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  • Jenkins in the WSJ on the subprime shambles

    August 22, 2007
    Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.'s piece in the Wall Street Journal today (“Payback,” subscription required) is a thoughtful and cogent assessment of some aspects of the subprime mortgage market. Jenkins notes that government policy to subsidize home ownership because “homeownership is a social blessing” expanded to focus on getting low-income families into homes they owned rather than rented. However, he points to research showing that those people may have been better off as renters in terms of having greater resources for possible upward mobility for themselves and their families. Holman also notes that “something” — partly a regulatory and legal problem — is making it difficult for holders of subprime mortgage paper to ask for forbearance on the underlying loans:
  • Kyoto? That is Illogical, Captain

    August 22, 2007
    The head of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, Yvo de Boer, has admitted that the principle behind the Kyoto Protocol is “illogical.” He noted that the idea that developed countries must tackle their own emissions expensively while developing nations continue to emit without restriction did not make sense and that it would be cheaper for the world if developed nations paid developing nations not to emit on their behalf. On the surface, de Boer's rethink is welcome, but it is actually an example of green imperialism. Developing nations must be allowed to develop, and this laudable goal of the original Kyoto agreement must not be forgotten. Taken literally, de Boer's suggestion forces the developing world into environmental welfare dependency, remaining poor to keep the world's emissions low. It seems that de...
  • Heritage to Congress: Ratify FTA with Colombia

    August 22, 2007
    Over at The Heritage Foundation, James M. Roberts, in a paper titled “The U.S.—Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement: Don't Let Progress Fall Victim to D.C. Politics,” argues that Congress should drop its threats and ratify the U.S.—Colombia free trade agreement and the other three pending ones. To do otherwise, Roberts wrote, would send a global message that the U.S. is turning its back on an important Latin American ally when more open trade with the U.S. could help Colombia build its economy, help its people climb out of poverty, and have greater resources to address some of the crime and corruption problems in that country.
    As President Uribe tries to reduce poverty and income inequality in his country by opening up to the global economy, next-door neighbor Hugo Chavez is tightening a noose around...
  • No such thing as a victimless ban

    August 22, 2007
    UK Telegraph columnist A.N. Wilson weighs in on a little-noticed pernicious effect of nanny statism.

    What do the following have in common: Oscar Wilde, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, T S Eliot, W B Yeats, Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, Evelyn Waugh, Philip Larkin and Kingsley Amis?

    The answer is, of course, that if they were to come back to life in Gordon Brown's Britain and wanted to go out to their club, or a restaurant or café, they would not be allowed to indulge in a habit which sustained them during the most creative phases of their lives.

    The moment they popped their favoured cigar, cigarette or pipe between their lips and lit up,...

  • Crash Across America Rolls On

    August 21, 2007
    Jason and the rest of the Bureaucrash crew are making their way across the northeast part of our great continent this week, as part of Crash Across America 2007, a traveling celebration of liberty. You can see the map of their route here, and watch their videos from the road. Here's the first one to get you started.

    Binary Data...
  • Gender Bias in the Courts -- and in The Washington Post

    August 21, 2007
    For a glaring example of gender bias in the courts (and the media), you need look no further than The Washington Post story today by Tamara Jones, in which she commiserates with convicted felon Teressa Turner-Schaefer, who spent a mere 11 months in jail for killing her husband after an argument. Now Turner-Schaefer gets to collect $400,000 in life insurance for killing her husband. In a plea bargain, she pleaded guilty to the crime of involuntary manslaughter, which, amazingly enough, doesn't bar you from collecting life insurance taken out on the person you killed. It's not surprising that the prosecutors let her plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter, even if they thought she deliberately murdered her husband. Prosecutions of wives for killing their husbands are among the...
  • Jacoby on global warming -- part 2

    August 21, 2007
    I missed until today Jeff Jacoby's second article on global warming science in the Boston Globe on Saturday. (Hans had blogged about the first installment.). Don Boudreaux over at CafeHayek posted on both articles and got some interesting comments — most of them on topic. Here are some excerpts from Jacoby's piece:
    Take the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Unlike its previous report in 2001, which foresaw a possible rise in sea levels over the next century of around 3 feet, the new report cuts that figure in half, to about 17 inches. Why the revision? "Mainly because of improved information,"...
  • "Political pandering" on trade

    August 21, 2007
    The Denver Post yesterday ran an excellent editorial about the negative climate for free trade, with a focus on “election-year political pandering.” Here are some excerpts:
    One of the more harmful results of this early presidential contest has been the introduction of election-year political pandering to the trade debate in Congress. The result may be a return to protectionist policies that will force American consumers to pay higher prices while costing U.S. workers thousands of export-related jobs. Every U.S. president since World War II, Republican or Democrat, has fought to reduce the kind of trade barriers that triggered the Great Depression of the 1930s. For its part, the Bush administration has followed the fine example set by its Democratic predecessor, Bill Clinton, by seeking approval...
  • Fund on Mine Your Own Business

    August 21, 2007
    Today in, John Fund looks at the environmentalist-led campaign against a proposed mine in Rosia Montana, Romania, documented in the film Mine Your Own Business -- whose Washington, D.C. premiere CEI co-sponsored. All-purpose left-wing moneybags George Soros and professional umbrage artist Vanessa Redgrave -- who Fund points out "hasn't visited Rosia Montana" -- are pushing hard to shut the mine project down, never mind what the town's residents may actually want.
    Opponents of the mine claim that Rosia Montana residents agree with their stance. "Local opposition to the mine is strong and organized" says a statement signed by 80 environmental groups in January. In his letter, Mr. Soros cites a recent poll organized by some members of...
  • Ugly Purse, $52,500. . .and, as Cartman would say, 'You Can't Have It!'

    August 21, 2007
    The today's Washington Post carries an interesting story about the Louis Vuitton Tribute Patchwork bag. As you see from the picture, the bag is ugly, and at $52,500 (yes, really) it's one of the most expensive in the world. Nonetheless, there's a lot of buzz about the bag and only 25 will be sold in the entire world. The Post article, implicitly, makes an important point: when everybody has the luxury goods that Michael Silverstein and Neil Fiske call "masstige" products (i.e. luxury goods that enormous numbers of people can afford), then a certain segment of the very rich or very...


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