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  • Fred Talks Executive Compensation on CNBC

    April 13, 2007
    From yesterday afternoon's edition of "Closing Bell"

    Binary Data
  • More on Muir

    April 13, 2007
    John, yes. . .but I mentioned Pinchot because I knew you had good things to say about him. Personally, I would likely be on the opposite side of Muir in most debates—and the opposite side of Pinchot in even more. Many areas of currently public land would be far better off in private hands with no real restrictions on development. But, to the extent that the State owns any land at all beyond what it needs for the actual core business of government, I'd prefer that it make non-economic use of the land. Efforts to "make practical use of" government land is really just economic planning of one sort or another. I realize that, in the short term, it's not practical to privatize as much as either of us would like to. "Worthless" land that belongs to the government by default should also be open to various kinds of development and exploration if someone can find something useful to...
  • A child's idyllic laundry scene

    April 12, 2007
    Richard --

    I enjoyed your laundry post. It's my birthday today — so I'll be indulgent in adding to it.

    When I was a smallish child, my mother did the family's washing with an electric washing machine and a clothes wringer. The sopping wet clothes were pulled through the wringer by turning a handle. It took quite a bit of time and upper-body strength to wash clothes for a family of six.

    After the clothes were wrung out, the heavy basket of clothes was taken out to our back yard, where Mother carefully hung sheets and pillowcases and towels and bedspreads, underwear, blouses, and shirts and skirts on three clotheslines running the width of the yard. Reach up, bend over, reach up, bend over, reach up, bend over until the basket was empty.

    I would follow my mother to grab...

  • Muir's Meanness and Pinchot's practicality

    April 12, 2007
    Eli, I do indeed praise Gifford Pinchot, Theodore Roosevelt's forestry chief, in Eco-Freaks. I point out, however, that he was at sword's ends with Muir over many issues, including the damming of Hetch Hetchy valley to provide water to San Francisco. (Pinchot supported it, while Muir was staunchly opposed. Even today, the Sierra Club is trying to get it undammed. But San Francisco pols usually allied with them, such as Barbara Boxer and Nancy Pelosi, have basically told them to go jump in the dam.") Pinchot and Roosevelt were true conservationists, as am I, whereas Muir was a preservationist. Unfortunately, today's green groups have...
  • "Make mine freedom" -- still holds true

    April 12, 2007

    Our libertarian friends at Reason's Hit and Run blog have posted a wonderful cartoon celebrating — of all things — capitalism! The 1948 production “Make Mine Freedom” was done for Harding College by animators Hanna and Barbera. A few snarky comments, but most of the hip Reasoners seemed to like it too.

  • In defense of Muir

    April 12, 2007
    John-- Good post. I agree that a lot of environmentalists are wackos. But I think that Muir actually deserves some due as an environmental thinker those of us who favor freedom can admire. Why? He was honest. The quotation from Muir that you cite perfectly reflects his romantic mindset: he had strong, personal emotions about the world and wanted to share them. He understood the majesty of nature, talked about it forthrightly, and sought to preserve it for its own sake. Although I don't know the source or context of your quote, I have a good idea of where Muir was probably coming from: most plains Indians didn't care at all about the majesty of nature. They wanted to exploit the environment as best they could in order to raise their own standard of living. Among other thing, helped hunt the Buffalo...
  • Regress to the Future: Laundry Edition

    April 12, 2007
    Welcome back to Al Gore's America, where modern conveniences give way to anachronistic annoyances, all in the name of shrinking one's carbon footprint. Today's backward looking enviro-trend is...clotheslines. That's right, it's time to toss out your dryer and its sinful promise of warm, soft garments and embrace the stiff, cardboard-like bath towels of yesteryear. According to the New York Times' Kathy Hughes, it's fun for the whole family:
    As a child, I helped my mother hang laundry in our backyard in Tamaqua, Pa., a small coal mining town. My job was handing up the clothespins. When everything was dry, I helped her fold the sheets in a series of moves that resembled ballroom dancing. The...
  • Kurt Vonnegut, RIP

    April 12, 2007

    Grossly overrated novelist Kurt Vonnegut Jr. died yesterday after a fall. I've never quite understood why a man of such modest talents received so much literary recognition and became so popular. Some obituaries say that he became the most read author on college campuses. I believe them. In many ways, Vonnegut was the campus Left's answer to Ayn Rand: a competent novelist who came to take himself far too seriously and found plenty of acolytes willing to do the same.

    At his best, Vonnegut did turn out funny, creative stories and novels. His short story “Harrison Bergeron” offers an hilarious send up of the utopian ideal that everyone can be made equal in fact. Despite his own geeky interest in the scientific world—Cat's Cradle helped me understand ice physics--Vonnegut's writing dripped with hatred for science and technology. To him, every possibly...

  • How Business Rates

    April 12, 2007
    Business gets a bad rap in America, but I didn't know how bad that rap was until I saw quantified and laid out in easy to read charts. My beloved boss, Fred Smith, forwarded this old, yet still telling Business Week/Harris poll on the perception of business by Americans. Overall, the American public doesn't have a very rosy perception of business. Certainly this measurement of the cultural zeitgeist shows we haven't gone the way of Chavez's Venezuela, but a majority of Americans nonetheless find business to be unsavory in a multitude of dimensions. While libertarianism isn't pro-business, it's pro-market, and businesses make up a large part of the market. So, the perception of business is a barometer for the perception of the market itself.
  • A socialist interpretation of biofuels issue

    April 12, 2007

    Among the many articles on biofuels proliferating recently, I came across this April 11 article in the magazine In These Times.

    While the writer David Moberg does point out some of the potential problems with the biofuels food-to-fuel rush, he thinks the answer is careful government regulation:

    Both sides in the debate marshal studies predicting promise or peril. Ultimately, the evidence suggests that biofuels could be one valuable source of renewable energy. But for biofuels to deliver on that promise, governments will need to both tightly regulate agricultural and land-use practices, and carefully tailor trade and economic policies. Most important, the world—especially the United States—will have to greatly increase how efficiently it uses energy.



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