While the federal government has extensive rules about how its regulatory agencies makes rules--with notices, publication schedules and comment periods--there is no government-wide policy for providing information to the public about meetings between executive branch officials and private interests. These contacts between regulators those seeking to influence them--refered to as ex parte meetings--can have a profound effect on the final shape of the rules that govern everything from disposing of trash to disclosing positions in complex derivatives. Yet there is no uniform requirement to make information about these meetings available to the public, let alone whether or not agencies must ...Continue reading
Debunking the Wall Street Journal’s odd case against disclosure
Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn is a well-known champion of free market capitalism. As somebody who supposedly understands all the benefits of markets, it is strange to see him attack disclosure and full transparency, as he did in a Wall Street Journal column this week entitled “The Chick-fil-A War is Back On: Welcome to the new intolerance.” McGurn starts off with some complains about how poor ol' Chick-fil-A is being treated. Apparently Mr. McGurn finds something intolerable about fast food consumers exercising their freedoms of choice and speech and using market forces to affect change. Would he feel the same way if they were complaining that the chicken tastes like rubber? Is not a boycott the most capitalist-friendly method of pushing change, with its pure reliance on market forces? McGurn also has bigger chickens to fry. He also doesn’t like the market-oriented (again) way that consumers have been sending signals to corporations that belong to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group that writes model legislation in secret and has recently come under fire for pushing model “Stand Your Ground” legislation at the state level. And back in 2005, he didn’t like consumers pressuring Charles Schwab from supporting the libertarian Cato Institute. And though he does not discuss campaign finance disclosure directly, it is hard to ignore that for the last few months, there is been an ongoing debate as to whether so-called “dark money” 501(c) groups should be required to reveal their donors. In July, Senate Republicans filibustered the DISCLOSE ACT, which would have required these groups to disclose their donors. Our best guess is that just two dark money groups (Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity) have already spent $174 million on this election. And that the total dark money figure could approach $1 billion. McGurn apparently thinks all these contributions should happen behind the scenes, so that consumers and citizens can remain blissfully ignorant of the political agendas of the companies that they support in the marketplace. He writes that while transparency “may sound fine in theory, in practice these requirements can conflict with the right of people to come together in free association.”Continue reading
The News Without Transparency: Political Spending by Unions Far Exceeds Direct Donations
Redacted – WSJ Union Spending The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Unions spend more money on politics than is... View ArticleContinue reading
Wall Street Journal sues for access to Medicare records
The Wall Street Journal announced today that it's suing for access to data on payments that doctors receive from Medicare, which has been exempt from public disclosure thanks to a 1979 court case won by the American Medical Association. The Journal argues that absent data on the payments, it's impossible for journalists or members of the public to tell which doctors are billing the system improperly. "It's time to overturn an injunction that, for decades, has allowed some doctors to defraud Medicare free from public scrutiny," Mark Jackson, the counsel for Dow Jones, the Journal's immediate ...Continue reading
Is AFSCME or the Chamber the top political spender?
The Wall Street Journal brings an apple to the orange convention, writing that, “The American Federation of State, County and... View ArticleContinue reading
This Explains It!
From the Wall Street Journal:
What is it about a Web site that might make it literally irresistible? Clues are offered by research conducted by Irving Biederman, a neuroscientist at the University of Southern California, who is interested in the evolutionary and biological basis of the human need for information....
...coming across what Dr. Biederman calls new and richly interpretable information triggers a chemical reaction that makes us feel good, which in turn causes us to seek out even more of it. The reverse is true as well: We want to avoid not getting those hits because, for one, we are so averse to boredom.
It is something we seem hard-wired to do, says Dr. Biederman. When you find new information, you get an opioid hit, and we are junkies for those. You might call us 'infovores.' "
Now we know!