Special Report

Special Report

Get Ready for the New England Power Shortage

By 7.18.14

In 1980, under the first administration of Governor Jerry Brown, California decided it wasn’t going to build any more power plants but would follow Amory Lovins’ “soft path,” opting instead for conservation and renewable energy. By 2000, with the new digital economy sucking up electricity, a drought in the Pacific Northwest cut hydropower output and the state found itself facing the Great California Electrical Shortage.

You know what happened next. For weeks the Golden State struggled to find enough electricity to power its traffic lights. Brownouts and blackouts cascaded across the state while businesses fired up smoke-belching diesel generators to keep the lights on. Governor Gray Davis finally got booted out of office but the state didn’t rescue itself until it threw up 12,000 megawatts of new natural gas plants.

Send to Kindle

Special Report

What About That Australian Study About Same-Sex Parenting?

By 7.18.14

The latest “research” about same-sex parenting was published in Australia to considerable fanfare because it “found” that children’s well-being with homosexual parents was as good or better than with heterosexual parents. Any problems faced by the children were attributed to the “stigma” associated with homosexual parenting. The lead author, Simon Crouch, claimed in the Conversation, “It is liberating for parents to take on roles that suit their skills rather than defaulting to gender stereotypes, where mum is the primary caregiver and dad the primary breadwinner. Our research suggests that abandoning such gender stereotypes might be beneficial to child health.”

Send to Kindle

Special Report

Power Failure

By 7.17.14

Ten years ago next week, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States issued its final report, known as the 9/11 Commission Report, documenting the events leading up to the day that a determined adversary exploited vulnerabilities in our system to kill three thousand Americans and cause $2 trillion in localized and global economic damage.

Among the most notable of the 9/11 Commission’s findings was the following observation:

The most important failure was one of imagination. We do not believe leaders understood the gravity of the threat. The terrorist danger from Bin Ladin and al Qaeda was not a major topic for policy debate among the public, the media, or in the Congress. Indeed, it barely came up during the 2000 presidential campaign.

Send to Kindle

Special Report

Au Contraire, Monsieur Piketty

By 7.16.14

Ludwig von Mises — a mentor to Friedrich Hayek and a major figure in economics in his own right — set out his views on capitalism and inequality in a slender book (just 113 pages) called The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality. First published in 1954 — and readily available at Libertarian Press for $9 a copy — it is well worth reading today.

Mises’ treatise on why capitalism sits in the dock, falsely accused of various crimes against humanity, is a classic: bravely saying what still needs to be said. It offers a robust rebuttal to the jaundiced view of capitalism found (most recently and conspicuously) in Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

In The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality, Mises asks: Why do so many people “loathe” capitalism? He gives a threefold answer.

Send to Kindle

Special Report

A World Cup to Hold On To

By 7.14.14

Unlike our friend Aaron I was happy to watch the entire, riveting World Cup finale, and not only because my wife cut short her shopping to get back home in time to watch it with me. The two of us and the World Cup go back a ways. The night before our wedding we watched Poland lose to Argentina in Buenos Aires in the opener of the 1978 tournament. We’ve had better luck since then than the Polish national team.

Send to Kindle

Special Report

Sotomayor Digs In

By 7.9.14

Many on the Left didn’t want any exemptions to the contraceptive mandate, even for purely sectarian groups. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, among others, considered that narrow exemption “itself a compromise.” The secularist central planners of Obamacare wanted total participation by all employers. They just couldn’t get away with it politically. So, naturally, they treat any objections from the religious to supposedly generous modifications of the mandate with the greatest impatience.

That impatience was on display in Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent from the Supreme Court’s recent granting of a temporary reprieve to Wheaton College as its challenge to mandate-related regulations continues. Sotomayor felt the need to whip up a lengthy opinion to the reprieve, expressing exasperation with the Christian college for failing to appreciate sufficiently the Obama administration’s “accommodation” for religiously-affiliated groups.

Send to Kindle

Special Report

The Pied Piper of Permisos

By 7.8.14

It’s beginning to sink in with the intelligentsia: The flood of illegal aliens (yes, I said “illegal”) and particularly the tsunami of children traveling alone — parents risking their youngsters’ lives by sending them from Central America through gang-ravaged Mexico — threatens to turn the immigration debate into a major political liability for Democrats in November.

While immigration is typically low on the list of issues Americans care most about, it was to be a trump card for the left in turning out otherwise apathetic or demoralized Hispanic and liberal voters four months from now. But, as seems to be the result of almost every Obama administration policy, reality is blowing up the best laid plans of the DNC.

Send to Kindle

Special Report

It Was a Mighty Fourth

By 7.7.14

July 4, still so full of unapologetic patriotic hoopla, remains largely a bulwark against political correctness. Any holiday that prominently celebrates bewigged men in tri-corner hats playing flutes and often bearing arms has to be a welcome antidote to negative sociological trends.

This year’s Independence Day in the nation’s capital was among the best in terms of weather in my nearly half century of a lifetime here. Unusually moderate temperatures, low humidity, clear skies and even an evening breeze that necessitated sweaters for some, contrasted with typically suffocating D.C. haze and sweltering oppression.

I was among thousands encamped at sunset around the always-stirring Iwo Jima monument in Arlington that honors the U.S. Marine Corps, having a glorious straight-line view of the National Mall, with the fireworks silhouetted against the Washington Monument. The crowd was unusually polite, with no visible evidence of liquor, nor any shoving in the race to leave afterwards. There were applause and occasional patriotic outbursts.

Send to Kindle

Special Report

Return to Mississippi Summer, 1964

By 7.3.14

In 1964, at the age of 22 and just out of college, I went to Mississippi as part of the Freedom Summer effort that broke the back of Jim Crow society, setting off what I still think was probably the most radical and abrupt social transformation in American history.

I was not a leader of the effort or even particularly brave. I was just a mere foot soldier. I suspect the real reason I went was to impress an old girlfriend who had broken up with me the year before. Years later someone sent me a copy of my application form and I had listed her along with my relatives as the people I wanted notified of my mission. But why does anyone go off to war at age 22? For that’s what it felt like.

Send to Kindle

Special Report

A Slippery Slope Toward Freedom

By 7.2.14

The groundbreaking decision Monday in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, in which the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Obamacare’s contraception mandate violates the religious freedom of two closely held corporations, will be dissected heavily for days, and studied for weeks, years, and decades.

For consistent civil libertarians, one of the most remarkable — and favorable — aspects of the majority opinion by Justice Samuel Alito is its no-holds-barred defense of corporations asserting rights of “persons.” As my Competitive Enterprise Institute colleague Hans Bader explains, this case dealt with statutory rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and did not directly involve constitutional liberties. Alito, however, implied strongly that corporations — even if set up for profit — should enjoy all such “personal” rights.

Send to Kindle

Pages