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OpenMarket: John Berlau

  • Milton Friedman, psychic?

    January 31, 2007
    By proclamation of several cities and states, Monday was Milton Friedman Day. CEI was one of many free-market groups that joined in this celebration with events celebrating the great economist's life. But really, especially for the governments concerned, shouldn't every day be Milton Friedman Day? We should try our best not to interfere or advocate interfering with the free market.

    In that spirit, I want to share a passage of Dr. Friedman's from The Book of Predictions published in 1980. It turns out that Friedman was not just a a sage of free-market economics, but a sage,  period. He was four out of five in his prediction of future fellow recipients of the Nobel Prize in economics, and there is still time for...
  • Consumer distorts

    January 23, 2007
    Consumer Reports' retraction last week of its flawed testing of infant car seats puts in question the magazine's credibility as an unbiased product evaluator. As well it should.

    Unfortunately for consumers, this is just the latest of a string of misleading product recommendations by Consumer Reports. Increasingly, Consumer Reports is bowing to the anti-market and anti-sound science agenda of its parent organization, Consumers' Union.

    With this story and many others, the magazine is harming consumers, creating fear unneccesarily with bogus scares while ignoring real health and safety problems of products and policies.

    Consumer Reports has also needlessly scared consumers about pesticides on food, bioengineered crops, and currently, chemicals in makeup that the FDA has found to be safe....
  • Jamaican Malaria: Blame Rachel Carson, not global warming

    December 28, 2006
    Malaria cases in Jamaica have surpassed 160, the Associated Press reports. This is the first outbreak there in more than four decades. One headline says, incorrectly as we will see, "Jamaica Fights Rare Malaria Outbreak." Expect to hear endless arguments about how this is due to global warming and human-induced climate change. How horrific it is that human are changing the natural climate cycles!     

    One problem with this theory! The disease was never "rare" in Jamaica until man-made DDT, despised by enviros from Rachel Carson onward, wiped it out there in the 1960s. Malaria...
  • TSA -- Unsafe at Any Altitude

    December 21, 2006
    If you're flying this holiday season, once you're on board the plane — after getting through with the stripping of belt and shoes, the unfolding of laptops, the confiscation of liquids, and possible patdowns — you may want to whip out a book the Transportation Security Administration doesn't want you to read.

    The new book that lays bare the TSA's sorry record at flight security is called Unsafe at Any Altitude. Don't let the sensational title fool you. Being the author of Eco-Freaks: Environmentalism Is Hazardous to Your Health...
  • Schumer’s Sarbanes-Oxley Surprise and Frank’s Frankness

    November 6, 2006
    One of this election's "October Surprises" may have come on Nov. 1, when Chuck Schumer, Democratic Senator from New York and chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, declared in a Wall Street Journal op-ed (available by subscription to WSJ) that the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate accounting law "needs to be reexamined." Schumer and the op-ed's co-author, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, wrote that "auditing expenses for companies doing business in the U.S. have grown far beyond anything Congress had anticipated" and that "there appears to be a worrisome trend of corporate leaders focusing inordinate time on compliance minutiae rather than innovative strategies for growth." This criticism is similar to what CEI has been saying practically since the law went into effect.

    Schumer joins House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in appearing to be open to substantial...
  • Bush and Pelosi up the Ante for Sarbanes-Oxley Reform

    October 27, 2006
    Republicans have long been accused of being the party of Wall Street, a campaign charge that's again being leveled in this election. But on the issue of Sarbanes-Oxley, the Elephants have moved very slowly for fear of being allied with big business and the corporate scandals that prompted the 2002 law, which was largely crafted by the then-Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate.

    The irony of Republican inaction is that it has given leading Democrats the opportunity to outflank the GOP in advocating regulatory relief on this issue, one that's vital for entrepreneurs. Democrats may have been vague on solutions, but they have gone further than leading Republicans who've hardly acknowledged that there was a problem. Earlier this year, when the House Democrats' “Innovation Agenda,” introduced by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, promised legislation to “ensure Sarbanes-Oxley requirements are...
  • Big government tattoo artists

    October 23, 2006
    CEI has nothing against tattoos. Some of our staffers proudly sport them. And we generally have a live-and-let-live, libertarian philosophy.

    But now, in a twist, it seems the tattooed are the ones displaying intolerance. Over at WorldNetDaily.com, editor Joseph Farah reports that firms that don't allow employees to sport tattoos or body piercings may now face discrimination “lawsuits from members of a new activist lobby representing the ever-growing population of those into ‘body modification.'”

    CEI recommends this article even though we don't necessarily agree with all of Mr. Farah's opinions against tattoos. The article reports that some cities in California have vaguely-worded laws prohibiting discrimination “based on appearance and behavior.” A wholesale club was sued was recently sued by a member of...
  • Nobel Laureate Edmund Phelps opposes minimum wage

    October 12, 2006
    There's a saying that the most revealing part of Academy
    Awards speeches is who isn't thanked. There is often a similar truism about
    policy documents signed by economists.

    This should be kept in mind with Wednesday's statement
    released by the union-backed Economic Policy Institute that boasted the
    signatures of more than 600 economists, including 5 Nobel Laureates. The
    statement read, “We believe that a modest increase in the minimum wage would
    improve that well-being of low-wage workers and would not have the adverse
    effects that critics have claimed.”

    The “critics” referred to are the bulk of economists who
    dominate the profession. As Bloomberg noted in
    August, “prominent economists of all ideological persuasions” long opposed the
    minimum wage based on...
  • 'Net Neutrality’ for Credit Cards?

    September 25, 2006

    An op-ed I wrote for last Sunday's Washington Times talked about the battle over the interchange fees that banks and credit card companies charge to retailers. The retailers, including some big chains, are whining about the fees they have to pay and want the government to step in to control how much the card companies charge them. This is another example of the phenomenon described in CEI Warren Brookes Journalism Fellow Tim Carney's book The Big Ripoff, in which businesses lobby for big government when it favors their bottom line. And given the experience in Australia when the government imposed price controls on retailer...

  • Senators on 9/11 movie – “Public interest” is what makes us look good

    September 14, 2006
    No matter what anyone thought of the ABC's “The Path to
    9/11,” the actions of certain senators who objected to the miniseries should
    give everyone who values the First Amendment a big chill.

    A letter
    signed by Democratic Senators Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer, Debbie
    Stabenow, and Byron Dorgan not-so-implicitly threatened ABC's broadcast license
    if it aired the drama that was deemed to be critical of the Clinton
    Administration.

    The letter they sent to Robert Iger, CEO of ABC parent
    Disney, stated bluntly that “[p]resenting such deeply flawed and factually
    inaccurate misinformation to the American public and to children would be a
    gross miscarriage of your corporate and civic responsibility to the law, to
    your shareholders, and to this nation.” The letter spent the whole second
    paragraph explaining to...

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