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OpenMarket: Brian McGraw

  • Bob Barr, [un]Principled Supporter of Ethanol

    September 24, 2010

    Bob Barr, the 2008 Libertarian Party presidential nominee, had a piece in yesterday’s Huffington Post titled Extending Ethanol Tax Credit Makes Sense. It's depressing to see such a high-profile libertarian completely sell out, and I hope he receives flack over this return to special interest politics, as just over a year ago he said "How about the still-active ethanol subsidy scam?" Thankfully, the online comments from the left-leaning Huffington Post suggest few are buying into his spiel. If this was some ploy by the ethanol industry to gain support from free-marketers, let me suggest that will not succeed. The entire article is full of...

  • Biofuels and Tax Expenditures

    August 23, 2010
    One of the claims that the renewable energy groups continue to make, as their tax credits approach the chopping block, is that the U.S. is still unfairly subsidizing fossil-fuel energy sources. This is being used to justify the extension of the renewable energy tax credits, as renewable sources cannot compete on price with oil. (Of course, to a large extent they don't need to compete on price because their use is mandated by law.)

    See here, and here.

    A few things:

    (1) Many of the groups arguing against the ethanol tax cuts are also in favor of eliminating tax subsidies to oil companies. (Two wrongs don't make a right)

    (2) Both blogs disingenuously references studies that have...
  • The Ethanol Industry and Competition

    August 19, 2010

    Growth Energy, an ethanol trade group, released a blog post yesterday titled "In An Open Market, All Fuels Can Compete."

    The blogger writes:

    Velasco is right when he says that "competition works." But we can only compete in a fair and open market where consumers have access to all fuels. Redirecting current U.S. government supports to the build out of blender pumps and flex...

  • America's Failed Domestic Ethanol Policy

    June 16, 2010
    I had a piece in yesterday's Washington Times critiquing U.S. ethanol policy. My main points:

    • Price subsidies are generally bad--they encourage overconsumption and distort the efficient allocation of resources. Ethanol is one of those cases--the "green" fuel is  (presently) costly and inefficient. If this wasn't the case it is unlikely that the ethanol industry would need to rely on government support to survive. This is a clear case of a wealth transfer from taxpayers to a powerful, special interest.

    • Taxing foreign ethanol imports is just as damaging to our economy. We don't refuse to buy clothes, electronics, food, etc. from other countries. Energy is no different. The U.S. would be much worse off if we were unable to get energy from a variety of sources...
  • Internet Gambling Catches Second Wind

    April 23, 2010 reports that Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is working on a new bill (one of many in the past year) to legalize and regulate online poker. It is unclear at the moment why or how this would differ from current efforts by Barney Frank. The bill is expected to be introduced in the second quarter of 2010, a few months after the enforcement deadline for the UIGEA.

    In exchange...

  • Higgs and the Expanding State

    April 14, 2010
    Robert Higgs, author and fellow of the Independent Institute has two excellent posts (here and here) on the underhanded creep of government. He asks, "What of any consequence remains beyond the state’s reach in the United States today? … We verge ever closer upon the condition in which everything that is not prohibited is required. Yet, the average American will declare loudly that he is a free man and that his country is the freest in the world.”

    Part one of his two post series compares public perception of our freedoms to those under Mussolini and Hitler. Note that he is NOT implying that the United States government is like that of Mussolini or Hitler but that people react similarly (with indifference) as freedoms are eroded away in piecemeal. The post links to an excerpt of...
  • States Expand Gambling as Feds Attack It

    April 7, 2010

    Last week the Tax Foundation called attention to state initiatives to expand the lottery system. To cover lost revenues from the recession many states have turned to expanding state owned gambling and lottery services (while simultaneously cutting funding for organizations that treat gambling addicts). The most notable example was Pennsylvania, a state in which gambling had been illegal until recently, which is planning to offer wagers on the outcomes of federal, state, and local elections.

    Contrast that with this ...

  • Biden announces retirement (savings program)

    February 26, 2010
    Vice President Joe Biden announces retirement (savings program).

    If only we were so lucky. (In reality, it doesn't matter. As he recently said, "It's easy being vice president—you don't have to do anything.")

    Biden, with the White House, revealed a new consumer financial protection program today. The new proposal, while still light on details, includes new regulations protecting consumers from financial products, additional consumer protection in the mortgage industry, and additional protections for retirement security.

    The irony is overwhelming. The proposal writes: "In the wake of the Madoff scandal, it is...
  • Obama Targets Kyl's (Nanny State) Obstructionism

    February 2, 2010
    In his 2010 State of the Union address, President Obama blasted colleagues for placing holds on political appointees and other obstructive tactics:
    Neither party should delay or obstruct every single bill just because they can. The confirmation of well-qualified public servants should not be held hostage to the pet projects or grudges of a few individual senators.

    He was likely referring to Senator Jon Kyl's (R-Ariz.) decision to block Treasury nominees in retaliation for the delayed implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. The enforcement has been delayed for six months due to confusion and ambiguity associated with the law. Kyl has been pursuing similar legislation for close to a decade and, unfortunately, has been moderately successful in...
  • TSA Security Playset

    January 14, 2010
    The Playmobil Security Check Point has experienced a new surge in popularity (so much so that it is currently out of stock) on Amazon in a response to nationwide security talks concerning the attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on December 25, 2009 by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

    Daniel Solove over at Concurring Opinions offered (from 2005) a humorous review of the product:
    I was a bit...


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