TCS Daily : March 2004 Archives

Good Drugs

Though the subject has receded from the forefront of public debate for the moment, prescription drug prices remain a likely political issue in the 2004 campaign. I'm not entirely sure what to do about it, although I strongly suspect... Read More

Overhyping Hypersonics?

After years of failed attempts, NASA successfully flew their Hyper-X X-43A vehicle on Saturday. It's no doubt a noteworthy milestone in flight, and with its revolutionary scramjet propulsion system, it broke all previous speed records for airbreathing aircraft. Un Read More

Are We Scaring Ourselves to Death -- Again?

Every time I hear of new legislation that tries to limit the production of greenhouse gases by industry in order to avert climate catastrophe, I am reminded of John Stossel's ABC News special "Are We Scaring Ourselves to Death?"... Read More

The Constitution of Surveillance

"What was different in the 20th century? Certainly, the technologies underlying the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) - nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) - were powerful, and the weapons an enormous threat. But building nuclear weapons required, at least... Read More

No Permanent Friends

Over the past several months, many critics of the Bush administration have blamed it for the loss of our allies in the War on Terror. The accusation is that the Bush Administration has squandered the goodwill of the immediate... Read More

USDA and the Peterkin Papers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's biotechnology regulations have been a shambles for more than fifteen years. Its compulsory case-by-case review and costly field test design and other requirements have made gene-spliced plants disproportionately -- and unnecess Read More

Who is Bullying Whom?

"Bully tactics adopted by the company will not undermine our effort to make medicines more affordable." These are the words of South Africa's Minister of Health, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang in reaction to a comment made senior drug company executive. The... Read More

Railroading Consumers

Early in March, the U.S. Appeals Court in the District of Columbia overturned the Federal Communications Commission's 2003 decision that strengthened the hands of state regulators in deciding how access to services provided by the Bell networks could be... Read More

The Red-Green Divide Over Human Enhancement

"The future," it has been said, "creeps in on small feet. We do not awaken suddenly to a brave new world." In no area of futurology is this more true than in demographics -- as was evidenced last week... Read More


In the last two years the United States has negotiated free trade agreements (FTAs) with Australia, Chile and Singapore. Along with the US, they are members of APEC, the organization of economic cooperation among Asian Pacific economies. These agreements... Read More

The Small Pleasures of Trade

Starbucks just opened its first café in Lima, Peru. And in August 2003 it debuted in Santiago de Chile. Some people are not going to like this. In a new book called Globalization, Marcelo M. Suárez-Orozco and Desirée Baolian... Read More

The Commission, the Democrats and Terrorism

Until a few days ago, presidential candidate John Kerry was able to take all the shots he wanted at President Bush's record in the war on terror, while remaining out of critical range himself. But last week's 9/11 commission... Read More

The Next Threat

While the "News Cycle" focuses its attention on a mid-level functionary's startling revelation that, had only everyone listened to him, this whole terror thing could have been averted (that is, had they listened then to what he's saying now,... Read More

The Making of a Pop Star, 2010

In a few years, the early 1990s controversy over whether or not the pop duo of Milli Vanilli sang on their own Grammy Award winning record may seem like small potatoes. Get ready for synthesized lead and backup vocals... Read More

Hi-Stakes Reality TV

The Apprentice is one of the hottest shows on TV. Sixteen contestants compete for a chance at a six-figure job within Donald Trump's organization. Each week, two teams compete fiercely to outperform the other at an assigned task. Someone... Read More

The Uses of Failure

If Americans have one collective shortcoming, it is that we have no use for failure. Success alone is what counts for us; and though we are apt to applaud those who have given their best to come in at... Read More

Wage Against the Machine

With Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle's endorsement of the Minimum Wage Advisory Council's proposal to hike the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.50, the Badger State may soon see its minimum wage go up by 24 percent. The council, however,... Read More

Yahoo! Takes on Google

Yahoo! has announced it is dropping Google as its search engine and is going to crawl the web to provide its own search results. This is being cast as a competition and, of course, it is. It is also... Read More

Stateless Heads

United States a commission is digging into the intelligence and administrative issues and failures which lead up to 9/11. Testimony is being heard on the most basic question: "Why didn't we kill Osama bin Laden when we had the... Read More

Brains vs. Things

One of my heroes is the late Julian Simon, the University of Maryland economist who challenged the conventional wisdom that the world was getting overpopulated and would soon run out of food and other critical resources. The best evidence... Read More

On the Question of Foreign Support

MADRID, Spain -- Still stinging from his party's defeat at the hands of the Socialists, Spanish Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy is seeking to rally supporters in advance of upcoming political confrontations with the ruling Socialists, led by Prime... Read More

The Core at the Future of Warfare

When Gen. Douglas MacArthur gave his farewell address at West Point in 1962, he told cadets that his "last conscious thoughts would be of the corps, and the corps, and the corps." A graduate of West Point today heading... Read More

Who's Afraid of Big Bad Biotech?

Essentially everything positive you've heard about biotechnology is true. It's making inroads against killers such as cancer, heart disease, and organ failure. It's stopping other diseases for which until recently the only treatment was aspirin. Biotech crops will Read More

Which Anti-Terror Model Do You Like?

Three anti-terror models emerged over the last week. As world leaders grieve in Madrid over 201 victims of the train bombing, the Pakistanis demonstrate their Keystone Cops qualities, and Israel is taking flak from the Europeans for the targeted... Read More

The Italian Job

A fine of €497 million may not seem like too much for Microsoft, with a current account balance of something like $50 billion, to pay. One New York lawyer involved in the case waggishly described the amount as "a... Read More

Should Massachusetts Be Allowed to Outsource Jobs?

1. Since Sen. Kerry disapproves of outsourcing, propose an experiment in which firms in Massachusetts, but only Massachusetts, are forbidden to outsource. Since such an outsourcing ban would place Senator Kerry's home state of Massachusetts at a brutal competitive Read More

Power to the People?

On January 22, Citigroup directors and executives fell all over each other, rushing to claim their Ethical Oscar from the radical activist group, Rainforest Action Network. Henceforth, promised Citi, it would dramatically scale back investment in developing countr Read More

Asteroids and Oorts

Near misses don't come much nearer. At 5:08 pm EST last Thursday, an asteroid with the graceless name of FH 2004 whizzed by the earth, skimming a mere 26,500 miles over the Southern Atlantic Ocean. It was not large... Read More

Rewind, Repeat

History is repeating itself. After spending several years and millions of dollars defending itself against a domestic antitrust suit, Microsoft became the target of a European Union antitrust probe that has lasted five years and cost the company millions... Read More

With Allies Like These...

"... the administration stubbornly holds to failed polices that drive potential allies away." -- Sen. John Kerry An unvarying refrain of Sen. John Kerry and other Bush administration critics is that the White House alienated America's allies in its... Read More

The Man Who Defused the "Bomb"

In the long history of the global popularity contest known as the Nobel Prizes it's beyond debate that more than a few of them were undeserved. What should also be beyond debate, however, was the merit in awarding the... Read More

Working to Reduce Collateral Damage

One of the first "feedback" responses to my recent article on terrorist car bombs went on to the effect that the United States uses bombs, too, and that we have dropped more of them than all the car bombs... Read More

A Modest Proposal to End the War on Terrorism

To begin with, President Bush should invite John Kerry to the White House for a confidential discussion on how to bring the world wide threat of terrorism to an end. Kerry will have no choice but to accept the... Read More

Time for a New Broom at the IMF

Horst Koehler's hasty departure as the IMF's Managing Director has already started the horse-trading amongst the European nations to whom tradition has assigned the task of nominating a successor. It would be the greatest of pities if in that... Read More

Darkness at One?

Soon people in many countries will set their clocks an hour forward (in most of Europe on Sunday, March 28; in most of the United States on Sunday, April 4). This collective delusion is called Daylight Saving Time (or... Read More

Punishing Popularity

State regulators are suing Nissan in New Jersey over the intensely bright xenon headlamps that come as equipment on some of the car maker's Maxima models. But not because they don't work properly. And not because they pose a... Read More

The Beautiful Brute

I still remember that warm summer night back in 1955. My buddy from McKeesport had his dad's new two-tone Buick Roadmaster convertible -- the top of the line -- and we were cruising on the Lincoln Highway when a... Read More

Hope in Southeast Asia?

The rout of Islamic radicals in the general elections last weekend in Malaysia, a moderate Islamic country, is being touted as good news. Given bombings the weekend before in Iraq and Israel by radical Islamic groups, it is. But... Read More

Against the "Pious Frauds"

Editor's Note: The following is taken from a speech delivered by Secretary of Commerce Donald L. Evans at the World Affairs Council of Washington D.C. on March 23, 2004. Our subject tonight is global education and we can learn... Read More

Whom Do You Trust?

European Union officials announced today a record antitrust fine of $613 million levied against computer giant Microsoft for what are called "anti-competitive" practices. If this term sounds uncannily familiar to you, it is because former Clinton Attorney General Read More

Why We Need Sound Science Rules

In the United Kingdom, the Sir John Krebs, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), has just announced that the agency will take steps to combat the growing menace of advertising promoting unhealthy diets to children. The trouble is... Read More

The Greatest Picture Show on Earth

I've written a lot about digital photography lately. (Here's last week's column on its role in enabling "flash media," and you can see blog posts here, here, and here). But there's more to photography than photojournalism, and one thing... Read More

'Watch With Both Eyes'

Cliches are just that -- careworn, over-used, sometimes-seductive substitutes for real thought. But we keep them around anyhow for a reason, and the reason is that they sometimes prove useful. And the recent bombings in Madrid, together with the... Read More

God and Globalization

One area of the trade and globalization debate that's not often addressed is the interplay between trade and religion. In the west, anti-trade Christian activists worry that the pursuit of wealth across international borders will lead to a kind... Read More

Are We Serfs?

This year is the 60th anniversary of the publication of one of the 20th century's most influential books, Friedrich Hayek's The Road to Serfdom (hereafter, TRTS). Milton Friedman, speaking at a recent conference held at the Dallas Federal Reserve... Read More

Why Do They Hate Us?

"Ninety-five percent of the population was against the war in Iraq," observed my professor at our usual lunch spot near the University of Buenos Aires Department of Social Science, "and I, of course, am among that ninety-five percent." Of... Read More

A Scientific Stick Check

Recently, it has been posited that the 1990s were the warmest decade of the past two millennia -- a direct result of an anthropogenic influence on the earth's climate. This view, which has been adopted by global-warming activists and... Read More

Feeding the Frenzy

As Mario Monti prepares to slap Microsoft with a €500 million fine -- or as much as 10 percent of Microsoft's global sales as permitted under European Union (EU) competition law -- he should also consider the words of... Read More

Medical "Truths"

A hundred years ago it was accepted as scientific fact that emphysema was an occupational hazard for glass blowers and wind instrument players. Emphysematous lungs are large, limp, and less elastic than normal lungs. Glass blowers and horn blowers... Read More

Did We Have It Coming?

"This is the culture in which we live... The world is ruled by force. The only way we can put a permanent end to terrorism is to stop participating in it... This is the first time the guns have... Read More

Dire Straits

The victory by the narrowest of margins of incumbent President Chen Shui-bian in Saturday's presidential elections has underlined just how divided the people of Taiwan are about their future and how to achieve it. Only 30,000 votes separated Chen... Read More

Nuclear Technology Proliferation: The Central Asian Connection

Secretary of State Colin Powell went to Pakistan last week in a bid to upgrade that country's military and political ties with the U.S. America needs a Pakistan firm in its commitment to defeat Islamist extremism, active in the... Read More

Baptists, Bootleggers and Wind Power

Have you ever heard of Baptists allying themselves with bootleggers? It actually happened in the early 20th century, when temperance activists in parts of the South struck political bargains with moonshiners and alcohol smugglers. The temperance activists, guided Read More

Are the Jacksonians Sated?

A curious thing seems to have happened since Saddam Hussein's regime was overthrown in Iraq. America no longer feels like a country at war. It isn't over by a long shot. There's a bloody insurgency around Baghdad that still... Read More

The Truman Show in the Mojave Desert

Editor's note: In the first installment of this four-part series, we saw some of the techniques that the Army's National Training Center at Fort Irwin has developed to simulate combat in Iraq and elsewhere. But such "live" exercises are only... Read More

Liberals, Conservatives, and Tradition

Whenever I say that conservatism respects and values tradition, I hear the reply -- it's inevitable -- that slavery (or some other odious institution) is traditional. The implication is that conservatives, as such, respect and value slavery and other... Read More

Holidays in Hell

The Gitmo circus rolled into London last week on a Royal Air Force C-17, and the sideshow is proving anything but boring. Five Britons caught in Afghanistan during the war and held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay... Read More

Kill the Bastard!

As I write this, the news is filled with alarms and speculation about the "cornering" of Al-Qaeda "No. 2 man" Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian eye-surgeon turned mass murderer. There's been much gibbering about the importance of capturing him. Well,... Read More

Discourse and Double Standards

Noam Chomsky is often accused of being eager to criticize the United States for its perceived and alleged misdeeds, while being unwilling to criticize the very real misdeeds of others. Chomsky's answer to this critique is typified by his... Read More

The New Reason For Pain at the Pump

Everyone knows that the recent rise in the price of oil has had an effect at the pump, but something less well known is also affecting gasoline prices. It is something the federal government could reduce, since the federal... Read More

Attack of the Yahooligans!

Make no mistake about it -- online search is now an enormously profitable business. In February, Forbes named Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page to its list of the world's 600 or so billionaires -- and that's even... Read More

America's a Safe Bet

Last week marked an anniversary most investors would rather forget. On March 10, 2000, the Nasdaq composite index hit a high of 5049. The high for the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500-stock index came two weeks later at 1527.... Read More

Inviting the Vampire

According to legend, it is impossible for a vampire to enter your house unless you have invited him in. Last Sunday, the Spanish people invited a vampire to enter their house, and the question that now looms before them... Read More

Food Fights

On March 10, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson launched public service announcements depicting dismembered body parts of fat people -- double chins, stomachs, buttocks, and thighs -- caught in grocery cart wheels, found by children along the... Read More

Nurturance and Terrorism

"We must be the change we want! "The foreign policy of moral norms is the only sane foreign policy. In the idea of responsibility for oneself, it remains practical. But through empathy and other forms of responsibility (protection, care,... Read More

Car Bombs vs. Human Beings

This is a short, unpleasant article. It's just to remind our readers about the brutal physics of car bombs. We pointed out in TCS last year (here) the problems these insidious weapons pose in this war. But in a... Read More

TB: Good News, Bad News, Good News

If you think tuberculosis is a disease of the dim past, think again. More people will die of TB this year -- two million-plus -- than ever in history. And it's getting worse. The World Health Organization estimates that... Read More

Standard Deviance

Well, it's Spring Break time and the promotion of weight loss with its associated array of products and services is reaching a fever pitch ("Lose 10 pounds in just two weeks"; "Melt away fat while you sleep"). Amid all... Read More

Ride on the "Peace" Train

Susan Lindauer, a former Democratic Party congressional staffer, journalist, and current anti-war activist has been accused of spying for Iraq. The FBI arrested her March 11. This is just the latest in a pattern of "anti-war activists" being involved... Read More

Lomborg Confronts Newtonian Mechanics... and Wins!

"Numero pondere et mensura Deus omnia condidit." ("God created everything by number, weight and measure.") -- Sir Isaac Newton (1642 - 1727) Nearly a year ago the Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD), a governmental panel, ruled that Danish... Read More

The Liberty of Others

They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security. -- Benjamin Franklin I imagine that you have heard the quote before. On my side of the Atlantic, though we may argue about... Read More

Hard Currency

For Europe's two biggest countries, enough is enough -- at least when it comes to the euro-dollar exchange rate. President Jacques Chirac and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder have been talking lately about the poor state of their economies and how... Read More

Telecom at the Crossroads

Perhaps nobody outside of the beltway has noticed, but the regulation community in Washington is going absolutely bananas. Emails are firing around asking for influential folks to sign petitions. Meetings are being rushed together to discuss strategy and diagram.. Read More

Wilted Greens

In Rome last month, 32 separate European Green parties joined forces to launch a single European Green party. They will now present a common platform for the European Parliamentary elections in June. Does this mean that the Greens are... Read More

The German Miracle?

Germany's predicted economic recovery has a shaky basis as long as the country's domestic economy has no internal driving force. One essential reason for this criticism is a misguided policy that leaves too little economic latitude, chokes the labor... Read More

Flash Media

This column is about flash media. No, not the memory cards that go into digital cameras, MP3 players, and so on. But "flash media" in the sense of "flash mobs" -- media coverage that appears very rapidly, is largely self-organized,... Read More

Andalusian Dogs of War

Anyone who thinks Spain was targeted last week only because of its support of the U.S.-led war on terror is sorely in need of a history lesson. And if they believe that by pulling its troops out of Iraq... Read More

Sacrificing the Grandkids for Grandma

"I cannot explain to my mother any longer why she should pay twice or two-thirds more than what is paid in Canada and Mexico. I'm switching my position." -- United States Senator Trent Lott (R-Miss.), March 11th, 2004. Dear... Read More

A Setback, Not a Defeat

"New Europe" isn't in as bad shape as some people have been saying following the Madrid outrage and the subsequent Spanish election results. To read some commentators, you might think that the entire population of Spain had raised the... Read More

Blind Justice Is Deadly

The brutal March 11th attacks in Madrid might not have occurred if Spanish justice had been quicker to do its job. The Spanish authorities failed to apprehend 30-year-old Jamal Zougam, an unindicted co-conspirator and an al Qaeda operative who... Read More

Puppet States

Looking back on the stunning catastrophe of the Spanish election, the one thing that no one can say is, "If only Spain had been a democracy." Spain was a democracy -- the kind of democracy that we can only... Read More

Putin on the Writs

Once again there is opining in Moscow. How so many people can be so cocksure of President Vladimir Putin's intentions and the consequent direction of Russia astounds me. Recently, I was in the newsroom of The Moscow Times discussing... Read More

Europe, Lost.

"Britain and France had to choose between war and dishonor. They chose dishonor. They will have war." -- Winston Churchill after the Munich conference, 1938. And so the Spanish have chosen; and so they will have. The lessons of... Read More

On Hearing that Spain Has Capitulated to the Terrorists

From Burgos to Valencia in the bright Spanish air The spirit of the Campeador has journeyed in despair, The great sword that Alfonso gave he breaks upon the shore. El Cid has risen from his tomb, he's parted with... Read More

Driving Policy with Distractions

According to a new report by the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) "building new highways will do little to alleviate traffic congestion in the long run and likely will exacerbate already severe air pollution problems in metropolitan areas across the... Read More

Is the Tide Turning on Torts?

"Law is but a means, justice is the end." Such is the bold inscription on the Georgetown University Law Center library, and the idea to which American tort law subscribes. At least that is the theory I was taught... Read More

Manifesto for a Capitalist Revolution

I recently had the honor of being the target of criticism by one of the world's most chic, contemporary philosophers. His name is Slavoj Zizek and he is a senior researcher at the Institute for Social Studies in Ljubljana,... Read More

The Purpose of Pain

We usually think of pain as a bad thing. Utilitarian ethics, for example, prescribes maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain. Even those who do not consider themselves utilitarians recognize that pain should generally be avoided when possible. What if we... Read More

Bumper Sticker Moralities?

The residents in my apartment building all have assigned parking spaces, which means that whenever I go to my car, I see the same cars around me. One truck that is parked near my four-door car has a bumper... Read More

Giving Credit Its Due

British headline writers are famous for not pulling any punches. The tragic story of Stephen Lewis is a case in point. "Credit 'kills' a family man," the Daily Mail claimed on its front page last week. Lewis, a 37-year-old... Read More

Dems' Drug Duplicity

Liberal Democrats are outraged. Protesting a clause in the recently passed Medicare bill that prevents the federal government from "negotiating" (fixing) prescription drug prices, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has co-sponsored a new bill that would allow exactly that. M Read More

Helping the Pearl of Africa

Ask an American what malaria is, and he might say it's a disease you can get from mosquitoes, if you travel to Africa, Asia or South America. That's all. Few could even name one person who has ever had... Read More

A Telecom Tutorial for George Gilder

One of the nice things about economics is you don't need a degree to discuss the subject; nor do you need any credentials for people to listen. Indeed, if you write well and speak clearly, people will listen simply... Read More

Insurance Scam

Perhaps you read the recent Reuters news item: "The world's second-largest reinsurer, Swiss Re, warned on Wednesday that the costs of natural disasters, aggravated by global warming, threatened to spiral out of control, forcing the human race into a... Read More

Is The Blogosphere Half-Empty, or Half-Full?

If you've read Weblogs for any length of you time, you probably already know that the "Blogosphere" is divided into two halves. There are those Weblogs that link to, and very often editorialize about, the news of the day;... Read More

The Angler Angle

Whalers, game hunters, laboratory scientists and even their bankers, have all felt the brunt of animal rights campaigns; but recently the target was anglers. Driving around Britain a few years ago I saw posters of a dog with a... Read More

Terrorism's True Name

Two days of speculation about who was responsible for last Thursday's Madrilenian horror apparently ended on Saturday night, when Spanish police reported the arrests of three Moroccans and two Indian Muslims as suspects. But the speculation was somewhat superficia Read More

Terror's Grand Design?

Shall I tell you what the real evil is? To cringe to the things that are called evils, to surrender to them our freedom, in defiance of which we ought to face any suffering. -- Seneca, Letters to Lucilius... Read More

New England Governors Play Make-Believe...Again

In August 2001, shortly after President Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol, New England's Governors joined with their eastern Canadian counterparts and announced their own climate change agreement (CCA). The CCA calls for each state and province to reduce greenhouse Read More

Pirates of the European

Intellectual property issues are among those most important to our information society, but since they involve a complicated mix of technology, economics and politics, they are not easy to explain or to resolve. Thus they seldom receive coverage in... Read More

Defending Socrates... and My Friends

It is often hard to tell the very first casualty in the culture war battles, but one can safely maintain that truth and fair play will suffer in due course. Recently the liberal Left and libertarian Right (L-L's) converged... Read More

Trouble in Macedonia?

I met the then-president of Macedonia, Boris Trajkovski, only three months ago, at the end of November 2003. The occasion was perhaps an unexpected one for those who know Balkan politics: an official celebration of Albania's national holiday, known... Read More

Zero-Sum Bioethics

"The problem [with biotechnology] is not the drift to mechanism but the drive to mastery. And what the drive to mastery misses and may even destroy is an appreciation of the gifted character of human powers and achievements." --... Read More

911 Days Later

Following the worst terrorist event in Spanish history yesterday, one is left to ponder whether the ten train bombs that killed 198 commuters and wounded over 1,400 will tell a Spanish or a European story. Today's headlines struggle to... Read More

A Greater Challenge?

As of this writing we do not yet know who planted the bombs that killed over two hundred people in Madrid yesterday. It may have been the Basque terrorists, or it may have been Al Qaeda. Or it may... Read More

Taking Silliness Seriously

After penning "Ten Reason to Hate Sean Hannity," I find an obligation to thank Mr. Hannity for being such an obviously nice person that my readers never really believed for a moment that anyone could invent one reason to... Read More

Harvest of Blame

February 5, 2004. Morecambe Bay, Lancashire. Thirty people, mostly poor Chinese migrant workers, were caught miles from safety by racing tides as they collected shellfish. A husband watched in horror as his wife was swept out to sea. Another... Read More

The Invisible Healing Hand

The rise and growth of popular sentiments against globalization in the developed world is one of the most interesting features of our times. In spite of the evidence that shows how open markets and liberal democracy help the poor,... Read More

Swiss Re-diculous

There are enough alarmists out there already spewing their sulfurous rhetoric about global warming without private industry chirping about it as well. So a report from Swiss Re, the world's second-largest reinsurer, that warns that climate changes are going... Read More

The Party of Purposeless Candidacies

Think back to January 2000. Al Gore just won the New Hampshire primary, thereby becoming effectively the inevitable Democratic presidential nominee. Coming on the heels of the roaring nineties, and basking in the glow of quasi-incumbency, his prospects for... Read More

Incentives and Business Ethics

The list of corporate scandals is now depressingly familiar: Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, ImClone, and Adelphia, to name but a few. Sadly, the list continues to grow as ever more corporations announce accounting irregularities and investigations. In all too many... Read More

The Real Benedict Arnolds

Sen. John Kerry is fond of calling CEOs who employ foreigners "Benedict Arnolds," after the despicable Revolutionary War turncoat. But look at H.J. Heinz & Co., the family business of Kerry and his wife Teresa. Of the 79 factories... Read More

The Politics of Drug Demonization

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the new drug Avastin, which shrinks tumors. The FDA pushed through the medicine, produced by Genetech, because Avastin significantly aided patients with advanced bowel cancer. Yet in the view of many Americans, not... Read More

The Case of the Employment Forecast

"Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?" "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time." "The dog did nothing in the night-time." "That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.... Read More

Welcome to Iraqifornia

Editor's note: This is the first of four-part series on training for combat.. TIEFORT CITY, Iraqifornia -- This is one tough town, here in the Sunni Triangle. Most of the locals aren't all that hostile to the Americans, but... Read More

Rough Trade

We live in interesting times. Since the clock struck midnight on December 31 last year, the nameless apparatchiks haunting the corridors of power and five-star restaurants of Brussels have set a dizzying pace in further eroding the right of... Read More

Lisbon or Bust

In January of this year, the European Commission issued a rather downbeat assessment of the progress the EU has been making toward the goals of the Lisbon strategy. The strategy aims at creating conditions for the EU to become... Read More

The Consumer as Sovereign

Among the many heartening changes that caught my attention during a recent trip home was the apparent sovereignty of the consumer. That aspect was underlined and, indeed, blown-up in billboards in virtually every Indian metropolis. Not long ago, the... Read More

Linguistic Crimes

In an online chat with readers of The Independent (the transcript of which is reproduced here), a reader asked MIT linguistics professor Noam Chomsky whether anti-Semitism is "on the increase." Chomsky's reply was as follows: In the West, fortunately,... Read More

Public Policy Follies

Federal officials have been shooting themselves in the foot on public health issues -- but it is ordinary Americans who hemorrhage. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson and officials at the department's Food and Drug Administration and... Read More

To 'The Socialists in All Parties'

On March 10, 1944, when Friedrich Hayek published The Road to Serfdom, the 20th century seemed very advanced on its way to becoming the apogee of collectivism. Hayek was born in Vienna in 1899, and when he was a... Read More

Preparing for the Worst

Quite some time ago, I wrote about scientists' questions on whether to deliver bad news. The news in question had to do with a potential life-ending asteroid strike. Perhaps, I suggested, it might be best not to deliver that... Read More

Michael Powell's Unappealing Call for Action

In a speech that may have been aimed as much at the White House as at his audience of state utility commissioners, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell this morning issued a "call for action" to "prevent chaos" in the... Read More

Tales Out of School: The Financial Disaster Everyone Missed

Most post-secondary students receive some kind of government-backed loan. Just about everybody thinks that is a good idea. Equalizing opportunity has always been a key social policy objective of conservatives and liberals alike. Since information concerning the dr Read More

The Bias Towards Brutality and Totalitarianism

On February 29, the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved the deployment of peacekeeping troops to Haiti. Before Jean-Bertrand Aristide fled the country, supporters of foreign intervention disagreed about its proper goals. Senator John Kerry and a s Read More

The High Cost of Being Open

Recently the website was launched. It is essentially an advertisement portal for open source software and free software. Its intended purpose is to "address the need for a comprehensive overview of open source software available for consumers." Th Read More

After the Hangover

After three years of disappointing returns due to staggering losses on Internet-related portfolio investments, the venture capital industry is in the midst of a comeback. The long Internet-induced hangover seems to be fading, thanks to the greatest hangover remedy Read More

Avoid This STD!

High-tax nations like France and Germany hope fellow members of the European Union will vote this June to approve a directive governing the taxation of interest payments. This savings tax directive (STD) is designed to slow the flight of... Read More

A Mushrooming Crisis

Last summer's heat wave showed what a lethally flawed idea socialism is, when France's socialist medical system proved so inept and almost 15,000 people died. That is such a huge number that most people find it hard to comprehend... Read More

Power of Privatization

In Romania, energy policies are a tough issue both for consumers and the government. Consumers` incomes are deeply affected by the high prices of the public utilities they use. The government finds itself with a delicate job to do... Read More

Raining on the Global Warming Parade

There are many remaining scientific uncertainties that limit our ability to predict how much global warming can be expected due to mankind's use of fossil fuels. The largest uncertainties are related to feedbacks. Feedbacks describe how various elements of... Read More

Asbestos Exposed

"Hundreds of thousands (of industrial and construction workers), assembled through an unprecedented recruitment effort by plaintiff lawyers...have no discernable illness or impairment..." -- Lester Brickman, Professor of Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yes Read More

Further Transformed

Better late than never -- that's how to assess the Army's decision to eliminate its Comanche helicopter program. And with the Army now having completed an intelligent yet difficult set of amputations, the question is which service will be... Read More

Red Sox Technologies

"...skepticism about micropayments is based not on general qualms about the spread of new technology but rather on economics, psychology, and marketing...customers' usage drops dramatically when there is even a tiny payment...consumers are willing to pay more for Read More

The Business of Governing

They provide social security from the cradle to the grave. They supply jobs, cars, flats, vacations, nursery schools. They are engaged in market regulations. They make decisions about families, sometimes about war and peace. But without them it is... Read More

Dismantling Space and Time

Space and time are pervasive in our everyday experience, and yet it is hard to say exactly what they are. They resist definition in terms other than themselves. Moreover, they have various subtle and elusive properties, with which science... Read More

The Unnecessary Scourge

"My friend's four-year-old child hasn't been able to walk for months because of malaria," Ugandan farmer and businesswoman Fiona "Fifi" Kobusingye says softly. "She crawls around on the floor. Her eyes bulge out like a chameleon, her hair is... Read More

Lost in Translation

Over the past two decades, the world has seen impressive economic growth due in large part to the advent of the Information Age, a time of unprecedented creativity and innovation. With the creation of the Internet, too, this new... Read More

Liberalism in the Balance

Pakistan's military dictator Pervez Musharraf pardoned Abdel Qadeer Khan for selling nuclear weapons secrets to North Korea, Libya, and Iran. Mr. Khan wasn't a second-rate scientist hawking cheap information. He's the father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. Read More

Theater of the Absurd

On March 3, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held yet another in a string of congressional hearings on global warming. These events have become popular theater inside the Beltway since the late 1980s, as troupes of scientists... Read More

Court Ruling Slams Consumers

The ruling issued this past Tuesday by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit essentially lifts the 1996 Telecom Act's requirement that the major Bell Companies lease key unbundled elements from their local networks to competitive... Read More

Repressing 9-11

Last week, President Bush was attacked by members of the Democratic Party for using images of 9/11 in a campaign ad, and by the next day there was the normal political and media uproar over this burning question: Should... Read More

Trafalgar Square's Rebellious Statues

Trafalgar Square is the place in London where, for the past 160 years, the British establishment has paraded its heroes. Lord Nelson surveys the site from on high, with naval victories emblazoned on the base of his column. George... Read More

Is the Telecom Law an Ass?

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals dealt a blow both to telephone competition and regulatory certainty with its ruling this week overturning Federal Communications Commission unbundling rules. Consumers are the big losers in the ruling, if it stands. It basically... Read More

Regulation is not Enough for Fannie and Freddie

Last week, in commendable acts of public candor, Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve Chairman, and Gregory Mankiw, the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, sounded the alarm about the risks that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to... Read More

John Stossel Gets a Break

In the half-dozen or so years I've been aware of his presence, John Stossel has let me down only once. That was about a year ago, when his popular "Give Me A Break" segment on ABC-TV's 20/20 ran a... Read More

Is Less Always More?

Pretoria, South Africa -- Against the background of the utter failure of the World Health Organisation's Roll Back Malaria program, the current aim to treat 3 million AIDS patients by 2005 seems delusional. And in the vain attempt to... Read More

The Meaning of the Unipolar Moment

I have often wished that some Hollywood mogul would put me in charge of the philosophical genre known as reality TV -- not that I mean to imply any criticism of their current level of excellence, at least not... Read More

The War: Where We Are Now

From all that terror teaches, From lies of tongue and pen, From all the easy speeches That comfort cruel men, From sale and profanation Of honor and the sword, From sleep and from damnation, Deliver us, good Lord! --... Read More

The Eyes Have It?

After her first meeting with the newly-chosen Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Maggie Thatcher is said to have reported to Ronald Reagan that unlike Moscow's preceding succession of geriatric incompetents, "we can work with this man." What the Iron Lady... Read More

Passionate Repercussions

I was convinced that Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" would become a huge hit last Thursday night when Gibson appeared on "The Tonight Show." A live studio audience in Los Angeles is not exactly a snapshot of... Read More

Fear Not Outsourcing, Knowledge Workers

"If there's only one lawyer in town, he'll starve, but if there are two they'll both get rich." The above joke implies that attorneys should embrace, not fear competition because lawyers make work for each other. Although many workers... Read More

Jungle John's Reality Check

Presuming the Democratic Party isn't seized in a cabal led by Jane Fonda and Oliver Stone, it appears that "Jungle John" Kerry -- the man who never lets us forget he won medals in Viet Nam -- is headed... Read More

Ten Reasons to Hate Sean Hannity

I am mad as hell at Sean Hannity. Just yesterday an obscure writer in Utah pens an article calling Hannity "a pimp" for the GOP, and today this writer is almost as famous as William Hung. TV stations all... Read More

Economists and their Inquisitors

Bellarmine then compelled Galileo, "in the name of His Holiness the Pope and the whole Congregation of the Holy Office, to relinquish altogether the opinion that the sun is the center of the world and immovable, and that the... Read More

Point, Click...Sniff!

The rolling hills and dusty wine cellars of Burgundy may seem a world away from Silicon Valley, yet this fertile wine-growing region in central France is at the forefront of a very specialized new technological advance. The official Burgundy... Read More

Invisible Wealth

Albert Einstein once said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." Global market trends are such that African nations must urgently address issues pertaining to intellectual property rights (IPR) if they are going to fit into the global economy and... Read More

The Philosopher King

Alan Greenspan, who turns 78 on March 6, ends his fourth four-year term as chairman of the Fed on June 20. It would be great if he could stick around, if not in his current job, then as Philosopher... Read More

Outsource This

The increasingly protectionist sentiment in developed countries against outsourcing of software, business processes, and contact center services to India has reached hysterical proportions. Labor unions in the US and UK have demanded that India should compensate o Read More

It's a Family Affair

United States military and intelligence forces have intensified the hunt for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. With U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld visiting Afghanistan over the weekend of February 29, new attention has been focused on the long... Read More

Fumbling Federalism

Whatever one's view of the propriety of same-sex marriages, the Bush Administration has not helped in resolving this issue by proposing a Federal Marriage Amendment that would prohibit same-sex marriages across the country. The proposition of such an amendment... Read More

Union Citation Blues

The Union of Concerned Scientists was founded at MIT in 1968 by a group of scientists worried that America was heading for nuclear Armageddon. The world did not end in nuclear holocaust, of course, but that hasn't stopped the... Read More

Marvelous Myths

Since Hollywood's business is storytelling, fantasy tales have been among its products from inception, but not as serious ouevre. With the third-part of Director Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings (Return of the King), though, Hollywood finally grasped the... Read More

Evolving Truths

As if there weren't enough problems in the world we now have a plague of anti-Hispanic automobiles. Yes, that's right. I read it in the Sunday New York Times, first section, page 25. These predatory cars are roaming "the... Read More

No Bundle of Joy?

The European Union's competition commissioner, Mario Monti, may soon demand that Microsoft sell two versions of its operating system, Windows, in the EU: one with MediaPlayer, its music and video software, and one without. According to Monti and the... Read More

Our Problems Are a Sign of Progress

For the last few weeks the big news in Athens, Georgia, the college town where I live, has been the killing of a reportedly rabid raccoon by a member of a local fraternity. The raccoon was shot with a... Read More

The Debate Is Warming Up

A couple of weeks ago a smallish volume came out: "Man-Made Global Warming: Unraveling a Dogma," co-authored by Simon Rozendaal, Dick Thoenes and me. It was dedicated to debunking the man-made global warming scare. What was the reaction so... Read More

Kass Blunders, Again

I am not sure that the Kass council on bioethics has done anything worthwhile -- anything, that is, to justify its existence. It seems to me that the entire point of appointing such a council, if the executive branch... Read More

Nanny, What's for Dinner?

When every newspaper in the country from Atlanta, GA to Ft. Wayne, IN, every major network from CNN to MSNBC, and virtually every local television and radio station in between simultaneously deliver the same story about a new study,... Read More

France's War on Islam...and Islam's War on Itself

"French law banning the hijab constitutes a war against Islam as a religion," declared the Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine, Ikrima Said Sabri, in his Friday sermon of 23 January, 2004. This statement, made by a man who is... Read More

Two Faces of Lou Dobbs

I wonder whether the friends of Lou Dobbs on the protectionist Left -- folks like Rich Trumka of the AFL-CIO and Rep. Sherrod Brown of Ohio -- know that, at the same time the CNN anchor is pushing for... Read More

Wings Over Belgium

How times change. On 3 February 2002, Loyola de Palacio, the European Commission's vice president and also its transport and energy policy chief -- a lady who has never done anything except worked in political organizations -- announced at... Read More

California's Fishy Fish Laws

California's coastline is one of its greatest natural assets. Below the surface however, a number of serious environmental problems loom, principally over-fishing and the loss of productive marine habitat. California's answer to these problems was supposed to come Read More

The Politics of the Gang

In my book, Civilization and Its Enemies, I argue that all successful civilizations tend to forget just how difficult it was for their ancestors to rise to a civilized state. Furthermore, I argue that if the civilization is spectacularly... Read More

Broadband Misinformation

Internet broadband is flourishing under regulations issued by the Bush administration pursuant to the pro-competition Telecommunications Act of 1996. Average monthly rates have plunged from approximately $80 to $40 or less. Residential and small business subscribe Read More

Easy Riders

The European Commission recently launched something called the European Road Safety Charter. Among other objectives, the Charter requires signatories to promote "continuous education actions and the rehabilitation of high-risk drivers" to halve the number of road Read More

Wall of Truth

The scenes at the International Court of Justice during the last few days have something of the bizarre about them. A court that is universally acknowledged to have no jurisdiction in the matter under discussion is asked to pronounce... Read More

FOBs Go to War

In the past few weeks, the Friends of Bell (FOB) have opened up with cannonades from every direction, all aimed -- weirdly enough -- at little old me and other conservatives who believe that the best route to competition... Read More

Carmen Electra of the Executive Branch

Back when this column was new, so was the President's Council on Bioethics, more popularly known as the Kass Council after its chair, Leon Kass. At that time, now more than two years ago, I offered some advice to... Read More

Run Away, Jury

The government's case against Martha Stewart is going to the jury this week. As I'm sure you know by now, Stewart was a close friend of Samuel Waksal, former CEO of ImClone. According to the government, Waksal learned that... Read More

End of the Road for Reforms in Iran?

The recent election on 20 February 2004 was a watershed in the modern history of Iran. By limiting the number of electoral contestants, the 12-man Guardian Council barred around 2,500 reformers from standing for election. It should be noted... Read More

Law and Order in Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- In the front page of his major work, Principles of Economics, just below the title, Alfred Marshall wrote: "natura non facit saltum" -- nature makes no leap. Were he a Brazilian professor and author,... Read More

Pentagonal Poppycock

Recent headlines on global warming trumpet incredible horrors from a Pentagon report on how abrupt climate change could threaten our national security. The storyline is straight out of the upcoming blockbuster movie entitled "The Day After Tomorrow." Humans (parti Read More

Whose Personal Essay?

The turning point in Erica's life -- or so she told the college of her choice -- was her first day in school in California. She was 11 years old. She spoke no English. She was terrified. Her first... Read More

Outsource and the Source of Growth

It is a mystery of modern times that the US continues be the world's leading economy but most Americans do not understand why this is the case. They know the US is the world leader in technology and innovation,... Read More

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