New from the Business & Media Institute
Media Mantra: Unhappy Holidays 
The media declared shoppers Scrooges this Christmas season, but early numbers indicate the retail holidays were merry. Online sales alone were up an estimated 30 percent from last year. The Business & Media Institute takes journalists to task for sticking to the lumps-of-coal theory.
Commentary: Fear and Loathing in Business News 
Thanks to news reports, Americans are suffering from the fear of everything. Pick any letter of the alphabet and youll find something to make you run and hide from avian flu to a bust in housing or cloning. This anxious hype is an avoidable man-made disaster.
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly 
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly tracks the best and worst media coverage of business and economics. Readers are invited to submit suggestions or news tips to staff writer Ken Shepherd .
This week: Strong U.S. economy; ABC weighed and found lacking on calorie-counting; IBD joins other media in snowing public on housing news.
Also from BMI:
Research, News & Commentary
Research : Middle-class retirees would benefit from tax cuts on dividends and capital gains, a recent report argues. As stock ownership becomes the norm rather than the exception in the U.S. today, capital gains and dividend income will become an increasingly larger share of the retirement income for seniors, writes Tax Foundation president Scott Hodge.
Commentary : Michael Barone of U.S. News and World Report argues that Wal-Mart succeeds where General Motors has failed: it continually adapts to the shifting demands of the marketplace and in doing so benefits its customers and employees alike.
News : Mike Ford of School Choice Wisconsin reports on unsuccessful efforts by school voucher advocates to lift a state-imposed quota on the number of children who can enroll in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. Ford notes that Gov. Jim Doyle (D) has vetoed three bills in two years to lift the enrollment cap which was surpassed in September 2005 of 15 percent of Milwaukee students.
Commentary : Arguing we should sell while the selling is good, Cato senior fellows Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren write that the federal government should close the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Taylor and Van Doren call the Reserve a federal insurance policy against a fuel crisis where the cost of the policy has been more expensive than the dangers the stockpile is meant to prevent.
Commentary : Contrary to the popular media spin that corporate Big Oil runs the world oil market, Wall Street Journal columnist Holman Jenkins argues that nationalized oil industries abroad and heavy regulation of private oil ownership at home threaten steady economic growth. Jenkins writes that The world can expect to pay a price in instability for decades to come thanks to this phenomenon.
News : Tarren Bragdon of the Maine Heritage Policy Center reports in the Heartland Institutes January 2006 newsletter how the Pine Tree States public health initiative, DirigoChoice, is hemorrhaging money and faltering while taxing Mainers an additional fee for every health insurance claim they file.