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OpenMarket: Regulatory Reform

  • Fix Social Security; Unleash Capital

    April 29, 2009
    In RealClearMarkets.com, Fred Smith and I explain how the seemingly forgotten -- but still important -- goal of Social Security reform can help unleash capital, now that the U.S. economy desperately needs it. Whole thing here.
  • Well @#$%&, Supreme Court Upholds Ban on "Expleetive Deleetives."

    April 28, 2009
    In FCC v. Fox today, the Supreme Court upheld regulation of "fleeting expletives" on broadcast television. What should be "fleeting" is the nearly century old FCC itself, but it's desperately sought things to occupy itself in the 21st Century, and here's another success. They insist they're protecting my children. As Adam Thierer at the Progress and Freedom Foundation put it:
    While the Court decided this case on purely procedural grounds, its failure to address the constitutional issues at stake will leave the First Amendment freedoms of both media creators and consumers in this country uncertain until another case winds its way up to the court, which could take years.....[W]hat's the point of continuing to apply a censorship regime to one of the oldest...
  • When Government Spending Gets Really Obscene

    April 23, 2009
    My good friend and Bureaucrash ally Xaq Fixx recently altered me to an interesting story on the intersection of politics, technology and free speech. It seems that the state government of California, through the California Employment Training Panel, is paying contractors who train in-state workers in new skills - an effort to boost the Golden State's notoriously sagging economy. Nothing too unusual there. Enter SF Weekly's Matt Smith, who noticed that the list of recipients of this state-subsidized training were employees of Cybernet Entertainment LLC. Cybernet in turn is the proprietor of a number of websites which feature videos catering to adult and, ah, highly specialized interests. Kinky but legal, in other words. Smith submitted a public...
  • General Growth Properties (GGP) -- Bankruptcy the way it ought to be

    April 23, 2009
    On the surface, given the economic turmoil we've had, there was nothing that remarkable about the bankruptcy of shopping mall owner General Growth Properties (GGP). Late last week, GGP filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, an action that some had been expecting for months  given its debt of almost $25 billion. GGP was the second largest mall owner in the country -- with properties including Chicago's Water Tower and the DC area-Tyson's Gallleria -- and filed for what has been described the biggest U.S. real estate bankuptcy ever. Yet the bankruptcy barely made a ripple in the stock market, which was up last Thursday the 16th, the day of its filing. And most of its malls, according to various local press reporties, operated as if nothing had changed. Yet, in another way, the fact that this bankruptcy has so far gone off so smoothly is...
  • Obama credit card meeting -- should meet with economists instead

    April 23, 2009
    Instead of meeting with the executives of credit card issuers and sactimoniously lecturing them about not raising rates, as he is doing today,  President Obama would serve card holders more effectively by meeting with economists and listening to their concerns about the dangers of price controls on credit card services. Economists from all schools of thought -- from Keynesian to supply-side -- recognize the basic principle of microeconomics that price controls lead to shortages of  commodities, including credit, and cause distortions that harm ordinary consumers. Limits on risk-based pricing, as enacted in rules last year from the Federal Reserve, and in proposals in Congress that go beyond these rules, could result in sharp limits in the availability of credit at...
  • Mortgage Executive Kills Himself, After Obama Makes Mortgage Giant Freddie Mac Lose Money to Bail Out Irresponsible Borrowers

    April 22, 2009
    The chief financial officer of mortgage giant Freddie Mac committed suicide today in his basement. The Obama Administration forced Freddie Mac to run up billions of dollars in losses to bail out mortgage borrowers, including irresponsible high-income households with modest mortgages. Until last year, Freddie Mac was a GSE -- a...
  • People Make Earth Day Better

    April 21, 2009
    This year, we at the Competitive Enterprise Institute are suggesting that those who will be celebrating Earth Day remember the challenges presented by living in the natural world, and the inspiring ways that human beings have worked to overcome them. This new perspective is celebrated in a short video titled “Humans Make Earth Day Better.” While Earth Day has previously focused on traditional concerns like pollution and recycling, we think it’s also a perfect time to think about the challenges human beings themselves face around the world – like hunger, disease and poverty – and the many ways human ingenuity has helped drive them back. Many thanks to CEI Studio Producer Drew Tidwell for his excellent work on the video....
  • Does Anyone Understand The Internet?

    April 21, 2009
    I'm beginning to think "no" is the definitive answer.  While most tend to understand the basic concepts of Internet connectivity and its associated parts, it seems that it is becoming abundantly clear that terminology has been misused by media and public organizations such that no one really understands what they are even talking about anymore. It's understandable that people who don't work in the telecommunications sector are unfamiliar with networking.  But a group of writers that should understand these concepts are the individuals that are paid to write for PCWorld. Today, David Coursey discussed the recent decision of Time Warner Cable to back off its plans to test metered broadband service in an essay strangely entitled, "Why Metered Broadband Would...
  • The "Small Business" Exemption Distortion

    April 21, 2009
    Many of the federal regulatory and tax laws include a "small business exemption" - politicians displaying an aversion to crippling a politically powerful constituency.  Often this is done by a cap - "This law will not apply to businesses having net annual sales less than some amount."  Years ago, I saw one consequence of this law in the organization of the US scrap industry.  A prospering scrap firm would approach the cap ceiling and re-organize into two smaller businesses -- sometimes one brother would head one firm, another the other.  Nothing wrong with this, save the transaction costs of creating two organizations rather than one.  But these costs may indeed be large - duplicate job slots in...
  • Nationalizing the Banks? Stock Conversion May Backfire

    April 20, 2009
    The Obama Administration wants to convert the preferred shares the government got from banks in the bank bailout into common shares. In theory, it could help expand lending, but in practice, it could politicize the banks, harm the economy, and waste taxpayer money. Common shares, unlike preferred shares, vote on who manages the company. The Government could use its votes to make banks waste money on ideological causes -- the way it recently did with Freddie Mac, in order to promote mortgage relief for even high-income borrowers, and is now attempting to do with banks...

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