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OpenMarket: March 2011

  • Federal Government and State Attorneys General Push Arbitrary Mortgage Bailout

    March 16, 2011
    Back before the election, intellectuals with ties to the Obama administration proposed a trillion-dollar bailout for some (but not all) underwater mortgage borrowers, as a way to increase consumer spending. Last week, The Washington Post reported that bureaucrats at the newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) want to do something similar on a smaller scale. Their proposal would require banks to write off part of the mortgages of certain (but not all) mortgage...
  • Morning Media Summary

    March 16, 2011
    Tech: Internet is world’s ‘greatest spying machine’: Assange: “Julian Assange, the founder of whistleblower website WikiLeaks, has warned that the Internet was the "greatest spying machine the world has ever seen" and an obstacle to free speech.” Al Franken: ‘They’re coming after the Internet:’ “Sen. Al Franken claimed Monday that big corporations are "hoping to destroy" the Internet and issued a call to arms to several hundred tech-savvy South by Southwest attendees to preserve net neutrality.” Fed instructs teachers to Facebook creep students: “Education Department officials are threatening...
  • Interchange -- Will 16 Republicans Again Back Durbin's Price Controls? (Corrected)

    March 16, 2011
    Correction: In the original post, I erroneously included Sen. Mike Crapo twice, when I meant to include Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) as one of the pro-price control Republicans. In his post, "Durbin and Federal Reserve Plot to Fix Prices and Harm Consumers," RedState.com editor Erick Erickson blasts the price controls on debit card retailer interchange fees in Dodd-Frank's Durbin Amendment. In addition to noting the harms to consumers as costs of debit card processing are shifted to them from retailers -- harms such as loss of free checking and imposition of new fees that have set off bipartisan alarms -- Erickson lays out the principled conservative case against these price...
  • The War on Scent Continues

    March 15, 2011
    Nevada's legislature is considering restricting or banning pesticides, potpourri, air fresheners, candles, and pretty much anything with a scent in public places.
  • Rail Transit and Transportation Waste

    March 15, 2011
    Over the weekend, I appeared on Fox Business Network's "Tom Sullivan Show," along with John Charles of the Cascade Policy Institute, to discuss transit waste and the light-rail lovefests taking place all over the country. Watch it here:
  • An End to Fannie and Freddie?

    March 15, 2011
    As has become tradition after a chamber or two changes hands, Congress is currently grappling over the extent of proposed budget cuts with the threat of a government shutdown looming. Now wouldn’t that be fun? While congress continues to bicker and bargain their way toward a budget, many programs have been laid out on the chopping block. And -- dare we be so hopeful -- the massive, government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac might finally be targeted for cuts. Should their elimination actually come to fruition, it is a change that has long been overdue. According to The Wall Street Journal, the House Subcommittee on Capital Markets could produce legislation to this end as early as...
  • What *The Economist* Got Right, Got Wrong About NYC Bike Lanes

    March 15, 2011
    New Yorker econ writer John Cassidy created quite a stir last week with this blog post that attacked bike lanes in New York City. Many were outraged by Cassidy's vitriolic attack on eco-friendly transport infrastructure, but mostly for nonsensical reasons. The Economist's Free Exchange blog drafted a fairly detailed response, and corrected several errors in Cassidy's logic. However, they also missed a few key points that I'll now discuss. What The Economist Got Right
    1. Given the way upkeep is currently financed, driving on existing road infrastructure in New York City produces negative externalities. The marginal automobile driver...
  • Morning Media Summary

    March 15, 2011
    Tech: TechCrunch Interview: Senator Al Franken Talks Net Neutrality ( And His Morning Workout Routine ): “If you care about the well-being of the Internet, you care about net neutrality. You just might not realize it yet.” Cell phones are ‘Stalin’s dream,’ says free software movement: http://www.networkworld.com/news/2011/031411-richard-stallman.html?hpg1=bn “Nearly three decades into his quest to rid the world of proprietary software, Richard Stallman sees a new threat to user freedom: smartphones.” We May Not Have a ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ Online: “As the amount of information we share online grows along with the data that gets...
  • Wisconsin tolls the bell for public-employee unions

    March 14, 2011
    The Examiner Nothing so pleases the ear as the howl of liberals getting a taste of their own medicine. Take the liberal outrage over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (so far) successful effort to curtail collective bargaining rights of public-employee unions in the Badger State, a measure he is convinced is necessary to put Wisconsin's dire fiscal house in order. Liberal politicians in the state Senate exploded in rage over Walker's proposal; instead of debating the matter in a civil fashion (liberals love civility, remember?) 14 of them decamped en masse to neighboring Illinois in a petulant attempt to prevent a quorum and therefore derail passage of the bill. So, the governor and his allies in the Senate ingeniously stripped the bill of its fiscal measures (and therefore the need for a quorum) and voila! Senate passage was secured. The Democrats who took their dolls and...
  • Regulation of the Day 167: Wearing Perfume

    March 14, 2011
    Portland, Oregon is banning city government employees from wearing perfume or cologne at work.

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