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  • Taxation Without Representation?

    January 31, 2007
    In a Washington Post column, George Will questions the constitutionality of a recent vote in the House of Representatives to give delegates from Washington, D.C. and territories, such as American Samoa, the same right to vote in House committees as Congressmen.  He points out the absurdity of giving the delegate from Samoa, which has only 58,000 residents, the same vote in committee (where most important House decisions are made) as the Congressman from Montana, who represents 944,000 people. Similar arguments can be made against recent proposals to give the District of Columbia a Congressman and two Senators.  The District of Columbia has fewer voters than all 50 states, and fewer people living in it than 49 of the 50 states (and in a few years, based on current population trends, it...
  • Free to Chooseâ€â€Your Plumbing Pipes

    January 31, 2007
    California usually leads the nation in the formulation of bad public policy—which policymakers in other states often see as a model. But this week, they actually did something worth emulating. They lifted a state ban on residential use of vinyl plumbing pipes, which are made with chlorinated polyvinyl chloride or CPVC. Unfortunately, it took the state more than a decade to lift this expensive, nonsensical mandate. The state's change of heart came after its housing department conducted a study debunking claims that the pipes are dangerous, which were posited by a coalition of environmental activists and plumbers' unions. In reality, the CPVC pipes are quite safe, energy efficient, and environmentally sound. They also cost much less—about a third of the alternative metal piping. These pipes are also very easy to install. CPVC installs...
  • First They Came for the Toilets...

    January 31, 2007
    The state of California is poised to claim yet another feather for its environmental-pioneer cap with a proposed ban on the sale of incandescent lightbulbs. Under the "How Many Legislators Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb Act" (seriously, that's what it's called) it would become a legal offense to sell an incandescent lightbulb. The argument goes that compact fluorescent bulbs are so extraordinarily superior, there's no reason not to ban the old fashioned kind. As usual, however, advocates are quiet on why such a transcendently perfect product would need the government compelling people to purchase it. Read Sam's consumer...
  • Let Them Eat Flan

    January 31, 2007
    American Public Radio's Marketplace Morning Report has yet another report today on how U.S. demand for corn to make into ethanol is causing a disruption to the food supply in countries like Mexico.

    Corn prices have risen 300% is recent months, putting the squeeze on millions of poor Mexicans who depend on tortillas as a dietary staple. The government has attempted to cap prices, but we know how well price controls on high-demand commodities generally work out. One wonders how many families in the developing world will have to go hungry before the ethanol mandate crown begins to have second thoughts about gouging corn prices.

  • First they came for the skeptics...

    January 31, 2007
    So the IPCC report that's going to be released on Friday isn't gloomy enough, eh?  It will find less projected temperature rise and less predicted sea level rise than it did in 2001. Good news, no? Not even close.  That simply isn't good enough for those who want to break the back of the world's energy system, so they have to attack it.  For years, global warming alarmists built up 'the consensus of scientists' as the answer to legitimate concerns of climate skeptics.  Now that they have seemingly successfully shut skeptical voices out of the debate on global warming, they have embarked on a process of delegitimization of that very consensus.  It is too cautious, they argue, too bureaucratic.  They, the alarmists, are the only voices of truth in the debate and anyone else is incompetent, a...
  • Did it play in Peoria?

    January 30, 2007
    President Bush in Peoria, IL today gave one of two speeches scheduled on the economy (the next will be in NYC tomorrow). He addressed issues such as taxes, trade, technology, energy, health care, education policy. Here's part of what the President said about the importance of trade:
    We've pursued trade agreements. The way it works is, you have bilateral trade agreements, in other words, with the United States and, say, Chile. And we have regional trade agreements and world trade agreements. One world trade agreement is called the Doha Round of the WTO -- it's basically attempting to make sure that everybody gets treated the same way, in the same fashion, so that the world markets are open. Again, I repeat to you, I strongly believe that if we can compete with people on a level playing field,...
  • How to Bury the Lede

    January 30, 2007
    Are you an aspiring journalist for Reuters? If so, you need to know how to "bury the lede," which is insider journo-talk for ignoring the real story in favor of the story you want to tell. Here's a great example. From the report - "millions to go hungry, waterless" - you'd think that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had found that global warming was intensifying. Then we have this:
    The panel is to release a report on Friday in Paris forecasting global temperatures rising by 2 to 4.5 Celsius (3.6 to 8.1 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by 2100, with a "best estimate" of a 3C (5.4 F) rise.
    Wait a minute. What did the last IPCC report say...
  • Piggies going to market

    January 30, 2007
    There is a respectable, if (we feel) incorrect, case to be made for the idea of raising taxes to lower demand for an activity or product that causes externalities.  Politicians and economists who support this idea call themselves The Pigou Club, after the British economist who first suggested the theory. No such respectability applies to the snuffling snouts that are trying to get into the ethanol trough.  Appropriately, Arnold Kling suggests we call politicians (few economists there) who support this boondoggle The Pig Club.  We heartily endorse this suggestion.
  • More meddling in the market

    January 30, 2007
    I post this article, despite its breathless credulity about the imminence of a world beyond petroleum, because it reveals how Washington works. Bush and the corn lobby will ask Congress for a biofuels mandate that drives up the cost of gasoline. Congress and the Big Three will ask Bush for tax credits to sell more cars that use the more costly fuel. Gas substitutes boost the flex-fuel car Soon, alternative fuels might be made from corn, soybeans, and plant fiber - and new cars would be able to run on them. By Mark Clayton, Christian Science Monitor, January 26, 2007 Prospects are brightening for a big change at your local service station. Instead of just regular, plus, and premium, gas stations in a few years may well be offering fuel made from corn, soybeans, and plant fiber. And new cars would be...
  • The latest on the Conspiracy to Keep the Poor Poor

    January 29, 2007
    Over at, columnist Mary Katharine Ham comments on the premiere of the documentary Mine Your Own Business (the screening was co-sponsored by CEI). She quotes the World Wide Fund for Nature's Mark Fenn, who in the film makes this gem of an admission:
    "In Madagascar, the indicators of quality of life are not housing. They're not nutrition, specifically. They're not health in a lot of cases. It's not education. A lot of children in Fort Dauphin do not go to school because the parents don't consider that to be important…People are economically disadvantaged, people have no jobs, but if I could put you with a family and you...


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