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  • Freedom vs. Democracy – the Perpetual Tension between Voice and Exit

    November 27, 2006
    The current debate over whether the SEC should strengthen shareholder participation “rights” in public companies (subscribers see the Wall Street Journal editorial “Board Games” of November 27) is a replay of the old debate over whether society is better organized by “voice” (a broader participation in the management of the institution) or by “exit” (the decision to move oneself or one's assets to some entity). That distinction discussed in Albert O. Hirschman's Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States in many ways distinguishes those favoring the politicization of society and those favoring liberty. The SEC faces...
  • Lake Woebegone Takes over Britain!

    November 27, 2006
    The classic motto of Garrison Keillor's bucolic world — “where all the children are above average” — has now been adopted by David Cameron, leader of the Conservative party now challenging Labour in the UK. In a recent speech, Cameron noted “…we used to think of poverty only in absolute terms — [but in the future] we need to think of poverty in relative terms — the fact that some people lack those things which others in society take for granted.”
  • They Know It When They Smell It

    November 27, 2006
    Here at Open Market, we're big fans of Penn & Teller, particularly their emmy-nominated Showtime program, Bullshit! Our own Angela Logomasini was even a guest on the episode they did on recycling. We are therefore excited to bring you, via Google Video, their episode on environmental hysteria, featuring the now-legendary petition drive to ban dihydrogen monoxide. Thanks to Wayne for passing along. [googlevideo]-4480559399263937213[/googlevideo]
  • More on the "New" Leadership in Congress

    November 27, 2006
    Maura Reynolds of the Los Angeles Times takes note today, as we here at Open Market did last week, of the staggering age and, ahem, "experience" of the 110th Congress' new committee chairmen. When returning House Energy & Commerce Committee chair John Dingell was first elected to Congress, for example, the birth of his House colleague Patrick McHenry (R-NC) was still 20 years in the future. Reynolds also diplomatically makes reference to Dingell's hard-earned reputation for being (as Henry Miller has pointed out) imperious and rude as chairman:
    When Rep. John D. Dingell was new to...
  • Antitrust at the Speed of Government

    November 27, 2006
    Microsoft met a November deadline imposed by EU officials for sharing "interface' and "compatibility' information about its operating system to workgroup server market competitors who want to build for it. Since markets are incapable of something known as a "contract" or a "deal" or consumer rejection of overly exclusive behavior, regulators insist they have a role in helping competitors hitch their wagon by forcing Microsoft to provide a government-approved technical manual. The original ruling came in 2004, addressing as well as server software issues. Record fines have been handed down on both counts, as well as a directive that Microsoft sell a version of Windows without Media Player software. Now the company seems to have complied with the latest commandment, but we'll just have to wait and see, won't we? The European Commission said (excerpted from the Wall Street Journal...
  • Advice on global warming policy to the EU: airline taxes for all.

    November 22, 2006
    The European Commission has turned its attention to the substantial greenhouse gas emissions produced by air travel. They want to tax all commercial airline flights in the EU and all coming from and going to the EU. The size of tax being talked about is quite large, but probably not large enough to cut airline travel substantially. That means it would raise lots of revenue for the EU. The national flag carriers are not totally opposed, since as a percentage of the cost of a plane ticket it would raise costs much more for travelers on low-fare carriers such as Ryan Air. What I have seen no mention of in the press is all the emissions from private air travel. Apparently, the new proposals would exempt the small jets favored by corporate CEOs, Hollywood stars, and former Vice President Gore. But emissions from private jets are substantial and going up rapidly as more and more CEOs,...
  • Dems throw down gauntlet on Andean free trade deals

    November 22, 2006
    Democratic opponents of free trade — who also happen to be strong union supporters —told U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab on Tuesday they will oppose the U.S. trade deals with Columbia and Peru because the pacts' labor provisions don't go far enough. In a letter signed by some powerful Democrats, including in-coming Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), the policymakers said they want the trade agreements to be renegotiated to include “core” labor provisions. They were also angry that the U.S. planned to sign the free trade agreement (FTA) with Columbia today (...
  • Keeping a Stiff Upper Lip on Climate Science

    November 22, 2006
    The global warming debate this week features a furious back-and-forth between our pal Al Gore and Christopher Monckton (a/k/a Viscount Mockton of Brenchley), a former policy advisor to Margaret Thatcher. Monckton started with two articles in the Sunday Telegraph earlier this month, which Gore then responded to. The final product is this analysis and defence by Monckton of his original arguments, complete with dozens of references and citations (direct PDF link). It gets a little technical in parts, but it's a great point-by-point refutation of Gore's arguments. Almost as good, I might add, as this one, by our very own Marlo Lewis.
  • Court Ensures Painful Death for Terminally Ill

    November 22, 2006
    Yesterday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals voted to vacate and rehear its Abigail Alliance v. Von Eschenbach decision, which would have required the FDA to justify why it prevents gravely ill people who would otherwise die from obtaining access to drugs that have passed the first stage of the FDA's lengthy approval process. Decisions are usually reversed when they are reheard by the full court. Apparently, the specter of terminally ill people being able to access experimental drugs that might save their lives was just too scary for many of the D.C. Circuit judges. Perhaps they agreed with the specious arguments of the Washington Post, which editorialized against the D.C. Circuit's original decision in favor of the terminally ill by using the straw-man argument that no one has an affirmative right of access to medical...
  • Painted Portraits: The YouTube of the Fifteenth Century

    November 22, 2006
    German media tycoon and art historian Hubert Burda has a fascinating essay titled "How People See Themselves," about the history of portraiture and what it has meant to be able to visually represent oneself to the rest of the world:
    Nowadays anyone who wants to draw attention to themselves can. The Internet enables us to become multi-media media producers. Since it started up a year ago, over 50 million people have already uploaded personal short videos onto the video platform YouTube.com. The portrait which enabled the new middle-classes of the 15th century, following their rise in status, to fulfill their desire for representation...

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