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OpenMarket: March 2011

  • Meritless, Massive Class Action Lawsuit Against Wal-Mart Should Be Dismissed

    March 31, 2011
    As a lawyer who used to bring class-action discrimination lawsuits for a living, I am puzzled by press sympathy for the massive, meritless class-action lawsuit against Wal-Mart. In it, six female employees are suing for billions of dollars in a San Francisco court in the name of at least 500,000 other female employees across the nation whom they have never met and share little in common with other than gender (many of whom are perfectly happy with Wal-Mart). The Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in the case, expressing skepticism about whether the case should be litigated as a class-action, rather than in individual lawsuits by those workers who allege discrimination. The Justices should be skeptical: the case is being brought as a class-action not because it needs to be brought...
  • Gail Giggles at Consumer Choice in the NYT

    March 31, 2011
    Gail Collins has a truly inane opinion piece in the NYT today, in which she excoriates those people -- Tea Partiers and libertarians --  who are opposed to the upcoming ban on incandescent light bulbs. She completely misses the argument for consumer choice, that is, some people may want to stick with the old-fashioned incandescent instead of the fluorescent bulbs for a variety of reasons -- some real concerns (photosensitivity, mercury, melting plastic, fumes) and some aesthetic ones. Instead, Collins does her usual cutesy, aren’t-I-clever dismissal of those who think consumers and not the government should be deciding what light bulbs to use in their homes. Rand Paul, who spoke eloquently against the ban, made that point about light bulbs and about low-flush toilets at a hearing on the issue,...
  • Morning Media Summary

    March 31, 2011
    Tech: Boston College Says Using WiFi is a Sign of Infringement: "Boston College has a funny idea of what constitutes copyright infringement. It has a list of what might be called 'you might be a copyright infringer if...' with the sort of things you might expect, such as using file sharing programs or sending mp3s to friends. But some have noticed something odd. Included on the list is using a wireless router in your dorm. Yes, just using a wireless router. Not using it for anything. But just using such a router is considered a sign of infringement. Nice to see our top colleges and universities teaching students completely made up things." Creepy app warns of an end to privacy...
  • Food Inflation is Here!

    March 30, 2011
    Next time someone tells you that only the left side of the aisle cares about feeding hungry Americans, remind them that it's green special interests and Michelle Obama's size-awareness campaign that's making it harder for Americans to feed their families. Food inflation is here, folks. Food costs the same; there's just less of it. The New York Times ran an article this week complaining that consumers are up in arms because shrinking grocery packaging means they can't feed their families. It's a terrible thing that goods cost money; no question about it. Yet if food manufacturers tried to fix the problem from the consumers' side of the problem, we'd have a bail-out situation. Manufacturers would be losing money on under-priced, over-sized food packages. It would only be a matter of time before grocery suppliers go out of business.
  • Rep. Levin Wants to Stall Trade Pact -- Colombia Needs to Change its Laws, He Says

    March 30, 2011
    Okay -- another big roadblock for the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, and not surprisingly, it’s coming from Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee and longtime crony of the trade unions. In a talk yesterday at the Peterson Institute, Levin said that before the pending trade agreement is considered, Colombia has to change its laws. Yes, that’s right, he wants to tell another sovereign nation that its laws aren’t up to snuff with “international standards” relating to workers and unions and it has to change them before the U.S. will consider entering into a trade pact with Colombia.
    For several years, we made clear to the Colombian government that changes to its laws needed to be made to bring them into compliance with international standards including...
  • Stop the Sweet Deal for Sugar, Says Senator Lugar

    March 30, 2011
    There's a great op-ed by Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) in The Washington Times today telling how Big Sugar’s sweet deal harms consumers, leads to job losses, while benefitting a small group of sugar cane and sugar beet producers.  To address the egregious sugar program, Sen. Lugar is introducing a bill today -- the Free Sugar Act of 2011 -- that would repeal the Depression-era central planning system of allocating domestic supply, guaranteeing a minimum price for sugar, and restricting the import of less expensive sugar.  Sen. Lugar notes in his op-ed the command-and-control approach of the sugar program:
    In sugar land, as in communist countries, prices are set by the government, not the market....
  • Speaking at University of Cincinnati April 1

    March 30, 2011
    I'm apparently a "leading advocate for class action reform." An impressive roster of speakers is going to have to sit through my lunchtime talk, which is part of the symposium entitled "The Principles and Politics of Aggregate Litigation: CAFA, PSLRA, and Beyond." The event will be webcast.
  • Morning Media Summary

    March 30, 2011
    Tech: Netflix Lowers Streaming Video Qualify To Cut Data Use: “Online video rental company Netflix Inc has tweaked its Canadian streaming service to cut down on the amount of data it uses in a country where Internet usage is typically metered and capped.” Microsoft denies intentionally shutting off Hotmail encryption in Arab countries: “Microsoft says it did not "intentionally limit" access to Hotmail's HTTPS encryption service in foreign countries where freedom of expression is under attack.” Restaurant Chain is First Fined Under Massachusetts Data...
  • Six Pages of Legislation, 1,000 Pages of Regulation

    March 30, 2011
    HHS is about to issue over 1,000 pages of new regulations stemming from a 6-page section of last year's health care bill.
  • Virginia Sells Naming Rights to Highway Rest Stops

    March 29, 2011
    Faced with budget shortfalls and a steep $20 million annual operating cost, this week Virginia decided to sell naming rights to its 42 highway rest stops. While I've argued against WMATA's proposal to sell naming rights to Metrorail stations, sponsorship of highway rest stops presents more opportunities for semi-private proprietorship. This could benefit both the commonwealth and travelers. I defend Virginia's decision in The Examiner:

    Tacking business...

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