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OpenMarket: October 2013

  • CEI Study Supports Tax Cuts for Beer

    October 31, 2013

    If you’ve read Lauren French’s Politico article on the two beer tax reduction bills currently under consideration in Congress, you might think that the Competitive Enterprise Institute views the bills as a threat to federal revenue, Brewers: Tax cuts good for what ales us (October 30, 2013). Let me set the record straight: as we state in our paper BEER and Small BREW Can Be Good for Youwe believe that in the short term the BEER Act, which reduces the federal excise tax for beer producers big and small, will be a boon to the nation’s economy, but that the ideal course...

  • Mel Watt Fails Taxpayer, Privacy, and Transparency Tests

    October 31, 2013

    Former Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., failed his procedural confirmation vote today to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees the government housing entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. His defeat -- so far -- is a victory not just for fiscal integrity, but for privacy and transparency as well.

    As a congressman, Watt egged on the reckless policies of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that got us into the mortgage crisis from which the economy is still recovering. But just as bad, he was on the wrong side of both liberals and conservative reformers on two crucial issues. Watt was a co-sponsor and vocal supporter of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which collapsed in 2012 after a transpartisan coalition made the public aware of its threat to privacy and...

  • Towards a More Transparent Fed

    October 31, 2013

    Iain Murray and I have a piece in today's American Spectator breaking down the new paper we co-wrote with John Berlau.

  • Corporate Culture Makes a Difference -- In Business and in Baseball

    October 31, 2013

    Last night the Boston Red Sox won the World Series after coming back from a worst-place season in 2012. Their 6-1 defeat of the St. Louis Cardinals capped a remarkable turnaround that resulted from a mix of a new coach, a blockbuster trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers, seven free-agent acquisitions, and a “culture of excellence.” Sabermetrics undoubtedly played its important role, as it does for almost every ball club. But to a player, they created and bought into a team spirit that maximized their talent to reach their goal – and had fun doing it.

    Here’s...

  • Happy Halloween! FAA to Allow Portable Electronic Devices During All Flight Phases

    October 31, 2013

    A month ago, a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) recommended that the agency drop its ban on portable electronic device (PED) use during takeoffs and landings. Today, the FAA announced it was largely adopting the ARC's proposals, which will soon permit passengers of commercial airlines to use non-transmitting PEDs (although WiFi on WiFi-enabled airliners and short-range Bluetooth devices will be allowed) gate to gate.

    This move was supported by both the airlines and the unions representing...

  • Congressional Scorecard Update--Richard Griffin Confirmation

    October 30, 2013

    Yesterday, the Senate voted 55-44 to confirm Richard Griffin as the National Labor Relations Board general counsel, with Senator Lisa Murkowski as the sole Republican to vote to confirm Richard Griffin.

  • Jane Brody's Uninformed Attack on Cars and Suburbia

    October 30, 2013

    While at a conference where participants discussed the wannabe social engineers cum urbanists' war on automobility and housing affordability, Jane Brody's broadside against Americans' "dependence on automobiles" and suburban living was published by the New York Times. Brody, unlike her Times colleague Michael Pollan, isn't a complete and total kook when it comes to agricultural biotechnology, and she is one of the more thoughtful nutrition writers in America. Unfortunately, Brody has fallen for one of the popular but...

  • Fairy Tales and Astroturf

    October 30, 2013

    Senators Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., want us to believe a simple progressive fairy tale that we have been hearing ad naseum for years now: the government couldn’t possibly abuse its power to silence political opponents.

    On Wednesday afternoon, Sens. Menendez and Warren are holding a press conference to encourage the Securities and Exchange Commission to require disclosure of all political activity from publicly traded companies. Currently, public corporations aren’t required to disclose any “non-material” political activity.

    In reality, this is a push to discourage corporations from exercising their right of free speech and political association. After all, since corporations are already banned from making direct contributions to federal...

  • CEI Podcast for October 30, 2013: Bringing Transparency to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

    October 30, 2013

    George Mason University law professor and Mercatus Center senior scholar Todd Zywicki discusses his paper, "The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Savior or Menace?"

  • Don't Let FTC Shut Down Legit Credit Repair Services

    October 29, 2013

    Next to the infamous Healthcare.gov, the website that featured the most bugs of the last month was FTC.gov, the site of the Federal Trade Commission.

    During the shutdown, many government websites were frozen to avoid the cost of upkeep, but with disjointed patterns. And Cato Institute Research Fellow Julian Sanchez noted at Slate that the FTC site was among the "weirder."

    "Browse to any of their pages and you’ll see, for a split second, the full content of the page you want—only to be redirected to a shutdown notice page also hosted at FTC.gov," Sanchez wrote. "If the full site is actually still running, it’s hard to see how a redirect after the real page is served could be avoiding any expenditures."

    Now...

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