TCS Daily : November 2006 Archives

The Oscars for Lawyers

They say that Washington is Hollywood for ugly people. If that's true then the annual Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention is Washington's Oscars, at least for lawyers. The Federalist Society for Law and Policy Studies—for those who haven't yet... Read More

The New Populism and the iPod Economy

Does the Democrats' victory in the 2006 congressional elections herald a coming era of populism? Perhaps. Consider Senator-elect Jim Webb's recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, "Class Struggle," begins by echoing John Edwards' "two nations" theme: "America's top tier Read More

A Conversation with Bjorn Lomborg

Editor's note: TCS Contributor Jason Miks recently interviewed Danish statistician and author Bjorn Lomborg. TCS: It is five years this year since the English-language edition of The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World was released. L Read More

How Seattle Slew the Raid on Its Treasury

November's elections brought a small, but encouraging bit of news for disbelievers of the proposition that government exists to advantage the already advantaged. Voters in Seattle overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure ending taxpayer subsidies for professional Read More

A Second American Civil War?

Is America in danger of civil war? Not immediately, perhaps, but famed science fiction writer Orson Scott Card thinks that we're in enough danger that he's authored a cautionary tale entitled Empire that's set in more-or-less present times. In... Read More

For Better or For Worse: Entrepreneurs, Families, and Inequality

"Many entrepreneurs I know say that they could not have done it without a supportive spouse. The same goes for people who are successful in established business. Your choice of spouse is, first of all, a choice! It is... Read More

Teen Wasteland

Teenage Wasteland Why the kids in "progressive" Western cultures are not alright. by Peter C Glover I don't think self-destruction was quite what Pete Townsend had in mind when he penned the phrase 'teenage wasteland'. As it turns out,... Read More

Go Native

A super-secret group of military officers studying Iraq found its conclusions leaked to the press last week. The Washington Post reported that the group has developed three options, "Go big," "Go long," or "Go home." The group is said... Read More

Corrupting Health

GUATEMALA CITY -- Transparency International (TI) celebrated its 12th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) last week in Guatemala. Founded by ex-World Bankers and influential government officials from developing countries such as Kenya and Bangladesh, T Read More

Home Improvement on Mars

It was somewhere amid the kitchens and closets that I caught a glimpse of humanity's future beyond the Earth. For better and worse, I tend to be a "big picture" sort of person. One aspect of this is my... Read More

The Wisdom of Tradesports

In the wake of the Democratic takeover of the House and Senate, much hay has been made over the failure of the prediction market Tradesports (or the Iowa Electronic Markets for the more legalistically squeamish). Going into November 7th,... Read More

Ensuring Greater Drug Safety

Medication errors are so common in American hospitals that, on average, patients experience one every day they are hospitalized. Such mistakes harm 1.5 million people and kill several thousand each year, costing the nation at least $3.5 billion annually. Although.. Read More

The Exceptionally Entrepreneurial Society

"The movement that built the first national democracy was not triggered by an uprising of the masses; nor was it led by intellectual theorists. It was led by entrepreneurial men of means...In fact, starting a business develops precisely the... Read More

Bob Gates and the Transformation Agenda

Curiously absent from the discussion of the Pentagon's post-Rumsfeld era is what views his successor, Robert Gates may hold regarding the issue of military transformation. Remember military transformation? It is what Donald Rumsfeld would have been known for had.. Read More

Democrats Are Heroes... and Villains

The Democrats are being lauded in Europe and much of the Americas as the heroes of the hour, rescuing the USA from those mad neocons. But in most of Asia the perception is quite different -- of the Democrat... Read More

His Ideas Had Consequences

There's been myriad remembrances of, encomiums to and commentaries about the recently departed Milton Friedman and I don't intend to cover the same ground here. Rather, instead, to give you what it felt like to be young and English... Read More

Highway to Heaven

As you prepare to head out to join with family and friends for that Thanksgiving turkey, give thanks right now for one of the most magnificent engineering feats of all time. The Interstate. Or, as it is more formally... Read More

Give Thanks for a Great American

This being Thanksgiving week, I want to give thanks for the arrival of an exciting new publication that's just hitting newsstands, The American. The brainchild of TCS Founder Jim Glassman, The American is a business magazine, but unlike one... Read More

Books for Brooks

The New York Times' David Brooks, writing on the death of Milton Friedman, recently said: "[Friedman's] passing is sad for many reasons. One is that from the 1940s to the mid-1990s, American political life was shaped by a series... Read More

Milton Friedman's Case

"Friedman was a pragmatic libertarian. He believed that -- as an empirical matter -- giving individuals freedom and letting them coordinate their actions by buying and selling on markets would produce the best results...that the market system would create... Read More

The Holes in Holistic Admissions

No sooner had Michigan voters passed Proposition 2, which bans affirmative action by state institutions in education, employment, and contracting, than University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman went to the University's famous Diag to issue a defiant blast. Read More

Patently Obvious

George Bernard Shaw once wrote that "no question is so difficult to answer as that to which the answer is obvious." This might as well be the Supreme Court's motto as it considers KSR v. Teleflex later this month.... Read More

The Human Calculus of National Security

Following the Democratic mid-term triumph, California U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer told National Public Radio that the recent average daily loss of three military people in Iraq necessitated disengagement as soon as possible. Sen. Boxer has posed a fundamental quest Read More

Milton Friedman's Gentle Persuasion

My direct contact with Milton Friedman was limited to an email exchange only a few months before his death. I had sent him a copy of my book, Unwarranted Intrusions: The Case Against Government Intervention in the Marketplace, as... Read More

Tennis With Milton

It was in the long ago, when I was an editor for The Reader's Digest that I chanced to be a panelist for some conference at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, in Monterey, Calif. I can't for the life... Read More

The World Turner

Milton Friedman died at the age of 94. Over his long life, he had the satisfaction of seeing the world turn in his direction. Friedman was born in New York in 1912, at the end of a long period... Read More

Good Morning Vietnam!

This week President Bush will be the second US president to visit Vietnam since the war ended over thirty years ago. He will witness the dynamism of the newly reformed Vietnam—booming construction, bustling businesses, youthful population, noisy motor scooters... Read More

The Butcher, the Baker...

Iraqis haven't forgotten the aftermath of Desert Storm. With Saddam's troops forced to retreat from Kuwait, Shia Arabs throughout southern Iraq rose up against Saddam's tyranny. Kurds in the north also rebelled. Many Sunnis in Baghdad anticipated the end... Read More

What a Strange Way to Wage a War

I found myself seated at a meeting the other day next to a correspondent for an influential national news outlet. The discussion turned to Iraq. Having spent several years covering the Balkans in the 1990s, my counterpart voiced his... Read More

Texas Autumn (Veteran's Day, 2006)

And now it's time to celebrate Fall. From the high silent mesas of Chalk Ridge All of Texas lies resting in the mild brief days. Under the blue sky its cedar barrens, its quarries, Its small towns with their... Read More

Why I Like Deficits

A reporter once asked President Reagan if he had anything to say in defense of his deficits. "No" answered Reagan, "they're big enough to defend themselves." Liberals howled, and conservatives chuckled, but no one questioned the premise of the... Read More

What Did Mr. Murtha Mean?

I think I can say, and say with pride, that we have some legislatures that bring higher prices than any in the world. -- Mark Twain, 1875 When morality comes up against profit, it is seldom that profit loses.... Read More

How Best to Waive Them In

Last week's warning by the director of MI5 that British intelligence knew of dozens of terrorist plots to conduct mass casualty attacks in the United Kingdom and other countries highlights the vulnerability of U.S. homeland security to terrorist attacks... Read More

Is Democracy Like Sex?

So the elections are over, and happily my fears of last week weren't borne out. A cynic may say that it was because the Democrats won, but for whatever reason there weren't major complaints of fraud or miscounting. That... Read More

Why Bush Is Right to Resist Raising the Gas Tax

To many, George W. Bush is a dimwit who stands in the way of progress. Take the gas tax. Many smart people want to raise it. Even former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, a man of the right whose every utterance... Read More

What Bush Can Learn From Bill Clinton

Now that the dust has settled from last week's political shift from red to blue, it is time for the President George W. Bush to go back on the offensive. He needs to do so not in order to... Read More

Is Apple Computer Insulting Islam?

Last month the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported that "an Islamist website posted a message alerting Muslims to what it claims is a new insult to Islam" [MEMRI, Special Dispatch Series, No. 1315]. As reported by MEMRI,... Read More

Are We Really Entitled to This?

The new Congress faces an urgent need to reposition the big entitlement programs, Social Security and Medicare, on a sounder financial footing. With each passing year, these programs' massive fiscal imbalances grow larger, making it harder to solve the... Read More

Does Europe Want Turkey or Not?

To anyone sitting at one of the little café tables perched on the quayside above Kyrenia's pretty harbor in northern Cyprus, the Turkish mainland just across a few miles of water, it must seem fanciful that this small island... Read More

Why Intellectuals Love Defeat

James Carroll, recently writing in the Boston Globe, wondered if America could finally accept defeat in Iraq, and be the better for it, comparing it to Vietnam: "But what about the moral question? For all of the anguish felt... Read More

Why Have a Board of Directors?

Fortune editor-at-large Justin Fox asks: "Why do companies have boards of directors, anyway?" Why aren't corporations run using "direct democracy—putting all major corporate decisions, including the choice of a new CEO, to a shareholder vote"? Or by "absolute corpo Read More

Kazakhstan's "Tocqueville Kid"

In search of comic relief from a tense election season, I took solace in a side-splitting movie last weekend: the infamous Borat: Cultural Learnings of America to Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. The film has been attended by... Read More

Why Consensus In Malaria Policy Is a Killer

Last week the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership, a coalition of multilateral organizations whose aim is to halve malaria by 2010, joined World Bank chief Paul Wolfowitz in musical concert at the Bank to remind the public that the... Read More

The Realists Return

If there were any doubts that congressional elections this week handed the Bush administration a sound spanking, Donald Rumsfeld dispelled them. There was irony in the fact that the defense secretary was brought down by a war initially planned... Read More

Blame the Iraqis First

"I don't know whether such pessimism [about Iraq] is true or not, but I am interested in the frequent analysis that it is somehow the fault of the United States or its allies, not the Islamists themselves. -- Victor... Read More

Nicaragua Upside Down

GUATEMALA CITY -- Historians will deem ours a strange epoch, renowned French author Andre Malraux said a half-century ago, in which the right was not the right, the left was not the left and the center was not in the... Read More

Stern und Drang

The Stern Review is out and now that people have had a couple of days to digest the 600 or so pages of heavy verbiage and math, we're starting to see some commentary on how well it's been done.... Read More

Let's Play Hangman

Josef Stalin died in power, and the old Communist mass murderer avoided punishment -- at least, punishment exacted in this mortal world. Contemporary Russia still suffers from the long-term effects of Stalin's evil depredations. Unlike Germany and Japan, two... Read More

"Like Rumsfeld, Only Smaller"

After returning from Iraq in 2003, I found myself preparing to leave active-duty in 2004. For some reason, I encountered several interesting articles about Donald Rumsfeld and came to be pretty impressed with the guy. I don't mean his... Read More

Speaker Pelosi's Impending Intelligence Failure

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is in line to make history as the first female Speaker—and second in line of succession for the presidency—when the new Congress convenes in January. As with any election, a wide variety of issues factored... Read More

Future Schlock

We have been on the point of conquering the aging process, to my certain recollection, since at least the 1960s; for about as long, in fact, as we have been on the point of generating affordable electric power via nuclear... Read More

Walls Are for Losers

The Ming dynasty emperors in China (1368-1644) were the biggest builders of the famous Great Wall. A native Chinese dynasty coming to power in the wake of a Mongol occupation, they wanted to strengthen their defenses against the nomadic... Read More

Walls Are for Losers

The Ming dynasty emperors in China (1368-1644) were the biggest builders of the famous Great Wall. A native Chinese dynasty coming to power in the wake of a Mongol occupation, they wanted to strengthen their defenses against the nomadic... Read More

I Wish They All Could Be California Pols

SAN DIEGO - If only the country could be more like California. Not only do we have great weather, gorgeous beaches, and fulsome vineyards, but we also have a Republican governor, several other statewide elected Republicans, and numerous successful... Read More

Why No Paper Trail?

I voted in Maryland on Tuesday, in a suburb of Washington, DC. We used the electronic touch screen voting machines. The experience went smoothly, was straightforward and pleasant enough. But when I got to the end of voting I... Read More

The Rainy Season's Over; Killing Can Commence

The rainy season has just ended in northwestern Sudan—now killing can recommence in earnest. Two months ago, we warned that inaction in Darfur was tantamount to a "countdown to genocide" with the impending termination at the end of September of... Read More

What Would Jesus Tax?

"When Jesus tells us he will regard the way we treat the hungry, the homeless, the stranger, the sick, and the prisoner as if we were treating him that way, it likely means he wouldn't think capital gains tax cuts... Read More

The Issue That Didn't Bark

Amazingly enough, Social Security reform doesn't seem to be inflicting any political damage on Republicans this fall. Imagine that someone had told you in December 2004 that President Bush would spend the first half of the next year campaigning for... Read More

Why We Should Worry More About Vote Fraud

As I write this, nobody knows how the elections will turn out. That hasn't stopped some preemptive claims of fraud, though: Pelosi cautioned that the number of Democratic House victories could be higher or lower and said her greatest concern... Read More

The Fatwa of 38

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Hercegovina -- Catholic opinion, and some elements among Muslims, remain atwitter with news that "38 leading Muslim scholars" have issued a collective letter addressed to Pope Benedict XVI, regarding his September 12 Regensburg lecture. The declara Read More

TCS on Election 2006

EDITOR'S NOTE: Every year the President gives his State of the Union address. And every two years, Americans get to deliver their sense of the state of the union by voting. So what will it be in '06? We asked... Read More

How to Make Our Food Safer

Food poisoning from food contaminated with microorganisms is very common: 76 million cases and 5,000 deaths annually in the United States, according to government figures.A couple of recent outbreaks have garnered a lot of attention. During the past two months,... Read More

How Would Latin Americans Vote on Nov. 7?

WASHINGTON -- Many Latin Americans quip that they should get a chance to vote in U.S. elections since the outcomes have a huge impact south of the U.S. border. So, who are Latin Americans rooting for with regard to the... Read More

Can US and Chinese Military Forces Cooperate?

This week a Chinese military delegation is conducting a five-day tour of U.S. military installations. They will visit the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii and tour a guided missile destroyer in San Diego. Last month, the Chinese... Read More

Can US and China's Military Forces Cooperate?

This week a Chinese military delegation is conducting a five-day tour of U.S. military installations. They will visit the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii and tour a guided missile destroyer in San Diego. Last month, the Chinese... Read More

Government in Time of War

Recently President Bush met with a select group of opinion columnists. Their reports paint an image of a White House that is operating at a very different level than most news stories and Democratic critics have otherwise intimated. Even... Read More

Eden Without Us?

 The October 12 edition of New Scientist magazine ("Science Fact not Science Fiction") offered an article called "Imagine Earth without people" (online version ). Author Bob Holmes imagines what is evidently meant to be a heart-warming future in which all... Read More

The Cost of the Times' SWIFT Story

October Surprise? This year, October began on Sunday, June 23, when The New York Times sprang this election's first, most odious and most damaging "media revelation." I'm referring to the Times' faux-expose of the productive and legal counter-terrorist finance inte Read More

What's Good About Atheism

The recent small spate of atheist writings by the likes of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris, noticed in the pages of Wired and The Guardian, revives an old and rather quaint controversy. It is one which, I... Read More

Operation Sunscreen

"Using the results from formal economic models, the Review estimates that if we don't act, the overall costs and risks of climate change will be equivalent to losing at least 5% of global GDP each year, now and forever.... Read More

What Is the Fed Doing on Housing?

Some years ago, the late Rudi Dornbusch, the renowned MIT economist, famously said of the Bank of Mexico's board that he could understand it making policy mistakes. After all, the board members were only human. However, what he could... Read More

Rockefeller, Snowe Target Free Speech

Since the advent of the Kyoto Protocol, scores of academics, think tankers, journalists and pundits have been arguing that the treaty designed to combat global warming simply could not achieve its aims. There were technological, economic and political realities... Read More

More MacArthur, Less Marshall

In an earlier commentary on TCS I argued that what we did in postwar Japan has important lessons for what we do in any postwar enterprise including Iraq and Afghanistan. This generated a considerable number of comments from TCS readers,... Read More

The Permanent War on Payola

It lies within the government's power to outlaw a market, but not ordinarily to abolish it. At most, the authorities can drive the nexus underground. The resource-allocation need that gave rise to the market will survive. Associated transactions will assume... Read More

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