TCS Daily : April 2006 Archives

Energy Policy for Idiots

"A plan by Senate Republicans to soften the blow of rising gasoline prices...has merit, U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman said Friday...Frist's bill...would suspend until September 30 the 18.4-cent-per-gallon retail gasoline tax. -- Reuters I apologize to regular TC Read More

Drivin' and Not Cryin'?

When it comes to gas prices, the media too often know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Flip open a paper and turn on the TV and you'll learn that gas prices are rising again. "Stormy 6... Read More

Planners vs. Searchers

The White Man's Burden is a rare book. Its author, William Easterly distills all of his considerable knowledge and experience about foreign aid into it, and never pulls punches in a subject noted for star-studded platitudes and uncritical thinking. Given... Read More

Too Soon to Forget

"United 93" is a paradoxical film. On the one hand, it reminds us of the power of cinema. It's a difficult film to watch, but it's even more difficult not to be affected by it. Yet on the other hand,... Read More

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Peace

The Bush administration announced earlier this month that the United States was ending direct financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA), now that the terrorist group Hamas is installed at its helm. According to State Department spokesman Sean McCormack Read More

WTO Is Stalled; Europe Is to Blame

The Doha Round is in trouble. Many of us have known this for a long time. Look at the list of articles on WTO on the "Editor's list" on the Financial Times online: Doha Round goes in circles US blames... Read More

Ready for "The Tony Snow Show"?

So are you ready for "The Tony Snow Show"? Not to build up expectations or anything, but one has to assume that the newly designated White House press secretary has something good up his sleeve. Surely he is not leaving... Read More

Military Bloggers of the World Unite!

Military bloggers unite! Well, actually, we did. Last weekend was the 2006 Milblogging Conference held in Washington, DC. For this author, it was the first chance to meet Austin Bay, a TCS contributor and colleague of mine at But... Read More

So Now We're Holocaust Deniers

As part of the current media frenzy over the imminent demise of the Earth from global warming, it has become fashionable to demonize global warming skeptics through a variety of tactics. This has recently been accomplished by comparing scientists who... Read More

Costly Conscience

A recent draft opinion for the European Parliament's Committees on International Trade and Development strongly embraces the principles of so-called "fair trade". Socialist MEP Jörg Leichtfried, calls on the European Commission to "promote educational programmes to Read More

The "Lobby" Fetishists

If the Pulitzer Committee ever offers a prize for ill-informed commentary, I hereby nominate Tony Judt. Indeed, the very week that the guardians of America's most prestigious journalistic and literary awards made their announcements, Judt -- a British-born NYU prof Read More

The Battle of Hamburger Hill

Ah, the strange paradox that is the European Commission. Where else would you find owners of four-wheel-drives claiming to fight for the environment? Or people earning astronomical salaries talking about equality as the cornerstone of the European social model? Sta Read More

A Solution at the Stroke of a Pen

"'Mandatory spending' includes entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, which are provided by law rather than through the annual appropriations process...Of course, all government spending can be changed through legislation, so no spending is real Read More

The Real Abuse

"We ... will release licenses for the source code of Windows itself," declared Brad Smith, director of Microsoft's legal affairs, at the end of January. This was the computer giant's response to the threat of a new €2 million per... Read More

Bin Laden Hates the UN Now, Too!

Last week, on a tape aired by the Arab news channel Al-Jazeera, a voice claiming to be Osama bin Laden declared war on the world. The geographic range of the 21st century caveman's rambling verbal jihad should impress Rand McNally.... Read More

France's Spring Break Perpetuel

Proving that any French politician should know better than to try to reform that country's economy, France has just scrapped its modest youth labor reform. Sluggish, inflexible and costly that economy may be, exemplified in Europe's highest youth unemployment. But. Read More

Dragon at the Fount of Africa

Fresh off important visits to the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Morocco, Chinese President Hu Jintao is expected to arrive in Nigeria later this week to meet with Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and several key legislators to discuss bilateral relations and... Read More

Princely Warriors

There's a reason that most antiquated of institutions, the British royal family, manages to survive in spite of all its problems. And the reason is that it's able to regenerate itself, regaining endangered legitimacy. Proof of its regenerative capacity is... Read More

Coral Bleaching: What (or Who) Dunnit?

Thanks to a Senate hearing on global warming this week, Americans can expect a plateful of charges about dangers to our oceans and, in particular, coral reefs. They should take it all with a pinch of sea salt. It's not... Read More

Are We Criminalizing Agency Costs? Should You Care?

Few mainstream pundits have provided better insights on the Enron and other corporate governance prosecutions of recent years than have bloggers Tom Kirkendall (a Houston lawyer) and Larry Ribstein (a University of Illinois law professor). In particular, they've re Read More

Bush on Gas Prices: Who's He Kidding?

With gasoline prices close to $3 a gallon, President Bush this morning gave a disingenuous speech to an alternative fuels association about what he was going to do to stem the rising tide. There were a few flashes of candor... Read More

Belarus: A Dangerous Place for Politics

This week Belarus begins yet enter another tumultuous spell. On April 26, the opposition will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl tragedy by organizing a massive public rally ("Chernobyl March"). This will be similar to or even bigger than... Read More

Medical Malpractice at the World Bank

Every year, malaria kills Africa's children by the million and impoverishes their families. The World Bank, as the world's largest aid agency, made a handsome commitment to combat malaria; but the commitment was only partially honored and the investment was... Read More

The Root of Plenty

Earlier this month, I co-chaired the Biotechnology Industry Organization's annual meeting (BIO 2006), where some 20,000 leaders in business, government, academia and technology gathered to learn about a dizzying array of advances made possible by biotech investment Read More

The Medium Isn't the Message

Daniel Henninger is pretty down on the blogosphere. Writing in the Wall Street Journal last week, he complained that blogs are lowering the tone of political discourse: "I don't think the blogosphere is breeding cannibals. But it looks to me... Read More

Radioactive Lies

Twenty years ago the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded in the Soviet republic of Ukraine. It burned for ten days, spreading radioactive materials over neighboring Soviet republics and into Europe, and contaminated millions of adults and children. How many mill Read More

Climate Change's Gravy Train

In an open letter to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, 60 leading scientists called upon him to "re-visit the science on global warming and review the policies inherited from his leftwing predecessor." Referring to Kyoto as "pointless," the letter not... Read More

The Mau-Mau Maoists

With so much attention paid to Nepal and its ongoing political struggle, it is worth considering who are the self-appointed agents of change. It is also worth noting that while King Gyanendra is somewhat incompetent and assumed extraordinary powers by... Read More

Judging Rummy

"Policy is the guiding intelligence and war only the instrument, not vice versa." - Carl von Clausewitz, from On War. In this season of rebirth, Washington is enthralled not just by flowering cherry blossoms but by that other hardy perennial:... Read More

A Million Paths to Peace

Something extraordinary is happening in global development circles. For the first time since the 19th century, progressive activists are embracing trade as positive tool for change. The global NGO Oxfam is the latest progressive interest group to change its tune... Read More

Cashing In On the Kid in You

Graphic novels -- the bound, novel-length comic books -- are the fastest growing segment of the publishing industry. A brand new audience -- one composed primarily of teenagers reading imported Japanese manga and adults who go for more high-minded literary... Read More

A Bird Flu Manhattan Project?

Vaccination to prevent viral and bacterial diseases is modern medicine's most cost-effective intervention. Vaccines to prevent the expected avian flu pandemic could save the lives of millions -- if vaccine R&D were not in such a sorry state, as the... Read More

"No Poop to Scoop...What Will We Do?"

Globalization has its downside. There is nothing that humans do (or don't do) that doesn't have a downside. But I often find myself amused by how people misidentify precisely which parts of the process it might be that are so... Read More

The Free Market Says "Happy Earth Day"

Max Borders: Another year, another Earth Day. It's also the fifteenth anniversary of the publication of Free Market Environmentalism, the book that changed the way many people look at environmental issues. Joining us today is Terry Anderson, co-author with Don... Read More

"Too Hot" Not So Hot

The latest triumph of the global warming crusade is a one hour HBO special entitled "Too Hot Not Too Handle" that is premiering in several cities this month. The screening in Albuquerque was well-advertised; it was free, and hosted by... Read More

Our Rhineland Moment

In conjunction with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's announcement that the Islamic Republic has successfully enriched uranium, both Hugh Hewitt and Bill Kristol invoked the Rhineland analogy as a warning for America to act promptly to prevent the emergence o Read More

A Mass Delusion

Most have declared the Social Security reform debate dead. But the program still faces financial insolvency, so no action now simply means that the debate is being shifted into the future. Supporters of personal accounts are unlikely to give up... Read More

Overqualified Immigrant

If the federal government ever gets its act together and passes a much-needed immigration reform, I'm giving up my legal career and taking up a profession that will actually allow me to become a U.S. citizen. Like gardening. Or construction.... Read More

A Champion of Liberty

On April 20, 2006, Mart Laar, the former Prime Minister of Estonia, became the third recipient of the Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty. The Friedman Prize is awarded every two years to an individual who has made a significant... Read More

This Land Is Your Land, This Land Is My Land

Talks between political parties are ongoing, but a plurality of Israeli voters has apparently signaled its preference for a moderate center-left coalition led by Ehud Olmert, who led Ariel Sharon's newly-formed Kadima Party to its historic victory on a platform... Read More

Minimum Behavior

California is considering raising its state minimum wage. Bills under consideration would raise the wage by as much as a dollar and call for subsequent indexing of the wage, so that it will increase automatically along with inflation. According to... Read More

General Unrest

The chow line of retired generals waiting for Donald Rumsfeld's head to be served on a platter has been growing longer by the day. Growing as well, however, are the observations that to use "contemptuous words against... the Secretary of... Read More

Animal Rights, Human Wrongs

Animal rights extremism -- which the FBI has labeled the biggest domestic terrorism threat -- has encountered a number of serious reverses recently. These reverses are a great victory for science, free inquiry and public health. In particular, Americans could... Read More

Euston, We Have a Problem

On July 7, 2005, at 9:47 a.m., a terror bomb destroyed London's number 30 bus en route from Euston Station to Russell Square. The bomb killed 13 people. On May 7, 2005 -- two months before the terror attack --... Read More

Trade Tyranny

From energy to trade, Russia is amassing an arsenal of weapons to undermine the pro-Western governments of its neighbors. The intended consequences of Russia's ban on Georgia's and Moldova's alcohol products -- the mainstay of their economies -- go far... Read More

The 'Emergency' Loophole

Politicians are crying crocodile tears about deficit spending but their actions demonstrate that they remain addicted to big government. The latest example is a $106.5 billion Senate supplemental spending package. The stated purpose of this latest round of suppleme Read More

Digital Walls, Digital Holes

Details of the conversation between Bill Gates and Chinese Premier Hu Jintao when they met recently at the Microsoft campus near Seattle, and afterward at a $20,000-per-plate dinner at Gates' Lake Washington compound, are somewhat scarce. A new deal between... Read More

The Six Million Dollar Mankind

Bionic humanity is coming, not with the bang of a huge, secret government program of the Steve Austin variety, but on the little cat-feet of a collection of new developments. A recent survey in the Guardian newspaper of the subject... Read More

Don't Worry, Be Happy -- Or Else

"those interested in maximizing society's welfare should shift their attention from an emphasis on increasing consumption opportunities to an emphasis on increasing social contacts." -- Daniel Kahneman and Alan Krueger, Developments in the Measurement of Subjective Read More

Give Peaceniks a Chance?

In what must be one of the most extraordinary military rescues in history, the British SAS and the Canadian special forces recovered 74-old-British peace activist Norman Kember and his two co-hostages by warning the kidnappers that they would be coming... Read More

Brain Power

At a dinner in London some months ago, I sat next to a bright university student who, when informed that I worked at a think tank, remarked, "Foreign policy decisions are really made in think tanks, aren't they?" I gave... Read More

The US and China: Strategic Disconnect

President Bush and Chinese president Hu Jintao will have a full plate of immediate issues when they meet on Thursday, April 20. The United States will undoubtedly push for: Greater flexibility for Chinese currency rates, Stepped up enforcement of intellectual... Read More

Cover Me Vanity

I have decided I want to be on the cover of Vanity Fair. Here's why, and here's how. The "why" is easy: The glamour of it all. The Oscar party in Los Angeles. Even better, the chance to eat in... Read More

Madmen or M.A.D. Logic?

There are two fundamental questions that are of consequence as we seek to deal with Iran's drive for nuclear weapons. The first is generic: Is it possible, short of significant military action, to stop a sufficiently economically advanced country from... Read More

Cosmic Mash-Ups

Cosmic violence makes Hollywood happy. Disaster films have slammed the Earth with asteroids and tossed us into the maws of black holes. Now astrophysicists, armed with supercomputers, are wowing audiences by bringing real data to life in a film called... Read More

Death Lists and Dissenters

Allegations of "apostasy" among Muslims are presently a topic for global controversy. To Westerners, apostasy from Islam seems to denote conversion to Christianity, since the persecution of Muslims who have changed their religion has gained media attention -- most Read More

A Singular Sensation: The Strad

Some 300 years ago, a technologist in northern Italy built devices that are widely regarded as superior to their counterparts today. Antonio Stradivari (c.1644-1737) constructed over a thousand violins and other instruments. Some Stradivarius violins (his instrumen Read More

Fat Kids: Fears, Fictions and Facts Part II

Editor's note: This article is the second of two parts. You can read Part I here. A new study by Youfa Wang of John Hopkins University and Tim Lobstein of the International Obesity Task Force published in the International Journal... Read More

Of Mice and Men

By far the most serious health claim about air pollution is that it kills tens of thousands of Americans each year, mainly due to exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5). However, an embarrassment for proponents of today's historically low air... Read More

Dr. Detroit

The strain on Detroit's budget has caused many in the city to rethink the role of government. If the city is successful in its reforms, however, it could become a model for reducing bloated budgets across the country. Detroit Mayor... Read More

Dobbs's Disciples

Economist Paul Craig Roberts has joined recently with the likes of Lou Dobbs and Sen. Charles Schumer to denounce so-called "outsourcing" -- that is, the importation of services. Roberts is aware that, throughout history, free trade has raised the living... Read More

France Ignores Its Own Wisdom

The French have given up on the free market. That's not just one man's opinion; it comes straight from the mouths of the French people. In a recent poll by GlobeScan and the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the... Read More

No Help for the Consumer

The actions of American antitrust regulators and their counterparts in the European Union -- to make the world safe for would-be competitors of Microsoft -- are well known. But it appears that South Korean antitrust regulators have taken a cue... Read More

Vanity Scare

The headline was certainly eye-grabbing. "Scientist Who Spearheaded Attacks on Global Warming Also Directed $45M Tobacco Industry Effort to Hide Health Impacts of Smoking." So read an email to reporters and journalists from an environmental group trumpeting a repor Read More

A Trade Opportunity for China and America

Bush administration Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez has warned that the US is running out of patience waiting for China to take effective steps to do its part to reduce the ballooning US$200+ billion trade deficit with China. Recently, the US,... Read More

War Games 2006

According to a well publicized article by Seymour Hersh, the U.S. is planning to attack Iran's nuclear weapons program. Israel could provide the U.S. with a perfect political justification for such a preemptive attack. And raging anti-Semitism will force both... Read More

Law and Order

No person...shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself -- The United States Constitution, 5th amendment This past winter, my wife was called for jury duty. She served in a trial of a civil case,... Read More

The Real Sarko

PARIS -- On 27 March, when demonstrators still controlled the streets of Paris and the other principal cities of France, the French interior minister launched his presidential campaign at a big meeting in Douai. Some say Nicolas Sarkozy is obsessed... Read More

Show Me the Productivity

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), South Korea's economic recovery is "underway" and growth should accelerate next year. A revival of economic activity in the early part of this year has accelerated steadily and was being driven by private... Read More

Fat Kids: Fact, Fiction and Fear

Editor's note: This article is the first of two parts. A large number of press reports lately have claimed that almost half of the children in North and South America will be overweight by 2010. Based on a recently published... Read More

Storm Trooper

What words does one use to describe the story of a Christian, lesbian, Air Force pilot-turned-journalist-turned-Katrina-relief-activist -- a story with a distinctly faith-based, voluntaristic "thousand points of light" orientation? Two words leap to mind: "Cholene Read More

Sistani's Squeeze

August 2004: The Battle of Najaf was raging, with Shia radical Muqtada al Sadr's rogue Mahdi militia turning Najaf's imposing Imam Ali Mosque into a fortress -- the equivalent of an Irish Republican Army terror faction using the Vatican as... Read More

Read Italy's Lips...

Italians have once again voted to change their governing coalition, choosing Romano Prodi's center-left alliance by a narrow margin over the incumbent center-right group led by Silvio Berlusconi. In the next few weeks the new parliament will have to vote... Read More

The Struggle for 'Open Europe'

The French, it seems, have finally found a cause for which they are willing to go to war. Unfortunately, in this fight, victory equals defeat. I'm not referring to the pathetic display of pseudo-revolutionary nostalgia staged for the last several... Read More

Hu Jintao's Grande Latte

You can tell something's up. The DVD stores within walking distance of the US embassy in Beijing have recently been forced to replace the latest Hollywood products, available for $US 1 or so each, with back catalogue material from Russian... Read More

Immigrant Test

Resurrecting the cities felled by war was a burden too high for Germany to undertake without extra hands and hammers pitching in to help. So in the years following World War II, the country welcomed -- encouraged -- guest workers... Read More

Americans Still Cool On Warming

The most recent Gallup poll (March, 2006) of Americans' attitudes on various environmental issues has revealed that there has been virtually no change in the last 17 years in the fraction of people worried about global warming. Only 36 percent... Read More

COX-2 Comeback?

The class of drugs known as COX-2 inhibitors took another hit with the latest liability verdict against Merck's Vioxx from a New Jersey jury (not to mention an additional $9 million in punative damages against the company coming yesterday). Yet... Read More

Nanotech's Toxic Shock

Quite some time ago, I warned that nanotechnology's public-relations strategy was dangerously shortsighted. The industry -- afraid of spooky, Michael Crichton-esque scenarios involving advanced nanotechnology that tries to take over the Earth -- decided to pooh-poo Read More

The Massachusetts Delusion

" Every uninsured citizen in Massachusetts will soon have affordable health insurance and the costs of health care will be reduced. And we will need no new taxes, no employer mandate and no government takeover to make this happen." --Massachusetts... Read More

The Land of Ozawa?

It's not often that a candidate campaigns to lead his party on a promise to change himself. Yet such may be a sign of just how desperate the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has become, as they have... Read More

Proud to Be (Almost) American

It's been a few months since the last Fourth of July, and I was itching to get my patriotism fix. So when I read that a pro-immigration protest was going to march a few blocks away from my office, I... Read More

Indigestible Organic Propaganda

Consumer Reports recently released its semi-annual organic foods promotional edition, which claims that consumers would benefit from eating certain organic foods to "reduce exposure" to supposedly harmful pesticide residues. While the promotional is long on compara Read More

A Joker in the Deck?

Disclosure: I recently attended an event, described here, sponsored by the Poker Players Alliance, a group opposed to the legislation. I consumed two beers, a Coca-Cola, and several chicken wings on their tab. Virginia Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte, not cont Read More

Whether Right or Left: Always Wrong

We're currently in the middle of proxy season -- the time of year during which public corporations hold their annual shareholder meetings. Most investors don't attend the annual meeting in person; instead, they vote by proxy, which is the corporate... Read More

Swiss Missed Opportunity

Switzerland and the United States have long enjoyed mutual goodwill. A newly established Swiss-U.S. Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum should now strengthen those ties: The platform was recently set up by Swiss Economy Minister Joseph Deiss and U.S. Trade Repre Read More

The End Is Not Near

There's good news, more good news and then, unfortunately, some bad news, on the subject of climate change. What would you like first? Right, the good news it is then. In all of the arguments about climate change the two... Read More

Dregs in the SOX Drawer

According to a recent column in Business Week, many hotshots of American industry are fleeing publicly traded corporations for "the money, freedom and glamour of private equity." Among the reasons cited for their departure is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002,... Read More

Populism and Institutional Ruin

Are illiberal trends in Latin America regional or just isolated situations in each country? The possible electoral victory in Perú of a former military officer with clear inclinations to Venezuelan strongman Chávez; the unstable situation in Ecuador; the successful Read More

The Biologist of Memory

Eric R. Kandel has some vivid memories of his childhood in Vienna, Austria. He remembers the family's seductive housekeeper, Mitzi, who ran off to Czechoslovakia with a repairman. He remembers the battery-powered toy car he was given on his ninth... Read More

Rudy and the Borders

In the past few weeks, as hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets and competing legislation danced around Congress, Americans were reminded of how divisive the issue of immigration can be, and how elusive a compromise remains. Although... Read More

Wasted Energy

Entered with high hopes, Europe's recent economic summit -- which focused on energy -- produced but a damp squib: agreement on process to explore agreement on major issues, with no substantive accord at all. Meanwhile Brussels asserts power over power... Read More

Gas Pains

As of April 1, Moldova and Armenia were to start paying $110—twice the 2005 price—for a thousand cubic meters of gas bought from Gazprom, the Russian energy behemoth. This was part of Gazprom's campaign of fighting "price socialism," as Aleksei... Read More

Two-Headed Dragon?

China has discovered the power of economic strength. It is enjoying more global influence than at any time for at least 500 years (when it decommissioned its blue water navy, probably then the largest in the world, and turned inward).... Read More

Sorrowless Sorries

I Apologize. Events occurred. Words were uttered. Umbrage was taken. Criticism was offered. Regret was expressed. Thank you. As you can easily tell, I'm practicing to go into politics. This is my prepared speech for when I mess up big... Read More

'Iran's Front Line'?

South Lebanon is a long way from Iran, but if the United States or Israel decides to mount an attack against Iran's nascent nuclear industry, part of Tehran's retaliation may well come along this volatile 70-mile frontier. From the chalk... Read More

The Democracy Critics Are Wrong

To an outsider-American looking in on nascent, democratic Iraq or Ukraine these days, the struggle to cobble together a ruling coalition looks messy and possibly even doomed. In Ukraine, the winners of last year's Orange revolution have broken in a... Read More

Productivity: The Labor of Love

Is globalization a race to the bottom or a race to the top? Will living standards for the average American inevitably fall as all those foreigners make everything for us while being paid spit-and-a-packet-of-peanuts? Or, as most economists point out,... Read More

Iraq's Dual War

On Sunday, April 2, Edward Wong and Kirk Semple of The New York Times reported from Iraq. Their front-page, right-column, lead story included this good news: "American casualties steadily declining over the past five months." But, of course, as always... Read More

The UN vs. Technology

With diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS ravaging the world's poor -- and perhaps a flu pandemic in the offing -- the United Nations' celebration today of World Health Day might seem grimly appropriate. But the UN's record on... Read More

Black Flight

While pundits and academics argue away, the quiet sucking sound you don't yet hear are African-American families leaving our public schools when allowed to do so. In Minneapolis, public school officials now admit that black flight is a serious problem;... Read More

Rolling Estonia

May 1, 2006, will mark two years since Estonia's accession to the European Union. As Estonians discovered, the effect of EU membership on their daily lives proved much less dramatic than the hype surrounding the pre-accession negotiations suggested. In an... Read More

Fed Up in France

Fed Up. That is how the title of a book just published in France, Ras le Bol, translates into English. Its subtitle explains: "The imminence of the new revolution in France." The book's author is Denis Castel, a pseudonym for... Read More

The Emerging Sino-LatAm Strategy

On a three-day visit to Beijing last month, Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez addressed growing speculation by some observers that China-Mexico bilateral relations were strained, due in large part to China's existing trade practices and its cautious poli Read More

D-Day for Revisionists

On June 6, 2004, the 60th anniversary of D-Day, French President Jacques Chirac stood before hundreds of American veterans of the Allied invasion of Normandy at the American Cemetery at Colleville-Sur-Mer, where their fallen comrades are buried. Chirac pledged to.. Read More

Bordering on the Pragmatic

The economic and political evolution of Mexico -- in preference to destructive revolution -- remains the big strategic goal of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In the next three to five decades, expanding economic and political opportunity in... Read More

Criminal Records

In the last two weeks, over 600 documents relating to the war on terror have been released by the United States government. These documents, available at (with very long download times), are notable for what they are revealing. First,... Read More

America's Oil Weapon

President Bush has bemoaned what he calls the United States' addiction to oil. He has demonized America's oil use in speeches, and talked about the need to move beyond the petroleum-based economy. The president is certainly correct to point out... Read More

Legal Sex Tournaments

Although women now comprise half of law students and a third of practicing lawyers, they still account for less than 20 percent of large law firm partners. Some of this disparity doubtless can be attributed to glass ceilings, mommy tracks,... Read More

A Right to Migrate?

At the heart of the current immigration debate is an ethical question: Is it wrong for a poor but able-bodied Mexican without the requisite documents to cross the Rio Grande to look for work in El Norte? Certainly, it is... Read More

"Don't Rescue Me with a Gun"

The abduction and rescue of former British hostage Norman Kember in Iraq made headlines in London recently. A devout Christian, Kember went to Iraq as an extension of his devotion to peace and his opposition to military action in Iraq.... Read More

Europe's Patriot Games

For the last several weeks, French cities have seen their biggest demonstrations in decades as millions of mainly young people take to the streets. This uprising against (a very minor) French labor market reform is happening at the same time... Read More

So Much for Reform

The release of India's central government budget sparked a veritable flood of ink and mixed commentary. Perhaps the public relations blitz at the World Economic Forum in Davos trumpeting New Delhi's commitment to reform led to mostly positive coverage. But... Read More

Geek Magnet

President Bush and the Democrats agree about at least one thing: a boost in America's competitiveness in high technology fields is needed. They join economists in a wide consensus that technical innovation and invention are a -- probably the --... Read More

Development in a Box

A point of consensus seems to be emerging out of the Iraq debate - namely, that we need a new model for post-conflict reconstruction that brings together the military, the State Department and other government agencies. In late February, Robert... Read More

"War," What is it Good For?

America is at war. - George W. Bush, National Security Strategy, 2006. President Bush's use of the word "war" to describe the attacks of September 11th and America's response has always been problematic. A wide range of critics, including conservatives,... Read More

A Rapture for the Rest of Us

I've written before about the so-called "Singularity." In a famous essay, Vernor Vinge described the concept this way: When greater-than-human intelligence drives progress, that progress will be much more rapid. In fact, there seems no reason why progress itself wo Read More

Patent Reform 101

Our patent system needs help. On that, almost everyone in the field of intellectual property agrees. Where the factions part ways, however, is on the intensity of the need for change (is it a crisis? A blip?), on the reasons... Read More

Doctors Against Patients

BERLIN -- When German chancellor Angela Merkel took office in November last year, she did so with a promise to improve the struggling German economy by introducing much-needed market reforms. During last year's election campaign, many observers compared Merkel to.. Read More

Corporate Social Restriction

In recent years Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become a mantra. A complex movement has been campaigning throughout Europe for high labor, environmental, and human rights standards, even though it is not quite clear what 'is meant by "high". The... Read More

Israel Is Weaker Now

Ehud Olmert's Kadima party won less than a quarter of the available Knesset seats (29 out of 120) in the March 28 Israeli parliamentary elections. It appears that a plurality of voters now favor left-leaning economic policies and unilateral withdrawal... Read More

How Toxic Was My Valley

New York and California have the most toxic air in the nation, according to a new EPA report widely covered by the news media.[1] But having the most toxic air doesn't tell us much. After all, no matter how clean... Read More

Corporate Social Restriction

In recent years Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become a mantra. A complex movement has been campaigning throughout Europe for high labor, environmental, and human rights standards, even though it is not quite clear what 'is meant by "high". The... Read More

Shame and Opportunity

I suspect that few Americans have given much thought to the way that we, on the southern side of the U.S./Mexican border, perceive the raging "immigration reform" debate. This difference in perceptions is, I believe, a barrier to the process... Read More

Fear of Confrontation

"As tensions increase between the United States and Iran, U.S. intelligence and terrorism experts say they believe Iran would respond to U.S. military strikes on its nuclear sites by deploying its intelligence operatives and Hezbollah teams to carry out terrorist.. Read More

Global Warming Hysteria Has Arrived

On April 4, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing to discuss a white paper that Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Pete Domenici (R-NM) released on a mandatory cap and trade program for carbon dioxide emissions.... Read More

Getting Mexico on Our Side

Ideally, Mexico would help us police our shared border. But Mexico receives huge remittances from its citizens unlawfully working in the U.S., so it's currently in Mexico's interest to promote illegal immigration. A well-designed guest worker program, however, coul Read More

Iraq and Darfur: Common Roots

Since mid-2004, when the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Western Sudan burst into the spotlight, journalistic explanations of the unfolding catastrophe have been riddled with inaccuracies based on hasty generalizations (to say nothing of politically cor Read More

Watching Khartoum

Arab summits are typically repositories of failure. The latest one in Khartoum, Sudan last week was no exception. The participants offered little that was new on a series of major regional developments, confirming that the Arab regional system is in... Read More

Al Qaeda's Master Plan

Palestinian Authority's President Abu Mazen's recent interview with the pan-Arabic daily Al Hayat is getting lots of attention. In fact, his recognition of Al Qaeda's presence in Gaza and the West Bank coupled with his warning of the "destruction of... Read More

Avoiding a New Isolationism

Whether the scuttling of the deal with Dubai Ports World was sui generis or the beginning of a period of increasing American isolationism will depend upon what American leaders, who believe in a robust engagement with the world, take away... Read More

Tribal Politics

"Suppose you could give American high school dropouts a 1000% raise by exterminating every man, woman, and child in Latin America. Would that be the right thing to do? No? Why not? Your answer, hopefully, is that murder is wrong,... Read More

Economists of Scale

Just how right wing are economists? A serious question, not a joke. If you look around at some of the favorite liberal or left wing ideas, or policy proposals, you see that most economists start sucking their teeth, muttering under... Read More

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