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OpenMarket: Regulatory Reform

  • Fewer Toys for Christmas

    December 22, 2008
    Small toy manufacturers may go out of business thanks to the "Consumer Product Safety Act of 2008," which Congress hastily passed in response to reports of lead paint in children's toys produced in China. Its poorly-drafted provisions may require manufacturers to perform $4,000 worth of tests on each lot of toys shipped. The law also mandates "$100,000 minimum fines for each violation," even unintentional ones, and contains provisions that "may actually harm safety." The law is also a bonanza for trial lawyers and the state attorneys general who hire them, giving state AGs the ability to sue...
  • Bush Auto Bailout Illegal, Bailout Supporter Admits

    December 20, 2008
    Clinton Administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who supports bailing out the Detroit automakers (whose unionized workers are paid $70 an hour), nevertheless points out that the Bush Administration's plan for an auto bailout, using financial-system bailout funds, is illegal and unconstitutional. We, the Heritage Foundation, and many others earlier reached the same conclusion. The Bush auto bailout is a waste of billions of...
  • GM-Chrysler Merger Likely Blocked by Antitrust

    December 19, 2008
    General Motors & Chrysler could be strengthened by a merger, an option that wouldn't cost taxpayers a dime. But, the idea has been pushed aside, likely because of the hurdles of antitrust rules.
  • Mortgage Madness

    December 19, 2008
    Here is a letter I fired to the Wall Street Journal:
    December 17, 2008 Editor, The Wall Street Journal 200 Liberty Street New York, NY 10281 To the Editor: R. Glenn Hubbard and Christopher J. Mayer look with alarm at the decline in housing prices (“Low-Interest Mortgages Are the Answer,” December 17). Two thoughts: First, why is it acceptable for housing prices to go up, but not down? If Hubbard and Mayer want increased homeownership, they should cheer for lower prices. The law of demand states that when something is cheap, people buy more of it. Second, artificially tinkering with mortgage interest rates will not change the underlying realities of supply and demand. Existing Hubbard-Mayer-style interventions such as Fannie Mae already induce consumers to take on loans they can't afford. Too...
  • How Do Regulations Stack Up as a Small Firm Grows?

    December 18, 2008
    Tomorrow, electric utilities and green groups team up at the National Press Club to ask for billions of new spending on what they term energy efficiency. New versions of such stimulus and bailout proposals appear almost daily. We spend a lot of time at CEI now proposing wealth-enhancing alternatives to these massive wealth transfers to government contractors and corporations. The right "stimulus" instead liberalizes wealth creation, it doesn't spread around the dwindling wealth that already exists, like a self-appointed Benevolent Vulture; I submit one important approach--especially in today's crisis situation--is to inventory all the regulations that impact a small business as it grows, and look hard at rollbacks. Below is the rough inventory I've compiled over time, but I'm sure it's out of date and some things have changed. And this doesn't even addess industry-specific rules (see...
  • Credit Card Price Controls Harm Consumers

    December 18, 2008

    The Wall Street Journal editorial got it exactly right:

    The Federal Reserve cut rates to historic lows Tuesday, but today it plans to vote to tighten consumer credit -- taking away with one hand what it gives with the other. On the agenda is a rule-making that would impose, for the first time, what amount to federal price controls on credit cards.

    That's what the Fed's proposed amendment to Regulation AA would do. In changes pushed by consumerist groups and grand-standing lawmakers, the proposal would tell banks how to divide payments on a credit card account when there are different balances on that...

  • Paul M. Weyrich, RIP

    December 18, 2008
    [Since I wrote this, Paul Weyrich's last column was published the day of his death, "The Next Conservatism, A Serious Agenda for the Future" on the Free Congress Foundation website.] I am saddened by Paul Weyrich's death. For forty years, Paul was one of the conservative movement's most honorable and effective leaders. Paul put backbone in the conservative movement. He achieved so much on so many of the great political issues of our time; and even when the cause seemed lost, Paul never gave up and never compromised his principles. Paul was a brilliant political strategist and tactician. He founded or helped found many of the major conservative groups in Washington and played the key role in developing the methods and institutions of conservative grassroots activism. Conservatives still have a lot to learn from...
  • Coming to an ISP Near You: Google Servers

    December 18, 2008
    Over at the Tech Liberation Front, the Internet's premier free market technology blog, we're discussing the implications of Google's OpenEdge program.  The program plans to place servers at your local ISP, allowing Google to store files closer to you, the end user. Rather than waiting for your YouTube video to cross the country to get to your computer, they'd only have to cross town.  This would cut down on load times and cut down on traffic elsewhere on the net. However, some have said it might be unfair, and violate net neutrality, a principle that Google itself wants to advance. Read all about it here: Me on whether or not Google violated net neutrality and whether or not it really matters Adam Thierer on...
  • VIDEO: Fred Thompson on the Economy

    December 16, 2008
    In a great satire of today's political doublespeak, Fred Thompson tells us why the sophisticated policies coming out of Washington defy common sense. How do we solve a problem caused by spending more money than we had? Spend more money than we have!
  • Paulson's Bailout Was a Scam

    December 16, 2008
    National Review editor Rich Lowry, who mistakenly supported the financial system bailout because he trusted the Bush Administration, now realizes that he was deceived by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulsen, and that the bailout was sold to the public under false pretenses. Having promised to use bailout money to buy up troubled assets, the Bush Administration instead used the money for completely different purposes, and now wants to use some of it to bail out an entirely different industry -- the automakers.  The Bush Administration reads the bailout bill as giving it almost limitless discretion as to who to bail out and how.  That interpretation of the bailout statute...

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