TCS Daily : August 2007 Archives

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On vacation, seeyou next week!... Read More

What Congress Should -- and Shouldn't -- Do About the Housing Crisis

As Congress returns next week from its summer recess, it will find itself under enormous pressure to do something about the nation's worsening housing market situation. In the present atmosphere of financial market crisis, the real challenge for Congress... Read More

What a Civilian Reserve Corps Would Look Like

BAGHDAD—Last week I argued that neither civilian nor military structures, as currently organized, are quite right for leading the Rule of Law (ROL) component of a reconstruction (or "nation-building") effort. Instead, I floated the idea of a Civilian Reserve Corps. Read More

In Defense of NASA, A Wealth Creator

In last Friday's New York Post, the usually sensible Steve Dunleavy took leave of his senses. His column tried to make a case that the American people have not seen a return on their investment in the National Aeronautics and... Read More

Bringing Down the House

In 1993, the government of British Prime Minister John Major launched a campaign under a motto borrowed from the world of pop music -- "Back to Basics." As I watch the worldwide financial crisis triggered by the wave of mortgage... Read More

Valuing Organs -- Literally

A horror rock opera with Paris Hilton? The emphasis must be on "a horror." Indeed, the futuristic musical, announced by the Associated Press, is about a dystopia in which characters must purchase new organs if they are to survive... Read More

Capitalism is Not the Cause of Housing, Subprime Turmoil

Though they clashed on the inputs necessary for economic growth, John Maynard Keynes and Ludwig Von Mises had very similar views on the economic impact of falling currency values. In his Tract on Monetary Reform, Keynes wrote that when... Read More

Bard for Life

William Shakespeare taught me how to read financial newspapers. My favorite play, Much Ado About Nothing, is well titled, because it is, in fact, a play about nothing. More precisely it's a play about things which might be real, but... Read More

There Is No 'I' in Gerson or Scully

"Creative destruction" aptly describes the recent contretemps between Matthew Scully, a former Bush speechwriter, and Michael Gerson, his colleague and Bush's chief speechwriter. Scully's recent article in The Atlantic (subscription required) describes the collabo Read More

Toying with Public Health

Magicians Penn & Teller have a great video on YouTube in which they convince people to sign a petition banning di-hydrogen monoxide, a ubiquitous and potentially dangerous chemical found in many raw and prepared foods, and even in the air.... Read More

How Stripping Spreads AIDS

At the most recent G-8, one of the few substantive outcomes was the commitment to increase funding for AIDS to $60 billion. Before the Summit, President Bush announced his plans for a doubling of AIDS funding for, mainly, Africa.... Read More

Intifada High?

Until recently, New York City had been a pioneer in elementary and secondary public education in two ways - one good and one bad. It was among the first metropolitan school districts to modify the traditional split between academic... Read More

Who Should Establish Rule of Law in Iraq?

BAGHDAD—Last week I argued here that establishing Rule of Law in Iraq is both possible and realistic, but that this process must take into account local customs and achieve both popular legitimacy and elite buy-in to work. Now I... Read More

What the Experts Really Said About Iraq: As it Turns Out, Not Much

Media Matters economist Duncan Black set off a mini-firestorm among lefty bloggers three weeks ago when he asked, after a few choice expletives, "Why is there a foreign policy community?" The premise of that question is that, since so... Read More

A Roving Mind

A day after announcing his resignation as White House Deputy Chief of Staff, Karl Rove had a conversation with the media during which he revealed one of the reasons why the White House will miss him:Q Any few accomplishments... Read More

Understanding the Current Financial Turmoil

"Consider the case of Countrywide, which finances nearly one in every five home mortgages, almost all of them to "prime" borrowers, rather than the riskier "subprime" sort. Despite that commanding position, Countrywide's stock price has been halved since the... Read More

The Iraqi Quagmire You Don't Hear About

Say there's a group of people in Iraq fighting what looks increasingly like an unwinnable war. The core of this group is made up of foreigners intent on a mission of 'liberation' in a land historically alien to their... Read More

The Bottom Billion No More?

Paul Collier is the author of an important new book, The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can be Done About It. He is Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for the Study... Read More

Towards Eco-Affluence: The Meaning of the 21st Century

It takes ambition (at a minimum) to write a book titled "The Meaning of the 21st century." James Martin, a graduate of Oxford who made a fortune in the computer industry, has done an admirable job in this endeavor:... Read More

The Terror of Ethanol

I write this while preparing for the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment's second conference of the summer for federal judges. The first program focused on energy, while this one is on terrorism and civil society. The two... Read More

A New Venezuela of the East

Thailand, once a case study in howa developing country can move forward through long-term economic growth, is nowmoving backward. The military coup last September marked the beginning ofthe U-turn, and the new government has since reversed many of the policies... Read More

A Report from the Global Warming Battlefield

In case you hadn't noticed, the global warming debate has now escalated from a minor skirmish to an all-out war. Although we who are skeptical of the claim that global warming is mostly manmade have become accustomed to being the... Read More

Slipping on the Banana

A recent story in The Washington Post has rekindled interest in a criminal probe targeting the payments made by Chiquita, the Cincinnati-based fruit giant, to a paramilitary organization in Colombia. What is fascinating about this case is that a number... Read More

Debunking Portland: The Public Transit Myth

The mayor of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and a cadre of other top officials recently flew to Portland, Oregon, my hometown, to learn the wonders of the region's rail transit system. Portland's Mayor Tom Potter no doubt told them light rail was... Read More

Is Rule of Law Possible in Iraq?

BAGHDAD - Because of my temporary and purposely broad role here as a rule of law advisor, I have the luxury of being able to think about the bigger picture (and indeed am occasionally specifically asked to do so).... Read More

NeuroArmed and Ready

Since the first modern neurosurgery was performed in the 19th Century, the highest compliment that could be paid a neurosurgeon is that "he has a steady hand." Unfortunately, despite tremendous advances in the field, hands haven't gotten a bit... Read More


The "virtual siege" of Estonia in which distributed denial of service attacks shut down important banking, government and media websites throughout late April and May 2007 is an example of "iWar". The Estonian example should be considered as a... Read More

Jihad! The Musical!!

Billed as a "madcap gallop through the wacky world of international terrorism", Jihad! The Musical opened at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this week, in the teeth of the usual pettish complaints from Islamic pressure groups, to rave reviews. While... Read More

The US Housing Bust is a Big Deal

As US home prices at the national level begin to decline for the first time since the Great Depression, most Wall Street analysts maintain their rosy outlook for the US economy by allowing hope to triumph over experience. For... Read More

The Facebook Generation Gap

Arnold: "Do you think Facebook will try to get closer to 100 percent coverage by reaching out to people my age? Or will they wait for us to die off?" Young Dave: "Wait for you to die off." In 1994,... Read More

Running Out of Resources?

I'm often asked about our consumption of natural resources, e.g., oil, iron, and copper. Since these resources are finite and population continues to grow, aren't we in danger of running out? My short answer is no, we'll never run out... Read More

The Great Balancing Act: Will Iraq Become an Endless Battleground?

Why are General David Petraeus, America's top officer in Iraq, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki shouting at each other? It seems as if tempers fray and blood boils whenever the two men meet to save Iraq's future. The... Read More

The Equities of Private Equity

Congress is debating whether to increase the tax rate paid by the managers of private equity funds. The immediate contest is whether these rewards should be taxed as ordinary income rather than capital gains, a rather arcane topic to be... Read More

How Organic Food Contributes to Climate Change

As the world's policymakers and business elites look to curb greenhouse gas emissions, one economic sector due for a closer look is agriculture. What many people presently view as a 'green' agriculture choice is, upon closer examination, deeply environmentally... Read More

A Slow Moving Chinese Train Wreck

As US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson ends yet another round of Strategic Economic Dialogue talks in Beijing with very little progress to show for his efforts, one cannot help feeling that one is watching a slowly unfolding Greek tragedy. For... Read More

The Universal Distraction

"Nobody is talking about a free-market approach in health care. The spectrum today is between fascism and Communism." --John Graham The Pacific Research Institute's John Graham offered this glum assessment during a brief chat recently when he came to... Read More

Why I Have Come to Iraq

BAGHDAD - Two weeks have now passed since I sat in the cargo hold of a C-130 and made the short journey north from Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait to Sather Air Base on the outskirts of... Read More

Freedom's Example on Taiwan

Ten years ago this month Hong Kong returned to China. The handover agreement between Britain and China entitled its people the right eventually to elect their leaders. Many hoped by now under China's "one country, two systems" formula, that... Read More

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