TCS Daily : August 2004 Archives

A Media Meltdown?

Though it's looking less likely than it was a few weeks ago, John Kerry could still pull off a win in this presidential election. But there's already one clear loser: the so-called "mainstream media" of network television and major... Read More

China's Labor Shortage?

It had to happen some time, but anecdotal evidence is emerging far sooner that most had anticipated: China is running out of cheap labor. More workers are certainly available -- agricultural economist Wen Tiejun says there are 350 million... Read More

Conflicting with Reality

Former New England Journal of Medicine editor Jerome Kassirer, in an August 1 Washington Post op ed, argues that conflicts in interest in medical science are so pervasive today that the new National Institutes of Health (NIH) cholesterol guidelines... Read More

The Venezuela Recall: Answering all that is Answerable

Venezuela's national election commission (CNE) has formally ratified the 58% to 42% defeat of the attempt to recall President Hugo Chavez. Chavez's opposition continues its refusal to accept the result. Because of a number of suspicious items -- including... Read More

Media 'Con Game': Predetermined Storylines

NEW YORK -- Harper's magazine editor Lewis Lapham is being appropriately mocked for a major pre-GOP-convention boner. In the September issue of his magazine, which has been on newsstands for over a week, Lapham writes about the "Republican propaganda... Read More

Winning the Health Care Olympics?

"The fact is that the mainly private U.S. health care system spends far more than the mainly public health care systems of other advanced countries, but gets worse results. In 2001, we spent $4,887 on health care per capita,... Read More

A Presidential Agenda

NEW YORK -- Most of the coverage of the recent Democratic convention concluded that the Democrats put on a royal snoozefest in Boston. The major television networks cut the coverage of the convention back sharply, with only three hours... Read More

The GOP Takes Manhattan

In Manhattan these days, I'm reminded of the immortal words of Pauline Kael, who, despite her stupid politics, was America's greatest film critic. Kael, who wrote for the New Yorker magazine, expressed astonishment at Richard Nixon's landslide victory in... Read More

Global Warming as Secular Faith

Tourists and locals alike in southern Italy have been plagued by swarms of locusts this summer. There have been many biblical comparisons to Old Testament plagues. That the town of Matera has been overrun by the locusts has undoubtedly... Read More

The State of Working America

I'm alerted by economist Arnold Kling to a report from the Economic Policy Institute on "The State of Working America 2004/2005." My previous experience with their particular fount of economic illogic made me want to read further. That's what... Read More

Where's EPA's Waldo?

Waldo is the well-recognized cartoon character who hides in a highly detailed cartoon drawing, challenging the reader to find him. Only his black dot eyes wire rimmed glasses and striped stocking cap can be found after carefully scanning the... Read More

Sweatshops and the Olympics

OSLO -- The Olympics in Athens were not only a competition for gold medals. They were also part of a different battle over corporate image of sportswear companies. Self-styled anti-sweatshop groups took the opportunity to try to steal some... Read More

Lou Dobbs and the History of Apartheid

Lou Dobbs' recent appearance with Bill Moyers on the Moyers PBS show "Now" made for fascinating television. Dobbs charges that big businesses are "traitors," who conspire to cut their costs of production by "off-shoring American jobs." Dobbs believes that... Read More

The Republican Who Broke the Color Barrier

One can only assume the Republican National Convention kicking off in New York this week will spend a good deal of time in tribute to President Ronald Reagan. As the man who drove a stake in the heart of... Read More

Imagination is Everything

The image of America is a derivative of the imagination of America. What America imagines, how it creates its self image within the country; and how it communicates its imagination shapes the image of America in global communities. America... Read More


If it's true that every political career ends in failure, the same can be said of careers in business. One moment the CEO is master of the universe, the next moment he's on his way out. In the end,... Read More

Political Football

Football? Have they gone mad? Have they abandoned their high principles and joined the media throng? No, indeed, but there are times when one needs to meditate on the political aspect of many things, including The Beautiful Game. The... Read More

Media Poverty Pimps

So you think that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are going to win this election for George W. Bush? You might have to think again. John Kerry might be getting clobbered by his fellow Vietnam vets, but George... Read More

An Enigmatic Kerry-Edwards Energy Plan

The eight-page Kerry-Edwards energy plan reads more like a new age feel good tome than a policy program. Its specific proposals are either self-contradictory or depend on passing unusual legislation that would repeal the laws of economics, chemistry and... Read More

Obesity: a Sign We're Doing Things Right

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson recently designated obesity a disease, with all the negative implications that entails. Our society, crippled, it seems, by obesity, is sick. Yet new research suggests this interpretation has got everything about Read More

The SEC and the Desire For Continued Relations

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the SEC will ban a practice by which mutual fund companies direct trades to brokerage firms in return for promotion of their funds. By making it even more difficult for new mutual... Read More

Intel Reform 2.0

Within hours of the 9/11 Commission's issuance of its 516 page report, Senator John Kerry charged that, were he president, he would immediately enact its recommendations down to the dot over every "i" and the cross over every "t."... Read More

Exorcising the Alien Predators

Having recently seen the film Alien vs. Predator, I felt there was little left to lose in seeing Exorcist: The Beginning. As it happens, both movies, although undeniably bad, are thought-provoking. Humans have a longstanding fascination with powerful, malevolent.. Read More

Understanding 'Middle-Class Squeeze'

"The 445,000 second homes sold in 2003 represent a 7 percent increase from 2001 and a 33 percent increase from 1995, the Realtors group said. According to the study, the typical second-home owner is 61, has owned property for... Read More

Who Guards the Guardian?

One of the joys of middle age (or as I prefer to think of it, near maturity) is that most of the possible little tricks and evasions used in discourse have already been tried upon me. I have even,... Read More

Sick Leave

The Polish Parliament didn't get a holiday this year. Normally in the summertime, deputies would be relaxing on beautiful beaches in exotic countries. But this year they have to pass a new bill on the public health care system... Read More

My Other Car Is a...

Mea Culpa: I own a Hummer H2, the PC equivalent to Al Capone's armored Cadillac. Yet despite the yelps and snarls of outrage from the Greenies, the great old lump serves me well, hauling our dogs and our 15-foot... Read More

Buying Teacher Union Spin, Hook Line and Stinker

The American Federation of Teachers recently released a report gauging the performance of charter school students against public school students. The New York Times ran a story on the AFT's findings in which AFT's spin was bought hook, line... Read More

For Those About to Rock the Vote...

US President George W. Bush has an uphill struggle to keep the White House in November -- especially now that he is being subjected to a barrage of... music from electric guitars. Naturally there has been a lot of... Read More

Disaster Unpreparedness?

Glenn Reynolds pointed out in these pages that we are rather more prepared for disaster than we had thought, geeks, hobbyists and the plain fixated providing a well of knowledge that we can draw upon if necessary. As he... Read More

Our Political San Andreas

Vietnam is America's fault line. Like San Andreas, everyone knows it's there, but it enters our collective consciousness only sporadically -- in the form of an earthquake. The most recent quakes were in 1992, when draft dodger Bill Clinton... Read More

Kerry's Radioactive Flip-Flop

Relaxing by the pool as Labor Day nears? Then consider that, as you read this, more than 100 million pounds of high-level nuclear waste is buried -- temporarily and not too safely -- at 131 separate sites in 39... Read More

Swift Retribution

How did we end up debating the Vietnam war again? The anger and bitterness heightened by the Swift boat veterans' accusations against Presidential candidate John Kerry and the Democratic reflex to then attack President Bush demonstrates that some wounds... Read More

Freedom of "Hate" Speech

Read the newspapers, and you'd think that persecution of Christians is something that happens in places like Pakistan and Indonesia. But in fact, it is happening right here and now in Europe. Ake Green is a Pentecostalist preacher in... Read More

Waging 'Lawfare': Some Good Unintended Consequences

Carl von Clausewitz famously called war "the continuation of politics by other means." But in the nebulous realm of international law, the quest for "justice" is sometimes nothing more than an extension of war by other means. Take the... Read More

The Mummy Speaks

Ancient remains preserved intentionally or accidentally tell much about past human diseases caused by indoor air pollution from poor quality energy supplies and equipment. Yet today in sub-Saharan Africa and regions of Asia more than 90 percent of households... Read More

Not Your Parents' Phone System

Guess who is the biggest voice over IP service provider in the US? You probably said Vonage, which has roughly 200,000 paying customers. Wrong. There's another company with more than four times the subscribers delivering voice capability over broadband.... Read More

Feeding a Risk Factor Frenzy

An article in the August 25th issue of the Journal of The American Medical Association, "Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, Weight Gain, and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in Young and Middle-Aged Women," adds yet another chapter to the feeding frenzy that... Read More

Serious Disaster Preparedness

Last week's column on disaster preparedness was entitled Preparing for the Worst. A few readers objected that the title was wrong. I wrote about preparing for things like terrorist attacks or hurricanes, but those, some noted, aren't really the... Read More

The Big Angry

Should George W. Bush win reelection, you know who is going to be pissed off the most? It won't the Deaniacs. It won't be (if you'll excuse the oxymoron) die-hard John Kerry supporters. It won't be gay activists, civil... Read More

Middle Man Mess

"A relentless rise in the cost of employee health insurance has become a significant factor in the employment slump, as the labor market adds only a trickle of new jobs each month despite nearly three years of uninterrupted economic... Read More

Intellectual Dumping

The European Union pushed by the French and the Germans, is moving toward becoming a tax cartel. Old Europe's bureaucrats want the elimination of tax competition and the creation of laws to exploit entrepreneurs. A cartel is an organization... Read More

Withdrawing U.S. Forces: A Good Start

President George W. Bush has proposed bringing home about one-third of U.S. troops stationed in Asia and Europe. It's a good start, but it doesn't go nearly far enough. The administration shouldn't just plan on pulling back 60,000 or... Read More

Fed Cred on the Line

Recently the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee repeated Alan Greenspan's earlier bold assertion about the sound health of the US economy. By so doing, it clearly signaled to the markets its firm intention to persevere over the remainder of... Read More

Petri Politics

The stem cell debate recently took its place in Presidential campaign politics. Senators Kerry and Edwards mounted a full frontal assault, accusing the current Administration (apparently without irony) of playing politics with science. Politics and stem cell scien Read More

Don't Go Near the Water

Hundreds of thousands of Floridians were thrown into a Third World state last week thanks to Hurricane Charley. Not only did they lack the civilizing comfort, vital in Florida's heat, of air conditioning, thanks to massive power outages, but... Read More

The World's Best College

Slate magazine's recent two part assault on the U.S. Electoral College fails to grapple with both our current system's strengths and an inherent weakness of all voting systems. Timothy Noah writes in Slate how he wants to trade in... Read More

Beware the Agrarian Utopians

On the grounds of Versailles lies Marie-Antoinette's "Hameau" (hamlet) -- at once lovely and pathetic. It comprises about 20 fairy-tale cottages and small buildings. The Austrian-born queen never felt at home in her adopted land. And so during her... Read More

Getting the Drop on Airplane Terrorists

In the Old West, when law enforcement was spotty or nonexistent, vigilantes sometimes stepped in. A known cattle rustler might be found face-down in a gully with a terminal case of "lead poisoning," as they used to say in... Read More

On the Death of Czeslaw Milosz

Dubrovnik -- The death at 93 of the Polish-American poet, intellectual historian, and teacher Czeslaw Milosz, on August 14, marks the end of a specific era in modern life: that of the struggle of independent intellectuals to come to... Read More

Antitrust in the Political Market

Competition theory is a tricky subject, residing both within and beyond the paddock of professional economists. In an age when traditional justifications for state interventionism are fading away, antitrust regulations remain popular all over the political spectru Read More

No Respect: The Strange Life of the Station Wagon

Back in the horse-and-buggy era there was a very useful vehicle that met folks at the train station to take them to their homes or hotels or wherever they were going. It was a wagon with open sides, a... Read More

Art in a Free Society

With the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz reaching the "retirement age" of 65 this year, it is worth remembering how that film not only continues to delight (and frighten) generation after generation of children around the world, but... Read More

Venezuela Recall Update

At the time of this writing, the leadership of the opposition to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the Coordinadora Democratica (CD), has not officially accepted Chavez's 58% - 42% victory in the August 15 recall referendum. On Friday afternoon, CD... Read More

A Reverse Tocquevillian Gaze

Emerging from the Parc Monceau metro stop a few weeks ago, I tried to remember who said Paris is a woman. Hemingway? In any case, she's more magnificent than ever. Her meticulously kept parks are adorned with potted palms... Read More

Taking Government a-PART

Congress started its "district work period" -- that is, its summer vacation -- having funded only one of 13 agency budgets for fiscal year 2005. That means when legislators return to Washington in September, they must pass the largest... Read More

Ending Child Labor

PRAGUE, Czech Republic- No one disagrees that it is deplorable when children or any other workers are underpaid, starved, or beaten while being held as indentured servants or treated as virtual slaves. However, it would be a gross caricature... Read More

Pirates in Tinseltown

As college students prepare to return to their respective campuses, some will be greeted this fall with an unexpected surprise. Partnering with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), many colleges and universities are developing rigorous measures agains Read More

'Ami Go Home'

On August 16, President George W. Bush announced a plan to restructure US military forces abroad significantly. Bush said the realignment would bring up to 70,000 troops and about 100,000 family members and civilian workers back to the United... Read More

Altered States

If a political candidate has integrity, competence, and an appealing ideology, who cares where he's from? Does my senator come from my state, my race, my gender, or my age group? It makes no difference to me. I want... Read More

The Brain Gain

This year's presidential campaign has already seen its fair share of discussion about the perils of IT outsourcing as well as sharp accusations about the thousands of U.S. jobs lost to skilled foreign IT professionals willing to accept positions... Read More

Real Tax Cuts, Imaginary Analysis

The verdict is in on the Bush tax cuts: the rich are getting richer and the middle class is getting squeezed. Says who? The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, that's who. The findings were quickly covered everywhere. A few headlines:... Read More

The Phony Abstinence Complaint

You would think that a country that contributes twice as much money to fight AIDS globally as the rest of the world combined and whose drug companies developed the medicines that stopped the progression of HIV dead in its... Read More

Pleasures Previously Unknown

A few years ago, when the pundits were drawing up lists of the most influential Americans of the 20th Century, the obvious candidate popped into my head: Julia Child. Sure, Einstein and FDR were important, but Julia Child improved... Read More

Wiretapping and the Politics of Fear

The FCC just voted unanimously in favor of new obligations on voice over IP (VoIP) and broadband networks. Why the lack of outcry from opponents of regulation? The rules mandate backdoors for law enforcement to wiretap VoIP communications. Of... Read More

Self-Righteous Prescription

"drug companies are dependent on the public for a host of special favors--including the rights to NIH-funded research, long periods of market monopoly, and multiple tax breaks that almost guarantee a profit. Because of these special favors and the... Read More

The Price is Wrong

TBILISI, REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA- Recent indicators suggest that consumer prices in India are rising rapidly. Consumer prices recorded a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 4.8 percent in the second quarter after advancing at a 5.1 percent rate over... Read More

Meet the New Boss

At the spring summit held by EU heads of state and government to name a new president of the European Commission, José Barroso was not anybody's first choice. Come to think of it, the former Portuguese prime minister wasn't... Read More

A Najaf Passion Play

How did Americans find themselves fighting in Najaf, killing Shia Muslims? How did we end up body-counting the people whom were supposed to be liberating? How did we end up writing a new chapter in the long saga of... Read More

Liberal Noblesse Oblige

"Today, we say the only thing we have to fear is four more years of George Bush." --Senator Edward Kennedy, speaking at the 2004 Democratic National Convention In the weeks and months following September 11, a peculiar political animal... Read More

Media Matters: A Devil's Bargain

The "mainstream press" may be in the process of squandering a precious resource that its leaders no longer have the institutional memory to recognize as the source of its legitimacy and its living. In the last few years --... Read More

The Tragic Institutions

When the Abu Ghraib prison scandal broke, many asked how it could have happened. The first assumption many jumped to was that the corruption must have come from the top -- as though corruption were unusual, and could only... Read More

Remote Control

The Guardian reports that Internet Explorer's share of the browser market fell for the first time since 1997. From 95% to 94%. It's unlikely Bill Gates is losing too much sleep at this point. What may be keeping the... Read More

Presidential Paradox

Last month's presidential election in Indonesia has been described as a historic turning point which ushered Indonesians into the "post-Majapahit" era. For much of their history, Indonesians had known either autocratic or authoritarian rule. In the early centuries Read More

Are Terrorists Courageous?

I did not realize that my long-standing disagreement with Bill Maher - over whether or not the 9/11 terrorists displayed courage -- was due to "groupthink," or the "current outbreak of droidlike conformity." But according to Barbara Ehrenreich, in... Read More

Chávez Victory, Chávez Danger

After open collar, red shirt-clad Hugo Chavez claimed a victory in the referendum called by the democratic opposition, the global oil outlook turned gloomier than before. Geopolitically, Venezuela has become a flashing red light. During his six years in... Read More

The New Moral Tourism

A new book by Jim Butcher, The Moralisation of Tourism: Sun, Sand and ...Saving the World, illustrates how a pervasive culture of moral restraint has risen to dominate travel. The book argues that the Mass Tourist seeking sun, sand,... Read More

The Fusionist Path

Like the man who's surprised to learn he's been speaking prose all his life, the fusionist is a political category whose members may operate without much awareness of their label. Fusionism is the idea, named and developed decades ago... Read More

Hit the Road, Jacques

"Can any individual be happy when he is continually conscious of not being his own man?" asked Albert Jay Nock in 1935 in his classic book Our Enemy, The State. The answer seems obvious especially after the collapse of... Read More

A Real Story of Two Americas

Something about the phrase "Two Americas" warms the heart of the left. In 1984, Mario Cuomo electrified the Democratic National Convention with his evocation of Two Americas -- the Haves and Have-Nots. In 2004, Democrat vice-presidential nominee John Edwards... Read More

Bust a Move

Do not expect much of a change in real economic conditions after the surprise move by the Bank of Korea (BOK) to cut its overnight call rate. This is all part of a reckless monetary policy that is doomed... Read More

The Butterfly Effect

The new European Commission, which starts its five-year term in November, is probably the most free-market-friendly ever to be appointed. On the core portfolios, the incoming President José Barroso has appointed people with a distinctly Anglo-Saxon economic outloo Read More

Hyping Stem-Cell Politics

The campaign for expanded federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research isn't just hyping the possibility of finding cures for terrible diseases. It's also hyping the electoral benefits for politicians who sign on. The chief instrument of hype has been... Read More

A Brighter Commission

Since the forming of the European Union, the Berlin-Paris axis has been a very powerful force for driving the organization in the direction of increased governmental power. This certainly did not change in 1995 when Sweden, Austria and Finland... Read More

Fiddling Piano Keys While Africa Burns

On Friday the science journal Nature published a series of papers on malaria and its control. Focusing on this preventable and curable disease is crucial and timely; malaria is the biggest killer of children in Africa accounting for over... Read More

California Wine vs. Two-Legged Pests

California is under attack by parasites, of both the six-legged and two-legged variety. The former are glassy-winged sharpshooters, leaf-hopping insects that are among the state's most insidious agricultural pests. They carry Pierce's disease, a lethal bacterial i Read More

Preparing for the Worst

Hurricane Charley has struck, and at least at this writing, it appears that an earlier warning of mine has turned out to be wrong. A few months ago, I wrote here: Had a worrisome conversation the other day with... Read More

Oh, Deer!

LIGONIER, PA -- Where I live, here in the mountains of southwestern Pennsylvania, everybody has a car vs. deer story. Most anyone who has driven for any length of time has hit a deer, been hit by a deer,... Read More

Get Adam Smith into the Lion City

Asians evidently like political dynasties. India, the Philippines, Indonesia and North Korea have had Leaders who were children of Leaders. Singapore has anointed a new Leader and joined the club. The line from the Lion City, Singapore's self-adopted tag,... Read More

Ready or Not, Here It Comes

Ever since it filed for its IPO nearly three months ago, Internet superstar Google has struggled with a staggering reversal of public opinion. After months of hype and increasingly fervent speculation about what a Google IPO would mean for... Read More

The 'Dead Zone' Fish Story

It was the "Summer of the Shark." In 2001, massive numbers of hapless swimmers were shredded up and down U.S. shores. Or so the media told us. Turns out there were 11 FEWER U.S. shark attacks than the year... Read More

A Manhattan Project for Climate Change?

The cover a recent issue of Business Week focuses on global warming. The story line is that there is a growing consensus among scientists, governments, and business for fast action to combat climate change. This sample is typical: "'Climate... Read More

I ? EU

Coming from a country where it is usually considered left to be against and right to be for the European Union, it is often perplexing to follow the debate on the EU in free-market fora such as TechCentralStation. Libertarians... Read More

The Sun, Cosmic Rays and Our Environment

The capability of new instruments to detect fine amounts of matter created high in the Earth's atmosphere by cosmic rays leads to a strange notion -- that some local environmental change on Earth is linked with the fluctuations of... Read More


Computer users know some downloads are more trouble than they are worth. The proposed INDUCE Act (S. 2560), currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee, would download an entire product-pack of bad laws, undermining the utility not just of downloads,... Read More

That's the Spirit! The Real Meaning of the Athens Games

As the Olympics' return to Athens, the media again remind us of how drugs, commercialism, and corruption have spoiled Greece's preeminent athletic invention. Pundits lament the passing of a purer age, when doctors trained to run four-minute miles in... Read More

USAID's Troubling Malaria Efforts

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), once responsible for saving millions of lives when it funded the global malaria eradication programme in the 1950s and 60s, has lost its way on malaria control. Since the 1980s, it... Read More

Losing Ground at the SEC

In his 1985 classic, Losing Ground, Charles Murray tried to create a government incentive program that would cure a perceived societal ill. His hypothetical was "The Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Act," and it would pay one pack-a-day smokers who'd been smoking... Read More

Venezuela's Glorious Revolution?

A country lurches fitfully towards democracy. The institutions are in place, though their functioning is less than ideal. Then, democratic progress hits a snafu. A military leader takes control of the government. First, he purges his opponents from the... Read More

The Kerry Campaign's Funny Math

When I was directing the economic team for Senator John McCain in the 2000 presidential election, the most difficult task the team had to perform was a careful score of our candidate's many proposals. The release of our plan... Read More

Will Bush Lose Over Stem Cells?

Three years ago President Bush made his first national television prime time address in August 2001 to the nation on the topic of human embryonic stem cells. Who would have thought that the controversy over little balls of a... Read More

Shhhhh! It's a Secret

Long time fans of the popular TV show "The West Wing" will recall an episode where Josh Lyman, the White House Deputy Chief of Staff got President Josiah Barlet into trouble during a press conference. When asked whether President... Read More

Game Plan

Before 9/11, we almost always knew how to end a war. The Civil War? Beat the CSA on the field, and occupy all the choice bits of the South. The First World War? March on to Berlin. Of course,... Read More

Animal Crackers

The recent spate of animal rights incidents in Britain was perfectly timed to coincide with the government's upgrade of its anti-animal rights terrorism laws. Recent news reports have shown the strong and growing influence of animal rights extremists in... Read More

A Message to Iran?

"Heavy gunbattles are taking place in the holy city of Najaf today, as US forces prepare to launch a final assault on militia loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. "It was not immediately clear if the stepped-up fighting... Read More

What's Mine is Mine; What's Yours is Negotiable

A drug manufacturer in a country that does not recognize drug patents has pioneered a new concept. The Indian-based pharmaceutical firm Cipla has now secured a patent... on products already under patent. Cipla's Joint Managing Director declared to Reuters... Read More

Talking Down the Economy

Democrats and their allies in the media have been giddy the latest jobs report. The New York Times said it showed that July "was a sputtering, tepid month" -- a boon to Democrats. John Kerry said Friday's report showed... Read More

Settling Global Warming Science

How many times have we heard from Al Gore and assorted European politicians that "the science is settled" on global warming? In other words, it's "time for action." Climate change is, as recently stated by Hans Blix, former U.N.... Read More

The SEC: From Bad to Worse?

In October of last year, the SEC proposed a new rule that would permit shareholders to directly nominate directors of the corporations in which they have invested. As I detailed in my TCS column, Does the SEC Know When... Read More

Remember the Energy Crisis? It's Back

Editor's note: This is the second of a continuing series on energy and the 2004 election Remember the Energy Crisis? It's back, at least as a political issue. Today, the challenge is to avoid making the mistakes we made... Read More

Meritocracy: The Appalling Ideal?

Did you know that John Edwards is the son of mill worker? Did you? Edwards's toothy display of hopeful vacuities at the Democratic National Convention moved socialist economist Max Sawicky to lament yet "another paean to the self-made man."... Read More

India's Woe Over H2O

Water is rarely a political topic in rich countries, and in most developing ones it only reaches the national media when its delivery becomes a problem. But India is something of an exception. It has both serious water problems... Read More

John Forbes Acheson?

"This defensive perimeter runs along the Aleutians to Japan and then goes to the Ryukyus.... from the Ryukyus to the Philippine Islands...So far as the military security of other areas in the Pacific is concerned, it must be clear... Read More

An American in Tunisia

Travel is where we truly meet ourselves. We remember what we must in order to endure, says the philosopher Henri Bergson. That is why so much of commonplace existence is forgotten, while our journeys never are. -- Robert D.... Read More

Registration Still Required

Pardon me while I engage in an Andy Rooney-esque rant, but I'm deeply unhappy. Over a year ago, I noted the growing tendency of newspaper websites to require registration, and offered some suggestions on how they might avoid irritating... Read More

Are Specialized Gasoline Blends Obsolete?

As recently as the early 1990s the nation's gasoline supply was fungible. The same regular, mid-grade, and premium fuel was sold from coast to coast. But today, we have a bewildering variety of gasoline recipes in use across the... Read More

The Terrorism Funnel

"Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter used the term 'barrel with a bottom' recently when he said that, contrary to popular opinion and military convention, terrorism is not an endless pit, but that there is a limited supply of terrorists... Read More

Knock, Knock, Knockin' on Brussels' Door

Meet Anna Zaborska, a typical exponent of the contingent of new Eastern European members of the European Parliament. She has outspoken ideas about abortion (or rather, against abortion), homosexuality (she stated that she wouldn't want anyone dancing about naked.. Read More

My Asbestos Patients

Asbestos has had a troubled history. A natural, fibrous blend of iron and magnesium, it's been recognized since the Stone Age for its strength, wearability, and heat resistance. It became an essential material for the construction, auto, and ship-building... Read More

A Wahhabi Crack-Up in America?

Although few American journalists know how to report on it, a change is slowly developing in the American Muslim community. Terrorist atrocities, exemplified by the recent series of horrific, videotaped beheadings, have increased in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan an Read More

Swift Justice

The pseudonymous blogger N.Z. Bear issues a bold proclamation: "I'm going to go on record and predict that the Swift Boat Veterans kerfuffle won't just be a major negative for Kerry: it will be a campaign-killer." His rationale is... Read More

Fixing California's Perpetual Energy Crisis

It's deja vu all over again, famously said Yogi Berra. So it is in California, which risks tumbling into yet another energy crisis. The only answer is increased supplies, which require new investment and construction. Which should include facilities... Read More

Stock Options and Health Care

At first glance, the connection between preserving employee stock options and expanding the quality of American health care seems elusive at best, but the two issues come together on the common ground of technology. Technology is the driving force... Read More

Is the WHO Becoming the World 'Harm' Organization?

The acronym "WHO" stands for the World Health Organization. With its recent track record, however, the Geneva-based global health body is running the risk of becoming the World Harm Organization. If that sounds unduly harsh, consider a series of... Read More

Freeing the Soviet Mind

MOSCOW -- Psychiatry, sometimes thought to be a mirror of society, has undergone a dramatic transformation in the former Soviet Union that offers an ironic vision of ourselves. From the austere view of man as a Pavlovian organism, the... Read More

Finding the Truth about Kyoto in a Lie by Bill Clinton

The old joke goes, "How can you tell a politician is lying?" to which the answer is, "His lips are moving." At this year's Democratic Convention, former President Bill Clinton's famously tremulous lip was moving plenty when he blamed... Read More

A Billion for Bin Laden

The $25 million reward the U.S. is offering for Bin Laden's capture just isn't enough. Sure, $25 million would induce a Pakistani peasant to turn in Bin Laden, but it's not enough to attract the financial markets to the... Read More

Public Choice and Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is different than other kinds of property in that protecting rights in the former involves much greater state involvement. After all, most "physical" or "tangible" property, for lack of a better name -- Is real estate physical?... Read More

Military Me-Too-ism

There was something particularly revealing about Javier Solana's comments addressed to a group of Italian ambassadors recently, when he stated that "the US must treat the European Union as a full partner in an effective and balanced partnership," and... Read More

Of Mice and Men

A few weeks ago the European Patent Office in Munich finally decided that the Harvard Oncomouse could be patented in Europe. This transgenic mouse has an activated oncogene, which makes it suitable for cancer research. It was developed in... Read More

A New Screwtape Letter Emerges

Dear Obscure Legal Guy: I'm a senior-level administrator for a multi-national human resources consulting firm ("Hell"), and I have a problem. I'm trying to prevent my nephew, whom I'll call "Wormwood," from making what might be a terrible mistake.... Read More

The Halliburton Candidate

Note: If you plan on seeing either the original or remake of The Manchurian Candidate you might want to not read this commentary, as it will spoil plot. Call it the Halliburton Candidate. Jonathan Demme's remake of the 1962... Read More

Terrorism in Ship Shape

Basking on New England's beaches this time of year, you'll find a few of the old cold warriors once tasked with thinking about the unthinkable. Even lying on the sand, they can point to how terror strikes where vigilance... Read More

Nibbled to Death by Ducks

Earlier this year, California Assemblywoman Judy Chu introduced the "Corporate Elections Fairness Act of 2004," which would have given shareholders a much greater role in board of director elections. The bill went significantly further than the SEC's pending share Read More

Life and Taxes

"If my memory serves me, and I think it does," as Chairman Kaga says on the Iron Chef each night (Food Channel, 11:00 PM, EDT) Jimmy Carter once opined that America's tax system was a "national disgrace." Now, I... Read More

The Vicious Cycle That's Killing Us

It appears that America has a new public health crisis on its hands, one "every bit as threatening as the terrorist threat." Economist Christopher Ruhm concludes in a paper published last year by the National Bureau of Economic Research:... Read More

How Do I Love Thee?

The boys in Beijing just don't get it. During many discussions relating to Taiwan and China, I have heard Mainland Chinese insist that it is only natural for a mother to want to have a child return to her... Read More

A Miracle in Africa

The AIDS epidemic in some parts of Africa is so severe and growing so quickly that hope seems impossible to find. But the African nation of Botswana is miraculously conquering despair and is on the verge of being the... Read More

Free Lea Fastow!

Lea Fastow, the wife of Enron CFO Andrew Fastow, began serving her prison sentence on July 12 in a Federal detention center in downtown Houston. There she is to live for one year in an eight-foot-by-10-foot cell for the... Read More

A Daily Dose of Freedom

There's always a couple of them waiting in the e-mail inbox in the morning. Sometimes there's a troop of four or five. Many of them appear to have been sent late in the afternoon Iraqi time -- a public... Read More

The Happiness Police

"The evidence thus suggests that if income affects happiness, it is relative, not absolute, income that matters...In most cases, the person who stays at the office two hours longer each day to be able to afford a house in... Read More

Wishful Thinking and the Europeans

Most Europeans who are fiercely critical of George W. Bush would feel at home in Massachusetts. Liberal Massachusetts seems a world apart from Texas, the home state of President Bush. Its dominantly liberal politics and "Europeanness" offer a stark... Read More

The New Political Epoch: It's the Forest, Stupid

Watching John Kerry give his acceptance speech, I was reminded of Richard Nixon. Kerry not only said he would make short shrift of an annoying war -- but he also appeared shifty and sweaty, jowly and sallow, bobbing and... Read More

A Fitting Memorial to Diana

Two of the judges on the committee for the Diana memorial have broken rank to say that they should never have picked Kathryn Gustafson's ring-shaped waterway. Architect Edward Jones and art critic Richard Cork have argued that the submission... Read More

Desperately Seeking Climate Change Impacts

"Heat Advisory," a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), argues that global warming will cause increases in future ozone smog levels, because warmer temperatures favor ozone formation. NRDC claims that the number of exceedances of the... Read More

The Retreat to Fortress America

At last week's Democratic National Convention, the Democratic leadership outlined its vision for American foreign policy and the war on terrorism. Despite the frequent references to alliance building, the common theme running through the most prominent Democratic Read More

Memo To IRS: Check With The Boss First

"If you want something to grow you don't tax it," proclaimed President Bush of his administration's commitment to universal broadband access for all Americans by 2007. As both presidential candidates lament America's unacceptably low standing in the global broadba Read More

Tort Law 'to Make Law'

A recent little-noticed New York Times story says a great deal about America's current legal climate: The lawsuit culture is not only taking a toll on American business -- it poses a serious threat to representative government. The July... Read More

Where Are the Entrepreneurs?

The June 29th Wall Street Journal reported that the accounting profession is presently experiencing a growth spurt. In "Crunch This! CPAs Become the New BMOCs," Journal reporter Diya Gullapalli wrote that in the aftermath of the corporate scandals, colleges... Read More

Lessons From Another '04 Campaign

Lightning may never strike twice. But in the wake of the Democratic National Convention, both President Bush and John Kerry should take counsel from another '04 campaign -- the 1904 battle between Republican President Theodore Roosevelt, and Judge Alton... Read More

NanoDynamism vs. NanoTimidity

Nanotechnology is likely to be as important in the twenty-first century as rocketry, or nuclear physics, were in the twentieth. The United States has a fairly competent nanotechnology research program, though many feel its efforts are misdirected. Europe has... Read More

Consumption Junction, What's Your Function?

We all know we shouldn't believe everything we read at The Drudge Report so the news that Republicans plan to abolish the IRS and the income tax should be taken with a pinch, perhaps a shovel-load, of salt. As... Read More

A Martha Is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Commentators can debate whether Martha Stewart deserves her sentence, but in this reuse/recycle age, surely we can agree that her sentence is a terrible waste of resources. Martha made people feel obscurely guilty for failing to tat a matching... Read More

WTO Rerailed?

Trade Ministers love to announce big results. "Half a trillion dollars of world trade can be freed" declared Supachai, the former Trade Thai Trade Minister and Director General of the WTO, when agreement was announced last week in Geneva... Read More

The Myth of Libertarian Neutrality

Editor's note: This is the third and final article in a debate over the nature of libertarianism between Edward Feser and Will Wilkinson. Read Feser's first article here and Wilkinson's response here. Wilkinson will have more to say on... Read More

When President Bush Speaks

Kerry's "doctrine of necessity," if seriously intended, would entail a pacifism and an isolationism more thorough than any attempted by a U.S. government since the 1930s. --Robert Kagan Robert Kagan's analysis echoes mine. I was disappointed in John Kerry's... Read More

Terror in Tashkent: The Islamist Threat

On Friday July 30 three suicide bombers blew themselves up next two the U.S. and Israeli Embassies and Prosecutor General's Office in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Three Uzbek security men, including the bodyguard of the Israeli Ambassador, were killed, and eight... Read More

For Whom the Bill Tolls

Adam Smith was reluctant to concede to governments any legitimacy for interfering in the workings of free markets, but one of the few exceptions was building and maintaining roads. He would have enjoyed the chorus of disapproval which swept... Read More

Dairy, Dairy Quite Contrary

Last May, Vermont Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy held a news conference with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) an activist group. Leahy and CSPI hyped a new CSPI study lamenting that "schools are filling their vending... Read More

Genocide: Not to Be Alleged Lightly

Genocide is a big word; much bigger than it might at first appear to be. The term did not exist until the aftermath of the Second World War, when it was coined in reaction to the Nazi attempt to physically... Read More

Heart Burn After the Free Lunch

As the campaign season heats up, expect lots of political one-upmanship on that old standby, health care. The bidding started with last year's Medicare Modernization Act, which for the first time adds a prescription drug plan to Medicare. This... Read More

The VOIP Train Has Left the Station

There was a joke in Russia during the Gorbachev years, as the country pondered whether the Soviet Union could be reformed or was doomed to collapse. Lenin, Stalin, and Brezhnev are sitting in a train, when it grinds to... Read More

The Dragon Stirs

For the decade after the Cold War, the United States military strategy was built around a scenario involving two nearly simultaneous major regional conflicts with Iraq and North Korea. Much derided by analysts throughout that period, the doctrine was... Read More

Those Divesting Presbyterians

The Presbyterian Church (USA)'s General Assembly recently adopted a resolution calling for divestment of denominational funds from "multinational corporations operating in Israel." Predictably, the decision generated protests, including charges of anti-Semitism. T Read More

Bulls in the China Shop are Running Amok

Browse through almost any business or technology site on the Internet, and there's bound to be a breathless piece about the rapid pace of manufacturing and technological change in China. In early July, for example, the New York Times... Read More

'The Two Things About Economics'

To call in these pages for an increase in government spending is heresy but before you start to prepare the stake and the burning brands allow me to point out that the costs will be minimal and the long... Read More

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