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  • Schumer’s Sarbanes-Oxley Surprise and Frank’s Frankness

    November 6, 2006
    One of this election's "October Surprises" may have come on Nov. 1, when Chuck Schumer, Democratic Senator from New York and chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, declared in a Wall Street Journal op-ed (available by subscription to WSJ) that the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate accounting law "needs to be reexamined." Schumer and the op-ed's co-author, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, wrote that "auditing expenses for companies doing business in the U.S. have grown far beyond anything Congress had anticipated" and that "there appears to be a worrisome trend of corporate leaders focusing inordinate time on compliance minutiae rather than innovative strategies for growth." This criticism is similar to what CEI has been saying practically since the law went into effect. Schumer joins House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in appearing to be open to substantial...
  • Fighting Racism with Super Powers

    November 6, 2006
    Former Ku Klux Klan leader Samuel H. Bowers died in a Mississippi state prison this weekend, while serving a life sentence for the 1966 murder of Vernon Dahmer Sr. Fortunately, the Klan is no longer a significant political force (though some former members can still be found in positions of power). The story of the decline of the Klan is an interesting one, and one that came up recently in our own Ivan Osorio's discussion of the use of ridicule as a political weapon. As it turns out, it was Superman who saved the day. No, really: read about it...
  • Saving Antiquities by Selling Them

    November 6, 2006
    This weekend, CEI co-hosted the conference, “Empowering Green Bureaucrats: How Global Environmental Treaties Threaten National Sovereignty and Hurt the World's Poor,” with Universidad Francisco MarroquÃn. But first, CEI President Fred Smith spoke on how the market can help preserve archaeological treasures, at the conference, “Human Nature: Destructive or Creative?” hosted by UFM's Center for the Study of Public Decisions (CADEP). Governments, Fred noted, have not done a very good job of protecting nations' archaeological treasures. The problem is what he termed an “antiquities commons”—the fact that because no one is allowed to own what are considered cultural artifacts, it is very difficult to ascribe value to...
  • Empowering Green Bureaucrats

    November 5, 2006
    This morning, CEI co-hosted the conference, “Empowering Green Bureaucrats: How Global Environmental Treaties Threaten National Sovereignty and Hurt the World's Poor,” with Universidad Francisco MarroquÃn in Guatemala. The conference, held on the eve of the start of the Mont Pelerin Society meeting, hosted by UFM in Guatemala City. Speakers explored the ways in which multilateral environmental treaties are utilized by advocates of greater political control of economic activities to do an end run around nations' governing institutions. A special highlight was the luncheon talk by Barun Mitra, of India's Liberty Institute, in which he detailed his work on species conservation for the tiger in China. The conference was videotaped and will soon be available online.
  • America Works

    November 3, 2006
    Jeff Wrase at the Joint Economic Committee emails this morning with good news - the lowest levels of unemployment in over five years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics report out today on jobs finds that the U.S. economy has dropped to an extremely low 4.4% unemployment rate, and that employers have created 157,000 new payroll jobs per month over the last three months. As it turns out, both France and Germany are also celebrating declining jobless numbers this week. Those progressive European nations with their generous social welfare benefits are down to unemployment figures of 8.8% and 9.8%, respectively.
  • Bastiat Lives!

    November 2, 2006
    It's not every day that an award competition ends in a tie, but that's what happened last night at this year's International Policy Network's Bastiat Dinner in New York, where IPN announces the winner of its Frederic Bastiat journalism prize, "to encourage, recognise and reward writers around the world whose published works elucidate the institutions of a free society." This year two writers shared first prize, Tim Harford of the Financial Times, and Jamie Whyte, a freelance writer for his contributions to The Times. Third place went to Rakesh Wadhwa of Nepal's Himalayan Times. Following are some samples of the articles for which they won. In “Trade deficit with a babysitter,” Tim Harford points out the silliness of the very concept of trade deficits. He tells of “Sally” a babysitter he and his wife...
  • New Scientist: Skeptics are Meanies

    November 2, 2006
    The current issue of New Scientist magazine has a truly strange article on the impending release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's latest report (or "assessment"). The logic, such as it is, seems to go like this: scientists and organizations who disagreed with some of the conclusions in the last assessment are preparing to critique this upcoming one in the same way. These criticisms are somehow so threatening that (the author fears) U.S. climate scientists will stop participating in the IPCC review process altogether, leaving the scientific world poorer as a result. Well, you know what they say about global warming policy: "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the debate." Except that in this case, the "heat" being generated is so mild, one...
  • Lomborg on the Stern Review: "...selective...flawed...sloppy...one-sided..."

    November 2, 2006
    Our friend Bjørn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, has an excellent op-ed in The Wall Street Journal (subscription only) today taking on the Stern review of the economics of global warming:
    Faced with such alarmist suggestions, spending just 1% of GDP or $450 billion each year to cut carbon emissions seems on the surface like a sound investment. In fact, it is one of the least attractive options. Spending just a fraction of this figure -- $75 billion -- the U.N. estimates that we could solve all the world's major basic problems. We could give everyone clean drinking water, sanitation, basic health care and education right now. Is that not better? We know from economic models that dealing just with malaria could...
  • Trans-Fatty Criminals

    November 2, 2006
    Elizabeth Whelan of ACSH has a great article on National Review Online today about the stupidity of banning trans-fats, as New York City and Chicago have done:
    …the food industry has turned the fear of [trans-fatty acids] into a brilliant marketing strategy — trumpeting the “No Trans-Fats” claim on labels. Unsuspecting customers will conclude from the absence of TFAs that products are healthier — and maybe even think they are reduced in calories — when in fact there are no health benefits. All fats, saturated or not, contain nine calories per gram. There are no caloric savings from replacing TFAs with other fats. On October 30, Kentucky Fried Chicken decided to cash in on the trans-fat mania, announcing — while the hearings were in process — that it was phasing out all use of...
  • So the Government Dictating Broadcast Content is 'Fair'?

    November 2, 2006
    Fans of free expression should hit up a piece in Human Events, by our very own John Berlau, on those misguided souls who are intent on bringing back the “Fairness Doctrine” to broadcast TV and radio. For anyone who wasn't following FCC regulations before 1987 (when it was eliminated), here are the basics:
    The Fairness Doctrine, initiated by the Federal Communications Commission in 1949, mandated that radio and television stations “provide a reasonable opportunity for the presentation of contrasting viewpoints” on “vitally important controversial issues.” But since there are contrasting views as to what's “fair,” broadcast stations were left with a few unpleasant options. They could a) provide equal time to overtly liberal and overtly conservative...

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