TCS Daily : January 2007 Archives

Thwarting the Plot Against Sistani

Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is a most remarkable man. Consider these attributes: a Muslim theologian who promotes democracy, an Iraqi Shia leader who supports national reconciliation, an international Shia luminary who believes Sunnis and Shias and Chris Read More

We Owe a Debt of Gratitude to Polish Communism

He called it "literature by foot,'' and there was certainly a lot of literature and a lot of walking in his books. But no one, not even him, ever came up with an exact term to describe the genre... Read More

'Rule By Decree' - One More Step on Chavez's Road to Serfdom

Hugo Chavez came one step closer to becoming a full-fledged dictator on January 17. As the Associated Press reported, "Venezuelan lawmakers gave their initial approval to a bill granting President Hugo Chavez the power to rule by decree for... Read More

Free the Elderly

Let's give pharmaceutical freedom to our elderly. Elderly Americans should be legally permitted to use any drug their doctor approves of, even if the drug has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Consider a 90-year-old... Read More

Hillary Clinton and the Politics of Resenting History

When Abraham Lincoln decided to run for a second term in the midst of the Civil War, he used a homespun analogy that nearly everybody could relate to: "You don't swap horses in the middle of a stream." In... Read More

Choking on Caution

One would have thought that no mere mortal could have come up with this school policy: "A Roman Catholic elementary school adopted new lunchroom rules this week requiring students to remain silent while eating. The move comes after three... Read More

Clone: It's What's for Dinner

SAN FRANCISCO -- California politics lately seems a parody of itself. Starting in February, San Francisco will become the first city in the country to require employers to give paid sick leave to their workers - full- and part-time,... Read More

Hedging Climate Bets

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will release its Fourth Assessment Report Summary for Policymakers on February 2. While the report is embargoed, those involved say it will "increase the sense of urgency" that "time is... Read More

Plato's Republic or Milton Friedman's Market?

"How can policy be improved? My first recommendation is that policymakers should pause and truly absorb the fact that government generally cannot be counted on to correct market failures efficiently by itself. Second, it is important for policymakers to... Read More

Will the U.S. Blow This Opportunity?

After noting the other-worldly personality cult of Sapurmurat Niyazov, a.k.a Turkmenbashi ("the father of all Turkmen") and noting his passing late last year, media outlets have spent very little attention reporting what exactly is happening to Turkmenistan. But t Read More

Instapundits and Instascholars

"I hope to persuade you that the decline of a print-based epistemology and the accompanying rise of a television-based epistemology has had grave consequences for public life, that we are getting sillier by the minute." -- Neil Postman, Amusing... Read More

Cooling Down with the Cell Phone

I finally bought a cell phone. I'd had one for years, but my wife usually took it, and it was a piece of junk, one of those older clunky ones with an unreliable analogue network. But that changed. I... Read More

Fantasy Island

SAINT HELENA, UK (SatireNewsService) -- Tyrants exiled to this rocky south Atlantic island do not simply retire with terrified members of their retinue and large portions of their vast, ill-gotten gains. Rather they enjoy their golden years by playing... Read More

Understanding the Iraq-Yugoslavia Analogy

After 16 years of war and peacekeeping, the Great Yugoslav War of Devolution has entered a new, promising phase. But don't call it finished, and don't call it peace -- at least not quite yet. A substantial slice of... Read More

Irony Lady

In announcing her presidential bid, the Times of London reports that Hillary Clinton has suggested Margaret Thatcher as a role model. Thatcher's strength and leadership are widely admired across the political spectrum and her influence was profound. The choice... Read More

Wait Wait, Don't Help Me

Now that the great upchuck against compassionate conservatism has put compassionate liberalism back in charge of both Houses of Congress we will have several attempts to introduce some form of health care reform. Bleeding heart classical liberals like myself... Read More

Poor Arguments: Bush, Webb and Poverty

Last night, President Bush's State of the Union address and Senator James Webb's Democratic response provided a useful juxtaposition of views. Among other things, it showed how the parties' positions on poverty have changed. To wit, President Bush's proposals... Read More

French Lessons

It has become fashionable to refer to Algeria's war of liberation against the French (1954-1962) when talking about Iraq. President Bush is reading British historian Alistair Horne's account of that war - "A Savage War of Peace" -- and... Read More

Give Us Battle

Everyone has seen them. They are all over the Web. I mean those video clips of a brief encounter between a unit of Jihadists, often in the midst of conspiring to maim and massacre by treachery, and some fighting... Read More

Michael Crichton Is Right About Gene Patents

In the December 20 TCS Daily, Michael Rosen penned an article is which he stated that Michael Crichton was wrong about gene patents. But it is Rosen who is wrong. The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held the line... Read More

A Scorecard for the American "Surge" in Iraq

According to this January 14th article from the New York Times, the new U.S. plan for Iraq faces resistance from some quarters of Iraq's government: First among the American concerns is a Shiite-led government that has been so dogmatic... Read More

The Moral Rhetoric of American Presidents

When President Bush delivers his State of the Union address Tuesday night, he will mostly likely continue his practice of speaking about the war on terror in starkly moral terms. He will probably use language similar to the comments... Read More

A One-Sided Arms Race

Something disturbing happened five hundred miles above China on January 11th. An old Chinese weather satellite was in orbit, and then, quite abruptly, it wasn't. Or, rather, if it was, it was no longer in one piece, and if... Read More

For Whom the Bell Curves: America's Education Dilemma

" makes sense for only about 15% of the population, 25% if one stretches it, to get a college education. And yet more than 45% of recent high school graduates enroll in four-year colleges... What they really need is... Read More

The Liberal Shia Cleric You Should Meet

HARET HREIK, LEBANON - In the dahiyeh, the suburb, of Haret Hreik south of Beirut, where Hezbollah built its command and control center and the "capital" of its illegal state-within-a-state, lives Sayyed Mohammad Ali El Husseini, a moderate Shia... Read More

Crazy Lawyering, Crazy Journalism

Would you try to review a 700-page book after reading a single paragraph? Of course not - but major newspapers have done the equivalent, by publishing sensational and censorious articles about defendants in civil litigation that are based on... Read More

The Power of Vested Interests vs. The Power of Productivity

I received a generous letter from the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum this week telling me I had been selected as a Young Global Leader 2007 by an international jury presided over by Queen Rania of Jordan.... Read More

Cafeteria Catholicism and the Minimum Wage

When liberal Catholic politicians support abortion rights, conservatives are quick to accuse them of being cafeteria Catholics. When conservative Catholic politicians oppose increasing the minimum wage, liberals are quick to hurl the same accusation. The metaphor Read More

Royalty Pains

The final big-ticket item in new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's first-100-hour agenda, to be taken up today, is an energy proposal that will do nothing to help achieve long-term energy security. Instead it will merely serve to satisfy Democratic... Read More

Feds Freeze Out Antidote, Costing Billions

SAN FRANCISCO -- Jack Frost taunted area farmers last week with blasts of arctic air that threatened several of central California's major farming areas. The direct losses in citrus alone could approach a billion dollars. Such climatic catastrophes are... Read More

The Big Three

"We have been inexorably centralizing control over the schools in this country for 150 years. We've gone from one-room schoolhouses overseen directly by the parents of the children who attended them to sprawling bureaucracies that consume half of the... Read More

How Latin America Might Help Solve America's Health Care Crisis

The problems with America's Medicare system are well known. Late last year U.S. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke cautioned that reform of entitlement programs such as Medicare -- the $342 billion U.S. health insurance program for people age 65 or... Read More

"Unified Action" in the 21st Century's War for Modernity

The War on Terror does not have a Winston Churchill, a bulldog poet defending civilization with both visceral determination and energizing eloquence. It does have George Bush's spine and Tony Blair's oratory, however. As a tandem, President Bush's "Iraq... Read More

Wrist Action

Are you wearing a wrist watch right now? It's almost certainly an electronic watch; quartz movement; maybe digital or maybe analog. It's incredibly accurate and unless you prefer to spend thousands on a wrist watch, incredibly cheap. The technology... Read More

Garbage In, Garbage Out

"America's Sweetheart" had a lousy 2006. In one recent setback, in which she acted as plaintiff, Erin Brockovich sued 31 hospitals she declared were making unfair claims against Medicare. Her payoff would have been tremendous. But two separate judges... Read More

Will a Larger Military Mean Lower Standards?

Late last week U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced the Defense Department's intention to increase the permanent headcounts of the Army and Marine Corps. The Army's end-strength would rise from 512,400 to 547,000. The Marine Corps's manpower would rise... Read More

The High Cost of Low Price

Should free market advocates oppose a plan aimed at lowering prescription drug costs? Generally, no. But, when such a plan involves the flexing of federal government muscle and threatens future health care, the answer changes. Those are the stakes... Read More

So, Is a Volatile Economy Good for America?

"Most job loss is highly concentrated: more than two thirds of all lost jobs occur at businesses that shrink more than ten percent, and more than one-fifth of workers whose jobs were destroyed worked at businesses that shut down.... Read More

How to Get Justice for Ahmadinejad

The situation in Iran seems to be rapidly spiraling out of control. On top of everything that's taken place there since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ascended to power in 2005, consider the following events from just the past month: *... Read More

Appreciating Our Moral and Mental Development

"In 16th century Paris, a popular form of entertainment was cat-burning, in which a cat was hoisted on a stage and was slowly lowered into a fire. According to the historian Norman Davies, "the spectators, including kings and queens,... Read More

Back to Africa

The U.S. military intervention in the Somali civil war may finally induce the Pentagon to establish a dedicated African Command (AFCOM). The ongoing air strikes against al-Qaeda targets in southern Somalia and the deployment of the USS Dwight D... Read More

Great Dane, Great Pain

"It is entirely possible to have a large welfare state, with generous benefits, without choking the economy," says Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic in a new series of articles, glorifying the Danish economic model. He enlists the support... Read More

Top of the World?

This is the final installment of my three-part review of Alan Reynolds's excellent new book, Income and Wealth. In the first installment, I laid out some of Reynolds's criticisms of the view that the vast majority of families' incomes... Read More

The Age of Proximity

The Age of Anxiety isn't a new phenomenon -- but the Age of Proximity is. And with good reason, the Age of Proximity is a dangerous, challenging era. Monday, Jan. 8, 2007, provided several uncomfortable illustrations. Take New York... Read More

A Minimum of Understanding

Democrats want to raise the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour. But raising the minimum wage will harm unskilled workers. If the price of gas went up by 40%, people would buy less gas. Similarly, if... Read More

Technology on Top: Appreciating the Luxury Learning Curve

As the International Auto Show opens in Detroit this week, the growing number of "retractable hardtop" convertibles on display is a reminder of how, every once in a while, technology sort of catches up with itself in an interesting... Read More

Crimson with Envy: Why Nick Saban Makes More Than Your Kid's Teacher

The University of Alabama has lured Nick Saban away from the NFL's Miami Dolphins to be its new head football coach, reportedly signing him to an eight year, $32 million dollar deal. This salary, easily the most ever paid... Read More

First, Kill All the Transactional Lawyers?

Transactional lawyers play a critical role in virtually all business transactions. But why is this so? The reason people hire litigators is obvious—either they are being sued or they want to sue somebody else. Unauthorized practice of law statutes... Read More

Iraq's Natural State

"For much of the world, the relevant alternative to the natural state is not an open access order like the United States or France, but a descent into the hell of disorder." -- Douglass C. North, John Joseph Wallis,... Read More

Blind-Siding College Sports

As Ohio State takes on Florida in tonight's BCS Championship Game, there's reason to chew on the economics of college sports. Michael Lewis's excellent new book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game provides some tasty food for thought.... Read More

Two Strategies for Avoiding Truth

"Physicists do it...Psychologists do it...Even political scientists do it...Research findings confirming a hypothesis are accepted more or less at face value, but when confronted with contrary evidence, we become "motivated skeptics" ... picking apart possible fla Read More

My Thought Experiment

I usually avoid writing about international affairs because I am far, far from expert in the field but tend to have strong opinions nonetheless. For some folks this would be a recipe for disaster, but I am saved from... Read More

The 51st State

Writing in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, Julia Sweig, the Director of Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, argues that the conventional wisdom that "Without Fidel's iron fist ...the long-oppressed population would overthrow Fidel's rev Read More

Big Developers Get Pinched

When the Supreme Court handed down its verdict in Kelo v. City of New London in June of 2005, few imagined the development industry in the role of victim. On the contrary, most opponents of the decision supposed, not... Read More

The Fight for the Latin Left's Soul

Twelve general elections were held in Latin America and the Caribbean in the last 12 months, if we exclude Guyana, which belongs to the English-speaking club, and we include Haiti, an ambidextrous French-speaking country that sometimes sides with the... Read More

Realizing Anti-Qaeda

This is the second in a two-part series on stateless warfighting. The first part can be found here. In his controversial remarks a few weeks ago, Newt Gingrich wondered whether a new kind of Geneva Convention might be necessary:... Read More

What the Real-Wage Pessimists Are Missing

Some economists and journalists—I'll call them "the real-wage pessimists"—have claimed that average real wages have fallen during substantial time periods over the last 30 or so years. Others have claimed that average real wages for the majority of the... Read More

Bush Risks Losing Control of Iraq Policy

Entering 2007, President George W. Bush possesses all of the powers that Article II of the U.S. Constitution grants the president. But Mr. Bush is now finding out that there are new limits on his authority, a sharp change... Read More

A Market for Citizenships

Immigration has become an increasingly divisive issue and chronic homelessness and panhandling are our plaguing our cities. I have a modest policy proposal for addressing these problems that would increase immigration and improve the well-being of all Americans in Read More

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