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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.”

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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:

Overdose: The Next Financial Crisis

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!

Listen to Joy Gordon speak about her book “Invisible War – The United States and the Iraq Sanctions”

Watch John Kasaona from Namibia explain How poachers became caretakers at TED.

Neda Agha-Soltan was 27 when she was shot dead in the streets of Tehran on June 20th, 2009. Watch a touching and powerful documentary about a courageous, lively and beautiful woman and her struggle against theocratic rule and gender apartheid in Iran.

For Neda

(also available in Farsi or Arabic)

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).”

Listen to Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji speak at the Cato Institute – from which he received the “Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty 2010” – about the liberation struggle against the theocracy and the great dangers of military intervention.

Watch one of the most informative and touching documentaries ever made on of the most impressive nonviolent freedom struggles in history – a whole nation rose up against a brutal occupation and started… singing!

The Singing Revolution

“Imagine the scene in ‘Casablanca’ in which the French patrons sing ‘La Marseillaise’ in defiance of the Germans, then multiply its power by a
factor of thousands, and you’ve only begun to imagine the force of
‘The Singing Revolution’.” – The New York Times

Political scientist Robert Pape has a clear and simple answer to this question, which will surprise only those who blame Islam. Watch him explain his theory and his latest research on Iraq and Afghanistan at the New America Foundation:

The Rise of Suicide Terrorism

(I couldn’t find the first part, but I don’t believe there is anything of great importance missing.)

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…

A Munk Debate: “Is foreign aid to the developing countries doing more harm than good?”

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:

DEMONIZING DDT

Watch Matthew Hoh, a former Marine Corps Captain in Iraq and Foreign Service Officer in Afghanistan, explain why he resigned in protest over the war in Afghanistan:

Leaving Afghanistan

Dissidents and human rights activists from China, Tibet, Vietnam, Burma, North Korea, Indonesia, Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Cuba and Venezuela gathered in Geneva, Switzerland on March 8-9, 2010 for the Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy.
Here you can watch videos of all the debates and speeches.

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).

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:

Asia’s Rise – How and When

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” – George Orwell

Don’t miss this frightening documentary!

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 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)

The necon hawks want to cripple the Iranian economy with massive sanctions or even go to war. Most of their opponents prefer to simply ignore the realities in Tehran. Is there a better way? Can we avoid a terrible war without giving in to a brutal theocracy?

Watch and listen to a very informative debate between Jacqueline Shire, a senior analyst at the Institute for Science and International Security and well-known expert on Iran’s nuclear program, and Richard Parker, founder of the American Foreign Policy Project, at Bloggingheads.TV:

Worldwise: Iran and the Bomb

Also watch the video of a conference by the Cato Institute on How to Deal with Iran: Options for Today and for the Future

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:

Private Enterprise in Education

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:

PBS-FRONTLINE: Obama’s War

Brave New Foundation: Rethink Afghanistan

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.

Freedom and Prosperity in Central and Eastern Europe
20 Years after the Collapse of Communism

“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.

Here you can read the study. And here you can watch a short video about it.

Listen to two great and independent minds, Christopher Hitchens and Russ Roberts, talk about why Orwells Anti-Totalitarianism still matters.

Watch Larry Diamond, co-director of the International Forum for Democratic Studies and founding co-editor of the Journal of Democracy, explain why he believes it can at the New York Democracy Forum:

Larry Diamond – “Can the Whole World Become Democratic?”