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OpenMarket: Regulatory Reform

  • The New Green Economy?

    January 21, 2009
    I've spent a while crunching the numbers relating to energy and environment spending in the stimulus bill. The bill will spend about $80 billion on energy and environment, which can be broadly broken down into the following categorizations: Electricity infrastructure/efficiency - $35.6 billion Renewable projects - $11.95bn (mostly $8bn in loan guarantees and $2.4bn for clean coal) Climate science/general energy academic research - $9.3bn!!! (including $1.9 for nuclear research) EPA programs (Superfund cleanup etc) - $12.2bn Other environmental (National Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management etc) - $10.899bn So that means around $57 billion of the total is aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Thanks to Jonathan Tolman, we can work out how many jobs this...
  • Avoiding Political Erectile Dysfunction

    January 21, 2009
    According to the Congressional Budget Office, "Bailout to Nowhere" money for the proposed new infrastructure stimulus won't be spent within the next two years--far too late to do anything about an ailing economy (granting for the moment that such spending is stimulative rather than destructive, which it isn't). According to the Washington Post:
    Less than half the money dedicated to highways, school construction and other infrastructure projects in a massive economic stimulus package unveiled by House Democrats is likely to be spent within the next two years, according to congressional budget analysts, meaning most of the spending would come too late to lift the nation out of recession. A report by the Congressional Budget Office found...
  • 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...

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