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OpenMarket: Doug Bandow

  • The British are Nutters, Truly

    December 10, 2007
    Air travel accounts for about three percent of greenhouse gases, so even if you think the planet is warming out of control, grounding all planes wouldn't help much. But enviros increasingly are targeting air travel. And the nutty British, led by the once sensible Conservative Party, are following suit.

    Reports the Daily Telegraph:
    Harsh new taxes on air travel, including a strict personal flight "allowance", will be unveiled by the Conservatives tomorrow as part of a plan that would penalise business travellers, holidaymakers and the tourist industry.

    The proposals, to be disclosed by George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, include levying VAT or fuel duty on domestic flights for the first time as part of a radical plan to tackle global warming....
  • Canada: Spending a Lot on Rationed Health Care

    December 10, 2007
    The myth of nationalized health care is that it provides everyone with equal and inexpensive care. Alas, in the real world the only way medicine can be kept inexpensive is by denying people treatment. But it turns out that political rationing doesn't even keep health care cheap.

    Consider the case of Canada. Reports the Fraser Institute:
    Provincial health care spending continues to grow at an unsustainable rate and will consume more than half of all revenues in six of 10 Canadian provinces by 2035 unless changes are made, says a new study released today by independent research organization The Fraser Institute.

    Nova Scotia and Newfoundland & Labrador are the most urgent cases, where health care spending could consume half of all revenues as early as 2017 and could hit 60 per cent of...
  • Marrying to Fight Global Warming

    December 5, 2007
    What to do about global warming? The usual ideologues and activists are busy at the latest international conclave in Bali. Needless to say, there are worse places where the U.N. could host a meeting dedicated to saving the environment.

    The Indonesian government has come up with a unique program: People can help ameliorate global warming by getting married. Reports the BBC:
    State-run Antara news agency reported that couples will have to supply seedlings or pay 25,000 rupiah ($3, £1.30) under the compulsory scheme.

    Couples applying for a divorce face a higher charge of 25 seedlings or over 40,000 rupiah ($4.25,£2).

    District officials say the programme is aimed at combating global warming.

    Couples will be expected to hand over the seedlings or cash to the person officiating at their wedding...
  • In Search of a Subprime Free Lunch

    December 3, 2007
    The subprime market is a mess. Some of your constituents are losing their homes. There are more of them in the state which you represent in Congress than there are mortgage company executives. So the answer is obvious: propose a freeze on foreclosures and interest hikes through adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs).

    That is what Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) wants to do. According to USA Today:
    New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton Monday will call for a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures on homes with subprime mortgages and a five-year freeze on the interest rates those borrowers must pay.

    In a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who is poised to announce the Bush administration's response to the housing troubles today, Clinton warns that foreclosures threaten to cause...
  • Energy Prices are Up -- Where's my Congressman?

    December 3, 2007
    The title of this New York Times article today says it all: "Truckers in Maine, Feeling High Costs of Diesel Fuel, Urge State to Intervene."

    Rising diesel fuel prices are hurting truckers, no doubt, just like rising jet fuel prices have hindered airlines seeking to regain profitability after the 9/11 shock. And rising gasoline prices have put a dent into the budgets of most Americans.

    But it's not the government's fault -- directly, at least. The U.S. should explore the Outer Continental Shelf and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. It should adjust the inefficient environmental regulations that segment the gasoline market. It should trim regulatory barriers to refinery construction. It should stop wasting money on ethanol and similar special interest fuels, etc., etc.

    But the government should...
  • Trade as a Way Out of Poverty

    November 26, 2007
    Poverty, the horrendous poverty so common in most of the world, can only shock the average Westerner.  But we in the West once were that poor.  Development came, but not without substantial pain and agony.

    That process is playing itself out today.  India, for instance, is growing, but most of its people remain poor.  They are better off when Westerners buy their goods.  Yet good-hearted attempts to mandate better wages and working conditions risk tossing the most impoverished people out of jobs.

  • Khmer Rouge on Trial

    November 26, 2007
    There's a lot of bad news in the world these days.  A bit of good news is the approach of trials of several leaders of the Khmer Rouge, the unusually brutal, even by communist standards, revolutionaries who seized control of Cambodia in 1975 and murdered 1.7 million people, almost a quarter of the population.  The prison of Tuol Sleng is now a museum.  The most moving exhibit is the simple display of photos of inmates, taken on their arrival to the facility.  Fewer than ten survived their time there.  I reflect on my visit to Tuol Sleng in an article on American Spectator online.
  • Turning Honest Canadians into Queue-Jumpers

    November 26, 2007
    It's enough to make the average Canadian cry.  The decent folk up north fervently defend their health care system from attack.  But, it turns out, the vast majority are willing to do most anything to jump the medical queue.  If paying off their doctor would move them ahead, well, let the favors and money flow!

  • Insurance as Public Service

    November 26, 2007
    "Consumer advocates"--who spend their time demanding that everyone toss money at anyone who "consumes" a product or service, are on the march, this time against insurers.  Apparently they have just discovered the ill effects of Hurricane Andrew in 1992--reduced insurance coverage.

    Reports the New York Times:
    The storm stunned insurance companies and, after paying out more than $22 billion in claims in inflation-adjusted dollars, they began rewriting policies to protect themselves as much as homeowners. They also developed computer programs intended to limit payouts on claims.

    As a result, American homeowners are having to make do with much less coverage at steadily rising prices. In Miami and other places along the coast, insurance prices have skyrocketed, deepening the...
  • Killing with Kindness

    November 26, 2007
    Government regulation almost always is biased towards inaction and prohibition.  Making a "mistake" and allowing something to happen will usually get you into far greater trouble than making a "mistake" and not allowing something to happen.  People will see the results of the former, and blame you, but are unlikely to see the consequences, even if far worse, of the latter.

    So it is with the Food and Drug Administration.  If  one person dies from a "bad" drug, the Luddites, like the misnamed Center for Science in the Public Interest, will demand that every future drug be subject to twice or thrice as much scrutiny.  Deny approval for a drug, killing thousands, and nothing happens.  The regulatory enthusiasts think that's just peachy-keen, a perfectly acceptable consequence of being extra careful.

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