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OpenMarket: January 2011

  • If Obamacare Is Repealed, Conventional Wisdom is Defeated

    January 31, 2011
    After Obamacare was passed into law, those who articulated conventional wisdom argued that "repeal" would be impossible. Instead, we heard that the best anyone could hope for is that sections the law would be reformed. We also were told that the public would totally reject "taking away" healthcare benefits from those who just received them after the law's passage. A clear warning was sent to Obamacare opponents to move slowly. Originally, the pragmatists seemed to have history on their side. There is little precedent for an enormous government entitlement being scrapped, and George W. Bush learned how difficult it was to reform an entitlement like Social Security. Overall, politicians prefer to buy votes with other people's money. However, a federal judge in Florida today...
  • Afternoon Links: January 31, 2011

    January 31, 2011

    1. Bad news for Rudolph: "Reindeer Castration Seen As Climate Change Aid."

    2. Baylen Linneken's recently-released paper looks at the "birthplace" of the First Amendment's Assembly Clause: Colonial America's taverns.

    3. Ugandan woman Brenda Namigadde faces deportation from Britain---despite the fact that she'll almost certainly be arrested in Uganda for being openly gay.

    4. Coming soon in women's fashion:...

  • Obamacare Struck Down by Florida Judge; Properly Applies Severability Principles to Invalidate Whole Law

    January 31, 2011
    A judge in Florida just declared the health care law known as "Obamacare" unconstitutional, ruling it void in its entirety. Judge Vinson rightly declared the health care law’s individual mandate unconstitutional, since the inactivity of not buying health insurance is not an "economic activity" that Congress has the power to regulate under the Interstate Commerce Clause. (Under the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Morrison (2000), which I helped litigate, only "economic activity" can be regulated under the Commerce Clause, with the possible exception of those non-...
  • New EPA Report Confirms Biofuel Policy Harms Environment

    January 31, 2011
    A draft EPA report released a few days ago largely confirms what we already know, that conventional biofuels produced on a large scale in the United States (corn ethanol), offer slight GHG reductions but come with a host of other, more troublesome,  problems. As the report is still a draft, the EPA has asked that it not be cited or quoted from. The report is available here. If you navigate to page 116 you can find their preliminary conclusions and recommendations. The report offers a visual summary of potential consequences or benefits from various technologies (ethanol, bio-diesel, algae-based fuels, etc.). Under corn ethanol, there are 6 listed categories of environmental effects: water quality, water quantity, soil quality, air quality, biodiversity, and invasiveness. Ethanol's score offers a "...
  • Regulation of the Day 162: Breaking Wind

    January 31, 2011
    The southeast African country of Malawi is about to make farting illegal. The government there is trying to “mould responsible and disciplined citizens.”
  • Morning Media Summary

    January 31, 2011
    Tech: Without Internet, Egyptians find new ways to get online: “"When countries block, we evolve," an activist with the group We Rebuild wrote in a Twitter message Friday.” Google won't be taken to court over data gather: “The US state of Connecticut said Friday it would hold negotiations with Google over the collection of private wireless data by its Street View mapping cars and not take the Internet giant to court.” Egypt shutdown worst in Internet history: experts: "The scale of Egypt's crackdown on the Internet and mobile phones amid deadly protests...
  • TSA Shuts Door on Private Airport Screening Program That Exposed TSA's Inefficiency

    January 30, 2011
    The Transportation Security Administration has shut the door on a private airport screening program that was making the inefficient agency look bad by outperforming it in safety, innovation, and customer satisfaction. The TSA's action was praised by a liberal union that expects to unionize the TSA, the American Federation of Government Employees. Its head, John Gage, applauded the Obama administration for requiring a "federalized" government "work force." The exemption allowing outsourcing to private screeners was originally created in the aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks, when Congress and the Bush administration foolishly nationalized American airport security and created the TSA. While...
  • Fannie Mae Backers Unrepentant Despite Its Fraud and Colossal Bailout

    January 29, 2011
    Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were bailed out at a cost to taxpayers of between $148 billion and $363 billion. Their recklessness and wrongdoing was so obvious that even Treasury Secretary Geithner admits that “Fannie and Freddie were a core part of what went wrong” in the financial crisis. The two government-sponsored mortgage giants...
  • California Businesses Vote With Their Feet

    January 28, 2011
    According to this report, 204 businesses left California for greener less green pastures in 2010. That is up from the 51 businesses which left in 2009. This certainly won't help tax revenues that California so desperately wants (though not enough to tax marijuana sales). Mark this down as one of the many reasons why it isn't a good idea to dig your state into a nearly inescapable fiscal hole. Their budget deficit is projected to be $19 billion dollars, with annual unfunded pension liabilities potentially reaching ...
  • Regulation of the Day 161: Crossing the Street

    January 28, 2011
    Three states are proposing to make it illegal to listen to your iPod while crossing the street. Legislators in California, New York, and Oregon are leading the charge, citing increasing pedestrian deaths. A similar proposal in Arkansas was retracted after constituents mobbed the state legislator who wrote the bill with hate mail. Pedestrian deaths did go slightly up last year. But pedestrian deaths have been trending down for two decades, despite the rise of iPods and smartphones. Turns out that most people have enough common sense to pay more attention to traffic than their phone while crossing the street. Legislating common sense is at best redundant. But in this case, it's actually harmful. Police departments only have so many resources to go around. All the time and manpower they spend watching...

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