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Watch Michael Weinstein and Joseph Siegle talk about their book The Democracy Advantage: How Democracies Promote Prosperity and Peace. I very much agree with what Leslie Gelb has written about this fascinating book: “It is very rare when you have established experts do a mountainous amount of hard research on a complex new subject. It is rarer still when the subject cuts across the boundaries of foreign policy, economics, and domestic politics. The result is far and away the best book to date making the argument that democracy furthers economic development better than authoritarian rule.”
Poooh! I’ve just finished reading all the violent and cruel stories in both the Bible and the Quran that I was able to find. I may have missed some, but probably not too many, because I used several good sources to find them. Here is my impression:
– Both books are astonishingly violent. Both gods use cruel violence themselves and demand their followers to do the same.
– There are more violent stories in the Bible.
– But the Bible is a much longer book. There are a little more violent stories in the Quran relative to the size of the text.
– There are a little more very cruel acts in the Bible – like genocides, ethnic cleansing, the killing of children or the stoning of people -, and they are described in more detail.
– The Quran is a little worse than the New Testament.
– The Old Testament is a little worse than the Quran.
– But, all in all, there aren’t any major differences between the texts.
– Much of the violence is very similar.
What can we learn from these comparisons? Not very much. Let’s just focus on the positive stories in both books! There are enough of them to help us win the struggle against fundamentalism! Peace, shalom, and salam to everyone!
Is there any scientific evidence that the differences in violence across societies aren’t caused by religious differences? Yes, lots of it! First, there are hundreds of studies which show that poor countries are – on average – many times more violent and undemocratic than rich ones. And then there is one very comprehensive and rigorous study by Inglehart and Welzel which shows that there is only a very small – almost insignificant – cultural influence if you control for other factors – especially economic ones – and that economic change leads to cultural change (many times more than the other way round). I highly recommend their book on the topic from which I have learned more about the world we live in than from any other one.
This is the most impressive, informative and frightening documentary on the last economic crisis – and the next one:
It is not too late – yet! – and it’s all up to us, but we have to change course.
Watch evolutionary psychologists Cosmides and Tooby explain why most people distrust the modern world and the market economy at Reason.tv.
Matt Ridley is the author of “The Rational Optimist”, which is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Watch him explain how ideas making love can save mankind at this Ted Talk!
Watch John Kasaona from Namibia explain How poachers became caretakers at TED.
Economists Shaohua Chen and Martin Ravallion have studied “The Impact of the Global Financial Crisis on the World’s Poorest”. Their analysis shows that the world poverty rate keeps declining despite the crisis:
“The same (post-crisis) growth projections imply that the aggregate $1.25 a day poverty rate will fall from 21% in the “pre-crisis” year of 2008 to 18% (1040 million people) in 2009; the pre-crisis growth rate for 2009 would have instead brought the poverty rate down to 17% (987 million). Using the $2 a day line, the poverty rate falls from 42% in 2008 to 39% (2,232 million) in 2009 under the lower expected growth rate, while the pre-crisis trajectory would have brought the poverty rate down to 38% (2,169 million).”
Watch a very informative, entertaining and fair debate on the issue,
featuring Dambisa Moyo, Hernando de Soto, Paul Collier and Stephen Lewis – four experts on aid and development, four independent and innovative minds, four people, who really care about the poor…
Watch Richard Tren and Donald Roberts from “Africa Fighting Malaria” talk about their book “The Excellent Powder: DDT’s Political and Scientific History” at Reason.TV:
Watch historian Stephen Davies explain why mankind has been experiencing the most radical revolution ever in the last two centuries – and why this revolution has only just begun!
Stephen Davies at the Mercatus Center – Locating Ourselves Historically
(Scroll down to find the video).
Watch this very informative “Enterprise Africa” – panel discussion on fighting poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa featuring some leading experts on the issue:
Jeffrey Robinson, William Eaterly, Peter Boettke
John Kasaona, Shadrack Mabuza, Temba Nolutshungu
Q & A
Yes, they can – and so can every country in the world! Watch Hans Rosling – the funniest statistician ever! – explain his optimism to an Indian audience:
Yo! Check this sh++ out, my econ-homeys! The battle of the century!
I believe, there are three main reasons for this terrible tragedy: Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. Haiti is a very undemocratic country. And, well… there was an earthquake of major proportions.
Why do I believe that? Because it is common sense – and because of this impressive scientific study, which shows that there are far fewer deaths from natural disasters in rich and democratic societies:
Democracy, GDP and Natural Disasters –
Gregory E. van der Vink and co-authors
Most people believe that only lunatic lefties are in favour of free migration. Unfortunately, they are very close to the truth. I wish that more moderates, liberals, conservatives and libertarians would speak up against all barriers to immigration. A crazy idea? Watch or listen to this wonderful speech by British economist Nigel Harris, author of Thinking the Unthinkable – The Immigration Myth Exposed, at Gresham College: Refugees, economic migration and the future of the world economy
Most people assume that there are two – and only two – sides in the debate. You either believe that the world is coming to an end unless we drastically cut carbon emissions now or you believe that there is no global warming at all – as if there is only black and white and nothing in between, like in chess.
Patrick Michaels, past president of the American Association of State Climatologists and a member of the IPCC, is just one of many experts who believes that the truth lies somewhere in between the extremes.
Watch or listen to him debate his latest book, Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don’t Want You to Know, at the Cato Institute.
And don’t miss his op-ed on “climategate” in the Wall Street Journal: How to Manufacture a Climate Consensus – The East Anglia emails are just the tip of the iceberg. I should know.
Most Europeans and many Americans think so. But they don’t check the facts. The graph below compares GDP growth since 1991. The U.S. and the U.K. clearly outperformed France and Germany. (Source)
When poor, desperate and uneducated peasants or slum dwellers fall for authoritarian populists like Hugo Chavez, it’s a tragedy, because they have to pay a terrible price for it. But when Western intellectuals romanticise violent revolution without even trying to check the facts, it’s a shame.
Also watch this impressing PBS-Frontline documentary about the Hugo Chavez Show
Milton and Rose Friedman founded the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice to fight a public school system, which is run by government bureaucrats, school boards and teachers, and in which students and their parents have almost no way of holding them accountable.
Watch Milton Friedman explain why he believes that all students, but especially those from poor neighborhoods, would benefit from a school voucher system, which would break the government monopoly on education by empowering the parents:
After decades of suffering under brutal Soviet occupation and no less brutal Taliban rule, the people of Afghanistan deserve freedom, dignity and prosperity. We should do all we can to help them build a stable democratic system and a modern market economy. But we need a serious debate about the right means to achieve these goals – and we need it now!
Watch these two equally impressive, informative and important documentaries about war and everday life in the graveyard of empires:
Watch this impressive and uplifting documentary by Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto and the Institute for Liberty and Democracy:
“A documentary of significance with findings from indigenous communities in Alaska, Canada and the Peruvian jungle.”
There are so many myths and legends surrounding the collapse of communist totalitarianism, the nonviolent revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe and the development since then. What has really changed? And why? Are the people of the region really richer and freer today? And if so, how much?
The Cato Institute held a very informative half-day conference on these subjects featuring many reformers and experts. You can watch three videos of the panel discussions on their website, and if you are interested in the region, you should miss none of them! The keynote adress was given by Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic.
“This year marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. A major advance in humanity’s struggle for freedom, the collapse of communism has generally led to an increase in human well-being, with several ex-communist countries becoming free and prosperous. Yet the spread of liberty has been uneven. Many ex-communist countries lag behind and some have even reverted to political repression and economic dirigism.”
When governments are too small, they aren’t able to secure our basic rights. When they are too big, they become a drag to the economy. But what is the growth-optimising size of government? We are not sure. And the answer of course depends on what exactly government is doing. But most scientific studies have shown it is somewhere between 12% and 30% of GDP. Now another study by the bulgarian Institute for Market Economics comes to the conclusion that it is very likely to be under 25 %. This means that all OECD-governments are far too big. Even the richest societies could be much richer, had they stopped or at least slowed the growth of government in the last decades.
But not the way most environmentalists want us to! Björn Lomborg, founder of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, an organisation which asks scientists to rank the world’s major problems and the possible solutions to them, has now asked dozens of experts and economists – among them three nobel laureates – to find a scientific answer to the question: “How can we best reduce suffering from global warming?” I will only say this much about the final results of their research: They are very likely to surprise you!
Watch Bjorn Lomborg explain the latest findings at Reason.TV
Watch Swedish writer Johan Norberg talk about his very accesible new book, Financial Fiasco: How America’s Infatuation with Homeownership and Easy Money Created the Economic Crisis, at the Cato Institute:
ANNA J. SCHWARTZ, COAUTHOR, A MONETARY HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES:
“You don’t have to be an economist to gain a clear understanding of the diverse forces that produced the financial fiasco that Johan Norberg describes: lax monetary policy by the Federal Reserve System, overpromotion of homeownership by the government and government agencies, and transformation of the mortgage loan industry into an issuer of securities backed by a pool of mortgages of varying quality.”
Watch this short documentary by Scott Kilman and Roger Thurow of the Wall Street Journal about Howard Buffett’s Crusade Against African Famine
“Warren Buffett’s son, Howard Buffett, takes on a surprising, little-known role on the front lines. Mr. Buffett travels from Ghana to Togo to Benin, trying to spread approaches to farming that he’s found successful on his Illinois farm.”