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OpenMarket: Regulatory Reform

  • A Bailout for the First Amendment?

    July 30, 2009
    Dan Rather actually made the following two contradictory statements in the same speech:
    I personally encourage the president to establish a White House commission on public media.
    and then:
    A truly free and independent press is the red beating heart of democracy and freedom.
    He's right that the free press is a "watchdog on power." But that's not compatible with the idea that, as reported, "the government make an effort to ensure the survival of the free press." A press funded, promoted, propped up, subsidized by government is not a free press. Nor is it in any position to be a watchdog; it's more likely to become a megaphone for the states preferred ideas and expansion of government in other spheres, like health care, energy, finance, telecommunications,...
  • Prof. Gates' property rights likely violated in arrest -- but Obama was wrong to weigh in

    July 30, 2009
    Amid all the endless media psychobabble about "national conversations" and "teachable moments" - and we will no doubt here more of this in the reporting of the "beer summit" at the White House today -- I have been trying to weigh the established facts surrounding Henry Louis Gates' arrest from a libertarian, constitutional liberties perspective. I have come to a conclusion siding with Gates against the officers -- but only in a limited sense. Although I disagree that this was a case of racial profiling, I do think the charging of Gates with disorderly conduct for yelling at the officer in Gates' own home was an improper and likely unconstitutional infringement on both Gates' free speech and property rights. Generally, unless a something like a bullhorn is involved, a homeowner cannot "disturb the peace" on his own property, not matter how obnoxious the content of his speech might be....
  • Food Safety Bills Moving Through Congress

    July 30, 2009
    With all out attention diverted to the government's attempted takeover of the half of US health care that isn't already nationalized, the attempted destruction of our economy by crippling fossil fuel use, and the highly unstimulating stimulus plan, you could be forgiven for not noticing that Congress is also trying to re-formulate America's food safety regulations. The leading proposal is Rep. John Dingell's (D-Mich.) H.R. 2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009. It's got plenty of support from both sides of the political aisle, and it likely will be passed into law before Thanksgiving, the most important food day of the years for Americans.
  • The Challenge of Network Industries

    July 29, 2009
    "Network" industries such as electricity, air transport, telecommunication, freight rail, and internet services face a challenge with their competing flow and grid components.  Flows are the power, messaging, trains, airplanes and travelers; grids are the lines, tracks, airports and highways are the grids. The operating and investment decisions of the flow and grid are best coordinated closely.  For example, the decision to expand railways depends on profitability and sufficient additional freight traffic.  The addition of new high-capacity DC electrical grid components or a new power plant might be good or bad, depending upon whether one also introduced pricing policies that would encourage greater energy use and/or consumers. A common problem affecting most network industries is that only rarely is the same entity in control of both the grid and the flow.  Thus,...
  • In Defense of Average Cost Pricing

    July 29, 2009
    Many industries in the modern economy are ridiculed for the financing strategies they employ.  Only marginal cost pricing is defended as a legitimate practice.  Yet it is infeasible for industries with high fixed costs and low production costs to rely on marginal cost pricing.   The diverse approaches of these industries include: bundling/unbundling as with service contracts and supporting software, market segmentation by Saturday night layovers, time release strategies for books and DVDs,  encryption, intellectual property rules, specialized marketing channels as allowed by retail price maintenance, product differentiation, diversity pricing and a host of others.  The political response to almost all these practices is: "Why don't your charges reflect more closely the costs of production?"  The challenge for industries is to use non-marginal cost financing strategies more creatively to...
  • Where's the Reality in Legislation?

    July 29, 2009
    In "Why Obamacare Is Sinking," Charles Krauthammer argues that President Obama's reliance on rhetoric is finally beginning to fail because "you can't fake it in legislation." Only if the true impacts were made clear would legislation somehow force reality.  That day vanished long ago when the courts authorized Congress to delegate open-ended regulatory powers to some executive branch agency.  Today, regulatory laws are long on rhetoric (living wage, anti-discrimination, clean air bills) and vague.  The realities of the complex and costly tradeoffs are realized only after the bill becomes law.  As America has come to rely more on regulation, the visibility of honest law-making has faded.  "Honest" intervention may have been wrong and/or stupid but it did pass the...
  • VIDEO: Healthcare Reform Ideas from the Other Washington

    July 29, 2009
    John Barnes at the Washington Policy Center (motto: "Improving Lives Through Market Solutions") passes on a 3-video series about the fight over healthcare "reform" we're all part of:
    As our government considers a serious overhaul of our health care system and even a public insurance plan, it is essential that the public understands how more government involvement will impact accessibility, affordability, and quality. Under the direction of Dr. Roger Stark, a retired surgeon with over thirty years of medical experience, Washington Policy Center has launched its 2009 Federal Health Care Reform Project. As part of this project, WPC created these three short, informative health care videos detailing the current state of health care in the U.S., Congress' proposed reforms, and practical solutions to the...
  • Russia introduces strict new antitrust law

    July 29, 2009
    Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev has signed into law amendments that will bring increased penalties for price collusion and unfair competition. The new amendments will allow the authorities to bring unscrupulous businessmen and bureaucrats to justice. Government officials will be subject to disqualification and sufficiently large fines if they will restrict the movement of goods across the country. Section 178 contains a very harsh sanction - up to six years imprisonment for committing a crime in the area of restriction of competition. This is unprecedented measure for Russia but it is unlikely to work because of corruption among bureaucrats at all levels of government.
  • Policy Translated: Special Access Reform

    July 29, 2009
    [youtube: 285 234]
  • Regulation of the Day 23: Texting While Driving

    July 29, 2009
    Texting while driving is both dumb and dangerous. But making it a crime won’t make people stop doing it. It will merely make more people into criminals.


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