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OpenMarket: Regulatory Reform

  • Stimulating Comment

    February 9, 2009
    Comment from a friend watching Obama's Indiana town hall promoting the stimulus:
    "Some chump just told Obama to mail a check to the people who lost their jobs, so they don't have to stand in line begging for money from the government."
  • Tilting at Food Safety Windmills

    February 9, 2009
    Unfortunately, as long as the world's food production system continues to be highly decentralized and fragmented, there will continue to be foodborne illness outbreaks like the most recent salmonella contamination, but there is not enough money in the world to meaningfully increase inspections of the hundreds of thousands of facilities that produce, process, and sell food in the United States. The proposed Food and Drug Administration Globalization Act of 2009 is is designed to make us all feel that the government is “doing something,†while taking more money out of the productive economy and funnelling it to Washington.
  • Why "doing nothing" is something really big: Stopping the Anti-Stimulus

    February 9, 2009
    Robert Higgs, he of the famous "ratchet effect" theory of government growth (up but never down in answer to a crisis), has an artcle in the Christian Science Monitor on the merits of doing nothing, and of politicians getting out of the way so that recovery can actually happen. The real problem with recessions is not that we have them, but that politicians help sow the seeds and deepen them with massive political interventions in vast swaths of the free enterprise economy (money and credit, housing, science, biotechnology, nanotechnology, health care, retirement, automaking and other manufacturing, "infrastructure"--there's a word that...
  • Broadband Stimulus Cut

    February 7, 2009
    Bloomberg is reporting that an agreement on a stimulus package has been reached in the Senate.  Included in the compromise was the decision to strip $2 billion in broadband funding for rural areas.  The Senate version of the bill originally included $9 billion in funding for broadband expansion in unserved and underserved areas.  The key here is that Bloomberg refers to the removed $2 billion as funding to "promote broadband."  So it is still entirely unclear what remains in the bill regarding broadband. It's entirely possible that $7 billion remains in the bill for broadband infrastructure, and the $2 billion removed was simply for marketing and education regarding broadband expansion. More to follow as the details emerge...
  • Should the Anti-Stimulus Package be tan or beige?

    February 7, 2009
    President Obama more than once last week called it “inexcusable” for Congress to get “bogged down in distraction, delay or politics as usual” over the anti-stimulus legislation. Actually, there never was such a bog-down, since the bill already passed the House by the Democratic majority, and he never needed much Republican support to make a package of substantial magnitude happen in the Senate. Obama is seeking a sheen of bipartisanship, but if he's convinced it's right and he occupies the moral high-ground, it's not entirely clear why he would talk about an imaginary bog-down of what's become a "faith-based initiative" that no one can or will stop. Obama's right--he did win in November, as he taunted detractors last week, and nobody can stop him. It's just curious that he feels the need to seek rivals' approval of a highly destructive measure like this when it's a train that can't (or...
  • Today's Gift to Big Labor

    February 6, 2009
    Even as the nomination of Hilda Solis for Labor Secretary remains stalled due to tax and potential ethics rules troubles, organized labor got a large gift from President Obama today, as he signed an executive order instructing federal agencies to have contractors working on construction projects of $25 million or more to sign project labor agreements (PLAs) with labor unions -- and it may come at the expense of taxpayers. Under the order, federal construction project PLAs would, among other things, "bind all contractors and subcontractors on the construction project through the inclusion of appropriate specifications in all relevant solicitation provisions and contract documents;" "contain guarantees against...
  • Senate Broad Stimulus & Avoiding Federal "Strings"

    February 6, 2009
    Aside from the fact that the Senate lacks the necessary votes to pass its version of the stimulus, the bill does actually have a much more in-depth plan for broadband expansion into unserved and underserved areas of the country.  In stark contrast, the House version has no concrete plan. The Senate version of the stimulus raises the amount of money spent on broadband up to $9 billion, much more than $2.825 billion in the House version.  But either amount is a dangerous giveaway to broadband providers.  Already we've seen banks that have been similarly "stimulated" subject to strings attached to federal dollars.  CEO pay is being limited, and more micromanagement by the administration and regulators is sure to follow.  The same will be true for broadband providers should...
  • Obama's New Appliance Efficiency Mandates, Consumers Better Run For Cover

    February 5, 2009

    President Obama today announced that he is pressuring the Department of Energy (DoE) to speed up some long-delayed efficiency standards for appliances.  His move is being applauded by environmentalists—no surprise there.  And DoE itself will almost certainly proclaim that the new standards will give us better appliances in the future; they might cost more, but they'll supposedly save us money in the long run.

    Don't believe it.  Here are some examples of how DoE efficiency mandates have produced, or will produce, fiascoes rather than progress:

    • In 2007, higher efficiency standards for top-loading washing machines ruined the cleaning ability of many models, according to Consumer Reports...
  • Support for Stimulus Collapses Internationally

    February 4, 2009
    Rasmussen reports that support for the borrow-and-spend plan is falling rapidly:
    The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 37% favor the legislation, 43% are opposed, and 20% are not sure. Two weeks ago, 45% supported the plan. Last week, 42% supported it. Opposition has grown from 34% two weeks ago to 39% last week and 43% today.
    Interestingly, only 27% of independents support the package, indicating that President Obama would have to spend a lot of his political capital to turn them around. Meanwhile, across the pond, support for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's similar stimulus package has also collapsed...
  • Obama's defense of weatherizing homes as "stimulus" with Anderson Cooper on CNN is priceless

    February 4, 2009
    The President actually said: --it puts people to work --it saves families on their energy bill --it reduces dependence on foreign oil. He said this with a straight face, Cooper didn’t hit him over the head with a notebook, nothing. Then Cooper asked him "what's the coolest thing about your new car?"


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