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  • Convention Center Proves Old Lessons Still Unlearned

    February 20, 2007

    "Convention Center Not Living Up To Lofty Goals!" appeared as a headline in today's Washington Post and should serve to remind everyone that the predictions of the virtues of government investment are rarely achieved. And from that comes a lesson.  Capitalism is concerned about the efficient use of capital -- the seed corn that provides for our future.  A market encourages efficient use of captial because the individual seeking  funds must put forward a realistic plan and work diligently to ensure that the plan becomes reality.  When your money is at stake, when the potential profits will be captured by you -- you work hard.  Milton Friedman noted many times...

  • PC Views Now Dominate Key Intellectual Groups

    February 20, 2007
    I recently received my Phi Beta Kappa magazine. Phi Beta Kappa is the standard "honor" society for students scoring well in college. I became a member in 1963 at Tulane and have been reading, from time to time, the magazine ever since. Over the years, I've noted a tendency for the articles and books selected to become ever more PC, ever more consistent with the view that western civilization is -- in various ways -- non-sustainable, non-egalitarian, a failure. Diversity issues have been a theme for many years and, more recently, Malthusian views have become salient. The latest (Spring 2007) contains reviews of books by Lester Brown - the venerable prophet of decline - and by Kerry Emanuel (Divine Wind: The History and Science of Hurricanes) which endorses the global warming views (and the consensus view "now that essentially all scientists agree on the looming crisis of global...
  • EU Comes Clean on Reg Policy

    February 20, 2007
    For years, we at CEI have warned that the European Union was using multilateral environmental agreements not just to defend its trade-obstructing precautionary regulation from World Trade Organization challenges, but to spread its regulatory philosophy around the world (See here and here, for example.). According to the Financial Times, the EU will actually acknowledge this week that this is true. A new European Commission paper to be released this week will urge other countries to follow the European lead on environmental, product safety, and corporate governance regulation by "promoting European standards internationally through international organisation and bilateral agreements...
  • Testifying in Congress on the Climate Action Partnership

    February 20, 2007
    Last week ago, I was asked to testify before the Environment and Public Works Committee, now chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer of California. Testifying is an interesting process—one writes a short paper dealing with the intellectual aspects of the topic and then present a brief oral statement (loosely based on one's written testimony) to the Committee in person. The topic was the work of the Climate Action Partnership (CAP), an alliance of businesses and environmental groups calling for restraints on carbon-based energy use in America.  My comments dealt with the fact that for businesses to seek a government-enforced cartel is nothing new—and scarcely admirable. Enron, I noted, had been one of the early champions of that approach. That environmentalists had joined in this alliance merely illustrated that the “Baptist and Bootlegger...
  • Yet Another Reason to Ignore Fishy Federal Advisories

    February 16, 2007

    In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency issued warnings to pregnant women. They said that trace levels of methyl mercury in fish could harm developing babies' nervous systems. CEI warned the public that this was fishy advice—based largely junkscience. The EPA-FDA recommendations are particularly bad because they discourage consumption of a very healthy food choice.

    Today's Washington Post offers yet another wrinkle to this story. It reports that women who ate more than EPA's recommended maximum levels of fish during pregnancy gave birth to children with better developed nervous systems and higher IQs than women who ate less fish. If the researchers in this study are...

  • Death for scams -- don't tell the AGs

    February 16, 2007
    I couldn't resist this article in the Washington Times today — “Chinese ant scammer gets death.” Seems a Chinese entrepreneur was selling ant kits to investors in a phony ant-breeding scheme. According to the article he charged 10,000 investors $1300 each for the kits, which normally sold for $25. The Chinese use ants for medicinal use. Curious about ants and medicine, I found an abstract on NIH's website that notes:
    Chinese ant extract preparations (CAEP) are a Chinese traditional medicine which is mainly used as a health food or drink for the treatment of rheumatism, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic hepatitis, sexual hypofunction, and antiaging in China....
  • Can the Brazilian ethanol "miracle" work on 34th street?

    February 15, 2007

    It's been called the Brazilian “miracle” — and Brazil's ethanol program has been touted as a model for the U.S. and other countries to follow.

    In a new CEI Issue Analysis, “The Brazilian Sugarcane Ethanol Experience,” Brazilian economist Marcus Renato S. Xavier explores the underpinnings of the “miracle” and points out what would be required in terms of huge and continuing taxpayer subsidies and government mandates.

    If ethanol were truly key in displacing oil imports, the Brazilian ethanol program also shows that biofuels should not be considered a panacea for the world's energy challenges. Brazil's ethanol infrastructure model required huge taxpayer subsidies over decades before it could become viable. The ethanol program became uneconomical when petroleum prices fell in the late 1990s. Even today, during a...

  • Thou Shalt Play All of Grand Theft Auto

    February 15, 2007
    Yesterday, CNET Reported the following:
    Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) on Tuesday reintroduced the Truth in Video Game Rating Act, first proposed last September. It calls for requiring video game rating organizations to play all games "in their entirety" before issuing labels and prohibiting game developers from withholding any "hidden" game content from raters. It would also punish ratings groups that "grossly mischaracterize" any game's content.
    CNET's Anne Broache goes on to explain that one of the primary motivations for this revision of the ratings system is that ...
  • Skip the Green Fuzzy Feeling

    February 15, 2007
    The New York Times reports today that many consumers are turning to “green” cleaning products. If people are willing to pay more for these products—that's their choice. But the only thing they are like to get is a warm fuzzy feeling. There is no evidence that these so-called “green” are any healthier or better for the environment. According to a University of California, Berkeley study produced in 2006, some household cleaners might, in theory, pose a health risks. But everything in life poses risks—including the so-called green products. William W. Nazaroff, Berkeley researchers to led the report, told the New York Times: “I haven't seen any good evidence supporting the idea that something that is being sold as green is really good for the people who are using the products … There are good...
  • Your goals are China in your hand

    February 15, 2007
    Well, I never. China admits it failed to meet any of its environmental goals for 2006:
    China's environmental watchdog admitted Monday the country had failed to reach any of its pollution control goals for 2006 and had fallen further behind as the economy picked up speed. The State Environmental Protection Agency said the faster-than-expected economic growth meant that sulfur dioxide emissions increased by nearly 463,000 tons, or 1.8 percent, over the previous year, according to a report on its Web site.
    This is the exploding economy that will surpass the US as the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases by 2009.


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