CEI Planet: September – October 2008

View the new Montly Planet by downloading the PDF of the issue. Below you’ll find previews of the articles in this issue:

Ten Thousand and Counting
By Wayne Crews
President George W. Bush’s federal budget for fi scal year 2009 proposed $3.1 trillion in discretionary, entitlement, and interest spending. This was the fi rst ever $3 trillion budget in United States history—but it certainly won’t be the last.

We’re All Oil Addicts
By Sam Kazman
When cocaine prices shot up last year, White House Drug Czar John Walters touted it as “the best evidence” that the War on Drugs was working.

So with gas prices rising sharply earlier this year, we should have heard cheers from those who claim we’re addicted to oil. They should have pointed to those record gas prices as a sign that we were winning the war on oil addiction. But instead of celebrating, they were gnashing their teeth.

Fannie and Freddie Boosters Laughed …But I Was Right
By Fred L. Smith, Jr.
There is now a consensus that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are at the heart of the systemic meltdown we are seeing in the mortgage market. They are costing taxpayers billions through their own bailouts and through their role in fueling an artifi cial mortgage boom.

But eight years ago, when I testifi ed before Congress that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s “special privileges create a serious hazard to the market, to taxpayers (and) to the economy,” my criticism of these sacred fi nancial cows was met with ridicule.

An Indefensible Defense of Biofuels
By William Yeatman and Marlo Lewis
Biofuels advocates claim that ethanol mandates and subsidies protect our planet, enhance U.S. security, and ease our pain at the pump. In fact, ethanol policy hurts all Americans except for the tiny slice of the population that grows corn or distills it into ethanol.

News from Bureaucrash
Liberty Summer Seminar
Over the weekend of July 26, Canada’s Institute for Liberal Studies held its eighth annual Liberty Summer Seminar (LSS) in Orono, Ontario— and Bureaucrash was there to help make the event a success. This year, Bureaucrash announced its first Activism Award, which provided round-trip airfare to the Seminar for the first place winner of an essay contest. Entrants were asked to explain why liberty is important to them, what they have done to advance our freedoms, and why they wanted to attend the seminar.

The Good: CEI Minority Report Victory
In mid July, the United States Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) released Climate Change Impacts in the United States: Unified Synthesis Product Report, a highly flawed document intended to be adopted as the official U.S. position on the science of climate change. In the course of synthesizing many controversial conclusions, the Report violates research standards established by the Federal Data Quality Act.

The Bad: Ruling a Hard Cell or Innovation
On July 31, Alameda County, California, Superior Court Judge Bonnie Sabraw issued a preliminary ruling in a class action lawsuit that would stop cell phone companies from charging early termination fees in the state. If upheld, the ruling will force Sprint to pay $73 million in credits and refunds to customers. Verizon has already agreed to settle its own California class action suit for $21 million, and T-Mobile is facing a similar dilemma.

The Ugly: SEIU Bullies Private Equity Investors
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Andrew Stern is on a search and destroy mission—targeting government investment in private equity firms. SEIU has now gone so far as to file a citizens’ initiative with the Washington state legislature to limit state pension fund investments in these firms. Backers claim that the initiative would require fund managers to consider “social criteria” in their investment decisions for allegedly only the most highminded reasons. Yet this looks suspiciously like payback for resistance to unionization at many private equity firms’ portfolio companies.

Media Mentions
Compiled by Richard Morrison
Center for Entrepreneurship Director John Berlau alerts readers to a new privacy threat:
"Proposals for creating fi ngerprint databases are usually controversial and often lead to a spirited public debate. Even when a fi ngerprint registry will likely help fi ght terrorism or crime, many still fear it will lead to a surveillance state . . ."