Archive | March, 2002

Cash: The Secret to Spotting Troubled Companies

Could the typical small investor have discovered a year ago that Enron Corp. was on the brink of disaster? It’s highly unlikely. Still, if you looked for the right thing, you never would have bought Enron stock in the first place. The right thing is cash. The earnings statements that obsess Wall Street analysts are […]

The Cost of Academic Integrity

Since the 1960s, academic achievement scores have plummeted, but student grade point averages (GPAs) have skyrocketed. The Academy of Arts and Sciences reports that at Harvard, for instance, A’s were awarded to 46 percent of students in 1996 (versus 22 percent in 1966), and 82 percent Harvard students graduate with honors. Nationally, only 10 percent […]

Dividends: Show Me the Money

To many investors, the lesson of the Enron scandal is never to trust a company’s earnings reports and balance sheets again. But that’s nonsense. Yes, there are unscrupulous corporate managers and auditors out there, but the best way to protect yourself is not to dump stocks and buy Treasury bills but to diversify broadly and […]

“Campaign Finance Reform” Regulates Free Speech

The Enron scandal was welcomed like an unexpected Christmas present by Democrats who, together with much of the media, have tried to tie the scandal to the Bush administration. However, as more and more information has come out about Enron, it has become clear that this company contributed money to Democrats and Republicans alike, to […]

Science Rejects Kyoto

Is science necessary anymore for defining and solving true environmental problems? President Bush’s plan to semi-combat carbon dioxide is unworthy of his principled stand taken last year against the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement to limit emissions by the United States of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are feared may cause global warming. […]

Just Wondering

The six-month anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is upon us. Here are a half-dozen unsolved mysteries still on my mind: What really happened on United Airlines Flight 93? As the Philadelphia Daily News reported back in November, many folks in Shanksville, Pa., where the hijacked Boeing 757 crashed, believe the plane was shot […]

Why the Green Church of Environmentalism Has No Tolerance for Skeptics

Sheer panic. That’s the only way to describe the reaction of green activists to a fact-filled 515-page book by a young Danish statistician, published in English late last year by Cambridge University Press. The statistician, a slim, laid-back former Greenpeace member named Bjorn Lomborg, dared to question the conventional wisdom of the alarmists who dominate […]

The Prophets of Defeatism

The American press seems to have contracted Black Hawk Down Syndrome, a malady in which reporters and editorialists, whose military experience consists largely of watching Hollywood war movies, project a hand-wringing fear of American military failure. These reactions may seem bizarre after a period of extraordinary military success, but they do make sense — because […]

Inside the Lives of America’s Politicians: Battle of the Beltway Buttinskis

There’s a word for people like Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, who got caught last week cutting in line at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. The word is buttinski. Beltway buttinskis can’t wait around like everybody else. Long lines are for little people. Beltway buttinskis are Very Important Persons with very important […]

Back Up Blues Revisited

I can’t seem to get away from this subject. And it’s so darn important, I’m not sure I want to. My earlier column, Back Up Blues, triggered some interesting responses. One reader inquired as to whether I had considered or tried another drive imaging product, PowerQuest’s Drive Image. The answer is, “Yes”, I did consider […]

Steel Tariffs: President Bush Put Politics Above Principle

President Bush last week showed Clintonesque skill in the art of political triangulation. An alleged champion of free markets and free trade, the Bush White House last week announced plans to impose tariffs as high as 30% on steel imports to the U.S. next year. The tariffs would theoretically phase out over the next three […]

Back Up Blues

In a previous article, I discussed the importance of backing up your entire hard drive (not just your data) periodically as protection against computer viruses. Of course, there are other equally important reasons to back up your entire hard drive. You can have a hard disc crash, as I did last month. You can install […]

Stifling Black Students

Racial preferences, quotas and affirmative action in university admission practices have lost political and, increasingly, legal support. As a result, states such as California, Texas and Florida have implemented a substitute practice called “percentage plans” as a means for determining who will be admitted to their flagship universities. In Texas, students in the top 10 […]

Why Imports Are Good

It was Ronald Reagan who said that “economists are people who see something work in practice and wonder if it would work in theory.” I think this is a wonderful quote. And what is working in practice — or has been working for the last two decades — has been the U.S. economy. We have […]

“Battered Truth Syndrome” or Battered Truth Syndrome?

“Battered woman syndrome” — the politically correct legal rationalization for letting cold-blooded female killers off the hook — is now an issue in the California governor’s race. Are both Democrats and Republicans really so desperate to close the gender gap that they’ll pander to the morally bankrupt voting bloc of women who blindly support women […]

Making Better Decisions

How to make better decisions — big and small? Here are some tips. 1. Assume certainty is possible. You’re certain the sky is blue. You’re certain where you’re standing or sitting right now is where you’re standing or sitting. You can therefore be certain of many other things too, including more complex things. 2. Don’t […]

You Can’t Win a War without Going to War

The spirits are up at the White House these days: everybody’s busy congratulating themselves for a war well fought and deservedly won. That we deserve to win the War on Terror is beyond respectable dispute (although, evidently, not beyond dispute altogether). But did we win the war? Actually, did we go to war? Unilateral carpet […]

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