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Archive for March 21st, 2010

At the airport waiting for a flight to DC. A few concluding observations about the New Hampshire Liberty Forum.

1. The Free State Project is a cool idea. If you’re not tied to a particular state and you don’t need hot weather, why not move to New Hampshire and help the fight for liberty? These folks already have four people in the state legislature, including one elected as a Democrat. At the very least, there’s a good network of friends who value liberty. And as you might expect, lots of interesting characters. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many openly armed folks in my life.

2. Judge Napolitano gives a good speech. I’m not a lawyer, but I like everything he said – especially the story about the Yankees beating the Mets in a pivotal game last year when Castillo dropped A-Rod’s pop fly to second base and turned the final out into the play that let the Yankees win.

3. I despise government more than ever. Not because of the conference, but because I was given a bottle of real maple syrup as my honorarium for speaking. But I wasn’t willing to pay $25 to check my bag, so I went through TSA security hoping rationality would prevail. Not surprisingly, that wasn’t the case.

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Kudos to the federal appeals court that just ruled that the Federal Reserve has no right to hide the sordid special handouts it provided to well-connected financial firms. Here’s an excerpt from a report about the decision:

The Federal Reserve must reveal documents identifying financial companies that received Fed loans to survive the financial crisis, a federal appeals court ruled Friday. A panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said in two separate opinions that such information isn’t automatically exempt from requests under the Freedom of Information Act. News Corp.’s Fox News Network LLC and Bloomberg L.P. sued separately for details about loans that commercial banks and Wall Street firms received and the collateral they put up. Other news agencies, including The Associated Press, filed briefs with the appellate court in their support. The Fed argued that if it identified banks that drew emergency loans, it could cause a run on those institutions, undermine the loan programs and potentially hurt the economy, and lower-court judges were split on the issue. The Federal Reserve said it’s studying Friday’s ruling.

On a broader note, I’m periodically asked about monetary policy, the Fed, and the financial crisis. I do my best to stay away from the first two topics, largely because my interests are elsewhere (though I did handle the Federal Reserve for the Bush/Quayle transition team, many years in the past). But that does not mean the issues are unimportant. For those that are interested, I recommend two articles, one by George Selgin and the other by Gerald O’Driscoll.

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While the politicians in Washington are poised to undermine the healthcare system with additional layers of taxes, spending, and regulation, Steven Chapman proposes to use markets to improve a part of the system that is suffering from a punitive form of price controls. Orgain donors are allowed zero compensation for their sacrifice. This policy – driven by an ideological impulse against markets and voluntary exchange – directly leads to the death of thousands of people each year

Consider the economics of an organ transplant. Everyone involved gets something of value. The doctors and nurses are paid. The hospital receives money. The organ recipient gets something that will save her life. …since 1984, it has been illegal to pay someone to surrender a body part, even posthumously. Campaigns to browbeat Americans into signing organ donor cards, however, haven’t sufficed. The transplant organ shortage has grown. Since 1989, kidney donations have doubled. But the number of patients in need of them is five times higher than it was then. Last year, 4,456 people died while waiting for a kidney transplant. The story with livers follows the same line. Among the losers from this guaranteed-shortage policy are victims of cancer and other lethal diseases who need bone marrow transplants. Some of them have filed a lawsuit, which goes to court in Los Angeles this week, asking to be allowed to offer compensation to donors — which is now a felony punishable by five years in prison. …The ban is particularly indefensible in this realm. Someone giving up a kidney loses an important organ for good. But bone marrow donors produce new marrow to replace what is lost. Given that it’s legal under federal law to buy and sell blood and sperm, why is bone marrow treated differently? …If Americans could be paid for bone marrow, more would step forward. Nobel Prize-winning economist Gary Becker of the University of Chicago, in a 2007 paper written with Julio Jorge Elias of the State University of New York at Buffalo, figured the kidney shortage could be eliminated for $15,000 per organ.

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