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  • Terminal Shortage

    November 17, 2006

    When government controls everything, it necessarily has to ration it, which leads to shortages. It's probably a toss-up at the moment as to which is the most totalitarian government in the world between Zimbabwe and North Korea. But I think this wins it for Zimbabwe - the country has run out of air.

    Hat tip: Pub Philosopher

  • More on Milton Friedman

    November 17, 2006

    It speaks volumes of a man — and of his career — when people don't wait until he's passed away to pay him tribute. That's what outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld did for Milton Friedman this past Wednesday night at The American Spectator's Annual Dinner, before the world heard the sad news of his passing. Said Rumsfeld on Friedman's contribution to America's defense policy:

    I looked at the first edition [of The American Spectator] the other day, and the they sent me the people who'd written in it, and Milton Friedman had a piece in there on the all the case for the all-volunteer...

  • The climate is just like Bambi

    November 17, 2006

    The Los Angeles Times today has a story by Robert Lee Hotz that reports on a new scientific article reviewing what's going on with the Arctic climate. The team finds that the Arctic has been warming up, but that there are now some signs that it may be starting to cool down. There is nothing remarkable in this. The Arctic does get warmer when ocean currents and winds push more warm air from the lower latitudes into the Arctic, and it cools down when the ocean current and wind patterns change and start pushing less warm air northwards. What is astonishing is how one of the scientists who did the research describes what they found. According to the LA Times story:

    "This is a region that is fighting back," said lead author...

  • NOAA's Ark: A Report That Includes Two of Every Conclusion

    November 17, 2006

    There's a new study on the Arctic and global warming released by NOAA, and the results are, well, mixed. The Los Angeles Times reports:

    An international team of scientists reported Thursday that rising temperatures are steadily transforming the Arctic -- warming millions of square miles of permafrost, promoting lush greenery on previously arid tundras and steadily shrinking the annual sea ice.

    Yet the researchers also found new patterns of cooling ocean currents and prevailing winds that suggested the Arctic, long considered a bellwether of global warming, may be reverting in some ways to more normal conditions not seen since the 1970s.

    So global warming is both radically...

  • God is Dead... Legally speaking, that is

    November 17, 2006

    Sir Simon Jenkins has a must-read column today on how the UK's Health and Safety Executive has decided to abolish the idea of an Act of God:

    On New Year's Day 2005, one of Dunham's mighty 260-year-old beeches was hit by a sudden, 67mph gust of wind. It fell on to its neighbour, which in turn toppled and killed an eight-year-old boy. It was an accident, and nobody pretended otherwise. The Health and Safety Executive, in league with the police, arrested and cautioned the property manager for possible manslaughter, but the police dropped the case for lack of evidence after a year.The HSE did not do so. What used to be called an act of God has, since the invention of the HSE, been redefined as an act of man. There is no longer any such thing as an accident, or lawyers...

  • How Milton Friedman Made Me Buy A New TV

    November 17, 2006

    PBS first aired Milton Friedman's 10-part "Free to Choose" series in 1980. At that time we only had an old TV set that didn't receive UHF, and so we couldn't watch the show at home. But National Airport had recently installed some new chairs in one part of its lobby, each of which had a small TV mounted next to it. If you put a few coins in the pay box, you could watch what you wanted.

    So my wife and I drove down to National Airport, figuring we'd catch the first episode there. Well, the TV did receive UHF, but the reception was terrible! (The ambiance wasn't very good either.)

    And that's why we bought a new, UHF-capable TV set, in time to watch the next episode of "Free to Choose" at home.

    As for "Capitalism and Freedom", my favorite Friedman book, I always think of it as "Capitalism and Friedman".

  • Good Government! (Sit!...Stay!...)

    November 17, 2006

    The Antitrust Modernization Commission will report recommendations for streamlining the nation's antitrust laws sometime in April 2007; while the ponderous commission has been around for three years nearly undetected and undetectable, there are good signs that even commissions like this are heeding the wisdom of the magnificent Milton Friedman, lost to us yesterday at the age of 94. (See stories and pictures here, and my colleague Iain Murray's appreciation here.)

    According to Dow Jones Newswires, the AMC panel recognizes that regulators get several bites at the apple when it comes to examining mergers, and they...

  • More on the Friedman Legacy

    November 16, 2006

    As news of Milton Friedman's death today makes its way around the world, the reactions (and tributes) are pouring in. Fred's own take joins those of others like Cato Institute President Ed Crane, Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner, and Reason Foundation Policy Analyst Steve Titch.

    I was looking through his Nobel lecture on inflation and unemployment from 1976 this afternoon, and it's a great read - not just on those two topics, but on the nature of economics itself and its...

  • John McCain Wants to Be One of the Cool Kids

    November 16, 2006

    Sen. Inhofe continues telling it like it is on the subject of climate change, this time in Nairobi at the (take a deep breath) UNFCCC COP-12/MOP-2. The Reuters story contrasts Inhofe with John McCain, who, according to environment correspondent Deborah Zabarenko, is worried that our current policy "makes the United States unpopular with Europeans."

    I'd hate to think what else is on his agenda if making us popular with the Europeans is his goal. Why not strangle the economy and start rationing energy? If we don't, Luxembourg's environment minister might be rude to...

  • Capitalism and Freedom

    November 16, 2006

    The title says it all. Unlike many libertarians, for me it didn't begin with Ayn Rand, but with Milton Friedman, specifically his classic manifesto, Capitalism and Freedom. This slim volume not only crystallized ideas of which I'd thought but had not well articulated, it also challenged me to look at the political world in a different way - not as a struggle between Left and Right, but between liberty and power. Professor Friedman left the world a better place than he found it, and over the next few days many well-deserved tributes will mention that fact...

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