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OpenMarket: Doug Bandow

  • Authorian Paternalists on the Prowl!

    October 8, 2007
    The common claim that America is the "land of the free" continues to look ever more hollow.  The latest of many targets of the authoritarian paternalists is smoking at home.  Localities are increasingly banning smoking in apartments or condos.  Reports USA Today on two California cities:
     Next Tuesday, the City Council of Belmont is scheduled to cast a final vote on an ordinance that would ban smoking in apartments and condos. The measure, which won initial approval last week, could trigger fines and evictions if neighbors complain and smokers don't heed repeated warnings.

    In Calabasas on Wednesday, the City Council discussed a proposal that would expand its anti-smoking law to bar lighting up inside existing apartments and most new condos. The council agreed to request changes to the...
  • Politicians Protecting Politicians

    October 8, 2007
    You've got to love the state of Oklahoma. To "protect" its citizens from organizing against the established political order, Oklahoma bars out-of-state residents from gathering signatures for ballot campaigns.

    Thus, last week the state arrested Rick Carpenter, president of Oklahomans in Action, who was working with Susan Johnson (from Michigan), president of National Voter Outreach, and Paul Jacob (from Virginia), of Citizens in Charge for conspiracy and fraud. The alleged crime? Attempting to qualify a taxpayer bill of rights for a vote of the people of Oklahoma.

  • International Fraud and the Law of the Sea Treaty

    October 1, 2007
    The most important treaty that most people have never heard of is moving closer to ratification. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held its first hearing on the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) last Thursday. Natually, only pro-LOST witnesses, from the supposedly conservative Bush administration, were invited to share their views.

    This coming Thursday will be a second hearing, at which CEI's Fred Smith, joined by Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, will explain why accepting LOST would be a bad idea. Along with them will be another five proponents. Balance has never been in high demand on Capitol Hill.

    Moreover, the treaty's advocates are determined to downplay the likely impact of their handiwork. As I explain in a new CEI study, the LOST creates a bizarre regulatory system that threatens not just ocean mining, but...
  • Government-Sponsored Deer-Hunting Therapy

    September 24, 2007
    The government wants you to go deer-hunting. Go ahead. Take a day off. It's on your employer.

    Well, Uncle Sam doesn't quite put it that way. Congress just mandates that employers provide leave for "medical reasons." Employees provide the interpretation.

    Explains James Sherk of the Heritage Foundation:
    Not surprisingly, medical leave requests spike on Mondays and Fridays, during the summertime, and during public holidays. Other workers take family and medical leave when their employers deny their vacation requests.

    It isn't just time off work. Some workers take leave when faced with the "serious medical condition" of working a night shift. And since the Department of Labor has interpreted the act to mean that workers can take their 12 weeks of leave in minute intervals, some workers also use the act...
  • Government: The Triumph of Hope Over Experience

    September 24, 2007
    Government is a lot like a second marriage, the triumph of hope over experience. We create a program. Thieves loot it. Special interests manipulate it. Recipients abuse it. Old problems get worse, new problems arise. So what do we do? Pour more money into the program.

    It isn't even possible to get an adequate answer on what government is doing with our money. Reports the Associated Press:
    Ten years after Congress ordered federal agencies to have outside auditors review their books, neither the Defense Department nor the newer Department of Homeland Security has met even basic accounting requirements, leaving them vulnerable to waste, fraud and abuse. An Associated Press review shows that the two departments' financial records are so disorganized and inconsistent that...
  • I Haven't Lost that Paternalist Feeling

    September 18, 2007
    What's a paternalist to do? The American people are getting fatter, but they ignore warning labels, as well as increasingly shrill advice from their nutritional betters. So why not just ban restaurants that sell fatty food!?

    The city of Los Angeles is planning to do just that. According to the Los Angeles Times:
    As America gets fatter, policymakers are seeking creative approaches to legislating health. They may have entered the school cafeteria -- and now they're eyeing your neighborhood.

    Amid worries of an obesity epidemic and its related illnesses, including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, Los Angeles officials, among others around the country, are proposing to limit new fast-food restaurants -- a tactic that could be called health zoning.

    The City Council...
  • The Market for Feeling Good About Oneself

    September 18, 2007
    Markets are wonderful. If there is a demand, markets will arise to fill it. Including the desire to feel good about oneself.

    How else should one view the "carbon offset" business? It offers the obvious appeal of "cheap grace." You want to continue sinning but find a way to assuage the twinges of guilt that you feel. So you pay someone who claims to be counteracting your sin. I'm promiscuous, you're a virgin, so it kind of balances out.

    In today's guilt-ridden world carbon offsets have become big business. Reports the Los Angeles Times:
    The Oscar-winning film "An Inconvenient Truth" touted itself as the world's first carbon-neutral documentary.

    The producers said that every ounce of carbon emitted during production -- from jet travel, electricity for filming and gasoline...
  • Social Engineering Fails Again: Surprise!

    September 4, 2007
    Government social engineering doesn't work. It's rarely just. It is even less likely to be effective. That is the lesson of just about every government attempt to remake individuals and/or societies.

    One of the great movements for liberty in American history was eliminating legal disabilities against minorities. The most odious and obvious was slavery followed by the panoply of Jim Crow laws against African Americans. Only in the 1960s did many of these Americans become full citizens of the American republic.

    Unfortunately, the desire to remedy past discrimination led to present discrimination, dressed up in the positive phrase "affirmative action." Also unfortunately, in practice that too often meant discrimination, but this time against non-minorities, though the categories constantly varied. No where has the rush to discriminate been stronger than in academia. The cases of...
  • How to Really Tax the Rich

    September 3, 2007
    There is much that occurs in Washington that irritates -- and irritates mightily.

    One of my pet peeves is how welfare statists greedy for extra taxpayer money to spend loudly denounce as greedy anyone who doesn't want to surrender more of his or her money to the greedy, grasping interest groups surrounding Capitol Hill.  And when a tax cut is miraculously passed, it is denounced as a tax cut "for the rich" if people who earn more get more back.

    Of course, the whole purpose of a tax cut is to cut taxes, which means you have to pay something to get something back.  That shouldn't be too complicated a concept to grasp.  Except in Washington!

     A corollary is that a fair tax cut will provide more money back for people who pay more in taxes.  Thus, the tax cut that is fairest is precisely the one that benefits "the rich," since "the rich" pay so much more in taxes....
  • Earmarks and Bipartisan Hypocrisy

    August 29, 2007
    Washington, D.C. is a wonderful place. Perhaps its hallmark is the lack of shame. A qualification for high office is being able to engage in the rankest hypocrisy with a straight face. It happens all the time.

    The other day House Minority Leader John Boehner criticized the ruling Democrats for failing to eliminate earmarks, the principle vehicle for delivering pork to voters. And there certainly is cause for complaint. Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) observes that the Democrats so far have approved 2,653 earmarks costing $13.2 billion. Reports the Washington Times:
    House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said Mr. Emanuel's assertion that new Democratic rules have resulted in a more open and transparent earmark process is "simply...

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