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  • U.S. dairy program at odds with free enterpriser

    December 11, 2006
    A front-page article in Sunday's Washington Post, titled “Dairy Industry Crushed Innovator Who Bested Price-Control System,” recounts how Arizona dairy farmer Hein Hettinga thought he could operate in the free market outside the bounds of the U.S. dairy program. Hettinga was bottling milk and selling it to an increasingly large number of outlets — and at a price about 20 cents below that of his competitors. The diary farmer figured he could operate competitively without being dependent on the federal and state programs that guaranteed the market and guaranteed prices for milk. The convoluted diary program is indeed Byzantine. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it consists of federal milk...
  • Miliband's disingenuity

    December 11, 2006
    I should have drawn attention to this interesting phrasing in David Miliband's enthusiasm for carbon rationing:
    "He said: 'It is a way of pricing carbon emissions into individual behaviour and it would recognise carbon thrift, as well as economic thrift. Twenty years ago if I had said 8 million people would have a Tesco loyalty card, no one would have believed me.'"
    With respect, Minister, it's "if I had said 8 million people would choose to have a Tesco loyalty card." One suspects the element of personal choice will be conspicuously absent in Miliband's little scheme.
  • Scientists disprove Impressionism

    December 11, 2006
    The term "impressionism" was originally meant as an insult, alleging that painters such as Claude Monet merely slapped a few strokes of paint onto a canvas until they had an "impression" of their subject. Many of the painters agreed, and adopted the soubriquet. How, for instance, did the impressionists tackle colors and sunlight?
    Instead of creating smoothly blended colors, the impressionists placed separate touches of vibrantly contrasting colors directly onto the canvas, sometimes without prior mixing on the palette, and allowed their brushstrokes to retain the liveliness and seeming spontaneity of a sketch. As a result their work appeared unfinished to many viewers, including the critic Leroy. Manet had encouraged this tendency in his paintings of the 1860s, in...
  • Black marketeers rejoice at UK government plan

    December 11, 2006
    The UK government is seriously thinking of introducing individual carbon rationing:
    Every citizen would be issued with a carbon "credit card" - to be swiped every time they bought petrol, paid an energy utility bill or booked an airline ticket - under a nationwide carbon rationing scheme that could come into operation within five years, according to a feasibility study commissioned by the environment secretary, David Miliband, and published today. In an interview with the Guardian Mr Miliband said the idea of individual carbon allowances had "a simplicity and beauty that would reward carbon thrift".
    It's hard to think of a crazier plan. The UK has a very small black market in comparison to most countries, but this would almost certainly make it a...
  • Cows Are Destroying the Earth

    December 11, 2006
    And I thought the IPCC Fourth Assessment (see below) was good news. Now I know that we humans really are off the hook when it comes to destroying the earth, the climate and everything. Turns out cows are to blame:
    Meet the world's top destroyer of the environment. It is not the car, or the plane, or even George Bush: it is the cow. A United Nations report has identified the world's rapidly growing herds of cattle as the greatest threat to the climate, forests and wildlife. And they are blamed for a host of other environmental crimes, from acid rain to the introduction of alien species, from producing deserts to creating dead zones in the oceans, from poisoning rivers and drinking water to destroying coral reefs.
    I haven't taken the time to read through...
  • Thanks, UN, for Shrinking My Carbon Footprint by 25%

    December 11, 2006

    The latest iteration on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report on global warming it being eagerly awaited. While we bide our time, however, the leaks have begun. According to the Telegraph, it contains some bad news for the alarmist crowd:

    Mankind has had less effect on global warming than previously supposed, a United Nations report on climate change will claim next year.

    The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says there can be little doubt that humans are responsible for warming the planet, but the organisation has reduced its overall estimate of this effect by 25 per cent.

    So this means past...

  • Radicals for Capitalism

    December 11, 2006
    CEI and Fred Smith make appearances in Radicals for Capitalism, the upcoming history of the modern American libertarian movement by Reason Senior Editor and former CEI Warren Brookes Fellow Brian Doherty. The book's release date is February 12, 2007, but here's a taste, on CEI's efforts to break through the public's rational ignorance on public policy issues:
    "Big businessmen, in [Fred] Smith's estimation, are insecure about their position in society, and sucking up to the left offers them more in the way of security and emoluments and feelgoddism than libertarians can offer, even though it is libertarians who often stand up for their interests (though also, when fighting...
  • Do global warming fears justify protectionism?

    December 10, 2006
    Ever since the United States decided to push for "sustainable development" concepts to limiit free trade under the Shrimp-Turtle decision (for internal political reason - the traditional Baptist and Bootlegger phenomenon that Bruce Yandle long ago developed), thoughtful proponents of free trade have been aware that the WTO (World Trade Organization) rules were open to a form of pernicious green protectionism. The Shrimp-Turtle Case (see, for example, here ) was a dispute between the United States and several southeastern Asian nations regarding our desire to limit imports of shrimp from these nations. Our "case" was that their shrimp harvesting practices (their "failure" to use TEDs, turtle exclusion devices) were endangering "endangered" sea turtles (...
  • Can Libertarians Become Liberaltarians?

    December 10, 2006
    Cato's Brink Lindsey in a provocative essay in The New Republic argues that the recent election results argue for a realignment, Democrats, he suggests, should reach out to disaffected libertarians, to find ways of forming “a lasting relationship” with us. Lindsey then spends much of the remainder of the article outlining a fusionist strategy that he hopes might make the liberal/libertarian alliance viable. He calls for an expanded “safety-net” suggesting that a “reasonable” welfare state poses no major problems (in this, of course, he follows the lead of Hayek who also provided considerable scope for the state in the poverty area). He then turns to less contentious issues — alliances to eliminate business subsidies and shift toward consumption taxes. He endorses the “sin tax” approach — less on tobacco and alcohol but...
  • Marlo responds to Al Gore

    December 8, 2006
    CEI's Marlo Lewis' appearance on Oprah's show on Tuesday, Dec. 5, opposite Al Gore was via a taped two-minute segment juxtaposed against Gore's 30-minute plus live appearance.
    While Marlo's riposte was right-on, Gore -- in the studio with Oprah -- discounted Marlo's views with no opportunity for debate. Here's Marlo's response to Gore's statements -- posted on YouTube.

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