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OpenMarket: December 2010

  • The Extension of Ethanol Subsidies

    December 10, 2010
    Despite opposition from academics, environmental organizations, libertarian organizations, editorial boards across the country, and dozens (PDF) of other groups, the...
  • Wine and Cheese Gift Baskets: Illegal in New York State

    December 9, 2010
    Here's a whole new spin to "assembly required." It is against New York State law to ship wine and cheese in one box, basket, or any package. Ditto for wine and chocolate. In fact, if you want to ship any food item along with wine to someone in the state, make sure you ship them in separate boxes. Recipients can then assemble them upon opening. This is just one of a host of silly state-level regulations. This particular rule is a byproduct of the state's ban on supermarket sales of wine and spirits. To achieve that end, state a law bans the sale of wine and spirits in places that sell food and wine for off-premise consumption. Supposedly, such rules protect us from ourselves -- keeping consumers from over-indulging by making the purchase of alcohol less convenient. In reality, these laws are designed to provide...
  • Court Rejects Obesity Class-Action Against McDonald's

    December 9, 2010
    A New York court has refused to certify a class-action lawsuit against McDonald's by people claiming it made them obese. As Ted Frank notes, the whole case should have been dismissed as baseless long ago, without even getting to the issue of class-certification. Earlier, a Brazilian judge ordered McDonald's to pay a fat employee $17,500, in a truly moronic ruling. Never mind that eating at McDonald's doesn't make skinny people fat (I lost 10 pounts while working at...
  • The Insanity of Ethanol Policy

    December 9, 2010
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  • Child-Snatching to Reap Federal Funds: The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997

    December 9, 2010
    An article called "The 7 Most Horrifying Cost-Cutting Measures of All Time" decries the role of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 in children being snatched from loving families by state officials and then put into foster homes by Child Protective Services (CPS).  According to the 1997 law, "for each child adopted into a foster family, the responsible state receives $4,000 to $6,000, with an additional $20 million bonus if it exceeds the average number of adoptions from previous years."  The article says that that incentive "encourages CPS to make an increasingly liberal interpretation of the term 'rescue.'  Consider that, a few years ago, CPS employee Pat Moore was fired for refusing to...
  • Why Insurance Rates Rise in Calm Seasons

    December 9, 2010
    This year's hurricane season, which officially ended at the beginning of this month, was the third most active season on record for the Atlantic. However, few of those hurricanes made landfall and thus the U.S. experienced little damage in the unusually active season. Despite none of the 19 named storms making landfall in the U.S., homeowners in coastal states are seeing their premiums rise. Particularly in Florida, where the government has to approve rate increases, people are asking why rates should rise when the state hasn't had a major storm in five years. What some observers fail to understand or choose to disbelieve is that insurance companies, particularly in states with rate controls, are still playing catch-up from the years of charging rates that were far too low. In addition,...
  • Afternoon Links: December 9, 2010

    December 9, 2010
    1. Don't donate Harry Potter or Twilight toys to the Salvation Army! Instead of being given to needy children, the toys will be disposed of because they "are not in line" with the charity's Christian principles. 2. EU officials are criticizing the Czech Republic for making gay asylum seekers go through a sexual arousal test before being granted asylum. 3. Four New York women -- three of them former city employees -- are facing charges for stealing $8 million in food stamps. 4. A Cyprus Hill back-up singer is suing the makers of Grand...
  • Stimulus Impact: Zero, or Less Than Zero?

    December 9, 2010
    In The Wall Street Journal, economists John F. Cogan and John B. Taylor argue that the impact of the $800 billion "Obama stimulus" was "zero" in terms of increasing economic growth. I think its impact was less than zero -- that it actually shrank the economy in several ways. One way was its use of "green jobs" subsidies to send American jobs overseas79 percent of the subsidies went to foreign firms, such as an Australian firm that...
  • 17 Million Unnecessary College Degrees; Obama Administration Seeks to Increase the Number

    December 9, 2010
    In America today, 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees.  Over 18,000 parking lot attendants have college degrees.  So do thousands of janitors. As Richard Vedder notes in the Chronicle of Higher Education, "some 17,000,000 Americans with college degrees are doing jobs that the BLS says require less than the skill levels associated with a bachelor’s degree."  This fact is "incompatible" with "the relentless claims of the Obama administration and others that having more college graduates is necessary for continued economic leadership . . . . Putting issues of...
  • Lame Ducks Need Some Backbone to Let Ethanol Subsidy and Tariff Expire

    December 9, 2010
    What's one of the easiest things to do in the lame duck session?  Why, nothing -- in relation to the 45-cents a gallon tax credit for ethanol and the 54-cents a gallon tariff on imported ethanol.  Both are due to expire at year-end.  It seems, though, that Congress is working its way to doing something, reauthorizing these programs that cost taxpayers $25-$30 billion over five years and hit consumers with higher prices at the gas tanks. Right now there's talk that the ethanol industry "would accept" a slightly lower subsidy. And the protectionism tariff on imported ethanol looks like it's sacrosanct, even though President Obama has been preaching the benefits of trade in the wake of the finally agreed upon Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. Support for continuing the ethanol subsidy and tariff seems to be the "business...


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