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OpenMarket: Regulatory Reform

  • The Not So Good, the Bad, and the Really Ugly

    January 21, 2009
    Not all stimulus programs are created equal. If the goal of the latest economic bailout package that Congress is considering is as President Elect Obama has declared, job creation, there is a significant disparity between many of the programs.
  • New Federal Regulation Hits a Full Stop

    January 21, 2009
    According to press reports, President Barack Obama has ordered a full stop to all pending federal regulations. Funny, I didn't hear anything about that in yesterday's hours of inaugural coverage. Perhaps it would have killed the mood for some people.
    WASHINGTON -- One of President Barack Obama's first acts is to order federal agencies to halt all pending regulations until his administration can review them. The order went out Tuesday afternoon, shortly after Obama was inaugurated president, in a memorandum signed by the new White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. The notice of the action was contained in the first press release sent out by Obama's White House. The waning days of former President George W. Bush's administration featured much debate over what rules and...
  • Milton Friedman counters Kennedy inaugural--and Obama's

    January 20, 2009
    Before President Barack Obama gave his inaugural address, it had been reported that he was heavily studying John F. Kennedy's speech at the inauguration in 1961. And no doubt Obama's "call to service" will be compared to Kennedy's inaugural that contained the famous lines: "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." On the good side, Obama did hail "doers" and "risk takers" in his speech and talked about how they have improved our way of life. That's important, given the bipartisan urge to stamp out all risk-taking in the wake of the financial crisis. Perhaps that's a good sign that will Obama...
  • HIGH NOON PASSES--Global Warming Doesn't Show Up At The Inaugural

    January 20, 2009

    Well, the noon temperature in Washington DC at the President Obama's swearing-in was 28 degrees F., eight degrees colder than when Bush was sworn in eight years ago.

    So is that what Bush's much bally-hooed failure to curb CO2 emissions produced in the way of climate change—a Inauguration Day for Obama that's eight degrees colder than Bush's inauguration eight years ago? Shouldn't more CO2 mean warming, not cooling?

    Well, as I said in my earlier post today, this is not scientifically significant. But it is funny.

    It's also in line with the lack of...

  • Barack Obama's 'Digital Lines' to Nowhere

    January 20, 2009
    When Barack Obama said in his inaugural address, "We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together," he was no doubt referring to his stated goal of having government build out broadband networks on the taxpayer's dime.
  • Bad Economic Metaphors: Priming the Pump

    January 20, 2009

    President Obama faces the immediate challenge of getting funds again flowing through the financial system.  And, apparently, his advisors are relying on "pump priming"—pouring money into the system to encourage more money to flow.  This metaphor is misleading.

    I grew up in a poor area of rural Louisiana where some families still relied on old style hand pumps. The process for pulling water from underground aquifers depended upon the vacuum principle—that is the (generally) leather seal in the pump casing would often dry between uses—loosening the seal and making a vacuum impossible.  Pouring some water into the pump pipe would moisten the leather, recreating the seal and restoring the potential vacuum.  That system worked well for many centuries.

    But an economy is not a pump and the banks aren't leather...

  • Whither Union Transparency?

    January 20, 2009
    As Barack Obama is sworn in as the nation's 44th President today, Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) will likely be the next Secretary of Labor. As I've noted here recently, her cozy relationship with organized labor should raise concern among not only lawmakers and the public, but among rank-and-file union members who could soon find it harder to find out how union leaders spend their dues. The Department of Labor, under outgoing Secretary Elaine Chao, has enacted stronger reporting requirements. Reports The Los Angeles Times:
    The federal government has adopted new financial disclosure rules for labor organizations that officials say would help expose the sort of corruption allegedly found in...
  • HIGH NOON--Inauguration Global Warming Temperature Watch

    January 20, 2009
    When President Bush leaves office today, will the capital be warmer or colder than when he was sworn in eight years ago? It's not scientifically meaningful, but it is interesting. Bush has been heavily criticized for doing precious little to curb our emissions of carbon dioxide. During his eight years in office, atmospheric CO2 levels climbed by over four percent. So what did Bush's dilly-dallying produce in terms of deadly global warming? The temperature at noon in Washington DC will give us one factoid. It's a scientifically meaningless factoid, since the local temperature on any one day, let alone any one hour, tells us nothing about long-term temperature trends, but it's heavy in symbolism. When Bush was first sworn in, in 2001, the temperature at noon in DC was...
  • Stimulus Bill Lacks Bold Ideas for Reform

    January 20, 2009
    USATODAY.com reports that the stimulus plan has swelled to $850 billion but lacks the bold ideas that are needed for the economy to truly recover.  As USA Today reports:
    Obama had proposed an economic stimulus package that aides, including adviser David Axelrod, estimated at $775 billion, nearly 40% of which would be taken up by tax cuts, including a $3,000 job-creation tax credit.
    The tax cuts are a good start, but that leaves 60% of the proposal composed of spending programs.  The spending programs are a mixed bag, but many of the suggested programs set a high price on job creation.  A program to modernize Social Security sets the price of job creation at $1 million per job.  Other programs attack the employment issue by hundreds of thousands of dollars to create just one...
  • PEOTUS Behavioral Targeted Advertising Adventure

    January 16, 2009
    The prevention of regulation and the Rule of Law pounding its mighty fist within a medium or sector of business is generally something that is lauded around these parts.  On occasion, though, an industry will find that it is possibly pushing the envelope ever so much over the line and chooses to act on its own behalf.  This self-supervision, for the most part, tends to deter government involvement and the creation of legal regulation, which can in many cases be far more costly than self-imposed rules. In December of 2007 the FTC notified the online advertising industry that Behavioral Targeting-style advertising was pushing the boundaries of privacy.  Their letter--entitled "Behavioral Advertising: Moving the Discussion Forward to Possible Self-Regulatory Principles"--should have made it abundantly clear that this was a warning shot and the hammer was about to drop.  The industry,...

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