You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2009.

They not only hurt American consumers and tax payers, but many poor farmers around the world, as Nick Gillespie explains in this short Reason TV documentary:

Agricultural Subsidies – Corporate Welfare for Farmers

“U.S. farm programs cost taxpayers billions each year, significantly raise the price of commodities such as sugar, undermine world trade agreements, and contribute to the suffering of poor farmers around the world. It’s bad public policy, especially in these troubled economic times.”

Well, Calvin can teach you how it does not work!

Watch journalist and author Philippe Legrain debate this question with Allan Little at BBC Hardtalk:

Is the anti-globalisation movement wrong? 1 / 2 / 3

Watch Phyllis Chesler, Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at City University of New York and author of The Death of Feminism: What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom, speak out against gender apartheid in the islamic world and the silence of feminism at the Barnes & Noble Booksellers in New York:

Chesler: The Death of Feminism

Watch Amal Elsana Alh’jooj, director of the Arab-Jewish Center for Equality, Empowerment and Cooperation, explain at the World Affairs Council how she got to be the first bedouine feminist – and what feminism is or should be all about:

Amal Elsana Alh’jooj at the WAC

“Amal was born in Laqiya, an Arab Bedouin village in the northeastern Negev, to a family with 13 children. At the age of 17 she established the first Arab Bedouin women’s organization. Amal is one of the key shapers of public opinion in the Arab community regarding the status of the Arab minority and the status of women in Israel.”

Listen to a fair and interesting Intelligence Squared debate on the motion:

“Major Reductions in Carbon Emissions Are Not Worth the Money.”

“With awareness of global warming rising, going ‘green’ and reducing one’s ‘carbon footprint’ have become pop culture catchphrases. But addressing climate change on a global, governmental level is still a matter of heated debate.”

…it’s a good time to remember why and how it was used to torture and mistreat people:

The Road to Guantanamo

Bad news again from this year’s Freedom House Survey:

Freedom in the World 2009 Survey Release

“According to the survey’s findings, 2008 marked the third consecutive year in which global freedom suffered a decline. This setback was most pronounced in Sub-Saharan Africa and the non-Baltic former Soviet Union, although it affected most other regions of the world.”

Listen to Arch Paddington discuss the main findings:

Paddington Speech

Question & Answers

“Key global findings include:

Free: The number of countries judged by Freedom in the World as Free in 2008 stands at 89, representing 46 percent of the world’s countries and 46 percent of the global population. The number of Free countries declined by one from 2007.

Partly Free: The number of Partly Free countries is 62, or 32 percent of all countries assessed by the survey and 20 percent of the world’s total population. The number of Partly Free countries increased by two.

Not Free: The report designates 42 countries as Not Free, representing 22 percent of the total number of countries and 34 percent of the world population. Nearly 60 percent of this number lives in China. The number of Not Free countries declined by one.

Electoral Democracies: The number of electoral democracies dropped by two and stands at 119. Developments in Mauritania, Georgia, Venezuela and Central African Republic disqualified them from the electoral democracy list, while Bosnia-Herzegovina and Bangladesh became electoral democracies.

Worst of the Worst: Of the 42 countries designated Not Free, eight received the survey’s lowest possible ranking for both political rights and civil liberties: North Korea, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Libya, Sudan, Burma, Equatorial Guinea and Somalia.”

Watch how Ghanaian economist George Ayittey “unleashes a torrent of controlled anger toward corrupt leaders in Africa” – he calls them the hippos! – “and calls on the Cheetah generation” – the young, open minded, freedom loving generation! – “to take back the continent” at the Ted Talks:

George Ayittey: Cheetahs vs. Hippos for Africa’s future

Now that everyone is talking about a new New Deal, it may be the right time to take a look at the effects of the old one.

Watch four experts debate the issue on Canadian tv:

The Agenda – Revisiting the New Deal

We don’t know who murdered Anna Politkovskaya, but we do know why. All her life, she was a strong voice for human rights in Russia, Chechnya and the world.

Watch her speak at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in 2001:

Covering the War in Chechnya

“Ms. Politkovskaya talked about covering the war in Chechnya and related many of her experiences. She answered questions from members of the audience. She is the author of A Dirty War: A Russian Reporter in Chechnya.”

Watch Professor of Psychology Philip Zimbardo talk about his latest book The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life at the Commonwealth Club of California:

Philip Zimbardo: The Time Paradox

You may learn a lot of surprising things about yourself, the people around you and the world we live in!

“Informed by the world’s foremost expert on the psychology of time, The Time Paradox combines solid science, compelling stories, and crisp prose to illuminate how time, like the oxygen we breathe, pervades every aspect of our lives. Reading this book will yield insights into your own motivation and behavior and help you be happier, healthier, and more successful. It will also help you understand the source of many of the world’s greatest triumphs and most pressing problems – from terrorism to homelessness, from religion to love, from the successes and failures of CEOs to those of marriages. Zimbardo and Boyd have hit a home run.” – Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness

Targeting civilians – like most terrorist groups do – is of course one of the very worst human rights violations. And every state has the right and the duty to defend its citizens. In fact, defending human life is every state’s most important right and duty.

But overreaction to terrorism not only leads to human rights violations – making us more like them! -, but  plays directly into the hands of terrorists by giving them the special attention they crave for and creating the grievances they can use for propaganda purposes.

This is always important to keep in mind, even if you believe that a tough response may sometimes be necessary.

Watch and listen to some of the leading terrorism and counterterrorism experts debate these issues at a special two-day conference at the Cato Institute:

Shaping the Obama Administration’s Counterterrorism Strategy

“With a new administration in the White House, January 2009 will be the starting point for a new approach to U.S. counterterrorism efforts. This conference presents solid, immensely practical analyses of strategic counterterrorism policies based on the lessons and experiences of the past eight years and earlier, and on what proven strategies will yield the most beneficial results for the United States. In addition, the conference focuses on defining realistic objectives and allocating military, federal and state government expenditures according to these goals. To accomplish this, an outstanding group of national and global experts has been assembled to share their insights, accomplishments, and strategic recommendations for the coming administration.”

If you wanna get really stupid in the fastest and easiest way possible, make sure to only surround yourself with like-minded people. All the others are evil and ignorant anyway…

Watch Cass Sunstein debate his book Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce Knowledge with Tyler Cowen and Robin Hanson from George Mason University at the AEI-Brookings Joint Center:

Sunstein – Infotopia

“Professor Cass Sunstein presents an optimistic account of the human potential to aggregate information without resorting to prejudice and preconceptions.”

If you enjoyed this talk, also watch Professor Sunstein debate Extremism or read his great essay on the topic:

Why Groups Go To Extremes

“In the course of exchanging opinions, like-minded people frequently develop more extreme versions of their original views on such issues as climate change, labor policy, same-sex relationships, and affirmative action. Groups ranging from citizens’ forums to judicial panels tend to squelch diversity and polarize opinion.”

Listen to Tony Leon and Marian Tupy comment on Mugabe’s rule and the world’s reaction to it for the Washington Times:

Mugabe’s election theft and illegitimacy

“Mr. Mugabe’s economic policies and repression are responsible for widespread poverty, sickness and violence that have gripped Zimbabwe, and while his rule appears to be coming to an end, Zimbabwe’s story provides a somber lesson for the rest of the world. For too long, world leaders and international institutions have temporized with African dictators and accepted flawed elections as sources of incumbents’ legitimacy. “

Watch Swedish writer Johan Norberg, author of the classic study In Defense of Global Capitalism, travel around the globe and explain to you, why globalization is the only hope for the poor and why we don’t have enough of it:  

Globalisation is Good

“The world is an unequal and unjust place, in which some are born into wealth and some into hunger and misery. To explore why, in this controversial Channel Four documentary the young Swedish writer Johan Norberg takes the viewers on a journey to Taiwan, Vietnam, Kenya and Brussels to see the impact of globalisation, and the consequences of its absence. It makes the case that the problem in the world is not too much capitalism, globalisation and multinationals, but too little.”

Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty has a short documentary on some major tragedies, which are almost forgotten: “Ukraine has turned a tragedy in its past – the famine of the 1930s – into an important national issue and a thorn in the side of Russia. But little is heard of some other tragedies of the Soviet era, including those that affected Russians themselves. Are the devastating famines in Kazakhstan and Russia’s Volga region bound to be forgotten?”

Hernando de Soto and Madeleine Albright in Time: “We are well into the 21st century, yet roughly half the world’s people live in makeshift homes in squatter settlements and work in shadow economies. In many countries, more than 80% of all homes and businesses are unregistered; in the Philippines, the figure is 65% and in Tanzania, 90%. More than one-third of the developing world’s GDP is generated in the underground economy, a figure that has increased steadily over the past decade.
Powerlessness and poverty go hand in hand, yet neither is inevitable. As co-chairs of the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, we believe there is a better way. The commission, a U.N.-affiliated initiative made up of some two dozen past and present world leaders, is exploring ideas to extend enforceable and fungible legal rights to impoverished people in societies across the globe. Our goal is to bring about a consensus on what needs to be done and find incentives for national and local leaders to do it.”

Watch or listen to C. Fred Bergsten, Nicholas R. Lardy, Trevor Houser, Derek J. Mitchell and Charles Freeman debate their book, China’s Rise: Challenges and Opportunities, at the Peterson Institute:

China’s Rise – Book Forum

Watch Alan Dershowitz, Professor of Law at Harvard University, talk about his book Rights From Wrongs: A Secular Theory of the Origins of Rights:

Dershowitz: Rights From Wrongs

“Alan Dershowitz theorized about the origins of rights and about their changing importance. Mr. Dershowitz also examined the foundations of natural rights and proposed that it the human experience was largely responsible for the evolution of human rights.”

The answer to this question is very simple: No, not at all, on the contrary: it is becoming less violent! Watch Steven Pinker discuss the basic facts at the TED-Talks – and get ready to be surprised:

Steven Pinker: A Brief History Of Violence

“Steven Pinker charts the decline of violence from Biblical times to the present, and argues that, though it may seem illogical and even obscene, given Iraq and Darfur, we are living in the most peaceful time in our species’ existence.”

…is really Robert Mugabe’s Cholera Crisis – as Alvaro Vargas Llosa explains.

“Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe has been blaming the cholera epidemic that has already killed 1,100 people and may have infected 20,000 others, along with a famine that threatens another 5 million, on—who else?—Western colonialism. But both are of his own making…”

Last week, Jewish South African Helen Suzman died at the age of 91. All her life she fought for liberty, equality, democracy and markets.


Cato@Liberty – Helen Suzman R.I.P.

BBC-Hardtalk: Helen Suzman

TimesOnline: A voice against apartheid – and the ANC

No doubt, Keynes was one of the the greatest economists of the last century. Unfortunately though, his ideas for smoothing out the business cycle don’t seem to work very well.

Watch or listen to Daniel J. Mitchell, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, and Stephen J. Entin, President and Executive Director of the Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation, discuss the failure of Keynesian economics at a Cato Institute Capitol Hill Briefing:

Do Government Spending and Tax Rebates Stimulate Growth?

“President-elect Obama and other politicians are urging a massive expansion in government spending, ostensibly to help the economy recover. This Keynesian endeavor is supposed to boost growth by “priming the pump” by means of circulating extra money through the economy. Yet the notion that bigger government leads to more growth is theoretically suspect: any money that the government “injects” into the economy with new spending (or tax rebates) must first be borrowed and diverted from private use. The economic pie gets sliced differently, but it is not any bigger. The real-world evidence is similarly unfavorable to Keynesianism. Huge increases in government spending under both Hoover and Roosevelt did not help the economy during the 1930s, and more recent Keynesian initiatives—Gerald Ford’s rebates in the mid-1970s, Japan’s stimulus efforts in the 1990s, and President Bush’s rebates in 2001 and 2008—do not seem to have generated positive results.”

…even in Cuba! May this new year bring democracy for its people.

Cuba’s communist dictators celebrate the 50th anniversary of their brutal revolution – and millions of useful idiots around the world with them. It is just disgusting!

Humberto Fontova examines the 4 most prominent clichés about Castro’s rule:

The American Thinker: Cuban Stalinism at 50–and the Media Lies Continue

Also watch him speak about his book Fidel: Hollywood’s Favorite Tyrant:

Humberto Fontova at the Miami Book Fair