TCS Daily : October 2004 Archives

Hail to the VOIP?

Next week, as you might have heard, Americans will go to the polls. Voice over IP hasn't exactly been a major wedge issue in the Presidential campaign. Nonetheless, the election could have a significant impact on the future of... Read More

Hayek and Iraq

The study of spontaneous orders has long been the peculiar task of economic theory, although, of course, biology has from its beginning been concerned with that special kind of spontaneous order which we call an organism. -F. A. von... Read More

We Are All Floridians Now

The 2004 presidential election is shaping up to be uglier than an octogenarian stripper convention. Look for intimidation, blatant vote fraud, bureaucratic incompetence, judicial shenanigans, and the promise of an ugly, heavily litigated November - and that's just Read More

Explosive Suggestions

No sooner had the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency rushed to bail out John Kerry with the allegation that President Bush had personally mislaid 38 truckloads of high explosives in Iraq, than Kerry ran with it, calling the claim... Read More

Island of the Little People

The impact on physical anthropology of the diminutive hominid Homo floresiensis cannot be overstated. The discovery in a rock shelter on the Indonesian island of Flores, announced in the October 28 issue of Nature, included a near-complete skeleton of... Read More

A New Democratic Covenant

Spreading democracy is a fundamental duty of all those who want to build of free and open societies.To this end, our forefathers fought valiantly. They led revolutions, during the 18th and 19th centuries, beginning with the American Revolution and... Read More

The Lancet: A Casualty of Politics

Editor's note: Prior to publication, the author realized a critical error in his article. See explanatory note at the end of the following link. There is a report out today in The Lancet (discussed here in the Guardian) which... Read More

From Getting Borked to Getting Blogged

In October 1987, after Robert Bork's candidacy for the Supreme Court was rejected by the Democratic majority in the Senate, a new political turn of phrase entered the dictionary: "getting borked." It referred to the venomous politically motivated attacks... Read More

The Parties on Tech

Technology issues aren't making headlines in the presidential campaign, but perhaps they should be. A close examination of the 2004 Republican and 2004 Democratic platforms shows the two parties are in violent agreement about at least one thing: technology... Read More

John Kerry's 19 Year Attack on Investors

Next week's election is important for middle-class investors. A number of public policy issues hang in the balance that will influence shareholder returns. But uncovering John Kerry's intentions on public policy issues is difficult because he speaks in broad... Read More

Should We Fear 'Cosmetic Neurology'

"Improve a mechanical device and you may double productivity. But improve man, you gain a thousand fold." -- Khan Noonien Singh (Star Trek, the original series episode "Space Seed") Although genetically enhanced supermen are still a while off, our... Read More

Indonesia's New Corruption Watch

Indonesia has always surprised outsiders. It interweaves a cultural base rooted in ancient India with the largest Muslim population in the world. In other societies, this causes schisms. In Indonesia ideas and values which others would consider incompatible are... Read More

The Fight for the Future of Drug Research and Development

BARCELONA -- At the same time an article in the Financial Times was saying that "pharmaceutical companies could scarcely be more unpopular," a conference of global drug-company leaders opened here yesterday. The industry is under ferocious assault. Radical antagon Read More

Insane Asylum

Imagine a foreign national who enters the United States via Iraq and Syria; whose niece married one of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers; who once lived with her niece and the bomber in Seattle; and whose husband remained... Read More

Congrats to the Red Sox; Was It Too Cool for the Yankees?

New York Yankees legend Babe Ruth once met President Calvin Coolidge on a sultry day and reportedly remarked, "Hot as hell, ain't it, Prez?" It probably suited Ruth and his Yankees if it were. In the 100 years since... Read More

High Explosives Anxiety

Okay, Okay, let's put that 377 tons of "X" word explosives in perspective. Most people had never heard of the "powerful conventional explosives," stored at Al-Qaqaa until they were mentioned by the New York Times. Yes, they are powerful,... Read More

Individual Vigilance

It lapses into the hopelessly obvious to note that this nation is totally committed to the automobile. Almost all movement of goods and services depends on trucks and cars in one way or another. Over 250 million of these... Read More

The Kerry Endorsers and The Spectre of Declinism

Two of America's most important Brits -- Andrew Sullivan and Christopher Hitchens -- have endorsed John Kerry for President. Their endorsements are important because both support an aggressive pursuit of the war on terrorism, an issue where Senator Kerry's... Read More

A Tech-Tonic Election

Suddenly, as Election Day nears, the high-tech sector of the U.S. economy is surging. That may come as a surprise to CNN's Lou Dobbs, who has been harrumphing for the past year about U.S. tech jobs being "shipped abroad,"... Read More

From Reagan's Raiders to Tex!

In a year when the publishing world produced oodles of anti-Bush agitprop, Joshua Dysart and Brad Rader, the respective writer and artist of the independent comic book Tex! have penned the most unique anti-Bush polemic yet. Tex! portrays the... Read More

The Investor Election?

There is a dirty little secret about Social Security privatization -- and why John Kerry tried to scare seniors about a trumped up Bush "January surprise" to take away their benefits by privatizing their program. The secret has nothing... Read More

Wall of Exclusion?

Just a few days after the start of the 2005 fiscal year, it became clear that the cap for H1B visas had already been reached. This means if a U.S. business finds a qualified professional who is not a... Read More

Your Money or Your Life?

Four years ago, I wrote an article on the 2000 presidential election from an economic point of view. The key issues discussed were the estate tax and Social Security reform. So what are the key issues this time --... Read More

Is the Hockey Stick Broken?

It's dubbed the hockey stick. It is a rather simple looking graph -- with a long, stable shaft and a fast rising blade -- that purports to represent averaged Northern Hemisphere temperatures over the last thousand years. More than... Read More

The Future of Blogs and the Blogosphere

(Editor's note: This column is the second of two parts on the present and future of blogs). As I noted in last week's column, weblogs have come a long way since the last presidential election, when they barely existed.... Read More

Viva Piñera

"Old Europe" is old in more ways than just its ideology. According to UN projections, in 2050 34 percent of Italians are going to be over 65. Spain, France and Germany face similar aging scenarios. But if an aging... Read More

The Würst Kind of Logic

Renate Künast, Germany's consumer protection minister, wants to save a generation of Germans from obesity-related illness. She has told the Bundestag that 34 percent of all German children under 14 weigh too much for their size and age, and... Read More

Four Myths About Social Security

"No matter what plan he chooses, any privatization would also come with so-called transition costs, the initial increase in the gap between worker contributions and retiree benefits that would result as workers send part of their payroll taxes into... Read More

The Anti-Market Protocols of the Councillor of Zion

Appearing as an eponymous "Councillor of Zion" in one of the Wachowski Brothers' botched sequels to The Matrix, Cornel West, a tirelessly self-promoting Princeton Professor of Religion, can be heard to exclaim: "Comprehension is not requisite for cooperation!" The Read More

About Those Lost Weapons...

So the Democrats, with help from the New York Times, have produced their October Surprise. What a dud! In fact, the story the Times reported Monday gives enormous support to President Bush's rationale for invading Iraq in the first... Read More

Is This the End of Rocco?

Good old-fashioned political battles are rare in Brussels, where marathon disagreements over cod-fishing quotas or qualified-majority-voting logarithms are what normally pass for high drama. So it has been refreshing over the last couple of weeks to see politician Read More

Why Truman Defeats Dewey - and Bush Beats Kerry?

An incumbent President from the heartland faces a strong, experienced challenger from the Northeast. The challenger is strong in part because the incumbent seems weak -- inarticulate and gaffe-prone. But not too weak: Insiders make jokes about him, but... Read More

Armor and the Man

The arsenals of democracy contain more than arms. Beneath the fortified peak of Graz, overlooking the Marches of Hungary, southeast of Vienna, you will see a vast hall filled with all that once stood between Europe and the mighty... Read More

The Purposeful Massacre

The cold blooded, calculated slaughter of those Iraqi national guardsmen on a lonely road near Baquba in eastern Iraq has brought a troubling new dimension to the war against the Islamofascist terrorists. It showed a degree of planning one... Read More

The SEC's War Against Growth

Perhaps not satisfied with the harm its reforms brought to the mutual fund industry, last week the SEC turned its attention to Initial Public Offerings. The proposed remedies for "IPO abuses" will almost certainly make IPOs less frequent, and... Read More

The Jock Itch: Taxes

Though they're no doubt elated just to be there, the wealthy Boston Red Sox players can be excused for being bummed facing the St. Louis Cardinals as their opponent in this year's World Series. Had it been the Houston... Read More

Hey, Feds, Weight a Minute...

The federal government recently ruled that taxpayers will foot the bills for weight loss surgeries and other weight loss treatments for Medicare patients, if medical evidence can demonstrates their effectiveness. This is the door opening to broader obesity-related Read More

Casino Battle Royale

Casinos once upon a time were a staple film setting where action heroes proved they moved at ease with wealth, glamour and risk. But gambling nowadays has moved beyond the portals guarded by liveried doormen and permeates the culture... Read More

Exchange Games

China's refusal to allow its currency to respond to market forces has attracted unwanted criticism. It is almost certain that Beijing's fixation on pegging the yuan with the dollar appears on the agenda of any international meeting that addresses... Read More

Republican Virtue in Nervous America

America is nervous. As we enter the final week of the campaign, there's one question that haunts practically every conversation: Who will win on Nov. 2 -- Bush, Kerry or utter chaos? With election lawsuits already underway in Florida... Read More

Serious Games, Serious Questions

If you talk the talk, does that mean you will walk the walk? That is, if you spend enough time thinking about doing something, does that mean you will eventually do it? As Kurt Vonnegut wrote in his 1962... Read More

Ultimate Prize Fights

There is no doubt that the $10 million Ansari X Prize competition, which led to the creation of the world's first privately funded manned spacecraft, was phenomenally successful. Not only did the X Prize competition spur 26 teams to... Read More

Basel Exposition

You might get the impression, reading this site regularly, that some of us writers are less than enamored with the United Nations. To balance things, to show the good things that can be and are done by this organization,... Read More

Stem Cells and Funding Fights

On the campaign trail last Monday, John Edwards stated that if John Kerry were elected, "people like Christopher Reeve will get out of that wheelchair and walk again." Paraplegic columnist Charles Krauthammer quickly condemned the statement as "the worst... Read More

Turkey and the Problem of History

The European Commission recently approved membership talks between the European Union and Turkey. It was a top-down decision. E.U. citizens overwhelmingly oppose the idea of Turkey joining their union. They fear Princeton historian Bernard Lewis may be right when. Read More

History Repeats Itself

Russia's ratification of Kyoto was expected. The question is why did President Putin do it? Kyoto will not reduce global emissions of carbon dioxide and accession could well be detrimental to Russia's economy. There are several theories. Here is... Read More

Atavistic Socialism

Fall 2004 marks the 15th anniversary of the liberation of Central and Eastern Europe from Soviet domination. They regained their freedom one by one as the world watched, spellbound. The tearing down of the Berlin wall was a dramatic... Read More

Poland Keeps Smiling

There was a famous joke in the communist era that the foot (in Polish "foot" and "rate" are homonyms) should be wrapped up in newspaper for it grows the fastest in the press. The origin of the joke was... Read More

Potemkin Protocol

After years of teasing, Russia's lower house today finally ratified the Kyoto Protocol. With approval by the upper house and President Vladimir Putin virtually certain, the treaty -- which requires deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by developed countries... Read More

Our Coming Electoral Train Wrecks

Four years ago, Al Gore got half a million more votes than George W. Bush -- about one-half of one percent of the total -- but, thanks to Florida, Bush won the electoral vote. Democrats have been outraged ever... Read More

Let's Pretend

Given the choice between heaven and purgatory, which would you choose? Most rational people would choose heaven. Thus, it wasn't surprising that when given a choice between an idealized urban village and a suburban nowheresville, a survey released by... Read More

News Flash: Nobel Laureate Criticizes Bush Tax Cuts!

"What Bush has done has been not very big, it's pretty small," Prescott told CNBC financial news television. "Tax rates were not cut enough," he said. -- AFP news agency Winners of the Nobel Prize in economics usually are... Read More

From Garden State to Greenhouse State

The state of New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection appears to be following in the steps of California, ready to classify carbon dioxide as a pollutant in anticipation of future regulation of its production within the state. Carbon dioxide... Read More

The Media's Shrinking Free-Speech Zone

Dan Rather, call your office. If the Democratic National Committee gets its way, it may not be long before the anchor of "CBS Evening News" or his bosses could be hauled before the feds and fined for making illegal... Read More

Taxes, Deficits and War: the History Lessons

John Kerry has repeatedly accused George W. Bush of being the first president in American history to cut taxes during a time of war. First, let's deal with Senator Kerry's factual error before we get on to his philosophical... Read More

Pro-Growth or Pro-Pork?

There have hardly ever been tax bills in Congress that received press as bad as the latest international tax bill. The New York Times wrote that this bill "gave something to almost everyone." The Washington Post noted that the... Read More

Re-Inventing the Flu Vaccine

If ya wanna make a flu vaccine, ya gotta break a few eggs. Actually, over a million. The current "hen oviduct bioreactor technology" (a.k.a., using eggs) takes up to nine months in its entirety. That means if health authorities... Read More

Malaysian Politics in Flux

THE 55th General Assembly of Malaysia's premier ruling party, UMNO, in late September, was the first to be addressed by Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi as party president. Having led the party and its ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional, to an... Read More

The Pleasantly Surprising Deficit Numbers

Last week, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the final budget numbers for the recently ended fiscal year 2004 showing a budget deficit of $413 billion. This is the largest budget deficit in nominal dollars and opponents... Read More

Who, or What, Grants Us Our Rights?

NEW YORK -- Did you catch John Kerry's gaffe in the third debate? No, not the one about Mary Cheney being born a lesbian. That abusive and cynical outburst produced gasps in living rooms around the nation and certainly... Read More

Russia's Phantom War on Terror

The tragedy of the school siege of Beslan, North Ossetia, in the beginning of September was a reminder for the world of the fact that terrorist tactics have been successful in penetrating the North Caucasian conflict region. However, the... Read More

The "Islamic Reformation" Revisited

Questions about a need for an "Islamic Reformation" remain pertinent in the West. Recently, I was challenged by an American public official who took great umbrage at analogies I drew, in previous articles for TCS (here and here), between... Read More

Going on a Manhunt: Do We Have the Technology to Win?

As the military noose around insurgents in Falluja, Iraq tightens, the ability of terrorist Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi to slip through that noose becomes all the more exasperating, for both U.S. forces and for regular Americans who would like to... Read More

The Drug War

These days beating up on America's drug companies is PC, de rigueur, a national pastime -- you name it. Americans of all political stripes view the pharmaceutical industry as greedy, corpulent, and corrupt. They're mad as hell and aren't... Read More

Democrats for Bush

Famously -- or perhaps infamously -- ABC's influential political blog The Note (fawning New Yorker magazine profile? Check.) claimed that "we still can't find a single American who voted for Al Gore in 2000 who is planning to vote... Read More

Terrorism and the Mob

By now, everyone in America knows that John Kerry has compared fighting terrorism to prosecuting organized crime figures for gambling and prostitution. The comparison has attracted a lot of criticism. Actually, it's a pretty good analogy -- but it... Read More

Tired of Record High Oil Prices? They're Anything But!

You've heard it and read it for weeks as yet another TV announcer, another expert talking head, another pontificating columnist tell us about "record high" oil prices. The ubiquity and persistence of this pathetic phenomenon shows to what levels... Read More

Avoiding an Air War

The legal maxim that "hard cases make bad law" may well play out again in the developing high-stakes brawl between the U.S. and the EU over alleged subsidies to Boeing and Airbus in the construction and launch of new... Read More

Vioxx, We Hardly Knew Ye

The recent withdrawal of Merck's blockbuster COX-2 inhibitor, the anti-arthritis painreliever Vioxx (rofecoxib), was a major blow to a number of interested parties: Merck, of course, took the biggest hit. But the millions of arthritis sufferers who depended on... Read More

Believe the Hype

Believe the hype. Team America: World Police is the funniest movie since, well, South Park. This newest release by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone is insulting, gross, juvenile, and offensive -- everything a 15-year old boy... Read More

Are We All Behaviorists Now?

The Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd) recently published a fascinating article on the debate between efficient capital markets theorists (exemplified by Eugene Fama) and behavioral economists (exemplified by Richard Thaler). As the Journal explained: For forty year Read More

Backdoor Plan

Tax competition exists when people can reduce tax burdens by shifting capital and/or labor from high-tax jurisdictions to low-tax jurisdictions. This migration disciplines profligate governments, largely because politicians realize that they will have less money t Read More

The Blogosphere Grows Up

Editor's note: This is the first of a two-part series. We've come a long way, baby. Blogs have gone from barely-understood phenomenon to near-commonplace in this election cycle, and it looks as if they may be having some impact... Read More


A key question confronted the European Union last week: Should grown men and women who get their kicks by pretending to shoot one another with toy weapons have the freedom to do so? German authorities, and now the EU's... Read More

Friday Nights in a New Light

ODESSA, Texas -- Odessa, like so many towns across the barren oil fields of west Texas (and the fruited plain of the heartland), grows on you. I went there not knowing what to expect beyond a rabid passion for... Read More

The Strangest Show on Earth

BRUSSELS -- A huge circus tent suddenly dominates Brussels' Rond Point Schuman, the institutional epicenter of the self-styled capital of Europe. No, I'm not talking metaphorically about the Berlaymont, the now-infamous headquarters of the European Commission, whi Read More

A Choice, or an Echo?

CLICK HERE TO VIEW PROGRESS FOR AMERICA'S NEW AD, "ASHLEY'S STORY" We keep hearing how close the election is going to be. As close or closer than 2000, if that's even possible. And with election lawyers for both parties... Read More

Vaccine Policies Need a Booster

Infectious viral diseases are not the dreaded killers and cripplers they were a half-century ago, but they still exact a huge toll. Year after year in this country, influenza kills between 10,000 and 100,000 and requires the hospitalization of... Read More

Who Deserves Jobs?

The outsourcing/off-shoring debate is still hot. In France and Germany, fears about de-industrialization are voiced over and again. In the US, the loss of jobs plays an important role in the presidential campaign. Lou Dobbs of CNN has just... Read More

From Curse to Cure

Americans are accustomed to searching for villains when oil prices rise. Recent spikes in the price of oil to over $50 per barrel can be tagged, in no small part, on a group of gun-toting brigands from the steamy... Read More

Apologize, George W. Bush!

Apologize for fighting an unwinable war. Apologize for failing to win that unwinable war before the All-Star break. Apologize for fighting the insurgents too aggressively, and apologize for showing them too much mercy. Apologize for forcing democracy and freedom.. Read More

Criswell's Razor

Ask anyone his or her favorite closing line in a movie, and you will probably get a melodramatic climax (such as "Tomorrow is another day!" from Gone With the Wind) or a melodramatic dénouement (such as "This looks like... Read More

Car Bombs: It Only Gets Worse

You're a Marine at a checkpoint somewhere in Iraq, watching cars and trucks streaming by -- Iraqis on their way to work or shopping or the mosque. How do you figure out which vehicle may be another deadly bomb?... Read More

Mistake at the SEC

When President Bush admitted in Friday's debate that he had "made some mistakes in appointing people," he certainly had in mind someone with the initials P.O'N. But perhaps he also was thinking of someone with the initials W.D. William... Read More

Thinker in Chief

If there's one thing John Kerry has proven over the course of this campaign, it's that he would be well suited to join the last two losing Democratic presidential nominees in academia. How else to explain his comments to... Read More

Flights of Fancy

The current British hysteria over global warming, which has seen party leaders Tony Blair, Michael Howard and Charles Kennedy all vying to see which one could sign up to the most of Greenpeace's economy-destroying agenda, has stalled in one... Read More

An Ownership Society with Opportunity Through Tax Loans

Politicians are drug pushers, voters are drug addicts, and the drug of choice is OPM -- Other People's Money. Free money. Money from the government. Politicians say there's always more available: more for education, for retirement, for housing, for health... Read More

What Price Freedom?

Americans like to pick on the European Union for not letting Turkey in the club right away. Can't blame them -- Europeans have already had their share of didactic rhetoric aiming at the U.S.: GMOs, the Kyoto protocol, death... Read More

Knowledge is Health

You might think everybody in the West enjoys the right to free speech. But this is not necessarily true. At least in Europe. If you are an executive of a research-based pharmaceutical company and want to pass along information... Read More

Stern Finally Gets SIRIUS

In early October, Sirius Satellite Radio shook up the world of broadcast radio by signing radio "shock jock" Howard Stern to a five-year, $500 million deal that some analysts have already called "cataclysmic" and "a wake-up call" for the... Read More

Reason to SMiLE

Though pop-culture partisans have strenuously denied it, the gap between popular art and genuine brilliance has always been real and very seldom bridged successfully. Popular music, including rock, goes through cycles of increasing and decreasing sophistication an Read More

Bob Herbert Keeps Working Hard, Falling Short

Last week Bob Herbert asked in his New York Times column "How are these millions of poor and low-income families making it?". He was referring to (in tones suspiciously reminiscent of the press release) a report that came out... Read More

Tax Terrorism

The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines the word "terrorize" as "to deliberately frighten people by threatening to harm them, especially so they will do what you want". It's not just political terrorism we are facing today. A French... Read More

The Chimera of Carbon Dioxide Increase

It never fails to amaze how the media gullibly makes every piece of greenhouse gas trivia into a feeding frenzy about global warming. A claim currently making the international media rounds is that for the past two years carbon... Read More

The War-Winning Weapon

As vicious as the struggle for power in Iraq is, the new government has a war-winning weapon that could, at a stroke, undercut the insurgency, enrich the Iraqi people and create a powerful, long-term force for democracy, national unity... Read More

Prized Comments

Last week the Nobel Committee of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced Edward C. Prescott as the co-winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. Currently the W. P. Carey Chair of Economics at Arizona State University... Read More

Smells Like Victory

This year's Nobel Prize for medicine might not seem all that exciting: Richard Axel and Linda B. Buck shared it "for their discoveries of odorant receptors and the organization of the olfactory system". But it's a prize rewarding good... Read More

Antioxidant Supplements: Worthless -- or Worse?

Antioxidant supplements, we're told, range from useless to slightly worse than strychnine. "Antioxidants Don't Fight Cancer," the Chicago Sun-Times headlined, while BBC News claimed: "Vitamins Pills Do Not Stop Cancer" and CBS declared: "Docs: Vitamins Ca Read More

Root Causes

For the typical sports fan, there comes a moment at the end of the season when his favorite team's championship hopes are cruelly snuffed out. All but the lucky few fans suffer every season, some impassively, others tragically. My... Read More

Germany Endorses Kerry!

BERLIN -- German Defense Minister Peter Struck announced a major shift in his country's Iraq policy this week. "If conditions change in Iraq," he told the Financial Times newspaper, Germany might consider deploying troops there. Political analysts here and... Read More

When Celebrities Suffer

Why are we rushing to canonize Christopher Reeve? To presidential hopeful John Kerry, the quadriplegic actor was "truly America's hero". As far away as Australia, he was "the most impressive person I have ever met" for one of that... Read More

The Politicization of Trade

Britain's Peter Mandelson has been tagged as a free-trader, so his appointment as the EU's next trade commissioner has been generally approved. Al Gore is said to be a free-trader, yet his book, Earth in the Balance, shows he... Read More

Opening an Age of Adventure?

"This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius, the age of Aquarius" It has been more than three decades since that era of Hair-raising silliness has passed. The tie-dyes to die for (if they don't kill you on... Read More

Taking Kuttner's Health Care Challenge

"The hardest job for a liberal is to defend the D.C. public school system. The hardest job for a conservative is to defend free-market health care." -- Robert Kuttner "Yes, but the D.C. public school system actually exists." --... Read More

Tie Goes to the...

Interested in becoming president this year? If so, hope for an electoral college tie. With an unlikely, but plausible, perfect tie -- 269 electoral votes for both George W. Bush and John Kerry -- anyone meeting the Constitutional qualifications... Read More

Europeans May Outfox U.S. on Options

The group that sets U.S. accounting rules decided yesterday to delay for six months its plan to force companies to treat stock option grants as immediate expenses. But supporters of a thriving high technology sector should not get their... Read More

Winning the Battle of Democratic Iraq

Conventionally speaking, there are two ways to successfully end an offensive war. You can kill the enemy to the last man, or you can convince the highest-ranking enemy survivor to surrender. It is difficult to imagine the current war... Read More

The Cradle of the European Tax Rebellion: Estonia

At a recent ECOFIN meeting in Scheveningen (Netherlands), European finance ministers clashed over Franco-German proposals to harmonise EU corporate taxes to prevent lower-tax member states luring away investments from higher-tax members. More particularly, the Fre Read More

Forward Strategy Against the Apostles of Hate

The great threat to the civilized world is the hatred and fanaticism of Islamic extremists willing to use terror to advance their narrow world view. These extremists seek to hijack a great religion and they intend to destroy anything... Read More

Slick Rhetoric

"That's the difference between us. The President sides with the power companies... the oil companies..." - John Kerry For some strange reason, oil companies attract more units of conspiracy mongering per BTU than any other industry. Before there were... Read More

More? Or Less?

Like any disciplined Presidential candidate, John Kerry has a number of favorite lines and arguments that he likes to present -- whether at a debate, or at a campaign event. Unfortunately, a number of Kerry's statements leave Kerry open... Read More

Safety First!

John Kerry and John Edwards promise to make America safer from the terrorists. In the first presidential debate, Kerry said, "I can make American safer than President Bush has made us. . . I believe America is safest and... Read More

The IMF and Oil Prices

On reading the IMF's most recent and sanguine World Economic Outlook report, one cannot help but be reminded of the apocryphal story regarding the inquiry into the sinking of the Titanic. When asked why he did not turn the... Read More

Scream Redux?

President Bush's supporters had better hope that Karl Rove's conventional wisdom is right -- that the turnout of the party faithful is primarily what will decide this year's election. Otherwise, the president could be in real trouble after his... Read More

You Only Die Once

British hostage Kenneth Bigley, whose head was severed from his body last week in Iraq by an outfit calling itself the Tawid & Jihad Group, had lived a life not without incident. Born in the decaying port city of... Read More

The Plot Against Conservatism

With the publication of Philip Roth's The Plot Against America, counterfactual histories -- what Marvel Comics called "What Ifs?" -- are all the rage. Here's a scenario worth mulling over: Imagine a world in which Newt Gingrich played well... Read More

Smog Hits a Record Low

2004 has had the lowest ozone smog levels since states began measuring the stuff back in the 1970s. Based on preliminary data from around the country, days exceeding EPA's tough new 8-hour ozone standard declined an average of about... Read More

Wheels of Fortune?

It is rare to find a single story that illustrates, in exquisite detail, all of the varied pro- and counter- arguments for free trade as opposed to managed or protected trade. I am therefore grateful to Peter Foster who... Read More

"Otherwise, This Is Just a Success Story"

KABUL - It was a regrettably typical comment from an American reporter in this part of the world. "At least it's news," he said of the Afghan election scuffle over the weekend. "Otherwise, this is just a success story."... Read More

Good News and Bad News for Commercial Space

The successful X-Prize mission of Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne last week was a major success for the commercial space industry. But although that success has led to the creation of space tourism ventures and passengers have already appeared, the future... Read More

Kerry's Contempt

He seemed for dignity composed and high exploit: But all was false and hollow. -- John Milton, Paradise Lost Somehow I thought better of John Kerry. I mean, he has the breeding, the education. Isn't there at least the... Read More

Tax Europa

BRUSSELS -- Yet another scandal is brewing in Belgium. No, it doesn't have to do with a pedophile-murder ring, nor with dioxin-contaminated chickens nor supposedly tainted Coca-Cola -- all of which have brought the small country international infamy in... Read More

Tales from the Fringe

Should men pay an extra tax, just for being men? The Swedish post-communist Left Party thinks so. The extra tax is meant to compensate women, all of whom are thought structurally oppressed by the male collective. All men are... Read More

Economic Illiteracy Quadrifecta

"In the minds of the public, prices apparently go up when businesses suddenly start to feel greedier. Economists, in contrast, expect businesses to be greedy year-in, year-out; but depending on market conditions, greed may call for prices to go... Read More

The Dubious Debut of Africa's Parliament

The African Union's Pan African Parliament (PAP) has just completed its first session in Johannesburg. The PAP actually closed early because it didn't have any budget to pay translators. This led to demands for financing from the private sector.... Read More

Columbus Day Dreams

Columbus Day has taken quite a beating in recent years. While it remains a federal holiday, it is now called Indigenous People's Day in Berkeley, Calif. I will never forget the riotous behavior in San Francisco, where I lived... Read More

Florida's Other Disasters: Floods and Lawyers

Lake Griffin, Florida -- Like the dog that didn't bark, the most important and overlooked story of this year's record-breaking hurricane season may be the flooding that didn't happen in Florida. Even most residents of the state seem to... Read More

Blame Politicians, Not Managers, for Productivity Gap

Productivity in Britain is 20% behind that of France and Germany, according to a recent report. And in some sectors, like retailing, it is 40% behind that of America. So various pundits have been parading on the BBC and... Read More

Mumpsimus, Sumpsimus. And Dan Rather.

Erasmus tells the story of a semiliterate priest who, returning from reciting mass, is chastised by a visiting colleague for using the word "mumpsimus." "It doesn't exist in the language," his colleague explained. "The correct form is 'sumpsimus'." The... Read More

Understanding Risk and Reward

Marcia Angell gets one thing right in her new book ("The Truth About Drug Companies") -- the level of profit for the pharmaceutical industry is above the average for the S&P 500. But as we saw last week with... Read More

Welcome to the Post-Progressive Era

When I first heard about that memo from ABC News political editor Mark Halperin, urging his colleagues to hold George W. Bush more "accountable" than John Kerry, I didn't quite believe it. After all, why, a month before the... Read More

How 'Bout Howard!

Ever since US Pacific forces stepped in to protect the South Pacific after Japan demolished the supposedly impregnable British garrison at Singapore in 1940, Australians routinely contribute to US military campaigns as payment for continuing guarantees by the US.. Read More

Ensuring Healthy Forests

Last Fall, Congress passed the bipartisan Healthy Forests Restoration Act. The Act built upon the foundations of President Bush's Healthy Forests Initiative -- an effort to protect communities and restore forest health by selectively removing overly dense vegetati Read More

Entrepreneurs of the World Unite! You Have Nothing to Lose but Your Guilt!

Entrepreneurs of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your guilt! According to a new paper, y'all owe me $2.5 million. Or at least have benefited that much from my activities as an entrepreneur. It seems fair... Read More

APEC for Tomorrow, Not Today

As Brazil and Venezuela toy with reverting to government agencies to generate economic growth, Chile remains a free market standout. The first Latin American nation since NAFTA to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement with the United States, its President,... Read More

The Little Election That Could

KABUL -- The ballot is the size of a pair of placemats strung together. Some of the polling places are so remote they need donkeys to get the plastic boxes back to counting stations. There are 18 candidates on... Read More

Versace Out; Varsity Jackets In

ODESSA, Tex., Oct. 6-7 -- The road was long and flat, the scenery unremarkable. Until we saw our first oil rig. Like one of those plastic bird desk ornaments see-sawing into its "drinking water" -- the one with a... Read More

How to Wreck the Military

John Kerry says that the Bush administration is heading towards a draft. Administration spokesmen say that's just an urban legend. Before going home to campaign, the Republican House voted against restarting conscription to quiet public fears. In fact, the... Read More

The Dan Rather of Financial Journalism

Not content to rail night after night on CNN against disappearing jobs, greedy corporations, and foreign outsourcing, Lou Dobbs has turned his nightly fulminations into a book of sorts. The best thing about Exporting America: Why Corporate Greed is... Read More

When Is Enough Enough?

"The proportion of Americans who consider HIV/AIDS to be the "most urgent health problem facing this nation today" has decreased from 38% in 1997 to 17% in 2002." So laments former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) HIV/AIDS... Read More

The Liberal Case for Bush

Author's Note: I am a centrist swing voter. This article is the second in a two-part series. I first wrote the hawkish case for John Kerry. This is the case -- the liberal one -- for George W. Bush.... Read More

Time for Congress to Investigate WHO

Aid packages sent to children in Sudan's malaria-plagued Darfur region "contain anti-malarial medicines that do not work," said Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) on Tuesday at a Congressional hearing on neglected diseases before an International Relations subcommit Read More

Kyoto and the European Right

Cardinal Richelieu, the powerful chief minister of the French King Louis XIII, used to say that politics is the art of the possible. However cynical, he may be right, as Russian president Putin seems to have well understood. The... Read More

Washington Post v. New York Times on Social Security

The recent middleweight title match between reigning champ Bernard Hopkins and the "Golden Boy" Oscar De La Hoya was billed as an historical event, one for the ages, like Hagler-Leonard circa 1987. Unfortunately for boxing fans the event didn't... Read More

Why al-Qaeda Will Dominate the European Union

In a few decades, radical Islam will ultimately dominate the European Union, and perhaps most of the world. It has already become a dominant force in the UN, which is reflected in the results of voting against Israel's anti-terrorist... Read More

On Obesity, What the Researchers Didn't Find

Several studies citing correlations between bad foods or sedentary habits and rising rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes have filled the news lately. The studies seem, at first glance, to confirm what "everyone knows" about why people are... Read More

How Might Hurricanes Change with Global Warming?

When watching science fiction, it is the plausibility of a story that allows us to imagine that what we are seeing is real. Sure, the aliens must speak English for us to understand them, and they usually have two... Read More

The Long Shadow of the 1970s

When I was a kid, there was a time when I regularly read the New York Daily News but only its back pages -- sports and comics. Then one day, I got curious about what was in the front... Read More

The Bush Economy

Iraq won't win the election for John Kerry. He has to convince voters that George W. Bush has botched the economy. That's a tall order right now, with the unemployment rate down from 6.3 percent to 5.4 percent in... Read More

The Toxic Politics of Biotech

How far does grass pollen travel? Ask someone who has hay fever, and the response is likely to be "much too far." But unsatisfied with that answer, the folks at our Environmental Protection Agency decided they needed an elaborate... Read More

Where's the Real Center of the War on Terror?

For my upcoming birthday, I know exactly what I want: A little hardware contraption like a stud-finder, one that I can point at a map to learn the real center of the war on terror. If they're out of... Read More

Is Reform Possible?

Policy experts talk long and often about the need to reform state-run services like education, pensions, and healthcare. I used to talk the same way. But I've come to believe that state services are simply incapable of being reformed.... Read More

Thailand Catches the Flu Bug

Thailand has once again been caught by surprise with the outbreak of the deadly bird flu virus and authorities are grappling with ways to handle the situation better than their past experience. The deadly virus, also called Avian Flu,... Read More

Gunning for Cheney

During the Vice Presidential debate, Senator John Edwards asked how Vice President Dick Cheney could possibly oppose laws such as one preventing "plastic" guns that can avoid metal detectors. The bill in question was written and supported by the... Read More

Deep in the Heart of...

DRIVING THROUGH TEXAS, Oct. 6 -- Fifteen years ago, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist H.G. Bissinger lived a season of pure Americana: Texas high school football. His chronicle became Friday Night Lights (originally published in 1990, now in its tenth paperback... Read More

Will Big Brother Be Watching You?

I like to believe that I operate within reasonable limits of paranoia, although my threat meter often spiked when I scan the dashboard of my hopelessly politically-incorrect, road-crushing, fuel-swilling Hummer H2. There lies a small blue and white button... Read More

Stick a Fork In It!

...when any man offered sacrifice, the priest's servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand; and he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that... Read More

Space Warfare: On the Way?

The United States Air Force is interested in space warfare. Actually, there's nothing new about that. The late-1950s/early-1960s Project Orion, which I wrote about here, was supposed to produce a fleet of nuclear-powered space battlewagons that would do for... Read More

Saving Freedom

"Noneconomists imagine that God has so poorly designed the world that a lack of thrift, even tending to avarice, is, alas, necessary to keep the wheels of commerce turning, to 'create jobs' or 'keep the money circulating.' They imagine... Read More

Here I Blog, I Can Do No Other

Buoyed by the ascendancy of a new information technology, a revolution against the mainstream media (MSM) is underway. What began as a modest effort to reform the excesses of the MSM evolves into a total rejection of the MSM's... Read More

Let's Talk Turkey

BRUSSELS -- This week the European Commission issues its long-awaited recommendation on whether to launch accession negotiations with Turkey. It has been a tough road for Ankara to get this far. Turkey first applied for membership in the European... Read More

Media Metaphysics, Round 2

Several weeks ago Harper's magazine editor Lewis Lapham was caught committing a major journalistic no-no when he published a story dissecting the speeches delivered at the GOP convention -- before the convention began. After we at TCS wrote about Lapham's... Read More

John Kerry, Going Solo

John Kerry has made a big deal about the Bush Administration playing solo in international affairs and offending other countries. He is of course referring to Iraq, where the only countries really offended are France and Germany. Yet John... Read More

Happiness Is...

The International Labor Organization (ILO) has just released a new report stating that Sweden is the best country in the world for workers. In the Swedish media, the report is presented under the headline: "Swedish workers happiest in the... Read More

Unasked Questions

At the next Presidential debate on October 8th, the format is modeled after a town hall meeting, and there is no restriction on the subjects that can be discussed. Given that the first debate concentrated on only a few... Read More

Mandatory Disclosure and Securities Regulation: A Behavioral Analysis

Mandatory disclosure is a -- maybe the -- defining characteristic of U.S. securities regulation. Issuers selling securities in a public offering must file a registration statement with the SEC containing detailed disclosures, and thereafter comply with the periodi Read More

Needed: 'Passionate Reasonableness'

One of the great joys of editing TCS has been the chance to work with writers of exceptional intellect and skill, see them develop ideas and insights, and witness as those ideas percolate beyond our digital pages. Typically this... Read More


Late on the night of 21 September Igor Chalupiec, the deputy finance minister of Poland, became the new president of PKN Orlen, a big Polish petrol company. Although PKN Orlen is a company in which the treasury of Poland... Read More

Echoes of History

"What has [the president done] to entitle him to re-election? We contend he has done nothing to earn this high distinction but that, on the contrary, in the conduct of the war, his deplorable mismanagement of our most important... Read More

Where's the Resonance, Kerry?

Why hasn't Senator John Kerry's newly formulated Iraq policy gained traction among voters? Even in the wake of a relatively strong performance in the first debate, and more than a week after he delivered what a majority of commentators... Read More

Economic Limits to Empire

One has to regret that the current presidential debate is not more focused on those economic issues that will ultimately determine the United States' ability to sustain its supremely dominant role in international affairs. For while President Bush and... Read More

Cheney, Halliburton and the Stock Market

A Google search for "Dick Cheney" and "Halliburton" produces about 123,000 web pages updated in the last year. The heat that topic generates is suggested by the fact that a similar search for "Michael Jackson" and "abuse" only produces... Read More

Trust Funds on Empty

Peter Peterson is not one to give up easily. He remains a resolute green-eyeshade Republican -- the kind that believes balanced budgets are beautiful and austerity is not a dirty word -- even though this particular form of fiscal... Read More

The Never Ending Story

Late this week -- for the fourth time in recent memory -- major press outlets trumpeted that, as Bloomberg News put it, "Russia Approves Kyoto Protocol". The stories claimed Russia would be ratifying the global treaty designed to reduce... Read More

Will Hutton's Fecund Suggestions

As columnist Mark Steyn has been telling us for years, demography is destiny and it is in the low birth rate countries of Continental Europe that this is going to cause problems first. The point was picked up by... Read More

Kyoto Flip-Flopper

During last night's debate, Sen. John Kerry -- arguing that "you have to earn [the] respect" of other countries, "and I think we have a lot of earning back to do" -- cited the Kyoto Protocol as an example... Read More

Debates Are Not Boxing Matches

Immediately after last night's first presidential debate, the chattering class appeared unanimous in saying that Kerry had won the debate. I hold a heretical view: I think it was a tie. More specifically, I think the debate had two... Read More

You Say You Wanna Coalition?

John Kerry promises that he would be a better coalition builder than President Bush, a skill he says would be of invaluable assistance to the United States as it sees through its current military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq,... Read More

Lazard Succumbs

The last of the closely held financial empires is about to give in to Wall Street's demands. Say it ain't so, but Lazard Freres may go public, or will die trying. Lazard (the quaint Freres got dropped for obvious... Read More

Greece and the Rule of Law

Greece is still the only EU country that does not share borders with another member state. In the recent past this geographical isolation was aggravated by the Iron Curtain that ran along Greece's northern borders. But also before communism,... Read More

Omedetō gozaimasu! (Congratulations!)

Good news from Japan has been rare for years but today's anniversary merits both admiration and congratulations: the age of modern high-speed rail travel began 40 years ago. On October 1, 1964 the new trunk line (shinkansen) between Tokyo... Read More

Elections and the Muslim World

We are approaching a cycle of elections that will have a decisive effect on the U.S. and the world. Aside from the obvious international significance of the American voting in November, Afghanistan will hold a democratic election this month,... Read More

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