TCS Daily : May 2006 Archives

An Election Harbinger

SAN DIEGO -- 2006 has been unkind to the GOP and it threatens to become unkinder still. President Bush's approval numbers hover in the 30's and 40's. Several Republican leaders have been indicted or convicted on corruption charges. Democrats talk... Read More

Is This What Is Meant By 'Investor Protection'?

The early years of this century were not kind to investors. In 2000-2001, the stock market recorded back-to-back years of losses for the first time since 1973-74. When the market suffered a third consecutive losing year in 2002, it did... Read More

Got to Admit It's Getting Better?

I've written in the past about bad design and bad customer service. So I think it's only fair to devote a little bit of space to things that don't suck. There are more of them than you might imagine. Of... Read More

Malcolm X-Men

Any enduringly popular work of fiction will always "work" on two levels. First, it will have to be entertaining, but second, it will also have to be about something substantive. That is, it should be thrilling or chilling, and yet... Read More

No Illusions

The Tobacco Free Initiative branch of the World Health Organization has organized the "No Tobacco Day" worldwide for today, May 31. The event has been held annually for the past 20 years to draw the public's attention to the preventable... Read More

Vive la Corruption!

A major political scandal has been hounding Jacques Chirac's government for several weeks. Dirty tricks, jealousy and political ambition are the main elements of the soap opera, which features new revelations every day. Best of all it is taking place... Read More

Constitutional Obstacles?

Fifteen years ago this June, Japan dispatched a minesweeping force to the Persian Gulf to clean up unclaimed mines in the region. The mission was a success and marked a high point in what had been until that moment one... Read More

Above the Law?

The reaction of certain members of Congress to the FBI search of Rep. William Jefferson's office in light of allegations that Rep. Jefferson took bribes has placed Congress in an even poorer light. Various Representatives and Senators have objected to... Read More

A Whiff of Anti-Americanism

CANNES, France -- How do you tell when a particular Cannes Film Festival is, say, a tad less glamorous than its predecessors? When the money quote of the week comes from Al Gore. At a press conference before the screening... Read More

How to Avoid More Enrons: Legalize Fraud

Last week a Houston jury found former Enron CEOs Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling guilty of multiple federal crimes arising from their fraudulent management of Enron. Lay and Skilling will likely spend most of their remaining lives in prison. That... Read More

Cut-and-Paste Culture

Our culture of copying is getting bad. Teachers complain that students crib from the Internet while thinking they're doing legitimate class work. We hear every other day about professional historians, jurists, columnists, reporters, and other ink-stained wretches, Read More

Limits to Math?

"at the end of 1985 it was clear only that [1995 Nobel laureate Robert] Lucas had picked a fight with [1987 Nobel laureate Robert] Solow...At that point perhaps only [potential Nobel laureate] Paul Romer thoroughly understood that his old teacher... Read More

You Dirty Rats!

This past February, the New York Times ran a front page Business Section story noting that a Dr. Morando Soffritti, a cancer researcher "who has spent 28 years doing research on potential carcinogens" had concluded that the widely used artificial... Read More

Children and the Fat Police

The news that every UK schoolchild aged four and ten is to be weighed and measured, with the parents of so-called obese children receiving a letter warning of long-term health consequences for their children, represents a new low in the... Read More

Go and Find a Soldier's Grave

Make this Memorial Day really memorable. Go and find a soldier's grave. It shouldn't be too hard. If you're not near a military cemetery, just about any cemetery will do. Look for the little American flags fluttering by the stones... Read More

Bridge to Nowhere, Meet Research to Nowhere

Perhaps you've heard of the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere," Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young's effort to allocate $315 million in federal funds to connect one tiny island in his state with an even tinier island of only 50 people. Well,... Read More

PowerPoint Politics

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a moving picture worth? You know, as in Al Gore's new movie, "An Inconvenient Truth"? That motion picture is powerful and effective, and so it must be worth a... Read More

Immigration and the Nation-State

James Pinkerton's recent TCS article frames the immigration question as a question of "Universalism vs. Nationalism." The Catholic Church, represented by Cardinal Mahoney of California; Islam, represented by CAIR; and the left-wing and right-wing globalisms of the Read More

Shamnesty Rides Again

"Hundreds...faced detention, torture or ill-treatment, and up to three year's imprisonment in appalling conditions. Prisoners reportedly died from malnutrition in labor camps ... and in detention centers, which were severely overcrowded. ... About 70 had been execu Read More

Why Ruin the World's Best Anti-Poverty Program?

Winston Churchill famously said "If you put two economists in a room, you get two opinions -- unless one of them is Lord Keynes, in which case you get three." Churchill, however, was wrong. Brad DeLong worked for the Clinton... Read More

America: Purple in the Corners

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CA and KEY WEST, FL -- I do lead a charmed life. Not because TCS flies me to all the exotic locations from whence my datelines originate; nor even because my day job provides such plentiful perks;... Read More

Undoing SOX's Unintended Consequences

Debates about the Sarbanes-Oxley Act continue, but one thing is clear: its implementation has created unintended consequences. As every Member of Congress knows from many constituents, it has caused a tremendously expensive amount of paperwork and bureaucracy. And Read More

Questions for Al Gore

Dear Mr. Gore:I have just seen your new movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," about the threat that global warming presents to humanity. I think you did a very good job of explaining global warming theory, and your presentation was effective. Please... Read More

The Media's Know-Nothings

Nothing isn't what it used to be. Washington Post columnist Sebastian Mallaby recently reviewed Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth." He argued that President Bush "refused to let his administration do anything about climate." And last month New York Times... Read More

Political Spinal Tap

A foreign policy crisis is roiling the European Union. Ambassadors have been mobilized to defend reputations and assert national pride. What late-breaking political or geo-strategic event has precipitated this drama? Actually, it's a cultural event - one that is be Read More

Inconvenient Truths Indeed

Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" opens around the country this week. In the film Gore pulls together evidence from every corner of the globe to convince us that climate change is happening fast, we are to blame, and if we... Read More

Europe's Weakness for Russia

The old joke has it that Adam and Eve were Russian; why else would they think they were in Paradise when they were homeless, naked, and just had one apple for both of them? Substitute "Gazprom" for "apple" -- and... Read More

Hormonally Challenged

The Women's Health Initiative (WHI) prematurely ended estrogen/progesterone and estrogen-alone studies in 2002 and 2004 when adverse health risks were deemed generally to outweigh the health benefits of therapies. Although no longer considered effective to guard ag Read More

Congressional Prisoner's Dilemma

Someone recently remarked that "Washington D.C. does not work anymore." That's not entirely true: Congress and the Administration recently passed a dividend tax cut and there's been progress on immigration reform. But regarding the critically important question of Read More

"Come Closer, Let's Talk"

(Starring the voices of Will Ferrell as America, and Jon Lovitz as Iran) America: We hereby declare ourselves open to discussions with Iran. Iran: Excellent. Hey, America...why don't you come a little closer? America: All right. Is this close enough?... Read More

Biopharm Thrilla in Manila

MANILA -- Fruits and flowers are not the only things blooming in the tropics. At the invitation of the U.S. State Department, I presented a series of lectures and briefings in the Philippines about an exciting advance in agricultural biotechnology:... Read More

MI-5: American Style

Richard Posner, the polymath judge who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, recently called for the creation of a domestic intelligence agency. In so doing, he reveals the problems with the current domestic intelligence... Read More

Freedom and Sedition

Editor's note: what follows is an interview with Andrew Mwenda, Political Editor of the The Monitor, Uganda. Richard Tren: Uganda has had many years of stable government and increasing prosperity -- it certainly must be vastly improved since the days... Read More

Universalism vs. Nationalism

Here's a question: Why do Roger Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and The Wall Street Journal editorial page have such similar views on immigration? The answer is that... Read More

Media Crank Call

Ever since USA Today broke a story on May 11 about the National Security Agency's (NSA) secret review of millions of phone records, the media and civil libertarians alike have gotten their knickers in a twist. But here's the problem:... Read More

Managing to Look Busy

Employers are starting to crack down on employee web-surfing. The Chicago Tribune reports: Companies are starting to ban Web access, block instant messaging services to squash discreet conversations among chatty co-workers and prohibit employees from watching sport Read More

Troubles in Shangri-La

Seth Roberts, a psychologist at UC Berkeley has written a book called The Shangri-La Diet. In it, Roberts described some old obesity rat data and via "self-experimentation" developed a technique for weight loss that he hopes will change millions of... Read More

Untangling the Web: Man Plus Machine

The Web is expanding at an incredible rate. According to Technorati, a leading blog search engine, the size of the "blogosphere" continues to double every six months. Technorati now claims to track over 37 million blogs, while Google says it... Read More

Less Is More

When it comes to government spending, less is more. Less government spending and involvement in the economy - both in terms of regulatory interference and taxation burden - are associated with higher rates of economic growth, better productivity and more... Read More

Euro Trash

Can recycling actually be bad for your health? If you're a garbage man, it might very well be. According to the Sunday Telegraph all that well-meaning sorting of bottles, newspapers and tin cans actually leads to outbreaks of violence (and... Read More

Asia's New Financial Hubs

The governments of South Korea and China have made clear their plans to promote the development of regional financial hubs in Seoul and Shanghai, respectively. While neither can hope to overtake Tokyo in terms of deep and relatively-wide financial markets,... Read More

Code Breakers

Leaping Leonardos! "The DaVinci Code" is really getting clobbered. Even the film's own makers have joined in the flagellation. But after the critics and pundits and self-flagellators are done with their walloping, something Profound might yet emerge. Published in 2 Read More

Happily Burying Bentham

Man, if you have to ask what it is, you'll never know.- Louis Armstrong At TCS, we've seen more than one article come across our desks about so-called "happiness research" and the efforts of some to use results of the... Read More

Healthcare in the Developing World: Obstacles and Opportunities

In the run-up to next week's World Health Assembly in Geneva, a recent report from the Commission on Intellectual Property and Health (CIPIH), appointed by the World Health Organization (WHO), claims to show that a high standard of protection for... Read More

An Economy of Davids

The death late last month of John Kenneth Galbraith helps to illustrate just how much the American economy -- and indeed the world's -- has changed over the last four decades. Galbraith could plausibly write in 1967's The New Industrial... Read More

The EU's Power Crisis

What would the drafters of the Maastricht treaty in 1992 make of the EU's three so-called pillars in 2006? If they were doing it all over again, they might choose to lump foreign policy with energy, not security. To see... Read More

The Bear Facts

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has just put the polar bear on the endangered species list because it is supposedly "facing extinction" -- mainly, it claims, as a result of global warming. But statistics show the polar... Read More

Immigration's Fifteen Minutes: Why Now?

Following President Bush's immigration speech, my wife asked a very good question. "Why is this suddenly such a big issue right now?" I had no good answer. In 2001 or 2002, I might've said, "well, 9/11, you know". But it's... Read More

Long Shot

You can shake a dozen glove men out of a tree, but the bat separates the men from the boys.-- Dale Long If you don't recognize the name of the guy who imparted that little bit of baseball wisdom, listen... Read More

Latin American Circus in Vienna

The announcement should read: "Come and see the most spectacular show ever... the world famous Latin American Circus arriving in Vienna!" The opportunity was the Summit meeting in Austria of the presidents and prime ministers of Mercosur and the European... Read More

Time to Vaccinate a Panic

Ever since Robert F. Kennedy Jr. alleged a government cover-up in his controversial Salon article "Deadly Immunity" last June, and New York Times writer David Kirby alleged a connection between autism and childhood vaccination in his book Evidence of Harm,... Read More

D-I-Y Hedge Funds

In a recent op-ed column ("Do You Really Need a Hedge Fund?") for the Wall Street Journal, former hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt lamented the current state of the hedge fund industry. With hedge funds now being marketed to the... Read More

Jesus Christ as Poached Egg

Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code is one of the most popular best sellers in recent history and the Sony motion picture to be released this Friday (May 19) is expected to be the first major blockbuster of the... Read More

Bureaucrats Helping the Poor? Or Themselves?

Editor's Note: Part One of this series can be found here. Why should liberals like Charles Murray's Plan? You know, the one to abolish the entire bureaucratic structure of the current welfare state? To repeat: his idea is to take... Read More

Balkan Growing Pains

Instead of graduating and setting off for a summer on the beach, European Union hopefuls Romania and Bulgaria have been sent to remedial classes by the European Commission. If they want to enter the EU by January 1, 2007, as... Read More

Europe's Greatest Success

Ten years ago I watched a TV film that was supposed to be a documentary from the future, showing how Europe had evolved during the first decades of the 21st century. It was, to put it mildly, pessimistic. Among other... Read More

Keeping the Edge

As the Congress debates the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, illegal immigration often shapes public debate. But there is another face in the debate about immigration -- the legal immigration of scientists. According to a 2003 National Science Board... Read More

Forget the Border, Fix Mexico

The year was 1993. A friend of mine who worked at a hospital in Texas' Rio Grande Valley -- a short ride from Mexico -- described "the baby predicament." Here's a sketch of his story: At the first indications of... Read More

Calling Bluffs

Iran's announcement that it had "joined the nuclear club" by enriching uranium has catalyzed a fierce debate in the U.S. over what -- if anything -- should be done to stop the Islamic Republic before its nuclear know-how expands to... Read More

Carbon's Kindergarten Cop

A wise investor puts her money in investments that offer the highest returns at the lowest cost. A poor investor puts his money in investments that offer low returns at a higher cost. I don't know what you'd call an... Read More

The Apple of His IP

According to the adage -- when it rains, it pours. In the case of Apple Computer, when it pours, it deluges. Over the past few months, the iPod maker has found itself seeking shelter from an intellectual property storm of... Read More

The Parent Trap

Not long ago we worried about baby booms and overpopulation. Now some people are worrying about a "Global Baby Bust." Writing in Foreign Affairs, Phillip Longman says it's mostly because of economics: "In nations rich and poor, under all forms... Read More

Free Trade Two-Step

Editor's Note: This essay won a runner-up prize in the TCS Asia Essay Contest. For the contest we asked: "Are free trade agreements in Asia helping Asia to be globally competitive?""The party is on. Grab yer partner and dance into... Read More

Sino-Saudi Symbiosis

Chinese President Hu Jintao's first visit to Riyadh last month to meet with Saudi King Abdullah further strengthened what has become an increasingly dynamic bilateral relationship. "This [visit] will further strengthen the friendship between our two countries and o Read More

The Eternal Refugee

Some 14 years ago an elegant, striking-looking young Somali woman deplaned at Germany's Düsseldorf airport. In her luggage was an onward ticket to Canada, where she would be met by the man, a distant relative, her father was sending her... Read More

Living the Creed

Like many of President Bush's speeches, his immigration address last night was awkward, yet quite moving. His core beliefs -- hope for the future, the dignity of every individual, a love of freedom -- shine through every time Bush speaks.... Read More

Mexico's Dead Capital

In one week, three news items helped clarify the intertwined issues of illegal immigration, poverty south of the Rio Grande, and how the fortuitous course of U.S. history generated opportunity and prosperity that remain elusive for our southern neighbors. Mexicans. Read More

The Sweetener Lowdown

While love of money may be the root of most evil, when it comes to obesity, food ingredients -- especially those made in laboratories -- come in at a close second. (Just read the headlines). Witness the media hype around... Read More

Criminalizing Economic Self-Interest

In the current American debate over immigration, you frequently hear the argument that illegal immigrants come here to do the back-breaking work that no American cares to do anymore; therefore, they are indispensable to our economy. After all, no economy... Read More

The Family vs. the State

"It is intelligible to say 'I love Mother Teresa' or 'I love Madonna.' It is possible to sincerely wish them well. It is even possible and intelligible to say, 'I love the poor.' I can sincerely will that the individual... Read More

Reality of the Leisure Class

Andrew Carnegie's century-old conjecture asserts that large inheritance will decrease a person's labor-force participation. The idle wealthy classes aside, a somewhat different proposition applies for the working classes: a decrease in after-tax real income through Read More

Reality Is Difficult

The hottest movie coming out of Hollywood, "The Anthony Pellicano Story," hasn't actually been filmed yet. Nonetheless, it's real; the action is taking place right now in corporate suites and law offices -- and jail cells -- all over Los... Read More

Soda Pop Myopia

The United States Government and Health Establishment were clearly elated recently with the announcement of the latest major public health breakthrough. Former president Bill Clinton called it a "bold step forward in the struggle to help America's kids live healthi Read More

Should We Close Gitmo?

What is happening with Guantanamo? We hear President Bush say in Berlin that he would "like to close Guantanamo," but is "awaiting the Supreme Court to make a decision." What would he do with the detainees? "Put them on trial,"... Read More

The Crash of Big-Government Conservatism

Recent polls show support for Republicans is still declining, and President Bush's approval ratings are the lowest for any president other than Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter in the past fifty years. The New York Times summed it up well... Read More

Actions Louder than Words

Free trade agreements and their variants (economic cooperation agreements, regional and sub-regional trade agreements) are agreements among Presidents and Trade Ministers, agreements among governments; they are not agreements among people of those countries. Funnil Read More

Koizumi's Legacy

TOKYO -- Last month saw quite a milestone in Japanese politics. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi marked 5 years in office. This is no mean feat in the notoriously faction-driven world of Japanese politics -- indeed Koizumi is now the third... Read More

How to Feed a Starving Artist

Max Borders: Our guest today is Tyler Cowen, Professor of Economics at George Mason University and author of the new book Good and Plenty, the Creative Successes of American Arts Funding. Welcome Professor Cowen. Tyler Cowen: Thank you for having... Read More

Tenured Radical No More

As university professors, we value academic freedom, acknowledging -- as did the authors of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP)'s influential 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure -- that liberty has meaning only in relati Read More

Happy Hierarchy?

In his recent book, Shareholder Participation and the Corporation: A New Perspective, Australian corporate law scholar James McConvill draws on "recent empirical studies into human happiness" to argue that "shareholders, particularly individuals, should be included Read More

The Trolls and the Goats

"Who's that tripping over my bridge?" Thus spake the troll in the famous children's tale "The Three Billy Goats Gruff." Miffed that the goats were encroaching on his property, the troll threatened to gobble them up. But the trolls' adversaries... Read More

The Real Enemy

"The American left is where the American far right was in the 1950s -- besotted with anger, boiling in conspiracy theories." -- Austin Bay "Enemy sighted, enemy met, I'm addressing the realpolitik" -- R.E.M., Exhuming McCarthy Most of America is... Read More

Tax and Spend Lessons From Germany

Bloomberg columnist Amity Shlaes alerts TCS readers to the tax situation in Germany, and lessons for Americans: Right now we're having an intense debate about the merits of the Bush tax program. But it is probably worthwhile to recognize that... Read More

The Making of 'Londonistan'

LONDON -- Like much of Europe, Britain's demographic composition is changing radically and very fast. At the most conservative estimate, its population of sixty million will rise over the next three decades by six or seven million, with 83 per... Read More

Losing While Winning

The trial of convicted al Qaeda member and 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui drew to a close last week with his sentencing to life in prison for his apparent supporting role in the death of Americans in the September 11 attacks.... Read More

Duncan's Three-Pointer

Alan Duncan, a Conservative MP, is your typical British politician. Which is to say, if he were an American he'd be atypical. He reads a lot, writes a lot, thinks a lot; he seems motivated by ideas, as opposed to... Read More

Never Forgetting a Night to Remember

With the death of Lillian Asplund at the age of 99, there is no one left in the world with living memory of what happened on The Titanic in the early morning of April 15, 1912. Asplund, who lost her... Read More

Getting Warmer

True, it needs close reading; and true, it comes from an obscure and mostly powerless institution. But it's possible to detect subtle shifts in the EU's position on the Kyoto Protocol. In an 'Opinion' of 28 April 2006, on the... Read More

Volatile Gases

The European emissions trading scheme (ETS) was launched with great fanfare last year. The idea was to require certain energy-intensive industries to have a permit for each ton of greenhouse gases they emitted. Each industry would be allocated a certain... Read More

The Iran Letter

We now know that in addition to a Holocaust denier, a fierce enemy of Israel, a nuclear aficionado, and an exponent of the Shia apocalypse, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fancies himself quite the defense attorney. In a rambling, discursive letter... Read More

Rising Declinists: Is US Influence Waning?

The American people are wading through another one of those decennial doldrums, when we question our place and purpose in the world. For instance, the Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg News recently published poll results revealing that more than six... Read More

The Future of Health Care Policy

I have eagerly awaited the publication of Crisis of Abundance: Re-thinking How We Pay for Health Care, which is the subject of this essay. However, since I am the author, this does not count as a book review. Call it... Read More

Absorption Nation

In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson complained that King George III "has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migra Read More

Hizbullah's Double-Edged Deterrent

BEIRUT -- A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards official recently warned that "wherever America does something evil, the first place that we target will be Israel." He did not specify how Iran would do so, and there are missiles in the... Read More

Lamely at the Top

BRUSSELS -- European politicians often wonder why voters don't trust them, are turned off by politics and refuse to show up at polling stations on election day. A quick scan of recent newspaper headlines may help provide an answer. In... Read More

WTO: Will the Talks Collapse?

I was in Washington late last month talking to Government officials, think tanks, lobbyists, and some distinguished former influential trade policy officials about the prospects for the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Doha Round. Like me, most had already conclude Read More

Intelligent Intelligence

Surprising everyone unaware of the trials and tribulations that have been ongoing at the Central Intelligence Agency -- but coming as no shock to those in the know -- Porter Goss, the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) flies after a... Read More

The Unemployment We Need

Editor's note: This is the first of a two-part series. Surely you've heard of it by now. Charles Murray's book, "In Our Hands," proposes to abolish the entirety of the welfare system and replace it with one simple cash grant... Read More

The Lebanese Linchpin

BEIRUT -- Lebanon recently marked the first anniversary of Syria's troop withdrawal, but with the Lebanese torn by competing visions over the future of country, Damascus is once more becoming an increasingly influential force here. Syria's Lebanese allies are gaini Read More

A Blueprint for Inaction?

Thomas P. M. Barnett knows how to electrify a room full of military brass. He's been doing it since there was PowerPoint. That's because, like a scaled-down Copernicus, Barnett taught us how to see the world in a different way.... Read More

The Psychology of Victimhood

While listening to the radio recently, I heard The writer Christopher Hitchens' riveting description of Shelby Steele's new book White Guilt : How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era. I promptly ordered it and... Read More

From Refugees to Tycoons

Immediately after he pulled off his '72 coup against President Oboto in Uganda, strongman Idi Amin -- full title: His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of... Read More

Regaining Global Competitiveness, Asian Style

Editor's note: What follows is the winning essay in the recent TCS Daily writing contest. For the contest we asked: "Are free trade agreements in Asia helping Asia to be globally competitive?" My idea of a globally competitive Asia crystallizes into... Read More

Trouble Not the Blogger in his Lair

Last week, I wrote about efforts to silence bloggers: "It seems like a lot of people are trying to shut up bloggers all of a sudden. It also doesn't seem to be working very well." A week later, that still... Read More

Conscience Before Deadlines

Shkodra, Albania -- Does the mainstream media (MSM) incite the clash of civilizations (COC) between the Judeo-Christian world and Islam? At times, it seems so. A recent example involves the small country of Albania, which is mysterious to most foreigners.... Read More

Lady in Red

The late Susan Sontag flew into Sarajevo to direct a production of Waiting for Godot to lend moral support to Bosnians besieged by Milosevic's bombs. Eve Ensler created a mini-political movement around her play, The Vagina Monologues. Streams of actors... Read More

Algebra and Its Enemies

Early this year, Washington Post op-ed columnist Richard Cohen weighed in on a subject about which he, by his own admission, knew nothing. The subject was algebra, and Cohen's column took the form of advice to a young woman who... Read More

Anti-American Graffiti

In the summer of 1969, two years after the "Summer of Love" and one year after the massive student protests, particularly in France, I was a 12-year-old with my parents visiting Slovenia for the first time since we had emigrated,... Read More

Moussaoui's Fate

Zacarias Moussaoui will not be executed. Instead he will spend the rest of his blighted and blighting life in a few square feet of Florence, Colorado. Mighty pretty country around there, I hear, but he won't be seeing any of... Read More

"Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It, Is to Convince People That You Are Normal"

EXTERIOR: LOS ANGELES MALE VOICE IN THE MACHINE: "Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to convince people that you are normal." TOM CRUISE: "Negative. I'm not credible as normal. I tried it on 'Oprah,' and it didn't... Read More

Worker's Paradise?

The EU has designated 2006 the European Year of Workers' Mobility. Try telling that to the 75 million citizens of the Union's newest member countries -- who have been barred from working in all but three of the EU's previous... Read More

Why Isn't Socialism Dead?

The President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, celebrated May Day by ordering soldiers to occupy his country's natural gas fields. The purpose of this exercise was not military, but economic: Morales has demanded that all foreign companies currently operating these fields. Read More

Excessive Envy?

The issue of CEO compensation has returned to the forefront of public attention with a recent NY Times article. We're told Exxon chairman and CEO Lee Raymond has been compensated for his work to the handsome tune of $686 million... Read More

When Exploitation is Mutually Beneficial

"Exploitation is a word often used but rarely defined. In its most literal meaning -- I 'exploit' you if I in some way benefit from your existence -- it is the reason human society exists. We all benefit from one... Read More

'Opposites' Attack

Recently, former Bush Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson and ex-Clinton HHS chief Donna Shalala gathered in Washington to take part in the latest in a series of lectures sponsored by American University and former Sen. John Breaux (D-Louisiana).... Read More

Cluster Flunk

Nearly everyone has heard of Silicon Valley, but what about Silicon Fen? Silicon Glen? Or the Côte du Silicon? Back in the 1990s, cities across Europe tried to replicate the Northern California techno success story by creating clusters where business... Read More

French Students Rally for Discrimination

The French government recently made a feeble attempt to reduce high unemployment among French youth (24 percent for those 15 to 25) by inserting a modest amount of economic reality into public policy. The attempt failed. The policy proposal was... Read More

A US-New Zealand FTA?

I recently attended the first meeting of the United States-New Zealand Partnership Forum in Washington. The Forum brought together eighty business, Government, and academic leaders from both countries to talk about how to take the relationship forward. It was atten Read More

After Thaksin

The fall of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has thrown Thailand into uncertainty. Thaksin will remain at the head of his Thai Rak Thai party and has not ruled out a possible comeback, so the rough road has not yet reached... Read More

Corruption Down Under?

John Howard, Australia's Prime Minister, recently took the unusual step of providing an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal. The thrust? To show how when questions arose about payment by Australia's monopoly wheat trading organization of over US$200 million in... Read More

An Army of Climate Davids

Something stunningly sensible has just occurred in the field of climate change research. But what might actually induce gasps of amazement is that that something has been done by the US Government. And it is already causing shock and dismay... Read More

Prices, Profits, and Economic Literacy

What is it about rising gasoline prices that causes IQs and body temperatures to converge? Or are our national politicians just behaving as usual, i.e., cravenly and cowardly? Democrats favor higher gasoline taxes and higher gasoline prices -- except when... Read More

Why Sudan But Not Iraq?

Note to actor, Dapper Dan man, celebrity dissident and bon vivant George Clooney: Don't get a moral high from the puff-piece media's bravura reviews of your soliloquy at last week's "Save Darfur" rally in Washington. Your international education remains grievously. Read More

At the Epicenter of "Us" and "Them"

TEL AVIV and WASHINGTON -- I returned to America with a feeling as indescribable as it is strong. Israel, this little country smaller than Lake Michigan, is both the embodiment of all man's hopes for a prosperous and enlightened future... Read More

Bad Bugs, Few Drugs

During the late 1960's, my college roommate suffered a seemingly minor skin infection on a finger, which quickly turned into blood poisoning and resulted in a hip abscess. The infection resolved completely after a few weeks of therapy with a... Read More

The Hog Butcher Blinks

Chicago has been a self-declared nuclear free zone since 1986. In late 2005, cigarettes joined the list of products banned from the City of Big Shoulders. Now foie gras has joined the city's Axis of Evil. Under a bill sponsored... Read More

Group Power

The economic basis of associational government is joint action. A group engaged in any common activity -- whether production, trade, or predation -- will organize itself for joint action whenever it is advantageous to do so. Unlike predatory government,... Read More

Soccer Imam

BERLIN -- The prospect of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad attending World Cup matches is roiling the German political scene. Most senior German politicians are at pains to speak out against a man who sponsors cartoons on Holocaust denial and wants... Read More

Making Iraq Too Nice for the Devil

"Go out of our country saveges [sic]," reads the sign proudly displayed at a combined American-Iraqi outpost in Karma, just northeast of Fallujah. "If you don't we shall kill you all because you are terrorists and killers." It's signed "Islamic... Read More

Send in the Mercenaries

The crisis has taken another turn for the worse in the Darfur region of western Sudan. On April 26, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned that the security situation has so deteriorated that international aid agencies are no longer... Read More

No Smog for the Fear Factory?

Ozone smog levels have plummeted during the last three years. Between 2003 and 2005, the fraction of the nation's ozone monitors violating the federal 8-hour ozone standard plunged from 43 percent down to a record-low 18 percent.[1] The last three... Read More

No Money, No Problems

Everyone is looking for a solution to illegal immigration. Big Labor fears immigrants will take away jobs from union workers. Big Environmentalism fears immigrants as they grow wealthier will increase their fossil fuel use, heating the globe. Big Nutrition fears... Read More

Silencing a Hornet's Nest

It seems like a lot of people are trying to shut up bloggers all of a sudden. It also doesn't seem to be working very well. One example from last week was a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack against... Read More

Cry for Italy

One has to pity Italy. It has become the sickest of the "sick men" of Europe. Following its parliamentary election last month, over the next year Italy will have no effective government to address the country's chronic economic problems. This... Read More

Hope for France? You Bet

The French government obviously failed miserably with the one minor liberalizing reform proposal it has pursued. Facing demonstrations by trade unions and young people demanding "Regulation!" and life-long protection for jobs they don't even have, the government ba Read More

Delusions about Democracy in Nepal

Vientiane, LAOS -- Widespread applause greeted the restoration of democracy by Nepal's King Gyanendra in appointing former Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to head a new government. Koirala was nominated by a coalition of the seven main political parties that.. Read More

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

As hysteria over $3 per gallon gasoline reached fever pitch, New York Senator Charles Schumer, one of the lead Democrats on energy issues, took to the Senate floor to offer a truly radical proposal to punish the major oil companies.... Read More

Memorial Lapse

So. They were even braver than we knew. And the chaos at the end was more hellish than our worst imaginings. And we grieve again for the heroes of United Flight 93. Yet four years on, surrounding the memorial to... Read More

Three Amigos: Evo, Hugo and Fidel

When Evo Morales was elected in Bolivia, a number of commentators (myself included) were expressing the faint hope that the president would resist the temptation to follow Hugo Chávez's footsteps. Brazil's important economic presence in Bolivia, we thought, might g Read More

'Oh, Say Can You Si?'

There has been a lot of controversy recently on the question of whether the American National Anthem should be sung in Spanish. The President has said, No, it should only be sung in English, while his Secretary of State, Condoleezza... Read More

Another Nation-State?

The fashionable notion that the nation-state is dead makes it easy to forget that some places and people -- quite a few, in fact -- still aspire to achieve that quaint condition. The liberal internationalism prevailing (at least notionally) among... Read More

Nationalism on the Rise?

What's in a name? Quite a lot judging by the latest diplomatic spat between Japan and South Korea. Last week saw another twist in the disputed ownership of a group of islands lying between the two countries, which the Japanese... Read More

Where the Bureaucrats Roam

Europe, which not so long ago de-regulated its telecommunications sector, is considering re-regulating it. Viviane Reding, the EU commissioner for information society and media, is looking at forcing mobile phone firms to stop charging travellers a higher price for Read More

Power Games

The European Union is not at all united, as the fragmentation of its energy market illustrates all too clearly. Consider two recent planned acquisitions: German utility E.On made a bid for Spain's Endesa; Italy's Enel announced it would make acquire... Read More

Calling a Tail a Leg

Of all the many, mostly apocryphal, anecdotes told of Abraham Lincoln, my favorite has always been this one: (Lincoln poses a question to someone who has been arguing with him.) "If you call a mule's tail a leg, how many... Read More

Paró General! The Return of the General Strike

The photograph showed an elderly Hispanic man holding up a placard with the words Paró General written on it, and it accompanied an internet article about the strike of immigrant workers scheduled for May the First -- a strike that... Read More

Money Meddlers

Vientiane, LAOS -- China is neither the only nor the worst currency manipulator. It turns out that Korea and Japan, two of America's closet allies in Asia, have been in the game for much longer. But as in the... Read More

A Political Football

It's an object lesson in the comparative value of non-government influence. Two new stadiums being built in Britain, both high-profile construction projects designed to glorify their resident teams and boost national pride, demonstrate vividly the value of the priv Read More

Money Meddlers

Vientiane, LAOS -- China is neither the only nor the worst currency manipulator. It turns out that Korea and Japan, two of America's closet allies in Asia, have been in the game for much longer. But as in the case... Read More

Pine Box Politics

The estate tax isn't the only government action that affects the cost of dying. Consider the regulation of funeral caskets. Many consumers enjoy substantial savings by shopping online for a casket and then having it shipped to the local funeral... Read More

The Right Way to Put Heat on Illegals

The debate over illegal immigration has managed to conflate two separate issues -- American immigrant citizenship status (and related requirements) on the one hand, and the economic consequences of having limited access to unskilled workers in the domestic labor po Read More

Who Says Money Can't Buy Happiness?

Economists have discovered that money doesn't buy happiness, and some of them see this as yet another justification for higher taxes and more government spending. Survey-based studies from several countries find that large increases in per-capita incomes have not i Read More

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