January 4, 2008I appeared on CNBC earlier today arguing in favor of sovereign wealth funds. (Which are foreign government-owned investment companies.) For whatever it's worth, you can watch the clip below. Anyway, the political issue being made about foreign investment seems a bit odd to me.
Given that the United States comprises a bit more than 20 percent of world GDP, has the world's largest domestic market, the...
January 2, 2008Our fine colleagues at Bureaucrash have long sold a t-shirt reading "Smoking is Healthier than Fascism." Now, Illinois has apparently become the first state to outlaw smoking in nearly all public places. Although the bill is almost certainly the most wide ranging in the country -- it bans smoking in casinos and hotels -- it's hardly unprecedented. Many states -- including California and New York -- already have partial public indoor smoking bans.
I'm somewhere between conservative and libertarian in my own politics and, personally, I don't share a lot of common objections to anti-smoking crusades. Sin taxes on cigarettes, for example, don't bother me in the slightest:...
December 28, 2007A new British government report has concluded that...wait...wait...wait.. getting rid of bad teachers will improve schools. Wow. I'm amazed.
December 26, 2007It's Christmas Eve (although you probably won't read this until some time after) and I'm sitting in front front of the television now watching the St. Olaf College Christmas Festival. This morning I listened to the radio broadcast of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from the famous King's College Chapel at Cambridge University. Both festivals date from the early decades of the 20th century, both are widely listened to around the world, and both involve lots of wonderful Christmas music. For professionalism and pomp, however, Cambridge's presentation beat St. Olaf's.
This shouldn't surprise anyone: the Cambridge event takes place at one of the world's top universities, in an ancient and iconic building, and involves the 100 or so top musicians from a...
December 26, 2007
The Associated Press reports that a New York state judge has dismissed an airline industry suit against the state's newly enacted Airline Passenger Bill of Rights. On its surface, the law appears pretty reasonable: When passengers are stuck on the ground for more than three hours, airlines must provide them with bathrooms, air conditioning, food, and water. At least twice in recent memory, airlines have left passengers on runways without these things. JetBlue did it in early 2007 and Northwest did the same in 1999. Both airlines refunded nearly all of the air fare they had...
December 17, 2007This past weekend, I watched Juno. It's the best film I've seen this year. (I'm not alone: Roger Ebert also loves it.) The film is just about perfect: funny, smart, well-acted, visually inventive, and well-written. Ellen Page, who plays the title character, will get the great bulk of attention and, most likely, an Oscar nomination. She deserves it.
But, in the process, director Jason Reitman likely won't get the credit he deserves. In fact, the film works so well in large part because, as Ebert says, it has no extra scenes. Add that to the film's winning visual style and it's clear that Reitman has proven himself a master of the two things -- style and final cut -- that directors really can control.
In the context of this blog,...
December 5, 2007Earlier this year, CEI recognized Talk Like a Pirate Day. Today, December 5, many will mark The Day of the Ninja. For reasons I described here pirates do have some libertarian appeal. Ninjas -- who frankly, are a lot more important in modern pop culture than they ever were in Japan -- served their liege lords (usually Daimyos) as trained spies and, sometimes, assassins. Since the feudal system which ninjas helped to uphold has much in common with modern concepts of "corporate social responsibility," and involved heavy redistributive taxation, I think that there's a good reason for libertarians to reject ninjas and all for which they stand. Also, of course, if a pirate and a ninja were to get into a fight, the pirate...
December 4, 2007Two scientists have found that divorce. . .wait...wait. . .wait. . .HURTS THE ENVIRONMENT. (In fact, they really didn't find that directly, only that in home water and electricity bills go up.) Although I suppose there was some use in documenting the facts, it seems pretty darn obvious that two people living apart will use more water and electricity than the same two people living together. Given the numerous, documented negative consequences of divorce (particularly on women and children) it seems hard to imagine what possible public policy consequences this finding could have.
December 3, 2007Ivan,
Like you I was happy to see that Hugo Chavez lost the referendum that would have, more or less, made him a "president for life." But I can't see anything about his record -- his suppression of the free press, his coup attempts against democratically elected leaders, his attacks on the opposition at every turn -- that makes me think he will ever step down peacefully. At most, I could see him taking the "Putin route" and giving the presidency to some loyal crony while continuing to control everything from behind the scenes.
November 30, 2007In recent years, conservatives and libertarians have gone up in arms over the United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST). CEI's own take on it, from Doug Bandow, is found here. I am a bit torn over the treaty because a number of Navy friends, all of whom I like and respect, tell me that LOST really will make the seas a lot safer.
But, whatever the case, I've always had the most interest in the treaty provisions related to seabed mining operations. They're silly and collectivist in any number of ways but, for me, that isn't really even the point.
The real point, I think, is that we're trying to write regulations for something we have no idea how to do. Regulations for warp drives, indeed, have about as much relevance as those on deep sea mining.
Getting up ANYTHING from the deep seabed is really, really hard. Let's take the most...