Today’s Links: August 31, 2011


ALCOHOL – How Does a Wine Monopoly Lose Money?
“In a report issued today, Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner says the state liquor control board’s wine vending machines, a wonderful illustration of what happens when a government monopoly tries to act more like a business, are operating at a loss, costing taxpayers more than $1 million since they were introduced a year ago. ‘We think the wine kiosk program has failed,’ Wagner said at a press conference, ‘and it needs dramatic, radical changes if the program is going to continue to exist.’

PRIVACY – Couple Can Sue Laptop-Tracking Company for Spying on Sex Chats
“An Ohio woman and her boyfriend can sue a laptop-tracking company that recorded their sexually explicit communications in an effort to identify thieves who stole the computer the woman was using. [. . . ] ‘It is one thing to cause a stolen computer to report its IP address or its geographical location in an effort to track it down,’ [Judge] Rice wrote in his decision (.pdf). ‘It is something entirely different to violate federal wiretapping laws by intercepting the electronic communications of the person using the stolen laptop.”

GENETICALLY-MODIFIED FOOD – Monsanto Seeks Approval for Low-Fat GMO Soybean
“Joe Cornelius, a Monsanto project manager who has worked on the Vistive soybeans for 15 years, said Vistive Gold could make a real difference in efforts to produce healthier foods. As an example, he said it could produce French fries with more than 60 percent less saturated fat. [. . .] But Bill Freese, a science policy analyst with the Center for Food Safety, said Vistive Gold and other engineered crops don’t face rigorous enough testing. No animal feeding trials were conducted on the new soybean to see what would happen when it was consumed, he said.”


Russ Roberts: “The Microeconomics of the Broken Window Fallacy
” Imagine a world where there hasn’t been a hurricane and I want to help the unemployed carpenter. Here are two ways to do so. One is to burn my house down and then call the carpenter and give him $100,000 to rebuild my house. Here is the second way. I call the carpenter and say, I feel bad that politicians artificially increased the demand for housing at the end of the 20th century, pulling you into an industry that cannot be sustained at its current leve. I feel bad that you’ve been unemployed for three years. So I’m going to give you $100,000. Which of those two policies would have the bigger stimulative effect?”

Paul Armentano: “Student Drug Testing Doesn’t Work
“Random drug testing of students is an ineffective, humiliating, invasive practice that undermines the relationships between pupils and staff and runs contrary to the principles of due process. It compels teens to potentially submit evidence against themselves and forfeit their privacy rights as necessary requirements for attending school.”

Tony Blankley: “Obama’s Economic-Policy Last Chance
“President Obama’s post-Labor Day “jobs” speech will be his last chance to launch an economic policy with any chance of manifesting its effect – both economic and political – before the November 2012 elections. He has three options. In order of descending likelihood, they are: a timid hodgepodge of previous proposals, a bold left-of-center initiative or a turn to a free-market ‘nuclear option.'”

Michael Tanner: “Yes, it is a Ponzi Scheme.”
“Texas governor Rick Perry is being criticized for calling Social Security a ‘Ponzi scheme.’  Even Mitt Romney is reportedly preparing to attack him for holding such a radical view. But if anything, Perry was being too kind. “