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OpenMarket: November 2014

  • Taxpayer-Funded Green Ministries in Prince George's County Violate the Constitution

    November 21, 2014

    Reporters like separation of church and state, unless it’s progressives violating it. Then, they lose interest in the concept. A recent Washington Post story cheerily reported on churches getting exemptions from a state-mandated stormwater fee (Maryland’s “rain tax”) in exchange for taking “green” positions, in the progressive bastion of Prince...

  • President Obama's Executive Overreach Compounded by Regulatory Dark Matter

    November 20, 2014

    In recent years the Federal Register has topped out at well over 70,000 pages, two times at more than 80,000. Each year over 3,500 rules issue from federal departments and agencies.

    Also published in the Federal Register are presidential executive orders and presidential and agency memoranda and guidance documents with unmeasured impact.

    The recently amplified presidential component has been popularized by President Obama as the “pen and phone” approach to policymaking without Congress.

    In my own examination, as far as the president’s pen and phone is concerned, the vehicle most...

  • A Big Payoff for Patient Investors

    November 20, 2014

    There’s a fascinating story in The New York Times this week about pharmaceutical companies and the process of discovering new drugs. Fifteen years ago, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation started investing money in a small biotech company to incentivize research into a cure for cystic fibrosis. Their eventual $150 million investment helped Vertex Pharmaceuticals develop a promising new treatment, Kalydeco, which is excellent news for CF patients. It’s also been good for the financial future of the Foundation. They recently signed a deal selling their future royalties on the drug for a one-time payment of $3.3 billion. That’s 20 times the organization’s annual budget.

    The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s experience with Vertex...

  • Corporate Action against Disease Points Way to Resiliency Strategy for Developing World

    November 20, 2014

    In a piece at The Freeman today, I examine how corporations in the developing world have reacted to the threat to their workers from diseases such as Ebola, AIDS, and malaria, for example:

    Firestone, one of the world’s leading tire producers, needs vast amounts of rubber and owns a huge rubber plantation in Liberia. The property encompasses 185 square miles, employs 8,000 people directly, and indirectly supports 72,000 more people who live either on the property or in surrounding communities.

    When the first case of Ebola appeared on the property, the company initially attempted to place the victim in a hospital in the country’s capital, Monrovia. Company officials quickly realized that the facilities there were inadequate, so Firestone...

  • Don't Get "Grubered" by the Lauren McFerran Nomination to NLRB

    November 19, 2014
    Chief Labor Counsel and Deputy Staff Director of the jurisdictional Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee Lauren McFerran has her confirmation hearing at 10:00AM on Thursday, November 20, to become a new National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Member. She was just nominated on November 12, and the committee vote is expected just after Thanksgiving. Democrats will likely push for a floor vote in advance of the expiration of NLRB Member Nancy Schiffer’s term on December 16. Don’t get “Grubered” The Competitive Enterprise Institute played a significant role in bringing recordings of Jonathan Gruber to light. Beyond meeting with the President, writing portions of Obamacare, and modeling its effects, Gruber was giving speeches. It took quite some time for these speeches to come to light. Now that they have,...
  • New NLRB Nominee Would Strengthen Big Labor's Agenda

    November 19, 2014

    The left has a troubling Big Labor agenda that can only be accomplished by a pen-and-phone strategy to evade the U.S. Senate and House. The strategy centers largely upon the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that will need the key fifth board member to cast the deciding votes for the agenda.

    With the December 16 expiration of Nancy Schiffer’s term on the NLRB, Big Labor is scrambling to see someone confirmed before then to take her place. Their surprise answer is to withdraw Sharon Block, who had already had her confirmation hearing, had passed in a bipartisan fashion out of committee, and had been placed on the Senate Executive Calendar for a vote.

    Now President Obama and Big Labor have taken three steps back and on November 12 nominated Lauren McFarren, chief labor counsel and deputy staff...

  • Liberals and Conservatives Challenge Overreach of Dodd-Frank's FSOC on MetLife

    November 18, 2014

    As CEI brings suit before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals tomorrow challenging the constitutionality of unaccountable bureaucracies created by the Dodd-Frank “financial reform” law of 2010, it looks like we may have some high-profile company in litigation against Dodd-Frank’s Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC).

    The FSOC is a secretive, unaccountable task force of financial bureaucrats of various agencies created to designate banks and other financial firms “systemically important,” or too-big-to-fail. In September, the FSOC preliminarily decreed insurer MetLife a “systemically important financial institution,” or SIFI.

    As CEI argues in our legal challenge to the Dodd-Frank Act (including the FSOC’s role of identifying risk), the SIFI designation confers on a firm a strong competitive advantage, as investors and...

  • Congress Needs to Act to Bring about a Drone Revolution

    November 18, 2014

    Earlier this morning, a full panel of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) overturned a previous ruling from an NTSB administrative law judge in the Pirker case.

    In Pirker, the FAA had assessed a $10,000 fine against a photographer for using an unmanned aircraft system (UAS), or drone, to take photos on the University of Virginia campus. The administrative law judge held that the FAA lacked the authority to regulate a “model aircraft” as was used by Raphael Pirker.

    In reversing this order, the full NTSB today noted that the distinction between “model aircraft” and “aircraft” is irrelevant. Model aircraft were never formally exempted from FAA regulation (...

  • Crowdfunding Is Entrepreneurship’s History and its Future

    November 18, 2014

    In America and around the world, aspiring entrepreneurs are meeting their colleagues and their mentors in official and unofficial sessions of Global Entrepreneurship Week. Created in 2007 by the Kansas City-based Kauffman Foundation and British organizations, Global Entrepreneurship Week, as stated on its website, “inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators.”

    And this year, enabling entrepreneurship through crowdfunding will be a huge focus. To coincide with Global Entrepreneurship Week’s events, the recently formed Crowdfund Intermediary Regulatory Advocates (CFIRA) is having its 2nd Annual Regulatory and Advocacy Summit on Capitol Hill on Friday, November 21. For more details on the public events, go ...

  • Biased Anti-Bias Regulations

    November 17, 2014

    Anti-bias regulations are sometimes biased and at odds with civil liberties. The Cato Institute’s Walter Olson gives a recent example from a left-leaning region in Spain:

    The separatism-minded Spanish region of Catalonia has enacted a law under which “the person accused of homophobic acts will have to prove his innocence, reversing the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.” [El PaisTheLocal.es] The law includes fines for anti-gay occurrences in the workplace. Advocates defended the shifting of the burden of proof onto the accused to prove innocence as a “positive discrimination measure [that] is...

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