Sunday, May 29, 2005

A Marxist's worst nightmare:

Meritocracy.

The educated elites are the first elites in all of history to work longer hours per year than the exploited masses, so voracious is their greed for second homes.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Performance-enhancing drugs

... can be your friend, says Ronald Bailey.

Beta-blockers which are generally prescribed for heart disease also still the normal tremor of our limbs and hands. In fact concert musicians and golfers already often use beta-blockers for this purpose. All things being equal, which would you prefer—a neurosurgeon with normal tremor or one whose hands are made steadier with beta-blockers? Researchers have also found that pilots taking cholinesterase inhibitors perform better on complex maneuvers. Again which airline would you rather fly—one whose pilots rely on their native abilities or one whose pilots' abilities to cope with emergencies are enhanced with cholinesterase inhibitors?

Monday, May 23, 2005

Crucial to this libertarian blog . . . (sarcasm mine)

Israeli researchers have identified three parts of the brain that help people understand sarcasm. The findings may be useful in treating autism.

Fillibusters Live Another Day

A deal was reached, as expected. It seems like this "deal" is just both sides agreeing to do the right thing. Republicans should not do away with this necessary check on tyranny of the majority. And Democrats should not be so blindly partisan as to refuse any nominees simply as punishment for Republican fillibusters in the '90s.

Friday, May 20, 2005

When people embody the stereotypes about them

"filthy barbarians, that's all they are"

As seen on the College Republicans blog at the end of a post about Islam. To the blog's credit, Nigel points out in a comment that, "I agree that some individuals who continue to incite this type of violence aren't very helpful people for the image of their religion, but I think it's important to remember many of them are very different from the millions of muslims who are as peace loving as their christian, hindu, jewish, atheist and other brothers and sisters."

I wonder how the author would rationalize the fact that:
The results with respect to Islam do not support the notion that it is inimical to growth. On the contrary, virtually every statistically significant coefficient on Muslim population shares reported in this paper -- in both cross-country and within-country statistical analyses -- is positive. If anything, Islam promotes growth.
with his understanding of 'filthy barbarians.'

Thursday, May 19, 2005

What about federalism?!

There seems to be a little debate about medical cannabis, but i think the college republicans are ignoring a crucial aspect: federalism.

I don't know about you guys but i like my federal government small and the drug war has led to anything but. Do you guys know about Ashcroft v. Raich? It has put forth the question, "Whether the Controlled Substances Act exceeds Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause as applied to the intrastate cultivation and possession of marijuana for purported personal 'medicinal' use or to the distribution of marijuana without charge for such use."

Personally, i don't care how opposed you guys are to smoking weed; but come on, are you going to let that be the excuse the government uses to completely disregard the commerce clause? It seems to me that a few people in the comments section agree with this William F. Buckley/libertarian take on the war on drugs.

And for the record, Victor, marijuana is not a pain killer. That's what opiates do. Marijuana is used as an appetite stimulant and to suppress nausea. That it actually works is a medical question which really isn't all that controversial anymore.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Judges, Fillibusters & the Nuclear Option

I don't have a story to link, I just want to put in my $0.02. First of all, the fillibuster needs to stay. The idea of only removing it for Judicial Nominations is bullshit, because you know that someday this will be used as a precedent for removing the fillibuster on other things.

The fillibuster needs to stay, not because it's some tradition, but because it makes sense in the spirit of our nation's government. We don't live in a democracy - we live in a constitutional republic. That means that we have restrictions on government so that a pure majority cannot pass laws willy-nilly. It forces parties to negotiate, and find a middle ground.


That said, Democrats do not have the moral high ground either. Because they refuse to negotiate. Bush's nominees to the upper courts have nearly all been fillibustered. Memos were even found last year from civil rights groups, urging Democrats to specifically fillibuster all minority candidates, to prevent the Republicans for taking credit.

Also, Democrats preaching the constitutionality of the fillibuster are being disingenuous. 10 years ago, when Republicans were fillibustering everything, it was the Democratic Party that vehemently called the fillibusters "illegal" and "undemocratic." A group of Democratic senators, led by Ted Kennedy & Robert C. Byrd tried to have the fillibuster eliminated.


This again brings us back to the fact that the Democratic & Republican Parties are always pretty much saying the same things. They love the fillibuster when they're in the minority, but hate it when they're in the majority. Partisanship poisons any ability to have rational thought.



The solution needs to be that Democrats agree to negotiate on judges, in exchange for the keeping of the fillibuster. If the fillibuster gets eliminated, all sorts of crazy right-wing judges will get passed through. But if Democrats can come to the table and honestly negotiate for more moderate judges, they will be able to keep the right to fillibuster the worst judges. Face it, guys, you aren't getting liberal judges appointed to the high courts. But a moderate conservative is way better than a John Ashcroft. Just bite the bullet.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Cheep wine for everyone

The Supreme Court handed down their ruling in the interstate wine case and held: "that the laws in both States discriminate against interstate commerce in violation of the Commerce Clause, and that the discrimination is neither authorized nor permitted by the Twenty-first Amendment." The Institute for Justice litigated the case and you can find their press release here. You can read the opinions here.

Oops

The parents of a teen suicide victim -- presented to the national media ... as having been driven to suicide by his marijuana use -- have revealed that their son actually tested negative for marijuana and positive for alcohol at the time of his death. ... In a May 3 press conference sponsored by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Drug Czar John Walters touted 'growing and compelling evidence ... that regular marijuana use can contribute to depression, suicidal thoughts and schizophrenia.' One example presented to the media was Christopher Skaggs, whose parents spoke. Mrs. Skaggs described how her 15-year-old son was caught smoking marijuana in January 2004 and committed suicide seven months later. ... But later that week, Mr. and Mrs. Skaggs ... revealed that toxicology tests ... found 'nothing in his system but alcohol at that time.'
It's like Reefer Madness all over again.

Whole thing here.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

What's the first thing that comes to mind when i say 'nanotech'

THONGS (Topless Humans Organized for Natural Genetics), duh.

Looking Ahead to 2006

This post is probably more relevant for the Dem board, but I can't figure out how to start my own thread on that site. If someone on the Dems site sees this and links it to a new thread, I'd appreciate it.


Anyway, I don't know about you guys, but I enjoy keeping up on future elections. My claim to (sort of) fame was correctly predicting the winner of all 50 states in the 2004 Presidential Election (although I was slightly off in predicting only a 50%-48% popular vote for Bush). So, I've been following the 2006 Senate Elections. I'm hoping to start a discussion with the opinions on others. Harry Reid has already admitted that it would take a "miracle" for the Democrats to retake the Senate in 2006, but it will make a big difference whether they get closer to a majority or if the Republicans get closer to a fillibuster-proof 60 seat majority. Currently, they have 55. Here is what I see:


Potential Democratic Pickups (in order):
1) Pennsylvania (Santorum) - polls have Santorum down about 10-15 points right now. But he has never lost a campaign in his life and he has a huge money advantage. Also, die-hard Democrats might not show up to the polls to vote for an anti-abortion Democrat in Bob Casey.
2) Rhode Island (Chafee) - polls had him down double-digits to Rep. Langevin, but then Langevin decided not to run. Chafee is winning in recent polls, but no Republican is safe in Rhode Island
3) Tennessee (open) - Bill Frist has promised to step down, and Democrats have a great rising star in Rep. Harold Ford, a young African-American. The problem is that this is a very red state. The most recent poll has Ford down 3 points, but it's certainly going to be close
4) Montana (Burns) - I haven't seen anything about possible opponents, but his approval rating is under 50% and his "definitely re-elect" numbers were as low as 37% in one poll. I really don't know much about this race, but Senate Democrats seem to think that he's vulnerable.

Potential Republican Pickups:
1) Minnesota (open) - Republican party leaders have cleared the way for Rep. Kennedy. This is a state turning red, and he will have a lot of money. It will be tough for Democrats to hang onto this one.
2) Florida (Nelson) - Again, a red state with a weak Democratic incumbent. Republicans can screw this up by nominating Katherine Harris, but Karl Rove managed to keep her out of the Senate race in 2004, so maybe he can do it again.
3) Maryland (open) - This is a very blue state, but Republicans have rallied around the rising star that is Lt. Governor Steele, an African-American. Democrats can screw this up by nominating scandal-filled, ex-NAACP head, Kweisi Mfume. Their best candidate is Rep. Cardin, who the party elite are rallying around. Mfume leads by a little in primary polls. In head-to-head, Steele is losing to Cardin by 4 points and to Mfume by 2.
4) Washington (Cantwell) - It's a blue state, but there seems to be some resentment in this state against the Democrats, who many see as having stolen the 2004 Governor's election. In fact, that case is still in court, with money pouring in to try to overturn the election. Anyway, the only problem for Republicans is that they don't have a great candidate. Dino Rossi, who was on the wrong end of the Governor's election has said he will not run, and he would have been the best Republican candidate. I haven't seen any polls on this one...
5) New Jersey (open) - I'm calling this an open seat because it would pretty much take an act of God to keep Jon Corzine from winning the Governor's seat in 2005. That means that there will be an open seat for Senate with no real Democratic candidate. If Republicans can put up a good candidate they could steal it.



I'm sure other potential pickups, for both parties, will appear as we get closer. Anyway, what do people think?

Guess his wealth

How much do you think Fidel Castro is worth? Keep in mind that Cuba has a GDP of roughly $30 Billion, which breaks down to about $2750 per person.

Answer here.

Great line

I've been reading all the John Tierney columns i've missed due to finals and i stumbled across this great line:
It's true, as Democrats love to point out, that the poverty rate among the elderly has declined from 35 percent a half-century ago to 10 percent today. But when you consider how much money is being taken out of Americans' paychecks -- most workers now pay more to Social Security than to the I.R.S. -- you're entitled to wonder why there are any poor widows remaining.
If you have access to Lexis you can check out all his articles here.

Move over, William J. Bennett

Japanese authorities get preachy.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has taken the step of convening a commission of eminent experts known, without a hint of irony, as the Study Group Relating to the Prevention of Behaviour that Causes Discomfort Among Numerous People in Public Places.

The list of offenses includes "using strong perfume, carrying large bags, kissing, infants, crying, sitting on the floor and, most unexpectedly, using an umbrella to practise golf swings."

I Wonder if the NYTimes has the same contract...

Nothing much to say, just that I appreciate the honesty.

Friday, May 13, 2005

"Press ANY key"? I can't find that one.

Here's an old WSJ piece on computers and the people who just don't *get* them.

"I've pushed and pushed on this foot pedal and nothing happens," the woman replied. "Foot pedal?" the technician asked. "Yes," the woman said, "this little white foot pedal with the on switch." The "foot pedal," it turned out, was the computer's mouse . . . .

A Dell technician, Morgan Vergara, says he once calmed a man who became enraged because "his computer had told him he was bad and an invalid." Mr. Vergara patiently explained that the computer's "bad command" and "invalid" responses shouldn't be taken personally.

The left-right thing is SOOOO obsolete

Can't talk. Still laughing.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Et tu, Eugene?

Remember this, folks: He went in, willing and cheerful, of his own volition.

Social Security

Bush's Impossible Social Security Plan

Dial-a-dog

A fool and his money. . . .

#2097

This website seems to rank just about every blog (if not all of them). And we're ranked 2097. You can look at that in two ways. One is that we're in the top half of all ranked blogs. The other way to think of it is that we're losing to "Phone Sex Services"...


Either way, let's get more visitors!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Let Them Eat Indexes!

For those interested in investing.

An unforeseen trend

You'll never guess what it is.

Onto the landscape of Manhattan, a new and lethal status symbol has alighted -- and it's causing the J.A.P.'s and WASP's of the Upper East Side to quiver with envy. No, I'm not talking about those impossible-to-find strings of oversized Lanvin pearls wrapped in black mousseline. Or, for that matter, those $20,000 Rochas dresses that are selling before they hit the racks.

The lethal wealth indicator to which I refer is much more squishy and biological and -- dare I say it? -- uterine. All you need to possess it is a Matterhorn of cash and a high tolerance for pain.

How To Not Be Poor

Thank you Walter Williams.

For Those Done With Finals

An excellent article on universities. It echoes many of the points I always make. Including the hypocritcal "free speech" arguments that people like deGenova and Massad make all the time. Neither of those two give a crap about free speech. They only care about giving their side of the debate free speech. They don't care about the speech of others. You never see them rising to the defense of someone that they disagree with. Where were the free speechers defending Larry Summers? Or anyone else that isn't uber-liberal?


Believing in free speech only for those you agree with is not free speech. Believing in free speech means supporting it for those who you disagree with. Any government will allow people to declare their support for the party in power. A just government will allow people to disagree as well.

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
-Voltaire

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A wise man once said

"The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program."

Still true, unfortunately.

Now they tell us

Reading week has come and gone, so it's too late -- but Adderall could have helped you study. Joshua Foer became Slate's guinea pig for this article:

As an experiment, I decided to take Adderall for a week. The results were miraculous. On a recent Tuesday, after whipping my brother in two out of three games of pingpong—a triumph that has occurred exactly once before in the history of our rivalry—I proceeded to best my previous high score by almost 10 percent in the online anagrams game that has been my recent procrastination tool of choice. Then I sat down and read 175 pages of Stephen Jay Gould's impenetrably dense book The Structure of Evolutionary Theory. It was like I'd been bitten by a radioactive spider.

Of course, there are a few unpleasant side effects.

I DO like CAFTA

So there is an article on the WSJ editorial page today about why the Central America Free Trade Agreement is a good thing. I've copied almost the whole thing below, because it's nice and short.

Twenty years ago, civil war was a part of everyday life in Central America. Building democratic societies and improving the economies in these countries often took a back seat to simply staying alive. But the U.S. knew that just as our trade policy after World War II helped secure democracy and hope in Western Europe and Japan, open trade policies today could play a crucial role in transforming our neighborhood.

That is why, in 1983, President Reagan introduced the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) to grant one-way access for the products of Central America and the Dominican Republic into the U.S. economy. This initiative functioned as critical economic aid, and it worked. Exports to the U.S. from this region have quadrupled since 1985. President Clinton was right to expand CBI benefits in the '90s and, as a congressman from Ohio, I joined colleagues in providing strong bipartisan support for that effort.

In the space of a generation, Central America and the Dominican Republic replaced chaos with commerce. It is time, now, to take our relationship to the next level. The economic benefits of Cafta to the U.S. could not be clearer. Because of CBI and the other trade preferences we have granted these countries, 80% of their goods and services and 99% of their agricultural goods already enter the U.S. duty-free. But U.S.-made products exported to Cafta countries (worth $15 billion) still pay hefty tariffs. On day one of the agreement, Cafta would eliminate the vast majority of those tariffs, saving nearly $1 billion per year in foreign taxes on U.S. manufactured goods and farm products. Those who supported legislation to open America's market on a one-way basis now have the chance to give our workers and farmers a level playing field.

In addition to the immediate savings for Americans, Cafta expands markets for American producers of everything from apples to zinc products. America's leading farm and manufacturing groups estimate sales gains to Central America of $1.5 billion in farm products and $1 billion in manufactured goods. This is good for American workers.

Lately many of my former colleagues on Capitol Hill have focused on our trade deficit with China. I share that concern, but Cafta helps address it by allowing us to compete more effectively with China. In the clothing business, Cafta provides specific incentives to use U.S. yarn, fabric, thread and elastics in making clothes in our hemisphere. After Cafta, more than 90% of all apparel made in Central America or the Dominican Republic will be sewn from fabric and yarn produced by American workers. If we don't solidify our trade relationship with this region through Cafta, these factories are likely to move to Asia, where U.S. inputs account for less than 1% of the clothes made there.

Some say that we should not enter into a trade agreement with Central America and the Dominican Republic because labor conditions there are not good enough. I find this argument hard to follow, because Cafta will compel these countries to improve their labor conditions. There is no doubt that the region has more work to do in passing better laws and enforcing them, but this is precisely why we should pass Cafta. This agreement gives the U.S. new leverage to raise standards and ensure effective enforcement of labor protections.

By the efforts of many brave reformers, Central America and the Dominican Republic have risen from the depths of despair and now stand poised to solidify their gains through a deeper trade and economic relationship with the U.S. It would be a mistake to take for granted the recent success stories of Central America and the Dominican Republic. Democracy is still fragile in many parts of Latin America: This is the chance of a lifetime to shore it up with our neighbors to the south, while simultaneously creating new markets for U.S. workers and farmers.


Looks to me that consumers and producers alike in both regions benefit from CAFTA. Sorry, I just cannot be convinced that free trade is not a good thing.

Abortion

You want to do a favor for a friend's daughter? Don't take her to get her ears pierced because you could get arrested, instead take her to get an abortion if and when she needs it.

Mike Adams Applies for WRC Director

Mike Adams is just too damn funny.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Lies, damned lies and statistics!

The UK Guardian says female music-lovers may be less tech-savvy than their male counterparts.

Somewhere in Cambridge, Mass., MIT professor Nancy Hopkins is reading this and throwing up.

Very Good Article

"The Invisible Hand (of the US Government) in Financial Markets

Excellent article... but VERY VERY VERY long.

The effects of not being the incumbent

Instapundit points to this piece by Ryan Sager:
Three years after the passage of McCain-Feingold (a.k.a. the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, a.k.a. the End of Free Speech As We Know It), a smattering of Democrats and liberal activists are slowly coming to the conclusion that maybe it wasn't such a good idea to let the government decide who can and cannot engage in political speech.

After all, what would prevent incumbents in Congress from passing laws to secure their jobs by making it harder for their opponents to criticize them? And what would prevent a political party -- holding, say, power in both houses of Congress and the White House -- from using election laws to try to smother the opposition?

Right: Nothing.

Life

Protecting the Lives of Others is Fundamental to Civilization

Yes, they do know where you live...

... and its only in beta. See for yourself here.

Ahh, low gas prices

A gasoline price war erupted in St. Mary's County last week after one station slashed its price for regular to $1.999 a gallon and spurred three others to follow suit, giving drivers some hope of relief at the pump.

But the price dip proved fleeting.

Maryland regulators quickly stepped in and told the stations that their prices were too low. They needed to go up by 5 cents.

In as much time as it takes to fill the tank of an SUV, prices at BJ's Wholesale Club, Sheetz and two Wawa outlets bounced to $2.049 a gallon.
Whole thing here.

Krugman doesn't read the NYT...

...or at least doesn't know how to read charts.

Today’s column: “But defenders of Mr. Bush's Social Security plan now portray benefit cuts for anyone making more than $20,000 a year, cuts that will have their biggest percentage impact on the retirement income of people making about $60,000 a year, as cuts for the wealthy.”

Seems like its more like the ones making $90,000 (the highest income taxed by social security) according to the chart accompanying a May 1 NYT article entitled, "Social Security: Help for the Poor Or Help for All?" (Through Lexis, reg. req.)



So, you are telling me that people paying the most social security taxes recieve the biggest cuts? I would venture so far as to call that progressive; but i admit, i'm no professor of economics.

[Hat tip: Donald Luskin]

Great Goldwater quote

As Christopher Hitchens quotes:
The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100%. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. . . . Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some god-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of "conservatism."
Doesn't pack the rhetorical punch of this one though.

Think the SAT was unfair before...

He was stunned by how complete the correlation was between length and score. "I have never found a quantifiable predictor in 25 years of grading that was anywhere near as strong as this one," he said. "If you just graded them based on length without ever reading them, you'd be right over 90 percent of the time." The shortest essays, typically 100 words, got the lowest grade of one. The longest, about 400 words, got the top grade of six. In between, there was virtually a direct match between length and grade.
And as for what people are actually writing about, well:
"We know students don't write well when they're anxious," said Ed Hardin, a College Board test specialist. "We don't want them not to go forward with that little detail. Our attitude is go right ahead with that missing date or fact and readers should be instructed not to count off for that."
Whole thing here. [Hat tip: Ann Althouse]

The Cost of Gov't...Literally

So you want to know what Congress is up to and what it will cost YOU?

Check out the Washington Watch site

Bills pending in Congress right are listed, along with estimates about their costs or savings.

Feel free to post any ridiculous bills in the comments section.


[via Hit and Run]

Sunday, May 08, 2005

But straw huts are so *rustic*

"I'm rather tolerant of materialism; the poor need it."

-- V.S. Naipaul, when asked whether he thought materialism would destroy the native spirit of India

The call of duty?

I have tremendous respect for our nation's police officers, and I pride myself on being a law-abiding citizen.

But if a cop grabs my car keys and goes on a high-speed chase, he'd better have my consent in writing.

Undeniably, the police have some right to inconvenience the citizenry. When the siren blares, you've got to switch lanes to let the cop car zoom past. And if you witness a crime, the police can detain you for questioning (I think... right?). Where do we draw the line?

My thoughts address the current set-up of public, state-monopoly policing. If you can't conceive of another way to go about it, read The Machinery of Freedom.

Happy Birthday Hayek

He would be 106 today. Unfortuneately,
Although his influence continues, his insights fail to exert much impact outside of academic circles. For example, his critique of central planning has hardly made a dent into the thinking of the development community. One needs only to read Jeff Sachs or Joseph Stiglitz's recent essays and books to recognize this. Similarly, numerous programs proposed by both political parties do not come to terms with Hayek criticisms (see Cafe Hayek for numerous examples). Let's hope that someday in the near future his insights will become part of everyday economic and political debate so as to improve the lives of the average person.
[Hat tip: Cafe Hayek.]

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Social Security

This is a how-to guide called "How to Talk To a Conservative About Social Security (If You Must)."

First of all, it should probably be changed to How To Talk To Someone Who Understands Economics. But more importantly, you should read it for the humor. I left the site after the first few "claims" and "facts." Here is one brilliant example. The claim was that in a few years Social Security will pay out more than it takes in. The fact was that Social Security has already done exactly that a number of times. Now while that might be true, how the hell does that make Social Security any more viable. Can that argument really convince anyone of anything? Our government already spends more than it taxes, in that case maybe we should just stop taxing people if the whole concept of spending more than one takes in, is economically sound. If one of you guys makes it past the first few claims and facts that I got through, you can add a few more funny ones in the comment section.

General Motors, Health Care, and Social Security

By Gary North

Spare me.

How to get into an Ivy League school. (And have, like, sooo much fun!)

The Federal Monopoly

Very interesting...

Friday, May 06, 2005

Collectivist Education

Sorry Marco, this one is from Lew Rockwell.

"Global Warming"

What? Another article from Allen NOT from The New American OR Lew Rockwell?

Secret Plans for the Iraq War?

Blair's Plans

Hey Marco, this article is not from either of my only news sources! And neither is the previous social security one!

Social Security

Was Al Gore right on Social Security?

Where's pollution when you need it?

This just in: The Earth's air is cleaner, and we're all gonna die. Here's a hilarious take on the situation.

(Via Best of the Web.)

Don't hold your breath, kids

M.I.T. students throw time-travel convention, invite time-travelers.

The event is potluck and alcohol-free - present-day humans are bringing things like brownies. But Mr. Dorai's Web site asks that future-folk bring something to prove they are really ahead of our time: "Things like a cure for AIDS or cancer, a solution for global poverty or a cold fusion reactor would be particularly convincing as well as greatly appreciated."

. . . No future-guests are confirmed as of yet, although one responder purports to be from 2026.

"I'm keeping my fingers crossed," said Erik D. Demaine, an M.I.T. mathematician who will be one of the professors speaking.

. . . And Sam McVeety, 18, a freshman, wondered if wearing a tinfoil hat would be comforting or insulting to future-people.

Farm Policy

"The whole trouble with the American farm policy today is that we have one."

--- Robert Welch, 1974


How unfortunate it is that things don't change...

The Phony Free Trade Lobby

"Free Trade"

Tee hee

Totally random.

I'm asking for it.

Lead paragraph of a final paper I submitted today:

The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State exposes the exploitation, in the author’s view, of a vast class of workers: adult females. In this slim work, Frederick Engels – best known for his collaboration with Karl Marx on The Communist Manifesto – charges the modern capitalist system with the subjugation of women. Engels’ alternative: a society whose members share property, children, and all forms of labor. The realization of this communist vision means no less than the eradication of family life as we know it. Not surprisingly, Engels would welcome such a calamitous upheaval. Calamitous it would surely be, however; for capitalism, by fostering self-sufficient domestic units, affords women far greater freedom and status than imaginable under communism.

Incidentally, this was the essay topic:

Is the oppression of women due to the existence of private property? Use Engels' Origin of the Family as the point of departure of your argument.

A rule of thumb for the FDA

Reason's Ronald Bailey writes:

So if the FDA is about to subject popular medications to heightened postmarket scrutiny, what's the point at which the agency should decide to jerk them off the market? The day that Bextra was pulled from the market, Dr. Joshua Prager from the California Pain Medicine Center at UCLA was asked by National Public Radio anchor Michelle Norris if he'd advise patients currently taking Bextra to switch to aspirin. Dr. Prager responded, "Well, the first thing I would say about aspirin is if aspirin went through the FDA scrutiny that all these other drugs go through now in trying to come to market in the year 2005, it probably would not get FDA approved."

I know that the number of people who are estimated to die from gastrointestinal bleeding as a result of taking NSAIDS and aspirin range from 3,500 to 16,500 per year. Even the analgesic alternative acetaminophen (Tylenol) kills 450 people per year through liver toxicity. But consider that tens of millions of Americans take these medicines every week and manage to survive. (In surveys, 17 percent report taking aspirin the previous week, 17 percent ibuprofen, and 23 percent acetaminophen.)

Of course, drug and supplement manufacturers and the FDA should warn people of any previously unknown dangers that become manifest over time. But since aspirin was patented by Bayer in 1899, more than 1 trillion tablets have gulped down and today the world gobbles 50 billion tablets annually. The point is not that aspirin is absolutely "safe." No medicines are. But aspirin is safe enough. The history of aspirin's use shows that patients and physicians can learn to manage the risks posed by medications that have similar benefit-risk profiles. Given my aspirin safety standard, the FDA certainly overreacted when it banned ephedra. Even Vioxx's risk profile is not obviously worse than that of current widely available NSAIDs.

Would we be better off had the FDA been around to ban aspirin back in 1899? Clearly not. Thus my simple solution to the allegedly complex problem of drug safety—if a remedy is as safe as aspirin, it should stay on the market.

California says no to lazy hunting

California wildlife regulators took the first step Tuesday to bar hunters from using the Internet to hunt animals long distance, responding to a Texas target shooting site that announced plans to let hunters fire guns at real animals by clicking a computer mouse hundreds of miles away. 'We don't think Californians should be able to hunt sitting at their computers at home,' said Steve Martarano, a spokesman for the state Department of Fish and Game. [...] The department must draft the regulations and the public will get a chance to comment, so the ban may not be adopted until perhaps August, Martarano said. The move comes less than two weeks after the state Senate voted 25-6 in favor of such a ban.
Every once in a while its a bit embarrassing to be a Californian.

Whole thing here.

FDA to ban gay sperm donors

To the dismay of gay-rights activists, the Food and Drug Administration is about to implement new rules recommending that any man who has engaged in homosexual sex in the previous five years be barred from serving as an anonymous sperm donor. The FDA has rejected calls to scrap the provision, insisting that gay men collectively pose a higher-than-average risk of carrying the AIDS virus. Critics accuse the FDA of stigmatizing all gay men rather than adopting a screening process that focuses on high-risk sexual behavior by any would-be donor, gay or straight. 'Under these rules, a heterosexual man who had unprotected sex with HIV-positive prostitutes would be OK as a donor one year later, but a gay man in a monogamous, safe-sex relationship is not OK unless he's been celibate for five years,' said Leland Traiman, director of a clinic in Alameda, CA, that seeks gay sperm donors.
Whole thing here.

LAPD in PC Shambles

A terrific article on what political correctness has done to the LAPD. It's long, but I promise it'll keep your attention. At first it's unbelievable, but then you realize that this is the embarassment that political correctness has become.

We Can't Let Consumers Save Money! Noooo!

I don't think I really need to explain this article. The gist is that several gas stations in an area of Maryland got into a price war and took prices down to $1.99 a gallon (when average state prices are over $2.25 a gallon). Legislators stepped in and said that was aganist the law, and forced prices back up to $2.049 per gallon.


I remember reading about this in Libertarian books and not believing it... but it's happened again. We have a government that complains that oil companies make too much and charge too much for gas - and then they make a law forcing oil companies to make more? Hooray government!

A pause

After all this debating its nice to know that there is still something we can agree upon as my good friend points out in a post, "Liberals and Libertarians unite:"

Here is an article from the Metro section on how undercover police officers are now routinely stationed on the M35 bus that goes to a homeless shelter so that they can arrest the homeless people who skip the fare."Even if they wanted to walk to the shelter, the men said, they could not, because the only footbridge from Manhattan is closed in the late fall and winter and at other times closes after 8 p.m"What really gets me is that these men are not merely issued summonses, which would still be a tremendous waste of resources, but they are actually arrested. It boggles the mind. In the article the NYPD pr guy says that the arrests are made in response to complaints from passengers, saying the homeless people often smell of beer and weed. This is ridiculous on a number of levels; even if passengers on the way to the shelter can pay the fare, they are still going to smell. They're trying to get to a shelter. What do you think the one bus to the homeless shelter is going to be like at the end of the night?My guess is that this is not a top-down initiative, this is just police officers who have found a slam dunk way to meet their quota. Police officers are given quotas for arrests and summonses. The quality of the arrests and the outcome in court does not matter, you just need to arrest a certain number of people to satisfy your superiors. In fact, I know from my own experiences and friend's
experiences that police will sometimes apologize while writing a summonses for drinking etc., saying they just need to meet their quota and that nothing will happen so long as you show up at court.This article really highlights the problems with government bureaucracy and inefficient use of resources for social ervices.

Interesting fact: You know the panel of lights on the bus that flash
when the person pays a regular fare, a senior fare etc? That is so undercover
cops can make sure the driver is not letting people on for free.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Four More Years of Blair

Tony Blair won a third term as Prime Minister of the UK today, albeit with a much smaller majority. The news articles are saying that he lost ground for going to Iraq. Now, does that make sense to anyone here? Blair is in the English version of the Democratic Party. Why would people switch to the conservative side (i.e. Michael Howard) because of the war?



Although, now that I think about it, it makes a little more sense. The idea of nation building is an idea that should be held by the Democratic Party (or the equivalent). Remember, in 2000 it was Al Gore who wanted to replace Saddam (a la Clinton's unilateral foray into Bosnia), and Bush who criticized Gore's "nation building." Somehow, the two parties switched sides on this one.


Come to think of it, a lot of the things that Dems & Repubs stand for doesn't make sense. Why do Republicans oppose abortion but support the death penalty? Why do Democrats support the First Amendment but not the Second? How does the party of segregation (the Democrats) get all the black votes while the party that pushed through Civil Rights Legislation in the 1960's (the Republicans) becomes the party of the white southerners.... I'll never get how anyone can think that they are principled by supporting all of the issues with one of those two parties...

What? A deficit?

So government wants to start selling 30-year bonds again... talk about admitting that we have a problem.

But is it too late?

Roger Kimball wants to retake the university.

Traditionally, a liberal arts education involved both character formation and learning. The goal was to produce men and women who (as Allan Bloom put it) had reflected thoughtfully on the question "What is man?' in relation to his highest aspirations as opposed to his low and common needs." Since the 1960s, however, colleges and universities have more and more been home to what Lionel Trilling called the "adversary culture of the intellectuals." The goal was less reflection than rejection. The English novelist Kingsley Amis once observed that much of what was wrong with the twentieth century could be summed up in the word "workshop." Nowadays, "workshop" has been largely replaced by the word "studies." Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, Afro-American Studies, Women's Studies, Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Studies: these are not the names of academic disciplines but political grievances. They exist not to further liberal education but to nurture feckless antinomianism that Jacques Barzun dubbed "directionless quibble."

Market Failure

So I tend to find most of the articles on Mises.org to be amazing but this one is a little more amazinger (like that?). It deals with so-called market failure... the phrase that Keynesians and others like to employ to prove that we need government intervention.

What Are You Calling Failure?

...you don't say...

So The Agitator has a piece on the hypocrisy of "living wage" advocates:

Russell Roberts untwists a NY Times article on activists who are insisting that Wal-Mart should charge a little more and cut profits in order to pay its workers a better wage.

Your humble Agitator
has reported on how many of these labor activist groups actually pay their own workers paltry wages, and when asked to expain, make the very same arguments corporate America does.

As the article states so well:

Historically, labor movements have been known for their colorful sloganeering. In the realm of today's "living wage" movement, it seems, the mantra is "high standards for thee, but not for me."

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Eco-Wackos

Get your cause and effect straight, eco-wackos!

This is too funny

My Son the Terrorist

Why Church and State Must Be Separate

By Mr. Pope himself. He makes quite an interesting case for the Church's role in preserving liberty. And oh! What's this? On a libertarian website? Can't be!

Enjoy

"Problem Child" the Movie

For those of you at the meeting last night....

The movie I was talking about was Problem Child.

The character who the kid gets in trouble on the television is Big Ben played by Jack Warden,

and the guy with the annoying voice is Mr. Peabody played by Gilber Godfried.

So, no, I was not talking about "Dennis the Menace"

...just to make it clear to you all that I am not (that) crazy.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Debate overload

You can check out Adam and Jeff debating the dems about the ROTC at Columbia here.

You can check me debating the dems about prositition here.

You can check out Allen v CCL on abortion issues, the separation of church and state, and a cure for cancer here.

All this debating has really made me appreciate what an incredibly civil medium blogs are. I personally don't think that if any of these three debates were held in person they would have been half as constructive. It seems to me that blogs are so civil for the following reasons:

(1) You can't cut people off. Everyone who has something to say can say it and debates never end up being as screaming matches, something i'm sure everyone here has had plenty of experience with. (2) Your words are there for everyone to see them. There is no "he said, she said" because your words are recorded perfectly for everyone to see. There is always a record of what people say and accurate quotes are a Ctrc C away. (3) Hyperlinking. It is amazing how much information gets brought up simply by linking to another website. This is not to say that all the information is good, but at least people put their sources out there.

I'm sure there are more reasons out there, but in the end, they all point to a more civil atmosphere for debate.

UPDATE: Woah, there are now 61 combined comments on those threads, and its finals week!

Patriot Act

Ron Paul on the Patriot Act.

He also mentions pro-lifers in the article... uh oh...

Monday, May 02, 2005

How to get to our blog

Take the subway, of course:

NYC Bloggers >> Blogs by Station >> 116 Street - Columbia University
If anyone wants to take credit for getting us on that list, use the comments.

Privatization Works...

Especially for the poor.

Who woulda thought?

Researchers have found that municipalities in Argentina with privatized water saw their child mortality reduced by 5-8% compared to before privatization. The reduction in child moratlity was greatest among the extremely poor, at over 26%.

Check it out.

And next time you hear some luddite railing against privatization and using water as their most shocking example, make sure to tell they what they are actually advocating: baby killing.

Abortion

I am sure there are some of you who will find parts (if not all) of the following article offensive, but as libertarians, I am confident you can take the heat. You can substitute some of the religious arguments in the article for your more secular but equivalent right of property which includes life.

Lee Ezell

The woman in the article, Lee Ezell, has her own website here.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Civil obedience

Jacob Sullum:
The Drug War Chronicle reports that antiprohibitionists in Hungary are engaged in a campaign of "civil obedience": turning themselves in as drug users and insisting on prosecution. The protest is aimed at calling attention to Hungary's penalties for drug offenses, which are harsh by European standards: Drug users (including pot smokers) can get two years in prison for simple possession unless they agree to six months of "treatment."
Imagine if the 100 million Americans that have smoked pot - by the government's own estimates - went and demanded prosecution.

Vote trading

"EVERY time I vote Labour, I know I am voting for someone who is going to lose," says Martin Allison, a teacher from Guildford, Surrey, where the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties vie for power, but Labour has hardly any support. So in the UK's general election on 5 May, he and his wife Christine will do something different - they will swap their votes on the internet.

"It's an ingenious way of getting better value for your vote," says Essex teacher Jason Buckley, who set up the anti-Conservative www.tacticalvoter.net, one of several vote-swapping websites, before the 2001 general election. This online political matchmaking has its roots in the US. But ironically, while it has failed to make much of an impression there, it has already had an impact in British elections and could well do again next week.

Martin Allison will not be doing anything illegal by trading his vote. He plans to vote for his second-choice party the Lib Dems, instead of Labour, his true preference, because he hopes that the Lib Dems will beat the Conservatives, his least favourite party. So far, that's just standard tactical voting (also called strategic voting). The difference is that Martin has made a deal with a Lib Dem supporter in another constituency, who has promised to vote Labour in return. And that deal was struck online.

Vote-swapping sites are meant to answer the frustration created by the "first past the post" electoral system used in UK general elections and US presidential elections. Votes cast for a losing candidate have no further influence once the winner in a state or constituency is announced. "Many people are stuck in a position of not being able to cast a meaningful vote," Rob Richie, director of the Center for Voting and Democracy in Washington DC, told New Scientist.
Huh, does this mean we will ever have an influence?

We are a bunch of *wealthy* sons of . . .

Americans pamper their pets, which rubs Daphne Merkin the wrong way.

We spend more money annually on pet-related supplies and services (an estimated $35 billion last year) than we do on toys for children. To wit: The New York Dog Magazine, which features un-tongue-in-cheek articles on whether or not to buy health insurance for Fido (5 percent of pet owners have insurance) and how to keep your canine in a custody battle (''Start a diary showing that you are the primary caretaker,'' advises Raoul Felder, divorce lawyer to the stars. ''Note how many times you walk the dog''), is but the latest entry in a crowded field that includes Dog Fancy, Modern Dog and The Bark. To wit: If you're looking for a place to board your dog while you're on vacation, you could do worse than Canine Cove in Sausalito, Calif., a cageless facility offering a quiet area to watch TV as well as an outside lounge area.

. . . The final word on the subject of the larger meaning of pets, however, should really go to Groucho Marx, who was never beyond taking things to their preposterous conclusion: ''Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.''

Globalization and Freedom

Johan Norberg points to the 2005 A.T. Kearney/FOREIGN POLICY Globalization Index. I find one of the most encouraging aspects of globalization - beyond the fact that globalization advances human well-being - is that it is highly correlated with political freedom [note: i said correlated but i do believe there is a causal link between the two]. As the report put it:
Comparing the index with Freedom House’s annual rankings of political rights and civil liberties in countries worldwide, we found that they work together quite nicely: There is a strong positive relationship between globalization and political freedom. Globalization may also be one of the best ways of keeping politicians honest, as more globalized countries have far lower levels of perceived corruption, as measured by Transparency International.
And for Allen,
In 2003, the Bush administration continued to turn up its nose at a variety of international agreements. The White House’s opposition to the Kyoto Protocol and the International Criminal Court is well known. But the Bush administration didn’t even want to sign on to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes. The United States looks suspiciously at many of the new legal and institutional arrangements that are binding the world together, at least on paper. As a result, the United States ranks 57th of the 62 ranked countries—below China and Pakistan—when it comes to signing on the dotted line.

May Day

The following is from Mark Skousen's website though it applies to May Day, 2003:

May Day, May Day, May Day!

I am giving a talk this evening on "The Real Meaning of May Day" at the Wisconsin Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. May Day is celebrated annually as the International Workers Day. Supporters say it got started because of the Haymarket incident against labor during the first week in May, 1890. But the plot behind May Day is much more suspicious. It turns out to be the Soviet National Holiday, where the Communists bring out all their big guns to let the world know they are a major power. It also happens to be the founding date of the Bavarian Illuminati in Germany (May 1, 1776). The German Illuminati was a secret organization aimed at abolishing private property and instituting democratic socialism. In some ways, it was the forerunner of the Communist Party. Is it coincidence that May Day is the same day as the Soviet National Holiday and International Workers Day?

Today is also National Prayer Day. With good reason. Let us pray that international socialism remains on the defensive.

Spot on, Boudreaux, old chap

At Cafe Hayek, Don Boudreaux has posted another of his famous letters to the editor, this one calling the Boston Globe on its sheer madness and hypocrisy.

You note that the middle-class supports Social Security because of the perceived personal benefits they get from it ("An Insecure System," April 30). Thus, you oppose reform that reduces the middle-class stake in Social Security because you fear that such reform will make it too easy for Americans to stop helping the truly needy. In short, you endorse a massive middle-class entitlement program as a bribe to quiet the bulk of Americans who might otherwise resist being taxed to pay for a safety net for the poor.

Ha! That's rich.

Freedom Force International

I'm not sure if you guys are familiar with G. Edward Griffin but this is his organization.