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OpenMarket: Doug Bandow

  • Chinese Water Torture: The Three Gorges Dam

    November 26, 2007
    There may be no better evidence of change in China than the fact that the government now occasionally admits that problems exist in the country.  No where is this admission more embarrassing than with the Three Gorges Dam, a monstrous, and monstrously controversial, project on the Yangtzee River.  Built at great financial, environmental, and social cost, it is turning out to look a lot like Boston's famed "Big Dig"--a poorly executed disaster waiting to happen.

    Reports the New York Times:
    Last year, Chinese officials celebrated the completion of the Three Gorges Dam by releasing a list of 10 world records. As in: The Three Gorges is the world's biggest dam, biggest power plant and biggest consumer of dirt, stone, concrete and steel. Ever. Even the project's official tally of...
  • Thanksgiving and the Looming Obesity Lawsuit

    November 20, 2007
    With the trial bar hovering around your house, ready to file an obesity lawsuit on behalf of the guests on whom you have forced slices of gravy covered turkey, mountains of mashed potatoes, and huge pieces of pie buried in ice cream, can you afford to do without a liability waiver? The Center for Consumer Freedom has come to your rescue. They have prepared a liability and indemnification agreement just for Thanksgiving!

    Once your guest signs, he or she cannot collect even if you provided no nutritional information, didn't warn about the dangers of overeating, provided no "healthy" food as an alternative, and, of course, didn't point out that porking out would contribute to obesity. Can you really trust that brother-in-law who, truth be told, you never liked? Or your cousin who is attending law school and taking torts class?

    Don't go naked....
  • Tender Government Health Care in Great Britain

    November 19, 2007
    Every health care system is going to have some "horror stories," and the U.S. system is no different. But it's important for Americans to realize that nationalized care inevitably produces its own series of awful tales.

    For instance, the Daily Telegraph recently reported several anecdotes, including these two:
    After a motorcycle accident in Yorkshire I returned home with a wrist suffering multiple fractures. Sorry no x-ray facilities in my town after 6pm. Wait until next morning. Doctor admits it's too complicated and I need to check into another hospital a rail and bus ride away. Second hospital can't fix it as an out-patient. Finally admitted to a ward by 4pm. By midnight still no sign of action and threatened to leave. One am and I am wheeled into the operating theatre...
  • Global Warming Global Scam?

    November 19, 2007
    Thus argues John Coleman, founder of the Weather Channel. Admittedly, he's not a Ph.D climatologist, but then, most of the alarmist propagandists aren't Ph.D climatologists, either. On his website he contends:
    [I]t is the greatest scam in history. I am amazed, appalled and highly offended by it. Global Warming; It is a SCAM. Some dastardly scientists with environmental and political motives manipulated long term scientific data back in the late 1990's to create an allusion of rapid global warming. Other scientists of the same environmental wacko type jumped into the circle to support and broaden the "research" to further enhance the totally slanted, bogus global warming claims. Their friends in government steered huge research grants their way to keep the movement going. Soon they claimed to be a consensus....
  • Educational Monopoly Versus Educational Choice

    November 15, 2007
    In today's educational monopoly, it seems that even progress can have counterproductive consequences. For instance, the growth of public charter schools, which appear to deliver an improved education, are creating unfair competition with Catholic schools. The former are free to users, while the latter charge tuition.

    Explains Matthew Ladner of the Goldwater Institute:
    The Education Next article “Can Catholic Schools Be Saved?” asks the provocative question: Will charter schools finish off inner city Catholic private schools? Preliminary evidence suggests that charter schools are actually threatening to help close inner city Catholic schools. A RAND Corporation study focusing on the impact of charter schools in Michigan found that...
  • Where are the Food Police When We Need Them?

    November 14, 2007
    Another study reports on the costs of obesity. Just dropping down to European levels would save $100 billion in extra medical costs. Reports Nurse.com:
    Older Americans are significantly more likely than Europeans to be diagnosed with and treated for chronic diseases, the journal Health Affairs found in an online study.

    Obesity and smoking were found to be major factors.

    If the United States could bring its obesity rates in line with Europe's, which would be a decrease from 33.1% to 17.1%, it could save at least $100 billion a year in healthcare costs, according to Kenneth Thorpe, PhD, study author and chairman of Emory University's Department of Health Policy and Management.

    Isn't it time to get serious about the obesity crisis? Since socializing health...
  • Exposing Health Care Myths

    November 14, 2007
    Critics of the U.S. health care system have a litany of complaints. Some are true, but highly misleading. N. Gregory Mankiw takes on three of the latter in a recent New York Times piece. For instance, he observes:
    Some 47 million Americans do not have health insurance.

    This number from the Census Bureau is often cited as evidence that the health system is failing for many American families. Yet by masking tremendous heterogeneity in personal circumstances, the figure exaggerates the magnitude of the problem.

    To start with, the 47 million includes about 10 million residents who...
  • China's Olympic Dilemma: Backsliding on Human Rights

    November 7, 2007
    The Beijing Olympics are less than a year away, and China hopes to showcase its growing economy and expanding international influence. China is a fascinating and vibrant nation, a world apart from the Maoist house of horror of 30 and 40 years ago.

    But though the People's Republic has gone far, it still has far to go. As I detail in a new article on the American Spectator online, Beijing is backsliding on human rights. Although the PRC promised to improve its record when it pursued the Olympics, those pledges have been tossed aside as the authorities attempt to stifle protest before the Games.

    There's nothing the West can do to forcibly improve the human rights situation in China. A threat to boycott the Olympics would be particularly counterproductive, angering average Chinese citizens as well as officials....
  • GOP Big Spenders, But I Repeat Myself

    November 6, 2007
    Finally, after nearly seven years of approving every big spending bill to hit his desk, President George W. Bush is occasionally saying no to budget bloat. And now the Republicans in Congress appear ready to prove that they, no less than their Democratic brethren, really like spending other people's money.

    Reports Robert Bluey of the Heritage Foundation:
    Congressional Republicans have tried hard this year to reclaim the GOP's traditional “brand” as the party of fiscal responsibility. They're about to face a test that will show whether their rhetoric matches reality.

    President Bush's veto of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) on Friday puts him...
  • Social Engineering Doesn't Work, Even in China

    November 6, 2007
    It doesn't matter how often politicians fail. They keep coming back with grand new schemes for transforming their own, and often other people's, societies. And they keep failing.

    At least in democratic Western societies there is a chance to hold public officials accountable for their mistakes. Not so in authoritarian, collectivist states.

    But now even China is being forced to acknowledge that all is not well with the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze river. The world's largest and most expensive water project, it has had enormous, and enormously harmful environmental and social consequences.

    And the price continues to climb. Reports the Wall Street Journal (subscription required):
    Fan Zhongcheng last year joined 1.4 million people forced to flee rising Yangtze River waters caused...

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