Wednesday, April 26, 2006

RIP Jane Jacobs, the scourge of city planners everywhere

An original mind has left us. We are now alone in the dense metropolis she championed. Jane Jacobs has died at the age of 89.

My review of her book The Nature of Economies is here.

Hat tip to Marginal Revolution.

Visitors to Cafe Hayek also have something to say on Jacobs, from a libertarian perspective.

Monday, April 03, 2006

More on Easterly's new book

The Economist carries a mostly favorable review of economist and foreign-aid critic William Easterly's new book, The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good.

We still don't know if Bono has his copy.

Kevin Phillips exposed

The progression of Kevin Phillips into a disestablishmentarian teetering in the his new resting place on the moonbat edge is certainly suspect. He's loved by liberals nowadays for his tomes on the BushHitlerism. To the liberals who now praise the strategist of Nixon's "southern strategy" I say this: caveat emptor. But saying it better than I can, Jacob Weisberg scrapes the bark off the crackpot, a third-rate Bush-basher with a sense of self-importance.

The Phillips method is to begin with a bold thesis: America invaded Iraq to claims its oil. Having got your attention, he departs on a pompous, pedantic history tour: tar in the Bible, medieval mineralogy, Italian olive oil, Basque whaling, the British carve-up of the Middle East, the rise of the motor vehicle and so on. Thirty pages later, having presented no evidence and answered no objections, he restates his claim more hyperbolically: "During the first George W. Bush administration, that reliance [on motor vehicles] dictated an attempt to turn the Persian Gulf into an American filling station so as to maintain high energy consumption." At least Michael Moore tries to make us laugh when he says this.

Mr Phillips is no more coherent on the book's chief subject, "theocracy". He contends that the Republicans have become America's first openly religious party, in thrall to Christian premillennialists who think the end is nigh. Mr Bush has indeed allied himself with evangelicals. But while this strategy got him narrowly re-elected, it has not ultimately served Republicans or the religious right. Extremism on issues of church-state separation and stem-cell research has alienated secular and libertaian conservatives uncomfortable with the party's revival-tent atmosphere. Evangelical power, meanwhile, has clearly peaked. No future president is likely to kowtow to the religious right in the way Mr Bush has. Mr Phillips does not perceive any of these realities. Nor does he seem to recognise that end-times "Rapture" fantasies and the quest for oil cannot both be the hidden explanation of everything Mr Bush does.

When it comes to economics,Mr Phillips does not know what he is talking about. The tip-off comes in the section about oil, when he tries to explain that not all "proven" reserves are available. Drilling may become uneconomic, Mr Phillips notes, if more energy is required to find and extract a barrel of oil than the barrel contains - "at least until the price of oil rises". One might note that if it costs more than a barrel of oil to make a barrel of oil, a higher price for oil will not help.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

It's about time someone exposes the Ford Foundation

Every wonder why during the 1970s and 1980s, conservatives moved fast and effectively to establish their own foundations and think tanks? One reason is that so-called mainstream philanthropies like the Ford Foundation lost its moorings. The Ford Foundation was eager to bite the hand that fed it capitalism in favor of research and enterprises that were neo-socialist. Most of Henry Ford's progeny are outright dismayed at the direction fo the foundation. The Michigan AG is now forcing the Ford Foundation's hand. It's about time don't you say.