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OpenMarket: April 2007

  • More Alarmism about Global Warming and Species Extinction

    April 2, 2007
    A recent column (which came to my attention through Google news alerts) repackages stale alarums as news. The claim that global warming is killing Caribbean basin frogs comes from a study in Nature by Pounds et al. (2004). The researchers did not argue that global warming was baking the frogs to death. They couldn't, because there hasn't been much warming in the tropics. Rather, they argued that global warming was increasing cloud cover, shielding the frogs from sunlight, which disinfects them from a fungus carried by parasites known as chytrids. Virginia State Climatologist Patrick Michaels exposed the fallacy in this argument. First, there is no known relationship...
  • Modernism (And Libertarianism) at the Corcoran

    April 2, 2007
    The Corcoran gallery's new exhibit on modernism will reward a visit from an interested libertarian. Although it comes from the dry-as-dust Victoria and Albert Museum in London, "Modernism: Designing a New World" actually presents of the most exciting and politically interesting exhibits to pass through Washington, D.C. in a long time. Unlike avant-garde curators who reduce everything to the holy trinity of race-gender-and-class, the V&A's team has done a good job untangling the political web of high modernism. Although the exhibit includes some truly beautiful objects and some really striking films, a lot of the emphasis lies in the enormously destructive high modernist conceit that art and architecture could create a “new man” and, thus, a utopia. This, of course, leads to greater state power and, ultimately, coercive...
  • An interesting idea for insurance choice

    April 2, 2007
    In the next few weeks, I'm going to be writing a good deal about the idea that insurance companies should have the ability to do what banks have done since the Civil War and subject themselves to federal rather than state regulation. For a variety of reasons, the structure of what's called Optional Federal Chartering will decide whether it's good or bad. Structured properly it could make a big difference for consumers. Federal chartering could result in less regulation, more choice, and prices that better reflect risk. Structured the wrong way, it might actually make things worse by adding another level of regulation to an industry that already faces too much. A lot of the details about the "right" and "wrong" structures remain unresolved in my mind. Thus -- while the right federal chartering bill could do a lot of good right now -- I think there's a decent case for some...

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