Saturday, June 23, 2007

Fears of Global Climate Change, Past and Present


There are ominous signs that the earth's weather patterns have begun to change dramatically...
[T]hese changes may portend a drastic drop in food production...
The drop in food production could begin quite soon, perhaps only ten years from now.
The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard pressed to keep up with it.
"A major climatic change would force economic and social adjustments on a worldwide scale," warns a report by the National Academy of Sciences.
"The world's food producing system," warns Dr. James D. McQuigg of NOAA's Center for Climatic and Environmental Assessment, "is much more sensitive to the weather variable than it was even five years ago."
This was written in 1975 in a Newsweek piece heralding the new consensus among scientists over an impending disastrous climatic change.

What was the feared climatic change? Global cooling.

Okay, so they got it wrong back then. But a commentator today is truly afraid of global climate change. However, his fear is not of global warming (or cooling), but of the destruction of our liberty and prosperity that will ensue in an attempt to end it. That person is Vaclav Klaus, the President of the Czech Republic. Here are a few selected quotes from his recent editorial and interview in the Financial Times.

The environmentalists ask for immediate political action because they do not believe in the long-term positive impact of economic growth and ignore both the technological progress that future generations will undoubtedly enjoy, and the proven fact that the higher the wealth of society, the higher is the quality of the environment. They are Malthusian pessimists.
The global warming propaganda is, I agree, similar to the Avian flu propaganda, the Y2K propaganda, the end of resources propaganda, the overpopulation propaganda, etc

There are huge material (very pecuniary) and even bigger psychological incentives for politicians and their bureaucratic fellow-travellers to support environmentalism. It gives them power.

Read both pieces. It is worth it. It takes only one person of courage to change the world. Dissidents such as Klaus who opposed the Soviet domination of their country (from 1945-1989) were such people. They are such people today.

Continue to speak out, President Klaus.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Bible Lessons

I have been studying the Bible lately. I highly recommend these tools:

(1) The Brick Testament

This is my primary source. It is an illustrated compendium of Bible passages from both the Old and New Testaments. All quotes are 100% accurate Bible quotes.

There is much to enjoy in the Brick Testament, so it is difficult to select favorites. I have much to study. I am a neophyte. Here is my sampler:

Understand Christian ethics in The Teachings of Jesus.

Understand Old Testament principles of living in The Law.

(2) The teachings and wisdom of Mister Swig.

Mr. Swig [or Rev. Swig as I call him] is embarked on a project of summarizing the Bible, book by book. Here it is, so far, as it has appeared on the Web forum Objectivism Online. I will endeavor to update this post as the Rev. Swig completes new books.

(3) Bible Gateway

To look up and verify Bible quotes, I cannot recommend a better resource than the Bible Gateway. You can look up individual passages or entire chapters, just by typing in the name.

I applaud the Rev. Brendan Powell Smith and William Swig (Rev. Swig) who have worked so hard to make the Bible intelligible. What do I think of the Bible? Well, I think the Bible can speak for itself. Everyone should study it, and those of you who are Christians or Jews should carefully consider that what you read here is what you claim to believe in.

As for me, I have stated my thoughts on religion elsewhere.

Keep reading the Bible. Better yet, if you have already formed your opinion, skip the Bible, and work hard at applying reason to understanding this wonderful earth we live in.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Organ Futures

Why shouldn't people be able to sell their organs in advance, before they die? A company that procures organs could pay you today for the right to harvest your organs when you die. In exchange, say, for $200 or $1000 or whatever the market price determines, you would put your name in a database and carry an organ donor card with you so that when you die, all your usable body parts are harvested and sold to those who need the organs.

This would solve nearly instantaneously the organ shortage in this country. Economics tells us that shortages are caused by price controls. Well, in the case of organs, the legal price is zero. Unfetter the market and sufficient organs will be humanely supplied. The price mechanism will ensure that, with the price of organs rising to make supply and demand meet.

A market for human organs harvested after death would eliminate such gruesome practices as body parts being harvested from Chinese convicts, or living poor people selling their organs. (It should be legal for living people to sell kidneys and other organs; see this editorial arguing for same from the Ayn Rand Institute. However, a legalized market for advance sales of organs to be harvested after death would likely eliminate such a practice. It would be cheaper to buy organs in advance that are harvested from corpses than it would be to pay a living donor, who requires sophisticated medical care and compensation for pain. Living donors also cannot supply many specific organs such as hearts.)

Legalize advance organ sales and what is likely to emerge naturally is a market for organ futures. An organ future is the right to receive a specific donor’s organs after that person dies. Packages of organ futures could be sold in standardized blocks, and traded on exchanges like any other futures. After all, pork bellies, corn and oil are sold on futures markets. Why not markets for human kidney, lung and heart futures? Investors could buy packages of these securities.

The big benefit of organ futures is their liquidity. The existence of a futures market provides a ready pool of capital available to buy future organ rights from donors, and to sell them to harvesting companies. In turn, when the organs are ready for harvesting, after the donor dies, the harvesting companies would sell organs to recipients. Insurance companies would be active participants in this market, since they could sell organ insurance policies and then hedge them by buying futures.

The futures market benefits both parties to an organ donation, the donor who gets cash today while he is alive, and the organ recipient who would otherwise die if the organ futures market did not exist.

The time for legalized organ sales and an organ futures market is now, not the future. Thousands of people suffer excruciatingly while they wait for organs. Many of them die before they ever get them.

Speaking personally, if I could get paid cash today to carry an organ donation card in my wallet, I'd do it. Look in my wallet now, and there is no organ donation card. How many millions of other Americans like me would gladly sell the future right to their organs if only it were legal for them to do so? Legalize organ sales and an organ futures market will ensure that virtually no one will ever again die while waiting for a heart or kidney.


How many people are suffering and dying due to the ban on organ sales?

  • Over 95,000 U.S. patients are currently waiting for an organ transplant; nearly 4,000 new patients are added to the waiting list each month.
  • In 2006, 3,916 kidney patients, 1,570 liver patients, 356 heart patients and 245 lung patients died while awaiting organs. Total deaths: 6,087.

Source: National Kidney Foundation

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Goodbye, Toucan Sam

Goodbye, Toucan Sam, Tony the Tiger and Captain Crunch. Goodbye to all the cartoon characters that cereal companies have used over the decades to sell cereal to children. “The policy changes come 16 months after Kellogg and Viacom, the parent company of Nickelodeon, were threatened with a lawsuit over their advertising to children by two advocacy groups, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, and two Massachusetts parents,” stated the International Herald Tribune. Now that Kellogg has knuckled under, the groups have dropped their lawsuit threats.

Under the coerced non-agreement, Kellogg may still use cartoon characters if the cereals can be reformulated to meet certain nutritional standards, such as zero trans-fats, less than 200 calories per serving, less than 12 grams of sugar per serving, etc. In other words, the cereal has to be bland.

I grew up eating Sugar Frosted Flakes, which were promoted by Tony the Tiger, Frosted Fruit Loops, promoted by Toucan Sam, and Captain Crunch cereal. As far as I am aware, I suffered no ill effects, mental or physical, whatsoever from eating these cereals. Perhaps part of it had to do with my mother, who encouraged me to play outdoors, and who kept firm limits on snacking between meals. I benefited from a responsible mother (thank you, Mom). But the idea of responsibility, parental and individual, is gone. Instead, we are all treated as a collective of children, nursed over by the Nanny State, who applies one-size-fits-all bans on all of us, in order to protect the few who cannot take care of themselves.

I am sick of it. Thankfully, I had Tony the Tiger in my life and tasty, sweet Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes. What about today’s children? What about all of us? The world is made blander by Kellogg being forced to knuckle under to the Mafia-like tactics of busybodies who use the courts to cudgel us all into living in their soul-less, tasteless world.

I say to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, and the busybody parents who joined the lawsuits: take this spoonful of fruit loops and shove it. Hands off my cereal. Hands off my life.