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  • "Every day, in every way . . ."

    January 18, 2007
    The title says it all: The Improving State of the World: Why We're Living Longer, Healthier, More Comfortable Lives on a Cleaner Planet. Read spiked's review of Indur Goklany's latest book — and then read the book.
  • The Lord Brown Problem: Everybody wants to save the planet, but no one wants to help mom wash dishes!

    January 18, 2007
    The decision by the Board of British Petroleum to accelerate the switch from the current chairman, John Brown (Lord Brown), is indicative of a growing awareness in corporate circles that a preoccupation with political correctness can create real problems. Lord Brown became an admired businessman — in a world increasingly anti-capitalist. Why? Because, unlike his counterpart Lee Raymond of ExxonMobil, Brown saw the PC views of the European and American chattering classes as providing a wonderful opportunity to showcase his company — and himself — as somehow different. BP relabeled itself “Beyond Petroleum,” created a new sunburst logo that seemingly suggested renewable energy as the BP focus, and rushed to endorse every green slogan and idea under the sun. This Pharisee strategy (“Thank you Lord for making me better than these other sinners!”) is dangerous because...
  • Federal Judge postpones CA CO2 case

    January 18, 2007
    Several automakers and dealers are suing (warning: big PDF file) California to overturn the "landmark" (pro-Kyoto) legislation requiring new vehicles sold in the state to meet CO2 emission standards. The automakers are suing under the 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which prohibits states from adopting laws or regulations "related to" fuel economy. The automakers correctly argue that CO2 standards are just fuel economy standards by another name. As EPA has explained, "No technology currently exists or is under development that can capture and destroy or reduce emissions of CO2, unlike other emissions from motor vehicle tailpipes. At present, the only practical method for reducing tailpipe emissions of CO2 is to improve fuel economy." Thus, although federal law expresses fuel economy standards in terms of miles per gallon, EPA measures...
  • Free trade gives way to labor protectionists

    January 17, 2007

    At a press roundtable today, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative John Veroneau said that the U.S. would be renegotiating three completed Latin American free trade agreements to add more labor provisions before submitting them to Congress.

    The FTAs with Peru, Colombia, and Panama already include extensive labor and environmental provisions that were mandated by the Trade Promotion Authority Act of 2002. However, Democratic leaders — flush with their Congressional victories in late November — had written the USTR saying that more stringent labor provisions needed to be included in trade pacts before they would consider approving them.

    Here's an...

  • The Latest Disease of Affluence

    January 17, 2007

    Living in a nation with a vibrant market economy and a predictable rule of law is generally considered a good thing. Lest we allow ourselves to be blinded to the darker side of capitalist society, though, Reuters is here for us, exposing the story the rest of the mainstream media has been too timid to tackle: unduly elaborate little kid birthday parties.

    RR

    It seems that a group of social science professors from Minnesota have decided that fancy parties for young children are "running out of control," ($25,...

  • As Lenin said about rope...

    January 17, 2007
    Our sophisticated friends, the Europeans, are desperate to do anything to meet their Kyoto targets, which they are currently speeding away from in the wrong direction. That noted philanthropist Vladimir Putin is riding like a white knight to the rescue:
    Russian energy group Gazprom will make its first significant foray into carbon trading on Tuesday through a joint venture with Dresdner Bank that could open up a €15bn ($19.4bn, £9.8bn) market. The joint venture between Gazprombank, part of the Gazprom Group, and Dresdner Kleinwort will invest in projects generating "carbon credits" under the Kyoto protocol, mainly in Russia and eastern Europe.
    Coincidentally, Gazprom has had the way cleared for it to become Russia's monopoly...
  • Economists File Brief In Support of Terminally-Ill

    January 17, 2007
    On November 21, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals voted to vacate and rehear its Abigail Alliance v. Von Eschenbach decision, which would have required the FDA to justify why it prevents terminally-ill people from obtaining access to potentially life-saving doctor-recommended drugs that have passed the first stage of the FDA's lengthy approval process. Ted Frank of AEI, working with the O'Melveny & Myers law firm, has filed a well-written amicus brief on behalf of several eminent economists arguing in support of the D.C. Circuit's original decision in favor of the terminally ill. The brief explains why allowing the terminally-ill greater access to such drugs will not only save the lives of terminally-ill people, but also...
  • We're from the government and are here to help

    January 17, 2007
    That is, of course, one of the classic lines of untruth. A spectacular example comes from the UK:
    [The] invention looked like being a godsend to all those businesses across the country, such as those on most industrial estates, that generate huge amounts of cardboard packaging that normally gets thrown away into landfill. Being a careful engineer, Mr Donovan was keen to ensure that his device complied with all the relevant EC legislation, so several times between 2001 and 2003 he consulted the Environment Agency. On the basis of their advice, he completed a prototype of his system, which saved a local plant nursery thousands of pounds a year on its heating bills...
    After looking again at the EC's waste incineration directive, [the Agency] now advised that,...
  • Forbidden Words

    January 16, 2007
    Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes observed in Towne v. Eisner (1918) that "a word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged, it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and the time in which it is used." Court rulings under the First Amendment recognize this fact.  There are no forbidden words that the government can ban regardless of the circumstances in which they are used.  For example, in Hardy v. Jefferson Community College (2001), the federal appeals court in Cincinnati held that an instructor could not be terminated just for discussing the "N" word and how it was historically used to promote racism. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission would like to change that, though.  It would like to ban racially derogatory terms, even when they are used by minorities themselves. ...
  • New -- WTO summaries of trade disputes

    January 16, 2007
    For those following trade issues, a World Trade Organization report published today gives one-page summaries of 103 cases brought before the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body from 1995 to September 2006. Such important disputes as the U.S. complaint against the European Commission on beef hormones, Canada's complaint against the U.S. re softwood lumber, Brazil's complaint against the U.S. on domestic support for upland cotton, and the earlier and far-reaching shrimp-turtle decision are included with core facts and findings. It's sobering to realize that complaints are brought about seemingly minor products in the world trading system, such as wheat gluten or preserved peaches. Products such as those, however, may be extremely...

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