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OpenMarket: October 2015

  • Halloween Not So Scary for Parents

    October 30, 2015

    When it comes to Halloween these days, it seems that parents scare more easily than their children. For the past 15 years, I have checked the news as Halloween approaches. It is always full of warnings from health and safety officialdom that parents should check their children’s collected candy for signs of tampering with nefarious intent. Here are just three examples I found with a 30 second Google search today. It’s just as much hogwash as it was when I started.

    The best data we...

  • The 5 Most Horrifying Halloween Monsters from Washington

    October 30, 2015

    If the current federal regulatory state doesn't scare you, then nothing will. So for Halloween, we decided to make our own list of the top 5 most horrifying monsters from Washington, D.C. It just so happens that vampires and federal regulators have many haunting similarities.

  • Equity Crowdfunding at Last, But Still Incomplete

    October 30, 2015

    More than three years after the JOBS Act was signed into law by President Obama, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today will finally vote to approve equity crowdfunding rules. The final rule implementing Title III of the Jumpstart Our Business Startup (JOBS) Act of 2012, though late in coming, represent a first step for policymakers in getting public policy in step with America’s crowdfunding heritage.

    When a small firm grows by giving a community of funders a share in the profits—rather than just token items such as t-shirts—that’s known as equity crowdfunding. And it’s an idea whose time has come, because it is an idea that has always been here. Henry Ford, as I have written in a paper for CEI, crowdfunded among his friends and neighbors 100...

  • The Real Question about Fantasy Sports Gambling the GOP Debate Missed

    October 29, 2015

    In this clown-car of a GOP primary, it’s inevitable that the discussion will sometimes veer onto more superficial avenues of questioning. After all, news is entertainment and a little light-hearted banter can be the spice that makes the meal more palatable. But, by most accounts, the CNBC moderators in last night’s debate were all fluff and no substance. At one point, in what was one of the strongest moments of the debate, Chris Christie mocked the moderators for their superficial questions. “Are we really talking about getting...

  • Barbara Boxer: Confirm PR Flak for Key Safety Role or the Transportation System Gets It

    October 29, 2015

    Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Sarah Feinberg to head the Federal Railroad Administration. Feinberg has been acting administrator since January. She replaced Joseph Szabo, who had spent decades in the railroad industry and was active in the United Transportation Union. Under George W. Bush, FRA was headed by engineer Allan Rutter, now a research scientist at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, and Joe Boardman, the current CEO of Amtrak who has spent more the 40 years in the transportation and railroad industries.

    Feinberg is a career Democratic Party public relations flak and has held a number of political appointments on the Obama administration’s spin team. Feinberg graduated from Washington and Lee University in 1999 with a degree in politics. Beyond her political career, she had briefly worked in the communications shops of Facebook and Bloomberg between gigs in...

  • The Misguided Attempt to Censor Yik Yak

    October 29, 2015

    People often seek to restrict new means of communication in ways that would never be applied to older forms of communication, sometimes based on fear of new technologies or illogical rationales. A recent example is the demand by 72 left-wing women’s groups and civil-rights groups that the federal government force colleges to block access to the social media app Yik Yak. They claim such measures are required by the federal civil-rights laws Title IX and Title VI. They want colleges to ban a form of social media just because a few users make racist,...

  • Ex-Im Revival Passes the House

    October 28, 2015

    The House has passed Rep. Stephen Fincher’s Ex-Im revival bill, by the margin of 313-118. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has publicly said the Senate will not act on the bill, so last night’s vote was more of a public statement than anything else. While the statement might be unpleasant, the public now has a much better idea of which Congressmen are pro-business, as opposed to pro-market—an important distinction. So at the very least, voters now have a better idea of who to hold accountable, and who they might support in primary elections.

    With no stand-alone vote, Ex-Im reauthorization will instead be folded into an upcoming must-pass transportation bill. A Senate vote on that could happen as soon as next week...

  • House Committee Pushes Back against NLRB Assault on Small Business

    October 28, 2015

    Today, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce passed H.R. 3459, the Protecting Local Business Opportunity Act, a bill that would restore the traditional joint-employer standard, which fostered the creation of thousands of beneficial business relationships including franchise businesses, contractors, and temporary staffing agencies. Now the bill is referred to the floor of the House of Representatives.

    In August, the National Labor Relations Board unilaterally changed what it means to be an employer by redefining the concept of joint employment. Under its new definition, companies may be held liable for labor violations committed by other employers with whom they contract—even if they do not exercise direct control over that...

  • CEI at Money20/20

    October 27, 2015

    I’m here on the Las Vegas Strip at Money20/20, a trade show and forum in the area of FinTech—a term used to describe a cross-section of alternative lending, cryptocurrencies, and new payment technology—that is a pretty big shindig. At around 10,000 attendees, Money20/20 is fast becoming the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) of FinTech. Or as the show’s boosters might say, CEA is becoming the Money20/20 of tech.

    Anyways, some big news breaking here, such as JPMorgan Chase’s announcement of a mobile payments system to rival Apple Pay, and MasterCard’s “internet of things” initiative to enable mobile payments through keys,...

  • Signs of Life for Ex-Im?

    October 27, 2015

    Last night the House of Representatives voted on a rare discharge petition, under which a controversial bill can skip the usual committee process and go straight to a floor vote. In this case, the discharged bill is Rep. Stephen Fincher’s Export-Import Bank revival bill. It passed, 246-177, with 62 Republicans joining nearly all Democrats. It was the first successful discharge petition since the McCain-Feingold campaign finance regulation bill. For more on discharge petitions, see my earlier post.

    So what happens now? On Tuesday, the House will hold further procedural votes on the Ex-Im bill, which will almost certainly pass. Then it’s off to the Senate, which is unlikely to act on the bill.

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