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OpenMarket: January 2013

  • Teaching Self-Esteem Undermines Students' Academic Achievement

    January 10, 2013
    Self-control, not self-esteem, leads to success, researchers have found. Indeed, teaching self-esteem actually harms students' achievement and work ethic. "In one study, university students who’d earned C, D and F grades 'received encouragement aimed at boosting their self-worth.' They did worse than students with similar grades whose self-esteem had been left alone. 'An intervention that encourages [students] to feel good about themselves, regardless of work, may remove the reason to work hard,'" notes “Roy Baumeister, a Florida State professor who’s studied the topic for years. 'Self-control is much more powerful and well-supported as a cause of personal success,' he says." A year ago, The Washington Post...
  • Getting Buchanan Wrong

    January 9, 2013
    The New York Times obituary for James Buchanan is up. The opening paragraph contains a whopper of an error:
    James M. Buchanan, a scholar and author whose analyses of economic and political decision-making won the 1986 Nobel in economic sciences and shaped a generation of conservative thinking about deficits, taxes and the size of government, died on Wednesday in Blacksburg, Va. He was 93.
    The author of the piece, Robert McFadden, might be surprised to learn that in 2005 Buchanan wrote a book titled...
  • James Buchanan, 1919-2013

    January 9, 2013
    Economics has lost one of its greats. James Buchanan has passed away at age 93. Born on a Tennessee farm in 1919, he continued working as a farmhand to put himself through college, milking cows twice a day. From there he went on to a long and varied career, culminating in his being awarded the 1986 economics Nobel. He won that Nobel for his role in developing public choice theory. After the Prize Committee made its announcement, a flock of economically innocent reporters asked him to explain what the heck that was. They were astonished at his simple answer: it is applying the economic way of thinking to politics. It is treating politicians the same as everyone else -- self-interested, responsive to incentives, a bit vain, eager to please and be pleased -- flesh and blood human beings, basically. The reporters scoffed; why, that’s nothing more than common sense! Maybe so, he replied....
  • U.S.-EU Trade Negotiations Will Have Some Sticking Points

    January 8, 2013
    A Financial Times article today focuses on possible negotiations for a bilateral trade agreement between the U.S. and the European Union and some of the potential sticking points in completing such a pact. Chief among these, the article notes, are “behind-the-border” domestic regulation, such as differing technical standards in areas such as pharmaceuticals, medical services, and advanced electronics, as well as “safety regimes for conventional cars” and foodstuffs. In dealing with differing regulatory standards, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce cautioned that the parties, however, shouldn’t aim for full regulatory convergence:
     “The aim in many instances is not to drive immediately for full regulatory convergence but to try to make sure that regulators on both sides of...
  • Guatemalan Children Starve Due To Ethanol Mandates

    January 8, 2013
    The New York Times reports that ethanol and biofuel mandates in the U.S. and Europe are fueling rising hunger in Guatemala, which now has the fourth-highest rate of child malnutrition in the world -- higher than in many less developed countries in Africa:
    With its corn-based diet and proximity to the United States, Central America has long been vulnerable to economic riptides related to the United States’ corn policy. Now that the United States is using 40 percent of its crop to make biofuel, it is not surprising that tortilla prices have doubled in Guatemala, which imports nearly half of its corn. In a country where most families must spend...
  • Alcohol Regulation Roundup: New Year Edition 2013

    January 8, 2013
    With a new year comes a new opportunity to take stock in our past endeavors and renew our goals for the future. While many a New Year’s resolution involves alcohol (usually an effort to drink less of it), some lawmakers out there have resolutions of their own related to alcohol; specifically, alcohol regulations. Hopefully, in 2013 we will see a continuation of the trend towards more liberal alcohol laws that make it easier and more affordable for producers, purveyors, and patrons of the fermented and distilled arts. National: The TTB, without much fanfare, introduced a measure that would reduce the bond tax burden on small brewers. District of Columbia:...
  • Feds Say Hybrid Electric Vehicles Too Quiet, Noisemakers Should Be Mandated

    January 7, 2013
    Green paternalists often gush about the great potential for hybrid electric automobiles to reduce negative externalities, or social costs, such as local air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that result from driving. In addition to classic externalities such as crashes, congestion, and air pollution, excessive noise is also one form of social cost, albeit a relatively small cost -- remember the "whistle tipped" modified exhaust pipe video that went viral several years ago? The Federal Highway Administration has estimated that noise externalities average 0.06 cents per mile for cars and light trucks, while a ...
  • Basel III Cliff May Be Averted, But Dangers Still Loom For Main Street Banks

    January 7, 2013
    After numerous criticisms from U.S. community banks and lawmakers of both parties, the international committee in charge of the Basel III bank capital agreement just announced it is slightly revising the accord and delaying it for a couple more years. This action is welcome. If Basel had been implemented this year as written, it almost certainly would have thrown the U.S. and other economies into a recession more than going over the "fiscal cliff" ever would have. But although the "Basel Cliff," as I have called it, may be averted for now, dangers still lurk in its implementation in the years to come. This is both because of the accord's wrongheaded bias in favor of sovereign debt, and because U.S. regulators have rushed headlong to push it through before congressional action that is almost...
  • CEI's Battered Business Bureau: The Week In Regulation

    January 7, 2013
    28 new regulations, from the United Soybean Board to synthetic drugs.
  • Pearce v. Acosta

    January 5, 2013
    A class member contacted me to complain about the settlement in Pearce v. Acosta. At first glance, it seems troubling: as described to me, the attorneys will get $425,000, and class members will get somewhere between $55,000 and $110,000. But the objection deadline is January 22, it's in Washington state court, and my attorneys and I are more than booked up between now and March with existing cases and obligations. We can't take the case, and don't have any insights beyond what's in this post; but if you're an attorney who might be interested in having this class member contact you, please E-MAIL me; leaving a blog post comment gives me no way to contact you and makes me question your judgment.

    (Update: thanks to counsel who volunteered. The class member has opted out and been directed to the appropriate attorney running a parallel opt-in federal class action.)

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