acceleration complaints, many in the wake of a spectacular "60 Minutes" segment. It received 2,500 in 1987 alone - the same as the total number of accusations against Toyota. "Sophisticated electronic controls are now believed to play a role in...
  • E-Verify is a Spectacular Failure and Should be Abandoned

    February 25, 2010
    The Wall Street Journal today reported that the E-Verify system, a Federal database designed to identify undocumented workers and prevent their employment, fails to identify such workers 54% of the time! All Federal contractors and thousands of private firms participate in the program and it is touted by anti-immigration activists as a solution to illegal/undocumented immigration.

    This recent scandal should finally kill the push to make E-Verify a universal system. Anti-immigration activists from the Center for Immigration Studies to the...

  • Regulation of the Day 119: Bake Sales

    February 25, 2010
    School bake sales are basically banned in New York City. Mayor Bloomberg and the city’s Department of Education worry that they contribute to child obesity.
  • Toyoda's coerced confession

    February 25, 2010
    It's not exactly a novel observation that people under duress often make false confessions. They say what they think they're supposed to say. During congressional hearings yesterday, which some have likened to a witch hunt, Toyota President Akio Toyoda took words directly from the multitude of "analysts" when he said the firm’s growth “may have been too quick” and “priorities became confused” as the carmaker grew. The thinking of those who coached him seems clear. This was a way of accepting responsibility in a fairly benign way, and definitely deflecting blows of evil intent. The problem is that it conflicts with reality. According to Consumer Reports' 2010 Car Brand Perception Survey,...

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