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OpenMarket: November 2011

  • Sen. Hagan Bill Would Expand Accelerated Drug Approval

    November 17, 2011
    According to Bloomberg News, North Carolina Democratic Senator Kay Hagan is set to introduce a bill that would create new "progressive" and "exceptional" approval processes for new drugs to treat unmet needs. These would be similar to the FDA's existing "accelerated approval" process, open primarily to AIDS and cancer drugs, which permits the agency to grant a conditional approval once intermediate clinical trials demonstrate improvement in a so-called "surrogate end-point" such as tumor shrinkage. Once granted accelerated approval, these drugs must still complete more rigorous Phase III...
  • Maryland's Governor Spends $553,000 on Pianos at Left-Wing Junk College

    November 17, 2011
    Maryland's governor just decided to shower money on Bowie State University, a school that is almost as bad as a diploma mill. When I applied to college, Bowie State's median SAT score was 617 total -- out of 1600. (My SAT score was 1520.) You could get nearly that score by leaving the entire test blank except for your name (you got a quarter of a point for each blank answer, to discourage random guessing.) One of my high-school history teachers went there despite its bad quality because it was right near his house. He took courses like "arithmetic for college students," and although he never fully mastered arithmetic, he was a genius compared to many of his classmates (who viewed him as a strangely studious egghead). Bowie State is a monotonously left-wing place, and one of its professors was famous for claiming that the U.S. government invented AIDS as a conspiracy to kill blacks. Now...
  • Retailers Won't Destroy Thanksgiving

    November 17, 2011
    Every holiday season features a slew of laughable articles denouncing the destruction of American tradition. Meghan Cox Gurdon’s piece in The Washington Examiner today is more of the same. She attacks Target, Wal-Mart, and other retailers (“co-evils,” she calls them) for their decision to open stores on Thanksgiving. She says, “Something beautiful is being smashed.” It’s a “breach of civic decency,” a “horrible stain over the Thanksgiving table.” Why? Retailers aren’t invading homes or dumping products and advertisements on the turkey. Nor are customers being forced out of their homes at gunpoint. The knowledge that some store somewhere is operating won’t ruin my potatoes or make me trample grandma on my way to the door. Cox Gurdon claims, “If getting big...
  • Fannie and Freddie's Double Outrage -- Millions in Bonuses and Subsidies for Millionaire Mortgages

    November 17, 2011
    Yesterday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing on the granting of nearly $13 million in bonuses for executives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The day before, all but four member of the House Financial Services Committee voted to strip these bonuses for the failed government-sponsored enterprises and subject them to the federal pay scale. (Horror of horrors, the Fannie executives wouldn't be able to make more than the vice president's salary of $230,000!) But when it comes to aiding millionaires,  Americans should be doubly outraged at Fannie and Freddie and at their enablers in Congress. Some of the very same members of Congress expressing outrage about the bonuses may be on the verge of enlarging Fannie and Freddie's role in...
  • CEI Podcast for November 17, 2011: Conflict Guitars

    November 17, 2011
    CEI Founder and President Fred Smith talks about why restricting conflict mineral trade can mean more violence, not less. He also discusses why the Gibson guitar company was unjustly raided by the federal government.
  • Super Committee Follies

    November 16, 2011
    Imagine a home is on fire. Now imagine the inhabitants of that home arguing among themselves about how to put out the conflagration, or even if they should do so. As the flames draw near, the ceiling nears collapse, the smoke chokes their lungs, they finally agree to try and agree to procure a Dixie Cup full of water to fight the fire, and they give themselves a deadline to do it. If you think this type of comical dithering in the face of mortal danger would be insane, you’d be right. If you think it sounds a lot like what Congress is doing with its extra-constitutional “Super committee,” a delegation of 12 House and Senate members (never has that word been more accurate) charged with finding some way to cut the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over ten years, you'd also be right. If the super committee cannot agree on cuts by their November 23 deadline, well, CNN...
  • Today's Links: November 16, 2011

    November 16, 2011
    OPINION BRINK LINDSEY: "The Start-Up Act: Blueprint for an Innovation Recovery" "The best way to promote innovation is to clear the way for the main agents of innovation: the entrepreneurs who create new businesses. Existing firms innovate, but their contributions are usually incremental -- improvements in existing products or production processes, or the introduction of new products through pursuit of well-established R&D agendas. When it comes to so-called discontinuous or disruptive innovation -- the kinds of breakthroughs that topple the status quo and give rise to whole new industries -- the catalysts of change tend to be new firms. " INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY EDITORIAL: "...
  • High-Speed Fail: Even Left-Leaning Washington Post Criticizes Obama Administration Rail Boondoggles in California and Elsewhere

    November 16, 2011
    Even the left-leaning Washington Post, which has not endorsed a Republican for President since 1952, is getting fed up with the Obama administration's desire to waste billions on impractical high-speed rail boondoogles that would transport few people at enormous cost (while providing work at inflated wages for politically-powerful unions). In an editorial entitled "California's High-...
  • Online DVD Rental Antitrust Litigation / Wal-Mart/Netflix Settlement

    November 16, 2011
    Class members (including me) are getting email notice of a class action settlement with Wal-Mart in the Online DVD Rental Antitrust Litigation, No. M 09-2029 PJH (N.D. Cal.). Wal-Mart will pay $27,250,000, in "cash and gift cards" to a settlement fund to be distributed to the class and lawyers.

    Of course, there are 40 million class members. That's 68 cents a class member. And you can only get cash if you spend 44 cents on a stamp to submit your claim, though it's possible to ask for a gift card on line.

    But wait, there's more. The attorneys and class representatives are asking for $8,592,500 of the $27 million. And "notice and administration costs"—the amount of which is entirely undisclosed—will be deducted from the $27 million before the class will get anything. (This contradicts what the parties...
  • House Republicans' Shortsighted Proposal to Fund Roads through More Drilling

    November 16, 2011
    Recently, Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives have proposed opening up more federal land and offshore areas to natural resource extraction. Such a move would both increase domestic energy production and raise government revenues through royalty payments. During the current economic slump and resulting fiscal crunch, anything that can increase the quantity of energy supplied and reduce government deficits should be lauded. But what some Republican members of Congress propose to spend these revenues on is far from laudable. Led by House Speaker John Boehner, some in the Republican caucus wish to pour oil and natural gas lease revenues into the Highway Trust Fund, which has suffered from severe shortfalls for several years now. Right now, a six-year surface transportation reauthorization proposal ("the...

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