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OpenMarket: October 2011

  • Truck Drivers Don't Need a Revised Hours-of-Service Rule

    October 18, 2011
    The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is poised to enact a revised hours-of-service (HOS) rule that would greatly impact commercial motor vehicle operators. The Public Citizen/Teamsters-led charge to reduce the number of hours truck drivers can legally operate combines the misguided nanny-statist philosophy of the Public Citizen Naderites -- who claim to support to move due to claimed safety and health benefits -- with the naked rent-seeking of the Teamsters union, which wants the government to forcibly reduce labor productivity in an effort to increase its potential membership pool due to new hires that would be necessary to perform the same amount of work. Earlier this year, CEI filed...
  • Today's Links: October 18, 2011

    October 18, 2011
    OPINION WILLIAM D. COHAN: "Occupy Wall Street Loves Capitalism's Pearls" "It's no surprise that Occupy Wall Street's preferred methods for getting out its message are the social-networking powerhouses Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. [...] Of course, these three companies are all backed by wealthy venture capitalists expecting to become even wealthier when these closely held businesses take advantage of the Wall Street- enabled market for initial public offerings. Did someone forget to tell Hedges et al. that Facebook is backed by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., may have a market capitalization of about $100 billion if it goes public next year, and its co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg, is thought to be worth $17.5...
  • The Unemployment Discrimination Myth

    October 18, 2011
    The defunct American Jobs Act, which Hans skewered so well a while back, contains a provision to end "discrimination against the unemployed." Apparently, there are thousands of job advertisements out there that say "unemployed need not apply" or words to that effect. So not only would this be made illegal, but bureaucrats would be empowered to punish firms that exhibited such discrimination. The threat of investigation would probably be enough to kill off what hiring is currently going on overnight. But is this even a problem? There's anecdotal evidence, but anything more than that? Online job board ResumeBear.com took a look:
    What I didn’t find: Any...
  • SEC Jumps into Cybersecurity Debate

    October 18, 2011
    Much of the cybersecurity focus this year has been on Congress’s efforts to mandate data breach notifications and security standards. Now the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is entering the fray. On Friday, The Washington Post reported that the agency issued a guidance document instructing publicly traded companies on the procedures they must follow relating to cybersecurity issues. The SEC makes clear that these obligations are preexististing, and that the guidelines merely clarify the requirements...
  • Dangerous Green Hype about Cosmetics

    October 18, 2011
    Today, CEI releases the first of a series of studies on chemicals and the precautionary principle. Activist groups around the nation have been calling for greater regulation of chemicals, which they say would protect the public from the scourge of such things as cancer. In reality, their claims are based on junk science and their prescriptions threaten to undermine public health. CEI’s first paper addresses activist hype related to cosmetics. Author Dana Joel Gattuso explains why consumers should not fall for the activist hype attacking cosmetics and other personal care products. In particular, she points out that if lawmakers followed consumer advice and removed certain chemicals from cosmetics, public health would suffer: “Present in quantities so small...
  • Cut the Capital Gains Tax and Government Spending to Create Jobs and Promote Technological Advances

    October 17, 2011
    In today’s Wall Street Journal, Amity Schlaes notes that cuts in the capital gains tax were one of the key factors that paved the way for Steve Jobs and other innovators, and increased the flow of venture capital that created jobs and resulted in technological advances. (Schlaes recently wrote an interesting book about the economic history of the Depression, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression.) I wrote earlier about ...
  • Soviet Planning Fails... Even in America

    October 17, 2011
    In 1920, Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises predicted that the Soviet socialist system would fail. “Imagine the plight of a [Soviet] director when faced with a project,” he wrote later in Human Action. “What he needs to know is whether or not the execution of the project will increase well-being, that is, add something to the wealth available without impairing the satisfaction of wants which he considers more urgent. But none of the reports he receives give him any clue to the solution of this problem… Eliminate economic calculation and you have no means of making a rational choice between the various alternatives.” After he retired, former U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration Director Orson Swindle admitted that Mises was right. “The minute politics enters the equation,” he...
  • Revolting Youth in Revolt

    October 17, 2011
    Conservatives who are enjoying a chuckle over the protesters occupying Wall Street (and an increasing number of public spaces across the country) would do well to hold their mockery and reflect on a few sobering facts:
    1. The post-industrial economy demands highly-specialized skills in order to fill ever-fewer highly specialized jobs.
    2. An entire generation has been raised by YouTube and Twitter to believe that their every thought and want is worthwhile, that they are born stars inherently deserving of wealth and success.
    3. Structural deficiencies “baked into the cake” of our socioeconomic fabric -- the entitlement state, a vast and expensive federal bureaucracy, punitive tax and regulatory policies -- have made it harder and harder for businesses to grow and create jobs, and thus harder and harder for the economy to grow.
    These propositions add up to a...
  • Bourgeois Dignity

    October 17, 2011
    The liberal's job, then, is to legitimize the entrepreneur and the innovator, morally, ethically, and aesthetically, as well as economically. That wonderful project we call modernity hinges on it.
  • The Compassion of Adam Smith

    October 14, 2011
    It's much more fashionable to attack Adam Smith these days than to read him. Yes, he favored economic liberalism, which wasn't exactly in style in his time. Nor is it in ours. History remembers him as cold and calculating. But in real life, he was neither. There are two main drivers behind Smithian liberalism, neither of them cold or calculating. One is that man is a social animal. The foundation of Smith's moral theory is the impartial spectator theory. People figure out the right thing to do by asking themselves if an impartial third party would approve of their actions. Empathy -- thinking of others and feeling for them -- is at the very heart of Smithian morality. Take trade, for example. Smith is well known for being an ardent free trader. But why? Because trade is an inherently peaceful act.It is moral. If you have something I want, I'm not going to hit you over the head and...

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