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OpenMarket: January 2013

  • Europe's Green Building Boondoggle: Benefits By 2064

    January 15, 2013
    A report released yesterday by the European Court of Auditors exposed the European Union’s €5 billion boondoggle into increasing “energy efficiency” in public buildings. Within the three countries that received most of the funds -- Italy, Lithuania, and the Czech Republic—the audit estimated that the time it would take for energy savings to compensate for project cost (the “payback period”) averaged a whopping 51 years. In reality, such benefits will never accrue because the renovations made will certainly be in dire need of repair and further renovation before then. How is such inefficiency possible? Because governments receiving the funds spent them without concern for cost. The report states:
    None of the audited countries had approved cost-optimal minimum energy performance requirements for...
  • Worthwhile Pension Reform Proposal in the Old Dominion

    January 14, 2013
    When trying to get out of a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging. When the hole is a state pension deficit, it's also a good idea to throw away the shovel. The shovel in this case is defined benefit (DB) pensions, which are structured in a way that makes deficits likely. Defined benefit pensions depend on a combination of investments and contributions from employers and employees for funding to pay obligations to retirees. Investment returns vary from one year to the next, so a period of underperforming investments can lead to a shortfall in a pension plan's assets relative to its funding projections. This happens surprisingly often because many pension plan managers calculate their contributions against discount rates based on unrealistically high year-on-year...
  • Obamacare Imposes New Fees, Cost Increases On The Public

    January 14, 2013
    Obamacare was sold to the public based on the fallacy that it would cut healthcare costs, but each month brings additional evidence that it will drive up healthcare costs instead. The New York Times reported last week that "health insurance companies across the country are seeking and winning double-digit increases in premiums for some customers, even though one of the biggest objectives of the Obama administration’s health care law was to stem the rapid rise in insurance costs for consumers. Particularly vulnerable to the high rates are small businesses and people who do not have employer-...
  • CEI's Battered Business Bureau: The Week In Regulation

    January 14, 2013
    52 new regulations, from nematodes to tiltorotors.
  • CEI Podcast For January 14, 2013: Meet Lawson Bader

    January 14, 2013
    CEI has a new president, and his name is Lawson Bader. He comes to us from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where he was vice president. He is here to introduce himself and talk about what the future holds for CEI.
  • Mother Tackles Hype About Chemicals On "Stossel"

    January 11, 2013
    The Independent Women’s Forum’s Senior Fellow Julie Gunlock takes on hype related to bisphenol A and chemicals in general on Fox Business Network’s “Stossel.” Gunlock outlines why smart moms like her need not fall for the false claims and alarmism related to trace chemicals in consumer products. Watch it below:
  • Is Liberty Innocent Until Proven Guilty?

    January 11, 2013
    "What I haven't heard is one coherent reason any civilian in America needs an AR-15 military style assault rifle." That was Piers Morgan debating gun control with Ben Shapiro on CNN yesterday. The question -- and even Shapiro’s response -- betrays a fundamental confusion about the basis for a free society. Free societies place the responsibility on those who would restrain the freedom of an individual to justify their action, not on the individual to justify his freedom. But the proponents of government action have completely inverted this premise -- government power now requires little justification -- it is presumed valid -- and exercising liberty requires a great deal of justification. I have noticed this distressing trend in my policy area, immigration. Today, if an American employer wishes to hire a foreigner, he must...
  • Southwest Airlines drink voucher coupon settlement

    January 11, 2013
    Southwest gives away "premium drink" (i.e., "beer") coupons worth $5 to customers who buy a Business Select ticket. Of course, not everyone drinks, and half of the coupons are thrown away. After giving out 11 million or so of these coupons, Southwest changed its policy and held that the premium drink vouchers were only good on the day of the flight for which they were sold. A class action was born, alleging bait and switch. There's a lot of publicity over the settlement; Southwest Airlines is giving away new coupons, i.e., free beer. Press coverage accepts the claim of class counsel that the coupons, which will expire in a year, and are only good in flight, are worth "perhaps more than $29 million"; papers in support of the settlement go even further and ascribe a value of...
  • Qualified Mortgage Rule Is One Of Many Dodd-Frank Boots To Drop

    January 10, 2013
    The first thing that should be said about today's "qualified mortgage" rule is that it is just one of many new regulations the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will issue under Dodd-Frank. Believe it or not, the 2,500 pages of Dodd-Frank contains both a "qualified mortgage" rule and a "qualified residential mortgage" rule, the latter of which has yet to be issued. And the powerful and unaccountable CFPB -- subject to a lawsuit by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the 60 Plus Association, and the State National Bank of Big Spring (Texas), a community bank -- still has the incredibly broad power to ban a mortgage or any other financial product it deems "abusive." The "qualified mortgage" regulation involves the types of mortgages banks...
  • How About Some Intellectual Diversity At The Labor Department?

    January 10, 2013
    As the cabinet turns: Hilda Solis announced this week that she will soon be stepping down from her post as secretary of labor. Solis, a former Congresswoman from California who served as Obama’s labor chief since 2009, explained in an email to staffers that her decision was made over the holiday:
    I enjoyed my first opportunity in years to reflect on the past and my future, with an open mind and an open heart… After much discussion with family and close friends, I have decided to begin a new future, and return to the people and places I love and that have inspired and shaped my life.
    Solis pointed with especial...

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