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OpenMarket: October 2012

  • Today's Links: October 18, 2012

    October 18, 2012 10:30 AM


    LACHLAN MARKAY: "Another DOE-Backed Solar Company Goes Bankrupt"
    "A solar company that got a multi-million-dollar grant from the Department of Energy earlier this year announced Wednesday that it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, making it the second taxpayer-backed green energy company to file for bankruptcy this week."

    PETER SUDERMAN: "Obama Campaign Can't Make Obama's Deficit Math Add Up Either"
    "Obama's big debt reduction plan, which he claims would reduce national debt by $4 trillion, is also highly problematic. It's packed with gimmicks, and what debt reduction it might achieve would mostly come from tax hikes. And pressed to defend the plan, Obama's campaign has serious trouble."

    ERIC JAFFE: "Is It Harmful to Release Gang Maps?"
    "Chicago isn't the only city being what we might call a bit territorial about its gang knowledge. The Toledo Blade recently sued the city police department for refusing to release a 'gang boundaries map' that circulates internally. Earlier this year a King County detective questioned the accuracy of an interactive map of Seattle gangs produced by the blog Northwest Gangs."

  • Greece Fire: Unions Hold Up Negotiations On Austerity Measures

    October 18, 2012 9:41 AM

    This week, Greek officials and monetary lenders continued negotiations over the austerity measures the country must implement to save itself from economic collapse.

    Greece must pass a proposed measure that would cut public spending by 13.5 billion Euros in order to receive the next installment of its 173 billion euro bailout from international creditors: the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank -- known collectively as the troika. It’s crunch time in Greece; they are expected to be out of money by November so they must reach an agreement with lenders by the end of this month.

    Rumor has it that negotiations have gone fairly well. Reuters quotes IMF Mission Chief for Greece Poul Thomsen saying late Tuesday that both sides came to agreement on “most policy issues.”

    The lone holdup? Labor.

  • The True Cost Of The Auto Bailout

    October 18, 2012 8:29 AM

    By Matt Patterson and Crissy Brown

    Once upon a time, there was a company called General Motors. It made cars. But the company failed to adjust to changing market conditions, and that, combined with the high cost of its unionized workforce, drove it to insolvency. But before the doors were shuttered forever, a great and benevolent benefactor swooped in.

    That benefactor was you -- the American taxpayer..

    It was you who stepped in back in 2008 and flooded GM with billions from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), a desperate attempt to shore up a variety of decrepit institutions whose imminent collapse threatened the entire U.S. economy (or so we were told). The initial bailout was followed in summer 2009 with another round of auto stimulus; all told, the taxpayer tab for General Motors bailout was a cool $50.7 billion.

    What did we get for that money? Some jobs were saved. But President Barack Obama loves to embellish what the bailout actually achieved. He claimed at an April campaign event, for example, the bailout "saved probably a million jobs" and that "GM is now the No. 1 automaker again in the world."

    In truth, GM employed only 91,000 workers in the U.S. before it entered into bankruptcy in the summer of 2009. As John Lott notes for National Review, "[y]ou can reach a 400,000 total by assuming all of GM's jobs, as well as all the jobs of its parts suppliers and car dealers, would have been lost." In 2011, the entire U.S. auto industry employed only 717,000 people.

  • Obama Makes False Claim About Supreme Court Decision; Fact-Checkers Parrot It

    October 17, 2012 3:47 PM

    Reading a Supreme Court decision is so hard! If you are a fact-checker, it's much easier just to let President Obama, a critic of a Supreme Court decision, caricature the decision and then parrot the baseless caricature as if it were fact.

    The Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., said employees who want to bring a pay discrimination lawsuit under Title VII (the federal antidiscrimination law with the shortest deadline) generally have to file a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days. But it specifically left open the possibility they could sue later on -- even if they failed to file a timely EEOC complaint -- if they did not discover the discrimination until later. The case involved Lilly Ledbetter, who waited more than five years after learning of a pay disparity between her and her male co-workers to file an EEOC complaint.

    The White House falsely claimed “The Court ruled that employees subject to pay discrimination like Lilly Ledbetter must file a claim within 180 days of the employer’s original decision to pay them less . . . even if the employee did not discover the discriminatory reduction in pay until much later (check out Justice Alito’s arguments in the Court’s opinion).” In yesterday’s debate, Obama falsely claimed the Supreme Court said Ledbetter could not sue even if she had no way of discovering the discriminatory pay disparity. He said "the Supreme Court said that she couldn’t bring suit because she should have found about it earlier, whereas she had no way of finding out about it.”

    These claims are utterly false. The Supreme Court specifically left open the possibility employees who learn of the discrimination later can sue under the “discovery rule” exception to the 180-day deadline. In footnote 10 of its opinion, the Court wrote, "We have previously declined to address whether Title VII suits are amenable to a discovery rule. . . .Because Ledbetter does not argue that such a rule would change the outcome in her case, we have no occasion to address this issue."

  • Not All Jobs Are Created Equal

    October 17, 2012 3:39 PM

    By Matt Patterson & Crissy Brown, American Thinker

    Once upon a time, there was a company called General Motors.  It made cars.  But the company was poorly run, and the high cost of its unionized workforce drove it to insolvency.  But before the doors were shuttered forever, a great and benevolent benefactor swooped in and bailed out the failing company.

    That benefactor was you.

    And by you, we of course mean Uncle Sam, who in 2008 stepped in to flood GM with billions from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), a desperate attempt to shore up a variety of decrepit institutions whose imminent collapse threatened the entire U.S. economy (or so we were told).  The initial bailout was followed in summer 2009 with another round of auto stimulus; all told, the taxpayer tab for General Motors bailout was a cool $50.7 billion.

    What did we get for that money?  It's true that some jobs were saved.  But President Barack Obama loves to embellish what the bailout actually achieved.  He claimed at an April campaign event, for example, that the bailout "saved probably a million jobs" and that "GM is now the number-one automaker again in the world."

  • UNITE HERE President John Wilhelm To Step Down Following Turbulent Tenure

    October 17, 2012 3:22 PM

    John Wilhelm, the long-time president of the union UNITE HERE, has just announced he plans to step down. Union leadership changes are not often considered major events, but the end of Wilhelm's tenure is significant in that it closes a tumultuous chapter in his union's history.

    UNITE HERE formed as a result of the 2004 merger of two unions in two very different industries -- textiles and hospitality. UNITE stands for Union of Needletrades, Industrial & Textile Employees; HERE stands for Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees. Wilhelm was head of HERE, while Bruce Raynor headed UNITE.

    While mergers across different industries have become more common as a way for unions to cope with declining membership, the UNITE-HERE merger had a symbiotic logic of its own. In recent years, UNITE had seen its membership fall as a lot of textile manufacturing has moved offshore. HERE, on the other hand, has faced better organizing prospects, since hotels and restaurants, like most service industries, cannot be outsorced.

    So what did UNITE have to offer HERE? Quite simply, money -- via its control of Amalgamated Bank, the nation's only union-owned bank. Thus, with UNITE's resources and HERE's organizing prospects, the merged union would have a bright future. Or so it seemed, until union politics got in the way.

    From the outset, UNITE HERE adopted a clearly unsustainable bifurcated leadership structure. Raynor became the union's president, while Wilhelm headed its hospitality division. Raynor and Wilhelm would go on to clash, accusing each other of attempted power grabs.

  • During Debates, The Only Good Businesses Are Small Businesses

    October 17, 2012 10:59 AM

    During last night's debate, President Obama and Governor Romney referred to small business 23 times. (Obama did it eight times; Romney did it fifteen times.)

    But where was the love for big business? In both presidential debates, big business has been the big elephant in the room. Last night, while responding to a question about George W. Bush, Romney said:

    Our party has been focused on big business too long. I came through small business. I understand how hard it is to start a small business. That’s why everything I’ll do is designed to help small businesses grow and add jobs.

    It's not hard to understand why both Obama and Romney want to stick to talking about small business. Everyone likes small businesses—they're uncontroversially good. The streets of small-town America are lined with small stores and restaurants well-loved by their local communities.

    But are small businesses really the key to exponential job growth? Bill Aulet and Fiona Murray of MIT don't think so. In an op-ed in today's Boston Globe, Aulet and Murray draw an important distinction between two different routes to new job creation:

    There are small- and medium-sized companies created to offer traditional goods and services to a local or regional market. Think “mom and pop” operations. They include your yoga studio and the pizza place down the street. While valuable to the economy in general, these companies are not large enough to serve as a growth engine for the entire economy. They do, however, offer important opportunities for employment and provide valuable services.

  • China's High-Speed Rail Disaster Is Not A Model For The U.S.

    October 17, 2012 10:23 AM

    After taking office in 2009, President Obama aggressively marketed high-speed rail in the United States. (I noted at the time that most of what the administration called "high-speed rail" was in fact expensive slight upgrades to existing, money-losing passenger rail service.) After several states rejected rail funding and with California's planned L.A.-San Francisco corridor facing majority opposition, lawsuitsballooning costs, and generally dismal prospects, the Obama administration has largely downplayed its previous rail boosterism.

    In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama made high-speed rail a priority of his administration:

    Our infrastructure used to be the best, but our lead has slipped. South Korean homes now have greater Internet access than we do. Countries in Europe and Russia invest more in their roads and railways than we do. China is building faster trains and newer airports. Meanwhile, when our own engineers graded our nation's infrastructure, they gave us a "D."

    We have to do better. America is the nation that built the transcontinental railroad, brought electricity to rural communities, constructed the Interstate Highway System. The jobs created by these projects didn't just come from laying down track or pavement. They came from businesses that opened near a town's new train station or the new off-ramp.

  • Today's Links: October 17, 2012

    October 17, 2012 8:25 AM


    MATTHEW YGLESIAS: "Five Bad Ideas in Tonight's Debate"
    "E-Verify: Mitt Romney is normally very upset about the potential job-killing impact of regulations, except when it comes to the idea of creating new and stricter regulatory supervision of who businesses are hiring! It's easy to see why investing extra resources in hounding potential unauthorized migrants out of jobs would be bad for the migrants and their employers, but high levels of immigration also turns out to boost the wages of native-born American workers, so there's just no reason to do this."

    ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER EDITORIAL: "Romney Encounters Feistier Obama"
    "President Barack Obama's performance Tuesday surpassed that in his first debate with Gov. Mitt Romney. He fared much better on style, but on substance, his rhetoric in many instances didn't match his record. 'I think a lot of this campaign, maybe over the last four years, has been devoted to this notion that I think government creates jobs, that that somehow is the answer,' Mr. Obama said. 'That's not what I believe. I believe that the free-enterprise system is the greatest engine of prosperity the world's ever known.' Yet the Obama administration, in the first 26 months of his presidency, imposed 75 new major regulations. The costs to the private sector exceeded $40 billion, according to the Heritage Foundation."

    VIRGINIA POSTREL: "An Economics Nobel For Saving Lives"
    "[Alvin E.] Roth, whose 'market design' bridges economics and operations research, is known for developing algorithms to find the best available matches in real-world situations: medical residencies, public schools and -- the analogy to my child-care hypothetical --kidney transplants from living donors. 'He likes to study markets that don’t involve money,' says Michael Rees, a kidney transplant surgeon at the University of Toledo Medical Center in Ohio who has worked with Roth on paired kidney donations."

  • PATTERSON AND BROWN: Greece’s grim future portends Western decline

    October 16, 2012 6:29 PM

    By Matt Patterson and Chrissy Brown, The Washington Times

    In 490 B.C., the brand-new democracy at Athens faced its first existential challenge: a vast Persian army intent on crushing the Greek city-state for supporting the enemies of the Persian Emperor Darius the Great.

    The Athenian army and its allies numbered perhaps 10,000 men; the invading Persian forces, the sources tell us, numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Despite being outnumbered, the Greeks attacked the Persians on the plain of Marathon, about 26 miles from Athens. It was a rout. After a pitched battle, Darius' army was crushed and the Persian invasion thwarted.

    Today, 2,500 years later, an angry horde is succeeding where the Persian army failed: Greece’s public-sector unions are rioting in the streets and sacking the capital in protest of the government’s desperate attempts to save the nation from fiscal collapse, a collapse that is certain if things don’t change — soon.


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