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  • "Fast track" trade authority -- will carry some baggage

    January 25, 2007
    According to news reports, President George Bush will ask Congress to renew fast-track trade authority — perhaps as soon as next week. The Trade Promotion Act of 2002 expires at the end of June 2007. TPA gives the president the authority to negotiate trade deals and have them voted up or down by Congress without amendments. However, Democratic Congressional leaders have said that to renew fast-track, the Administration would have to agree to include even more labor and environmental mandates in trade agreements. Already, TPA includes stringent mandates that have been used to impose U.S.-style environmental and labor “regulations” on developing countries with which the U.S. has negotiated...
  • Renewable energy -- burn dead cows!

    January 25, 2007
    There's even more talk now about alternative energy sources — spurred by President Bush's State of the Union address where he said:
    We must increase the supply of alternative fuels, by setting a mandatory fuels standard to require 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels in 2017 -- and that is nearly five times the current target. (Applause.)
    While most of the talk in the U.S. focuses on ethanol (with its huge subsidies and more to come), some countries, such as Scotland, are trying a different path to alternative energy sources: Burning dead cows. The BBC reported that a new 24 million-pound project in Aberdeenshire will “turn dead cows into an energy source.” They're going to get the dead...
  • "Tricks and traps" with Senate Banking

    January 25, 2007
    “Tricks and traps.” Those were the terms used to describe credit card industry practices to snare vulnerable and lower-income people into a vicious cycle of credit card interest payment and fees. Sound familiar? Sounds like the credit card issuers are likely to get similar treatment to those “predatory lenders” — i.e., lenders who provide credit to higher risk consumers at higher interest rates. Today, at Senate Finance Committee hearings titled “Examining the Billing, Marketing, and Disclosure Practices of the Credit Card Industry, and Their Impact on Consumers,” Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-CT) put the industry on notice that policymakers are examining their...
  • Mayor McCheese Would Be Proud

    January 25, 2007
    While we at Open Market know that there's nothing inherently bad about fast food, we're still willing to believe that an outragous stunt like eating nothing by McDonald's every day for a month can lead to a sub-optimal health results. Now, however, Swedish researchers are suggesting that even an all-QSR diet might not be all that bad for you:

    A month-long diet of junk food does not necessarily cause devastating health effects like those in documentary film Super Size Me, scientists say.

    Experts...

  • When the facts don't fit, construe!

    January 25, 2007
    At the DC premiere of Mine Your Own Business yesterday evening, I spoke with protesters who insisted that the 96% of the citizens of Roşia Montană were opposed to the controversial mining project that is the primary subject of the film. I'm certainly a believer in democracy (at least when an issue can't be resolved via property rights), so I thought I'd look into this more. The 96% statistic presented for all to see on bright white tag board can be found in a news release from rosiamontana.org:
    Rosia Montana/Romania 22. January 2007 — A consultation process conducted by the Romanian Parliament has been inviting people to comment on the Rosia Montana mine proposal since last October. As of 22 January 2007 over 96.86% of a total of 6617 participants voted against...
  • How About People for the Ethical Treatment of Humans?

    January 25, 2007
    The PETA animal cruelty trial is getting started in North Carolina this week, and the Center for Consumer Freedom is on the case:
  • When Metaphors Attack: Greenpeace Edition

    January 24, 2007
    We at Open Market HQ just received an email from John Coequyt at Greenpeace, responding to the President's State of the Union remarks about global warming. In order to put us in the right state of mind to "TAKE ACTION" (Step 1: Donate to Greenpeace), John heads to the linguistic kitchen:
    President Bush has let the issue of global warming simmer on the back burner of his presidency for 6 years. The scientific community and the rest of the world has heard the oven timer go off, but last night, President Bush continued to ignore the alarm as he served up a plateful of tepid solutions to a worldwide audience. While the chef may finally have acknowledged the brewing problem, he failed to rescue the planet from the oven. His so-called solutions of "clean" coal and nuclear energy are a recipe for disaster. Well, we're serving up a fresh new alternative to global warming...
  • Comments on the energy portions of Bush's SOTU

    January 24, 2007
    In this post, I comment on President Bush's remarks, in the State of the Union address, about energy. Although a few nods to the old supply-side emphasis of Bush's first term remain, the speech is heavy on political correctness, corporate welfare, and central planning.
  • Goldilocks and Osama

    January 24, 2007
    Climate Change seen fanning conflict and terrorism runs the Reuters headline. The premise is that people will fight over resources made scarcer by global warming. Well, people will probably fight if the world gets cooler, too, as is likely that they did in the 17th century. The conclusion must therefore be that we live in a sort of Goldilocks climate, where things are worse if hotter and worse if cooler; current temperatures are just right. This is sloppy thinking. Mankind adapts when things change. Generally, the adaptations are for the better (would we have had the benefits of the...
  • Development by Market

    January 24, 2007
    June Arunga and Billy Kahora of the International Policy Network have a new paper out about the cellphone revolution in Kenya. The tale is inspiring: the state having failed miserably in providing communications services, a market sprang up in cellphones without any idea of what customers wanted, what they were willing to pay or what benefits they would gain. The market provided the answers; as June and Billy say:
    [B]usiness could be done, distant families could be supported and — anathema to the bureaucratic mindset — a lifestyle could be aspired to merely by the fact of ownership.
    Over time, prices and service packages were adjusted as suppliers competed to find out the most advantageous way to serve their customers. In the process, they poured new capital into...

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