Commentary

The end is near. As near as your remote control, at least. All you have to do is turn on, tune in and drop any pretense of news. CNN Presents, the networks award-winning weekly documentary, has done just that. Its given up just reporting the news of the day. Now its predicted it three years into the future. That was special correspondent Frank Sesnos strategy on March 19. He claimed his report, We Were Warned: Tomorrows Oil Crisis, was a dramatic scenario. Those were TV news code words for something even a child would understand they made it up. Viewers... continue reading
The media love stories about the gap between the rich and poor in America. But they rarely explore that gap, why it exists, and what it means. It is an interesting question whether a normal bell curve of income is the prime indicator of a just or socially stable society. This requires us to think about what we mean by justice and what is likely to result in a stable society. Frederic Bastiats The Law is one of the best places to look for a definition of a just society. Bastiat begins with the hypothesis that we all have a... continue reading
Rather than a modern-day Paul Revere, Lou Dobbs sounded more like a black helicopter conspiracy theorist as he warned viewers of his March 7 program about the British owning American airports. But weeks earlier, the CNN anchor seemed to accept a private British company lease of six American port terminals as preferable to a lease from any Middle Eastern country. President Bush has put forth a challenge tonight that I simply can't ignore, the Harvard business alumnus thundered on his February 22 program, referring to the presidents question about why the Dubai-based company was held by its critics to a... continue reading
The potential for an avian flu pandemic is something were constantly asked about at the American Council on Science and Health. It doesnt help that headlines constantly blare about deadly outbreaks in Asia and Europe without troubling to clarify whether the outbreaks are deadly to humans or birds. Still, unlike so many health scare stories we analyze, bird flu is not just hype but a real potential threat the tricky part is determining how big that potential is. The major uncertainty is whether the relevant bird flu virus, H5N1, which is already devastating flocks in Asia and Europe, will mutate... continue reading
The pounding waves and 165-mph winds announced the arrival of Hurricane Hugo in September 1989. Hugo battered the East Coast, costing $8 billion and taking 50 lives. Now a new Hugo is threatening the U.S. with far more force than his predecessor. This storm is smaller and filled with hot air, but its a bigger danger. Meet Venezuelas President Hugo Chavez, whose career has been filled with human rights violations, radical rhetoric, crackdowns on the free press and an attempted coup that cost dozens of lives. While broadcast reporters have worried 24-7 about dangers of foreign firms running American ports,... continue reading
Its turn-back-the-clock day in the mainstream media and on Capitol Hill. While polyester and Depeche Mode are far from the rage in Congressional chambers and newsrooms, an overzealous fear of foreign investment has been taken out of mothballs to cast a wide shadow over the national security debate. Wistful of that heady decade of relentless crusades against Japanese investment in United States assets, a coalition of isolationists and the eternally grouchy has found a new target: Dubai Ports World. And, oddly enough, a new marksman has joined the firing squad: mainstream conservatives. The economic and financial benefits of the transaction... continue reading
Every class has that straight-A student who studies, aces all his tests and wins all the academic awards. Other students start to envy him, but the smart students try to learn from him. Hes just working hard and succeeding. Wal-Mart is that free-market kid. Wal-Marts enemies and critics, who dont like to see the free market succeed, are making predictable assaults on the nations largest private employer. The U.S. economy is roaring ahead with job growth, low unemployment and high productivity, so these opponents of the free market are focusing their criticisms on businesses. They dont appreciate Wal-Marts contributions as... continue reading
One of the most obvious dividing lines between old and young is the ability to recall free television. To anyone who has grown up in an era of cable and satellite TV, the concept of a handful of channels delivered free to your home is absurd. Americans went from a couple of channels in each market to a lineup only the most veteran couch potato can track. In 1992, Bruce Springsteen released the song 57 Channels (And Nothin On) and now we can look at that title and think it quaint. Limited options gave way to unlimited choice or so... continue reading
President Bush, in his State of the Union speech, said America was addicted to oil and the federal government would use billions of tax dollars to pursue alternative energy sources. Rather than accepting this at face value, we might ask if the presidents appeal to the green coalition makes sense. First, we are addicted to oil only in the sense that we use oil to produce goods and services, from plastic action figures to transportation. The United States uses a large percentage of the worlds oil because we have an economy that produces $13 trillion per year in gross domestic... continue reading
How much credit does Alan Greenspan deserve for Americas economic success over the past 18 years? Answer: a lot, but nowhere near all. I mean no slight to Mr. Greenspan. Indeed, the maestro himself likely agrees that the success of the economy during his tenure as Chairman of the Federal Reserve board is largely the product of millions of creative, energetic producers each one experimenting with ways to produce more and better output at lower costs. Microchip designers at Apple and Intel, retailing entrepreneurs at Target and Barnes & Noble, vintners in California and Oregon, venture capitalists in New York... continue reading