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OpenMarket: June 2010

  • Liberal Senators Make False Claims About Supreme Court's Ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear, During Kagan Confirmation Hearings

    June 30, 2010
    Liberal Senators like Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) are peddling fables about a Supreme Court ruling, Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (2007). In its Ledbetter ruling, the Supreme Court said that employees who choose to sue under the federal discrimination law with the shortest deadline (Title VII) should generally sue within 180 days, at least where they could have discovered the discrimination in time to do so.  It rejected as untimely a discrimination claim by Lilly Ledbetter, who had known for years of the pay disparity she later sued over. That's a far cry from how Senator Cardin describes the case.  Today, in the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Elena Kagan, Cardin made false claims, both about what the Supreme Court said in...
  • Anti-stripper law could create more prostitution

    June 30, 2010
    As so many journalists have punned, recently passed anti-stripping legislation makes the "Don't Show Me" state a far more appropriate nickname for Missouri. Yesterday, Gov. Jay Nixon 's signed into a law a bill that significantly restricts the operations of adult entertainment establishments for the purpose of protecting the "vulnerable people who are being coerced into being the fodder for some of these places," said state Senator  Matt Bartle. Among other things, the new laws prohibit total nudity, restrict semi-nudity to state areas six feet away from patrons, prohibit touching, ban alcohol, and limit the hours of operation of such establishments. What most people don't realize is that strippers usually aren't under contract with any particular club and, generally, operate like contractors...
  • USA prevents effective oil spill cleanup

    June 30, 2010

    As readers may recall, a brouhaha erupted three summers ago concerning BP’s planned expansion of its Whiting Refinery near Chicago, Illinois. BP had received permission to release marginally more pollutants, including ammonia and mercury, into the water. Facing public outcry, BP held a press conference explaining that the water they were releasing was actually cleaner than the Lake Michigan water from which it came. The public remained unconvinced, insisting that regardless of the net effect, BP should still comply with the strict original standards.

    Ironically, that same rabid devotion to EPA standards has made the current BP Gulf oil spill worse. As the Financial Post explains, the...

  • For Whom the Dell Tolls

    June 30, 2010

    Less than fifteen years ago, Dell computers were the hot desktop brand. In a rapidly growing market, Dell developed a unique business model which helped to price out competitors. By 2004, Dell had become the market leader in desktop computer sales. Business school case studies focused on Dell’s extraordinary success.

    With this prominence, Dell found itself implicated in antitrust lawsuits brought by the FTC against Dell directly (1996), against Microsoft (1998), and most recently against Intel (2009).

    Yet these antitrust lawsuits had little effect on the dynamic personal computer market. The FTC ‘s suits had the pretense of promoting competition – a measure that was unnecessary in an industry where competition is already fierce. Consider the graph above tracking the market share of various desktop brands since 1997....

  • Celebrating Bastiat

    June 30, 2010
    Economist Don Boudreaux reminds us that 209 years ago today, the great economic journalist Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850) was born.  F.A. Hayek in his introduction to some selected Bastiat essays wrote that he was "a publicist of genius" and quoted Joseph Schumpeter 's assessment of Bastiat as "the most brilliant economic journalist who ever lived." On his birthday, it's worth rereading some of his most memorable essays, such as "What is seen and what is not seen," "The broken window," and the "Petition of the candle makers against the Sun." Here's a short excerpt from "The broken window":
    From which, by generalizing, we...
  • Supreme Court Dooms Chicago Gun Ban; Obama Judicial Nominees Oppose Gun Rights; Religious Clubs Lose First Amendment Case; Removal of High-Ranking Bureaucrats Made Easier

    June 30, 2010
    The Supreme Court doomed Chicago's handgun ban Monday by ruling 5-to-4 that the Second Amendment applies to state and local governments like Chicago, not merely the federal government.  (Most guarantees in the Bill of Rights are deemed so fundamental that they apply to both state and federal governments, but a few rights deemed trivial, like the right to a jury trial in lawsuits seeking over $20, only are applied by the Courts to the federal government, not the states.)  In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects the individual right to possess a handgun in a federal enclave, in striking down a handgun ban in Washington, D.C., in District of Columbia v. Heller.  Chicago's ban is quite similar to the one found unconstitutional in Washington, D.C., so the Supreme Court's...
  • Wayne Crews on Cybersecurity and the Presidential "Kill Switch"

    June 30, 2010
    [youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJHmrHAxkVY 285 234]
  • Blowout Prevention Act -- or Oil Production Prevention Act?

    June 30, 2010
    That's the question I address today on the free-market energy blog, MasterResource.Org.  This morning, the  House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Environment is holding a hearing on the Blowout Prevention Act. The bill text says that the federal government "shall not" issue a permit for an offshore oil well unless the applicant can "demonstrate" that he has the "capacity to promptly stop a blowout in the event the blowout...
  • Can Businessmen (and Women) Make Good Politicians

    June 29, 2010
    Mickey Edwards, former congressman from Oklahoma and guest lecturer at the Harvard School of Government, has written an interesting blog on the case for business leaders moving into politics. To Edwards, operational skills acquired in the private world are not easily translated to the political world: I do have a problem, however, with the continued promotion of business success as a qualifier for public office. Success in the market is not an automatic disqualifier for public service, but it is a far different undertaking with different purposes and different values. On this point, Edwards is absolutely correct, but I disagree with his conclusion that: The business of business is business and the goal of business is to earn a profit in the provision of goods and services. The goal of business is not merely to profit, but to create value for its shareholders. A firm must balance...
  • CA to criminalize Internet poker?

    June 29, 2010
    That is, unless you play at one of the three state-sanctioned "hubs". Much like other proposals to "legalize" online poker and other Internet gambling activities, proposals to legalize on a limited basis such as the proposed SB 1485 in California, seem like a step forward to online poker players who, for many years, have wagered money on the Internet in a legal gray area.  But sometimes it is better to be uncertain of your legal standing than to know that an activity you enjoy has become a criminal offense. After the UIGEA was passed in 2006, as I have written...

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