Cato


22
Mar 07

Quick Thursday round up

  • An interesting profile of Robert Levy, who spearheaded the successful DC gun ban lawsuit. I met him several years ago when I was interning at Cato. A very smart and nice guy.
  • More future of the automobile, this time from CNN. The big three American automakers and their Japanese counterparts seem to be hopelessly stuck in the past and burdened with vast wastelands of legacy costs and outdated equipment. I still have hope for American cottage industry to fill some of the gap, but I expect most of the “new” ideas to come from China. My reasoning is: The single largest unrealized opportunity for efficient cars is not the propulsion, it’s in the weight of the car itself. With new advances in carbon fiber and plastics (to replace the body, windshield, axels, and so on) you can lighten the vehicle considerably while keeping safety and performance constant. Lighter vehicle=greater fuel efficiency (by whatever measure). I think the existing players have too much invested in the current scheme and will get whupped by Chinese auto manufacturers when China reaches the necessary level of industrial sophistication (my prediction, 2015).
  • Microsoft is giving away a new accounting program. I’ll have a field review in a few days.
  • A pretty cool homemade fuel cell system. Not commercially viable (yet), but a good start at the grass roots.
  • I just got John Boyd’s biography.

10
Mar 07

Victory and people I know

Tom Palmer (my boss when I interned at the Cato Institute and all around great guy) and his fellow plaintiffs just won a legal decision that throws out the District of Columbia’s gun ban.


23
Aug 05

Boaz on PBS

From a good article by Cato’s David Boaz

Sometimes the bias is not quite so obvious. Rather than imbalance within each report, the bias is reflected in the choice of topics. A careful listener to NPR would notice a preponderance of reports on racism, sexism, and environmental destruction, but very few reports on the burden of taxes and regulation, or the unconstitutionality of most federal programs, or the way that state and federal governments increasingly abuse the rule of law in going after unpopular defendants such as tobacco companies and Wall Street executives.

Anyone who got all his news from NPR would never know that Americans of all races live longer, healthier, and in more comfort than ever before in history, or that the environment has been getting steadily cleaner.

In the past few weeks, as this issue has been debated, I’ve noted other examples. Take the long and glowing reviews of two leftist agitprop plays, one written by Robert Reich and performed on Cape Cod and another written by David Hare and performed in Los Angeles. And then there was the effusive report on Pete Seeger, the folksinger who was a member of the Communist Party, complete with a two-hour online concert, to launch the Fourth of July weekend.

The real problem is not liberal bias but the inevitability of bias. Any reporter or editor has to choose what’s important. It’s impossible to make such decisions without a framework, a perspective, a view of how the world works.

Something else to bean in mind is that by subsiding an “independent media” the government can ensure that while having representation of the left or right in the media, they can make sure that the people they actually fund are lightweights who pose no threat.