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OpenMarket: August 2013

  • Historians Should Learn the Economic Way of Thinking

    August 27, 2013
    Simon Schama is one of the world's great historians. Indeed, I am currently having my children watch his magisterial "History of Britain," and they are enthralled by it. In this brief contribution to Britain's Prospect magazine he says some very important and insightful things, but one thing stood out for me:
    I would make it completely illegal for flight attendants to presume to tell people how to fasten a seatbelt. Is there anybody in the entire world who doesn’t know how to fasten a seatbelt? It’s so insulting.
    This is where the economic way of thinking is as useful as a knowledge of history. The economic way of thinking tells you that...
  • Before Net Neutrality Eats the World (Part 7): Mandatory Dumb Pipes? But Why Sacrifice Genius?

    August 27, 2013
    (Note: On September 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hear oral arguments in Verizon’s challenge of the Federal Communications Commission’s December 2010 Order on “Preserving the Free and Open Internet.” This series explores fundamental issues at stake.) It’s worthwhile to reflect on the prerequisites for massively greater infrastructure and broadband. Net neutrality mandates imply that private control by dominant vendors is against the public interest. But a better starting point is to appreciate that today’s offerings are not broadband at all compared to future multimedia needs and specialized requirements. Neutrality imposed at 28 kilobits per second would hardly have been a...
  • Union Special Privilege Under Scrutiny

    August 27, 2013
    In response to a Miami Herald report, a Miami-Dade County Commissioner is sponsoring legislation to eliminate or reduce the practice of allowing government employees to work full-time for their union, also known as union release time. Currently, over 42 Miami-Dade workers engage in union release time full-time, costing the county over $2.65 million, according to the Miami Herald. An additional 135 county employees take union release time on an as-needed basis. Worse, government employees on union release time face no oversight from elected representatives. Other than the fact that union release time is an inappropriate use of taxpayer funds, Commissioner Esteban...
  • Before Net Neutrality Eats the World (Part 6): Does “Market Failure” Demand Neutrality Regulation?

    August 26, 2013
    (Note: On September 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hear oral arguments in Verizon’s challenge of the Federal Communications Commission’s December 2010 Order on “Preserving the Free and Open Internet.” This series explores fundamental issues at stake.) Net neutrality as a concept exists to prolong government control of a major modern productive sector. Market failure cannot be a problem in telecommunications and the Internet, since communications has been a comprehensively regulated industry almost since the outset. If anything, political Failure is the matter at hand. But let's look at market failure a little more anyway. In the prior installment (Pt. 5) of "...
  • President Obama: Cut Law School from Three Years to Two

    August 26, 2013
    President Obama, a lawyer who once was a lecturer at the University of Chicago, recently urged law schools to reduce the length of study from three years to two, reported The New York Times:
    President Obama urged law schools on Friday to consider cutting a year of classroom instruction, wading into a hotly debated issue inside the beleaguered legal academy. “This is probably controversial to say, but what the heck. I am in my second term, so I can say it,” Mr. Obama said at a town hall-style meeting at Binghamton University in New York. “I believe that law schools would probably be wise to think about being two years instead of three years."
    Obama is correct that two years of law school is plenty. Three years is too long. In fact, you could...
  • CEI's Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    August 26, 2013
    80 new regulations, from hunting migratory birds to grading avocados.
  • New Mexico Court: Go Into Business, Lose Your First Amendment Rights

    August 23, 2013
    In Elane Photography v. Willock, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a wedding photographer violated the New Mexico Human Rights Act by not agreeing to photograph a lesbian couple's same-sex commitment ceremony (gay marriage was not legal in New Mexico at the time, nor were civil unions, so, ironically, the state of New Mexico insists that private citizens treat gay unions as marriages even when it itself hypocritically refuses to do so).  It rejected free-speech, freedom-of-religion, and other civil-liberties arguments against forcing the photographer to do this (the First Amendment forbids compelled speech, as the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly...
  • Big Labor versus the Obama Administration

    August 23, 2013
    In the 2012 federal election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, 91 percent of labor unions campaign funds went to Democrats. One would expect from that number, unions are in lockstep with President Obama’s and the progressive agenda. However, of late, unions have publicly criticized the Obama administration for implementing, enforcing numerous job-killing policies.
  • Before Net Neutrality Eats the World (Part 5): The Fallacies Motivating Net Neutrality

    August 23, 2013
    (Note: On September 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hear oral arguments in Verizon’s challenge of the Federal Communications Commission’s December 2010 Order on “Preserving the Free and Open Internet.” This series explores fundamental issues at stake.) Net neutrality is one variant of government-backed forced access to someone else's property. So it is not a new notion, but one rooted in discredited ideas of natural monopoly and a longing for common carriage. Natural monopoly is unseen in nature. But monopolies are frequently created and officially sustained by...
  • Court Strikes Down another Obama NLRB appointment

    August 22, 2013
    If you cant' get legislation through Congress, then make policy through regulation. Until the courts get in the way. The former has been the Obama administration's approach to implementing policies it wants but cannot get passed in Congress. The latter describes the latest legal setback to Obama's agenda -- a federal judge striking down Obama's recess appointment of the National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) top lawyer as unconstitutional. On August 13, U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle ruled that President Obama's appointment of NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon did not conform to the requirements of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA). Therefore, Solomon could not delegate to a regional NLRB director the authority to pursue legal action against an employer. In his decision...

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