Issue CCXLVII

May 7, 2010

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Culture
Unstructured Leisure and Progress:
G. Stolyarov II
May 7, 2010

One of the highly problematic aspects of contemporary Western societies is the widespread aversion to individuals having “unstructured time” – for which no conventions or prescribed routines dictate how it will be spent. This is a mistaken distaste and, indeed, a dangerous one. Mr. Stolyarov writes that unstructured time is not only the source of human progress; it is also essential for people to develop their own individualities and flourish as unique human beings.

Why on Earth is Stephen Hawking Afraid of Aliens?:
Bradley Doucet
May 7, 2010

Stephen Hawking has a warning for humankind. First of all, the celebrated theoretical physicist believes that there probably is alien life out there in the universe. But he doesn’t think we should be trying to make contact with extraterrestrials. Instead, Hawking believes we should be doing everything we can to hide from them. Bradley Doucet believes that Professor Hawking’s pessimism is misplaced for a number of reasons. His fears bespeak a Malthusian misunderstanding of resource economics, an ignorance of the history of violence, and a lack of appreciation of the substantial benefits of voluntary exchange. An examination of Hawking’s errors shows we have every reason to believe aliens capable of crossing interstellar space would be more Mr. Spock than Predator.

Economics

Be Optimistic About the Future?:
Gary Wolfram
May 7, 2010
Dr. Gary Wolfram argues that the U.S. economy is on the mend and has been for some time. The reason is that, as Marx acknowledged in The Communist Manifesto, the capitalist system is an engine of powerful forces. Dr. Wolfram's article suggests that we should be hopeful for the future, despite federal government interventions that are making it more difficult for the economy to recover. 

Is the USA Too Big to Fail?:
Alan Caruba
May 7, 2010

Lately Alan Caruba has been playing with the question, is the United States of America too big to fail?
Greece’s bonds are now rated as “junk.” It will have to be bailed out with billions from the nations of the European Union, but Portugal is not far behind, and so are Italy and Spain. Iceland went belly-up months ago. Meanwhile, the sovereign debt of the United Kingdom, plus the assets of its five largest banks, exceeds 500% of its gross domestic product (GDP)! Will the United States fall victim to the same perilous conditions?

Politics
The Outlook for Goldman -- and for Us:
Roger Donway
May 7, 2010

“Billionaire Warren Buffett said he has studied the civil fraud charges against investment bank Goldman Sachs and has no problem with the transaction involved. Buffett, who is Berkshire Hathaway’s chief executive [and a major investor in Goldman], said yesterday that he thinks he understands the allegations against Goldman better than most people, and he does not believe the Abacus deal at the center of the case constitutes fraud.” So says an Associated Press report published on May 3. Unfortunately, Roger Donway does not believe that Goldman’s chances of prevailing in court are as good as Warren Buffett thinks they are, even though Goldman's actions would not be considered fraudulent from a free-market perspective. 

Why on Earth Would Anyone Wear the Niqab?:
Bradley Doucet
May 7, 2010

Given the advancement of women’s rights, it is hard to understand why any woman living in a free country would voluntarily cover her face in public. Yet some tiny minority of Muslim women living in the West do choose to wear the niqab, a full face veil. A Quebec law proposed late last month, Bill 94, would interfere with that choice. Bradley Doucet argues that Bill 94 is institutionalized intolerance and is unworthy of a modern nation.

Illegal Means Illegal in Arizona Now:
William R Thomas
May 7, 2010

Arizona has enacted a law that makes illegal immigration to the U.S. a state crime. William Thomas does not think the idea of a free society is compatible with anything other than an open immigration policy. Yet Mr. Thomas also writes that the idea of a free society is even less compatible with the failure to enforce the law. The rule of law is the basis for all dependable liberty and for open government.

Congress Freezes Its Own Pay:
Ron Paul
May 7, 2010

Last week Congress did something fiscally responsible.  It’s not very often that Rep. Ron Paul can say that.  Granted, it was small in the grand scheme of things, but Rep. Paul was glad to be an original cosponsor, along with Congressman Harry Mitchell of Arizona, of a bill to block the automatic pay raise that Congress otherwise receives every year.

America's Energy Health:
Marita Noon
May 7, 2010

A pundit gushed over President Obama’s busy-ness since pushing through historic healthcare legislation. After enumerating accomplishments, she closed, "Frankly, I worry about his health." While the concern expressed was for Obama’s health, Marita Noon's concern is for the health of energy in America—and ultimately for America itself.

Science        
(Desperately) Looking for Arctic Warming:
Paul Driessen and Willie Soon
May 7, 2010
     
Global warming
is back in the news, and this article is a timely (and at times humorous) look at claims that the Arctic is warming rapidly and to an unprecedented extent.
Australian environmentalist Tom Smitheringale just returned from what has almost become an annual joke: trying to find a watery winter passage through the Arctic … and prove that global warming is melting the ice caps. He is just the latest to be flown out at taxpayer expense, to avoid freezing to death in the bitter cold and endless ice and snow. And just this week, Time magazine published another article asserting that “feedback loops” will soon cause meltdown; it is based on a mere 20 years of data. Paul Driessen's article, co-authored by climate scientist Willie Soon, points out that open water in the Arctic during springtime (and even winter) months is nothing new. All these frozen, teeth-chattering explorers needed to do was climb aboard Doc Brown’s “Back to the Future” time machine and head back to 1690, 1750, 1822, 1860, 1903 or 1930 – when the Arctic waters really were open.
                   
"Love truth, but pardon error." 
~ Francois-Marie Arouet de Voltaire