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  • Debunking Dobbs -- Part II

    January 4, 2007
    In the Christian Science Monitor's Jan. 4 issue, GMU's Don Boudreaux takes a whack at Dobbs in his “open letter” to the huckster of protectionism. Boudreaux writes:
    If you're still skeptical that America's trade deficit is no cause for concern, perhaps you'll be persuaded by Adam Smith, who wrote that "Nothing, however, can be more absurd than this whole doctrine of the balance of trade." Smith correctly understood that with free trade, the economy becomes larger than any one nation - a fact that brings more human creativity, more savings, more capital, more specialization, more opportunity, more competition, and a higher standard of living to all those who can freely trade.
    (I think that Don is one of the best economists around writing...
  • Bhagwati debunks Dobbsians

    January 4, 2007
    Economist Jagdish Bhagwati does it again — in an FT opinion piece today, he pricks holes in the Dobbsian view that globalization has devastated U.S. jobs and wages. Bhagwati points out that technology — “labor-saving technical change” — has stressed those less skilled in the job market. And, because the process is now continuous and unrelenting, lower-skilled workers find it harder to adjust. He notes:
    I suspect that the answer lies in the intensity of displacement of unskilled labour by information technology-based change and in the fact that this process is continuous now — unlike discrete changes caused by past inventions such as the steam engine. Before the workers get on to the rising part of the J-curve, they run into yet...
  • FDA Animal Cloning Decision Comes Years Too Late

    January 4, 2007
    In an invited post on The Hill's Congress Blog yesterday, I argued that the FDA's announcement that it had officially found meat and milk from cloned cows, pigs, and goats to be safe for human consumption was welcome news, but way over due. The National Academy of Science came to the same conclusion four years ago. And even FDA had come to that conclusion three years ago; it just stalled for three additional years culling through more...
  • Union of Concerned Scientists

    January 3, 2007
    The Union of Concerned Scientists has just released a 68-page report that claims that Exxon Mobil has funded a disinformation campaign on global warming based on the strategy and tactics used by the tobacco industry. Nearly everything in the report is recycled uncritically from other sources. It's mostly rubbish. Exxon Mobil can defend themselves, but I will comment on the ridiculous charges and misinformation about CEI. Here's an example. A Freedom of Information Act request several years ago revealed an e-mail that I had sent to Phil Cooney, then-chief-of-staff to the Chairman of the President's Council on Environmental Quality, in 2002. Andrew Revkin of the New York Times published a front-page story that the Bush Administration had conceded that global warming was a big...
  • Neo-luddites embark on anti-consumption year

    January 3, 2007
    In the news today, a group of San Francisco lefties + assorted friends who are renewing a pledge to forego shopping for the entire year. Seems that consumption (in the consumer way, not in the tuberculosis sense) is bad, primarily because of the "negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of disposable consumer culture" and its supposed harm to local businesses and farms. The yahoo group (how modern of them!) boasts nearly 4000 members, interestingly enough. They pledge not to buy "new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)" and, instead, borrow, barter...
  • The Grey Lady's Resolution: "In" -- global warming moderation; "Out" -- alarmism

    January 2, 2007
    On January 1st the New York Times revealed an astounding New Year's resolution: it starkly shifted course and implicitly promised to rein in its own promotion of global warming alarmism, tossing a few extreme actors overboard in hopes of saving the rest of the movement and their massive taxpayer-funded budgets. ("Middle Stance Emerges in Debate Over Climate: Scientists Espouse Measured Response" (log-in required). In so doing, the Times thereby also helpfully rationalizes their political allies' looming failure/refusal to do precisely what they have pounded the table intemperantly for for nearly six years, which is now within their grasp, and which therefore appears far less inviting: rapid -- and, we now know, rash -- enactment of ...
  • The Lohachara Incident

    December 30, 2006
    Geoffrey Lean of The Independent on Sunday adds a new element to the catastrophist case:
    "Rising seas, caused by global warming, have for the first time washed an inhabited island off the face of the Earth. The obliteration of Lohachara island, in India's part of the Sundarbans where the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers empty into the Bay of Bengal, marks the moment when one of the most apocalyptic predictions of environmentalists and climate scientists has started coming true."
    One slight problem with this; Lohachara vanished 20  years ago:
    "Lohachara and Bedford islands, with an area of more than six square kilometres between them, 'vanished from the map' two decades ago."
    More at...
  • Bear-baiting

    December 30, 2006
    CEI Adjunct Fellow Steve Milloy has more on the polar bear issue in his weekly must-read FoxNews column:
    "Let's keep in mind that polar bears have survived much warmer times than we are now experiencing — like 1,000 years ago when the Vikings farmed Greenland during the Medieval Climate Optimum and 5,000-9,000 years ago during the period known as the Holocene Climate Optimum. "But even giving the proposal the benefit of the doubt, will it accomplish anything? "When I asked Secretary [of the Interior Dirk] Kempthorne that question — pointing out that even if the polar bear habitat was shrinking because of melting ice there isn't a credible climate scientist in the world that believes anything could be done to stop the ice from melting, and that legalized polar bear harvesting seems to contradict any...
  • Taste and Trans fats

    December 30, 2006
    Nobel laureate Gary Becker has some thoughts on the New York City trans-fats ban (reflecting on comments by his co-blogger, Judge Richard Posner):
    "Posner also gives a kind of lower bound estimate of the benefits as $100 million, and also suggests a much lower cost to restaurants of becoming trans fat-free -- I take this as $30 million. With a small taste benefit from the use of trans fats -- the New England Medicine Journal article I cited earlier does admit positive effect of trans fats on 'palatability' -- the total cost of the ban would equal or exceed total benefits. For example, suppose 1 million persons on average eat 200 meals per year in NYC restaurants with trans fats. If they value the taste of trans fats in their foods only by 35 cents per meal, the taste cost to...
  • Jamaican Malaria: Blame Rachel Carson, not global warming

    December 28, 2006
    Malaria cases in Jamaica have surpassed 160, the Associated Press reports. This is the first outbreak there in more than four decades. One headline says, incorrectly as we will see, "Jamaica Fights Rare Malaria Outbreak." Expect to hear endless arguments about how this is due to global warming and human-induced climate change. How horrific it is that human are changing the natural climate cycles!      One problem with this theory! The disease was never "rare" in Jamaica until man-made DDT, despised by enviros from Rachel Carson onward, wiped it out there in the 1960s. Malaria...

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