TCS Daily : October 2002 Archives

Midterm Exam

If it's the economy, stupid, then we free marketers had better wise up. When confidence in the economy weakens, confidence in economic leadership weakens, too. The perceived economic leaders of the country, of course, are President Bush and the Republicans... Read More

Biotech Boogeyman

There's an initiative on the ballot in Oregon this fall that deserves to be labeled scary - and not just for the people of Oregon. Measure 27 would require any product containing at least one genetically modified ingredient to carry... Read More

The Grim Reaper

Where it comes to global public policy, there is one issue that pulls all developing countries together, and nearly everyone in the rich world too - the misery caused by Western agricultural subsidies. But things may be improving since the... Read More

The Missing Link

Schizophrenia is a frightening mental disease, afflicting more than 25 million Americans. New drugs can treat the problem with fewer side effects than ever before, but recent research has shown these medications to have their own disastrous side-effects, including Read More

Knowledge Unhidden

The issue of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) has become a high profile item in Washington. The Bush Administration's position on Iraq is, in large part, motivated by Saddam Hussein's program to build nuclear weapons. The possibility that international terrorist.. Read More

The UN Dawdle

After way too long gumming the problem of Iraq, the UN Security Council is due to vote on the resolution within a few days. In diplomacy - as in life - timing's everything. "If it were done when 'tis done,... Read More

Moscow's Red Dawn

After the dramatic terrorist siege of a theater in Moscow, there can no longer be any doubts that the various strains of global terrorism are coalescing into an ever more virulent strain with no regard for human life or international... Read More

A Pack, Not a Herd

So the snipers that paralyzed and terrorized the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area are caught now. But it's worth thinking about how they were caught. After repeatedly slipping through the fingers of law enforcement, John Muhammad and Lee Salvo were caught... Read More

Green Technology

DES MOINES -The chairman of Syngenta, the Swiss-based agricultural firm, said last week that the way to reduce world hunger and preserve the environment is to produce much more food on roughly the same amount of land - and the... Read More

Brussels Rustles

Recycling Rubbish At their Council meeting this month, EU environment ministers passed a directive to force member states to recycle between 55 and 80 pct of all packaging waste by December 2008. The only governments to object were the Netherlands... Read More

What's In Store?

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Money magazine recently crunched the numbers and found the 30 stocks that had returned the most, in price and dividends, since the magazine's founding in August 1972. The No.1 stock was, of all things, an airline... Read More

Old News Is Good News

Economists have often said that economic policy is so difficult because policymakers must try to steer the economy in response to data that are fairly old. It is, the saying goes, a bit like driving while looking at the rear-view... Read More

The New Prometheans

Something really important is underway. It has the potential to improve the quality of life for millions of people, make vast fortunes for a few, stimulate the world economy, change fundamental human attitudes and create enormous passion, controversy, fear and... Read More

Reaffirming Cynicism

Free marketers have always known that the government rarely does a good job at providing wise regulation. That is a bleak truth, but still a truth. And the truth sets you free, financially. So investors are on notice: they will... Read More

The New Political Economy?

"It's all too easy to see how we may become a country in which the big rewards are reserved for people with the right connections; in which ordinary people see little hope of advancement; in which political involvement seems pointless,... Read More

The Limits of Rationality

For all those infuriated by scientific scams, junk science and pseudoscience, Skeptical Inquirer is a godsend. The magazine of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) takes a rational look at some of the sillier... Read More

Cheerful Libertarianism

Here's a thought that might help freedom-loving men and women win elective office and gain influence over society's future course: Perhaps our fellow citizens aren't fools after all! Isn't that the central belief of lovers of liberty? The notion that... Read More

Thirst Quenchers

It's often said that water shortages are leading to conflict and may lead to wars in the future. The United Nations is so concerned with global water issues that it has designated next year as the year of Freshwater. Even... Read More

Get Real

One of my favorite professors during college and graduate school was John Mearsheimer, whose famed "realist" worldview of international politics was - and still is - the dominant working theory designed to predict the workings of world politics. A clever... Read More

Past as Prologue?

Look before you leap has always been pretty good advice. Too bad the Federal Communications Commission didn't follow it more fully three years ago. For when the commission freed the local Bell phone companies from price caps for so-called special... Read More

Prizes and Prices

Some people use science and technology to save lives. Some people use fear and superstition to get in the way. Pedro Sanchez of is one of those who save lives. This week, the Cuban-born Sanchez is being awarded the prestigious... Read More

The Rationality Weapon

Science - or more precisely, a rational, scientific outlook - is a formidable and so-far largely unrecognized weapon in the war against terrorism and its sponsors. Encouraging scientific and rational thinking in the Arab and Muslim world should be a... Read More

What the Doctor Orders

The European Parliament's vote to maintain a ban on advertising prescription drugs was a victory for consumer groups. But was it a victory for consumers? The doctor really does know best. If you believe the European Parliament, that is, whose... Read More

Stormin' Norman

DES MOINES - Not to take anything away from Jimmy Carter, the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner and a far better ex-president than president, but, when it comes to saving lives, no one can compete with Norman Borlaug. Norman who?... Read More

What Is Property?

Revolutionary technologies always disrupt society and one of America's biggest "digital age" disruptions is occurring in the area of intellectual property (IP). Indeed, the digital revolution has re-ignited a heated debate over whether intellectual property is even Read More

Name Change

"Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin." Donald Rumsfeld couldn't have said it better. Certainly not more concisely. These four undecipherable words were the Writing on the Wall, and foretold the epochal regime change that ended the Babylonian empire, whose core is what... Read More

Ujaama and Muhammad

Late Wednesday night authorities began searching for two "people of interest" in relation to the Beltway Sniper. What's interesting is that one of the two "persons of interest" was identified as a Tacoma, Washington man connected with Fort Lewis. Stuck... Read More

'We Know Where You Live'

The supposed coming age of renewable energy is often held up as a peaceful kingdom where the energy lion will lie down with the environment lamb. Gone - or at least severely reduced in size and influence - will be... Read More

From Jo'burg to Des Moines

Environmentalists consider the recent Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development to be a failure. However, if their own rhetoric is to be believed, they should at least have been happy that a discussion of the costs and benefits of genetically... Read More

It's a Buoy!

To most people, weathermen seem famously clueless about the skies. But to the people that study the ocean's depths, Al Roker and company look practically omniscient. Every day, thousands of weather balloons are launched from airports around the globe to... Read More

Who Can't Handle the Truth?

Terrorists practice what's called "asymmetric warfare," in which a force takes advantage of its opponents' peculiar weaknesses in order to achieve an advantage even where the opponent would seem to have the edge. Terrorists do this by using the openness... Read More

Nothing's Shocking

The admission this past week by North Korea that it has been developing a nuclear weapons program, is no surprise. And why should it be? The North Koreans are accustomed to the soft dealings and easy forgiveness that characterized American... Read More

Bring Your Money Home

Here's a stock that might interest you... The company, exceptionally well managed, is in an industry that has boomed this year despite the economic slowdown. The firm's revenue has doubled in the past four years and quadrupled in the past... Read More

No More Bombshells

In a news alert last week, The Economist headlined North Korea's admission that it was working on nuclear weapons as "dropping a bombshell." Well, if it is, it's only so for people who like to stick their heads in the... Read More

Appeasers Framework

North Korea, if you'll pardon the pun, dropped a bombshell on the international community this past week, by announcing that, despite the so-called Agreed Framework - brokered with the help of Nobel Laureate Jimmy Carter - they went ahead and... Read More

The Pacific Northworst

In the field of healthcare, Oregon has a reputation for being on the cutting edge. When managed care became the rallying cry for healthcare reformers in the early 1990¹s, the state's Medicaid program, the Oregon Health Plan, was held up... Read More

The Academy
Takes a Dive

The National Academy of Sciences, a private, non-profit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scientists and engineers, is often in the news. Consistent with its 1863 charter from Congress - which commits it "to the furtherance of science and technology and t Read More

Fuel for the Fire

As if things were not bad enough for the biotech industry in Europe, new rules governing the authorization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the European Union that took effect this month will make it even harder for companies to... Read More

Told You So...

I used to work for Qualcomm designing cell phones. Qualcomm is the company that invented the CDMA cell phone and made it practical and made it into a market success. It is now the leading system in the American market.... Read More

To Nuke, Or Not to Nuke?

In war, against threats or only in retaliation, when should the U.S. strike with atomics? America wants to deter other nations from acquiring atomic weapons and to prevent U.S. troops from being attacked by mass-killing devices. Unfortunately, these two objectives. Read More

The Trackable Society

"Do these slayings, or the war on terrorism, put these cameras in a different light? If technology is the only way to enforce a law, any law, is it wrong to use that technology because it's intrusive. Society will have... Read More

Financial Evolution, Revolution

Editor's note: Last week NASDAQ unveiled SuperMontage, a new $100 million electronic trading platform. The platform is designed to let investors see five price levels of stocks, and not just the currently accessible best price. Tech Central Station editor Nick... Read More

America the Tolerant

Mazhar Tabesh, a motel owner in Salt Lake City, saw his business burn down on July 21. Police investigated the incident as a hate crime, but on September 11 the police arrested Tabesh himself on suspicion of setting the fire.... Read More

Disaster Area

The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) just released a document that calls for reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. No surprise there. But this time UNEP is saying such reductions are needed so that climate-disaster economic los Read More

Minimum Damage

With unemployment at 5.6 percent, the stock market stalled, consumer spending showing signs of stagnating, and fear of a potential war with Iraq, Americans are experiencing a general unease. And although last month the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged, Read More

Double Tax Trouble

Few in Congress understand that double taxation amounts to a misguided "sin tax," punishing companies for simply paying dividends. As a result, companies pay fewer dividends than ever. It sounds innocent enough, but the results are staggering. Fortunately one membe Read More

Reflections On An 'Election'

With 100% of the precincts reporting, Saddam Hussein has received 100% of the vote in the Iraqi presidential election. We are told that this great flowering of democracy sends a message to the world that the Iraqi people are united... Read More

Danger DTD

Corporate mismanagement and accounting fraud have done great damage to the stock market and to the United States economy in the past year. Although justice is being served as crooked CEO's and accountants are starting to get what they deserve,... Read More

Disaster Area

The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) just released a document that calls for reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. No surprise there. But this time UNEP is saying such reductions are needed so that climate-disaster economic los Read More

Cloning the Western Societal Model

Although the notion social engineering has gone out of fashion, every individual, group and country constantly aims at improving its situation, which alters the way society is organised. It is also the ultimate aim of development cooperation. But does it... Read More

Freedom Rock!

The conservative writer and economist Bruce Bartlett recently discussed what he called the top forty conservative pop songs. I started thinking about compiling a list of my own - the libertarian's list. To be honest, I've never been much on... Read More

An Ominous New Era

Pity the poor Environmental Protection Agency. Regulating industries is a slow and cumbersome process, frustrating for officials because it often fails to achieve the results they want. So the agency has come up with a new strategy, one that turns... Read More

Wind Magic

Editor's note: This article continues Dr. Baliunas' series on alternative energy sources. "Any sufficiently advanced technology," says Arthur C. Clarke's Third Law, "is indistinguishable from magic." Magic works as entertainment when the excitable human imagination Read More

A UN Checklist

To me, the only international inspectors for Iraq are the 101st Airborne Division. Real inspection will follow actual liberation. Beforehand is all but impossible. We must appreciate this now, since now the real action moves from our Congress - where... Read More

Going Bananas

The European Union's banana policy is totally bananas. A fresh report from the European Court of Auditors removes all doubt about its usefulness. Piece for piece the new report picks the whole policy apart and shows that the only benefactors... Read More

A Political Cyber-Coalition

Blogging has been celebrated by various supporters and boosters as a way to gain access to information that is not filtered through Big Media, or perhaps does not carry the ideological biases that many people (both on the Right and... Read More

Symbiotic Media

It recently came out that the New York Times had more readers for its web edition than for its print edition. This produces both good news and bad news. The good news is that the web readers don't seem to... Read More

What's Your
Margin of Safety?

"The margin of safety is always dependent on the price paid. It will be large at one price, small at some higher price, non-existent at some still higher price." Benjamin Graham, The Intelligent Investor Are stocks cheap, or are they... Read More

Want Luxury?
Take the Bus

It was sometime during the Hoover administration or thereabouts that everyone decided that the quickest and most pleasant way to travel was by commercial airline. That 'of course' preceded such realities as clogged hubs; aircrafts jammed with fetid hordes of... Read More

Neuer Markt Blues

Europe's last remaining high-tech bubble popped in late September in Frankfurt when Deutsche Boerse announced it would close its high-growth technology offshoot, Neuer Markt. The nearest thing Europe had to America's Nasdaq will be amalgamated into the Deutsche Boe Read More

'Better Dead Than Fed'?

I grow poison on my farm, feed it to my family and sell it to unsuspecting consumers in the U.S. and around the world. That's what the president of Zambia seems to think. As 3 million people in his country... Read More

Economic Wind Tunnels

If you've ever taken a "hard" science class, you know that thought isn't enough; eventually you'll have to go to into the field or into the lab to find out whether the theory holds up in reality. For a long... Read More

That's Nifty

You probably know the old joke: "How do you make a small fortune in the stock market?" "Start with a large fortune." After three years in which the market has lost between a third and a half of its value... Read More

Georgia On My Mind

The Bush Administration continues to espouse a black-and-white view of the world in the expanding war against terror. This may make it easier to rouse support within the U.S. for the war on Iraq, but it is also creating the... Read More

State of the Unions

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union released a scathing statement against government intervention in the labor dispute at west coast ports. "The union is angry that the Bush administration gave PMA the gift it blackmailed businesses, farmers and consume Read More

Air Ball

The Environmental Protection Agency's recently released Latest Findings on National Air Quality confirms the good news that America's air quality is improving. Unfortunately, many involved in environmental issues insist on telling the public otherwise. The report d Read More

The Final Arbiter?

One of the chief arguments against the policy of regime change in Iraq, as well as the Bush Doctrine of preemption in general, is that it ignores, or worse, undermines, the legitimacy of the United Nations. The UN, we are... Read More

The UN Fallacy

Of all the arguments against waging war on Saddam Hussein's regime, the "must go through the UN" argument is surely the oddest. A few months ago, when tensions flared on the Pakistani-Indian border, and India threatened military action against Pakistan's... Read More

Herbal Maladies

NBC's coverage of a recent study on the effectiveness of the popular herbal remedy gingko biloba proved in need of a pick-me-up. Reporter Robert Hager began by summarizing the latest research into "the nation's most widely used herbal remedy" by... Read More

Getting Shifty

For ideologues, when arguments are unpersuasive, you don't conclude your position is flawed. You just change your arguments. Consider environmental activists and global warming. Greens have been saying for years that the emission of greenhouse gases due to the burn Read More

Costs and Benefits in Europe

TechCentralStation-Europe recently had a conference in Copenhagen on the merits of using cost-benefit analysis in environmental policy making. While I agree with the general conclusion of the participants that the use of such tools is gaining wider acceptance I wou Read More

Blue Genes

Just weeks ago gene therapy celebrated one of its greatest successes, the almost-miraculous cure of a two-year-old Dutch child afflicted with "bubble boy syndrome." His severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) forced him to spend what was destined to be a short... Read More

Duty Freeh

Louis Freeh is perhaps the most important but overlooked figure in the September 11 investigation. Despite being director of the FBI while 20 al Qaeda terrorists plotted American destruction from American soil, Freeh has somehow successfully avoided public scrutiny Read More

Remember 'Germany First'

The details of the attack are well known: devastating losses, a terrible toll on human life. The American public, with a burning lust for revenge, heartily endorsed total war against the enemy who attacked without warning. There could be no... Read More

The Telecom Tango

On biannual trips to Argentina in the 1990s, I often would look at the prices there for electronics and computers and wonder: Why so high? It made absolutely no sense to me that a nation with 30 million fairly well... Read More

Out of Options

Can an action short of all-out war with Iraq solve the problems the United States has with that country? This question is at the heart of the current debate over Iraq. One attempt to avert war while putting muscle into... Read More

The Long and Shoremen of It

The shutdown of West Coast docks cost the U.S. economy a billion dollars a day according to some estimates. Like the UPS strike of 1997, the work stoppage idled other businesses and jeopardized the jobs of other American workers. But... Read More

Air Heads

USA Today reported Monday that the "smart" air bags required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are "so dumb they could kill or injure children and fail to protect adults in crashes." A review of the history of NHTSA's... Read More

'Radicalism and Technology'

The new National Security Strategy document released by the White House last month includes a terse one-sentence summary of the risks we confront: "The gravest danger our Nation faces lies at the crossroads of radicalism and technology." This is certainly... Read More

The Party of Life

Editor's note: the following is a paper delivered to the Mont Pelerin Society Meeting this week in London. USA Today reported on its front page recently: Millions of copies of 'Atlas Shrugged' that have been sold over 45 years are... Read More

The Way Things (Don't) Work

I like stuff. Hardware, software, electronics, firearms, whatever. If it does something, I tend to like it. Unfortunately, I often get the feeling that the people who design things never actually use them. I get that feeling because so many... Read More

Richard Milhouse Bush

The Republican president, a man from the west in his mid-50s, was elected in a squeaker--with less than 50 percent of the vote, in a three-way contest--running on a platform that stressed domestic issues, consciously saying little about foreign affairs.... Read More

Why Wait?

Critics cry "Why now?" A better question is "Why wait?" Those wishing to liberate Iraq, uphold the United Nations' integrity, and preclude the specter of Saddam Hussein getting nuclear (on top of yet more chemical and biological) weapons lost momentum... Read More

New Improved Internet

The need for employees and entrepreneurs to telecommute from home has clearly grown in importance since the terrible events of September 11th, 2001. However, the type of work that can be done via telecommuting is being hampered by a bottleneck... Read More

The Disappearing Alliance

For over two generations, the countries of Western Europe have been our closest allies. We stood beside each other through the darkest days of the Cold War as partners in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. We celebrated with them over... Read More

State of Unpreparedness

Lately, Congress has been busy beating its collective chest in righteous indignation at the lost opportunities to prevent 9/11. Nothing is so perfect as hindsight. Yet, one year after someone deliberately disseminated anthrax through the postal system, killing five Read More

Why Stocks Don't Stink

"My message is as follows: stocks stink and will continue to do so until they're priced appropriately, probably somewhere around Dow 5000, S&P 650, or Nasdaq God knows where." That's what Bill Gross, the usually mild-mannered managing director of Pacific... Read More

Diet Doubts

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has launched a massive investigation into a possibly cancerous agent in our food. FDA Deputy Commissioner Lester Crawford announced last week that acrylamide, a chemical recently discovered in certain cooked foods, "is a probl Read More

Theory Meets Reality

Members of Congress preparing for this week's debate on military intervention in Iraq can afford, in general, to draw on their knowledge of the 1991 Gulf War to inform their views. They'll be in trouble, though, if they rely on... Read More

South Park Republicans

Picture a typical Republican. Perhaps you see images of George Bush, John Ashcroft, Ronald Reagan, or maybe even Alex P. Keaton. Basically, many people think Republicans are a bunch of stodgy white guys with money. Times are changing. The Republican... Read More

Ray of Light

About two-thirds of our nation's economic growth is driven by innovations in information technology. Telecom plays an essential role in information acquisition and dissemination and accounts for the lion's share of IT investment and innovation. A vibrant telecom se Read More

Heed the Austrians

THE HAGUE - Economists still do not agree about the causes of the great depression of the thirties. That is regrettable, because this period contains undoubtedly lessons which could be used to face the current crisis-like situation. But if economists... Read More

Bomb Iraq! With Ballots

The United States may or may not have sufficient reason to force a change of regime in Iraq. Opinions vary widely on that issue. The case for invading Iraq would command deeper and wider support, however, if we had good... Read More

Tasty Pork Chop

A lot of nonsense seems to be passing for "national security" nowadays. Senator Ernest Hollings, for instance, has proposed a five-year, $23 billion bailout for Amtrak. Normally, this would just be good old-fashioned corporate welfare, to be haggled over in... Read More

Science By Anecdote

Anyone remember cold fusion? At a March 1989 press conference, Professors Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann announced they had discovered a new form of energy generation, one that would usher in an era of limitless energy. Their technique, dubbed "cold... Read More

A Giant Remembers

Editor's Note: Dr. Sallie Baliunas interviewed Dr. Robert Jastrow. Jastrow was the founding director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. He is the director of the Mount Wilson Institute. He is the author of the influential book Red Giants... Read More

Where's the Beef?

The longest-running trade dispute between the United States and the European Union - a battle over hormone-treated beef - has been overshadowed by other transatlantic issues recently. While agriculture subsidies and trade distortion are on the front-burner, the bee Read More

Globalization: A Primer

The anti-globalization crowd came out last weekend to demonstrate against the evils of capitalism at the annual IMF/World Bank meeting in Washington. Ralph Nader ranted on about how multinational corporations either exploit or ignore the poor in developing countrie Read More

Department of Everything

In 1992, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act, a big, honking piece of legislation that sought to codify into federal law the thousands of administrative laws put forth by the Department of Energy. It set crucial, national-security-affecting policies such as... Read More

Politicize It; Don't Criticize It

Democrats are angry with President Bush. He is, they say, trying to politicize the decision on whether or not to go to war against Iraq, and they don't like it. "That is wrong," Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said on... Read More

Source Socialism

At a recent Stanford University lecture, open source proselytizer Bruce Perens encouraged students to get involved in the open source political movement. A few folks were enthused, but many seemed confused by how a method of software production and distribution... Read More

Partners for Peace

Dear Nobel Prize Committee: I am writing to provide my strongest support for the nomination of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush for the Nobel Peace Prize. Norwegian Parliamentarian Harald Tom Nesvik was exactly right... Read More

Be All, End All?

By rejecting the British and American plan for tougher weapons inspections in Iraq, the regime of Saddam Hussein dispelled any illusion that its earlier offer to readmit weapons inspectors was being made "without conditions," as was advertised by the regime,... Read More

The Genius of Ideology

The MacArthur Foundation annually gives out lucrative awards to so-called "geniuses." To its credit, the Foundation never has called the recipients by that name. However, they are so labeled in the popular press. This year's assortment had the usual lineup... Read More

Dirty Trickster

No matter how much strutting and posturing Saddam and his advisors do on TV, his 350,000 mutiny-minded soldiers are unlikely to mount much serious resistance to the might of the U.S. military once it descends upon them. But that doesn't... Read More

Fraudulent Witch-Hunts

Research fraud is in the news again. At Bell Labs, researcher Hendrik Schon has been fired for allegedly faking data in numerous research papers, many of which were published in highly prestigious scientific journals. At Emory University, historian Michael Bellesil Read More

'Source of Material Civilization'

Priests of ancient and medieval religions could, by invoking the higher power, extract payments for forgiveness of sins, invoke holy wars ("God wills it") and even compel the practice of human sacrifice. Charlatans, demagogues, and mountebanks can still herd the... Read More

Why Growth Matters

Poor economic growth is creating political problems in Europe's heartland. Not only does this mean that Germany and France will need to use much of their energies to mend their ailing economies, but that other major European projects such as... Read More

Are Mortgage Lenders Racist?

Do American lending institutions racially discriminate? "The Great Divide 2002," a study released on Tuesday by the advocacy group Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) seems to suggest just that. According to ACORN, Latinos are denied mortg Read More

Rethinking Precaution

Emotions run high when the debate topic is the contentious issue of climate change and the Kyoto protocol, but even diametrically opposed advocates found themselves agreeing this week on the usefulness of cost-benefit analysis in decision-making. At a TechCentralSt Read More

Investing Small Pox?

Do you have the stomach, in this queasy market, to search for bargains and actually buy some stocks? The worst major sector this year has been small-cap growth, and it stands to reason that this may be the happiest hunting... Read More

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