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OpenMarket: November 2011

  • My Job Creation Proposal

    November 16, 2011
    Over at The American Spectator, I break down the debate over regulation's impact on the job market and propose one regulation that could create countless jobs:
  • Farm Bill Negotiated In Secrecy

    November 15, 2011
    The Hill reports that a new “secret Farm Bill” will be included with the super committee’s debt deal. As The Hill points out, legislators are “using the super committee to avoid what would be a more public, election-year debate in 2012, when the current farm bill expires and new legislation would be scheduled for writing.” As mentioned on OpenMarket before, this presents a big moral hazard problem. Legislators are using the secrecy and lack of accountability present in super committee deliberations and adding legislation beneficial only to narrow sectors of the economy. In the farm bill’s case, the super committee asked members of the Agriculture Committee to come up with $23 billion...
  • Debating Return-Free Taxes: Rep. Jim Cooper Responds

    November 15, 2011
    Last week, I made the case against return-free taxes in an op-ed in The Hill. Under such a system, the IRS would prepare your taxes for you. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) is the sponsor of a bill that would institute a return-free program. He responded to my criticisms in a letter to the editor that ran yesterday. He explains his position, and for some reason also throws an ad hominem my way. I’ve met Rep. Cooper and have worked with him and his staff on several occasions. We disagree on this issue, but overall I have a positive opinion of him. He is more philosophical and better-read than the average congressman, but he doesn’t seem to quite understand my position. Rep. Cooper argues:...
  • Penny-Wise, Pound-Foolish on NASA

    November 15, 2011
    On Sunday, flights to the ISS resumed for the first time since the retirement of the Shuttle last summer. As I've discussed here in the past, NASA is now paying Russia $62M per ticket to deliver astronauts to the space station (included in that price is the use of the Soyuz spacecraft as a three-person "lifeboat" for the station while docked to it, a function that the Shuttle never served because it could only stay in orbit for a couple weeks). Given that the Russians are now monopoly providers for both these services, the price is likely to go up with any renewed contracts in future years. The only realistic solution to this problem is to get multiple competitive domestic providers on line as soon as possible, which NASA is attempting to do with its commercial crew...
  • Obama Administration Promotes Panic Over "Bullying" To Incite Attacks on Students' Rights and Well-Being

    November 15, 2011
    Obama administration officials call bullying an “epidemic” and a “pandemic.” But in reality, bullying and violence have steadily gone down in the nation’s schools, as studies funded by the Justice Department have shown.  As the Associated Press noted in 2010, “There's been a sharp drop in the percentage of America's children being bullied or beaten up by their peers, according to a new national survey by experts . . . The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, found that the percentage of children who reported being physically bullied over the past year had declined from nearly 22 percent in 2003 to under 15 percent in 2008.” The myth that bullying has...
  • Cronyism: Obama Administration Showers Your Tax Dollars on Shifty Wall Street Operator and Liberal Donor

    November 15, 2011
    In a corrupt deal, the Obama administration is paying a shifty Wall Street operator's firm an extravagantly inflated price for an unneeded vaccine, at a cost to taxpayers of hundreds of millions of dollars. The Los Angeles Times has taken note:
    Over the last year, the Obama administration has aggressively pushed a $433-million plan to buy an experimental smallpox drug, despite uncertainty over whether it is needed or will work. Senior officials have taken unusual steps to secure the contract for New York-based Siga Technologies Inc., whose controlling shareholder is billionaire Ronald O. Perelman, one of the world's richest men and a longtime Democratic Party donor. When Siga complained that contracting specialists at the Department of Health and Human Services were...
  • What's in My Makeup Bag? -- Junkscience

    November 14, 2011
    The Oregon Environmental Council and the regional government for the Portland, Oregon, metropolitan area recently released a survey of young women regarding their personal care product use, entitled What's in My Makeup Bag? This report suggests that the young women are uninformed about the chemical risks posed by their makeup. But rather than offer women and the public-at-large sound and balanced information about cosmetics and health, the survey authors push misinformation and junk science. CEI has already debunked most of their points in various publications, with particular detail to the cosmetics industry in our recent paper on cosmetics: ...
  • Today's Links: November 14, 2011

    November 14, 2011
    OPINION KATIE ROIPHE: "In Favor of Dirty Jokes and Risqué Remarks" "Codes of sexual harassment imagine an entirely symmetrical universe, where people are never outrageous, rude, awkward, excessive or confused, where sexual interest is always absent or reciprocated, in other words a universe that does not entirely resemble our own. We don’t legislate against meanness, or power struggles, or political maneuvering, or manipulation in offices, and how could we? So should we be legislating against rogue flirtations, the floating out of invitations? Obviously there is a line, which if the allegations against Mr. Cain are true, he has crossed, but there are many behaviors loosely included under the creative, capacious...
  • Crony Capitalism and the Space Program

    November 14, 2011
    Over at The Weekly Standard today, I describe how the desire of politicians to steer pork to their constituents is undermining actual progress in space, damaging our balance of payments with respect to Russia, and harming our national security. It's worth noting that yesterday, because of such feckless policies, we just sent our astronauts up to International Space Station on a Russian vehicle for the first time since the Shuttle retired last summer (the flight was actually supposed to happen in September, but Russian launch failures a couple of months ago had delayed it). It is now our only way to get there, yet Congress refuses to appropriate adequate funding to solve the problem quickly, while pouring billions into a rocket with no mission and that will...
  • Supreme Court Grants Review in Case Challenging Obamacare as Unconstitutional

    November 14, 2011
    The Supreme Court today granted certiorari in the Obamacare cases brought by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business. The court allotted 5 1/2 hours for arguments in the case. That's many times the length of a typical Supreme Court argument, and probably more time than was devoted to any other case in the last century, says Supreme Court commentator Lyle Denniston. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit had declared the health care law's individual mandate (requirement that individuals buy health insurance) unconstitutional as beyond Congress's power under the Interstate Commerce Clause (Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution). But it declined to strike down the rest of Obamacare, including provisions that even the government conceded were intertwined with,...

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