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OpenMarket: May 2012

  • EPA's Design to Strong-Arm the Chemical Industry

    May 18, 2012
    If you believe the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, its Design for the Environment (DfE) program is an example of a voluntary effort to protect the environment. In reality, it's nothing less than a tool designed strong-arm industry into abandoning useful products. The program calls on companies to eliminate certain chemicals from their products voluntarily, largely based on hazard rather than actual risk. The crux of the problem is the focus on “hazard,” which simply represents the potential for danger given specific circumstances and/or exposures. For example, water is hazardous because excessive consumption can produce fatal “water intoxification” or hyponatraemia.  But we don’t need to "voluntarily" take it off the market. Currently, the agency is using the DfE program to strong-arm the laundry industry to stop...
  • Rep. Nick Rahall Responds, Agrees with Me on MAP-21's "Sleight of Hand" Pay-Fors

    May 18, 2012
    This morning on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal," House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-W.V.) was read a passage from a blog post I wrote last month in which I blasted the Senate's Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). While declaring my claim that the smoke-and-mirrors funding provisions contained in MAP-21 are extremely worrisome "may or may not be true," he referred to the same provisions as "sleight of hands" (sic). However, he insisted "it is paid for" a number of times during the interview. Unfortunately for Rep. Rahall, he seems to have missed my entire point. The sleights of hand he refers to are "fiscal gimmickry" because the reality of them panning out as planned is far from certain. Not only,...
  • The Future of Automobility Is (Almost) Here: Google's Self-Driving Car

    May 18, 2012
    [caption id="attachment_55209" align="alignleft" width="350" caption="CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman about to take a spin in the Google car. (Photo by Marc Scribner)"][/caption] This morning, CEI's resident transportation policy junkies -- General Counsel Sam Kazman and myself -- had the opportunity to test-ride Google's prototype self-driving car in downtown Washington, D.C. In October 2010, I wrote about the Google driverless car's feat of secretly...
  • Give a Man a Fish

    May 18, 2012
    Those with an interest in conserving our oceans’ fish stocks and those with an interest in promoting private property should both be interested in my latest short study at CEI, "Give a Man a Fish." Here’s the introduction:
    Some policy makers and environmental advocacy groups are beginning to realize that the solution lies not in further government regulation, but in investing fishermen with property rights. However, government bureaucrats are also attempting to utilize this insight to gain even more power over fisheries, threatening to derail the momentum toward a more rational allocation of ocean resources. That would be bad news for both fish populations and the people who depend on them for their livelihood. The oceans are an important source of food and income for people around the world. In 2007, proteins from fish...
  • Land of the Free? Part 2: The Real War on Women

    May 18, 2012
    "How could it be illegal to sell something that it's perfectly legal to give away?" -- George Carlin The recent extra-curricular exploits of American Secret Service agents in Columbia have once again brought the World's Oldest Profession into the news. And once again, both opponents and proponents  of legalized prostitution are making their respective cases in a variety of public fora. The "con" arguments on legalized prostitution are many, but essentially break down into two types. 1) Moral: Selling the body for sex is an inherently debased and debasing activity that governments should restrict in order to protect the character of society, and 2) Practical: Prostitution breeds a variety of pathologies -- disease,...
  • Today's Links: May 18, 2012

    May 18, 2012
    OPINION HARLAN J. PROTASS: "The Criminal Crackdown on Insider Trading Is Stupid" "Pouring money into criminal insider trading cases is a huge waste of public resources. There is a much more cost-effective way to go after this particular form of fraud, and switching to it would free up prosecutorial resources to fight other economic crimes that pose a far greater danger to Main Street investors. [...] The government has at its disposal alternative methods for going after traders on insider information—civil charges that generate pocket-book penalties instead of criminal ones that lead to prison sentences. Civil charges are more proportional to the wrongdoing, less expensive...
  • Before Immigration Was Regulated: Pre-20th Century Migration

    May 18, 2012
    Early large-scale human migration is the story of dispersal, spreading out as resources were used up and populations expanded past sustainability. The Agricultural Revolution brought greater inter-community trade and migration, including significant migration from rural areas to cities. Empires created the most widespread intercultural migration yet, but it wasn’t until the Age of Exploration that migration and trade increased dramatically. Falling travel costs brought millions of (mostly free) migrants to the New World and other European colonies for employment. Economic liberalism reinforced this trend toward globalization, but world war, nationalism, and more effective bureaucratic states ended this free system. Humanity's great migration began in Africa around 80,000 years ago when the human population ...
  • Facebook, Overregulation, and the "Cheers IPOs": Unshackling the Next Facebook and Its Investors

    May 17, 2012
    Whether or not a retail investor buys shares of Facebook when it finally goes public tomorrow -- and OpenMarket provides public policy, rather than investment, advice -- the company's rise is something to celebrate. The firm's ascent is a tribute to brilliant and driven entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg, far-sighted venture capitalists like Peter Thiel, and (what's left of) America's free-market system and creative destruction. Yet the lengthy process leading up to Facebook's initial public offering (IPO) -- and the fact that it is going public only after becoming one of America's biggest companies -- illustrates how over-regulation of the stock market through laws like Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank has made it harder for investors to grow wealthy with emerging growth firms. These regulatory barriers on smaller and younger companies have also been fingered by a wide range of...
  • CEI Podcast for May 17, 2012: Ethanol's Overstated Benefits

    May 17, 2012
    Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis takes apart a study claiming that ethanol lowers gas prices by more than a dollar per gallon in some regions.
  • Tuna-Dolphin Issue -- Again a WTO Decision

    May 17, 2012
    No, tuna-dolphin is not a hybrid fish, but the subject of a long-standing trade dispute between Mexico and the United States arising from a 1990 U.S. law setting out requirements for a “dolphin safe” label for tuna products imported or sold in the U.S.  Because Mexican tuna fishermen use different methods for catching tuna than allowed under the labeling requirements, Mexico’s tuna imports to the U.S. have been limited.  Mexico challenged that law with the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2008, resulting in a Dispute Panel’s mixed decision in 2011.  In an important decision regarding Mexico’s appeal, an Appellate Body, on May 16, 2012, reversed...


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