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OpenMarket: June 2011

  • Meet Your New Mom: Kathleen Sebelius and Cigarette Warnings

    June 22, 2011
    Health and Human Services Director Kathleen Sebelius recently made a revealing statement on how she perceives the role of government and her place within it. She said, regarding the new FDA-mandated cigarette labels, that “The regulations are justified … because tobacco causes 443,000 premature deaths, and creates “$200 billion a year in health costs that we clearly could spend better elsewhere.” Following that logic, why not also mandate photos of lipo-suctioned fat on the menus at McDonald’s? Why not ban selling “King Size” bags of M&Ms or bars of Snickers? Surely these goods are also not beneficial to health, and the savings from less coronary bypass surgeries could be spent “better elsewhere” as well. It seems that Sebelius sees herself as...
  • LulzSec and Bitcoin Confusion

    June 22, 2011
    Two things most people have never heard of before have been in the news recently: Bitcoin and LulzSec. Over the weekend the largest Bitcoin exchange, MTGox, was hacked, compromising user accounts and devastating the exchange’s credibility. The attack involved a massive sell off of Bitcoins in  MTGox’s network, which is in the process of being rolled back. Yesterday, the arrest by British Police of a suspected LulzSec member was announced. So what’s the link between the two? Apparently The Guardian feels confident enough to invent one. An article catchily titled “LulzSec rogue suspected of Bitcoin hack” outlines an unsupported theory about the Mt. Gox fiasco. So, who exactly suspects LulzSec, besides The Guardian? Except for those regurgitating ...
  • A Peek Inside the Bureaucrat's Mind

    June 22, 2011
    By now, this story about the city of Portland, Oregon, deciding to drain nearly 8 million gallons of water from one of its reservoirs is old news. Portland Water Bureau administrator David Shaff decided to flush the water after a man was caught on a security camera urinating into the reservoir. There's already been lots of commentary on the utter senselessness of the decision. One comment on the Portland Oregonian's website nicely observed that:
    "More than 1 billion people worldwide do not have reliable access to clean drinking water, and here we are tossing away nearly 8 million gallons of water just to appease the ignorant residents who believe their tap water will otherwise turn yellow."
    Though I think Shaff himself said it best when he told the ...
  • Where Do TSA-Confiscated Items Go?

    June 22, 2011
    The TSA has a habit of confiscating security-unrelated items. Over at The American Spectator, I recall just such an experience that I had at O'Hare.
  • Improve Americans' Physical and Fiscal Health: Cut Out the FDA

    June 22, 2011

    President Obama made a big show about cutting “red tape” government regulations that kill jobs and hurt the economy. In addition, members of the Obama administration, including his wife, Michelle, claim they want to improve the health and well-being of Americans. If these are genuine policy goals of the current administration then a good place to start would be to stop the FDA from instituting any new policies.

    A news story today told the good news that the FDA approved a device for the iPhone that would combine a plug-in blood pressure monitor with an application purchased in the app store to monitor the health of the user....

  • More Proof That Unions Don't Improve Schools

    June 22, 2011
    Schools in right-to-work states (where unions are weak) are getting better and better over time compared to schools in heavily-unionized states. As Walter Russell Mead notes in "Blue State Schools: The Shame Of A Nation":
    When it comes to excellence in education, red states rule — at least according to a panel of experts assembled by Tina Brown’s Newsweek. Using a set of indicators ranging from graduation rate to college admissions and SAT scores, the panel reviewed data from high schools all over the country to find the best public schools in the country. The results make depressing reading for the teacher unions: the very best public high schools in the country are heavily concentrated in red states. Three...
  • Bed Bugs Now With Super Bug: Still Just a “Nuisance,” EPA?

    June 22, 2011
    As my colleague Angela Logomasini noted in a post in January, the EPA has rebuffed the desperate pleas of lawmakers and residents to un-ban certain pesticides for the treatment of bed bugs. When asked why Ohio’s Gov. Ted Strickland’s request for an emergency exemption to use two very effective, but banned pesticides to fight the parasites, Lisa Jackson, head administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency replied that bed bugs were simply “a nuisance.” “We're lucky -- bed bugs don't carry disease. But if you have to sleep in a bed and worry about being bitten all night, it sort of messes with your mind. And we...
  • Morning Media Summary

    June 22, 2011
    Tech: F.B.I. seizes web servers, knocks sites offline: “The F.B.I. seized Web servers in a raid on a data center early Tuesday, causing several Web sites, including those run by the New York publisher Curbed Network, to go offline.” Pentagon gets cyberwar guidelines: “President Barack Obama has signed executive orders that lay out how far military commanders around the globe can go in using cyberattacks and other computer-based operations against enemies and as part of routine espionage in other countries.” Global Warming / Environment / Energy: Gore Faults Obama on Global Warming: “Former Vice President Al Gore is...
  • "Uncertainty" Not the Whole Story of our Economic Doldrums

    June 21, 2011
    As those engaged in the policy battlefield, our focus is often on taking apart arguments used to advanced proposed solutions we disagree with. But sometimes it is useful to try to do the same with arguments being used to advance policies we happen to agree with. This is because if these arguments are flawed or incomplete, they may very well fail to convince those on the fence that the policy prescription we advocate is the correct one. An example is the argument that the economy doing so poorly because of "uncertainty." This is true -- but only to a point. With the thousands of pages of regulations from Obamacare and Dodd-Frank, there is certainly uncertainty about how these will be interpreted. Manufacturers, for instance, are...
  • New Bill Would Tax Online Gambling

    June 21, 2011
    Yet another online gambling bill to add to the pile, Rep. Jim McDermott introduced the igaming taxation and regulation bill that he unsuccessfully introduced in 2009. While McDermott's bill wouldn't legalize online gambling, it is companion legislation to the bill HR 1174 introduced earlier this year by Reps. John Campbell and Barney Frank, which would legalize and regulate online wagering. This time around, The Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act, (HR 2230), which was introduced today by Reps. Jim McDermott, John Campbell, and...

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