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InsiderOnline Blog: February 2013

Also Worth a Read

• This week was National School Choice Week, and if you haven’t done it already you should at least take a moment to find out what school choice programs your state has. Start by checking the handy table reference in the new Heritage Foundation publication, Choosing to Succeed.

• Did you know clouds cannot form precipitation without the presence of living microbes? There’s a whole ecosystem up there in the sky, and scientists are still trying to figure out how it works. But the impact of clouds on the climate is nearly absent from the climate models predicting future warming. Another wrench in the consensus: The Medieval Warm Period appears to be about 0.5 degrees Celsius warmer than today, despite having a lot less carbon. [“Time to Chill Out on Global Warming,” by Charles Hooper, Defining Ideas, January 17]

• Why, exactly, do we need one big bill that tries to solve all our immigration policy problems at once? Why, for example, does securing the border or streamlining the visa program require also having a plan to deal with those immigrants who are currently in the United States illegally? [“Senate Immigration Reform: Another Misguided Call for Comprehensive Legislation,” by Jessica Zuckerman, The Heritage Foundation, January 30]

• Wikipedia is 12 already! Is it, as some of its fans think, the grandest example of diverse people collaborating peacefully? Not exactly: “Wikipedia is certainly an impressive success story. It’s collaborative, diverse, and peaceful—and people increasingly rely on Wikipedia to acquire information. It is worth celebrating. But it is not humanity’s greatest collaborative effort, nor our greatest source of useful information. Those come from the direct and indirect benefits of the peaceful, voluntary arrangements referred to in shorthand as ‘market interactions.’ Yet while we laud Wikipedia for what it provides, we should also remember that the benefits of voluntary association in the market are under attack on many fronts. Giving markets the kind of respect Wikipedia currently enjoys would be a major step forward for humanity.” [“If You Like Wikipedia, You Should Love Markets,” by Gary M. Galles, The Freeman, January 30]

• Critics of “enhanced interrogation techniques” seem to want to reduce the issue to the question of whether those techniques actually worked. Wouldn’t it be convenient if our moral instincts never had a cost? But three of the people who ran the Central Intelligence Agency’s detainee interrogation program told an audience at the American Enterprise Institute that the program did produce valuable information. They also revealed some ways the program didn’t work as the critics imagine. Interrogators were not so naïve, for example, as to think detainees wouldn’t lie in order to avoid suffering. The purpose of “enhanced interrogation” was to break the detainee’s will to resist. “Once you got through the enhanced interrogation process, then the real interrogation began,” explained one official. [“The Case for Torture,” by William Saletan, Slate, January 30]

• Fifty-two percent of Pennsylvania public teachers say union leaders do not represent their views. [FreetoTeach.org, January 2013]

• Lisa Jackson is the worst head of the worst regulatory agency ever, says Henry Miller, who points out the problem wasn’t just that Jackson’s Environmental Protection Agency ignored science and failed to balance costs and benefits in pursuit of regulatory power. The agency also exceeded its authority under law (and was regularly rebuked by the courts); treated its grant programs as slush funds to buy support from non-profit allies (the Government Accountability Office found a systematic failure to award grants based on merit); and has used the legal subterfuge of finding friendly activist organization willing to sue the agency in order to justify harsher regulations. Gosh, what could be in those “Richard Windsor” e-mails we haven’t yet seen? [“The EPA’s Lisa Jackson: The Worst Head of the Worst Regulatory Agency, Ever,” by Henry I. Miller, Forbes, January 30]

• Among the tools you might find handy in case a gunman comes looking for targets, says the Department of Homeland Security: scissors! This advice on how to protect yourself during what the agency calls an “active shooter situation,” comes from a video the agency recently produced. The video also recommends crouching, hiding, and running—all to be preferred, no doubt, over doing nothing. But, for some reason we can’t think of, the folks at DHS overlooked something. So we’ll fix the oversight: Another tool you might find helpful in case someone with a gun tries to kill you would be a gun. You’re welcome, DHS.

• The Cato Institute is the house that Ed Crane built. “‘In the long run, the ideology of freedom will win,’ [Charles] Murray said at the Cato Club 200 retreat in September. ‘And when the history is written of how it is that, in the last quarter of the twentieth century, the flickering flame of freedom became strong enough to withstand the winds, Ed Crane’s name will figure very largely.’” [“The Legacy of Edward H. Crane,” Cato Policy Report, January/February 2013]

• Thanks to ObamaCare, health insurers are no longer guaranteeing initial rates for a year at a time. Put it down to the actuarial uncertainty that happens when so many new regulations come at once. [“The Most Ominous Sign Yet Health Insurance Premiums Will Explode,” by Merrill Matthews, Forbes January 30]

Posted on 02/01/13 01:02 PM by Alex Adrianson

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