Conservative Economist

Conservative Economist

Tuesday, April 30

Inequality Doesn't Matter

Genetic Gains Unlikely to Help World's Poor, Report Predicts (
"The flood of new knowledge from genetic research is likely to worsen inequalities in health between rich and poor countries unless money, training and technical assistance are provided to help developing countries benefit from new discoveries, according to a report issued yesterday by the World Health Organization."

So what! Why does inequality matter? If genetic research provides a small benefit to the poor and an enormous benefit to the rich, it helps everyone even though it increases inequality. Liberals always talk about the need to reduce inequality. Well, the easiest way to reduce inequality is to do nothing for the poor and make the rich worse off. Reducing poverty, not inequality, should be our goal. Concern about inequality manifests from an envy based ideology where we all are assumed to be made worse off as others prosper.

Transracial Rights

Civil Rights for the Transgendered (NYT)

If you believe that people can alter their sex, then surely you should believe that people could change their race. I believe that people should be legally able to choose their own race, and receive all the affirmative action benefits of their chosen racial designation.

Racial Bias in Home Mortgages?

Blacks' Mortgage Costs Exceed Whites' of Like Pay (NYT)
"Far greater share of black and Hispanic homeowners with above-average incomes still have mortgages with higher interest rates than whites with comparable incomes, according to a study to be released today."

This doesn't prove bias. As Nobel Prize winning economist Gary Becker has written, the way to test for bias is to see if banks make a higher profit off of minority loan holders. If the banks are discriminating and charging higher interest rates for no economic reason, then banks should be making more money from loans to minorities.

The Baseball Bat Defense

According to Slate the FAA allows baseball bats on planes. Why not actually encourage passengers to bring baseball bats. If enough passengers had them, it would be impossible for terrorists who didn't have projectile weapons to hijack a plane.

Scholar's Pedophilia Essay Stirs Outrage and Revenge (NYT)
"In 1999, Dr. Mirkin [a professor at The University of Missouri] published an article in an obscure academic journal likening the "moral panic" surrounding pedophilia to the outrage of previous generations over feminism and homosexuality."

"Last week, the Missouri Legislature voted to cut $100,000 from the university's budget, saying taxpayers did not want to finance such perversity."

Of course, the NYT is worried about free speech and academic freedom. I don't understand why a State Legislature should not have the right to influence how their money is being spent. Can you imagine if the Missouri department of motor vehicles conducted a report on why pedophilia makes for better drivers? State Colleges seem to think that they have a special right to waste money, and it's somehow immoral for Legislatures to question their use of taxpayer funds. I think its immoral for Legislatures to not make sure that State schools use their funds effectively.

Most colleges use political criteria for hiring and promoting in some departments. Even though I know almost nothing about the school, I would bet that it would be very challenging for a conservative to get a job in the University of Missouri's departments of English, history, political science or women studies. Since most every State college has an extreme leftist bias and uses this bias in making decisions, Republican legislators should not fear interfering in the internal decisions of State colleges. Left wing campus politics already places massive limits on academic freedom (especially for junior faculty). It's wrong to assume that interference by moderate and conservative Legislators would further reduce academic freedom rather than just balance out the situation. Dr. Mirkin Study on pedophilia was paid for my Missouri taxpayers. If the Missouri legislature believes it has better uses for its taxpayers' money, it should insure that no further studies are funded.

Cut on the bias has an interesting discussion of the controversy.

Monday, April 29

Be Nice To Turkey

Turkey Will Take Command of the Security Force in Kabul (NYT)
Turkey has always been one of America's best allies. We will need her if we invade Iraq. The U.S. should reward Turkey by offering her a NAFTA-like free trade agreement.


Good Krugman column about why the 5.8% first quarter growth numbers might not be that impressive. As he writes, the stock market reacted badly to the growth figures. This means either, as Krugman points out, that the stock market doesn't think that the high growth will continue or that the stock market predicted the high growth and had already factored it into its valuations. If you are seriously interested in economics, you should read the column to learn about the importance of inventories.

Sunday, April 28

Affirmative Action

"At Ivy League schools, about 23% of students are Jewish, even though Jews comprise just 2% of the U.S. population, according to Hillel. (WSJ)"

The reason that some minorities are underrepresented at elite colleges is not because of racism but because two small minority groups, Jews and Asians, are statistically over represented. Calls for affirmative action and equal representation at colleges are thus necessarily calls for fewer Jews and Asians.

China Troubles

"China delivered a new shipment of missiles to bases near Taiwan last week as part of a mounting buildup under way since the beginning of the year... (Drudge)"
If China really wanted to cause us problems, now would be the perfect time. If we had to worry about protecting Taiwan, it would be much harder to invade Iraq.

Send A Female Jewish Ambassador To Saudi Arabia

Air controllers: Saudi wanted only men via drudge
I think that the U.S. once sent a black ambassador to apartheid South Africa. Let's improve diversity in Saudi Arabia by making all of our Saudi stationed diplomats Jewish women.

Does Israel have the right to attack Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Arabia is giving money to the families of suicide bombers. Consequently, Saudi Arabia is bribing terrorists to attack Israel. Surely, this gives Israel the moral right to respond by attacking the house of Saud.

Response To ChicagoBoyz Criticism Of My Tech Central Blogging Article

Jonathan Gewirtz wrote a long and thoughtful response to my Tech Central article on Blogging at the ChicagoBoyz blog.

In the Tech Central article, I wrote that lack of advertising will prevent Bloggers from competing with big media sites.

Gewirtz writes "Miller appears to be confusing the value of advertising in general with the value of the particular advertising-driven business model that is used by big media companies.” Advertising of some kind may be necessary, if only to let consumers know that a product exists. However, broadcast-style advertising – where professionally-produced content serves as filler between ads delivered to a captive audience – is problematic on the Internet..."

Save for the part about me being confused, I agree with Gewirtz on this. In our economy, advertising is very important to promoting products. Since bloggers won't spend the money to promote their web sites, they will never be able to compete with big media companies. This is true even if it is difficult to raise enough money through advertising to profitably run a news site. Perhaps news media content will be different and advertising won't be needed. However, I can't think of a single industry in the U.S. where the top players don't use advertising to promote their products. It seems very unlikely that online news will prove to be the exception.

In the article, I wrote that when broadband becomes more widespread big media sites will go multimedia and bloggers won't be able to compete. By multimedia I mean not just high tech graphics (which some bloggers could employ) but also television production values which solo bloggers could never match. Gewirtz writes " The popularity of intellectually serious bloggers such as Glenn Reynolds and Andrew Sullivan suggests that there is a market for high-quality ideas without visual frills."

On this point Gewirtz is wrong. A market is a place where people pay for goods or services. (For TV we pay by watching commercials.) Since Reynolds and Sullivan give away their content, their popularity does not suggest that "there’s a market for high-quality ideas without visual frills." Also, even though both Reynolds and Sullivan probably get 1,000 times the traffic I do, their viewership is tiny compared to even a local newscast in a small city. They are big fish in the still very small pond of blogging. Most Americas would still much much rather watch TV news than read a blog. After broadband proliferates net news will become like TV news and will thus consequently be dominated by big media companies who use TV quality production values. Yes, Reynolds and Sullivan's traffic is growing. I suspect, however, that most readers to these sites are people who read the WSJ and/or the NYT and want even more news. The number of Americans in this category is relatively small. Since most Americans would rather watch than read news, how could a solo blogger ever match a broadband Internet version of the O'Reilly factor?

Saturday, April 27

Reparations Will Get Its Day In Court

Gray Davis Joins the Race-Baiting Left
"The reparations movement can only be understood as an attack on America by a hard left that hates it and a soft left that needs the support of the America haters to win elections."

"The legal movement for reparations is not only preposterous; it is itself a form of white-collar crime. No court will hear a case that is 100 years old, and the reparations lawyers know this."

Alas, this last statement isn't true for some judges are members of the hard left.

Friday, April 26

Simulated Political Ads

The Supreme court has ruled that simulated child pornography is constitutionally protected, but also held that it's OK to outlaw actual child pornography even though, to a viewer, their might be no discernable difference between the two. Let's assume that the court upholds the recent campaign finance legislation and makes it illegal to air political ads in certain circumstances. Might it still be legal to run simulated political ads?

Assume it's illegal for an interest group to run an ad the day before the election saying "Vote For Bush." It would presumably also be illegal to run an ad with the words "vote for" superimposed over an actual picture of President Bush. It must, however, be legal (but silly) to run an ad with the words "vote for" superimposed over a blank screen.

Now, what if the interest group creates a computer simulation of President Bush and runs an ad with the words "vote for" superimposed over this fake image? This would not be a real political ad because it would be calling for viewers to vote for a mere computer representation. If the court thinks that child pornography can be make legal by using simulated, but real looking, children then surely political ads would be legal if they used simulated, but real looking, politicians.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Palestinians produced bio-chemical weapons The Jerusalem Post Newspaper (via Drudge)
The best thing that America could do for Israel would be to declare that an attack on Israel with weapons of mass destruction will be treated as if it were an attack on the U.S.

Le Pen will beat poll predictions

The DailyPundit predicts that Le Pen will do better than the polls suggest. I strongly agree for two reasons. First, Frenchmen planning on voting for Le Pen are probably lying about their intentions to pollsters since the press is properly demonizing Le Pen. Second, we were told that in the last election that Le Pen got a large protect vote because no one expected him to do well. Since everyone is predicting that Le Pen will suffer a massive defeat, many who are upset with the French elites will feel safe casting a protest vote for him. If Le Pen does well it will be a strong signal that the people have no faith in the government. Since many Frenchmen may want to send such a signal I predict that Le Pen will get more than 30% of the vote.

Thursday, April 25

Takeovers and Poison Pills

Bruce Bartlett on Corporate Boards on NRO Financial
"Managers control [corporations], but do not own them. Thus managers have a tendency to take advantage of disconnected owners by rewarding themselves excessively — giving themselves money that rightly belongs to the shareholders — and operating corporate businesses inefficiently; that is, not maximizing profits."

In the 1980s shareholders used hostile takeovers to fire many incompetent corporate executives. Unfortunately, the executives, their lawyers and lobbyists found ways of stopping most hostile takeovers by using tricks like poison pills. A poison pill could work like this: A company promises to give its workers a massive bonus if there is a hostile takeover. Since the bonus would cripple the company, no shareholder would want their to be a such a takeover.

Government workers, and tenured college professors, are often lazy because they can't be fired. The difficulty of ousting corporate executives insulates them from market forces and consequently makes them soft. Corporations are supposed to be owned by shareholders, so ideally shareholders should be able to fire their employees, the corporate executives, without having to consume poison. Republicans would greatly benefit from strengthening shareholder's rights because doing so would cause the stock market to increase in value.

Sullivan, Celibacy and the Church - Daily Dish
Andrew Sullivan writes that celibacy makes priests uniquely unqualified to understand the harm of pedophilia. "In fact, it was the bishops' refusal to see pedophilia from the child's point of view - their tendency to see it as merely a sin of the flesh rather than a radical betrayal of trust - that lies at the heart of the current scandal. And that refusal has deep roots." Sullivan implies that the Church lumps together pedophilia and "sex without procreation" and treats them as morally equal. I don't accept this argument.

Only someone who has driven a car can really understand the danger of driving while drunk. This is true because the experience of driving gives you insight into how being slightly less alert could cause a tragic accident. I don't see why having "sex without procreation," however, gives one insight into the harm cause by pedophilia. If bad sex with another adult was like being the victim of pedophilia, then Sullivan would be right that Priests would have difficulty understanding the harm of pedophilia. However, I assume that the two experiences are so unrelated that having experienced one gives you no understanding of the other. By Sullivan's logic, only someone who has had consensual sex could truly understand the harm cause by rape.

Great Planned Parenthood Joke at No Watermelons Allowed

How to keep the peace between Israel and Egypt

Egypt ready to wage war on Israel ... for $US100 billion - via Drudge"Egyptian Prime Minister Atef Ebeid said his country would go to war with Israel if Arab countries stumped up $US100 billion ($A186.32 billion) to pay for the confrontation, in an interview published yesterday."

Jimmy Carter gave Egypt money so she would make peace with Israel. Now Egypt is saying that if she was richer she would go to war. Thus, to maintain peace between Egypt and Israel the U.S. should cut off all foreign aid to Egypt.

Wednesday, April 24

What Bush Should Tell The Saudis

Saudi to Warn Bush of Rupture Over Israel Policy NYT
"But the Saudi delegation also brought a strong sense of the alarm and crisis that have been heard in Arab capitals. 'It is a mistake to think that our people will not do what is necessary to survive," the person close to the crown prince said, "and if that means we move to the right of bin Laden, so be it; to the left of Qaddafi, so be it; or fly to Baghdad and embrace Saddam like a brother, so be it. It's damned lonely in our part of the world, and we can no longer defend our relationship to our people.'"

Bush should tell the Saudi dictator that we have decided to embrace Saddam like a brother, and make him a very generous offer. If Iraq agrees to supply all of our oil needs at $10 / barrel, the U.S. would promise to do nothing if Saddam conquers Saudi Arabia.

Le Pen is of the left

Why Vote for Le Pen? NYT
"The Communist Party, which is part of the governing coalition in France and not considered extreme, has been in increasing trouble, with some of its supporters defecting to Mr. Le Pen."

Ivy League or Also-Ran? Does It Matter? (NYT)

"They found that students who chose a school with lower admissions standards over a more competitive school earned incomes just as high as those who attended the elite college."

Bad news for me since Smith College charges vastly more than many less elite schools do.

Is Political Speach Worse Than Simulated Child Porn?

'Reform' Derailed (
"Will a Supreme Court that bars the government from regulating simulated child pornography allow that same government to restrict political speech in the days just before an election?"

Political speech should have strong constitutional protections since there is a large gap between what political speech restrictions are best for the country and which are best for elected politicians.

Fidel not as clever as NYT implies

Castro secretly tapes a phone conversation with Mexican President Fox and then releases it to embarrass Fox. The NYT uses the headline "Fidel's Trap" and implies that Fidel outsmarted Fox. In fact, this antic has surely made it much harder for Castro to negotiate with other leaders, and it seems likely that Castro will now be further politically isolated from his neighbors. Bush should thank Fox for weakening Castro and the NYTs should stop admiring foolish dictators.

Tuesday, April 23

Could Sharpton Be America's Le Pen

The race in France showed that strange things can happen when votes are split among many candidates. It is very possible that Al Sharpton could win the Democratic nomination even if most Democratic voters opposed him. For this to happen, he would have to get all the black votes and no one candidate like Gore could get a majority of the white votes. Of course, if Republicans decided to be mischievous (in states where you don't have to be a Democrat to vote in the Democratic primary) they might vote for Sharpton since Bush's nomination will be assured.

Too little money in politics

South Dakota Senate Race (foxnews)
"A projected $14 million will be spent on this race, an excessive sum for a state with only 475,000 registered voters."
$14 million actually seems like a very small amount for a race that could determine who controls the Senate.

Monday, April 22

Le Pen is not right wing or conservative

Le Pen is going to get a lot of coverage in the American press and they are probably going to describe him as right wing or conservative. Le Pen opposes trade and immigration and (I think) is not too big on free markets. Conservatives should thus resist attempts to label Le Pen as one of us.


Many "progressives" complain that our voting system is unfair because it favors a two party system. Lack of runoffs do make it difficult for third parties to get votes in the U.S. If, for example, the left divides their votes between two candidates while there is just one candidate for the right, then the right will win. In a system with runoffs it would be politically more feasible for multiple parties to participate, at least in the first election. Of course, as the election in France showed, runoffs don't guarantee a fair outcome.

I believe that the outcome in France is unfair because the vast majority of Frenchmen would have preferred that Le Pen not be in a runoff. So what kind of election produces a fair result? Ken Arrow actually proved that it's mathematically impossible to produce a voting system that is always "fair." Regardless of what kind of system you use, it's always possible to get some outcome that a majority of voters don't want.


Krugman equates Le Pen and Bush, the difference for him being that Bush is in power. Accusing a left of center American of being a communist is considered a cardinal sin by liberals. Why is it OK for Krugman to equate Bush and the Republicans with a Racist/ fascist? If Krugman really believes that Bush and the Republicans are like Le Pen then he must be consumed with hatred for them.

Bureau of Indian Affairs v. Enron

Lost Trust: Billions Go Uncounted Indians in Century-Old Fight to Tally Money Owed for Land Use. The government has lost billions in money kept in trust for American Indians. Those who favor privatizing social security should use this example to counter Enron. Do you want the same federal government that runs the Bureau of Indian Affairs to manage your retirement savings?

Sunday, April 21

Remove France from the Security Council

I know that Le Pen won't win, but Israel should still insist that if he does then France should be removed from the U.N. Security Council. After all, the Security Council was supposed to be made up of the victors of WWII. Since Le Pen once called the nazi gas chambers "a detail in history" his victory should cause France to forfeit her seat.

Saturday, April 20

Thousands protest peacefully in D.C.
"The different protests are 'all connected in the sense that it’s all part of how the world economic structure works."

I have noticed that leftists always like to connect things. I suspect that this saves them from having to think because it allows them to label everything they don't understand as evil. I would love to go to some anti-globalization protest where they are attacking the IMF and World Bank and give the protesters a quiz where they must describe the differences between these two institutions. Of course, if both institutions are part of the same global conspiracy of capitalists to oppress then there is no need to actually understand what either organization does.

The Pope Keeps Celibacy

Imagine if the Pope declared that priests no longer have to be celibate. Wouldn't 60 year old priests who had forgone sex their entire lives be a little upset if the Pope decided the celibacy wasn't really all that important?

Al Gore The Selling of an Energy Policy
"True leadership means guaranteeing our national security and role as a world leader — and one of the best ways to do this is by decreasing our dangerous dependence on foreign oil, so that America cannot be held hostage to oil imports and tinhorn tyrants like Saddam Hussein."

So, Gore must favor drilling in ANWR.

Jimmy Carter: America Can Persuade Israel to Make a Just Peace

Carter wants Israel to withdraw "from Palestinian lands in exchange for full acceptance of Israel and Israel's right to live in peace."

Let's make the crazy assumption that Israel doesn't trust the Arab world. Given this assumption why would Israel give up something tangible (land) in return for a mere promise of good future relations.

Al Gore The Selling of an Energy Policy
"But with folks wearing bikinis in Boston in the middle of April and with the massive melting of ice at both poles and in nearly every mountain glacier on earth, public awareness and concern [of global warming] are growing rapidly."

Gore betrays himself with this sentence. He must know that even if global warming is real, it can only be currently responsible for an extremely small increase in temperature. It's unscientific to attribute an April heat wave to global warming. Gore can't seem to resist engaging in the type of exaggerating (I invented the Internet) that probably cost him the Presidency.

Friday, April 19

Extremadura Measures: Linux
"Following the lead of poorer countries worldwide, Spain's Extremadura region adopts Linux as the official operating system of public schools and offices."

This is very significant. An operating system becomes more valuable the more people who use it, because the more users there are of a given operating system the more software will be written for it. If many poorer regions adopt Linux, than Linux gains strength relative to Windows even in rich markets where price is not a major factor in operating system purchase decisions.

Exhibit lets visitors change ethnicity
As I have written here before, we should legally be able to declare ourselves members of any ethnic group we want and be entitled to all the (affirmative action) privileges that that ethnic group gets.

The Mental Pathologies of the Anti-Israel Left
"More typical of the way a dominant power behaves towards an enemy is Rome's treatment of Carthage after the brief third Punic War-- the city was literally leveled, its inhabitants slaughtered and sold into slavery, and salt sown into the soil. Or consider how Rome dealt with its recalcitrant Jewish province. Jerusalem was destroyed and Israel simply ceased to exist for 1900 years. The real question historically is not why has America committed abuses abroad, but rather why hasn't it asserted itself more destructively. If Romans ran America today, Baghdad would look like the moon."

Arabs fuel a boycott of U.S. goods
If the U.S. really wanted to hurt Arab countries we could support this boycott and refuse to sell them any of our products. Exports to Arab countries account for a tiny percentage of our economy but are absolutely vital to Arabs countries' economic survival.

Thursday, April 18

Priesthood Under Scrutiny (NYT)
"The problem arises, they say, when sexually stunted and inexperienced young men are recruited into an institution in which sex is taboo, incubated in the all-male hothouse called a seminary, and then are deposited into a lonely occupation where a good part of their human contact is with young boys."

This quote makes the current crisis seem almost inevitable.


Krugman argues that Bush's tax cuts are endangering senior's health because they don't allow for funding of things like portable X-ray machines. Let's accept that there are some government programs which are "good" and should be expanded. Whenever the government cuts taxes, you could always claim that this leaves less money for the government to spend on "good" programs. Consequently, you could use Krugman's logic to argue that the government should never decrease taxes because this would prevent the government from spending more on "good" programs. The implication of Krugman's argument is that as long as there are "good" government programs the government should raise as much revenue as possible. His argument is thus flawed because it proves too much. - Daily Dish
"There are plenty of topics on which I hold strong views but completely respect the views of those who disagree with me. I simply, honestly, cannot respect anyone who believes alcohol should be legal but marijuana shouldn't. Here's a challenge: will one reader provide a short (less than 300 words) defense of that position?"

My Answer: Since alcohol is addictive it would impose great costs on law abiding American alcoholics to make its use illegal. When these Americans became addicted to alcohol they had the reasonable expectation that alcohol would continue to be legal for the rest of their lives. In contrast, even if marijuana is addictive, those who use it know that it's use is illegal so the state is not imposing an unexpected burden upon them by continuing to ban marijuana.

ArabNews: Boycott America? What a joke! (From a Saudi Paper.) As the author explains, it's not that they don't want to it's just that Arab countries are economically insignificant compared to the U.S. It's a good sign for freedom of the press, however, that this article could be published in a Saudi paper.

OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today
"Stanford University had apparently decided not to hire Ron Brown as its football coach because Brown is a devout Christian."

I think I will mention this the next time Stanford asks me for money. OK, I have only given Stanford around $50 since graduating so I can't hurt them too much. If, however, enough alumni were willing to withhold donations, then Stanford might be forced to slightly mitigate their political correctness.

Plane Crash Probably Not An Accident

Using simple probability analysis we can determine that the crash was probably intentional. Imagine if yesterday you were asked to estimate the following two variables:

X = the probability that a plane will accidently crash into the most significant building in Milan.
Y = the probability that terrorist would deliberately crash a plane into the most significant building in Milan.

My guess is that most people would estimate that Y was much higher than X. This means that even without any other evidence we can assume that the attack was most likely deliberate.

[It now seems likely that the crash was an accident. Given the initial information, however, I still believe it was reasonable to initially assume that the crash was probably intentional.]

[Perhaps I was right.]

Wednesday, April 17

42 Failing Schools in Philadelphia to Be Privatized
One of the great advantages of capitalism is that failure is punished. For too long have our public schools been deprived of this advantage.

When To Drill in ANWR

It seems likely that Congress won't approve drilling in ANWR. Bush should propose a trigger that would allow drilling if oil prices go above some level. It would be difficult for Democrats to argue against such a trigger, and the trigger would provide a disincentive for OPEC to raise prices.

The Blogging Revolution by Andrew Sullivan (Wired)"Blogger could be to words what Napster was to music - except this time, it'll really work."

I strongly disagree. Napster worked because it allowed consumers to get something for free that they would otherwise have to pay for. Almost all Internet sites don't charge for content so Bloggers don't have this pricing advantage over their corporate competition. Furthermore, the Napster model, at least, did work. Peer to peer music "sharing" systems are extremely popular and, I suspect, will soon decimate the music industry. Also as I wrote in a Tech central station article, information costs are likely to always but solo Bloggers at a disadvantage compared to big media news sites.

Tuesday, April 16

Guardian Unlimited | Israel faces rage over 'massacre'
"Israel's international reputation slumped to its lowest point for two decades yesterday, amid condemnation in Britain and Europe of the Israeli army's behaviour at the Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin in the West Bank."

Lives Reduced to Rubble Jenin Camp Is a Scene of Devastation But Yields No Evidence of a Massacre(

(BBC News) Israel under hack attack
Prediction: The hack attack will continue, but it will make Israel the best in the world at Internet security. Internet security will consequently become a major service export for Israel.

'Virtual' Child Pornography Ban Overturned
To stop virtual Internet child pornography Congress should make it legal to hide destructive worms in this type of pornography as long as the worms can't spread to other users. (Please forgive the suggestion if it's not technically feasible.)

OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today
"By a 40-5 vote, the commission approved a resolution approving of "all available means, including armed struggle" to establish a Palestinian state. The resolution makes no exception for terrorism. Only Britain, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany and Guatemala voted against the resolution. Six European countries--Austria, Belgium, France, Portugal, Spain and Sweden--endorsed the murder of Jews. Italy abstained."

For a long time my Jewish relatives wouldn't buy German cars. Perhaps enough years have passed since the Holocaust for this informal boycott to end. Maybe we need a new target. Anyone up for starting a tourism boycott of France?

Monday, April 15

Eric Alterman and Rational Suicide Bombers

Alterman writes that it's difficult to explain how terrorism can be considered rational unless you factor in promises of paradise. I disagree. Suicide-homicide bombing can be considered rational. For an economist a rational act is one that maximizes your pleasure.

If someone estimates that he would get more pleasure from death than life then it's rational for this person to kill himself. Even if someone enjoys life, however, it could still be rational for him to trade his life for something else. For example, take the firemen who on 9/11 put their lives in great jeopardy in return for the chance of saving others. These men must have received great pleasure from helping their fellow humans. For what ever reason, the neurons in their brains were structured so that saving other people's lives gave them enormous satisfaction. It was therefore rational for them to place their own lives at great risk on 9/11.

Like the firemen, the suicide-homicide bombers probably also have their brains structured so that it is worth it for them to trade their lives for something else. These bombers are willing to give up their lives in return for a chance at killing children. The satisfaction they receive from inflicting pain on others is so massive that it actually makes it rational for them to give up their lives in order to commit homicide.

Economists don't usually discuss love and hate, but we certainly have the analytical tools to study it. Love means getting pleasure from other peoples' pleasure. If you love your fellow man enough it is rational to put your life in great peril to save him. Hate means deriving pleasure from other's pain. Consequently, someone sufficiently consumed by hate would find it in his rational self-interest to become a suicide bomber.

Al-Qaeda claims attack on Tunisia synagogue
I recall some leftists claiming that Al-Qaeda's attack on the U.S. was motivated by U.S. imperialism. Do you think they will now apologize?

Time Appears to Be Running Out On Bush's Alaska Drilling Proposal (WSJ).
If Bush loses on ANWR he can always blame any future increase in oil prices on the Democrats.

Forests and CO2 New Scientist
"In this week's Nature ..., Jeffery Richey ... say[s] [that] the breakdown of leaf litter is already releasing large amounts of carbon in the rivers and wetlands of the Amazon rainforest. This means the forest may be releasing as much CO2 as it absorbs, if not more."

Just to be safe we should probably clear cut the rainforests.

Sunday, April 14

Eyeing November, Democrats Intensify Attacks ( could cause the Dems trouble in the 2002 Congressional elections. To get noticed by their left wing base, Democratic Presidential candidates will need to attack Bush. Given Bush's high popularity ratings, however, this will hurt the image of the Democratic party. If only Cynthia McKinney would run for President then the Republicans would be assured of taking the Senate.

Environmental Groups, Navy Square Off on Sonar System (
The National Marine Fisheries Service will decide if the Navy can use some revolutionary loud sonar that can detect quiet subs but might also harm marine mammals.

If the United States goes the way of the Roman empire, this story might make an amusing entry in some future historian's collection of anecdotes showing why we fell.

"The C.I.A. fails to ask: Who benefits most from Arafat's decisions to reject statehood, launch a terror war on Israeli civilians and refuse a cease-fire? Surely not Palestinians. The answer is Saddam, terror's foremost supporter, who gains time to build his bombs while world media fixate on Israel's self-defense."

My nightmare: Saddam successfully tests an atomic bomb and then announces that he has another hidden somewhere in the U.S. Saddam then retakes Kuwait, demands that Saudi Arabia cut its oil production by 60% and insists that the U.S. cut off all ties to Israel.

ABC news keeps referring the the top Palestinian terrorist as Chairman Arafat. I propose a new journalistic standard whereby political leaders are only referred to by their titles if these titles are democratically conferred.

Saturday, April 13

Augmented Reality (Scientific American)
"Augmented reality (AR) refers to computer displays that add virtual information to a user's sensory perceptions. Most AR research focuses on "see-through" devices, usually worn on the head, that overlay graphics and text on the user's view of his or her surroundings."

The major flaw with technology companies is that they haven't produced any must-have products since e-mail. I think Augmented Reality devices might become something that everyone wants. Augmented Reality devices would probably use massive amounts of computing power and would thus provide a justification for companies like Intel to continue to research how to make faster computers.

I strongly believe that if we could make computers that were smarter than humans, then it would be possible to make more technological progress in 20 years than we have made in all previous human history. I would really like to see this happen. I know almost nothing about the technology behind making faster computers. As an economist, however, I know that computers will only keep getting faster if it's profitable to make them faster. Intel isn't going to put billions into research today to have some chance at having super-intelligent computers in 25-50 years. For research into faster computers to continue, there has to be profitable short-run applications for "next generation" computers. Consequently, I think it's great news for humanity that Augmented Reality might make producing faster computers more profitable.

Young America (
Interesting chart showing that the percentage of people over 60 is lower in the U.S. than in any other major industrialized nation. Since, alas, productivity declines rapidly with old age, this is yet another reason why America will sustain her position as the world's dominant economic power.

Robert Novak
"Netanyahu ... warned that the Iraqi [nuclear] weapons could enter the U.S. in satchels carried by terrorists. U.S. intelligence has minimized the likelihood of such an approach." I don't understand why minimizing the chance of the U.S. being hit by weapons of mass destruction isn't the single most important goal of American foreign policy. I wrote an article on this topic for the National Review Online a few months ago.

Friday, April 12

Blogger Citation Ethics (only of interest to Bloggers)
What obligations should bloggers have to cite other bloggers? Let's say I come across a great idea on blog X and want to mention it on ConservativeEconomist. Obviously, I should cite blog X. What if, however, I first read about this idea on blog Y, where blog Y cites blog X. Must I now cite both blogs X and Y? What if I do and some other Blogger first reads about this idea on ConservativeEconomist and wants to mention it on his blog. Should this person have to cite three blogs?

A norm holding that you only had to cite the original Blogger would be unfair to linking blogs and would deprive them of traffic and credit. I have noticed, however, that linking blogs often cite some blog by way of another blog. Thus, to even have a norm limiting you to two cites would harm linking blogs. Furthermore, if you only had to cite two blogs, you should cite the original but which other? Obviously, I don't have the power to establish any kind of citation norm. Clear rules, however, would make it easier to blog because we all wouldn't have to worry about unethically depriving someone else of credit.

Incentives to link will be influenced by any citation norm. For example, if you don't have to cite the third linker than blogs will have diminished incentives to become the third linker. This will slow the diffusion of really clever stuff across blog land. Why should I cite blog Y by way of blog X if no one will ever link to my link? Consequently, the more Blogs that you are supposed to cite in the linking chain the greater the incentive to cite, but the more annoying and confusing will be the links (especially to non-bloggers.) Of course, it's possible that only a college professor, steeped in the norms and importance of footnotes, would care about citation ethics.

Cardinal Law Vows to Stay On
Perhaps the Catholic Church should hold a plebiscite to see if Law should stay. Democracy usually increases the accountability of institutions. Since the Pope is elected by the Cardinals, the Church clearly believes that limited democracy is desirable. Why not subject Cardinals to "recall" by parishioners?

Democrat Implies Sept. 11 Administration Plot (
"Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) is calling for an investigation into whether President Bush and other government officials had advance notice of terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 but did nothing to prevent them. She added that "persons close to this administration are poised to make huge profits off America's new war."

Congressional Republicans should move to get McKinney removed from all committees. They should force the congressional Democrats to either vote against her or support her right to hold onto her committee positions.

Thursday, April 11

Krugman's Motivation
I think I have grasped Krugman's journalistic motivation. Sure, he is a columnist for this nation's most prestigious paper, but that's not enough. He has set himself the challenge of keeping his job even while writing endlessly about an extremely boring topic: the Bush administration and Enron. It would sort of be like Tom Clancy writing an 1,000 page fictionalized account of the chad battle in the 2000 election recount. If Clancy could actually get people to read such a novel, his greatness would truly be established.

France's Jews adopt fortress mentality under daily attacks
Perhaps U.S. troops will have to go to France to maintain peace.

New enzyme a step towards exercise pill

"Scientists have found an enzyme in muscle that, when activated, can mimic the effects of exercise. The discovery could one day lead to "exercise in a bottle" pills but this will not be for many years"

If the pill was safe, I imagine that nearly everyone in the developed world would take it and there would be massive economic consequences. Exercise seems to be a big factor influencing longevity. Since most Americans don't exercise, an exercise pill would significantly increase average life expectancy. Social security would be effected, but the effect wouldn't be all bad. True, people would collect benefits for a longer period of time. However, an exercise pill would decrease workplace injuries and consequently would have some positive effects on social security's solvency. Furthermore, muscular people use more calories so if most people in the West got significantly more muscular the world demand for food would increase.

TCS: Tech - 'Worse Than Internet Addiction'

I suspect that employees will soon be claiming that Internet Addiction is a conditioned covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act. If Internet addiction is a protected disability, then it would be difficult for firms to fire employees for looking at online porn or for spending all day playing video games.

Wednesday, April 10

In a Weekly Standard article "Radical Islam in Nigeria" by Paul Marshall, the author discusses the brutal punishments some criminals face in Nigeria. The system described seems quite horrific. On this issue, however, the U.S. doesn't have any right to judge. We put men in prison knowing that there is a good chance they will be raped by men with incurable sexually transmitted diseases. Perhaps having your hand amputated doesn't seem so terrible in comparison. Of course, the process by which we determine a defendant's guilt is vastly better than that employed by Nigeria.

How Bloggers Can Make Money
I have figured out how successful Bloggers can cash in. People are willing to pay a lot for well developed online characters in games like Everquest. Imagine how much someone would pay to take over a popular site like instapundit? If any of the popular Bloggers decides to leave, they should auction off the rights to maintain their site. True, the new blogger would have to prove himself, but he would be starting from the top so if he were talented he could remain popular.

Online Sales of Used Books Draw Protest
"Authors are rebelling against new efforts by (news/quote) to spur sales of used books, a practice that has become a major source of revenue for Amazon but pays nothing to writers or publishers."

I don't think that authors need to be that worried. By making it easy to sell used books, Amazon is lowering the "real" cost of new books. If you buy a book with the intention of selling it the "real" price is the difference between the cover price and what you can get for a used copy.

There are two reasons why an expansion in the used book market will probably cause publishers to increase new book prices. The first is that many buyers will be willing to pay this increased cost if they plan on selling their book later. The second is that publishers would now rather sell a few books at a high price than many at low prices because by selling a small number of new books there will be fewer used books available for consumers to purchase.

Glenn Reynolds also has an article on Blogging in today's Tech Central Station.

On his blogging site Reynolds writes "Unbeknownst to me when I wrote it, it meshes nicely with another column on blogging by an economist that's also there today. I agree that some sort of aggregation / reputation function is likely to be useful in the future. I'm not quite as sure as he is that it has to come top-down from established media, as opposed to bottom-up from people who integrate weblogs into a new network."

I certainly agree that reputation is an extremely important determinant of any news site's success in attracting readers. I think, however, that it would be very difficult for an individual to obtain a reputation that would allow him to compete with corporate news sites. Corporations rely upon advertising to develop reputations. Since solo bloggers will never spent large amounts on advertising, I believe that they will always be at a massive disadvantage compared to big media news sites. It would be a better world if reputations had to be earned and couldn't be bought. The massive amount of money that rational, profit maximizing firms spend on advertising to improve their own reputations shows, however, that advertising works.

TCS: Tech - Blogging: An Economist's View
Will the blogging boom be beaten back by big business? See my article in Tech Central Station.

Tuesday, April 9

Netanyahu said on Fox News that 13 Israeli solders were killed by a TEN YEAR OLD suicide bomber sent by Arafat. Netanyahu said Arafat used a ten year old because he knew that Israeli solders would not fire at someone so young. If this is true and is accepted as true then I suspect it will become a strategic blunder for Arafat. This action should cause most of the West to finally view Arafat as a terrorist and rather than a freedom fighter. One of Arafat's best hopes is that Western Europe might threaten to cut of trade with Israel if Israel doesn't agree to Arafat's demands. By doing something that even left wing European intellectuals should condemn, Arafat might just have lost his best chance at victory.

Bush has insisted that Israel withdraw from Palestinian territory and Israel has mostly ignored him. Bush has been weakened by Israeli's rejection of his demand. It's extremely important that Bush be able to effectively threaten other countries. The U.S. has the greatest military force the world has ever known. It's so powerful that we should never have to actually use it against rational enemies. Mere threats should be enough to get our enemies to acquiesce. Unfortunately, threats are only an effective tools if they are believed. Every time the U.S. makes a demand of another country, and that demand is ignored our threats become less credible. When our threats are no longer believed, then we must use force to get our way. Since words are so much cheaper than force, anything that diminishes their strength weakens us.

Monday, April 8

The Third Oil Crisis? Krugman
In writing about a potential oil crisis Krugman fails to mention one possibility: that some oil fields be taken away from OPEC. Perhaps after removing Saddam the U.S. will turn over power to someone who promises not to join OPEC. The threat of such an action should be enough to keep OPEC from creating another oil crisis. Perhaps fear of loosing Iraq is a reason why OPEC countries oppose U.S. removing Saddam.

Edward Blum on Al Sharpton on National Review Online
"Since the Democrats are likely to frontload their primary-election schedule this cycle, it is not inconceivable for Sharpton to actually win New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Michigan, Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi."

Sharpton could actually win the Democratic nomination with Republican votes. Bush will almost certainly be assured of his party's nomination. In States where non-Democrats can vote in the Democratic primary, might not mischievous Republicans vote for Sharpton? Sharpton certainly would be willing to try for Republican votes if he thought it might give him a chance at victory.

The Chronicle: 4/12/2002: A Market Solution to the Oversupply of Historians Great Article!

The Holocaust is the Major Reason Western Europe Is Anti-Israel

There are a large number of Muslims in Western Europe, so for domestic political reasons many European politicians are anti-Israel. If it wasn't for the Holocaust there would be far more Jewish people in Western Europe and their political influence might cancel out the influence of European Muslims.

Bush Heckled
"The demonstrators shouted: 'We won't fight your racist war!'"
Given the high standards of our armed forces, I suspect that most of the demonstrators lack the option.

Sunday, April 7

Google Time Bomb - Will Weblogs blow up the world's favorite search engine? - Microcontent News, a Microblog

With a Google bomb linkers can influence what Google chooses as its top search results. For example, if enough people linked to this site using the word conservative, when people searched for conservative on Google they would be directed here. I predict that during the next presidential election massive numbers of Google bombs will be employed. Wouldn't it be fun if the top search result for " " pointed to the home page of the candidate you hope will lose?

Bush Plans Push for Terrorism Insurance ("Bush plans to use the meeting to highlight the growing "drag on the economy" created by a lack of available terrorism insurance since Sept. 11, the official said."

This is really scary. The market must be putting a very high estimate on expected future losses due to terrorism.

Protest Marks Death Of Cincinnati Man (
"We cannot turn our back on the brothers and sisters who hit the streets April 9-11," Lynch told the crowd. The rioters' actions, he said, brought international attention to black residents' longtime complaints of racial profiling."

"The reason the Justice Department came into Cincinnati was because of the 9th to the 11th," Lynch told the crowd."

So the riots were an effective political tactic. Whenever we reward violence we increase the incentives to commit violence.

Study Says 38 Percent of Adults Are Sedentary in Leisure Time (
"Nearly 40 percent of American adults are sedentary in their leisure time, basically never exercising. In contrast, about 30 percent exercise on a regular basis, either vigorously several times a week, or even more often at lower intensity. The rest do something in between."

This is another reason why National Health Insurance would be unfair. The vigorous 30% would end up paying more because of the lazy 40%.

Cybersmut and Debt Undermine Penthouse
Interesting nugget: "[The publisher of Penthouse] spent millions on an unsuccessful attempt to develop small nuclear fusion reactors."

I wonder what synergies he was trying to capture?
"Even if Bush actually understood what was going on, his political masters would never dare enrage the US Zionists and thus jeopardize a second term for their man in the White House."

Yes, where would the Republicans be without the massive support of Jewish voters?

Saturday, April 6

NATO's Expansion (
Given the support Europe has given us recently, we should be talking about contracting NATO not expanding it.

I suspect that Europe's support of Arafat will cause Jewish people to become extremely pro-American. For some strange reason a majority of Jewish Americans have always been on the political left in the U.S. Perhaps the current Israeli situation will convince Jewish Americans to support the patriotic right rather than the blame America left.

Yahoo! News - Despite Bush's Call, Israel Pummels West Bank Cities
Politically, Israel is far better off engaging in a short and brutal campaign than a long and (relatively) peaceful one.

Norton scolds insurance firms -- The Washington Times
"D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton plans to introduce legislation to prevent insurance companies from raising rates or canceling policies of businesses and homeowners near potential terrorist targets if she finds the practice is becoming widespread"

What a terrible idea. Insurance companies would not want to insure building subject to terrorist threats if they couldn't charge market rates. It's also efficient for there to be higher insurance on buildings near terrorist targets because this causes buildings to be erected in safer places.

LA Cardinal Accused of Sexual Abuse
I, of course, don't know if this accusation is true. I suspect, however, that a lot of troubled people are going to start falsely accusing priests of sexual improprieties. The Catholic Church's best defense to the entire problem might be that the press will inevitably expose many of these accusations. This exposure will make even credible claim seem less believable.

Friday, April 5

Andrew Sullivan gives this his SONTAG award.

"Though we at THE TIKKUN COMMUNITY oppose the outrageous and disgusting acts of terror against Israelis, we know that the actual level of violence is small compared to the number of Israelis who die each year in automobile accidents." - Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun.

As an economist I wonder why most people are far more bothered by suicide bombings than traffic deaths? I know that this question seems stupid, but is there a good answer?

Israel's War by Efraim Karsh (Commentary)

"[Egypt's leader Mubarak] offers a candid assessment of the lessons and consequences of the 1973 war:"

"Against us stood the most intelligent people on earth-a people that controls the international press, the world economy, and world finances. We succeeded in compelling the Jews to do what we wanted; we received all our land back, up to the last grain of sand! We have outwitted them, and what have we given them in return? A piece of paper! . . . We were shrewder than the shrewdest people on earth! We managed to hamper their steps in every direction. We have established sophisticated machinery to control and limit to the minimum contacts with the Jews. We have proven that making peace with Israel does not entail Jewish domination and that there is no obligation to develop relations with Israel beyond those we desire."

Contingency Plan Shifts Saudi Base To Qatar
The Saudi's might want us to remove our troops from their country. The Saudi's need us to protect them from Saddam. If they are certain that we will dispose him, they no longer need us. The worst thing we could do to the Saudi's would be to remove our troops and not eliminate Saddam. Consequently, to gain leverage over the Saudi's we should tell them that if they kick us out, we might not be able to attack Iraq.

U.S. Seeks Arab Role in Reviving Peace Talks Powell Wants Help In Pressing Arafat
There is only one reason that Arafat would find it in his interest to listen to moderate Arab leaders: money. They have no other hold over him. Arab leaders will never risk the wrath of their citizens by condemning Arafat and taking Israel's side. Consequently, Powell should get the Arabs to promise Arafat money if he stops some of the violence.

Why Israel Must Stop The Terror ( By Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States.

He expresses concern about Israel hurting the dignity of the Palestinian people. His comments would be more convincing if Palestinian guest workers weren't treated like dirt throughout the Arab world.

No Subscription for Spam Relief
An obvious solution to the Spam problem is for everyone to pay, say, 1 cent an e-mail. The money could even go to charity.

Thursday, April 4

Another Middle East Solution

The rich Arab countries should pay Turkey to use their army to maintain peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The advantage of Turkey is that they are in NATO so their troops are well trained. They are an Israeli ally so Israel will trust them. Finally, most of their army is Islamic so they might be acceptable to the Palestinians. Turkey would have to promise to stop Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israel, but they might well be up to the job.

The Chronicle: 4/5/2002: The Question of Sex Between Professors and Students

CampusNonsense links to this article in the Chronicel Chronicle of Higher Education article by Thomas Bartlett. Here are two interesting quotes:

"Policies that prohibit relationships between students and professors who have advisory or grading roles are best, says Frank Vinik, ... But, he adds, most colleges are reluctant to go that far. At the University of Virginia, for example, there was an attempt to ban such relationships, but faculty uproar was so great that the effort was abandoned."

"I've had HR directors tell me that faculty at their schools view their ability to have relationships with students as a perk," says Mr. Vinik,

Dating between professors and students is like pollution. When a factory creates pollution it harms people who have no say in how the factory operates. When a professor dates a student he does damage to other professors and students. Many students get nervous when talking alone to a professor in his office. I have to imagine that this fear would be greatly magnified if the student was concerned about the much older prof hitting on her. Also, when one prof pursues his students other professors must be careful about what they say so that students don't misinterpret their actions. The more often professors date student the more likely a student will interpret an innocent compliment about, say, her intelligence as a flirtatious remark.

A middle age college professor would have absolutely no chance of picking up a 19 year old girl in a bar. If he tried the teenager would probably either walk away or laugh at him. Now take this same girl and put her in the professor's class and the girl is going to want to get the professor to like and respect her. The power imbalance is so massive that I don't see how he can ever justify hitting on her.

If you were wondering about the situation at Smith College, my impression is that professor student relationships are rare. I hear they were common in the 1960s but I think that now they have mostly stopped.

Dennis Ross on Fox News is saying that the Arab street actually won. He claims that Bush got worried about popular anger in Egypt and Jordan and this is why Bush is sending the Sec. of State to the Middle East. I really hope Bush is telling Israel that Powell is going just for show and they shouldn't let up on Arafat. Surely, if it becomes known that the Arab street can alter American foreign policy, then the Arab governments themselves will ferment street protests to put pressure on the U.S.

Wednesday, April 3

College text study finds women reading hate male -- The Washington Times
"Women's studies programs on college campuses teach students that modern women are plagued by a male-dominated society, an analysis of the field's most widely used textbooks shows"

An advantage of Women Studies courses' extreme ideology is that the students know what they are getting. More subtle leftist professors can sometimes convince students that they are being objective. When you spout radical feminism, however, everyone knows your agenda.

Few Risks Seen to the Children of 1st Cousins NYT
"In the general population, the risk that a child will be born with a serious problem like spina bifida or cystic fibrosis is 3 percent to 4 percent; to that background risk, first cousins must add another 1.7 to 2.8 percentage points, the report said."

An extra 1.7 to 2.8 percentage risk seems like a lot to me. If widgets increased the chance of a serious birth defect by 1.7% do you think that the NYT would run a headline saying few see a serious risk with widgets? They would be demanding that the Feds immediately ban widgets and fine their producers into bankruptcy. I suspect that the headline reflects some multicultural thinking under which the politically correct don't want to criticize a lifestyle choice like marrying your first cousin.

D.C. insurance policies reflect terrorism threat -- The Washington Times
Insurance rates are a great way to measure the future threat of terrorism. The government should use this market estimate of terrorist risk to formulate and evaluate policy. If the market believes that certain types of buildings, for example, are especially vulnerable then the government should put more resources into protecting them.

Sharon's Reverse Psychology?
Fox news reported that the Israeli security forces all want Arafat to stay in Israeli-controlled territory because he could do more harm if he was free abroad. Perhaps Sharon also wants Arafat to stay. If Sharon declared that Arafat had to stay, Arafat would claim he was being help prisoner. By proclaiming that he wants Arafat to leave, Sharon got Arafat to publicly state the he wants to stay under Israeli control.

Tuesday, April 2

Secrets, Celibacy and the Church
"Conservatives and liberals alike should acknowledge that sexual secrecy is destroying the church, and one way to save it would be to make celibacy optional."

I'm sure that vast numbers of people would love to make their own celibacy optional!

Create a Palestinian Hong Kong
Israel should take over the Palestinian cities and run them as the British administered Hong Kong. If the Palestinians got richer they might be less likely to become suicide bombers. Israel and the U.S. could subsidize these cities and make them tax-free havens. Free from taxation and corruption, the Palestinians would undoubtedly transform their despair into wealth.

Contradiction in the NYT

The NYT runs an editorial claiming that scientists are fairly sure that global warming is melting parts of the Antarctic
"But even among Antarctic specialists, there is a growing suspicion that no matter how contradictory the evidence may seem at first, the likeliest explanation for this event of Rhode Island-size magnitude may indeed be the obvious suspect."

The next day the NYT runs a balanced science article claiming that scientists really don't know if Antarctica is affected by global warming.
"Those warning of dire consequences from global warming and those playing down the dangers of heat-trapping greenhouse gases can both find pieces of data to support their views."

Executive Fearful of Microsoft in Interactive TV Software
"The chief executive of a company that makes software for interactive television said today that Microsoft (news/quote) could, and probably would, stifle new software that posed a threat to its computer operating system monopoly unless stiffer restrictions were imposed on its business practices."

Interactive TV has been a massive marketplace failure. Even great devices like TiVo (which I own) have not caught on. The fear should be that Microsoft will give up on Interactive TV, not that it will waste billions trying to stifle it. Anyway, Microsoft doesn't stifle they assimilate. Surely, the real fear of this executive is that if interactive TV ever does become popular, he might have to compete with Microsoft.

Palestinian Realities (
"Secretary of State Colin Powell yesterday clearly explained why the Israeli offensive won't work. "No matter how many tanks go through how many villages, at the end of this process you will still have suicide bombers,""

No matter how many police we put on American streets there will still be murders. This doesn't mean we shouldn't use police to reduce the number of murders. Tanks won't solve Israel's problem, but it will reduce it. Suicide bombers require recruiting and explosives. By destroying Arafat's infrastructure, Israel probably will reduce the number of suicide bombers.

Anger on the Arab Street Fails to Move Leadership (
The Arab Street might strengthen the U.S. Arab leaders have been using the "Arab street" to frighten Bush. These leaders claim that if America doesn't restrain ourselves and Israel then their "Street" might do something we don't like. Consequently, liberals periodically claimed that the U.S. must respect the Arab street.

I think, however, that the "Arab street" might work against Arab leaders. Let's assume that the U.S. greatly angers this "Street" and this weakens Arab governments like Egypt and Saudi Arabia. This weakness will mean that our Arab allies become even more dependant upon the U.S. for survival. Consequently, the greater the anger of the "Arab Street" the stronger the negotiating position of Bush when asking Arab allies for support in our war against terrorism.

Monday, April 1

A Human Rights Problem on Campus (

"Brown University President Ruth Simmons [who used to be president of my College] has bluntly stated that graduate teaching assistants (TA's) should not be able to form a union because they are not employees, even though their livelihoods depend on long hours for modest pay and limited benefits."

A strike by graduate students would cripple many colleges. I would love to see graduate students get organized because it would expose how many Universities shirk their teaching roles by having grad students to much of the undergraduate teaching. (Liberal arts schools like my Smith College are an exception mostly because we have few graduate students.) Of course, there is little chance of graduate student unions getting too powerful. There are massive numbers of international students who would love to be graduate students in America. This supply will insure that if graduate students ever do get too uppity, they will be replaced.

France Vows Harsh Action After More (French) Synagogues Burn

I'm surprised that the French government isn't blaming Israel for instigating this "cycle of violence."

Krugman's Connections

In an article on Social Security reform NYT columnist Paul Krugman quotes Ann Coulter as saying "We need to execute John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed too."

You see, Bush's Social Security policy is influenced by the Heritage Foundation, the Heritage foundation is involved in, and Coulter has written for

By this logic we could use some silly quote that appeared in the leftwing magazine the Nation about 9/11 to attack Al Gore's position on Medicare.

Bush Is Criticized for Mideast Role

"Accused of not doing enough to end the growing violence in the Middle East, the president"

"some in Congress like Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat, and Senator Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, say Mr. Bush has not committed enough of his time, energy or prestige to the peace effort."

The article, of course, doesn't actually mention anything that Bush could do to improve the situation.