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OpenMarket: April 2013

  • EEOC: A Scofflaw That Poisons The Climate For Hiring

    April 22, 2013 10:53 AM

    One way the current political climate discourages hiring is by turning problem employees into potential lawsuits for the employers who take the risk of hiring them. The legal climate has gotten much worse over the past several years due to the appointment of more left-wing, anti-employer judges by President Obama, and an increasingly out-of-control Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which sues employers for terminating bad employees who fall into "protected classes," and for sensible hiring decisions that most judges would consider perfectly legal, since the plain language of federal civil-rights laws permits them. The EEOC even sues employers for using hiring criteria required by state law, such as health and safety codes.

    The EEOC's abusive, out-of-control behavior is a point of agreement among lawyers who agree on little else, liberal and conservative alike. The liberal lawyer "Loki," writing at the Volokh Conspiracy, observes:

    Without going into too much detail, I recently had the bizarre experience of the EEOC first arguing that the plain language of the statute didn't matter. Then we dug up their own policy, which contradicted their stated litigation position. They argued that their own policy didn't matter. The issue hadn't been litigated much, but we found case law directly on point contradicting them (and for which they had been sanctioned). They argued that the case law didn't matter. Then we found prior DOJ opinions on the issue- guess what? The EEOC said the DOJ opinions didn't matter.

    The judge? He thought it mattered.

    I wish this was a one-off experience, but it's not. Every single time I have dealt with the EEOC, it's something similar. It's gotten to the point where I fully expect them to be pissing on my leg so they can tell me it's raining. And note that I'm not reflexively anti-government; I've dealt with the DOJ and SEC (among others) and have nary a bad word to say with the attorneys I've dealt with. . .I honestly don't know what it is in the water at the EEOC. . . I had to do a lot of research on EEOC cases, and I found so many cases where the trial courts just got fed up with the EEOC it wasn't funny.

  • CEI's Battered Business Bureau: The Week In Regulation

    April 22, 2013 5:00 AM

    86 new regulations, from sorghum ethanol to training miners.

  • Teachers for Not Teaching: MD Teachers' Union Wastes Time, Tax Dollars

    April 20, 2013 4:16 PM

    The truth sometimes hurts; that's why many prefer to ignore it.

    To wit: The Maryland’s Fair Share Act (which has passed the legislature and only awaits Gov. O’Malley’s signature), which would effectively make contributing money to teacher’s unions a compulsory part of becoming an educator in Maryland.

  • No Job For You!

    April 20, 2013 10:40 AM

    In the first State of the Union address of his second term, President Barack Obama called for a minimum wage increase, reigniting a debate about the efficacy of such laws.

    Obama’s case for a minimum wage increase was largely a moral one. The President explained:

    A family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That’s wrong…Let’s…raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour. This single step would raise the incomes of millions of working families.”

    The President’s intention may be good, but the economics are terrible. What Obama failed to mention is that minimum wage paying jobs are most often held by young people just entering the workforce (like our friend Julius).  In the face of additional expenses employers will be less likely to hire those young, inexperienced workers.

    We don’t have to speculate. We already know what these laws do. Previous presidents who have also made a moral case for minimum wage ended up hurting the very people they intended to help. A broad review of the effects of minimum wage conducted by the Employment Policy Institute found clear evidence of the negative effects after President Clinton successfully pushed for a minimum wage hike:

     “Employment for teenagers — who largely make at or near minimum wage — actually fell in the year after the initial Clinton minimum wage increase in October 1996.”

    If Obama gets his way the results will be no different.

  • VW on radar: UAW chief sets sights on Southern automakers

    April 20, 2013 9:51 AM

    The UAW is coming! The UAW is coming!

    It’s not quite Paul Revere’s famous warning, but it’s true nonetheless. Yes, the United Auto Workers union, having left Detroit a shell of its former glory, has been forced to cast its gaze to the foreign-owned auto plants in the South.

  • More On Supreme Court Ruling Limiting International Lawsuits

    April 19, 2013 3:27 PM

    Earlier, I wrote about the Supreme Court's closing the door on lawsuits by foreigners alleging nebulous violations of "human rights" or international norms by multinational corporations. (It did that in the course of dismissing a lawsuit by Nigerians against three oil companies affiliated with Shell.)

    George Mason University law professor Michael Greve agrees, saying that prior to the Supreme Court's ruling, the Alien Tort Statute [ATS] had "become a playpen for a cabal of international law enthusiasts and plaintiffs’ lawyers." If the Supreme Court were to adopt the expansive view of the ATS pressed by international-law enthusiasts (including the ability to sue over violations of "customary international law," including vague international norms not contained in any treaty ratified by the U.S. Senate), he notes, that would create the potential for foreign employees working overseas to sue corporations and corporate employees in the U.S. over run-of-the-mill workplace discrimination and harassment claims that should be resolved elsewhere.

  • Amtrak And The Progressive Sleight Of Hand

    April 19, 2013 2:02 PM

    Progressives have always assumed that if something is good, it must be provided through coercive force by a central government. This is illustrated in progressive support for continuing large Amtrak subsidies. Various liberal policy outfits including the Brookings Institution and the Center for American Progress have been recently celebrating the mild uptick in the government-subsidized passenger railroad’s ridership levels. The train served a record 32.1 million passengers in 2012, a 55-percent increase since 1997. In earlier times, liberal advocates would have congratulated themselves on the success of a government program’s drive to self-sufficiency and move to let it fend for itself in the private sector, in the same way federally controlled Conrail was privatized and later sold off to CSX and Norfolk Southern. But this doesn’t cut it for today’s progressives, who appear to believe Amtrak’s recent uptick in ridership is reason for increasing federal subsidies. This is because they are well aware that Amtrak’s supposed success is largely a mirage.

    The rise in ridership appears impressive, until one realizes that 1997 was a severe low-point for train travel. If measuring Amtrak’s total passenger miles starting in 1991, its increase over the past 22 years is a pathetic 8 percent. Its condition looks even worse when considering that population growth has increased over this period by 25 percent, pushing Amtrak’s share of intercity passenger travel down from 0.45 to 0.36 percent. Passenger rail is alone in the dismal state of its ridership. Despite the airline industry’s financial instability, not to mention the costs incurred due to the September 11 attacks and the TSA, airline ridership increased by 68 percent. Even intercity buses carry three times more passenger miles than Amtrak does, while the vast majority of intercity travel is made by private automobile.

  • Bill Would Prevent CDC’s Taxpayer-Funded Anti-Food Propaganda

    April 19, 2013 11:33 AM

    Even in a divided Washington, everyone agrees on the importance of creating jobs in America. So why are some government agencies using taxpayer money to lobby against some food manufacturers?

    At least one lawmaker, Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) thinks it’s time government officials stopped using taxpayer money to run smear campaigns against the makers of lawfully produced goods that consumers want. On April 15, Rep. Schock introduced the Stopping Taxpayer Outlays for Propaganda Act (STOP) Act (H.R. 1572), which would prohibit the use of federal funds for advertising and media campaigns to discourage consumption of any food or beverage that is lawfully marketed under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. In a Politico op-ed this week, Schock explains that in this time of economic stress, using taxpayer money to harm American industry doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    Not only do these government-funded campaigns harm American businesses, they are doing nothing to improve Americans’ health -- and may even cause harm in some cases. Government is simply not very good at determining what is best or healthy for each individual. Studies funded by government grants are often cited by legislators to promote one-size-fits-all policies that fail to take into account a person’s health risks or specific dietary needs. Yet many such studies are based on limited data that often result in incorrect conclusions.

  • CEI Podcast For April 18, 2013: CISPA Is The Wrong Approach To Cybersecurity

    April 18, 2013 3:58 PM

    Today, the House passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2013 (CISPA). Associate Director of Technology Studies Ryan Radia opposes the bill.

  • The Train Wreck That Is Obamacare

    April 18, 2013 3:57 PM

    At least one union that supported passage of Obamacare, is now calling for its repeal. As The Wall Street Journal notes, the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers has given up on salvaging the deeply-flawed health care law:

    Organized labor . . . recently has voiced concerns that the law could lead members to lose their existing health plans. . .“After the law was passed, I had great hope…that maybe the rough spots would be worked out and we’d have a great law,” said Kinsey Robinson, international president of the [roofer's] union, which represents 22,000 commercial and industrial roofers…Mr. Robinson says the union’s concerns about the law began to pile up in recent months after speaking with employers.

    The roofers’ union’s current insurance plan caps lifetime medical bill payouts at $2 million for active members and $50,000 for retirees. Next year, the plan has to remove those caps in order to comply with the health law. . . that will increase the cost of insuring members, Mr. Robinson said, and has prompted the union to weigh eliminating the retiree plan.

    Adding to those cost concerns is a new $63-per-enrollee fee on health plans that pays insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions next year. Looking ahead to 2018, when the law levies an excise tax on high-value insurance plans, Mr. Robinson predicts that at least some of the union’s plans will get hit by it… On Tuesday, the union called for a repeal of the health law or a complete reform of it.


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