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  • Caring for Vets: A Healthy Plan

    March 9, 2007
    I have a piece in yesterday's NR Online--my first CEI publication--that may seem a little counterintuative coming from a free market organization like CEI. In essence, I argue that the key to making Walter Reed work better is making it more like the Department of Veteran's Affairs Health System. While it's not perfect (what is?) the VA health system is one of the Federal government's best run agencies. It works a lot like Kaiser Permenente—incidentally, probably the best sizeable private health system in the country. It's really a giant HMO with a great computer system. While the care quality and outcomes are good, consumer choice is limited. While I think the military can learn a lot from the VA, for a number of reasons, I think it's a terrible model for the country as a whole. It does...
  • At Least Private Property Is Expanding in Some Nations

    March 9, 2007
    A very interesting story in the Washington Post today notes that China is moving to protect private property. The Communist party apparently realizes that insecure tenure over valuable assets weakens the incentives to invest, to modernize, to improve. Now if we could just persuade our politicians!
  • Do Editorialists and Environmentalists Read the Paper?

    March 9, 2007
    February was an interesting month; here in Washington, the media and the new Democratic congress are moving rapidly ahead to push alarmist global warming policies. Yet, the headlines today were interesting: in the Wall Street Journal, "Store Sales are Chilled by Winter Weather"[subscription required] and in the Washington Post, "Cold Puts Chill on Retail Sales." The post notes, interestingly, that this has been "the coldest February since 1979." The alarmists are encountering two major problems with their catastrophe scenarios—reality and winter. And Spring is coming!
  • Does Organic Food Cause Allergies?

    March 9, 2007
    By now, approximately one million people have asked me, "So, have you seen those news reports that organic food is causing a rise in food allergies?" The answer is, I've seen the stories. But, they're wrong. For readers who don't know what the heck I'm talking writing about, here's the back story. A few days ago, noted immunologist Jonathan O'B Hourihane from University College in Cork, Ireland, testified before a UK parliamentary committee and speculated about the recorded rise in the presence of food allergy among British children. Several British newspapers then blew what Hourihane said way out of proportion. Typical is this passage from the Daily Telegraph: "Parental trust...
  • The Lights Are Out, But Nobody's Home

    March 9, 2007
    The Nationl People's Public Radio show "Few All Things Considered" had an interesting segment on daylight savings time last night. As readers should know, a provision in the 2005 Energy Bill will cause the United States to spring ahead three weeks earlier this year (and fall back, a week later). The idea, of course, is to save energy by taking advantage of the useable sunlight in the after work hours, rather than waste it during the morning commute. Unfortunately, according to NPR guest Michael Downing, author of ...
  • Behind the Times

    March 8, 2007
    Today's Globe and Mail reports that a recent study summarizes the “latest scientific evidence” on the dangers of eating too much fish containing trace levels of mercury. They suggest that this study warrants a recent a advisory issued by Health Canada warning pregnant women to limit fish consumption. The U.S. Food and Drug and Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have issued similar advisories. Writers at the Globe apparently aren't up to speed on research in this area. Recent studies published in The Lancet and the Journal of the American Medical Association—also discussed in the New York Times and other news sources—raise serious questions about the government advisories and the research on which they are based. Perhaps it's time for the Globe to at least begin reading CEI's blogs, which...
  • The Simpleton's Guide to Net Neutrality

    March 8, 2007
    Wayne has just alerted me that Scott Cleland of The Precursor Blog has linked to our recent short video on net neutrality. In this installment, our resident know-it-all Prof. Scammington brings you the basics on NN and its implications. Thanks to Scott for calling it "wonderfully succinct." [youtube]SFurcOLYAjk[/youtube]
  • The Internet Never Forgets

    March 8, 2007
    Former CEI research associate Achim Schmillen has a great op-ed today in the Detroit News on proposed new "data retention" regulations:
    Do you remember every Web site you visited, every e-mail you sent and every word you Googled during the last two years? Probably not, but your Internet service provider might -- especially if a popular proposal in Washington becomes law. In September, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales called for a law to force Internet service providers (ISPs) to store customer information for one to two years. Rep. Dianne DeGette, D-Colo., plans to introduce such a "data retention" bill this coming spring.
    Read the whole thing here.
  • Evangelical Leader Asked to Resign Over Global Warming Activism

    March 7, 2007
    The split among Christians over global warming is growing wider. While it appeared liberal environmentalists had pretty much convinced evangelicals that catastrophic global warming is looming, some Christian leaders are now saying 'not so fast.' Focus on the Family leader James Dobson and other Christian leaders are calling for the resignation of Richard Cizik, a vice president with the National Association of Evangelicals, for his global warming activism. In a letter to the NAE board, Dobson and the others write: "The issue that is dividing and demoralizing the NAE and its leaders is related to global warming, resulting from a relentless campaign orchestrated by a single individual in the Washington office, Richard Cizik, vice president of government relations. While many of us consider Richard to be a...
  • Ethanol boom drives farmers' land value up

    March 7, 2007
    An article in the Wall Street Journal today (p. B6, subscription required) focuses on the sharp spike in Midwest farmland prices resulting from the ethanol boom.
    In the past year, cropland prices have climbed by double -digit percentages in many parts of the Heartland, as growers looking to cash in on $4-a-bushel prices for corn--up from about $2 a year ago--have scrambled to add arable acreage.
    While established farmers make up the bulk of the buyers, those higher prices for land, added to the higher prices for corn,  are likely to push up consumers' food costs, already hit by farmers' shift from food to fuel.  (See earlier post on this.)

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