TCS Daily : December 2004 Archives

A New Year's Revolution

All the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh less than a single lovely action. -- James Russell Lowell, 1870 Forget New Year's resolutions. You won't keep them and you know it. How about a little revolution in your life?... Read More

Wait for the Autism Fat Lady to Sing

Dr. Elizabeth Whelan bravely puts the autism-thimerosal connection at the top of her list of "Great Unfounded Health Scares of 2004". While we all might like this dark side of vaccines to be just a crackpot idea, recent studies... Read More

'There Was a Desperation There'

Of all the details of the recent kidnapping and murder in Missouri, perhaps the most pathetic was the image of the murderer, Lisa Montgomery, holding a sweater-swaddled puppy as if it were an infant. The photo captures precisely the... Read More

Ripples Beyond Ukraine

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan -- Two and a half millennia have passed since the Greek armies of Alexander the Great penetrated Central Asia, and the wave of democratic reforms visible in the post-Soviet and Muslim countries is now reaching Uzbekistan. On... Read More

From Robot Olympiads to the World Year of Physics

The year 2004 brought a wide variety of events involving science and technology, ranging from the Cassini spacecraft's arrival at Saturn to a French fashion show focused on wearable computers. Here is a highly selective guide to some of... Read More

When Liberalism Was, Well, Liberal

TV stations tend to show the great 1944 film Going My Way, directed by Leo McCarey and starring Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald, more often around Christmas, even though only a couple of scenes are set during Advent. The... Read More

Say It Loud, We're Purple Proud

It's been almost a year since the powers that be at this wonderful experiment in spontaneous editorial order took a chance on this wet-behind-the-ears upstart and started publishing my political musings and other flights of fancy. And over half... Read More

Calling Card Cacophony

The biggest bit of unfinished business in telecommunications for 2004 -- and for many years before -- is summed up in the latest dust up between local exchange carriers and AT&T over its calling cards. Just before Christmas, U.S.... Read More

Lucky to Be Alive

KOH MOOK ISLAND, Thailand -- Bang lives in a tiny fishing hamlet on the leeward side of this small island, a few kilometers off the coast of southern Thailand on the Andaman Sea. He works on the other side... Read More

A Look Back at the Great (Unfounded) Health Scares of 2004

Perhaps we are a society that relishes bad news. Or maybe by definition bad news is news. Whatever the explanation, 2004 was full of headlines about modern living allegedly making us sick. The top 10 health scares of the... Read More

Why Doesn't Latin America Takeoff?

Latin American has never experienced individual freedom. Alvaro Vargas Llosa, in his new book "Liberty for Latin America: How to Undo 500 Years of State Oppression" (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), blames the Latin tragedy on government coercion, mercantilism, speci Read More

A Bull Market for Donkey Shares?

I'm a contrarian investor. My favorite buys are good companies temporarily pummeled by bad news or a mistake that causes Wall Street to overreact. So I snapped up Tyco at 8 (it's at 34 today), Home Depot at 27... Read More

Overcoming Germany's Oblomov Syndrome

The German economy, which once used to be the economic power house of Europe, is almost stagnant today. No doubt the country is still prosperous with an excellent infrastructure and a generous welfare system, which shields its citizens against... Read More

The Trillion-Dollar Question

If President Bush pushes ahead with his proposal to privatize some portion of Social Security, politicians will almost certainly be forced to engage in a heated debate about a fairly obscure and technical topic: should Social Security's initial benefits... Read More

A Pivotal Year for the European Left

One day, years from now, a PhD student of economic history digging through columns of data will come to a realisation that 2004 was a pivotal moment for the European left. Looking at the returns from EU and US elections... Read More

A Tsunami to Our Priorities

A few days after the Asian earthquake disaster, with perhaps as many as 100,000 casualties, the human losses and the struggle of the survivors are what occupy most of our minds. I myself have acquaintances who are still missing... Read More

Risks, Benefits and the Terror War

Doubts about the Terror War have taken the strangest forms of late. Many who are against the war in Iraq and critical of the War on Terror have begun using a favorite tool of fiscal conservatives to question military... Read More

The Filibuster-Proof Majority?

In a year likely to be filled with political conflict, few clashes loom larger than those involving the composition of the federal judiciary. The battle lines are drawn: President Bush has already announced that he will resubmit judicial nominees... Read More

The Glitch That (Almost) Stole Christmas

Prior to the start of the holiday shopping season, experts warned that online shopping destinations like would be stretched to the limit if they hoped to satisfy the growing number of shoppers who prefer to shop online in... Read More

Oh Techno Tree, Oh Techno Tree...

Well, we did it. We bought an artificial Christmas tree. First one for us. Florida. That's how we justified it. We are celebrating the Christmas season at our condo in Florida. We didn't lug all the lights and boxes... Read More

To the Viktor Goes...

Pro-Western democrat Viktor Yushchenko has won the renewed presidential election in Ukraine, held on December 26. Preliminary results point at a clear victory, securing 52 percent of the votes against Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich's 44. Also the turnout was high Read More

Russia's Bad Gaz

Recently, I wrote on the danger of Russia's potential political backsliding into a new era of authoritarianism or totalitarianism. Political backsliding remains a concern for those of us who are interested in the spread of freedom and liberalization in... Read More

Fear for Profit

"Government regulation is so pervasive, so intrusive upon our freedoms, that it should be carefully measured and based on rational considerations." -- John H. Moore, former deputy director, National Science Foundation Virtually every aspect of our lives today is.. Read More

The "Training Iraqis" Diversion: A Dangerous Idea

It appears to have become a consensus among congressmen, opinionados, and the like chatterers that the training of Iraqi soldiers is the key to victory in Iraq. What started as a harmless idea to create the seeds of an... Read More

When Your Mother Kills

A tsunami killed more than 40,000 in six Asian countries. Hundreds of thousands are either injured or missing. Cold numbers, however huge, cannot give you an idea of what kind of tragedy occurred. Pictures do. Corpses are lying everywhere,... Read More

Will We Be Richer Than Our Kids?

Lurking in the background of President Bush's economic conference last week was the most profound question America faces: Will the future be like the past? Throughout our history, children have lived better than their parents, usually by a wide... Read More

The Year Of Blogging Dangerously

For those of us Webloggers who track the media the way that sports fans follow the NFL, 2004 will be remembered as the year the mask not only slipped, it completely came off the mainstream media. Newspapers and television... Read More

Insuring Climate Change -- High Risk Business

Alarmism over climate change has created many bandwagons. One is Europe's insurance industry. It is an official "business partner" of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the UN's official climate change booster. Many businesses seek a Green afterglow as Read More

Harm Reduction Reduction

On December 14th the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg ruled that the EU should keep its 12 year old ban the sale of moist oral smokeless tobacco, so called "snus". The ban was enacted before Sweden entered the... Read More

"This Should Have Been Anthropology 101": Quiet Breakthroughs in Africa's War on AIDS

If any country knows about the war on AIDS, it's Uganda. Prevalence there has dropped from 30 per cent in 1992 to about 6 per cent now. And the secret of its success has not been mass distribution of... Read More

Catastrophes and Their Cures

A killer asteroid is on the way. Or maybe not. As I write this column, Asteroid 2004 MN is projected to have a roughly 1-in-42.5 chance of striking the Earth. By the time you read this, the odds number... Read More

Study: Price Controls Harm Patients

Yesterday, the Department of Commerce released a detailed and shocking study of the impact of the drug purchasing practices of our OECD trading partners on U.S. citizens. While academic economists always seem to be wishy-washy about making conclusions on... Read More

Applying Free Market Logic to an Unfree Market

The nation's capital has been distracted this week by an issue more compelling than terrorism, the war in Iraq, Social Security reform, or Bernard Kerik's love life: the fate of Major League Baseball in D.C. At the 11th hour... Read More

A Christmas Gift

Santa's coming, the presents are being wrapped and we all dredge our minds for the answer to the question "What do you want for Christmas?", that dread query from our nearest and dearest. Marriage means that the answer "The... Read More

The Social Security Debate's Red Herrings

Heard the (new) news on Social Security privatization? According to Michael Kinsley it cannot work in theory and according to Paul Krugman it's been tried and did not work in practice. I guess that just about wraps it up... Read More

A TCS Christmas Carol

It's Christmas time, and that means it's time to enjoy A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens' melancholy tale of a productive businessman who gets worked over by three meddling supernatural social workers one Christmas Eve, transforming him into a simpering... Read More

An Asian Economic Union?

The countries of East Asia, which are leading world growth in the 21st century, have at last started groping their way towards an economic union to rival those of Europe and North America. Until the summit of the Association... Read More

Halo 2 and the New Heroism

"Halo 2" is a summons to an Heroic Age -- although the identity of the new heroes may turn out to surprise us. After all, if technology is changing everything else about our lives, why shouldn't it change heroism,... Read More

Outsourcing: Separating Fact from Hysteria

During the recent Presidential election campaign in the United States, the debate over outsourcing and its impact on the US economy reached a high level of what can only be described as irrationality, and even hysteria. Democratic candidate John... Read More

Forget the Consumers

Europeans will have to pay for what Americans may have for free. A European court ruled that Microsoft must comply with sanctions imposed by former EU Commissioner Mario Monti in March on the basis that the corporation was abusing... Read More

Searching for the Next Chief Justice

Recently, blogger and Yale law student Will Baude wrote a piece for The New Republic on how the Bush Administration might conduct a search for a nominee to replace Chief Justice William Rehnquist should Rehnquist want to retire due... Read More

Built In Vulnerability

It now appears almost certain that someone, probably wearing a suicide bomb "vest," was able to get inside the vast mess facility at that base in Mosul. Was this a "major breach" of security? In one sense, obviously, yes.... Read More

The Democrats' Niagara Problem

Democrats wondering how President Bush turned the Republican Party into the party of education reform might want to check out Niagara County, in economically depressed upstate New York. If they did, they might find that it is not so... Read More

The Economics of Gift Giving

Americans will spend billions on gifts this Christmas. Inquiring economists want to know why. Economists believe that people seek to maximize their own pleasure, but this self-interested assumption doesn't present an obstacle to our understanding gift giving. Most Read More

Fallujah Flip-Flops?

If a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, then, one month after our crucial victory in Fallujah, both the Bush Administration and its harshest critics should be counted among history's greatest geniuses. The rationales for and criticisms... Read More

A Good Year for Free Speech?

To listen to some people talk, 1984 came 20 years late. But despite all the talk of "crushing of dissent," I'd argue that, in many ways, free speech made great strides in 2004, and that the people who have... Read More

Armor vs. Attitude

The Pentagon has assured us that it will be spending $4 billion (that's right, billion) to "armor up" virtually all military vehicles in Iraq. It won't be enough. There will never be enough armor to "protect" all our troops.... Read More

"I Call the President Imam Bush": A Turning Point in Islamic and World History

If one were to rely on the mainstream Western media, one would assume that the situation in Iraq represents nothing more than a disaster and a horrible error by the United States. This media spin, which is more pronounced and... Read More

Marching Towards a Democratic Iraq

"Please, sir, can you help me? I must work with Americans, because my psychology is demolished by Saddam Hussein. Not just me. All Iraqis. Psychological demolition." -- An Iraqi teacher to reporter George Packer for the New Yorker. Few... Read More

Growing Pains

Right now we are all talking Turkey but that is not going to last much longer. The preliminary hoopla is over and we are all settling in for a long haul of at least ten, if not 15 years.... Read More

With Great Power...

My five year old has taken to wearing a cape to kindergarten over the last few weeks. While my wife and I struggled to come up with a name for this child years ago, we have recently been informed... Read More

How to Determine Whether Social Security Privatization Will Succeed

Social Security privatization would put our economy into a Great Experiment. How can we know in advance if the experiment will succeed? One key measure of the success of privatization will be how it affects long-term interest rates. Successful... Read More

"Beacon" of Hate

For all their bluster about simply wanting to remain separate from the Decadent West in general and the Great Satan in particular, the folks over at Hezbollah seem fairly miffed that the State Department has added the satellite television... Read More

"Send it, and We'll Figure Out How to Use It."

What could a soldier in Iraq possibly do with a slab of armor plate or bulletproof glass? More than a defense procurement bureaucrat in Washington; hence the wise words of General De Long, USMC, Ret. on MSNBC last week:... Read More

Is Santa a Republican?

A little over ten years ago, P.J. O'Rourke inadvertently dealt a savage blow to the morale of the Republican Party when he misidentified the political affiliation of Santa Claus in his best-selling book, Parliament of Whores. "Santa Claus," he... Read More

Garagum Sanctorum

LIGONIER, PA. -- All kinds of "male bastions" have fallen in the past few decades, but one place remains peculiarly male -- that province of power tools and temple of the automobile -- the American garage. One of the many... Read More

Hezbollah: Not Just Israel's Problem

"9/11 has taught us that terrorism against American interests 'over there' should be regarded just as we regard terrorism against America 'over here'. In this same sense, the American homeland is the planet". -- The Final Report of the... Read More

The Danger of Too Much Caution

Congress has a long and ignoble history of exaggerated legislative responses to perceived health crises. They seem to be at it again. In 1938, after a hastily marketed drug containing an untested solvent (diethylene glycol, a potent poison) killed... Read More

The UN: The World's Greatest Trade Association

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is under siege for allowing Saddam Hussein's government to actively manipulate the UN's oil-for-food bureaucracy and steal billions of dollars. There have been calls for Annan's resignation which Annan, quite naturally, Read More

What Defines the Arctic? A Discussion of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment

The Arctic and what is happening to it was a central concern at last week's United Nations' 10th annual Conference of the Parties (COP-10) on climate change in Buenos Aires. An overview of an intergovernmental report by the Arctic... Read More

Dollar Drama, Dollar Delusions

"In the absence of effective leadership by either the US Treasury or the International Monetary Fund, there is every prospect that the dollar's recent steady decline will soon turn into a rout." -- Desmond Lachman So what? Alarm about... Read More

Institution Revolution

Romania's stunning recent elections were the country's hardest fought and closest in the last 14 years. The whole campaign amounted to a tough fight for the hearts and minds of Romanians. The first round of the elections, held two... Read More

The Bruges Mafia

Looking for a well paid job-for-life in the relaxed atmosphere of one of the European Union institutions? That will be €16,000, please. This amount of cash, a relevant degree and a suitable recommendation to the board of directors in... Read More

End the "Mad Cow" Madness

On his first official visit to Canada, President Bush promised to end the madness: the United States' ban on Canadian beef. Such a move is long overdue. The ban has hurt producers and consumers in both countries -- for... Read More

The Kyoto Protocol is Dead

BUENOS AIRES -- The Kyoto Protocol is dead -- there will be no further global treaties that set binding limits on the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) after Kyoto runs out in 2012. Under the Kyoto Protocol industrialized countries... Read More

Keystone Kops

Whatever one's preferences in the Presidential election, it seems clear that George W. Bush's political team was far more skilled and competent than John Kerry's. This is evidenced by Bush's win, of course, but a detailed inside look at... Read More

TCS COP 10 Coverage: Inuit All Along

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- On Monday representatives from Iceland held a prime-time event announcing a study on Arctic warming. Featuring computer-predicted melting and pleas about the Arctic Inuit's plight, the report was already a month old and well-spun through Read More

Who is Minding the Dollar?

International leadership is woefully lacking in dealing with the vexing problem of the U.S. dollar's chronic weakness. In the absence of effective leadership by either the US Treasury or the International Monetary Fund, there is every prospect that the... Read More

TCS COP 10 Coverage: Buenos Aires: Kyoto's Waterloo

"...throughout the drafting sessions, [UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] 'coordinators' would go around insisting that criticism of models be toned down, and that 'motherhood' statements be inserted to the effect that models might still be correct desp Read More

Sofia Snafu

If you think of the United Nations as the most useless and ineffective international organization of all, think again. Take the notoriously unproductive discussions characterized by the lack of any result; take the totally pointless expenses paid by the... Read More

TCS COP 10 Coverage: Can We Avoid 'Dangerous' Climate Change?

Buenos Aires -- "We must act sooner rather than later," declared Malte Meinshausen, a freelance climate consultant to various environmental activist groups. Meinshausen's presentation, jointly made with Bill Hare, the former climate policy director for Greenpeace Read More

Republicans Shouldn't Fear Eliminating Judicial Filibusters

Senate Republicans shouldn't tolerate Democratic filibusters of judicial nominations. Democratic threats to retaliate if they lose filibuster rights lack credibility. The President will likely appoint several Supreme Court Justices in his next term. Because Republ Read More

Is Google God?

Is Google God? Maybe not, but it's way up there. The company's stock is surging into the empyrean, vaulting up 80 percent since its IPO. And Google has just been blessed, too, with a major legal victory over Geico;... Read More

TCS COP 10 Coverage: Who's The Greatest?

BUENOS AIRES -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Science Advisor Sir David King regularly calls climate change "the greatest threat facing mankind" and "worse than terrorism." A local paper here, the Buenos Aires Herald, echoed this sentiment in an... Read More

TCS COP 10 Coverage: Words vs. Deeds

BUENOS AIRES - The bearded man stood up, mumbled his credentials into the mike, and then addressed this question in a British accent to a panel of U.S. officials: "What is it like for you as individuals to do... Read More

TCS COP 10 Coverage: The EU is No Longer United

The European Union is no longer united. Until a few days ago, all of the member states were supposed to share a common position at least on environmental policies. Now, Italy has put it clear that it will not... Read More

Viktory Over Alarmism

It's perhaps fitting that dioxin was used in the attempted political murder of Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko. That's because dioxin is the most politicized chemical in history. It's notorious for its role at New York's Love Canal and... Read More

The Fox Report

I'm no great fan of foxhunting, nor am I against it. But regardless of one's personal feelings about the sport, this issue is important to Americans as well as the English, because the United States has numerous laws based... Read More

TCS COP 10 Coverage: Our Low Carbon Future?

BUENOS AIRES -- "To stop further damage to the climate we need a worldwide 60% reduction in emissions by 2050," declared British Prime Minister Tony Blair in February 2003. Setting aside the question of whether or not catastrophic climate... Read More

Economics of Social Security Privatization

"To 'work,' privatization must generate more money for retirees than current arrangements. This bonus is supposed to be extra money in retirees' pockets and/or it is supposed to make up for a reduction in promised benefits, thus helping to... Read More

"All Intifada, All the Time"

While the West is basking in the tunes of Christmas carols, a different tune is being played by the two leading Jihadi TV channels, al Jazeera and al Manar. The radical Sunni al Jazeera, broadcasting from Qatar, the flagship... Read More

Reid May Lead on Stock Options

In the discussion of winners and losers from Election 2004, one organization that may have suffered a big blow has been overlooked. This is the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), the private group chosen by accountants and financial executives... Read More

TCS COP 10 Coverage: Model Matters

A recent report by the UK's Hadley Centre, presented this week at the COP10 meeting in Buenos Aires, outlines one view of the future state of the climate system. It is based upon an August 2004 research paper that... Read More

Romania's New Day

Traian Basescu - the mayor of Bucharest and candidate of the center-right coalition "Justice and Truth" - is the new President of Romania. Last Sunday, in the second round of the presidential elections, he defeated Adrian Nastase, the leader... Read More

Judicial Terrorism

Judicial terrorism is nothing new in Venezuela. Together with an urge to control the economy, Venezuelan political leaders of the last 30 years tried to establish tight political control of the judiciary. That politicization of justice gave birth to... Read More

Draft Scalia?

Whoever thought there'd come a day when the Democrats would launch a "Draft Scalia" campaign for Chief Justice of the United States? Yet, amazingly, that's just what's happening. The campaign hit the news on December 5, when incoming Senate... Read More

TCS COP 10 Coverage: 'A New Model'

BUENOS AIRES - The big secret at the 10th Conference of the Parties of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change being keeps getting let out of the bag. The Kyoto Protocol is a failure. Just ask the top... Read More

Waste Not, Want Not?

Sometimes it's government itself which is the problem, not the solution. Not all that surprising a thought for us right-thinking types but it does seem to need explaining again and again to get the message through to the rest.... Read More

TCS COP 10 Coverage: Changing of the Guard

The picture was worth a thousand words. When Paula Dobrianksy, the State Department's senior official on climate change, presented Washington's partnership programs on climate change this week during the Buenos Aires conference on climate change, alongside her on Read More

What Are They Volunteering For?

Army National Guard Specialist David Qualls and seven of his comrades filed suit against the Defense Department over what they charge is the unfair extension of their active duty obligation beyond the term they agreed to. Qualls signed up... Read More

The Engineers Who Saved Christmas

Another Hollywood storyline died this week. And good riddance. You're sure to know the plot, which has appeared in countless lame movies and sitcom episodes: Dad (it's always Dad) struggles though crowds and horror in a desperate quest to... Read More

TCS COP 10 Coverage: Adapting to Climate

BUENOS AIRES -- December 13 - As the delegates from the European Union and the activist groups are celebrating the advent of the Kyoto Protocol, delegates here are beginning to realize that strategies aimed at mitigating projected global warming... Read More

TCS COP 10 Coverage: Climate Confusion

BUENOS AIRES -- The current debate over climate change runs the gamut from C to shining C. It's about climate. It's about catastrophe. It's about consensus. It's about carbon. It's about condemnation. Most of all, though, it's about confusion.... Read More

TCS COP 10 Coverage: Premature Congratulation

Buenos Aires -- "Post-2012"! is the mantra of thousands of bureaucrats and pressure group advocates meeting here this week here, referring to discussions about further climate change emission reduction commitments to follow the Kyoto Protocol's expiry in eight yea Read More

Europe Promotes Tragedy in Uganda

If Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback is correct, European scaremongering is delaying the re-introduction of DDT into Uganda. And this will have deadly consequences. Sen. Brownback (R-Ks) has just returned from a Ugandan health fact-finding mission. He told me that... Read More

GE Crops and Poverty Alleviation

Europe needs to take an urgent look at two recent World Bank reports on genetically engineered (GE) crops and food technologies in developing countries. The first focuses on GE rice (mainly harvested in Asia), and the second looks at... Read More

TCS COP 10 Coverage: Global Warming Extremists on the Run

Here they go again. This week, 5,400 delegates from 189 countries have gathered in Buenos Aires for what's called COP 10, the 10th annual conference of the parties to the United Nations agreement to combat climate change. That agreement... Read More

Love, Lust and the Future of Politics and Culture

If you ban abortion, will you get less abortion? Or will you get more polymorphous sex? Maybe both. It was Isaiah Berlin who said, "Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made." So maybe... Read More

The Academic Ego Game

"A Democrat on the Berkeley faculty, George Lakoff, who teaches linguistics...said that liberals choose academic fields to fit their worldviews. "'Unlike conservatives,' he said, 'they believe in working for the public good and social justice, as well as knowledge Read More

They are the Champions

The term "national champions" used to refer to sports heroes proudly waving their country's flag on a victory podium. Nowadays, the reference has radically changed. "National champions" are businesses large enough to deserve government support. At least, this is.. Read More

The Christmas Spectrum

Still looking for the Christmas gift for the person who has everything? If the embarrassment of appearing empty-handed on Boxing Day is unbearable, cash is not the issue and you are living in the UK, put your worries behind... Read More

Are You Free?

This article is the outgrowth of a debate on objective morality between Ed Hudgins of the Objectivist Center and me, which took place at George Mason University Law School. During our debate, we touched on the question of Free... Read More

TCS COP 10 Coverage: Dinosaur Tales

BUENOS AIRES -- Argentina is a great place for a confab on catastrophic climate change, only Buenos Aires isn't the city for it. The delegates to this tenth Conference of the Parties to the United Nation's Framework Convention on... Read More

The Speed of False Hopes

Talk about speedy. Last month, a competition among physicists produced a 101 gigabit per second data transfer -- a rate that would enable downloads of three DVDs per second or the whole library of Congress in 15 minutes. Put... Read More

What If It Ended at the Beginning?

Some things end at their beginning. If cunning Odysseus had perished early on in the Iliad, we might be occupying Troy instead of Baghdad, and the Odyssey would never have begun. Last month Osama Bin Laden raised Islam's foremost... Read More

TCS COP 10 Coverage: Global Warming Negotiations Heat Up.

The Kyoto Protocol climate treaty comes into effect on February 16, 2005. Russia finally approved the treaty in October which needed to be ratified by developed nations that account for at least 55% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions... Read More

The Grapes of Protectionist Wrath

U.S. oenophiles held their breath this week as the Supreme Court heard argument in cases challenging the constitutionality of New York and Michigan laws prohibiting their residents from importing wine from other states. According to Free The, New... Read More

A Bigger, "Renewable" Boondoggle

In Washington, sometimes all you need to do to find out lobbyists' latest schemes to bilk the unwary taxpayer is attend a public meeting. What brings this to mind is Greenwire reporter Ben Geman's December 7 story recounting a... Read More

Moving on Up

A new comparison between the countries in East and Central Europe shows just how well economic reforms work. The data show that those that abandoned central planning the fastest are the best off today. In many of the more... Read More

Is Anyone on the Line?

During the campaign, President Bush immediately sought to distinguish himself from John Kerry, who, throughout his Senate career, had switched positions on key issues. "I understand everybody in this country doesn't agree with the decisions I've made," Bush said.. Read More

Will 'Dumb' Tax Kill Smart Highways?

Those who dream of a day in which communications devices on cars and along roads fuse to create a less clogged and safer highway system need to watch what's happening in California. The new director of California's Department of... Read More

Reforming Reform

Anyone wondering whether campaign-finance reform did what it was supposed to in the 2004 election need look no further than the last week's headlines -- at two stories in particular. The short answer is: It didn't. The longer answer... Read More

Learning From Teratomas, II

Yesterday, I wrote about two proposals for research that might yield the same benefits as embryo-destructive stem-cell research, but without the embryo destruction. Two Columbia University scientists suggested that it might be possible to figure out which frozen e Read More

Why the Left Should Favor Social Security Privatization (and the Right Should Oppose It)

"For Social Security is a government program that works, a demonstration that a modest amount of taxing and spending can make people's lives better and more secure. And that's why the right wants to destroy it." -- Paul Krugman... Read More

Blog Standard

Wryly echoing Andy Warhol's famous statement, one website recently observed that "in the future every blogger will be PowerLine for 15 minutes." He was referring to the small number of blogs covering the Ukrainian election getting their quarter-hour of... Read More


Information may have the value of life or death, of creating a good life or a half-life. A recent visitor to a Czech web forum illustrated this with a personal comment: "My wife's uncle suffered from glaucoma. He visited... Read More

Fumbling Federalism (Part Deux)

We've previously seen the Bush Administration's lack of devotion to the principles of federalism in the debate over the Federal Marriage Amendment -- which proposed to constitutionalize the precept that in all fifty states, marriage should be limited to... Read More

The Best Thinkers in the World

The People's Republic of Computers is ready to invade the USA. At least, that's the spin being put on the $1.75 billion IBM-Lenovo deal by many mainstream journalists concerned by the acquisition of IBM's storied PC unit by a... Read More

On Social Security: The Washington Post Gets It

Recently I wrote a column for this publication contrasting the different approaches to Social Security reform taken by the New York Times and the Washington Post editorial boards; differences that have now put these two media titans on opposite... Read More

The Trojan Horse of Wahhabism

As international attention remains occupied with the terror murder of Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh by an Islamic extremist, and the long-term implications of the spread of Islamic fundamentalism within Europe, Greece continues to be roiled by a debate... Read More

The Wisdom of a 'Creepy Solution'

A friend of mine who has worked in prepping many political candidates for debates says that he always tells them to think, first of all, about whether there is any truth to a point their opponent has made. That... Read More

Too Cool for School

When Poland was devoured by its German and Soviet neighbors in 1939, the school system officially stopped functioning. The home became the underground seat of learning for more than a million young Poles. In 21st century Poland, some Poles... Read More

Trimming Waistlines by Trimming Government

The Journal of the American Medical Association recently published a study purporting to link increased soda consumption with weight gain. This comes on the heels of studies linking obesity to urban sprawl, longer commutes to work, time in front... Read More

Network Effects: Liberals and Conservatives in the Academy

Every once in a while even the mainstream media wakes up enough to notice the remarkable dearth of conservatives and libertarians in US universities and colleges. Of course, this isn't exactly a man bites dog story. As George Will... Read More

Bringing the Public Back to Public Spaces

Almost three years ago, I wrote about something I called the comfy-chair revolution, in which businesses seemed to be working harder to make their public spaces friendly to what would, in an earlier age, have been seen as loiterers.... Read More

Bill Clinton Gets a Taste of His Own Medicine

It's never nice to wish someone a taste of his own medicine, but since it has already happened to Bill Clinton, here's hoping some good will come of it. The subject is his runaway hit memoir, "My Life," which... Read More

Free Trade Asian Style

Vientiane is a charming, dusty town on the Mekong River, midway between Yunan and the South China Sea. Monks in saffron robes still roam the streets. Asia's leaders recently crowded into town for the annual Summit of the Association... Read More

Beasts of Burden

It could never happen here. Genocide, ethnic cleansing, slavery, segregation, these are moral failings of lesser cultures. While we in the West may have once indulged in such behavior, we've evolved beyond such things. We're too civilized, too enlightened... Read More

Why the Islamists Target Steve Emerson

The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), one of the most adroit and deceptive Islamist groups in America, is preparing its fourth annual convention, which will be held in Long Beach, CA on December 18. It is beyond predictability that... Read More

A 'Winner's Curse'

Bali, Indonesia -- Successful property speculators in Korea face a "winner's curse" by provoking contempt by an Administration guided by a populist ideology that feeds a penchant for class warfare. As it is, the attempt to incite jealousy over... Read More

Economies as Ecosystems

"He who plants a tree / Plants a hope." -- Poet Lucy Larcom Are economies ecosystems? The parallels are striking. The energy driving ecosystems ultimately comes from the sun, while the energy driving economies ultimately comes from another boundless... Read More

Europe Cools Off

Whatever you think about President Bush, you have to admit that, at least, he's not going to cheat the voters on environmental issues. Since his first election in 2001, he has been very clear about what the US is... Read More

Triumph of Pessimism Over Experience?

On September 11, 2003 the Jerusalem Post issued a bold editorial entitled, "Kill Arafat," declaring that the world had left Israel "no alternative" but to assassinate the head of the Palestinian Authority. "No one seriously argues with the fact... Read More

Bombs, Basques... and Boise

November 29th, a commission of Spain's legislature, dominated by Socialists and their center-left allies, accused former prime minister Jose Maria Aznar of lying when he blamed, initially, the ETA for the March 11 attacks on the Madrid railway system.... Read More

Educated... and Bored

My old guitar teacher has a saying: "You can educate yourself into boredom." What he means is that you can study the classical guitar repertoire so thoroughly and for so many years that you simply become bored with it.... Read More

Let's Be Honest About the Real Consensus

The arguments for anthropogenic climate change often take the form of "we know it is happening, therefore we need to do something about it now". While appealing to the uncritical thinker, it implies two important but unstated assumptions: 1)... Read More

Nationalizing Compassion: The Canadian Free Lunch

There are, sadly, no free lunches. That eternal truth is the beginning of wisdom with respect to the view of some that a Canadian-style system of national (read: bureaucratized) health insurance is the answer for the problems and growing... Read More

Fear of the Other

BERLIN - Xenophobia in Germany is increasing "dramatically" according to a new study released in Berlin. Some 60 percent of Germans see their country as being ├╝berfremdet - an increase of 5 percent over the number two years ago... Read More

DOW 36,000 Lives!

Five years ago, economist Kevin Hassett and I wrote a book called Dow 36,000. Maybe you have heard of it. The book made the bestseller lists and won accolades from, among others, the current chairman of the president's Council... Read More

Climate Alarmism and the Poor

Today (6th) the Tenth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meet in Buenos Aires. Concern about the devastating consequences for humanity from impending change to our climate will be interspersed with attacks... Read More

How Much My Life Worth? How About Yours?

Now that "Hillary '08" is up and running perhaps it is safe to return to the more basic discussions about politicians, regulation, costs and benefits. As we know there are always good sounding reasons for the laws and strictures... Read More

Too Smart for Their Own Good?

Exit polls are useful. Not for predicting the results of a close race in a battleground state, but for gauging larger cross-electoral trends. Big picture stuff, not how many precincts vote on moral values in Franklin County, Ohio. To put... Read More

The Supermarket's Unnatural Selections

Agricultural practices have been "unnatural" for 10,000 years. With the exception of wild berries and wild mushrooms, virtually all the grains, fruits and vegetables in our diets have been genetically modified by one technique or another. Many of our... Read More

The Terrorism Market's Black November: Short al Qaeda

The last twelve months have been very hard on the terrorism industry. Saddam's been captured. Ghadafy surrendered. Hamas leaders have been assassinated. And the best bin Laden could do to disrupt American elections was send Al-Jazeera another videotape in... Read More

On Creeping Collectivization

When lecturing about Kyoto, I sometimes provoke my audiences with the proposition that the Kyoto Treaty, which aims at reducing the emission of man-made greenhouse gasses, equals communism via the backdoor. The reactions are mixed. Some people take it... Read More

The Discovery of Ukraine

Only when the presidential election dispute had reached the streets of the capital Kiev and other major cities of the Ukraine did the European Union start to deal with the problems of one of the biggest nations of Eastern... Read More

Global Warming: The Satellite Saga Continues

The results of two research studies announced this week address the infamous discrepancy between satellite and surface thermometer trends over the last 25 years. The original satellite dataset produced by the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) now has... Read More

Thank Goodness for Trade Deficits

After hitting a 4-½ year low against the Yen last week, and an all-time low versus the Euro, the media reaction to the dollar's fall was mostly positive. The Wall Street Journal said a weakening dollar would "correct the... Read More

Tip-Toeing on Top of VOIP?

Beware of incumbents bearing gifts. Local phone giant SBC says its TipTop service, which it is rolling out across its 13-state territory, is just a new option to make life easier for VOIP companies. Yet that's not how those... Read More

Stem Cells and Philosophy

The report last weekend of a woman treated successfully for a serious spinal cord injury by a therapy relying on stem cells taken from umbilical cord blood (that is, uncontroversial stem cells) cast my mind back to some comments... Read More

Freedom Bonuses: Welcoming Gifts for Ukraine

The U.S. should bestow gifts on Ukraine if her people choose Western democracy over Soviet-style oppression. These gifts would provide incentives for other nations to join the United States in our fight for freedom. The collapse of the Soviet... Read More

China Should Not Cast Stones

All is not well in the world of international financial diplomacy. Perhaps the most striking example of the malaise was last week's harangue by the Bank of China that the United States should not blame others for its ballooning... Read More

The Killing of Peter McWilliams

As the Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of state medical-marijuana laws, Americans might want to pause to remember a man named Peter McWilliams. McWilliams was killed by the federal government on June 14, 2000. No federal agent put a... Read More

Loyalty, Shmoyalty

A chorus of criticism greeted President Bush's nominees to cabinet-level positions. Commentators sneered that "loyalty, above all else, is a Bush trademark." The president's choice for secretary of state was, according to columnist Maureen Dowd, "in the bunker" wi Read More

The Super Market

November 27 was "Buy Nothing Day", a day of protest against consumerism, when participants tried to refrain from buying anything. Founded by Canada's AdBusters magazine, it has spread to many parts of Europe. In Sweden, the governmental consumer agency... Read More

Foolish Haste on Stock Trades

What's the rush? That's the question baffling investors as the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission prepares to push through what the Wall Street Journal calls "an overhaul of rules that could radically alter the way billions of... Read More

The Coming Atomic Age

A kind of nanotech network-in-exile -- left out in the cold when it comes to government or venture capital funding -- is making plans to fight back in the war for the public's hearts and minds. This group of... Read More

Abusive Behavior

Recent months have seen some regrettable lapses by prestigious scientific journals. Some highly questionable claims have been made, but have been published anyway. These suggest that the time-honored system of journal publication is breaking down in the face of... Read More

Social Security's Worn-Out Roof

"I've always been a great believer in Samuelson's great comment that any concept in economics that you could not explain to your father in law would eventually be proven wrong. Would you explain the difference between 'economic costs' that... Read More

France's Foreign Lesion

What a wake-up call. French soldiers being killed and wounded in Ivory Coast attacks. Forced into exile, thousands of French citizens have been rushed back to France. At home, the population is baffled, and they really don't understand why... Read More

400,000 Big Fat Reasons for Skepticism

The Centers for Disease Control announced last week that the often-mentioned figure of 400,000 Americans dying each year due to overweight or obesity is based on a study that's plagued by methodological errors. The CDC estimates that the number... Read More

Wheels of Fortune

Of all the growth industries in China few have burgeoned with the speed of the automobile industry. Although the middle-class wants more mobility, the status attached to cars is at least as important for an emerging bourgeoisie. Just a... Read More

The New York Times Whiffs on Air Pollution

Despite vast improvements in air quality throughout the 20th Century, most Americans believe we've made no progress on air pollution or even that air pollution has been getting worse. Media reports on the environment are almost uniformly gloomy and... Read More

Talking to Robots

A while back, I welcomed our new robot employees. Today, I have more reason to do so. I get my phone service from Bellsouth, and like lots of people we have multiple lines. Over the holiday weekend, the fax... Read More

Attention Internet Shoppers!

When news broke that Kmart was planning to acquire Sears for $11 billion, many viewed the deal as nothing more than the last-gasp effort by two stumbling retailers to mount some sort of final challenge to Wal-Mart, the undisputed... Read More

"I'm Willing to be Wrong"

"Econ is fireproof, if you know what I mean. It's practical. You can't possibly be taking it because you really love economics." -- Tom Wolfe, I am Charlotte Simmons If Tom Wolfe's fictional nerd, Adam Gellin, rather than attending... Read More

What Would Darwin Say About AIDS?

Today is World AIDS Day. So says the world AIDS establishment, which is dedicated to fighting AIDS -- or at least to talking a lot about fighting AIDS. Indeed, since three million people will die this year of the... Read More

Hostages to the Boomer Narrative

We agreed on everything except one small point: he was certain that all Republicans were racist. His certainty illustrates everything that is broken between red and blue America. And the certainty of his death demonstrates how that brokenness will... Read More

Civil War Enthusiasts

The writer Matthew Yglesias makes a bold assertion in The American Prospect magazine: "For months now, skeptics of George W. Bush's Iraq policy have been warning that the present path could lead to bloody civil war. More recently, proponents... Read More

It's the Guns, Stupid

After the optimism of the 1990s and the disillusionment of the last few years it appears that, though taking far more time than UK Prime Minister Tony Blair anticipated, the parties to Northern Ireland's stalled peace process are finally... Read More

Time for TAFTA?

In his first week in office, the new European Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson dropped some interesting hints about his ambitions for the next five years. There was first of all a welcome acknowledgement of what he called Europe's "relative... Read More

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