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  • The Rubber Stamp

    June 25, 2007
    In the June 23-24 Wall Street Journal, John Fialka and Greg Hitt (“Fights Loom on Energy Bill, Making Passage Uncertain,” subscription required) mention that,
    [S]peaking at a news conference Friday, Sen. Harry Reid (D., Nev) the Senate Majority Leader, compared the White House veto threats to bureaucrats waving a rubber stamp that says “veto.” “They can take their rubber stamp, and you know what they can do with it,” he told reporters, calling the bill “a major victory for the American people.”
    A major defeat is more like it. Only the perfect storm could have produced such lunacy as this bill—September 11, the War on Terror, and the resulting desire for energy independence; voters' disgust over Iraq, which brought the “Environmental...
  • Pantless Judge Goes Home Empty Handed

    June 25, 2007
    In more legal news, DC administrative law judge Roy L. Pearson has lost his case against his local dry cleaner, whom he was suing for breathtaking sum of $54 million. The respondents has committed the heinous act of...losing his pants. They tried to replace them, of course, but Judge Pearson was never satisfied with any of their overtures. At one point they offered to settle for the more realistic (but still ludicrously excessive) amount of $12,000, but Pearson just kept pushing it. Our legal maven Hans has been following this case closely; you can find his previous posts here (6/19),...
  • The Supreme Court Rulez

    June 25, 2007
    The Supreme Court today struck a small chunk out of the mountain of unconstitutionality that is the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. From the Mark Sherman of the Associated Press:
    The court, split 5-4, upheld an appeals court ruling that an anti-abortion group should have been allowed to air ads during the final two months before the 2004 elections. [...] The provision in question was aimed at preventing the airing of issue ads that cast candidates in positive or negative lights while stopping short of explicitly calling for their election or defeat. Sponsors of such ads have contended they are exempt from certain limits on contributions in federal elections.
    One provision down, how many more to go?
  • Re: In Memory: Hans F. Sennholz, February 3, 1922–June 23, 2007

    June 25, 2007
    Terry's post on the late, great Hans Sennholz gives a good example of the influence he had on students at Grove City College. It also reminds me of the -- somewhat humorous -- account of Sennholz's tenure at Grove City in Brian Doherty's Radicals for Capitalism (which I recently finished reading):
    Sennholz, after a year teaching at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York, had impressed FEE [Foundation for Economic Education] J. Howard Pew, who in 1956 granted him chairmanship of the Economics department at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, of which Pew was a...
  • Sarkocialism

    June 22, 2007
    The ONLY good thing about the EU in my opinion has been its commitment to a single market and attacks on state aid. The harmonization policy is a significant downside to that, of course, in that it works against jurisdictional competition, but the EU has helped get rid of a lot of horrible subsidy and protectionism in Europe. Looks like those days are over:
    A reference to "free and undistorted competition" was pulled from the draft after French pressure late on Thursday.The new text talks of a "social market economy aiming at full employment". The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, used a late night press conference to confirm that the EU's 50 year old commitment to an "open market economy with free competition" had been dropped from the draft treaty. "There was some play on that, but today's Presidency...
  • A couple of bucks stop here

    June 22, 2007
    A new survey from the strange combination of Resources for the Future, New Scientist, and Stanford University has some interesting findings not just on how much Americans are willing to pay to very slightly mitigate global warming (answer: not much) but also on the institutional arrangements for those payments. There were no majorities found for any increase in the price of gas (the most was 46% in favor of a $1 increase as a result of a low carbon fuel standard). There were large numbers of people willing to pay $87 or $95 a month for electricity, but given that the average monthly bill suggested by the researchers is already $85 a month, that's hardly a surprise. We could all absorb an annual increase of $24 without noticing. What is...
  • Free NYC Garbage!

    June 22, 2007
    New York City Lawmakers are all worked up about garbage. It should be simple to collect and dispose of waste, even in a big city. But when it a government project, it becomes a major crisis. New York officials manage waste using 20-year plans—much like the economic plans that the Soviets used “manage” their economy. The waste plans work about as well. They are subject to never-ending political wrangling. In the late 1990s, the closing of the city's "Fresh Kills" landfill in Staten Island led to an uproar elsewhere as New York increased trash exports to Virginia landfills. But that doesn't work politically, so New York officials want to export less. To that end, they plan to continue the city's expensive and inefficient recycling program, which Mayors Michael Bloomberg, David Dinkins, and Rudy Giuliani all unsuccessfully tried...
  • A "Choice" We Can Refuse

    June 22, 2007
    The Senate will soon vote on the card-check organizing mandate perversely known as the "Employee Free Choice Act." This law would allow unions to circumvent secret ballot elections whenever they ask the National Labor Relations Board to let them do so. Today I chime in on this in The American Spectator.
    Union organizers never, ever intimidate workers whom they are trying to recruit. Believe me? Great! I've got a bridge to sell you. Sound crass? Well, Big Labor and their allies in Congress are trying to sell America just such a proverbial bridge -- the deceivingly named Employee Free Choice Act (pdf) (H.R. 800, S.1041), on which the Senate will soon vote... Facing a...
  • Manhattan "farmers" get a lot of pork

    June 22, 2007
    Great farm subsidy database -- now updated -- maintained by EWG using USDA and other government data. Here's just one example: a map of Manhattan showing a lot of red dots signifying farm subsidy recipients living in the Big Apple. You can click on the dots and get the names of the recipients. Much more on this website, such as that only 19 percent of the congressional districts account for one-half of all crop subsidy payments between 2003-2005; and the top 10 percent of crop subsidy program beneficiaries accounted for 66 percent of subsidy benefits.
  • Four nation talks on Doha trade round break down

    June 22, 2007
    Talks broke down among a group of four countries -- the U.S., the EU, India, and Brazil -- to move forward on the WTO Doha Round negotiations. The discussions in Potsdam were considered important in trying to reach agreement on greater market access in both agriculture and manufactured goods. Previous talks saw the U.S. and the EU blaming each other for the lack of agreement. But this time, those countries blamed India and Brazil for not wanting to move at all in opening their markets further to outside goods and products. With Trade Promotion Authority expiring at the end of June (which gives the Bush administration the ability to negotiate trade agreements with an up-or-down vote by Congress), some had thought that progress at this meeting might spur support for renewing TPA. With...

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