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OpenMarket: March 2012

  • JOBS Act would Create More than 10 million Jobs

    March 8, 2012
    At long last, some truth in advertising in Congress! Today, the U.S. House of Representative is poised to pass a bipartisan "jobs bill" that will actually create jobs -- or rather cut away the red tape that is preventing the private sector from creating them. By liberalizing regulations that hold back emerging growth companies, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act -- set for a strong House vote today after backing from both the GOP leadership and the Obama administration -- would add more than 10 million jobs to the U.S. economy over the next decade. This is my conservative estimate based on the rate of jobs created by startup firms and the loss of jobs due to the regulation-induced dearth of IPO over the last decade. As I testified last month...
  • Human Achievement of the Day: Energy Harvesting Street Tiles

    March 8, 2012
    Imagine if there was a product that could harness the power of your footsteps and use that energy to power the devices around you? Now, imagine if whole sidewalks were paved with this material, harvesting the footsteps of millions of pedestrians every day? The inventive folks over at Pavegen Systems not only imagined it -- they did it. Based in the UK, Pavegen systems is a start-up tech firm headed by Laurence Kemball-Cook, an industrial design engineer. They created “Pavegen tiles,” which when tread upon convert the kinetic energy from footsteps into renewable electricity. The electricity is then stored in a lithium polymer battery. The tiles can also power off-grid items such as...
  • Science Washes Hype about "Toxic" Shampoo Down the Drain

    March 7, 2012
    Every now and then, government regulators manage to do something reasonable. Last week, the Canadians made a smart move by accepting hard science over hype related to a chemical used in personal care products, such as shampoo and skincare products. Canadian Environmental Ministers wanted to list it as a "toxic substance," but two years after a scientific review, claims about the chemical's alleged toxicity are washed away. An industry group representing the chemical reports:
    The Board of Review was composed of a panel of three renowned toxicologists appointed by the Canadian Environment Minister.  The panel conducted a comprehensive scientific evaluation to assess the behavior of...
  • Millionaire Collects Food Stamps; Food Stamps Cover Far More Than the Cost of Food

    March 7, 2012
    A millionaire in Michigan is collecting food stamps after winning the lottery. “Amanda Clayton, a 24-year-old from Lincoln Park, Michigan . . . is getting away with it. Clayton won $1 million from the Michigan State Lottery this fall, but she is still collecting and using $200 a month in food assistance from the taxpayers with her Michigan Bridge Card. 'I thought that they would cut me off, but since they didn’t, I thought maybe it was okay because I’m not working,' the lottery winner who just purchased a new house and car told Local 4 in Detroit. The...
  • Human Achievement of the Day: Malaria Vaccine

    March 7, 2012
    You may remember last year when the Human Achievement Hour blog highlighted mosquito-zapping lasers which selectively kill female, blood sucking mosquitoes and reduces the spread of malaria. This invention was needed, in part, as Michelle noted, due to the unfortunate demonization of DDT. “[Malaria, the mosquito-borne blood infection sickens more than 250 million people every year and kills a child every 43 seconds. Though DDT had been extremely successful in eradicating malaria in many parts of the world, baseless environmental concerns ultimately resulted in the banning of the technology, resurgence in the spread of malaria, and skyrocketing numbers of people infected.” ...
  • Ma Bell Is Long Gone, but Her Pension Costs Remain

    March 7, 2012
    AT&T is asking the Communications Workers of America (CWA), which represents a large segment of its workforce, for benefit concessions, as it tries to rein in costs, reports The Wall Street Journal. "AT&T declined to comment on specific concessions it is seeking in the talks that began last week," says Journal reporter Anton Troianovski. "But union leaders said it sought deep cuts in health-care, pension and sick-day benefits." Indeed, it would be surprising -- and remiss -- for the company not to seek to curb pension costs. Moreover, it should consider providing its workforce -- or at least new hires -- with defined contribution plans, such as 401(k) accounts, which pay out according to what the account can pay. Defined benefit pensions, by contrast,...
  • Senate Should Reject Anti-Tolling Highway Bill Amendment

    March 7, 2012
    I previously wrote about Sen. Herb Kohl's (D-Wisc.) terrible amendment to the Senate's MAP-21 bill that would allow the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission to engage in antitrust regulatory harassment of the railroad industry, something they are currently and justifiably prohibited from doing. This is arguably the worst "germane" amendment, but another comes close. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) submitted Amendment 1568 [PDF], which is essentially the same as the Amendment 223 [...
  • Back to Work

    March 7, 2012
    Over at RealClearPolicy, I review Bill Clinton's latest book, Back to Work.
  • Today's Links: March 7, 2012

    March 7, 2012
    OPINION TYLER COWEN: "Matt Yglesias' New Book" "If people were the size of ants, without encountering any absurdities of physics or biology, how would the 'public choice' of urban building change?  Would urban centers be equally exclusionary? How much space do we need to live? If zoning stays too tight, are there (second best) general negative externalities from storage? I don’t recall Matt calling for the widespread privatization of government-owned land, but would he agree this is the logical next step?" ANDREW COHEN: "...
  • Bloomberg News: "Boom-Era Property Speculators to Get Foreclosure Aid"

    March 6, 2012
    "The Obama administration will extend mortgage assistance . . . to investors who bought multiple homes before the market imploded, helping some speculators who drove up prices and inflated the housing bubble," reports Bloomberg News. "Landlords can qualify for up to four federally-subsidized loan workouts starting around May, as long as they rent out each house or have plans to fill them, under the revamped Home Affordable Modification Program, also known as HAMP, according to Timothy Massad, the Treasury’s assistant secretary for financial stability. The program pays banks to reduce monthly payments by cutting interest rates, stretching terms, and forgiving principal." "John Burns, an Irvine, California-based real estate consultant, said it’s 'ridiculous' for...

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