Today’s Links: March 26, 2012


SHIKHA DALMIA: “Obamacare’s Terrible Twos
“[T]he court has given Congress expansive powers to regulate economic activity under the Commerce Clause that it can’t just take away. The original sin here dates back to Wickard vs. Filburn in 1942, when the court upheld Uncle Sam’s authority to prevent an Ohio farmer from producing wheat on his own farm to feed his own livestock because that would supposedly undercut federal efforts to boost national wheat prices. Randy Barnett of Georgetown University, however, argues that despite Wickard’s sorry jurisprudential lineage, there is no precedent for allowing Congress to regulate economic ‘inactivity.’ To date, Congress has only regulated economic activities that Americans choose to engage in. It has never required them to actually engage in an activity under the threat of fines. If the court lets this logic stand, notes Barnett, ‘Congress could constitutionally require every American to buy a new Chevy Impala every year.'”

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS EDITORIAL: “NYC Building Owner Deserves His Day in the Supreme Court
“Against long odds, a Manhattan brownstone owner has argued a challenge to New York’s rent laws all the way to the doorstep of the U.S. Supreme Court. Upper West Side attorney James Harmon, a former federal prosecutor, contends that government controls on three of the six apartments in his building unconstitutionally strip him of his property rights.”

FELIX SALMON: “The Case of the $400 Million Bike Lane
“The new bridge comes with a combined bike/pedestrian lane, 12 feet wide. And the cost of building that lane — the amount that the cost of the bridge would decrease if you simply built it without that lane — is an astonishing $400 million.”


SOCIAL MEDIA – Texas Researcher Adds ‘Enemy’ Feature to Facebook
“Mr. Terry, who is director of the emerging-media program at the University of Texas at Dallas, says a major flaw of the popular social network is that it’s all sunshine and no rain: The service encourages users to press the ‘like’ button, but offers no way to signal which ideas, products, or people they disagree with. And ‘friend’ is about the only kind of connection you can declare. […] Last month he and a student released a Facebook plug-in called EnemyGraph, which users can install free and name their enemies, which then show up in their profiles.”

LAW SUITS – McDonald’s Faces Hot Coffee Litigation Again
“A northwest suburban woman has sued McDonald’s Corp., alleging that her 4-year-old granddaughter sustained second-degree burns on her chest from spilled hot coffee.”

E-CIGARETTES – Freedom Cigarettes, the UK’s Top Brand of Electric Cigarettes Supports National Vaping Day by Giving Out Free Products
“‘This year we celebrated National Vaping day by giving smokers around London’s west end free Freedom disposable electric cigarettes. We were received extremely well and it only took us about half an hour to give out all two hundred! Next year we are going to pull out all the stops and do something really special,’ commented Richard Power at Freedom Cigarettes.”