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InsiderOnline Blog: June 2007

News You Might Have Missed

A free market in ticket brokerage. New York has ended price controls on the markups that brokers can add to tickets. In laymen’s terms: Ticket scalping is now legal. Greg Mankiw quips:Now that we have set the market free for Yankee tickets, how about other, less crucial commodities, like housing and kidneys?”

Germany Shrugged. High taxes are inducing so many skilled Germans to leave the country that German emigration has reached a 60-year high, reports The Independent. For the first time since the 1950s, more people emigrant from than immigrate to Germany. (Via Cato@Liberty.)

Public health comes to the Internet. An Internet security expert, reports Wired, has proposed that the federal government set up and fund free clinics that would treat “zombie” computers—those taken over by malicious code and used for criminal purposes. Another proposal put forth at a conference on electronic crime includes requiring computer users to get an Internet “drivers” license, have “botnet” insurance, and have their machines inspected regularly. Yet another attendee said the federal government needs to provide financial incentives for ISPs to be more aggressive in taking down botnets. Zombies, of course, are the tough case for solutions based on individual liberty and limited government.

Is indecency regulation becoming obsolescent? The ruling of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Fox Television Stations v. Federal Communications Commission—which overturned sanctions against Fox for airing brief expletives on live television—contains some pointed language suggesting that the constitutional legitimacy of indecency regulation is eroding. Said the court: “The proliferation of satellite and cable television channels—not to mention internet-based video outlets—has begun to erode the “uniqueness” of broadcast media, while at the same time, blocking technologies such as the V-chip have empowered viewers to make their own choices about what they do, and do not, want to see on television. If the Playboy decision is any guide, technological advances may obviate the constitutional legitimacy of the FCC’s robust oversight.” (Via Adam Thierer.)

Doctors to police bad habits in Britain. Britain’s National Health Service, reports the Daily Mail, has started requiring patients to quite smoking at least four weeks before receiving surgery or face longer waits for procedures. A spokesman for the National Health Service says the policy is intended to improve outcomes for patients. Critics say the policy is just intended to save money. Smokers take longer to recover and cost more to treat. In order to enforce the policy, doctors will have to order patients to take a blood test to prove they have not been smoking.

Urban sprawl cited as a cause of global warming. Opening up a new front against global warming, California Attorney General Jerry Brown has sued San Bernardino Country for failing to include steps to reduce global warming in its growth plans. Reports USA Today:If the suit is successful, California cities and counties could be forced to take steps to limit sprawl, promote compact development, require builders to design energy-efficient houses that offer solar power, and encourage less driving, more mass transit and use of alternative fuels.”

NBA Finals produce a lesson in federalism. Celebrating the Cleveland Cavaliers successful run to the NBA finals may cost the state of Ohio millions in federal highway money, reports the Associated Press. A banner ad for Nike, hung from the side of a building in downtown Cleveland, features a picture of Cavs star Lebron James and the words “We Are All Witnesses.” The Ohio Department of Transportation had asked the banner’s owner to reduce the size of the banner or remove it because it runs afoul of federal highway guidelines on the size of ads near federal highways. Gov. Ted Strickland (D), however, has intervened, instructing the Ohio DOT to cease efforts to have the sign removed. Failure to enforce the federal standards could lead to the state being penalized by losing 10 percent of its federal highway funds—about $130 million.

Posted on 06/08/07 10:31 AM by Alex Adrianson

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