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OpenMarket: June 2011

  • Costs and Benefits of Regulation

    June 30, 2011
    One of the major developments in regulation over the last 30 years has been the rise of cost-benefit analysis. At first, agencies squirmed and resisted. But then they realized something: they’re in charge of their own accounting. It’s not an independent audit. There’s no third-party involved. An agency is free to use its own standards and its own measures when calculating its own regulatory costs and benefits. When it’s that easy to game the system, of course agencies are going to lowball their costs and highball their benefits. This is on full display in the Office of Management and Budget’s pithily titled “Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations and Unfunded Mandates on State, Local, and Tribal Entities.” [PDF] On page 13 of the report, Table 1-1...
  • An Economic Paradox: SelectUSA, Government's Expansion, and Private-Sector Growth

    June 30, 2011
    President Obama signed an executive order on June 15 to create SelectUSA, a new bureaucracy that acts as a one-stop-shop for government subsidies, in the hopes of attracting foreign investors with the promise of free taxpayer money. Through SelectUSA's creation, the absurd paradoxical nature of the president’s economic philosophy is apparent, which is the misguided notion that government expansion stimulates long-term private sector growth. It’s truly disappointing that this awfully Keynesian notion still persists after the massive failure of the fiscal stimulus, because if there is anything we should have learned from the $787 billion government spending spree, it is that public spending comes at the expense of private spending. Bryan Riley from the Heritage Foundation had...
  • In Wisconsin, Smaller Class Sizes through Fiscal Restraint

    June 30, 2011
    Of the various hyperbolic leftist talking points against the recently enacted Wisconsin collective bargaining law, the "war on teachers" was easily the most shrill, dumb, and tiresome. It was also flat wrong. Now a similar collective bargaining reform by the Kaukauna Area School District (part of the Appleton metro area) is projected to shift the District's budget from a substantial deficit to a large surplus. The Appleton Post Crescent reports:
    As changes to collective bargaining powers for public workers take...
  • Planning to Disaster: The Zoning Apparat vs. Paula Deen's Chickens

    June 30, 2011
    Those who know me are aware that one of the two weird -- so I've been told -- policy issues I'm obsessed with is urban homesteading (the other is bunker fuel -- see here, here, and here). Urban homesteading is a back-to-the-land, "buy local" movement. Essentially, it's when green yuppie types play farmer in the city (complete with ironic hipster overalls!), which includes but is not limited to:...
  • Alabama's Dangerous Crackdown on Undocumented Workers

    June 30, 2011
    You might’ve read about the unintended consequences of Georgia’s crackdown on undocumented workers. Well, the same thing is about to happen in Alabama. A few weeks after Governor Bentley’s signing of a bill that will attack undocumented workers, Hispanic immigrants are already fleeing the state. The Alabama law is one of the harshest in the recent spate of anti-worker and anti-business legislation. It criminalizes assisting undocumented workers and imposes harsh penalties on businesses employing them. Businesses will be forced to use the intrusive and wasteful E-Verify system, putting immigration enforcement costs on entrepreneurs. It makes all public officials into immigration agents too by requiring them to constantly enforce the law...
  • Going to Jail for Linking? What Sen. Amy Klobuchar's S. 978 Could Mean for You

    June 30, 2011
    Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved S. 978, a bill that would expand the scope of felony criminal copyright infringement under federal law. While the legislation enjoys broad congressional support, a number of bloggers have slammed the bill on the grounds that it would allegedly impose criminal liability on lots of innocent U.S. Internet users. In this essay, I’ll answer a few "Frequently Asked Questions" about the legislation -- and explain why you should care. Here are some links to get you up to speed:
    • Text of S. 978 as reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 16
    • TechDirt’s latest...
  • Morning Media Summary

    June 30, 2011
    Tech: The Cloud Darkens: “The Internet is getting scary. In recent weeks, hackers known as Lulz Security attacked the Web sites of Sony, the United States Senate, the C.I.A., PBS, among others. They stole names, e-mail addresses and passwords of millions of users and published them online. Then, last weekend, they regrouped under a new name.” Amazon: associates program in California to be terminated (Update: Gov. signs tax law: “Amazon announced today that its Associates program is to be terminated in California, in response to a new sales tax bill there. The move appears to be pre-emptive hardball to try and avert the bill being signed into law.” Global Warming / Environment / Energy:...
  • Tyranny in Farmville

    June 30, 2011
    Two days ago, the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog filed an anti-trust complaint with the FTC seeking an investigation of Facebook’s allegedly anti-competitive practices. These incude Facebook’s plan to implement new rules for game developers using its platform and Facebook’s deal with the largest social gaming developer, Zynga, Inc. With a 2012 IPO looming, Facebook has been looking to revise its policies.The new rules prohibit developers from charging lower fees for virtual goods outside Facebook. The social media company would also require developers to exchange with users through Facebook Credits, Facebook’s virtual currency. Third, Facebook would deduct 30 cents of every dollar from payments made through the system. Consumer Watchdog goes so far as to say that Facebook is...
  • Farm Workers Win in California

    June 29, 2011
    Late last night Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the California farm workers "card check" bill SB 104 for. The bill would have abolished workers right to a secret ballot. The right to vote on whether to join or not to join a union by secret ballot was granted to farm workers in California during Gov. Brown’s first term in 1975. The Agricultural Labor Relations Act was the nation’s first act of its kind. A top legislative priority for the newly elected Governor and the United Farm Workers (UFW), Brown advocated for this monumental change first inaugural speech:
    I also believe it is time to extend the rule of law to the agriculture sector and establish the right of secret ballot elections for farm workers. The law I support will impose rights and responsibilities on both farm worker and farmer alike. I expect...
  • Dodd-Frank Interchange Fee Price Controls Less Draconian, But Still Destructive

    June 29, 2011
    Today, at around 3:30 pm, the Federal Reserve will vote on a final rule that will make price controls from the Durbin Amendment of Dodd-Frank less of a train wreck -- but still very destructive -- for community banks, credit unions, and consumers. The Durbin Amendment puts price controls on the interchange fees -- or “swipe fees” as the something-for-nothing retailer lobby calls them -- that banks and credit unions charge merchants to process debit process debit transactions. Retailers pay a fee averaging 1.19 percent on each card purchase.  In return they get more sales and the guaranteed payment for all purchases that was lacking in the “good old days” of bounced checks. But despite the benefits ATMs and payment card technology have brought to them, big retailers such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot have taken an entitlement mentality to this technology. They successfully lobbied to...

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