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OpenMarket: November 2011

  • The Great Receding

    November 3, 2011
    When I moved into my suburban Washington, D.C., neighborhood three years ago, the nearby town center was a thriving hub of restaurants, shops and theaters, where boutique dealers of furniture and knick-knacks rubbed shoulders with high-end eateries of all kinds. But lately, when I've stopped by some of these shops and eateries, with a meal or a gift in mind, I have increasingly encountered a sickening sight: Closed doors. In fact by my own informal tally, at least a half dozen businesses within a few blocks of my front door have gone belly up since my arrival -- a lot, it seems to me, especially given such a small area in such a short amount of time. It remains to be seen how many new businesses will rush in to fill the void, but so far some windows have remained dark for more than a year. Don't get me wrong. It's still a nice neighborhood, and there's still lots to do. But the...
  • Hayek and Conservatives

    November 3, 2011
    F.A. Hayek is an unlikely conservative hero. After all, this is a man who titled one of his most famous essays “Why I Am Not a Conservative.” He self-identified as a liberal -- in the original sense of the word, which more or less means what we would today call libertarian. Since liberalism took on an entirely different meaning during the 20th century, Hayek wrote that he would settle for being called an Old Whig. But he could not stand to be called a conservative. For one, he believed that “the conservative does not object to coercion or arbitrary power so long as it is used for what he regards as the right purposes. He believes that if government is in the hands of decent men, it ought not be too much restricted by rigid rules.”* Sounds an...
  • CEI Podcast for November 3, 2011: Scary Makeup

    November 3, 2011
    Senior Fellow Angela Logomasini debunks scare stories that chemicals in makeup and other household products cause cancer, neurological disorders, birth defects, and other health problems.
  • Spectrum Crunch Hype is No Scam

    November 2, 2011
    In a recent Washington Times op-ed, Mark Hyman of the Sinclair Broadcast Group makes some compelling arguments calling for a spectrum inventory. His suggestion that the NTIA and FCC fulfill their mandate from President Bush in 2003 to increase spectrum efficiencies is on point and laudable. It’s certainly true that plenty of spectrum currently sitting in government hands could be put to better use, and thus a part of the problem is spectrum management. But that’s about all Hyman gets right. His assertion that the “looming spectrum crisis” is a ruse manufactured by FCC Chairman Genachowski and parroted by major cell phone companies is completely erroneous. Hyman points to “the only independent study” on this subject to support this claim, one conducted by Citigroup. That...
  • Washington State Alcohol Intiative Takes on Three-Tier Mandates

    November 2, 2011
    Action this Election Day in Washington State may send tremors across America by cracking open the anti-consumer, anti-competitive alcohol regulations in that state. Initiative #1183 strikes at the heart of a government-enforced three-tier system for distributing alcohol, which is common in most states. This system requires alcohol producers and importers to sell only to wholesalers, who in turn are the only source from which retailers may purchase their inventory. Most states also ban “vertical integration,” preventing any single company from owning and operating businesses in more than one tier. These mandates benefit the middlemen -- alcohol wholesalers -- by ensuring they get a cut in the profits on every sale. But it’s bad for everyone else from consumers to small wine, spirits, and beer producers....
  • Wealthy Chanhassen, Minnesota, NIMBYs Oppose Retail Competition, Support Development Socialism

    November 2, 2011
    Reading the tired, silly claims of left-wing, anti-Wal-Mart activists generally makes me yawn. But it annoys me to see some of my former neighbors from my hometown of Chanhassen, Minnesota, going around trampling on property rights and opposing the liberalization of the real estate market. Let's start with a demographic profile of modern Chanhassen. When my parents moved our family there in the early 1990s, large parts of the city were still undeveloped. It was on the fringe of the southwestern Minneapolis suburbs. Since then, the city has developed rapidly due to its close proximity to the Minneapolis-St. Paul core -- leading to population doubling over the past two decades, with most of the growth coming from upper-middle class families with children. According to the 2010 Census, households are quite wealthy, with 48.6 percent of them earning at least $100,000 annually. Only 2.1...
  • The War on Ladies' Night

    November 2, 2011
    Let's face it: If you're the proprietor of a bar that caters to a predominantly heterosexual crowd, it's in your financial interest to attract female customers. Not only will women spend money at your bar they might have spent elsewhere---men will spend more than they might have. Unless there's a very interesting game on TV, your average male customer will generally prefer drinking in an establishment in which there's at least a smattering of women. And thus, once upon a time, bars began promoting ladies' night discounts in hopes of becoming staple locales for Girls Night Out, that fabled feminine tradition that is the stuff that romantic comedies (and most Sex and the City episodes) are made on. But ladies' nights are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Richard Thompson Ford, author of Rights Gone Wrong: How Law Corrupts the Struggle for Equality,...
  • Alcohol Regulation Roundup: November 2, 2011

    November 2, 2011
    A round up of the interesting booze-related news stories from around the nation. Hint: the two best are at the end. National: Our nation’s leaders will spend part of the day gettin’ crunked in the name lower taxes and small businesses. The Autumn Capitol Hill Beer Tasting, happing today (Nov. 2) will feature 15 small brewers from around the country offering their bubbly beverages to over 500 members of Congress and their staffers. The event, organized by the Brewers Association and the National Beer Wholesalers Association, is in support of the Small Brewers Act (HR 1236), which would reduce the federal excise tax on small producers of beer. ...
  • Bank of America Debit Decision Doesn't Negate Dodd-Frank's Costs to Consumers

    November 1, 2011
    Bank of America and other banks are cancelling plans to impose monthly debit card fees. This was one of the ways Bank of America, as well as regional banks such as SunTrust and Regions (both of whom also have shelved the new fees), planned to recoup  about $12 billion a year in revenue lost to price controls from the Durbin Amendment of Dodd-Frank. That measure, as implemented by the Federal Reserve on October 1, limits the interchange fee a bank or credit union can charge a retailer to process a debit card transaction to about 21 cents, no matter how expensive the purchase is. So this backing down in the face of not so implicit pressure from politicians -- from the president on down -- is giving supporters of Dodd-Frank and the Durbin Amendment something to cheer about. "See Dodd-Frank isn't...
  • New Jersey Voters Likely to Support Legalizing Sports Betting

    November 1, 2011
    In just one week, New Jersey voters will have their say on whether or not the state should pursue legalizing sports betting. According to preliminary results, residents overwhelming favor legalization. Yet, even if residents are 100 percent in favor of sports betting, the process of actually making it legal, like a "Jersey Shore" character, is going to be loud and ugly. That’s because there are several federal laws that make the activity illegal in all but four states. State Senator Ray Lesniak has been attempting for years to overturn the federal ban on sports betting, a ban he believes is unconstitutional. As I...

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