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  • Memo to Sen. Boxer: Be Careful What You Ask For

    January 11, 2007
    If I were Barbara Boxer, the last thing I want to hear on January 30th when Senators trundle down to offer their deep climate thoughts is the following. As her first act as chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Boxer has asked for Senators to offer their take on the horrors of global warming and what they, were they the king that they see in the mirror when shaving, would do. Rare are such opportunities. In 500 words someone could do more for the debate than 6 years have done. "Madame Chairman, I suggest we vote on the Kyoto Protocol. I have listened for 6 years to rather heated rhetoric about the purported irresponsibility of President Bush for not signing a treaty that was already signed by Bill Clinton, by those who have yet to suggest we vote on Kyoto; I have heard quite stirring claims against chairmen for holding hearings on an issue, from those who now...
  • Meet Modern Britain: Where Blood, Sweat and Tears Is a 70s Rock Band

    January 9, 2007
    Global warming activists have suggested that Prime Minister Tony Blair give up his personal holiday travel around the world, to set an example as a carbon dioxide conscious citizen. Blair has responded by telling them to bugger off. As it turns out, addressing climate change the Blair way won't involve any significant sacrifices for the citizenry, like, say, no longer doing things that cause CO2 emissions. He has cautioned his countrymen not to set "unrealistic targets" in their personal life, adding, "It's like telling people you shouldn't drive anywhere." According to his spokesman, Blair believes that policies that end up "hurting the domestic or the world economy" are the wrong way to go. That's good news for the Brits, of course. How a nation like the UK is going to meet its Kyoto obligations without less...
  • Scharzenegger to order 10% emissions cut; expected to boost ethanol

    January 9, 2007
    Gov. Schwarzenegger is expected today to order California's petroleum refiners and gasoline sellers to reduce the carbon content of the fuels they sell by 10%. Cui bono? Can you spell "ethanol"? Even with this mandate and the 2002 law (AB 1493) imposing CO2 emissions standards on new cars sold in the state, actual CO2 emissions from California's transport sector are likely to grow. Consider the European experience. Due to high motor fuel taxes, Europeans pay roughly twice what Americans pay for gasoline. Yet from 1990 to 2004, EU transport sector CO2 emissions increased almost 26% and are projected under current policies to be 35% above 1990 levels in...
  • A Temporary Reprieve for D.C. Employers and Landlords

    January 9, 2007
    D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams rightly vetoed a bill that would have banned employers from taking applicants' criminal records into account in hiring, and forced landlords to rent to ex-cons, even in units near their own living quarters.  But it was one of his last acts as mayor, and the D.C. Council (which includes the incoming mayor) voted for the bill by a veto-proof 10-to-2 margin.  Moreover, the bill was sponsored by William's predecessor as mayor, Councilman Marion Barry, who himself has a criminal record. The Washington Post has editorialized against the bill, noting that "under the bill a home health-care agency would have to hire someone who had been freed 10 years ago after serving...
  • Drug Industry Gone to the Dogs

    January 9, 2007
    My dog is fat. Obese, even, if the FDA is to be believed. The arrival of my new-born son two years ago has meant fewer and fewer long runs on the weekends for me and the dog, as well as more and more table 'scraps' being hand-fed to the pooch by the boy. Tipping the scales at a whopping 90 pounds (or roughly 20 percent) over his ideal weight, BJ needs some help. Fortunately, last week the FDA approved the very first diet drug for dogs -- a Pfizer product called derlotapide, to be marketed under the trade name Slentrol. The introduction of a prescription-only diet drug for pets says a lot about a country. (It might suggest a thing or two about me personally as well, but let...
  • Will the Real Redisributionists Stand Up?

    January 8, 2007
    The populist rhetoric in the recent elections was widespread. We need to tax the rich and the greedy corporations - take from the rich and give to the poor. But such redistributionist tactics are old hat. The current weather situation suggests a far more innovative approach to this liberal program. I refer, of course, to weather redistribution. Colorado, one might have noticed, had too much snow, while the ski slopes at Eastern resorts were bare. Why doesn't Congress do something about this inequity? Why not charge the Corps of Engineers to move the unwanted snow to where it would be valuable? And, while they're at it, they might shift a little of our recent rain falls to the Western deserts. And, since Canada too is "suffering" from this horrible bout of balmy weather and foreign aid has not been getting a good press in recent years, why not make this redistribution...
  • Can a Deal be Done on Doha?

    January 8, 2007
    Hopes are rising that the U.S. and the European Union may find ways to work out their differences on advancing more open international trade. Today President Bush met with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, with trade talks high on the agenda. After the meeting, both leaders strongly endorsed the need to advance the World Trade Organization's Doha Development Round. Negotiations have been at a standstill since last July, when talks broke down mainly because the U.S. and the EU could not agree on substantial cuts in agricultural subsidies and tariffs. (For CEI's perspective on the talks and the Doha Round, check...
  • Ethanol demand will drive grain prices to record levels, Lester Brown warns

    January 8, 2007
    Lester Brown, founder and President of the Earth Policy Institute, estimates that in 2008, U.S. ethanol distilleries will require 139 million tons of corn -- twice as much as the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts. He predicts that "the emerging competition between cars and people for grain will likely drive grain prices to levels never seen before." Most ethanol is made from corn, but "as corn prices rise, so too do those of wheat and rice, both because of consumer substitution among grains and because the crops compete for land." A surge in U.S. corn prices will have dramatic effects on global grain prices. Brown explains: "The U.S. corn crop, accounting for 40 percent of the global harvest and supplying 70 precent of global corn exports, looms large in the world food economy. Annual U.S. corn exports of some...
  • Efficiency – You Have to Know the Purpose First!

    January 8, 2007

    Over the Holidays, I sought to catch up on some long-deferred reading. One book, Climbing Mount Improbable by Richard Dawkins was on that list and I made a bit of headway. Early in the book, there's an interesting discussion of how one might distinguish between a designed and an accidental product. He uses the example of a “container” — something that can contain a liquid. He notes that he has on his desk a “geode” — a mineral formation that contains a bubble. When split, that mineral formation creates a “natural” cup. However, he suggests a measure of efficiency — the ratio of the “container material” to the liquid that can be contained. His stone occupies 130 cubic centimeters and can contain 87.5 cubic centimeters of liquid — an “efficiency rating” of .673! In contrast, one of his wine glasses has a ratio of 3....

  • Go Where the Voters Are!

    January 8, 2007
    Robert Samuelson wrote a recent column, “Myths and the Middle Class,” quoting statistics that indicate that only 2 percent of Americans see themselves as Upper Class, only 8 percent as Lower Class. That our politicians would thus seek to focus on ensuring that the Middle Class doesn't get neglected would seem sound politics!

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