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OpenMarket: February 2016

  • RealClear Radio Hour: Millennial Politics & Choice

    February 29, 2016

    Young people, political myths, and curating choice. This week on RealClear Radio Hour we’re dig into a myriad of topics from the democratic socialist fad sweeping millennials to the dysfunction of the two party system that is so entrenched in American politics.

    My first guest this week is Jared Meyer, fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of Disinherited: How Washington is Betraying America’s Young. Jared helps us decode capitalism, socialism, and the latest fad—democratic socialism. Meyer argues that while millennials are sympathetic to democratic socialist rhetoric, the realities of the ideology don’t actually align with their beliefs.

    ...
  • DC Streetcar Opens as a Monument to Morally Bankrupt Urban Planning

    February 29, 2016

    On Saturday, February 27, the DC Streetcar finally opened its 2.2-mile stretch on H Street and Benning Road N.E. Years delayed and for a cost of $200 million, this is what we get. The Economist called it “pointless” and a “folly.” Others were blunter. Most D.C. residents accept that their city has wasted a lot of money, but just how wasteful was this sentimental excursion into the mass transit past?

    The DC Streetcar mirrors the H Street-Benning segment of the 5.2-...

  • UnChartered Cronyism: The FCC's Attempts to Block Cable Merger

    February 29, 2016

    When you hear about “crony capitalism,” what comes to mind? The Export-Import Bank? The ethanol mandate? Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Tax credits and loan guarantees for “green energy”? These are all prime examples of government intervention enriching narrow yet politically savvy corporate interests at the expense of taxpayers and consumers. But many other pernicious forms of crony capitalism slide under the radar. A case in point: the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) vetting of media and telecom mergers, a highly politicized process that empowers a few unelected bureaucrats to shape the future of entire markets.

    Almost a year ago, the cable company Charter made a deal to purchase another cable company, Bright House Networks. Then, after the FCC decided to block another cable deal—Comcast’s attempted acquisition of Time Warner Cable (TWC)—Charter announced that it...

  • CEI's Battered Business Bureau: The Week in Regulation

    February 29, 2016

    As the 2016 Federal Register passed the 10,000-page mark, new regulations cover everything from salmon to wine.

    On to the data:

    • Last week, 67 new final regulations were published in the Federal Register, after 45 the previous week.
    • That’s the equivalent of a new regulation every two hours and 31 minutes.
    • With 443 final regulations published so far in 2016, the federal government is on pace to issue 2,914 regulations in 2016. Last year’s total was 3,406 regulations.
    • Last week, 1,415 new pages were added to the Federal Register, after 940 pages the previous week.
    • Currently at 10,036 pages, the 2016 Federal Register is on pace for 66,027 pages. The 2015 Federal Register had an adjusted page count of 81,611.
    • Rules are called “economically significant” if they have costs of...
  • Opening Briefs Filed in Case Challenging EPA Greenhouse Gas Rules for Existing Power Plants

    February 26, 2016

    The opening briefs (here and here)  for the petitioners in West Virginia et al v. EPA—the lawsuit challenging the EPA’s greenhouse gas rule for existing power plants—were submitted to the U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on 19th February.  The list of petitioners and their lawyers is pretty impressive.  The two briefs requested by the court each total no more than 42,000 words.

    A number of amicus curiae briefs have been filed plus one intervenor brief.  I haven’t read them all, but one that I have that is definitely worth looking at is the ...

  • Ethanol Mandate Is Immortal Unless Congress Repeals It

    February 26, 2016

    In last week’s Texas presidential primary debate, one of the candidates opined that he did not need to call for repeal of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), commonly known as the ethanol mandate, because the program “will phase out . . is phasing out now. By 2022 that program expires by virtue of the existing law. At that point it will go away.” None of the other candidates objected, suggesting they all may subscribe to that popular misconception.

    The RFS, incorporated into the Clean Air Act in 2007 by the so-called Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), is the only regulatory program Congress ever enacted that expressly addresses greenhouse gases, albeit with the prudent caveat—inserted at the behest of Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas)—that the RFS not affect the regulatory...

  • Minimum Wage: The End of Teenage Work Experience?

    February 26, 2016

    A new report from JP Morgan Chase & Co. finds that the summer employment rate for teenagers is nearing a record low at 34 percent. The report surveyed 15 U.S. cities and found that despite an increase in summer positions available over a two year period, only 38 percent of teens and young adults found summer jobs.

    This would be worrying by itself given the importance of work experience in entry-level career development, but it is also part of a long-term trend. Since 1995 the rate of seasonal teenage employment has declined by over a third from around 55 percent to 34 percent in 2015. The report does not attempt to examine why summer youth employment has fallen over the past two decades. If it had, it would probably find one answer in the minimum wage.  

  • The One Year Anniversary of Net Neutrality

    February 26, 2016

    In the pen and phone era, one of the many examples of the descent into arbitrary lawmaking influencing an entire sector of the economy is the Federal Communications Commission’s order on net neutrality. Net neutrality is the FCC’s broad push to control both the infrastructure and content of tomorrow’s Internet. Today is the net neutrality order’s first anniversary, being “celebrated” by some senators with a just-introduced bill to repeal it called the Restoring Internet Freedom Act that, alas, is not the first attempt.  

    With net neutrality, the government would regulate the internet by using unashamedly authoritarian “advisory opinions”—not normal laws...

  • NLRB Undercuts its Own Employees' Rights

    February 26, 2016

    The National Labor Relations Board has been the thorn in the side of employers nationwide. The federal labor agency has issued decisions and rules that defy common sense and make running a business an unpleasant proposition.

    Under the Obama administration, all of the agency’s action (much of which are absurd) is done in the name of the worker. But in reality, the NLRB is working on...

  • The Supreme Court Should Hear the Appeal of EPA’s Chesapeake Bay TMDL Rule

    February 25, 2016

    The Supreme Court will soon decide whether it will hear an appeal to overturn the latest outrageous power grab by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The case, American Farm Bureau v. EPA, deserves much more attention than it has received. At first glance, it appears the issues at stake are merely regional and are only of concern to farmers in the region. 

    But in fact, if the Supreme Court allows the EPA to implement its new Clean Water Act rule to regulate runoff pollution into the Chesapeake Bay, then it can use the ruling as a precedent for creating similar rules that impose strict new land-use controls affecting housing and many industries, as well as agriculture, in watersheds throughout the country.   

    The EPA in 2010 proposed a new comprehensive blueprint to regulate water pollution from...

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