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June 2005

Jonah Goldberg on embryonic stem cell research:

This is the great irony of the whole debate. What offends some liberals is that the federal government isn't involved - and the federal government should do whatever they think is good. Leaving this to the states and the private sector is just too unsatisfying. Meanwhile, some pro-life conservatives who would like to see a far more comprehensive ban on the practice are largely powerless to affect the course of the research at all now that it's out of Washington's hands.


Hayek wins again

A remarkable story, and somewhere Hayek is smiling again:

Several years ago, a computer scientist, Dr. Sugata Mitra, had an idea. What would happen if he could provide poor children with free, unlimited access to computers and the Internet? Mitra launched what came to be known as the hole in the wall experiment. . . .

INTERVIEWER: What are the social dynamics when groups of kids have to huddle around one computer? Do you find "alpha" Internet surfers among the kids who take the lead? Do other kids simply look on?

At the onset, the day of inauguration, you find a whole bunch of children crowding round the kiosk. It is total chaos! We strongly believe in self-organizing systems. Within a few days children organize themselves. [Italics added.] Those not interested (drop) out and those interested stay on. They figure out the timings when they can have access to the kiosk. . . .

When Dr. Mitra asks Rajinder to define the Internet, the doe-eyed boy replies immediately, "That with which you can do anything."


Three fabulous posts on the Coyote Blog:

1. "Why Income Distribution Doesn't Matter in This Country." So good it hurts. Consider this observation:

The whole history of the income tax is to sell a tax as applying only to the very very rich, and then broadening the applicability over time.  The federal income tax followed this path, as has the AMT.  More recently, the top rate on California income taxes is seeing the same creep.  The statist trick is to apply a rate to the super rich, then creep it down so eventually it applies to everyone.  Then, they cry that - hey, the super rich aren't paying more than the middle class, so they institute a new higher super rich rate.  Rinse and repeat.

2. "More on School Choice."

The bottom line of choice is that many of those in power do not trust you to make your own choices.

3. "Aid to Africa."

The problem in Africa are the same that financial aid faces anywhere, ie:  NGO's can only go where the dictator allows.  Dictators only allow NGO's to go to towns or regions that support him, limiting access and starving out other areas of the country.  Food aid also hurts local farmers by depressing local prices.  To some extent, well-meaning NGO's fulfill the role of Carmella Soprano, helping the brutal criminal she is married to maintain a facade of stability and normality to the outside world.

NGOs as Carmella Soprano! You won't get insight like that from the NY Times or the Washington Post.


Update on the criminal charges against Harvard economist Martin Weitzman. You may recall that whereas most economics professors are accused of being net exporters of shit, Prof. Weitzman is accused of being, illegally, a net importer.