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  • Can money offset venality?

    October 26, 2006
    Prizes sponsored by private individuals and organizations seem to be the new way to provide incentives for technological and other advances. Now a wealthy Sudanese entrepreneur, Mo Ibrahim, is offering a post-facto prize to African leaders who have governed well and in the interests of their people. Ibrahim says that the money may provide incentives for some African leaders to leave office, since they will have financial security instead of clinging to their positions of power and perhaps leading their countries into corruption. An index will be used to evaluate heads of state's performances. And the criteria sound similar to those of...
  • Fencing out emigrants better than building levees?

    October 26, 2006
    President Bush just signed a bill to build a 700-mile fence on the 2000-mile U.S.border with Mexico to keep illegal immigrants out. Wow, that's going to do a lot to further relationships with our Central American friends. Congress earlier had appropriated $1.2 billion for the barrier, but it's expected to cost around $6 billion. That's about $4 billion less than the projected cost of building New Orleans' levees to federal standards. But let's get our priorities right. The levees would only protect...
  • Bootsy Collins He Ain’t

    October 26, 2006
    If, as Saul Alinsky, said, “Ridicule is man's most potent weapon,” then it's effective against even hiding foes, like Iraq's violent insurgents—and especially when the ridicule is deployed by private citizens. In Iraq, “Hurry Up, He's Dead,” a popular new TV show that features a fake newscast delivered by “a wacky-looking man with a giant Afro wig and star-shaped glasses” is giving viewers an outlet to vent against the country's precarious situation, reports The New York Times. The show has featured a character named “Rums bin Feld,” and, notes the Times, lampoons, “[e]ven the militias wreaking havoc on the country.” If the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, it's because of words' power to skewer. (...
  • An Ostentatious Display of Escaping Poverty

    October 25, 2006
    Statist environmentalists' stern condemnation of what they consider spendthrift consumption is nothing new in the West—but developing countries unaccustomed to such hectoring might be taken aback enough to react strongly. Officials in the United Arab Emirates have done just that in response to the World Wildlife Fund's (WWF, not to be confused with the old World Wrestling Federation) new Living Planet 2006 report, which claims that, “the world's natural ecosystems are being degraded at a rate unprecedented in human history," and that UAE residents are placing enormous stress per capita on the environment, according to the Dubai-based Gulf News. Majid Al Mansouri, Secretary General of the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi, called...
  • No Unnecessary Travel Allowed in the War on CO2

    October 25, 2006
    I'm going to be flying to Vermont tomorrow, and some of my colleagues are also taking airline trips soon, including a few to far off Guatemala. This will doubtless anger British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, who is busying herself advocating for a "global warming tax" on airline travel of as much as £50 ($94) per ticket, in order to cut down on the number of airline trips her constituents can afford to take. One imagines that the number of flights Ms. Beckett herself takes, will (being taxpayer-funded) see no decline.
  • Does Gulfstream Make a Hybrid Jet?

    October 25, 2006
    In a shocking development, we find out this morning that environmentally fixated, hybrid-loving celebrities don't necessarily live the green dream that they preach to everyone else. When asked about this disconnect, George Clooney's publicist told entertainment website TMZ.com "You clearly have no understanding of certain people's need for private transport." Actually, that's the whole point - we all have our own unique mix of transportation needs, which is why it's a bad idea to try and use the public policy process to force the public into vehicles that don't meet their needs. In other news, new poll results suggest a widespread consensus on public transportation among U.S. consumers.
  • If Current Trends Continue …Environmentalists Will Continue to Be Wrong!

    October 24, 2006
    In a changing world, it seems that at least one thing is certain: If current trends continue, environmentalist predictions about the future will continue to be wrong. Yet unfortunately, policymakers continue to heed their warnings, passing foolish regulations to ward off the “impending catastrophes.” A new report issued by the World Wildlife Fund says that if current trends continue, the earth will be too small to sustain humanity. “Pressures on the earth's natural systems are both predictable and dire,” according to the Living Planet Report 2006. Environmentalists have been making such wrongheaded—anti-growth, anti-technology—predictions at least since Rachel Carson launched the movement with her 1962 book Silent Spring. There she warned of an impending cancer epidemic that would result unless we stopped using many manmade chemicals. It didn't happen. Paul Ehrlich warned...
  • Another doomsday report – Simon redux

    October 24, 2006
    Shades of Paul Ehrlich: WWF in a new report says that the earth cannot support its human population, especially those in the developed world with their insatiable appetite and unsustainable lifestyle. WWF's report states:
    “Since the late 1980s, we have been in overshoot — the Ecological Footprint has exceeded the Earth's biocapacity — as of 2003 by about 25 per cent. Effectively, the Earth's regenerative capacity can no longer keep up with demand — people are turning resources into waste faster than nature can turn waste back into resources. Humanity is no longer living off nature's interest, but drawing down its capital. This growing pressure on ecosystems is causing habitat destruction or degradation and permanent loss of productivity, threatening both biodiversity...
  • COPA: "So Much Easier than Parenting"

    October 24, 2006
    The Child Online Protection Act (COPA), signed by President Clinton eight years ago, has yet to be enforced. Kids have grown up waiting to be "protected" by it. The law requires that Website operators, through such means as requiring credit card numbers and other techniques for proof of age, must ensure that material "harmful to children," is not accessed by them. Sizeable penalties apply. Free speech advocates (Salon, the ACLU) have continued their arguments--in a trial in federal court starting today--that the law is too vague and could prevent the accessing of legitimate material by adults. The Supreme Court has twice upheld injunctions barring enforcement. It's become tiresome to reiterate...
  • A funny picture is worth a thousand Chinese proverbs

    October 24, 2006
    Clods' Letters to Mad, a compendium of the most unintentionally funny letters received by Mad magazine during the 1970s, gives a great—albeit fictional—example of the power of political ridicule, the topic of my new article in The American Spectator online. Clods' Letters' introduction tells the story of a Chinese man whose name was lost to posterity after he paraphrased the Chinese proverb, “A picture is worth a thousand words” into “A funny picture is worth a thousand Chinese proverbs.” The subject of the funny picture? The emperor.

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