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OpenMarket: September 2013

  • Labor Department Imposes Disability Hiring Quotas, Even in Divisions that Don't Get Federal Contracts

    September 23, 2013
    The Obama Labor Department has just finalized rules that will effectively require businesses that get federal contracts to adopt a 7 percent hiring quota for the disabled. Much of the American workforce is employed by a federal contractor, since most large companies have federal contracts. So this will affect much of the economy, and impose massive new costs on American business. Disturbingly, the new rules require a 7 percent quota not just for the division of the company that receives a federal contract, but for the company as a whole. And they require that the 7 percent quota be met not just for the company as a whole, but also in each line of business in the company. That means they effectively must be met even in job categories where the number of disabled people is lower than average, either because the qualified...
  • The Regulatory Improvement Commission

    September 23, 2013
    Senators Angus King (I-Me.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) are introducing a bill that would create just such a commission. Over at The American Spectator, Wayne Crews and I discuss the proposal:
  • CEI's Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    September 23, 2013
    76 new regulations, from pet stores to food containers.
  • The Morality of Market Behavior

    September 20, 2013
    Fred Foldvary's article "Do Markets Promote Immoral Behavior?" in September's issue of The Freeman considers an important question for defenders of markets—the moral status of market behavior. While a popular and scholarly consensus sees markets as necessary for growth and a useful technique for allocating resources, it nonetheless regards market institutions as either a necessary evil or morally neutral. Thus, markets occupy a fragile position in which they’re tolerated, but constantly under suspicion. Foldvary argues against the conclusions of a recent study in the journal Science, which apparently shows that a simple isolated choice to be paid $10 or save a mouse’s life produced morally superior outcomes to those of an extended market. But purposes of this post,...
  • Private Lobbyists and Public Pensions Don't Mix

    September 20, 2013
    Government officials mismanaging public funds is nothing new. But giving public pensions to private lobbyists is a new low. A recent Associated Press report uncovered that at least 20 states supply private lobbyists with public pensions and sometimes health care benefits. In some cases, the states have provided this absurd benefit for decades. Worse, but not surprising, much of the activity these lobbyists carry out conflicts with taxpayer interests. In today's Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, I note that government has a long history of inappropriately spending public funds:
    For example, in the 19th century many states went on a...
  • CEI Podcast for September 20, 2013: The EPA's Latest Attempt to Ban Coal

    September 20, 2013
    A proposed rule issued today by the EPA would effectively ban new coal-fired power plants from being built. According to William Yeatman, Assistant Director of CEI's Center for Energy and Environment, the consequences would be disastrous.
  • Student Barred from Handing Out Constitution on Constitution Day, In Sad Sign of the Times

    September 20, 2013
    At Modesto Junior College, a student was prevented from handing out copies of the Constitution on Constitution day.  He was also "told he needed to fill out a form in order to obtain permission to handout copies of the U.S. Constitution on campus in honor of Constitution Day, and that he could only hand out the materials in 'that little cement area' in front of the student center, aka MJC’s designated 'free speech zone,' and only on a day when the area was not being used by other students." 
  • Private lobbyists collecting public pensions is illegal gift

    September 20, 2013
    State and local pension funds face unfunded liabilities ranging from $3 trillion to $5 trillion, according to various reports. This is well-known problem and many states are trying to address it. But did you know that many of these desperately underfunded public pension plans have been providing pensions to private citizens who do not perform any work as public employees?
  • CEI Podcast for September 19, 2013: A Controversial FERC Nominee

    September 19, 2013
    Ron Binz is President Obama's choice to head FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. William Yeatman, in a new report, shows why Binz's disregard for reliable, low-priced electricity, along with several ethical and ideological red flags, make him less than an ideal nominee.
  • House to Consider Separate Food Stamp Bill Later Today

    September 19, 2013
    H.R. 3102, the “Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act of 2013’’ will be considered on the House floor later today. The 109-page bill, which would take steps to reform the $80 billion per year food stamp and nutrition programs, is being considered on its own, separate from agricultural titles. Recent background for this story is necessary. Food stamp programs have traditionally been included in farm bills – those omnibus bills that every five years hand out the largess that every farm product receives from taxpayers’ funds. This year’s farm bill was no different. Both the Senate and the House voted on farm bills that included both elements. The Senate passed its legislation on June 10, 2013. But the outcome in the House was a lot different: On June 20, 2013, the $940 billion farm bill was killed on a 195...

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