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OpenMarket: Regulatory Reform

  • How to Stop Another GM: Abolish Pensions

    June 1, 2009
     

    GM, of course, declared bankruptcy today. A number of things—bad management, poor products and screwy labor relations—hurt the company. But in the end, the biggest problem GM couldn’t solve related to the company’s liabilities to retirees. The company, which currently employs about 150,000 hourly workers, was responsible for the health care of over 1 million people and pension obligations for over 650,000 people.  These pension obligations were probably the largest factor in GM’s demise and public policy should, at minimum, stop encouraging companies to take on anything like them.

    The lure of pensions is obvious. A pension is another benefit that a company can provide to...

  • Corporate Welfare on a Vast Scale: Obama's Cap-and-Trade Scam Threatens Economy

    June 1, 2009
    One of Obama's own advisers admits that the cap-and-trade energy-rationing scheme backed by the "Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats" would "have a trivially small effect on global warming while imposing substantial costs on all American households. And to get political support in key states, the legislation would abandon the auctioning of permits in favor of giving permits to selected corporations." Obama adviser Martin Feldstein notes that "the Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that the resulting increases in consumer prices...
  • Wasteful Obama Auto Bailouts Disturb Even Liberal Washington Post

    May 30, 2009
    Even the liberal Washington Post, which endorsed Obama and has not backed a Republican for president since 1952, is getting fed up with the Obama Administration's wasteful and politicized bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler. Today, it laments the "imminent transformation of General Motors into a government-owned company, infused with upward of $50 billion in federal money." "It doesn't take much imagination to forecast the political pressures that will buffet the government-as-auto-executive. We've seen one effect already in the preferential...
  • Anti-GMO Zealots vs. Starving Zimbabweans

    May 29, 2009
    In Zimbabwe, the most food aid-dependent country in the world, officials and self-styled "consumer activists" have begun raiding shops suspected of selling genetically-modified food, The Zimbabwean reported earlier this week.
    [The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe] which fights for the rights of consumers last week started to inspect and recommend that shops selling GMO foods should be closed. CCZ said the GMO foods which have flooded Zimbabwe were mostly powered milk, meal-mealie, rice and chicken. “We have received a lot of reports of people, mainly children, getting sick after consuming the foods which in most cases will be expired,” said Comfort Muchekeza, the CCZ spokesperson. “We...
  • Compare and Contrast

    May 26, 2009
    Bjorn Lomborg, November 2007:
    ...although it may seem almost comically straightforward, one of the best temperature-reducing approaches is very simple: paint things white. Cities have a lot of black asphalt and dark, heat-absorbing structures. By increasing reflection and shade, a great deal of heat build-up can be avoided. Paint most of a city and you could lower the temperature by 10C.
    Steven Chu, May 2009:
    Professor Steven Chu, speaking at the opening of the St James’s Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium, for which The Times is media partner, said this simple and “completely benign” approach to “geo-engineering” could have a vast impact at low cost. By lightening all paved surfaces and...
  • A Bleak Regulatory Future for the Tech Sector

    May 26, 2009
    May so far has been full of omens for the future of technology regulation. On Monday the 11th, the Obama administration announced that it would take a tougher new stance on antitrust issues and repealed several antitrust guidelines issued by the Justice Department under George W. Bush. Christine Varney, the newly confirmed assistant Attorney General for antitrust, vowed to keep tech companies in the line of fire. On May 13th, the European commission fined Intel $1.45 billion for engaging in "anti-competitive practices," following an investigation which found that Intel had effectively paid off customers (through discounts and rebates) to use Intel's chips exclusively, rather than those made by competitor AMD. Japanese and South...
  • Divorce Courts Harass Our Troops and Small Businesses

    May 25, 2009
    Memorial Day is an opportunity to thank our troops, and open our eyes to the disgraceful way they are treated by divorce courts. The bias that divorce courts in my home state of Virginia exhibit against males, people who start small businesses, and breadwinner spouses in general has been ably chronicled by Richard Crouch, a prominent family lawyer, in the Virginia state bar publication Family Law News. But what ashames me most as a lawyer is how divorce courts routinely flout our troops' rights under federal law. Crouch notes that Virginia courts ignore federal law by ordering members of the military to share their pensions with spouses who divorced them after even short marriages: "Something everybody learned...
  • Chrysler Confronts Grim Future, Despite Billions in Taxpayer Subsidies

    May 22, 2009
    The federal government poured billions of dollars into Chrysler, which then went bankrupt and merged with Fiat. But Chrysler may never revive, thanks to absurdly generous compensation for the company's union employees. The Obama Administration has refused to cut union wages substantially, though it had no compunction about ripping off the pension funds and other lenders who loaned money to Chrysler to try to keep it afloat. Even union members seem...
  • Fulfilling Prophecies

    May 21, 2009
    CBO estimated today that unemployment will top out at around 10.5% before it recovers. Congress is doing its part to make CBO’s dire prophecy a reality.
  • Victory for Capitalism in World's Largest Democracy

    May 18, 2009
    India's Congress Party was responsible for many mistakes when it turned India into a corrupt socialist state in the 1960s and 70s, but it changed course after a series of electoral defeats, and pro-market reforms were possible in the 1980s and 1990s.. Under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh it has been a champion of free-enterprise capitalism that has turned India into a successful modern state. Despite the global recession, Indians have strongly endorsed Mr Singh's policies and returned Congress to power. The Communist "Third Force" block, which had boasted that it was going to be the kingmaker in the new Parliament, has suffered major setbacks, including...

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