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  • Of Cabs and Freedom

    May 29, 2007
    As Richard points out, D.C. has a pretty decent system for getting taxi medalions out. Last I looked into it--a few years ago--D.C. was one of only two major U.S. cities that doesn't ration medalions. (The other is San Diego.) Even a lot of smaller cities like Hartford, CT charge a lot for taxi medallions. The result is interesting: it's much easier to get a cab during rush hour than it is in other major cities, BUT it's nearly impossible to get a cab to come to an outlying location simply by calling. No company has been able to set up a decent dispatch system. But there are market-based workarounds. First-limo-like car service is surprisingly reasonable in D.C.--a trip to Dulles Airport in a chauffeured car that waits for you on both ends costs only about 50 percent more than taking the same trip by taxi. (In New York...
  • Like Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead, Rachel Carson is still wrong

    May 29, 2007
    CEI's Angela Logomasini gives kudos to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Olka.) for his stand against honoring the 100th birthday of environmentalist icon Rachel Carson. Here's why.
    Carson used explosive rhetoric and junk science to advance an anti-technology agenda that turned many people against using all man-made chemicals. Most seriously, Carson inspired enough fear to prompt nations to discontinue using the pesticide DDT, even for malaria control. Before Carson completed her book, DDT played a vitally important role in the eradication of mosquitoes carrying malaria in Western nations and was making progress in other nations around the globe. This success was so great that DDT's discoverer, Paul Herman Muller, earned a Nobel Prize in Medicine, and the National...
  • No Cab For You!

    May 29, 2007
    In New York City, like in many U.S. cities, the number of licensed taxi cabs is strictly controlled. In order to operate one, you need what's called a medallion - a little metal shield you affix to the hood of your cab so that the regulators know you're official. At one time, this was a relatively inexpensive formality - in 1937, when the system began, a medallion would only have cost you $10, or approximately $140 in 2006 dollars. My, how times have changed. A recent sale of new medallions earlier this month set a new record: $600,000 for one of a pair bought by "a large corporate fleet operator." With prices like that, it makes it very difficult for a humble cabbie to aspire to own his own ride. Some...
  • CEI and the Online Video Revolution

    May 29, 2007
    Sam is understandably excited to have our "Underwear to the Undersecretary" campaign profiled in Cindy Skrzycki's Washington Post / Bloomberg column today:
    It was inevitable. In the Internet age, interest groups seeking influence in Washington are joining presidential candidates in discovering a new electronic tool to press their agenda: YouTube. "Send your underwear to the undersecretary'' urges the actress in the Competitive Enterprise Institute's stinging 66-second anti-regulatory video posted on YouTube, a free video-sharing site that is a subsidiary of Google. The video blames a 2001 Energy Department rule for an energy-efficiency standard that it...
  • Bogus Food Stamp Challenge

    May 29, 2007
    You can spend less on food than the poorest food stamp recipients and still enjoy a healthy, low-fat diet rich in vitamins and fiber. That's what a Quaker vegetarian found when he decided to limit his weekly spending on food to $25. That's less than the $32 per person in food stamps that the poorest food stamp recipients receive. The Quaker was able to live well even though he ate only organic food (non-organic food costs 30 to 50 percent less than organic food). Right now, liberal Congressmen are participating in the "Food Stamp Challenge," in which they limit their spending on food to the $21 per week that some food stamp recipients receive in food stamps...
  • The latest, and biggest, form of church shopping

    May 27, 2007
    From India comes a story that shows the interesting ways in which prosperity helps break down some pernicious forms of social oppression. Earlier today, a group of about 50,000 low-caste "untouchables" converted to Buddhism en masse, and not for doctrinal reasons. Reports Reuters:
    About 50,000 Indian low-caste Hindus and nomadic tribespeople converted to Buddhism before a vast crowd on Sunday in the hope of escaping the rigidity of the ancient Hindu caste system and finding a life of dignity... Some of the converts were low-caste Hindus once considered as "untouchables" by the higher castes, but most were members of India's numerous nomadic tribes... These low-caste Hindus, making up about a sixth of India's 1.1 billion people, were once considered "untouchable", performing the most menial and degrading...
  • Today is Rachel Carson's 100th birthday

    May 27, 2007
    And to observe the occasion, CEI's Jeremy Lott and Erin Wildermuth provide a reality check on her legacy in today's Baltimore Sun:
    In 1948, Swiss chemist Paul Hermann Muller was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine. He was the first non-physician to win in that category - a surprise given the nature of the celebrated discovery. He had found that dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) was an extraordinarily effective pesticide... It was especially effective against malaria. In Sri Lanka, to take one celebrated example, there were 2.8 million reported cases of malaria in 1948. In 1963, after a DDT campaign, the number of cases dropped to 17, with zero reported fatalities - only to rise into the hundreds of thousands again shortly after DDT was...
  • Nigerians Sue Big Tobacco, Seeking Billions

    May 26, 2007
    In 1998, the major tobacco companies reached a deal with 46 state attorneys general. They agreed to pay a whopping $250 billion over 25 years, and more in perpetuity.  In exchange, the states agreed to drop their lawsuits against Big Tobacco and pass statutes that would protect Big Tobacco's market share against their competitors by imposing escrow fees on cigarettes sold by little tobacco companies.  This deal, known as the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), is being challenged by CEI in a lawsuit in Louisiana. The MSA itself wasn't too bad for Big Tobacco in the short run, since it was structured to allow the tobacco companies to pass on their increased costs on to their customers, smokers.  (Although the tobacco companies did end up paying $14 billion to the trial lawyers under the settlement). But...
  • CEI Dinner in The Washington Post

    May 26, 2007
    The Washington Post's "Names and Faces section cites Christopher Buckley's speech at CEI's 2007 Dinner (scroll down to the last item):
    · Christopher Buckley was in fine form at Thursday night's Competitive Enterprise Institute annual dinner, the Reliable Source's Amy Argetsinger reports. The political satirist and author of "Thank You for Smoking" threw out zingers like "Don't you miss the Cold War? That was so much more fun than this one," "In France elections take 36 days. Not a perfect system -- you still end up with a French president" and "It would be refreshing for once to hear a candidate say, 'You know, I've lived in Washington all my life. I know how it works. I know how...
  • CEI's Dinner in The Washington Times

    May 25, 2007
    In today's Washington Times, Robert Stacy McCain recounts Christopher Buckley's appearance at last night's CEI Dinner.
    "You are my kind of crowd," Mr. Buckley told the crowd of more than 600. "Pro-smoking, pro-drinking, coal-burning." Riffing on CEI's skeptical stance on global warming, he said, "It takes guts, amid all the hysteria, to admit that polar bears love to swim."

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