April 2007Up one level
Bottled water's swift transformation from glass-encased luxury good to plastic-wrapped "menace" was entirely predictable. . . Is the constitutional birthright to American citizenship likely to change? Why is reality TV so popular? Blame it on the availability of cable and satellite television. . . How should we regulate television violence? To start with, let's deregulate cable navigation devices. . .
Sure, life is full of war, heartbreak, class struggle, and family strife. But some of the best novels are profoundly quotidian. . . The gender earnings gap: does it reflect discrimination, or just different life choices? Democracies often choose bad policies. Blame the voters. . . For an economist, a vacation is never really a vacation. . . Does the internet really need to be redesigned?
Yesterday, Bernanke offered some personal finance advice to high school students. . . What would you allow an autonomous robot to do? You read it here first: customer service costs you more. . . Community colleges are beefing up. . . Remember when federal securities laws were supposed to be about disclosure?
Coming soon to a census form near you: a blank for religion? Imagine a developing world megacy with no outdoor ads. . . Keep your eyes on Google's "Transferable Stock Option Program." If it gets shut down, something big is going to happen. . . Is China on a "charm offensive" in Australia? Why do we struggle to predict, or control, random events?
Digital copyright: it brings Google into Oxford's ancient library. . . Running the numbers on America's guns. . . Is Siberia the next Silicon Valley? Life on K Street is these days is getting mighty crowded. . . Fighting the scourge of executive compensation porn. . . Severe emissions constraints in America could lead to the Lego-ification of heavy industry. . .
Would Adam Smith have loved the web? Who is missing from the immigration debate? The immigrants. . . Pro and con on Wal-Mart. . . Is the U.S. Postal Service finally on its death bed? Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson believes it is unrealistic to reduce the deficit by closing the tax gap. . .
Would allowing manufacturers to set minimum retail prices hurt or help consumers? Jay Deutsch knows what your desk needs: more flair. . . The presidential candidates for '08 are already lining up their economic advisers. . . Economics: It's not just for muggles anymore. . .
There are now a million Americans whose net worth, excluding the value of their homes, exceeds five million dollars. . . Why does the no-fly list trigger so many false positives? Is micro-lending a kind of peer-to-peer finance? The automotive industry in India is growing rapidly. Next stop: the $2,500 car. . . Switzerland may be lowering its tax rate on hedge funds in order to draw more fund managers away from London. . .
The forgotten history of a British business magazine. . . Populists want you to mow your own lawn. . . A cap-and-trade CO2 reduction approach would be a boon for Wall Street. . . Did the sociologist C. Wright Mills invent blogging? The folks at YouTube know how important it is to carefully choose your co-workers. . . China is taking a central planning approach to video game addiction. . .
What do whale oil and kerosene have to teach us about today's debate over light bulbs? Would Neil Postman, a prescient technology skeptic, find it ironic that we are now watching him on YouTube? Americans are shifting their social networks toward "weak ties". . . Brains, it seems, are the new black. . . Happy Tax Pride Day. . .
Do out of state drivers get more tickets? The Manhattan Institute's Charles Brunie remembers Milton Friedman. . . Mainstream economists agree that supply-side incentives exist. But how strong are they? Do blogs need civic rules? Maybe not. . . Beginning on May 1, China will formally ban coercive trafficking in human organs. . .
The Twain of our era has passed: Novelist Kurt Vonnegut is dead at 84. Breakfast reading of champions can be found at the LA Times. . . Free Trade Agreements are negotiated in the same way warring nations design peace treaties. There must be a less wordy and more dignified way to go. . . The EU wants a new patent system that will apply across the continent. What could be wrong with that? A new health plan would make consumers pay their way till they hit a certain share of their income. . .
Is Korea's video game culture ripe for export? French presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy wants to cut France's corporate tax rate. . . How can the NFL make sure its players don't misbehave? Ratchet up the financial penalties. . . How long until the inevitable big screen smoking ban?
A new law might double taxes on private equity. . . A government office says that government may be spending half our national output by 2050. . . Who should we blame for automotive emissions--car manufacturers, or drivers? In Presidential politics, the web is a radical leveler. . . When Congress doesn't know what things cost, budgeting becomes a faith-based initiative. . .
India's IT industry is running out of trained workers. Blame it on the lousy schools. . . Albania will soon be joining the flat tax club. . . Our current tax system, and sloppy security at the IRS, could put you more at risk of identity theft. . . What's the difference between high culture and low? Presentation turns out to be key. . .
Listen and read slides at the same time? No, a new study says, you should pick your poison. . . Lawmakers in New Mexico are taxing the poor to send the rich into outer space. . . Do virtual worlds need a virtual gaming commission? This year, U.S. taxpayers will spend about $300 billion on tax preparation. That's a dollar for every five they pay in taxes. . . Environmentalists all urge respect for scientific consensus—until GMOs come up. . .
"Co-citation analysis" has created a fascinating map of academia. . . Cap-and-trade, or a federal tax on CO2 emissions: Which does Wall Street prefer? The fact that the National Association of Broadcasters is so opposed to the XM-Sirius merger may be the strongest argument for allowing it. . . Looking for a new hobby? How about virtual cartography? The World Bank says over-regulation of business is keeping countries poor. . .
Why are many superior products—the proverbial better mousetraps—less popular than their competitors? Because "you can survive by being popular, or by being superior, but alternatives that are neither popular nor superior quickly go extinct". . . The coming choice for colleges: Move up, move down, or move on. . . According to Warren Buffett, what happens to your finances is secondary to the important things in life—finding a suitable mate, developing a relationship with your children, and doing something that you enjoy. . . Are social networking sites like MySpace really all that dangerous? Don't drink and ride in North Carolina. . .
The next time you get dressed, be grateful for globalization. . . These days, a college education can cost you an arm and a leg—and maybe a few teeth. . . Look forward to grilling season? Don't move to Belgium. . . When businesses ask for government mandates on climate change, it's often a classic "bootleggers and baptists" scenario: they are fighting their competition too. . .
Not everyone is an expert at hunting. Some are better at running cafes. Is Iran the new South Africa? Some U.S. states are enacting divestment policies. Wealth is not static. It is expanding exponentially. The U.S. has an average voter turnout of only 48 percent. Should we move our election day to Saturday? Shouldn't the left be the real supply-siders?
Sweden is scrapping its wealth tax. A parable of taxes and beer. Does scanning students' papers qualify as fair use? Are Iran's latest banknotes on the nuclear standard? Sure, the tort system costs a lot. But does it cost $865 billion a year, as a new study suggests? Richard Posner calls that number "fictitious."