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  • Why All of Human History Has Been Leading Toward Google

    October 13, 2006
    Former Random House editorial director Jason Epstein has an interesting take on Google's place in history, and how the Google Library project could be the next step in the evolution of human knowledge. He waxes a bit much when he suggests that Google's compromise with the Chinese government “calls to mind the expulsion, naked and trembling, of our ancestral parents from prelapsarian Eden,” but overall it's a good piece. One of the most interesting details is the existence of the world's first “ATM for books” — and the fact that it's only a few blocks away form where Open Market is generally written:...
  • Making Decisions on the Fly

    October 13, 2006
    Our occasional journalisitic nemesis George Monbiot, as part of the promotional flurry surrounding his new book, is taking the presidents and directors of big green groups in the UK to task. Are they not working hard enough? As it turns out, they're working all too hard, traveling all over the globe for conferences and speeches and - you guessed it - emitting that ole devil called CO2 everywhere they go. Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth responded to the scolding with an appeal to necessity, saying “We do all we can to cut travel but we need to do some flying to make decisions.” It's not clear why airborne decision making is so essential to running a large organization, but I guess that...
  • Nobel Laureate Edmund Phelps opposes minimum wage

    October 12, 2006
    There's a saying that the most revealing part of Academy Awards speeches is who isn't thanked. There is often a similar truism about policy documents signed by economists. This should be kept in mind with Wednesday's statement released by the union-backed Economic Policy Institute that boasted the signatures of more than 600 economists, including 5 Nobel Laureates. The statement read, “We believe that a modest increase in the minimum wage would improve that well-being of low-wage workers and would not have the adverse effects that critics have claimed.” The “critics” referred to are the bulk of economists who dominate the profession. As Bloomberg noted in August, “prominent economists of all ideological persuasions” long opposed the minimum wage based on...
  • Libertarians Know How to Swing

    October 12, 2006
    Cato's David Boaz and AFF's David Kirby have a fascinating new study out on trends among the voting public, charting the recent swing in major-party support by the libertarian-minded: Analyzing data from the Gallup Poll, the Pew Research Center, and the American National Election Studies, we find that about 13 percent of the electorate and 15 percent of actual voters are libertarian -- not libertarian in the Mill-Hayek-Cato intellectual sense, but distinguishable from both liberals and conservatives on questions about values and issues. “They are a larger share of the electorate than the fabled ‘soccer moms' and ‘NASCAR dads,'” we note. Perhaps the most interesting news for political strategists is that...
  • You Want that Social Conscience Expression for Here or to Go?

    October 11, 2006
    One of capitalism's greatest virtues is the wide array of preferences it allows entrepreneurs to cater to—including the preferences of those who claim to disdain capitalism. I noticed just just how wide this week while attending an event on antiwar voters at Washington, D.C.'s Busboys and Poets, a new establishment—combination restaurant, bar, café, and lefty bookstore—that seems to be trying to establish itself as a hub of left-wing activism and networking. Just the place to for bandanna-wearing college kids to unwind after an afternoon of hurling epithets towards the World Bank headquarters? Well, not exactly. The first thing I noticed about the place is how new, sleek, and busy it was. In fact, my first reaction was, “What a successful business!” Of course,...
  • Registering Some Problems With REACH

    October 11, 2006
    The Wall Street Journal reports today that U.S. and European firms were unsuccessful in an attempt to make the proposed chemicals policy in Europe more affordable during committee consideration of the bill in the EU Parliament. But even if business had succeeded in reducing paperwork costs, the policy would still have adverse effects around the world. The program, known as REACH—for the registration, authorization, and evaluation of chemicals—would require companies to register chemicals they produce, import, or use. The paperwork alone will be expensive, but the program is also likely to produce expensive bans and other regulations on many chemicals. Industry has continually tried to make REACH a more reasonable program, but unfortunately they are fighting a losing battle. The problem is that REACH is fundamentally flawed and thus, cannot be fixed. First, REACH attempts to address...
  • Nobel winner – friend of entreprenuers

    October 11, 2006
    John Berlau, head of CEI's Center for Entrepreneurship, hails the contributions of Nobel Prize in Economics recipient Edmund Phelps in an op-ed in Investors Business Daily. According to Berlau, Phelps “celebrates risk-taking by business as essential to growth and prosperity. His writings highlight the folly of recent policies, such as Sarbanes-Oxley, that hobble innovative businesses.”
  • Foley – a friend to “Big Sugar”

    October 11, 2006
    Tim Carney, former Warren Brookes fellow at CEI, takes a look at Mark Foley's political contributions and finds he has been a friend to “Big Sugar.” Carney's Examiner article notes how Foley helped save the sugar quota program early in his Congressional career.
  • Assessing the Content of Google's Character

    October 10, 2006
    To continue the Google-YouTube discussion begun by Peter, take a look at what some /. folks are saying about Google's potential exposure to copyright infringement lawsuits. YouTube, of course, has already signed deals with some very large content companies, and more of the same can be expected now that they've got Google's corporate clout (and cash) on their side. It only takes one company with a valid copyright claim, however, to seriously gum up the works. Hopefully the today's content creators will realize (as our own Jamie Plummer had explained) that the best path to protecting their rights...
  • Google Gets Good Marks as Internet Librarian

    October 6, 2006
    Google raised some doubts (some even from CEI) about copyright protection when they launched Google Library, but now the project is having just the positive effect its backers said it would: increasing book sales. It turns out that making information easier to find means people will seek out more of it. In other words, if Google can lower transaction costs of finding just the right books one is looking for, people will buy more of them. No word yet on whether the RIAA and MPAA have yet learned any lessons from this.

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