April 30, 2008The unintended consequences of government are wonderful to behold. Impose a minimum wage and put poor, ill-educated teens out of work. Raise auto fuel-economy requirements, and kill more people in accidents as they travel in smaller cars. Ban cigarette smoking in local bars and restaurants, and cause more drunk driving accidents as smokers drive further to find more congenial locales.
Reports the Economist:
The problem with this, say Scott Adams and Chad Cotti, economists at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, is that smoking bans seem to have been followed by an increase in drunk-driving and in fatal accidents involving alcohol. In research published in the Journal of Public Economics, the authors find evidence that smokers are driving farther to places where smoking in bars...
April 29, 2008One of the most tragic manifestations of past racial discrimination has been the creation of a government-enforced racial spoils system in the name of affirmative action. That has given rise to a professional class of racial profiteers, such as the late Ron Brown, who are ever ready to help whites win the financial benefit of regulations originally approved to aid minorities.
The demand on people and institutions to abandon the principle of nondiscrimination has been particularly strong in academia. Although the U.S. Supreme Court has limited the role of race in admissions, the American Bar Association is now pushing to institutionalize de facto quotas. University of San Diego law professor Gail Heriot writes about the plight of George Mason University law school, known for its more conservative political orientation:
If you have ever wondered why colleges and...
April 28, 2008CNN founder and noted "Mouth of the South" Ted Turner recently claimed that he was doing better keeping his foot out of his mouth. He hadn't said anything "stupid" for ages, he explained.
Except in the same interview, when he exclaimed:
If steps aren't taken to stem global warming, "We'll be eight degrees hotter in 30 or 40 years and basically none of the crops will grow," Turner said during a wide-ranging, hour-long interview with PBS's Charlie Rose that aired Tuesday.
"Most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals," said Turner, 69. "Civilization will have broken down. The few people left will be living in a failed state — like Somalia or Sudan — and living conditions will be intolerable."
It's a wonderful visual. A few humans left in the midst...
April 26, 2008One of the most important recent innovations in health care has been the expansion of consumer-directed care, especially through Health Savings Accounts. HSAs offer patients greater control over their money and create an incentive for cost-consciousness. Suddenly people have a reason to shop around and find the best deal for routine care.
But Congress is preparing to wreck the system. At the behest of a congressional staffer-turned lobbyist, the House has voted to impose on HSAs much of the regulatory bureaucracy evident in health insurance. Reports the Wall Street Journal:
Democrats have made affordable health care a mainstay of their election agenda, but apparently only if you're willing to get insurance through the government. Witness their stealthy assault on Americans who prefer the...
April 21, 2008The European Union finally is doing something useful. It is defending people against noisy bagpipes.
Reports the Sunday Times:
THEIR high-pitched skirl has put fear into the hearts of Scotland's enemies and sent sensitive tourists reaching for the cotton wool.
Now, however, the bagpipes are to be quietened by an edict from Brussels.
From this month, pipers must adhere to strict volume limits or risk breaking European Union health and safety laws. Bands have been ordered to tone down or wear earplugs to limit noise exposure to 85 decibels.
Typically, a pipe band played at full volume peaks at 122 decibels outdoors, noisier than the sound of either a nightclub or a chainsaw, which rises to 116 decibels....
April 19, 2008Last fall I spoke on globalization at the John Locke Foundation, a state-based think tank headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina. It's a great group. Of course, I'm not just saying that because they have put up a video of an interview with me on globalization. (There's a transcript too, if you'd prefer that method.)
April 15, 2008It's really hard being Bill and Hillary Clinton. They are good liberals, but have collected an incredible $109 million since leaving the office. So I offer up some strategies for them to pay their fair share in taxes.
April 11, 2008You've got to love socialized medicine. You have to wait for appointments. You have to wait when you call to schedule appointments. And you've got to pay for all that waiting time too!
Reports Britain's Daily Mail:
A patient was left with a phone bill of £127 after being left hanging on the line for 49 minutes to make a hospital appointment.
Wayne Marshall, 30, was left fuming after spending nearly an hour on the phone to the outpatients' department of Broomfield Hospital.
But he was gobsmacked when he discovered the two calls had landed him with a bill of £127 for just trying to rearrange his appointment.
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March 25, 2008Everyone likes generic drugs. So do I. Who wants to pay those shocking prices--you know, a couple bucks or even a few bucks a pill for potentially life-saving products: I mean, the gall of those pharmaceutical companies!--when a generic is out there for pennies on the dollar?
Seriously, it's great to save money. But it appears that not all generics are equivalent to the name brands. Reports the Los Angeles Times:
The Generic Pharmaceutical Assn. touts them with a slightly catchier slogan: "Same Medicine. Same Results." But sometimes, patients and their doctors beg to differ.
A switch from a long-used brand-name drug to its generic equivalent can, on occasion, bring a shifting profile of side effects. In a number of cases documented in medical journals and recounted in...
March 24, 2008To believe Democratic politicians, the U.S. has entered an era of near-laissez faire economics. Regulatory agencies have faded away. Uncle Sam has gone on vacation. The tax authorities have closed shop. Evil businessmen are running rampant.
Actually, regulation has been increasing despite Republican dominance in Washington. Reports the Wall Street Journal:
Just last week, the Environmental Protection Agency announced new ozone rules for the first time in 10 years. As the EPA noted, "ozone is measured out to three decimal places." The new city limits for ozone from cars, power plants, factories and other "man-made sources" is 0.075 parts per million instead of the old 0.080 ppm. The cost in lost economic output from this new more stringent rule is estimated at $6 billion a year, and many...