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OpenMarket: October 2013

  • Scientific Literacy and a Storm in a Tea Party Cup

    October 23, 2013
    Tea Party conservatives were beside themselves when they discovered that a Yale political scientist named Daniel Kahan had seemingly admitted that Tea Party members were more scientifically literate than the general population. Kahan went on to say:
    I've got to confess, though, I found this result surprising. As I pushed the button to run the analysis on my computer, I fully expected I'd be shown a modest negative correlation between identifying with the Tea Party and science comprehension. But then again, I don't know a single person who identifies with the Tea Party. All my impressions come from watching cable tv -- & I don't watch Fox News very often -- and reading the "paper" (New York Times daily, plus a variety of politics-focused...
  • Stop Watching Us: End Suspicionless NSA Mass Surveillance

    October 23, 2013
    By now, pretty much everybody has heard that the U.S. National Security Agency is indiscriminately collecting private information about all Americans who use a major U.S. phone company -- including the phone numbers of both parties to any call involving a person in the United States. And the NSA is collecting buddy lists, monitoring email traffic, and gathering an untold-but-vast amount of other data from millions of people around the world. Stunning new revelations about this...
  • More Bipartisan Opposition to Obama Administration's Move to Block Airline Merger (Including Rahm Emanuel)

    October 23, 2013
    Another day, another round of public bipartisan opposition to the Obama Department of Justice's lawsuit to block the pending American Airlines and US Airways merger. In today's edition, a coalition of big city mayors wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder expressing their collective concern that blocking the merger will harm their cities' economic growth and airline industry employees. The letter concludes:
    By attempting to block the proposed combination, the Department has needlessly added to the uncertainty that these employees and their families must endure and has put jobs at risk. Our cities rely on the airline industry to support existing businesses, attract new businesses and to keep our local economies moving...
  • Is Katy Perry Causing Childhood Obesity?

    October 22, 2013
    katy-perry-roarNo, of course not! However, a coalition of health advocates seems to be making that assertion when they sent her a letter this week asking that she relinquish her sponsorship of Pepsi because, they insist, its deviously effective marketing of soda to children is a cause of childhood obesity. Never mind that childhood obesity rates are declining around the nation among all socioeconomic levels, the cause of obesity is not and never has been advertising. Additionally, the solution to...
  • The NSA: Upgrading from Privacy Destruction to Job Destruction

    October 22, 2013
    At a recent Cato Institute event on NSA spying activities, the ACLU’s Chris Soghoian stated that NSA activities were not only a threat to privacy but were also a direct threat to businesses. On a panel that included Jim Burrows of Silent Circle, Soghoian lamented that NSA data collection amounts to a prohibition of certain business models. Silent Circle is a Web service that provides encryption software text and voice messages -- and, until recently, emails. A similar company, Lavabit, is best known as the email provider used by Edward Snowden. Lavabit was forced to close its services entirely due to NSA requests...
  • FTC Likely to Approve Office Depot, Office Max Merger

    October 21, 2013
    According to news sources, the Federal Trade Commission is likely to approve the merger of Office Depot and OfficeMax, the second- and third-largest office supply megastores. After reviewing the antitrust implications of the proposed merger, news reports said, the agency is expected to rule the merger would not substantially lessen competition and decrease consumer choice. The Wall Street Journal noted:
    The FTC's views are a signal that the agency believes the market has changed in the 16 years since the commission in 1997 won a court ruling that blocked the would-be merger of Staples Inc. and Office Depot. At the time, the FTC argued the earlier proposed deal would harm retail...
  • Public Pensions Are Not Property

    October 21, 2013
    Across the nation, state and local governments in dire financial straits face great difficulty in their efforts to bring their budgets under control. Pensions are one of the biggest drivers of deficits, and therein lies the problem. Many states treat pensions not as a form of compensation, but as a contractual obligation to the employee. As a result, states and cities that have tried to bring pension obligations under control have seen roadblock thrown up in court by government employee unions. As the Manhattan Institute's Steven Malanga explains:
    In the private sector, pensions are governed by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Although a private employer may not cut benefits that a worker has already earned, ERISA allows a business to change the rate...
  • Sugar Policy Drives Out Candy Companies

    October 21, 2013

    “Cheaper sugar sends candy makers abroad” says a headline in today’s Wall Street Journal (gated). The article noted that increasingly U.S. candy makers are moving their production to other countries because federal price supports keep domestic sugar prices way above the world market price.

    Candy companies, such as Atkinson Candy Co., said it moved 80 percent of its production to Guatemala. “It wasn’t like we did it for profit reasons. We did it for survival reasons,” said the president of the family-owned Texas company. And confectioners aren't the only ones affected by high sugar prices. Besides candy makers, general food producers feel the crunch of high sugar prices, as sugar is an ingredient in breads and baked goods, many canned and preserved fruits and vegetables, and...

  • J.P. Morgan Settlement Rips Off Taxpayers and Investors, Punishes Some Alleged Victims

    October 21, 2013
    Recently, The Washington Post reported that J.P.Morgan will pay $13 billion to settle lawsuits against it by the federal government and two state attorneys general. Judging from the story, the proposed settlement contains provisions that rip off taxpayers and punish the very investors victimized by the misconduct alleged. This is depressing, but perhaps not surprising from an administration that has used past mortgage settlements to rip off innocent mortgage investors, and enrich...
  • CEI's Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    October 21, 2013
    Shutdown edition: 3 new regulations. Two Coast Guard safety zones and a catch limit for herring.


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