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OpenMarket: Regulatory Reform

  • Did the Supreme Court "Botch" Wyeth v. Levine?

    March 5, 2009
    I was initially going to post this as a comment to Greg Conko's recent post arguing against the Court's recent decision in Wyeth v. Levine, but the comment system didn't work correctly for me. I appreciate the force of Greg's argument (and I certainly agree that this particular case should have been decided much earlier on different grounds), but I think there is room for reasonable disagreement within the libertarian community about whether FDA preempting state tort law is good or bad. This is one of these questions about what to do in the real world, where first-best solutions just aren't politically possible. Most libertarians would likely agree that there should be only one...
  • Imagine There's No Agency

    March 5, 2009
    Washington spends and regulates, and it’s hard to make it stop doing either. Government agencies and programs attract constituencies that want to keep them around, however wasteful. Such big problems require big solutions that spread the risk of political fallout, by assembling a bi-partisan package of cuts and requiring an up-or-down vote. So, against the backdrop of a $3.5 trillion federal budget, trillions in deficit spending, and over $1 trillion in annual regulatory costs besides, comes H.R. 1023, the “Federal Agency Program Realignment and Closure Act,” introduced February 12 by Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK). In a political environment ballooning with unrestrained new government programs, his bill would “establish a commission to recommend the elimination or realignment of...
  • Supreme Court Botches Preemption Case

    March 4, 2009
    Ms. Levine alleged not only that the warning on Phenergan's label wasn't strong enough, but that Phenergan was "not reasonably safe for intravenous administration," and that Phenergan's label should have indicated that the drug "should not be used intravenously." But, that's a question regarding FDA's approval of the product for that use, not merely the sufficiency of the warning.
  • Parallel Lies

    March 3, 2009
    British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been talking with President Obama this morning, and high on the agenda was the PM's call for international banking regulation. The interesting thing is that both Obama and Brown have blamed lack of regulation for the banking crisis, when there is clear evidence on both sides of the Atlantic that it was bad and inept regulation that drove the crisis. For an example from the US, here's John Carney on how bad regulations helped destroy AIG. Over in the UK, the Taxpayers' Alliance has an excellent study that outlines numerous ways in which regulations and regulators contributed to the UK's own crisis. Here are its...
  • Your Loss Is My Gain, Sucker!

    March 3, 2009
    I am being enriched by a vast expansion of government that will impoverish you and your family, and shrink the size of the economy in the long run. Across the country, and probably where you live, home values have declined by 20 percent or more. But my house, located where many federal employees live, has lost much less value. Indeed, the tax assessor claims (with some exaggeration) that my home's value is down only a few percent over 2007 and 2008, and is still well above its 2004 purchase price. A Washington Post story today suggests why. It notes that thanks to Obama's huge spending proposals, fueled by deficit spending on an unprecedented scale, up "to...
  • DC on the School Reform Front Lines, Again

    March 2, 2009
    Today's Washington Post features an editorial that strongly criticizes Congressional Democrats' rush to kill the District of Columbia's school voucher program, which enjoys bipartisan support in the heavily Democratic nation's capital, and is considered a success by those whose opinion should most matter in this debate: schoolchildren and their parents.
    We would like Mr. Obey and his colleagues to talk about possible "disruption" with Deborah Parker, mother of two children who attend Sidwell Friends School because of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. "The mere thought of returning to public school frightens me," Ms. Parker told us as she related the opportunities -- such as a trip to China for her son -- made possible by the program. Tell her, as critics claim...
  • What Does Norway's Net Neutrality Mean for the U.S.?

    March 2, 2009
    Hopefully nothing.  But international policy has a way of making waves on our shores; sort of a "Look what they're doing in Europe, we should do that too" mantra that's carried in some circles. The policy that was passed in Norway on the 24th of February is voluntary, but has a large base of support across government, trade associations, and consumer groups within the country. The policy boils down to 3 main objectives, and those wishing to voluntarily support and conduct business sign onto the document placing themselves accountable to those objectives. The objectives are (the policy in PDF form can be found in its entirety here):
    1) Internet users are entitled to an Internet connection with a predefined capacity and quality. 2) Internet users are...
  • Wayne Crews Considers the Cost of Regulation

    February 26, 2009
    From Removing burdensome regulations on businesses, both large and small, hasn’t figured much into the economic recovery program thus far. But alternatives to “porkulus†and “bailout to nowhere†do exist.
  • Dambisa Moyo: Zambian Author Takes on Foreign Aid

    February 25, 2009
    The celebrity parade calling for more foreign aid to poor countries has become so ubiquitous -- and accepted -- these days that critiques of it are rare. So it's refreshing to see just such a critique in no less vaunted an outlet than The New York Times Magazine. The magazine's current issue features an interview with Dambisa Moyo, a native of Zambia and author of the book, Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa, to be released in the United States on March 17.
    You argue in your book that Western aid to Africa has not only perpetuated poverty but also worsened it, and you are...
  • Obama's Bankruptcy Math Has to be Wrong

    February 25, 2009
    President Obama claimed in his speech tonight:
    "For that same reason, we must also address the crushing cost of health care. "This is a cost that now causes a bankruptcy in America every thirty seconds."
    This number can't be true.  A bankruptcy every 30 seconds would be equal to 120 bankruptcies per hour.  Multiply that by 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year (presuming a non-leap year), and you get 1,051,200 bankruptcies per year. This numbers seems a little high, even considering that 2008 was a year with a lot of a bankruptcies.  But there's a reason that number seems high.  Namely, it's not true. According to Zacks Investment Research:
    "During 2008, personal bankruptcies had the most significant increase since the major...


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