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  • let the little people take mass transit

    February 12, 2007
    So, as I ponder the massive pressure group assault against passenger aviation and comparative per capita emissions (the city of Aspen having wonderfully shown us the horrors of private planes), far worse than Hummers as they are typically employed: a half-full G-II [not typical, per Aspen, but usually a single passenger] has a per capita carbon footprint of a Hummer carrying only a driver!], something occured to me. Commercial airplanes are just as much the mass transporation that we are supposed to be so enamored with as buses or metros: far bigger than any bus, and the long-haul planes certainly holding more passengers than any train. The objection to air travel comes down to the old "use what you make, make what you use" argument against long-haul transport of anything. They just don't want people going places, and this offers an instance where this is easily demonstrated. They...
  • Policy experts blast Bush fuel mandate at Hill briefing

    February 12, 2007
    At a Capitol Hill policy briefing on February 9 for congressional staff and media, sponsored by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute and Jerry Taylor of the Cato Institute blasted the rampant ethanolism that is becoming the closet thing we Americans have to a state religion. Jerry Taylor debunked what he calls the “12 Lies of Ethanol,” explaining inter alia why a bigger ethanol mandate will increase our pain at the pump, won't contribute to energy independence, and will harm hog, cattle, poultry, and soy farmers. I attach the witty and footnoted outline of his remarks. Dennis Avery waxed eloquent on the “massive land costs of corn ethanol.” He explained by the numbers why Bush's proposed mandate would be a disaster for consumers and the environment. I attach...
  • Will France Embrace the New Royal-ism?

    February 11, 2007
    In the least surprising headline of the weekend, Drudge alerts us: "Socialist candidate in France unveils far-left platform..."
    Je suis l'état socialiste
    In a set of policy proposals ten times as ambitious as the Contract with America, Socialist presidential candidate Ségolène Royal has released a 100-point program for the future. Of special interest is her take on private enterprise in France and her attitude toward profits:
    A substantial part of her speech was dedicated to social and economic issues, on which Royal took a hard-left line. "The unfettered rein of financial profit is intolerable for the general interest," she said. "You [French voters] told me simple truths. You told me you...
  • Chambers of Rent Seeking

    February 11, 2007
    In the weekend Wall Street Journal, Stephen Moore, quotes former CEI Warren Brookes Fellow Tim Carney from his book The Big Ripoff: How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money. At issue is the recent turn towards lobbying for big government by many state and local chambers of commerce:
    In as many as half the states, state taxpayer organizations, free market think tanks and small business leaders now complain bitterly that, on a wide range of issues, chambers of commerce deploy their financial resources and lobbying clout to expand the taxing, spending and regulatory authorities of government. This behavior, they note, erodes the very pro-growth climate necessary for businesses -- at least those not...
  • Radicals on TV

    February 9, 2007
    My good friend and fellow radical for capitalism -- and former Warren Brookes Fellow -- Brian Doherty (now with Reason magazine) will discuss his new (freewheeling) history of the libertarian movement, Radicals for Capitalism, in an hour-long interview on the C-SPAN2 BookTV show, "After Words" this weekend. The interviewer will be CEI adjunct fellow Doug Bandow. The show airs on Saturday, February 10 at 9:00 PM Eastern time, and again on Sunday, February 11 at 6:00 PM and 9:00 PM Eastern time.
  • Dishonest Court Ruling Flouts Law in Dukes v. Wal-Mart

    February 8, 2007
    On February 6, a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco reinstated a multi-billion dollar class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart in a 2-to-1 vote. As AEI scholar Ted Frank notes, the lawsuit is based on bogus statistical evidence, and the court's decision in Dukes v. Wal-Mart is permeated by intellectual dishonesty. The class action accuses Wal-Mart of discriminating against a class of more than a million female employees, many of whom have never heard of the lawsuit and few of whom have ever alleged discrimination. The February 6 decision was written by left-wing ideologue Harry Pregerson. Judge Pregerson is most famous for repeatedly defying the U.S. Supreme Court in the Robert Alton Harris case, in...
  • Punitive Damages Can Be Limited

    February 8, 2007
    The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has just held in the Engquist case that a legislature can limit punitive damages payable to a plaintiff in a pending lawsuit, without violating the Takings Clause. It reasoned that punitive damages are contingent and discretionary, and not a generally applicable right like the right to compensatory damages for an injury. Thus, a legislature can limit them, or require that part of the punitive damages awarded in a case be paid into the state treasury rather than to the plaintiff. This ruling buttresses the constitutionality of tort reform laws that limit punitive damages, which a minority of state courts have declared unconstitutional. In the same case, the court held that although, in general, a citizen can sue under the Equal...
  • Where's The Precautionary Principle When We Need It?

    February 8, 2007
    Today's Wall Street Journal (link for subscribers) has a short piece in the B section noting how a new Bush Administration "clean diesel" fuel mandate may be responsible for stranding school buses full of children in the extreme cold during recent weeks. The new EPA rule requires diesel users (including school buses) to switch to ultra-low-sulfur fuel in order to reduce air pollution. Unfortunately, the low-sulfur stuff also tends to turn from a liquid into a gel more readily in cold temperatures. Don't the nice folks at EPA know that the precautionary principle requires them to "look before they leap" head first into adopting new technologies?
  • The Duke of Wellington, Climatologist

    February 8, 2007
    The growth in air travel is one of the culprits behind the alleged global warming crisis. (See, for example, Cheap Air Travel Adding to Global Warming Woes). Yet while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is in the forefront of the congressional push to deal with global warming, she's also been pushing for an upgrade in the special military airplane service available exclusively to her. This sort of resembles the Duke of Wellington's view of railroads when they were introduced in Britain in the 1800s: they would, he sniffed, "only encourage the common people to move about needlessly". The Duke, of course, never had much problem moving about, nor much need to justify it to anyone else. Whether technologies upset the aristocracy or...
  • Leading by Example: Carbon Footprint Edition

    February 7, 2007
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a woman so passionate about the cause of global warming that she created a new select committee dedicated exclusively to addressing the issue, is making emissions-related headlines again today. It seems she is demanding formally requesting that the Air Force make one of its full-size passenger jets available to her for her personal travel convenience.

    Coast-to-coast nonstop, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers: The only way to fly! 

    She can't travel commercial because of security reasons, of course, and the more modest plane Hastert used to use might not be able to make it from DC to San Francisco non-stop. It goes...

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