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InsiderOnline Blog: January 2005

Like Head-Tilting, Only Cooler

Hey, what's more inspirational than the compassionate head-tilt and more powerful than the meek power fist of the "I'm Sorry" Left?

Behold the Blue Finger of Solidarity!

Hat tip, My Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.

UPDATE: Welcome, Tim Blair-readers! Glad to have you. Please stick around at and explore the wealth of conservative think-tank research in our database, if that kind of thing floats your boat. Thanks for coming and y'all come back soon, ya hear?

Posted on 01/31/05 05:16 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Fightin' Words

The Louisville paper called the Bluegrass Institute, "the conservative propaganda mill in Bowling Green."

Evidently, the paper thought an event on the racial gap in academic achievement, which was hosted by two pro-school-choice groups, and which featured a pro-school-choice speaker was... just a little too pro-school choice. Brilliant.

Bluegrass must be really effective in getting its message out to have warranted such a harsh attack from a left-leaning editorial page. So, congrats guys!

Posted on 01/31/05 02:40 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Small Rodent, Big Hassle

Hal Young at the Locker Room writes about how much trouble a certain endangered mouse has caused in Colorado-- roughly $3 million worth.

Of course, that would be a lot easier to bear were the mouse actually endangered. Doh!

Here, a bit on the Pacific Legal Foundation's ongoing battle to fight bogus endangered species listings, and some thoughts from the Pacific Research Institute on saving endangered species through private means.

Posted on 01/31/05 12:55 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Not a Half-Bad Weekend

After a successful election in Iraq...

No Left Turns comments on the strange phenomenon of anti-Bushies becoming anti-democracy by default. How's that for PR?

The Remedy calls the election an assault on moral relativism-- "the inability to make fundamental distinctions such as that between tyranny and democracy."

Earl Tilford, on the C-Log, puts the election in the context of Bush's 21st-Century vision, for which "vision coupled with a strategy founded upon solid American values still demands one final ingredient: the resolve of the American people."

Andrew Roth quotes from an appropriate source-- the Iraq The Model brothers, who write beautifully about their day at the ballot box.

TKS has more on the unfortunate anti-democracy phenomenon. He's also got an update on the silliness of--who else?-- John Kerry! 

Amy Ridenour and Cranky Neocon are guardedly optimistic.

The Inkwell on the Blue Badge of Courage-- a nice news reaction round-up.


Posted on 01/31/05 10:22 AM by Mary Katherine Ham

Suspense Ended

Well, the time has come to announce a winner of Mary Katharine's first-ever Blogger Babe of the Week competition. Above we have a picture of all three lovely contestants. From left to right, Matthew Sheffield of, Kevin Aylward of Wizbang, and Paul Mirengoff of Powerline.

They were all superb contestants, though regrettably, there was no evening gown round. It was a tough decision, and despite a strong endorsement from the Powerline contingent, I had to award the title to KEVIN! So, congratulations Kevin.

Why you ask? Well, it's largely for his long-time commitment and pioneering efforts to raise awareness about conservative babes all over the country. Or, could it be my first move in the campaign for GOP Babe of the Day at RNC '08? It's never too early to start, right?

But to those who went home empty-handed today, do not be discouraged. I will be blogging from CPAC, February 17-19 at the Ronald Reagan Building in D.C., during which I will be hosting a CPAC Stud of the Day feature on the C-Log. There will be plenty of bloggers on hand to compete, so stay tuned. Thank you to all the contestants. It really was a delight to meet all of you, and to host the friendly competition.

Posted on 01/28/05 04:56 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

What's Wrong With Higher Education: The Nutshell Edition

Jon Sanders of the John Locke Foundation in North Carolina is charged with the Herculean task of keeping track of the lefties in the state's many colleges and universities. A daunting thought, no?

Luckily, he's found all the problems in one post on one college discussion board, served up for your easy consumption, here. Jon writes in an e-mail:

Honestly, I think it is a near-perfect example of what's wrong with colleges. In it, barely literate students at a major research institution report on the antics of their "hardcore hippy" sociology professor, who plays antiwar music videos for the class and (ironically) tells them they're sheep who follow TV. Other students want to find out what course plays videos so they can take it next year. In a nutshell, it illustrates several problems in academe today: leftist bias in the academy, dumbing down of courses (and students), and disengaged students.

And, trust me, after years of observing UNC, Duke, and N.C. State, he should know. For more on what you're paying for when you buy higher education in N.C., check out the Pope Center for Higher Education.

Posted on 01/28/05 03:14 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Pointing Out Payola

Amy Ridenour, with a much-appreciated shout out for a Heritage Foundation paper from 1996, documents the double standard on disclosure. As she remembers it, the left wasn't real thrilled with a Contract With America-era plan from Republicans to eliminate payola in the game of federal testimony:

[The plan was] considered a highly-controversial, ultra-radical (maybe even downright nasty) right-wing plot when the GOP unveiled it...

Journalists aren't special (sorry, journalists!). If you should disclose a possible conflict of interest when writing an opinion column, you sure as heck should if you are testifying before Congress.

Or, better yet, decide to stop taking federal money.

Yep, as I've said, I think we should take liberals up on this sudden aversion to federal money.


Posted on 01/28/05 01:11 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Powerline in the House!

The guys at Powerline noticed the same conflict of interest in the UN's Oil-for-Food investigation that Heritage's Nile Gardiner details in this Web Memo.

In the corporate world, for example, it would be inconceivable for an independent inquiry into fraud and corruption to be headed by someone with strong ties and loyalties to the corporation under investigation...

It is hard to see how a team of investigators hand-picked by the U.N. Secretary-General, whose own son is a subject of investigation, could be considered truly independent. There is also a major question mark over its Chairman’s neutrality.

I'm guessing the cries on the American left for full disclosure from Volcker will be much quieter than the ones aimed at Maggie Gallagher.

And speaking of Powerline, Heritage is lucky enough to have the Deacon himself with us today, discussing Rathergate and the Blogosphere at 11 a.m. Kevin of Wizbang fame and Matthew Sheffield of will also be on hand. The event can be watched live on the Heritage Web site so that all of Deacon's absent blog-buddies can dissect his comments and produce transcripts within minutes of his appearance. Have fun, guys. 

Hmmm, perhaps I shall take a camera and make Kevin my first-ever Blogger Babe of the Week. Just returning the favor for us conservative ladies. Of course, he will have competition. I'll make my decision at 11.

UPDATE: Welcome, Powerline and Wizbang visitors! Please stick around at and check out the extensive database of obscure, conservative think tank research, searchable by keyword. If I know bloggers, you'll love that. Also, Babe pics are forthcoming.


Posted on 01/28/05 10:33 AM by Mary Katherine Ham

Hey Left, We're Untainted!

In light of the Maggie Gallagher non-scandal, it seems that the new left-of-center standard for virtue is the absence of federal money.

If that's their position, that would make Sean Hannity more trustworthy than NPR; bloggers more reliable than PBS; and research from The Heritage Foundation about as virtuous as it comes.

Sweet, let's take 'em up on that. Liberals, follow us, the untainted, to sublime public policy solutions. After all, you wouldn't want to be unethical.

Posted on 01/27/05 02:20 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Two Methods of Self-Defense

If you're planning to retire one day, you can read the new Club for Growth Social Security blog, and check out the Policy Weblogger's advice re: the AARP. Both good ways to defend your wallet from bureacrats.

Of course, when it comes to actual armed robbers, a more direct approach is required.

Posted on 01/26/05 03:58 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Choose to be Well

Policy Weblogger documents what happens when there's only one choice in health care: Very bad things.

And the Boss forwards me a quote about another of the ill effects of being offered no choice:

"Man must have the right of choice, even to choose wrong, if he shall ever learn to choose right." -- Josiah C. Wedgwood

Posted on 01/25/05 03:36 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Reform on the Brain

The Institute for Policy Innovation released a report today-- their "Framework for Tax Reform." The report says tax reform this time around would need to avoid the mistakes of 1986 reform:

It lowered personal tax rates at the margin, which was a good step toward economic efficiency. However, it sharply raised tax rates (at the margin) on new saving and investment, increasing the income tax bias against those activities. It did so, in the guise of base broadening, by removing provisions that mitigated the multiple layers of tax imposed on income from saving and invest­ment. The Act eliminated the investment tax credit, lengthened asset lives for cost-recovery purposes, ended the capital gains differential, imposed or tightened income and contribution limits on tax-deferred retirement savings plans, and introduced passive loss rules on real estate that depressed returns in that sector for investors who were not active managers of their properties. The minor efficiency gains that came from canceling a few peculiar tax breaks for certain other activities in no way made up for these across-the-board increases in the taxation of capital.

The Act paved the way for the stock market crash of October 1987, and led to weakness in investment in plant, equipment, and real estate that, along with two payroll tax increases in 1988 and 1990, set the stage for the recession of 1991-92. The 1986 Act also removed several million people from the income tax rolls, making them less concerned about the cost of government and less interested in controlling federal spending and tax rates in the future.

To avoid such things, IPI offers two purposes of the tax system:

    1. Raising revenue to pay for government goods, services and activities; and
    2. “Pricing” government to let taxpayers know how much they are being charged for government goods and services so that, as voters, they may decide in an informed manner how much government activity they wish to support with their votes.

It also offers three principles and four attributes of a sound tax system. Find more on this in The Heritage Foundation's tax research and in the InsiderOnline database, under Budget and Taxation, and get ready for a fight.

Posted on 01/25/05 01:49 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Innate Differences?

When Harvard president Lawrence Summers suggested there might be some innate differences between men and women that account for the relatively low number of women in math and science fields, he was predictably lambasted by the ladies of academia.

Less predictably, he stood by his comments, thereby achieving a rare victory for common sense in the arena of Ivy League politics. Hat tip, National Center Blog

For his steadfastness in the face of sumpreme sensitivity, Summers earned "Family Quote of the Week" honors from the Howard Center:

"The first factor, he said, according to several participants, was that top positions on university math and engineering faculties require extraordinary commitments of time and energy, with many professors working 80-hour weeks in the same punishing schedules pursued by top lawyers, bankers and business executives. Few married women with children are willing to accept such sacrifices, he said."

(Source: Paraphrase of Lawrence H. Summers, in Sam Dillon, "Harvard Chief Defends His Talk on Women," The New York Times, January 18, 2005)


Posted on 01/25/05 09:58 AM by Mary Katherine Ham

Guarding Democracy from Gregoires

For all those, especially Washington State residents, who have been left slack-jawed and flabbergasted by a certain gubernatorial election in the Pacific Northwest, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation can help.

EFF has started the Voter Integrity Project, fittingly tagged with a Joseph Stalin quote: "It's not who votes that counts. It's who counts the votes."

The site offers a newswire for the ongoing court battle over the election, which Democrat Christine Gregoire finally came out on top of after heavily Democratic King County "found" so many new ballots on so many occasions that they ended up with 1,200 more ballots than voters. From the VIP press release:

The Voter Integrity Project is a research and educational effort... A soon-to-be-released report will detail VIP’s investigation, which has uncovered or substantiated some startling and disappointing facts. Among them: More than 55,000 ballots "enhanced" by election workers; more ballots counted than cast; newly "discovered" ballots illegally added to the count; voting by felons, dead people and the homeless; 3,500 duplicate absentee ballots sent in King County; some military ballots sent too late; violation of privacy rights; improper election certification; etc.

See a preview summary of the study, here.

EFF is also starting Grassroots Washington:

Grassroots Washington is aimed at eliminating the flaws identified in the election system and changing the status quo. Through an aggressive grassroots campaign, GW will work to achieve the following results:

  • implementation of existing federal and state laws and administrative rules,
  • an effective and comprehensive report from the Governor's Task Force on Elections, and
  • election reforms prior to any potential re-vote.

GW will call on citizens to “get active” on unresolved items by calling their representatives or the officials directly involved.


Posted on 01/24/05 04:42 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Fighting in Florida

Last week, the Institute for Justice filed its opening brief urging the Florida Supreme Court to uphold the state's school choice program-- the Opportunity Scholarship.

School choice opponents, led by lawyers for the teachers’ unions, claim that Opportunity Scholarships unconstitutionally “aid” religious schools in violation of the Florida Constitution’s Blaine Amendment, which is an unfortunate remnant of long-past religious discrimination.  In November, Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal struck down the program.  IJ and the State of Florida appealed to the Florida Supreme Court, and the Opportunity Scholarship program is continuing through the appeal.

Today, amicus briefs were filed, and will be on the IJ Web site later today.

Posted on 01/24/05 11:49 AM by Mary Katherine Ham


Policy Weblogger lets us in on the boring, but good, stuff resigning FCC Chairman Michael Powell did, that could easily be overlooked.

Peter Schramm has a nice post on the President's Inaugural address, which is taking some heat from other quarters.

And Amy Ridenour finds a new blog by a member of the State Department's Republican underground, who has a great story from France.

Posted on 01/21/05 05:22 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Government: Making Good Coffee Bad

The Bluegrass Institute of Kentucky says it's time for the state's parks to divorce themselves from the state government. After all, the government has managed to make the most profitable coffee in the world unprofitable with its mere touch.

Kentucky Parks Commissioner George Ward had good intentions when he decided to offer Starbucks Coffee at some state parks last year. He reasoned that offering the most popular coffee to visitors would be a good revenue-generator for the parks. It should have been, but having worked at a state lodge for the past three summers, I observed that it was not...

The fiasco with stale Starbucks Coffee offers an analogy of what happens when government insists on providing services that are more effectively run by the private sector...

New and profitable Starbucks Coffee shops are constantly opening – a testament to the product itself and the incentives embedded in the private sector. But take the same product, replace its management with government control and – voila – out pops an unprofitable and inefficient venture!

Worried about privatizing state parks? It worked in Canada:

Since contracting out 100 percent of its maintenance and operations in 1992, British Columbia Parks have achieved nearly 20 percent savings annually. The system’s expenditures last year were $40 million less than what had been budgeted. Meanwhile, customer satisfaction has never been higher.

And Georgia:

Since opening in 1958, the revenues generated at State Mountain Park in Georgia had never exceeded its expenses. But now that the state has enlisted a private company to run the facility, Price Waterhouse Cooper estimates that Georgia will earn more than $1 billion during the 50-year life of the lease. Park visitors will enjoy their stay and taxpayers will benefit even more as their tax dollars will no longer subsidize a losing operation.



Posted on 01/21/05 10:39 AM by Mary Katherine Ham

A Lawyer for Moore's Man

The Second Amendment Foundation offers Michael Moore's body guard a lawyer. Moore's man Patrick Burke was arrested for possession of a firearm Thursday at JFK International Airport. SAF Founder Alan Gottlieb:

"Michael Moore is a world-class hypocrite for campaigning against the gun rights of law-abiding citizens, while having an armed bodyguard," Gottlieb observed. "Unfortunately for Mr. Burke, who is reportedly licensed to carry a firearm in Florida and California, he has been tripped up by the same anti-gun mentality espoused by his elitist employer. Sadly, if criminal charges are pursued, it will be Mr. Burke, not his boss, who takes the fall, possibly losing his gun rights in the process, because possession of an unlicensed gun in New York is a felony.

"Like so many other arrogant Hollywood anti-gunners, Michael Moore obviously considers his life more important than the lives of all the people he would disarm," Gottlieb stated. "His malevolence toward the rights of gun owners only adds to the hypocrisy of this case.

"Naturally," Gottlieb concluded, "we would be delighted to recommend a suitable lawyer from the SAF attorney referral list to represent Mr. Burke. And we're certain Malevolent Michael will happily pick up the tab."

I'm sure Michael won't mind.


Posted on 01/21/05 09:50 AM by Mary Katherine Ham

We're Marginal

Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek offers an answer to the age-old, oft-posed question of the market skeptic: "Why does Carlos Beltran [the baseball player who just signed a $119-million contract with the New York Mets] get paid so much more than you, professor?  You contribute more good to society than he does, but I know that you aren’t paid a salary as large as his."

In part this is because the skills necessary to perform at the level of a Carlos Beltran or a Peyton Manning are far rarer than are the skills needed to perform as a even a superstar teacher or researcher.  (Isn't this fact worthy of long and loud applause?!)

And my favorite part:

Finally, isn’t it wonderful that we are so very wealthy – that the masses of Americans earn such high incomes and have so much leisure – that as consumers we support very lucrative enterprises that entertain us so thoroughly?


Posted on 01/14/05 03:14 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Call Off the Lemonade War!

Michelle Malkin has a sad story of regulators in Florida messing up a fundraising effort for tsunami victims. This the second time in the last six months that regulators have managed to use their power to cut down on the twin scourges of suburban lemonade distribution and pre-teen entrepreneurs.

Ravaging the country, those two social problems are.

Posted on 01/11/05 03:23 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Speaking of Health Care

Maryland conservatives are up in arms about HB2, a bill approved last week, which was meant to be a medical malpractice reform bill. Not so, says Maryland Senate Republican Whip Andy Harris: 

"And this bill has too little tort reform, two years too late for it to be effective next year in lowering premium requests. I believe that we will be in the same situation next fall, with little hope of enacting additional tort reform at that time. For these reasons, as well as the imposition of an HMO tax on the most affordable policies that are purchased by the most needy segments of the Maryland public, I opposed HB 2, and urge you to oppose it as well."

NTU also points out problems with the bill:

Unfortunately, instead of enacting curbs on runaway lawsuits, the Legislature passed a plan that would raise taxes on Health Management Organizations (HMOs) in order to subsidize the doctors' costs for malpractice insurance. In addition, big-spenders in the Legislature are pushing a bill that would impose a 10 percent surcharge on corporate income taxes and mandate even more spending on higher education.

The Maryland Taxpayers Association estimates that the tax hike would amount to more than $400 million over six years, and a Maryland group of independent business owners said, "A 2% premium tax on small business owners and employees who have HMO polices would be a significant tax increase and likely too much to bear for many."

The MTA and allies are rallying across from the State House in Annapolis Tuesday. More info, here.

A Maryland Public Policy Institute paper on what should be done is, here.

Posted on 01/10/05 01:41 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Happening in Health Care

Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute has a summary of what to expect in the 109th Congress when it comes to health care:

Many Congressional committees also have a full plate of health care agenda items, including Medicaid modernization, tax credits for the uninsured, new insurance pooling arrangements, cross-border purchasing of health insurance, and enhancements of health savings accounts, including tax deductibility for HSA-qualifying insurance and rebates to small businesses for HSA deposits for their employees...

Drug safety and approval will be a prime focus of Congress, and the Food and Drug Administration is likely to be on the hot seat after last fall's vaccine shortage and the withdrawal of Vioxx from the market. The challenge will be for Washington to resist its natural tendencies to regulate and intervene and to look for a new generation of solutions...

Facilitating the use of new and better information technologies in the health sector will be the foundation of most health policy discussions in the coming session, including patient health records, collection and dissemination of outcome data, and better use of information technologies to create and test new drugs.

Turner also points to John Desser's summary of the same in Health Care News.

Posted on 01/10/05 10:38 AM by Mary Katherine Ham

Wanna Get Fighting Mad?

Read Patrick McDougal's run-down on last year's Virginia tax hike. Now, the state has a $1 billion dollar surplus and politicians are discussing how to spend it. I'm sure part of the money went to buy bagels for the politicians who are sitting around discussing what else to buy. Yuck.

But there's hope, as State Policy Network is doing a weekly round-up of budget and tax issues in the states, here. Stay tuned to that and we may be able to save other states from this kind of sloppy math. In the meantime, if anyone sees Mark Warner, tell him I'm mad.

Also, check ATR's Virginia's Least Wanted campaign to find out which other folks you should be mad at.

Posted on 01/07/05 01:53 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

We've Got Some Tips, Gov

The Maine Heritage Policy Center offers some hints for a sound state budget. Not suprisingly, the first two problems addressed are Medicaid and education--the budget-eating monsters in most states these days. A recent expansion of Medicaid to 78,000 new recipients will cost the state $170 million a year, Maine Heritage predicts.

Posted on 01/06/05 02:48 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

News Brieflets

The National Center for Public Policy Research is asking Staples if it will boycott CBS. The office supply chain recently announced it would stop buying advertising on Sinclair Broadcasting channels because Sinclair was "placing partisan interest ahead of the public interest" by broadcasting pro-Bush or conservative shows.

"If Staples wants to avoid supporting political media, it should start by boycotting CBS," said National Center President Amy Ridenour. "Sinclair may irritate some on the left by being openly pro-American, but, unlike CBS, it didn't team up with forgers in an attempt to play dirty politics on the eve of the last presidential race."

Parental notification is alive in a California school district, thanks to angry parents and the Pacific Justice Institute.

The American Library Association named the Cato book, "Social Security and its Discontents" the Oustanding Academic Title of 2005. A review in the Association's monthly magazine calls the book, "the best recent contribution to the extensive literature on the necessity of privatizing Social Security" and "an excellent reference and a serious read on one of the most important public finance issues for the 21st century."


Posted on 01/06/05 12:06 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Fun with the Index

The Locker Roomies are wondering what put the UK ahead of the U.S. in the 2005 Index of Economic Freedom. (the U.S. fell to 12th, down from 6th last year). The Index grades countries on 50 points of data divided into 10 categories:

Here are the U.S. scores (the lower the better):

  • Trade Policy 2.0
  • Fiscal Burden 4.0
  • Government Intervention 2.0
  • Monetary Policy 1.0
  • Foreign Investment 2.0
  • Banking and Finance 1.0
  • Wages and Prices 2.0
  • Property Rights 1.0
  • Regulation 2.0
  • Informal Market 1.5

And here's the UK tally:

  • Trade Policy 2.0
  • Fiscal Burden 4.0
  • Government Intervention 2.5
  • Monetary Policy 1.0
  • Foreign Investment 1.0
  • Banking and Finance 1.0
  • Wages and Prices 2.0
  • Property Rights 1.0
  • Regulation 2.0
  • Informal Market 1.0

The UK and the U.S. only differ on three points. The U.S. comes out on top of government intervention, and the UK comes out on top of foreign investment and informal market. But the UK gained .04 net points over its 2004 total score, mostly for its foreign investment score, while the U.S. score stayed the same as last year. The U.S. score didn't worsen, but the UK passed us by. The U.S. is at a crossroads, the Index says: "It will either continue to be a leader in economic freedom or idly watch other countries pass it by."

The Wall Street Journal and The Fire Ant Gazette cite a few more problems for the U.S.

I'm sure there's much more that can be done with all these numbers by smarter bloggers than myself. The Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom page offers you the chance to search all the info by country and compare. The entire book is also available for downloading. Or, you're always welcome to BUY THE BOOK. Subtle, huh? Enjoy.

Posted on 01/04/05 02:04 PM by Mary Katherine Ham

Inspiration for the New Year

Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute feels optimistic about getting more out of taxpayers, not government this year. And he's getting some encouragement from strange quarters-- the left side of the aisle.

The Democratic Leadership Council said in its May 7 edition of its Blueprint magazine, "Government can compete — and stay relevant — only by delivering more value per dollar. But the only way to accomplish this is to reinvent the way we do the public's business. Our public institutions must learn to work harder, but more important, they must learn to work smarter."

The Maryland Public Policy Institute isn't overly impressed with the state's medical malpractice reform (passed last week), but there were some positive changes, like stopping the annual increase on the "pain and suffering" cap. The gist of the legislation's problems:

The proposed re-insurance fund and accompanying price-increase caps on doctors’ malpractice insurance premiums drew strong criticism from Krauss. “The fund is not real reform, it just shifts some of the cost of malpractice onto taxpayers—who surely have done no wrong,” he said, echoing a point he made in a Baltimore Sun op-ed that appeared Monday. As for the caps, he said, “Price controls usually don’t make costs go away; they just take on different—and often more perverse—forms.”

And in Montana, there's a new conservative think tank getting started-- The Rocky Mountain Public Policy Institute-- which will be focusing on fiscal and education issues because Montana already has a family policy group. The new group is part of the State Policy Network.

Finally, Policyblogger links to two new Heritage publications for kicking off the New Year-- Mandate for Leadership and the 2005 Index of Economic Freedom.

Posted on 01/04/05 10:40 AM by Mary Katherine Ham

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