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OpenMarket: April 2013

  • Four Of The Worst Arguments Against The Immigration Bill

    April 18, 2013 12:00 PM

    Since the Gang of 8 released their proposal, the desperation from those who want to see this bill die -- and any hope of immigration reform die with it -- can be heard throughout DC. Its opponents are spreading everything from the inaccurate to the absurd about the bill and its probable consequences.

    1. Rubio’s “Phone for Illegals”: The blog “Shark Tank” is promoting the idea that the immigration bill could grant phones to unauthorized immigrants. The myth comes from a provision in the bill that would authorize DHS to give “satellite telephone communications systems” to an individual who “regularly resides or works in the Southwest Border region” or “is at greater risk of border violence due to the lack of cellular service at his or her residence or business.” This provision actually improves border safety by empowering citizens -- it’s a good idea that decentralizes and enhances security.

  • Unions do their business on taxpayers' dime

    April 18, 2013 9:51 AM

    It's the old "fair share" argument, but this time it holds even less water than usual.

    The Maryland State Education Association, the union that bargains on behalf of K-12 teachers throughout Maryland, wants to force all teachers — members or not — to pay union dues. The union claims educators owe their "fair share" because it must represent non-union members in collective bargaining and grievances.

  • Supreme Court Dismisses Alien Tort Lawsuit Over Nigerian Dispute

    April 17, 2013 7:43 PM

    The Supreme Court today refused to allow Nigerians to sue Dutch and other corporations in U.S. court over alleged abuses in Nigeria that occurred under the rule of Nigeria's former military dictator. These abuses, which allegedly violated international norms, were supposedly assisted by company employees who provided Nigerian troops "with food, transportation," etc., and allowed "the Nigerian military to use" company "property." As the Supreme Court put it, "Nigerian nationals residing in the United States, filed suit in federal court under the Alien Tort Statute, alleging that respondents—certain Dutch, British, and Nigerian corporations—aided and abetted the Nigerian Government in committing violations of the law of nations in Nigeria. The ATS provides that '[t]he district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.'”

    In its decision today in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., the Supreme Court held that the statute does not reach conduct within foreign countries (as opposed to piracy on the high seas), in light of the strong presumption against extraterritorial application of U.S. law (it cited the Morrison case, in which CEI filed an amicus brief urging the Court to curb extraterritorial application of U.S. law to enrich trial lawyers at companies' expense.). The court of appeals had dismissed the lawsuit on an alternative ground, ruling that international law only holds individuals (including corporate employees) liable, not the corporations they work for.

  • Don't Waste Billions Putting Gun-Wielding Guards In Our Schools

    April 17, 2013 9:27 AM

    School violence has diminished in recent years, but in response to a few mass shootings, the National Rifle Association and the Obama administration have advocated putting armed guards in every school, even though that would cost billions of dollars. The Cato Institute's Gene Healy explains why this is a bad idea. As Healy notes, "if your goal is to prevent kids from getting murdered, the schools are about the last place you’d put new police, since 98 percent of youth homicides occur off school grounds."

  • Fred L. Smith, Jr., In This Month's Cato Unbound

    April 16, 2013 5:03 PM

    This month's Cato Unbound series focuses on the constraints of money in politics, how businesses respond to opportunities for rent-seeking, and prospects for the future of free market advocacy.

    In his initial essay, CEI Founder and Chairman and Director of CEI's Center for Advancing Capitalism, Fred L. Smith, Jr., makes the case for increased business involvement in politics on the side of free markets. He suggests that academics and intellectuals sympathetic to capitalism should consider how their work affects the narratives about business that frame the general public's views. Public choice economists, in his opinion, may have actually contributed to the decline of principled businessmen and the rise of crony capitalists.

    You can read see the entire series here, or go directly to Fred's essay here.

  • Lessons On Regulatory Reform: The BRAC Acts

    April 16, 2013 5:02 PM

    Overview of Regulatory Reform in the U.S. from The Base Realignment and Closure Act

    The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Act of 1988 was created to close or realign excess military bases in order to save money. Since Department of Defense (DoD) spending can attract millions of dollars to a politician’s constituents every year, they will rarely vote to close unneeded bases. The BRAC Act worked around this problem by creating a commission of independent experts (the Base Realignment and Closure Commission) who, along with the DoD, would recommend base closures and realignments.

    The DoD used military need as its primary criterion for deciding which bases should be realigned or closed. The BRAC commission then amended the DoD’s recommendations to ensure that they adhered to a set of criterion created by Congress and sent final recommendations to the president for approval or disapproval.

    The president cannot make any changes to the recommendations and must either approve or disapprove of the entire set. If approved, the president sends the recommendations to Congress which then has 60 days to pass a resolution of disapproval. If Congress does not pass such a resolution, the BRAC commission’s recommendations automatically become final.

    Results from the BRAC Act of 1988

    After years without significant military base reform through the traditional legislative approach, the BRAC Act of 1988 resulted in the closure of 16 major U.S. military bases and the realignment of 11 others. This and subsequent BRACs have been estimated to save about $7 billion annually.

  • The UAW, Having Stripped Detroit Bare, Looks To The South

    April 16, 2013 11:30 AM

    By Matt Patterson & Julia Tavlas, Forbesuaw

    The United Auto Workers union, having looted and stripped Detroit bare, have set their sights south, to the right-to-work states and the foreign-owned auto plants they host.

    German car maker Volkswagen, for example, has operated an assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee since 2011, producing Passat sedans. The factory has 3,350 employees, making it vital to the economic health one of the state’s largest cities.

    In 2011, UAW head Bob King met with leaders of IG Metall, a large umbrella union which represents Volkswagen workers in Germany, to secure their support in his efforts to unionize the Tennessee Volkswagen plant. He initially received a lukewarm reception from his German counterparts. An IG Metall official, Peter Donath, cautioned King that the UAW could count on little actual help: “we will support the UAW, but we will not support the UAW’s work.”

  • Food Safety Modernization Act Far More Costly Than Supporters Claimed

    April 16, 2013 10:27 AM

    "Proposed FDA safety rules frustrate tree fruit farmers," reported The Washington Post. As the FDA puts "in place a massive overhaul of the nation’s food safety system," due to the Food Safety Modernization Act, "Few groups have expressed more frustration than tree fruit farmers, who grow apples, pears and a variety of other produce. They complain that the FDA’s approach, in some ways, defies common sense." The 2010 law is proving far more costly than its supporters promised it would be in order to get enacted. The "Food Safety Modernization Act would impose only modest costs on farmers, or so we kept being assured when it passed in 2010." But many orchard growers now face tens of thousands of dollars in costs, notes the Cato Institute's Walter Olson. As he notes, the law's unexpected costs have caused a furor in some farming communities, and the Town of Brooksville recently became the "ninth in Maine to pass symbolic 'food sovereignty' resolution [See Jordan Bloom, The American Conservative; Food Renegade (Dan Brown of Blue Hill)]."

  • The UAW, Having Stripped Detroit Bare, Looks To The South

    April 16, 2013 9:45 AM

    The United Auto Workers union, having looted and stripped Detroit bare, have set their sights south, to the right-to-work states and the foreign-owned auto plants they host.

  • Seven Principles Of Free Market Immigration Reform

    April 15, 2013 9:58 AM

     1.      Immigration laws should value human beings. America should welcome newcomers so long as they pose no threat to the health or safety of Americans. Human beings truly are the ultimate resource. Only human inventiveness and creativity make the world a vibrant and prosperous place. The history of the United States itself refutes the fallacy that greater numbers of people only degrade wages, destroy the environment, and consume resources. In a free society, people serve others through voluntary exchanges and associations, creating wealth and making everybody better off.

     2.      Immigration reform should reflect market realities. Just as alcohol prohibition spawned a black market in alcohol, immigration restrictions have spawned a black market in labor. The government issues just 10,000 green cards for workers who lack higher education, special skills, or family connections. This arbitrary cap -- along with other restrictions on temporary visas -- pushes otherwise law-abiding workers toward illegal channels for entry. Creating an orderly and accessible pathway for entry should be a central component of reform.

    The 1986 reforms, while well-intentioned, failed because they stressed enforcement but created no legal avenue for workers to enter. Today, less than 10 percent of U.S. visas are based on employment, and the process is so difficult that most businesses cannot afford to spend the resources to attempt to recruit foreign workers, particularly when they might be rejected. The current process presupposes that America needs no new workers and requires businesses to overcome that presumption. This guilty-until-proven innocent system is incompatible with free markets and limited government. The market -- employees and employers who contract together -- should determine the supply of labor, not government bureaucrats.

     3.      The rule of law should be upheld. Failure to protect the nation’s borders and enforce the law is incompatible with any concept of the rule of law. Immigration law serves an important purpose. It protects this country against criminal, national security, or health threats from abroad. But immigration enforcement should force potential immigrants to avail themselves of viable legal alternatives for entry, not simply push them out or drive them into the underground economy. At the same time, the inability to enforce the law empowers the president to enforce it selectively, which undermines the rule of law. Reform should both end the black market in labor and not sanction future law-breaking.


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