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  • Federal judge rejects FTC's arguments against Whole Foods-Wild Oats merger

    August 17, 2007
    Late yesterday, a federal judge rejected the Federal Trade Commission's objection to the proposed merger between premium grocery chains Whole Foods and Wild Oats. While the decision remains sealed, it does give a tentative green light for the merger to go forward. Over at the Mises Instiute's blog, S.M. Oliva comments on the case:
    Many antitrust moderates criticized the FTC's decision to narrowly define a market for premium organic foods, but it seems to me this was a case of Commission members pandering to the hardcore base, as it were. Despite a steady diet of anti-free market activities, the Bush-era FTC lacks a signature battlefield victory a la the Clinton-era FTC's destruction of the Staples-Office Depot merger or even the limited (and Pyrrhic...
  • Elvis on the IRS

    August 16, 2007
    As we remember Elvis Presley today, on the 30th anniversary of his death, free-marketeers may find of interest a particular overlooked song Elvis sang about the woes of taxpayers subject to the heavy hand of the Internal Revenue Service. Elvis singing about the IRS? Not only that, but at the IRS. At least the fictional version of the agency in his 1968 movie, Speedway. Playing a race car driver who's just been audited, Elvis gets up and starts singing at the IRS office while waiting for the examiner. The song, "He's Your Uncle, Not Your Dad," is no "Don't Be Cruel" or "Heartbreak Hotel" but it does contain some funny zingers at the IRS's excesses and abuses. As does the movie. The "uncle" in the song's title refers to Uncle Sam, or the U.S. government. "So just pay, pay, pay to your Unlce Sam," Elvis sings. Then...
  • In Brazil, a Moment of Silence against State Incompetence and Corruption

    August 16, 2007
    Tomorrow, Friday August 17, at 1:00 pm (local time), our friends at Brazil's Instituto Liberdade will participate in the campaign "Worn Out," (Cansei) which will protest the Brazilian government's ineffectiveness and corruption through a moment of silence, in Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city and commercial capital, and Porto Alegre, where IL is based. In the campaign video below, one of the points of complaint is the country's chaotic air traffic control system. Of course, in Latin America, fighting state corruption and incompetence of that magnitude is an uphill struggle, to say the least, so any such efforts are welcome....
  • Drug lag -- precaution or pipelines?

    August 16, 2007

    According to a CNN Money article, a report released yesterday shows that the FDA has been cracking down on new drug approvals. Pharmaceutical companies this year through July had only 38 new drugs approved, down from 55 for the same period last year. The report was from James Kumpel, health care analyst for Friedman, Billings, Ramsey.

    Though some say that's occurring because the pharmaceutical companies' pipelines are drying up, others attribute the slowing down of approvals on the FDA's fear of approving drugs with some side effects, after recent highly publicized concerns with drugs on the market:

    But Fran Hawthorne, author of "Inside the FDA," argues that there's nothing new about Big Pharma's lack of innovation. She said the drug approval slowdown is "far...
  • Global Warming Alarmism Debunked

    August 16, 2007
    In the Boston Globe, Jeff Jacoby has an interesting editorial debunking attacks by Newsweek and others on scientists and CEI staffers who have questioned the most exaggerated and alarmist claims about global warming. As he notes, the attacks are rooted more in political theology and ideology than logic.
  • Foreign Aid Kills

    August 16, 2007
    Foreign food aid often causes, rather than alleviates, hunger, by destroying the basis of the farm economy in the country that receives the aid, as Kenyan economist James Shikwati has observed. Dumping food on to poorer nations undercuts local farmers, who cannot compete and are driven out of jobs and into poverty, resulting in even bigger food shortages and famines in the future. Even liberal journalists hostile to free markets are beginning to recognize that this may be the case. The New York Times has an article today discussing the fact that one charity, CARE, has come to terms with this fact, and is now refusing food aid from the United States government. The BBC...
  • Getting the Word Out

    August 16, 2007
    Good news: Today's Wall Street Journal highlights the recent study on DDT benefits in repelling mosquitoes and battling resistance issues. This study was highlighted recently in an Open Market blog post as well. (Subscription required for Wall Street Journal link.)

    The U.S. and Europe solved their malaria problem a half-century ago by employing DDT, but the mosquito-borne disease remains endemic to the lowland tropics of South America, Asia and Africa, where each year a half-billion people are infected and more than a million die. Despite those staggering numbers, radical environmental groups like the Pesticide Action Network continue to oppose use of the...

  • Bad Information = Dangerous Consequences

    August 16, 2007
    Anti-DDT activists might read this with glee: Misinformation about DDT risks is undermining its use in Kampala, Uganda. A Ugandan news website reports that anti-DDT hype has led some people to block the spraying of their homes with DDT. This is clearly a tragedy as lives hang in the balance. Hopefully, as residents who allowed DDT spraying in their homes reap DDT's protective benefits, others will follow their lead.
  • Global Warming Scams

    August 16, 2007
    The Washington Post has a story today about so-called "carbon offsets," schemes "offering absolution for the modern nag of climate guilt." In exchange for $99, people who feel guilty about flying, driving or using electricity can receive a certificate telling them that their donation has "offset" a year's worth of greenhouse-gas emissions by canceling out whatever they put into the atmosphere, "by funding projects that reduce pollutants." Many, if not most, such claims are false. It turns out that many environmental projects funded by donors do nothing to reduce carbon emissions, and many others cannot be sustained by donations as small as $99. Indeed, some environmental projects, such as tree planting, can actually increase greenhouse gas emissions if the trees are planted in the...
  • Hands Off the Carbon Credit Business!

    August 16, 2007
    A well-reported front page story in today's Washington Post shows that the indulgence--oops, I mean Carbon Credit Offset industry--doesn't always work as advertised. Many people are really just buying "good feelings." The FTC is apperently investigating and may impose new regulations on those who sell carbon credit offsets. My reaction to this is pretty simple: it's best to oppose the idea of imposing new state-sponsored regulations--or really, any regulations--on the carbon credit business. Determining what does and doesn't reduce C02 emissions is a tricky job at best and downright impossible at worst. By all accounts, proving that a given reduction will have an impact on global warming is impossible at the moment. If we want this business to accomplish...


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