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OpenMarket: February 2007

  • So much for cultural imperialism

    February 23, 2007
    Tyler Cowen has a good piece in the New York Times today about American cultural exports. He makes one particularly imprtant point:
    "Culture is not a zero-sum game, so the greater reach of one culture does not necessarily mean diminished stature for others. In the broad sweep of history, many different traditions have grown together and flourished. American popular culture will continue to make money, but the 21st century will bring a broad mélange of influences, with no clear world cultural leader."
    Indeed. The cultural effects of the Indian diaspora, for instance, have yet to be seen in the US, but they will be. Look, for instance, at the UK, where curry has become the national dish and TV programs such as...
  • What's going on at NASA?

    February 23, 2007
    Steve McIntyre finds something fishy happening with NASA's records of historical temperatures. This deserves investigation.
  • Crime scene -- focus on the greedy businessman

    February 23, 2007
    In the Wall Street Journal today (subscription required), Dorothy Rabinowitz takes a probing look at a recent “Law and Order” episode that transforms a Manhattan tragedy to create a corporate villain. Rabinowitz was rightly outraged at the twists in the fictionalized plot. The real and terrible crime story involved a Manhattan mother and businesswoman who complained about construction noises in her building. An illegal Ecuadoran immigrant doing some of the work hit her, thought she was dead, and then hanged the woman (who was still alive) to stage a suicide. That plot, though horrible, wasn't politically correct enough for “Law and Order.” Instead, the episode portrayed a sympathetic immigrant doing construction work and supporting his poor mother in Colombia. He did hit the woman, but the...
  • Another One Bites the Dust

    February 23, 2007
    Otherwise quite-sound South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has weighed in on the political "global warming" sweepstakes with an op-ed in today's Washington Post. To his credit, he flatly states that "conservatives must respond to climate change with innovation, not regulation." Indeed. But remove that line and the rest of the op-ed does a tremendous disservice to the anti-regulatory cause, fostering as it does needless climate alarmism, even adopting talking points straight from an Al Gore seminar. "For the past 20 years, I have seen the ever-so-gradual effects of rising sea levels at our farm on the South Carolina coast." Really? Sea levels rise 8 inches per century during the current inter-glacial period (10,000+ years), an historical rate that hasn't increased even according...
  • Fred Smith on Antiquities

    February 23, 2007
    Fred Smith's presentation at Guatemala's Universidad Francisco Marroquin on how markets can help protect antiquities is now available online.
  • Gore flunks Oscar documentary rules

    February 22, 2007
    Intrepid Journalist Kevin Mooney of just filed a can't-miss story on Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth". On the verge of the Academy Awards, it appears that Gore's flick doesn't live up to the Academy's basic "Rule 12" standards for truthfulness in the use of animation. This rule states that non-traditional documentary devices such as animation or reenactments may be used, but only "as long as the emphasis is on fact and not on fiction." The scene at issue is the famed cartoon of a polar bear drowning. But the sequence does not come close to approximating the reality of the study from which it is based....
  • Defending the Indefensible

    February 22, 2007
    A Guardian correspondent attempts to defend his admitted alarmism over global warming. In the comments, climate change economist Richard Tol dismantles his arguments:
    First, you tend to describe climate change as catastrophic, although it is in fact a process of slow change over centuries. The better impact studies tend to find that climate change is important, but not as important as all the other changes that are going on. The impact of climate change on yields, say, will be small compared to the impacts of technological change; and all the negative effects of climate change on tropical agriculture can be offset by doing away with the Common Agricultural Policy. Second, you call for drastic emission reduction. In fact, it is quite sufficient to...
  • "Decent capitalism" -- a "new" idea?

    February 22, 2007

    First we had anti-globalization activists calling for “fair trade.” Now it seems not just trade is the problem but capitalism itself. Harold Meyerson in today's Washington Post is calling for “decent capitalism” instead.

    And what is his vision of “decent capitalism”? He calls it a “vastly more benign” system than Russian socialism. Well, that should convince us to get on the bandwagon.

    Meyerson also suggests it should be a global policy since it's not easy to have “decent capitalism” on a national level in a globalized economy.

    Free-trade skeptics such as I believe that these domestic reforms, while overdue, are not enough. We argue that there need to be rules for the global economy that protect workers no...

  • Is concern about the environment "5 minutes ago"?

    February 22, 2007
    There are signs that caring about the environment is becoming a little passe. This is from an uber-cool British gossip email:
    Having nearly as bad a week as Britney... 2. Polar Bears. As yet another celebrity concert to save the environment is announced, their fate is sealed as people realise that while cute, no animal species is worth having to endure any more second-rate and has-been musicians resurrecting their careers for the sake of the planet.
    Perhaps Live Earth won't be the success people assume it will be after all.
  • Foolish and Dangerous Advice

    February 21, 2007
    Editorial writers in today's Orlando Sentinel say they oppose Department of Homeland Security regulations that attempt to beef up security at the nation's chemical plants to reduce the risks of terrorist attacks. They want Congress to legislate the issue. They complain because the administration focuses on managing chemical risks through improved security measures only. The Sentinel, like many activist groups, wants Homeland Security to pursue a green agenda that would force the elimination or drastic reduction of so-called “dangerous” or “toxic” chemicals. They also oppose Homeland Security's attempt to preempt states from passing such silly regulations. Frankly, I would have to agree with the Department of Homeland Security on this one. I...


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