TCS Daily : August 2005 Archives

The Emerging Independent Majority

Big picture strategists in both the Democratic and Republican parties like to speculate on the "emerging [insert favorite party] majority." Yet the only trend in evidence is an emerging independent majority. A 2001 University of Michigan study claims that the... Read More

The Washington Consensus Gives Way to a Keynesian Consensus

A new consensus - or, at least, a return to an old consensus - seems to be forming in response to the hiccups seen in the New Economy. The so-called Washington Consensus is being pushed out in favor of... Read More

Space Elevator: Stuck Between Floors

Last week I mentioned the growing promise of space elevator technology, and I've noticed that interest in the subject continues to grow. (Here's a roundup on developments from National Geographic. And the Times of London even reports that Google has... Read More

Jude Wanniski, 1936-2005

Jude Wanniski, one of America's great contrarians and polemicists and the man who turned me -- and thousands more -- on to free-market economics, died suddenly Monday afternoon of a heart attack. He was 69. Wanniski was always cheerful, always... Read More

Katrina and Disgusting Exploitation

A profound tragedy is unfolding in New Orleans, the most beautiful city in America, with the richest cultural history and the most wonderful style of living. I lived in New Orleans for seven years. I was married there. My children... Read More

No Ordinary Shipyard

In the summer of 1980, after years of suffering under a regime that wasted their energy and suppressed their wills and minds, thousands of Polish workers in Warsaw, Swidnik, the Silesia region, Poznan, Lodz, Gdynia and many other cities and... Read More

Grey-Area Medicine

"If people 'go to the doctor grudgingly, because we're sick' -- i.e. because we conclude we're sick -- you'd think we could also conclude rationally when we're more sick and when we're less sick, when we really need of a... Read More

Scotch Tape

EDINBURGH - Sadly, religious incitement to violence is almost as old as religion itself. Take the Reformation, Scottish-style. The adorable seaside town of St. Andrews -- so named because its founder carried the remains of its namesake across the sea... Read More

"Greetings from Baghdad"

On August 3, Steven Vincent earned the dubious distinction of being, according to the New York Times, "the first American reporter to be attacked and killed in the current Iraq war." He was shot dead and left outside of Basra,... Read More

What If Syria Is Guilty?

BEIRUT -- Late last week, Detlev Mehlis, the German prosecutor investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on behalf of the UN Security Council, released a preliminary report on his inquiry, scheduled to be completed by mid-Septem Read More

A Real Nor'easter

Environmentalists recently leaked to the New York Times plans for costly regulations that will significantly raise energy, goods and services prices for both businesses and consumers within a nine-state region of the northeast. The regulations will have adverse imp Read More

Kids, Fries and Cancer: Is There a Connection?

It's been a tough time for French fries lately. First there was the unpleasant association with, well, all things French that led to one of America's favourite foods being renamed, at least within the Beltway, Freedom Fries. Then there was... Read More

Putting the General in Surgeon General

It's nice to know that just like Big Brother, the Fat Police never sleep. While most of us have been have been trying to catch a few days of vacation during the last bit of summer, the fat police... Read More

It's Not Just the Spending

Before leaving town earlier this month, Congress approved nearly $300 billion in increased spending. But spending, supported through taxes, is not the only way the federal government diverts resources from the private sector to accomplish its goals. The other is... Read More

Make San Francisco the Leftwing Paradise It Hopes to Be

San Francisco's city supervisors voted 8-3 against allowing the USS Iowa to become a tourist attraction in their city. The battleship saw action in WWII, Korea and the Persian Gulf. One supervisor voting against the USS Iowa complained about the... Read More

Islam Gives the Pentagon the Boot. What Next?

The Uzbek autocratic President Islam Karimov served notice to the Pentagon that the U.S. should vacate the Karshi-Khanabad military base (K-2 in military parlance) within six months. In the post-9/11 era, this is the first time that a U.S. ally... Read More

10 MPG: The Road to Energy Independence

With gasoline busting three bucks a gallon, the Bush administration Tuesday proposed higher fuel economy standards for SUVs and minivans, along with what the Washington Post called "a new regulatory system that sets different mileage goals for six sizes of... Read More

Oil Prices and the Rule of Bigness

The largest retailer in the world, Wal-Mart Stores, reported last week that sales and profits for the three months ending July 31 were a little worse than expected because "our consumer continues to be impacted by higher gas prices." The... Read More

How Economists Really View Health Insurance

"Policy is driven by more than politics, however. It is equally driven by ideas, and in the past few decades a particular idea has taken hold among prominent American economists which has also been a powerful impediment to the expansion... Read More

The U.S. Orders Chinese Takeout

This summer, a firestorm of controversy erupted in the nation's capital when Chinese oil giant CNOOC made a hostile $18.5 billion bid for U.S. oil company Unocal. Most troubling for some U.S. politicians, the CNOOC bid followed a number of... Read More

Falling Down on the Jobs

"You can look at lots of numbers. If you actually work with economic numbers, you have less respect for them than people who don't. There's a mix of numbers. Some of them are pretty good. The unemployment rate looks... Read More

Despite Media Blackout, Fallujah Rebuilds

After crisscrossing Fallujah by foot and Humvee in May, I reported on tremendous progress being made to restore "the city we had to destroy to save." Actually fighting left most of the town unscathed; most damage was from three decades... Read More

Atomic Bombast: Carrots Are For Rabbits

        "The principal lesson to be learned from the war in the Persian Gulf is         never fight America without nuclear weapons." - Sharad Pawar, Indian Defense   Read More

Suffering and the Forgettable War

About fifteen years ago, a teacher of my acquaintance opined that the Super Bowl should be cancelled. A terrible set of racially motivated murders had come to light, and this teacher could not bear the notion that, in the face... Read More

Libertarian Basics

"While American conservatives have retained their passion for Big Ideas, their passion for the biggest idea of all -- the Holy Grail that will refute liberalism -- has waned... What libertarians do not have, however, is a comprehensive argument for... Read More

Iraq's Constitution of Liberty

"The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people just now are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean... Read More

Plus Ça Change...

Legal problems have been mounting lately for computer-chip giant Intel. First it came under attack from the Japanese antitrust authority. Then its main competitor on the microprocessor market, AMD, announced at the end of June that it had filed a... Read More


DJIBOUTI, Africa -- Djibouti is one of those places few can pronounce (ja-boo-tee) and fewer visit. Situated in the dangerous geographic "elbow" known as "The Horn of Africa" -- with Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea its immediate neighbors -- the former... Read More

A New Jersey State of Mind

PRINCETON, NJ -- Whenever I visit my alma mater, I am reminded of how beautiful a state New Jersey is. Yes, you read that right: The land of Tony Soprano and James "I am a gay American" McGreevey, of big... Read More

Fear and Hope in Sudan

For the moment, the fragile peace in Sudan's North-South civil war (a different conflict from the conflict in Western Sudan's province of Darfur) appears to have survived the death of the South's long-time leader, John Garang. Garang was the leader... Read More

Reality-Based Tax Policy

Better than expected. That is the headline being given to the progress of the US economy. Last year the deficit was a humiliating 3.6 per cent of gross domestic product. The deficit this year, new numbers suggest, will be 2.7... Read More

The Great Shift?

There are reasons to doubt whether the US economy can continue its global dominance. These include US trade and fiscal deficits, massive dollar reserves held by Japan and China, billions of new workers in India and China, and the relocation... Read More

Laughing All the Way to the Brink

What to make of Herman Kahn, more than two decades after his death? Was he the prototype for Dr. Strangelove, or was he a sage for the new age of reason? The title of a new book, The Worlds of... Read More

Ciao, Italia

Over the years, the Italian economy, sliding further into stagnation, has grown accustomed to bleak reports. Recently the national association of industrial enterprises, Confindustria, issued a damming forecast for one of the most dynamic exporting regions of Ital Read More

Space Program: Looking Up

I've written here in the past about NASA's work on space elevators, and on the new leaner, meaner, prize-oriented approach favored by NASA Administrator Mike Griffin. Now there are some signs of real progress on a number of fronts. As... Read More

We Invented It. Let's Use It

As the "global war on terrorism" enters its fifth year, it has become increasingly evident that the United States and its allies are involved in an ideological war, in which propaganda and moral suasion will play a large part.... Read More

Who's Watching?

Data retention used to be about fighting organised crime, cybercrime, and tax evasion. But since the 9/11 attacks it become a focus of the War on Terror. Sweden, together with France, the UK and Ireland, submitted a far-reaching and costly... Read More

Incumbent Politicians vs. the Long Tail

Which of the following describes your party affiliation? (a) I identify with the platform and leading spokesmen of the Democratic Party   (b) I identify with the platform and leading spokesmen of the Republican Party   (c) None of... Read More

The Limits of Altruism and the Power of Self-Interest

For the last thirty years, many well-meaning organizations have spent lots of time and money trying to convince more Americans to donate their organs after they die. These efforts have relied exclusively on appeals to altruism, and they have... Read More

Good Morning, Vietnam

The public's support for the war is ebbing. According to one of the latest opinion polls by Today/CNN/Gallup Poll, 56 percent of those asked said the war is going badly, while 57 percent say the war is making us... Read More

Slavery and Belarus

"Human trafficking" is a fast-growing problem in society, and is now the third most profitable criminal activity in the world. Besides becoming highly lucrative, trafficking in people is increasingly transnational in scope. According to the UN Office on Drugs and.. Read More

Devolution of Advice and Consent

After striding to the podium and humbly accepting his nomination to the Supreme Court, Judge John Roberts returned home with a keen appreciation of the Senate Judiciary Committee's confirmation process that awaits him. Some twenty-four years earlier, he assisted Ju Read More

A New Balance on Counterfeit Goods

The sports shoe manufacturer New Balance is about to return to Argentina after four years of absence, after it completes some sort of "cleaning" of the market of pirated copies of their famous shoes. Tired of complaining about counterfeits they... Read More

19th Century Taxes in the 21st Century Economy

Over the past few decades, economists have spent a great deal of effort understanding the optimal design of the tax code. One undisputed result is that the government should try not to play favorites, taxing one activity much heavier than... Read More

The Bosnia of Our Time

Every day 500 black African Muslims are murdered by Islamists in Sudan's northwestern region of Darfur. The total number of dead now exceeds 400,000. That's 133 September 11ths. The U.S. is airlifting 1,200 Rwandan troops for humanitarian relief. It's a... Read More

Vision Impaired

China now has global economic muscle. It is sustaining growth in the global economy and its cheap goods are holding inflation at bay. So when China suggests rearranging current agreements or formalizing new ones, people go along, even if it... Read More

Why 'Theology Is a Simple Muddle'

Editor's note: What follows is an essay, divided into four chapters, that is considerably longer than that typically published in TCS. For your comfort, please consider printing the whole thing to read away from the computer screen. While we are... Read More

American Eden

Would you like to see cheetahs and camels, lions and elephants, Przewalski's Horse and wild asses introduced into the US? The creation of parks (both public and private) perhaps the size of the Serengeti for them to roam free? There's... Read More

Health Uber Alles?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has always had a rather expansive notion of what it means to be healthy. If one looks at the official definition it defines health as a "state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and... Read More

Poland's Great Right Hope

Some 15 years after the anti-communist revolution, Poles are turning to the right. This year is politically the most important in the new history of this young democracy. Polands future depends on the next coalition of parties in power. But... Read More

The Next Democracy

An Iraqi democracy, whatever its final form and written constitution, will be both controversial and dangerous. According to philosopher Paul Woodruff, controversy and danger are innate characteristics of democracy.   I read Woodruff's provocative new book, "F Read More

The Real Tragedy of AIDS

The press these days is obsessed with avian flu. "Officials are preparing as though the virus is the heir apparent to the 1918 international flu pandemic, which killed more than 40 million," says the Baltimore Sun. Precautions are encouraging, but... Read More

Don't Call It a Comeback

A group of scientists has proposed to "re-wild" North America with elephants and lions, thereby replacing large megafauna that became extinct at the end of the Pleistocene about 12,000 years ago. The proposal's authors, led by Cornell University grad student... Read More

La Cage Aux Pols

My reaction to politicians tends to wander around a little between what I consider to be the only three possible options. Laugh at them, ignore them, or experience a (so far repressed) desire to have them tap dancing on air... Read More

Iraq Is Improving

Monsignor Rabban al Qas, a Chaldean bishop in Iraq, was recently interviewed by a foreign journalist, who asked him, "Twenty-three Iraqis are killed every day in Iraq. Nearly two years after the fall of Saddam Hussein, there is no security... Read More

Trust in Marx: To Undermine Tehran, Leave It Alone

Karl Marx wasn't right about much. But one thing he did get right is the social dynamic leading to political revolution. Genuine revolutions, Marx noted, do not take place in a friendly environment amenable to gradual and piecemeal reform. They... Read More

The Yanquis Are Coming!

In the run-up to last month's passage of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), the anti-globalization doomsayers were out in force with bold predictions about the "final blow" the deal would mean to the economies of Central American countries.... Read More

Always Low Tactics. Always.

The War on Wal-Mart continues apace this week in New York City. There, the cost of living is high -- as is the demand for Wal-Mart's services. But the labor movement's tactics, as always, are lower than low. Their latest... Read More

Podcasting and the New Media

In the past, I've written here about, and its sort-of successor,, in terms of their influence on the future of music. But, increasingly, we're seeing that there's more than music to the equation. I talked recently with GarageBand's... Read More

Awakening to "Moderate" Saudis?

After the death of King Fahd, everything looks very much the same in the Saudi political landscape. The stakes are high. According to Hudson Institute fellow and author of the forthcoming book "Princes of Darkness : The Saudi Assault on... Read More

When an Ounce of Prevention Is Not Worth a Pound of Cure

It appears to be all about science. After five days of WHO-think on health prevention at the Bangkok Global Conference on Health Promotion, it would be easy to conclude that science is the foundation for everything that the World... Read More

Are We in a Brave New World of 'Personalized' Medicine?

BiDil, a new drug labeled for treatment of blacks with severe heart failure, has begun to arrive in pharmacies. Approved by FDA in June, it has stimulated speculation that we're entering a brave new world of "personalized" medicine in which... Read More

Are You Being Served?

Old habits die hard: as a former WTO trade negotiator, I still find time to read WTO reports. The other day I picked up Director-General Supachai's report to the WTO General Council on the state of play in the Doha... Read More

Terror on the Internet

What do we do about terrorist incitement on the internet? I have noted on several occasions that the main enemies of democracy and pluralistic Islam -- al-Qaida, the ultra-Wahhabi clerics of Saudi Arabia, and jihadists in Pakistan -- seem to... Read More

Where I'd Bet Against Kurzweil

"I proposed a bet to Kurzweil. Under the bet I would give him a very small amount of money today and in return at some future agreed-upon date he would give me a 10-meter-diameter solid diamond sphere." -- James D.... Read More

An Organization Pregnant with Contradictions

Women's bodies are theirs to do what they want, but for the National Organization for Women (NOW) that only seems true as long as what the women want to do is politically correct. Despite NOW's rhetoric, the laws they have... Read More

"Me Too Republicanism" with a Vengeance

Last year I wrote an article stating that President Bush was endangering his re-election campaign by displeasing natural supporters with his failure -- or unwillingness -- to rein in the growth of government. In my article, I argued that the... Read More

Competing Goods, Competing Evils

[Author's note: this is the first in a series of articles exploring and reflecting on several aspects of the Embryonic Stem-Cell Debate from a traditional Jewish perspective] The debate over embryonic stem-cell research (ESCR) is at least as morally, politically,.. Read More

For Washington, It's Asia in the Balance

The second George W administration team is certainly Asia-savvy, but the region is changing at a rate with which a Middle East-distracted Washington finds it hard to keep pace, and is making demands for which the administration finds it... Read More

The Blood of Martyrs

Banners are flying today in Gaza that read: "The blood of martyrs has led to liberation." They are the banners of the popular militant Palestinian group Hamas, and they enunciate an unpleasant truth that proponents of the so called peace... Read More

The Global R and D Arms Race

When Microsoft filed a temporary restraining order in late July to prevent a high-level Internet researcher from accepting a similar position at Google, the reverberations of the move were felt throughout the tech industry. This was about more than just... Read More

The Singular Sensation

Most of us will become gods. And not one of those wimpy anthropomorphic gods from Greek myth, but gods trillions of times more intelligent than mere mortal men. Such is the thesis of Ray Kurzweil, who argues in The Singularity... Read More

American Hajj: Toward an Open Society

Which of the following best fits the label "the open society": a) the United States, or b) Saudi Arabia? (Hint: It's a trick question.)   Annually, almost twenty-four million foreigners travel to the United States -- equal to about 8%... Read More

We Need 250 States

"It is always costly to ensure that agents [government officials] act on behalf of the citizens and that they do not use their power to extract rents from their constituents...   The costs of monitoring agents increase not only with... Read More

The Atomic Ring

Sixty years ago today, the Japanese government surrendered, ending World War Two. Ever since then, America has been on a wild ride of technological innovation and military competition. It's been a strange and sometimes scary trip, but the only... Read More

Leaving the Europeans Behind

Now that a new climate initiative has been signed by the US and five Asian and Pacific countries, the European Union finds itself increasingly isolated. The Bush administration has been able to put together a coalition of countries that account... Read More

Why So Scared of China?

Congratulations, Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif) of the Armed Services Committee, Lou Dobbs of CNN, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) of the Midwest isolationist caucus, and all the rest of the xenophobic crew. By misleading and frightening the U.S. public, you've managed. Read More

A Soldier's Story

Meet Pete the Barber. Pete's story illustrates why Col. Henry Gole's "Soldiering: Observations from Korea, Vietnam, and Safe Places" (Potomac Books) is no "old soldier's war story," but a fascinating hybrid of gripping personal history and rigorous personal essay. Read More

Pape-al Fallibility: It's Not All About Us

Islamists have killed thousands of Westerners over the past couple of years -- thousands in New York City alone. But they have killed far more of their own fellow Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, and too many... Read More

I've Been Over There and "Over There" It Ain't

"Peace at any price" purveyors are going gaga over the new FX Channel series "depicting" the Iraq war, "Over There," produced by Steven Bochco of Hill Street Blues fame. "Wow! Anybody else watch Over There last night?" gushed a writer... Read More

Mrs. Miniver Is Dead

I have sad news for my American friends: Mrs. Miniver is dead. The funeral was held some time ago, and there were not many mourners in attendance. For the benefit of TCS readers under the age of 40, I should... Read More

Franco-Israeli Detente?

On the face of it, the warm reception reserved for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon during his recent visit to Paris would seem to represent a turning point in Franco-Israeli relations. Despite calls by a coalition of some 50 leftist... Read More

Beyond Bad Bureauspeak: Something Quite Menacing

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about a billion people lack access to safe drinking water, while 80% of all illness in the world's poorest regions is linked to water-bred diseases. Poor water and sanitation annually kills about five... Read More

No Pork Left Behind

Congress is frequently like a self-centered toddler who couldn't care less about the welfare of others. The transportation bill is the best example of that. The bill is two years overdue, billions of dollars higher than the President wanted and... Read More

Damn That Market Mentality!

The cause of food shortages such as the one plaguing Niger right now may be a perplexing problem to Nobel Prize-winning economists. But its no mystery to the Washington Post news section. The Rise of a Market Mentality Means Many... Read More

Some Convergence of Global Warming Estimates

In one of a trio of new global warming papers in Science, Mears & Wentz (2005) address what they consider to be a large source of uncertainty in our (University of Alabama in Huntsville, "UAH") satellite estimate for global lower... Read More

Waiting for the Telecom Godot

If you liked "Waiting for Godot," you've probably loved this year's congressional telecom reform drama. Much like the characters in the Samuel Beckett play -- who keep audiences waiting for the appearance of the apparently important, but ill-defined title character Read More

Nationalizing Science

It seems as if you can't turn anywhere without hearing that industry is destroying science these days. Former editors of the New England Journal of Medicine allege that pharmaceutical companies are perverting health science. The National Institutes of Health have.. Read More

Don't Trim the Hedges

The worldwide hedge fund industry has nearly tripled in size over the past five years to become a $1 trillion behemoth capable of moving financial markets in a matter of minutes. But does that mean that they should be tied... Read More

Selective Amnesia: The Ultimate Fallout Shelter

These first two weeks in August we are being treated to yet another chapter in a little ritual of selective amnesia and psycho-history that repeats itself every five years or so. People gather, chiefly in the two Japanese cities of... Read More

Mocked by Mullahs

Iran's recent move to resume its nuclear activities both defies the European Union's warnings and makes a mockery of the EU's diplomatic efforts in the Middle East. It is a defeat of Europe's policy toward the Islamic Republic. It demonstrated,... Read More

There Is No Joy in Juiceville. Why Not?

Am I the only diehard baseball fan in America not particularly put out by the ongoing baseball steroids scandal, now starring Baltimore Orioles slugger Rafael Palmeiro? The well-regarded Raffy -- by the end of this season, he will almost certainly... Read More

Stop Talking, Start Doing

Why is innovation so important? It is the engine of productivity growth, as well as economic and social development. In a competitive world national prosperity depends on society's ability to revitalize itself. This has always been the case. But today... Read More

Where Angels Fear to Tread: The FEC

Why is it that campaign-finance-reform advocates and their accomplices in the media are able to recognize politicians as the petty criminals they are when it comes to mundane issues such as highway-bill pork and tax-loophole drawing, yet their heads implant... Read More

The Proper Attitude Toward Financial Regulation

Editors note: this is the last in a series of essays on financial markets and the economy.   6. Financial Regulation   "Remember: GENES ARE NOT THERE TO CAUSE DISEASES" -- Matt Ridley, Genome, p. 263   Frequently, we open... Read More

Turning 'Unknown' Into 'Unknowable'

My high school chemistry teacher posed the following problem to the class: If a 50-pound block of pure iron were to oxidize completely, how much would the resulting rust weigh? After allowing us to ponder the question for a bit,... Read More

What's the Matter with (Ar)Kansas?

Last week, former President Clinton appeared on CNN to discuss what he called a major health crisis involving children and food. Was Clinton addressing the situation in Niger, where perhaps three million people, including 800,000 children, are in serious danger... Read More

Cottage Industry and Science Fiction

A while back I mentioned Steve Stirling's novel Dies the Fire, in which people's grasp of out-of-date technology turns out to be vital to civilization's survival as pretty much everything modern mysteriously stops working. He's got a sequel coming out,... Read More

Divine Evolution

Oscar Wilde remarked that to be happy it is not enough to be a success; our friends must fail. Religious views -- whether theistic or atheistic -- are, alas, the same: for our view to be right, all the... Read More

And After The Gaza Withdrawal?

On Aug. 15, Israel is scheduled to begin its unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip. This unprecedented action, which is expected to take about a month, will see the dismantling of 21 Jewish settlements in Gaza (as well as four... Read More

Big Government Libertarianism

Something odd is happening. Support for a non-defense discretionary spending hike is coming from some surprising quarters. Big-government liberalism is nothing new; the time when liberalism was associated with laissez-faire economics is long past. In recent years, Read More

Hope Springs Infernal

Hope is the most dangerous of all drugs. And America is the biggest pusher. Recently I read the final National Review article of Steven Vincent, may he rest in peace. He explained why the Iraqi city of Basra suffers from... Read More

The People Versus The Powerful

WASHINGTON -- A non-profit public policy activist group launches a lawsuit challenging a massive regulatory structure affecting virtually the entire country. The suit is filed in a gritty town in middle America, and it invokes a little-known part of the... Read More

Judging Faith

Questions are being raised in some quarters about Supreme Court Nominee John Roberts' apparently devout Catholic faith. Christopher Hitchens, for example, tackles the issue with his usual sensitivity and couth: The Roman Catholic Church claims the right to legislat Read More

Europe's Lonely Heart

The era of globalization does not seem to have touched Belarus. This country in the very heart of Europe is becoming more and more isolated from the rest of the world. But the world needs to pay more attention. Last... Read More

My Stalker

A stalker is after me. His name is Paul Krugman, formerly a respected economist, with whom I frequently agreed, but now a polemicist on the op-ed page of the New York Times, assiduously and boringly toeing the Party line.... Read More

Pruning The Constant Gardener

Growing up in Africa, I witnessed first hand the benefits of prescription drugs. My stepfather, a South African, survived polio as a child in the 1940s; 40 years later, I survived a severe case of malaria while I was living... Read More

What's In A Name?

"We are, thereby, thanks to you, definitely in possession of a new world"-- French astronomer Le Verrier to German astronomer Galle, who first recognized the new planet Neptune on September 25, 1846 Three new worlds (one with a satellite) just... Read More

Financial Innovation in Perfect Capital Markets

Editors note: this is the fifth in a series of essays on financial markets and the economy. 5. Financial Innovation   "A significant fraction of Fischer's work for the corporate finance side of Goldman concerned potential applications of one or... Read More

The Poverty Trap

Revered so much by President Jacques Chirac and most of France's political class, the French welfare system is considered by many to be a model for preserving the European social cohesion. Yet among its numerous flaws is one rarely talked... Read More

The Aceh Peace Accord

Barring any last-minute glitches, the Aceh peace accord brokered in Helsinki on July 17, between the government of Indonesia (GoI) and the separatist Gerakan Aceh Merdeka ("the Free Aceh Movement" or GAM), will be formalized Aug. 15. If the Indonesian... Read More

Hugo Chavez's Latin Al Jazeera

Dressed down in their best proletarian duds, sympathizers of the FARC Marxist paramilitary take to the streets brandishing their best hammer and sickle flags. Manuel Marulanda Vlez, chief leader of the terrorist group, makes an appearance. An ominous voice takes... Read More

Vincent And Van Gogh

Casualties of war. That phrase conjures up thoughts of the young drafted soldier who never returned to the farm he grew up on. It makes us think of generals ordering grand armies to sweep across plains or ships sunk by... Read More

Faith-Based Evolution

Twenty years ago, as a PhD scientist, I intensely studied the evolution versus intelligent design controversy for about two years. And finally, despite my previous acceptance of evolutionary theory as "fact," I came to the realization that intelligent design, as... Read More

Phonies on the Family

Recent press reports have noted that Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens is dissatisfied with the way the team's management has treated him. Owens stated that he would not play for the Eagles this year, and demanded a trade. The... Read More

Who's Screwing Up America?

Talking on the phone with me, Bernard Goldberg is angry. "The very people who seem to be most concerned about the environment", he exclaims, "somehow think that the cultural environment doesn't matter!? Somehow it just doesn't matter what goes... Read More

Game, Set and Match?

The politics of climate change has been moving with breakneck speed recently. Leaked plans for Asia-Pacific Climate Plan, which generated the front page headline in Australia's national paper last week ("New Asia-Pacific Climate Plan"; The Australian, July 27), may Read More

Congress' Homeland Insecurity

If power companies invested in infrastructure like the Department of Homeland Security fights terrorism then a resident in New York City wouldn't be able to run a hairdryer but every cowboy in Bozeman, Mont., could light up a stadium. Because... Read More

Oil, Money and Confidence

Russia is generally associated with bad news rather than good. After all, it's perhaps the only country in the world to have a whole ministry dedicated to emergency situations. However, Russia is not only the Yukos scandal, Chechen terrorists... Read More

Medicine to Fit Your Genes

The Food and Drugs Administration's (FDA's) approval of the heart drug BiDil® marks a new understanding of health disparities. These differing patterns of death and disease are seen in subpopulations defined by age, gender, race, ethnicity, geographic location Read More

Terrorist Task For New Saudi King

Here's a question for a little weekend bet around the barbecue: Will high oil prices be good or bad for Saudi Arabia, whose King Fahd died Monday? Everyone knows expensive oil is good for the royal family. Members of the... Read More

Bush and Darwin

In an interview earlier this week, President Bush made a strange and even paradoxical claim. When asked to give his opinion on the controversy surrounding the teaching of intelligent design theory versus the teaching of Darwin's theory of evolution,... Read More

Poland's Horror Without End

It is hot in Poland, and not because of summer -- though summer this year is really beautiful. It is because of the election campaigns for the parliament and the presidency planned for this autumn. And it is particularly because... Read More

Excise Wide Shut

Recently, Lithuanians were reminded about a scheduled increase in tobacco and fuel prices. This will come as part of Lithuania's commitment to the European Union to raise its excise duties in order to reach the EU's minimum levels by... Read More

By Reason Or By Markets

Flamboyant, cravat-wearing bastion of Chilean capitalism Hernan Somerville spoke to me with enthusiasm, on a recent visit I made to Santiago, about a five-hour dinner he had enjoyed a few days earlier with socialist presidential candidate Michelle Bachelet. Bachele Read More

Bean-Counter as Scapegoat

All the media attention paid to Bernie Ebbers' conviction has given us a taste of what we can expect when the trial commences against the architects of the decline and fall of the Enron empire. It would not be... Read More

Breaking Barriers to Competition

Recently, legislation was introduced in both the Senate and House to spur communications competition by encouraging the entry of telecommunications firms into cable markets. While technology already is driving change in the sector, the benefits can't be fully reali Read More

Stardust Contemplates the Stars

In 1967, a monk named John Dobson was kicked out of a California monastery run by the Vedanta Society, a Western offshoot of Hindu philosophy. His transgression consisted of unauthorized absences which were assumed to involve, as he later... Read More

A Kinder, Gentler Chirac

Political turmoil in France and Germany continues to play havoc with E.U.-U.S. relations. German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder could be out of office by September, French President Jacques Chirac, who we'll have to kick around for two more years, will find... Read More

Ask Judge Roberts

As I have previously put forth, there exists recent precedent militating against asking a Supreme Court nominee such as John Roberts close questions about how he might adjudicate certain cases. That precedent is entirely justifiable as well, given the need... Read More

Heat Wave Hot Air

In case you have been living in a cave, it has been hot this summer in the United States. Much of the nation has been in the midst of a substantial heat wave, and the global warming crusade is making... Read More

Less Live 8; More Self Help

So I guess that now the G8 have signed on for more aid to Africa, the Live8 stars are all cuddled up with their increased royalties and we are generally being more caring and sharing with the taxpayer's money, everything... Read More

The Sunni-Shiite Divide

A year after the fall of Baghdad, I asked a senior U.S. official involved in planning the Iraq war whether the whole thing was a Shiite-centered project. He insisted it was not, and that Saddam Hussein had engaged in "equal... Read More

Crop Circles

The expected World Trade Organization arbitration in the fight between Washington and Brussels over genetically modified (GM) crops did not happen at the end of June, but a revolution by the European Council unexpectedly did. For the first time... Read More

One Price for Risk

Editors note: this is the fourth in a series of essays on financial markets and the economy. 4. One Price for Risk   "The CAPM world that Fischer imagined back in 1969 is a world much simpler than the one... Read More

Megafauna Murder Mystery

"After centuries of debate, paleontologists are converging towards the conclusion that human overkill caused the massive extinction of large animals in the late Pleistocene." So sayeth a new paper to be published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organizati Read More

Way, Way Beyond Kyoto

In a surprise move that caught Europe's smug moralists and the environmental movement's noisy extremists flatfooted, the United States announced in Vientiane, Laos, last week that it was joining five other nations - China, India, Japan, South Korea and Australia... Read More

On Embryonic Stem Cells, Frist Backs A Loser

What does embryonic stem cell research have to do with the space shuttle? Seemingly nothing. Dig deeper, though. Whatever NASA may claim, there's little the shuttle can do that unmanned spaceships cannot - at much lower costs. But NASA knows... Read More

Is Small the New Big?

Blogger Jeff Jarvis writes: "Last month, I wrote that small is the new big. More demonstration of it: eBay is fast becoming one of the largest employers in America. Of course, it hardly employs anyone, but it enables a lot... Read More

Time To Raise The Bar

A few months ago I had the audacity to point out publicly some pretty fundamental flaws in the free trade agreement (FTA) that had been negotiated between Thailand and New Zealand. I went so fare as to suggest that New... Read More

Yes to Growth; No to Kyoto

Japan's decision to join the new Asian Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate will raise anxiety in Europe's leading capitals, for overnight it transforms the European Union from climate change cock of the walk to climate change feather duster.... Read More

On Board the Discovery

The seven astronauts aboard the space shuttle Discovery face an unknown and possibly dire fate. In addition, the fate of the three-decade-old shuttle program itself looks bleak. Indeed, the path of humanity's trek into space looks murky and bumpy... Read More

Do Antitrust Laws Protect Consumers?

Many people think that antitrust laws are in place to protect consumers. But as Microsoft's current troubles in Europe show, that isn't necessarily so. The European Commission is using antitrust to carve out a market share for RealNetworks Inc., Microsoft's... Read More

REACH and Risk

One of the key reasons the European Union's proposed constitution was rejected by French and Dutch voters is that they dislike having their lives controlled by rigid, centralized dictates from Brussels. The most recent example of job-killing, nanny-state policy fro Read More

'There is a Use for Violence in Our Movement'

With the recent bombings in London, most concerns about terrorist strikes on the US focus on the jihadist movement. But the next major terrorist strike in the US could come from an unexpected direction -- the extremist animal rights... Read More

Iran's People's President

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a populist outsider, has won the election for the presidency of Iran by a landslide, and many in the West have expressed dismay and shock at this result. Both in the United States and in Europe, the... Read More

The San Diego Zoo

It gives me no great pleasure to point out my town's shortcomings, but I'm only stating the obvious: San Diego is a royal mess. In 2005, the Southern Californian paradise that calls itself America's Finest City has absorbed much more... Read More

Easy AIDS Charity

Anyone with an "ethical and responsible commitment to people living with HIV/AIDS" knows perfectly well the options available to satisfy that concern: voluntarily contribute time, property or money. Politicians do something else though, they travel first class, sta Read More

A Plague of Alarmists

Tragedy is striking the Niger. An estimated 3.5 million people are starving in the former French Colony of West Africa, and thousands are expected to die daily. Drought and poverty are the main causes for the lack of food, but... Read More

Fear Not Biotech

How nervous should we be about biotechnology and its potential for changing humanity? Critics of biotech, such as Francis Fukuyama and Bill McKibben, coming from different points on the political spectrum, think we should be plenty worried. They argue that... Read More

The Time Is Now?

Never being one to jump on a bandwagon early, I waited until June of this year to join the big leap into digital television, buying a high definition TV set as a present from my wife for Father's Day. I... Read More

Italy in Argentina's Shadow

On looking at Italy's present economic predicament, one has to wonder whether one has not been to this movie before. Indeed, one has to wonder whether that movie might not have been called "Argentina", which was set mainly in Buenos... Read More

Slicing the Pizza in Perfect Capital Markets

Editors note: this is the third in a series of essays on financial markets and the economy. "People often ask: Can you summarize your theory quickly? Well, I say, you understand the M&M theorem, if you know why this... Read More

Sick Transit

The surest way for an industry to get a boost in federal funding is for it to suffer a terrorist attack. Such is the case with transit security. But will more spending make us safer? Not necessarily. Pointing to the... Read More

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