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OpenMarket: June 2011

  • CEI Podcast for June 23, 2011: Bunker Fuel

    June 23, 2011
    Bunker fuel is a heavy fuel used by large ships around the world. Land Use and Transportation Policy Analyst Marc Scribner looks at new environmental regulations to limit bunker fuel use, and their unintended consequences.
  • Rail Carriers, Shippers Battle Over Regulation Before the Surface Transportation Board

    June 23, 2011
    On behalf of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, I've been involved in an ongoing proceeding before the Surface Transportation Board, the independent Department of Transportation agency charged with regulating the freight-rail industry. The proceeding, Competition in the Railroad Industry, is the culmination of a decades-long series of frivolous complaint-filing on the part of a minority of mostly western U.S. shippers in the agriculture industry, the coal industry, and the chemical industry. The first hearing in Ex Parte 705 took place yesterday and today. These shippers...
  • Update on the Arrest of Reason.tv's Jim Epstein at Yesterday's D.C. Taxicab Commission Hearing

    June 23, 2011
    Jim Epstein e-mailed me to provide an update on the circumstances surrounding his arrest yesterday at a hearing of the D.C. Taxicab Commission, which we reported here. Here's his post on Reason's Hit and Run blog, which includes video he shot before the police arrested him:
    About 30 minutes into the meeting, I witnessed journalist Pete Tucker snap a still photo of the proceedings on his camera phone. A few minutes later, two police officers arrested Tucker. I filmed Tucker's arrest and the audience's subsequent outrage using my cell phone. A few minutes later, as I was attempting to leave the building, I overheard the female officer who had...
  • Georgia's Immigration Folly

    June 23, 2011
    Who’d of thought it: cracking down on immigrant workers hurts the economy? Georgia’s learning the hard way as farms lose laborers and crops go unharvested. After its passing of strict anti-immigrant legislation in April, thousands of illegal workers have fled the state before the implementation of the law in July. This exodus of experienced farmhands meant 11,080  farm jobs left unfilled. With a labor shortage to deal with, the government of the state of Georgia has a novel way of filling the vacancies: probationers. Atlanta also instituted a program to encourage those on probation to find work in the fields. Ex-cons, who find getting jobs difficult, aren’t exactly overjoyed at the...
  • A Definition of Unsustainable: The Long-Term Budget Outlook

    June 23, 2011
    The Congressional Budget Office has released its latest edition of the Long-Term Budget Outlook, and it makes for grim reading. Federal debt is currently at its highest level since just after World War II, but unlike in those dark days there is no let-up in increasing public expenditure in sight. America's welfare state chickens are coming home to roost, as the retirement of the baby boomers "portends a significant and sustained increase in the share of the population receiving benefits from Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid." Add to this government investment in health care rising sharper than any other per person expenditure and we have a situation that the CBO director describes starkly on his blog:
    Therefore, given the aging of the population and the rising...
  • What Unions Could Learn from AARP

    June 23, 2011
    Last week the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) announced a major policy shift regarding Social Security. Formerly seen as the largest opponent to Social Security reform, AARP has recently acknowledged that the federal program cannot indefinitely pay out benefits at current levels. The group wants to see the program made “solvent” by making “minimal” changes. Unions could learn from this sentiment, instead they have brought legal challenges on reform efforts. On Monday the Florida Education Association, the main teachers' union in the state, filed a lawsuit against their Governor Rick Scott, challenging a new mandate that public employees contribute 3 percent of their salary towards...
  • Stealing You Blind: Plans for Future Theft

    June 23, 2011
    One of the themes of Stealing You Blind is how public sector unions have worked with politicians to organize an industrial-scale transfer of wealth from your pockets to their members' pockets in the shape of exceptionally generous pension schemes. There have been two good examples this week of how this operates. First up is this absolute-must-read New York Times story about how the racket (or perhaps ratchet would be a better description) was set up in California. This quotation is perhaps the most revealing (and gels with the public sector mindset described by Greg Conko...
  • Morning Media Summary

    June 23, 2011
    Tech: Winklevoss Twins Won’t Take Facebook Case To Supreme Court: “It appears the lengthy legal dispute between Facebook and twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss may be finally coming to an end.” Consumer group reveals web-blocking plans: “A consumer rights group has blasted proposals to block websites carrying pirated content, as laid out in a document handed to the Department for Culture, Music and Sport.” Google Notches One Billion Unique Visitors Per Month: “Google’s websites had more than a billion unique visitors in May, the first time an Internet company has hit that...
  • We Need Regulators, Not Interveners

    June 22, 2011
    Most of what people call regulation doesn't have anything to with regular commerce. These kinds of rules are more accurately called interventions.
  • Reason.tv Reporter Arrested at D.C. Taxicab Commission Hearing

    June 22, 2011
    Reason.tv producer and reporter Jim Epstein was arrested this afternoon at a hearing held before the D.C. Taxicab Commission. Nick Gillespie, editor-in-chief of Reason.com and Reason.tv, writes:
    I regret to announce that Reason.tv producer and journalist Jim Epstein is being held by US Park Police for video recording an incident at a District of Columbia Taxicab Commission hearing taking place at the US Park Police Building in Anacostia Park. Our attorney is on the scene and reports that Epstein, who was attending the hearing as part of an upcoming story on plans to introduce a medallions system to D.C.'s taxi industry, should be released very shortly.
    This is very unfortunate, but not exactly surprising given the current state of ethics (or lack...

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