California Politicians: Supporting the Evil, Attacking the Good

If you wonder what has gotten California in such an economic mess, here is a recent sample: The state legislature has passed a law requiring landlords to give tenants 60 days’ notice, instead of 30 days, before evicting them. In other words, if you are renting to a tenant who refuses to pay the rent, […]

Outlawing “Soft Dollars” Will Crush Independent Analysts

I’ve been a vigorous defender of the investment-banking and mutual fund industries against over-reaching shakedowns by regulatory vigilante Eliot Spitzer. But now, in at attempt to deflect attention from the scandals raised by Spitzer, the funds business has done something so sleazy that I’m practically sorry I ever said a kind word about it. The […]

Unreasonable Prices

Early in our marriage, 40-some years ago, Mrs. Williams would return from shopping complaining about the unreasonable prices. Having aired her complaints, she’d then ask me to unload her car laden with purchases. After the unloading, I’d ask her: “I thought you said the prices were unreasonable. Why did you buy them? Are you unreasonable? […]

Two Earthquakes And Their Results Under Two Different Social Systems

Within a week of each other, two earthquakes struck on opposite sides of the world — an earthquake measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale in California and a 6.6 earthquake in Iran. But, however similar the earthquakes, the human costs were enormously different. The deaths in Iran have been counted in the tens of thousands. […]

Greed Makes the World Go Round

“Most of the harm in the world is done by good people, and not by accident, lapse or omission.” — Isabel Paterson, “The God of the Machine” Now that we’re in the thick of the holiday season, we’re again being warned to be wary of the commercialization, corporatism and greed that comes with Christmas. In […]

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Seatbelt Laws?

Nationally, Police agencies are stepping up enforcement of seatbelt laws, and in the case of Nevada this means that if you’re pulled over for something (you can’t be pulled over for not having a seatbelt on) and aren’t wearing your seatbelt you will be given a ticket requiring you to pay a fine. Never has […]

Christmas Encounter with a ‘Radical Socialist’

Moonie, my neighbor’s cat, sits predictably outside my front door every morning at 7 a.m. Moonie expects breakfast, and if unhappy with that day’s selection — fish, chicken, beef — Moonie sniffs indignantly and walks over to the front door and meows for his immediate release. Who knows where he goes? Perhaps he travels back […]

Thoughts on the ‘Dismal’ Science

In a hugely complex world, there is no way for the average person — or any person, for that matter — to be knowledgeable about even half the things that affect their lives. Most of us are necessarily ignorant of many fields, from botany to brain surgery. We can simply avoid discussing such things and […]

Locus of Euro-Hate

Anti-Semitism in Europe was for nearly two millennia a Christian phenomenon; now it is basically a Muslim one. That is the basic message of an officially-commissioned study by the European Union (EU) which became notorious in recent weeks when the EU itself quashed the 104-page draft version. The Financial Times, which broke this story, reported […]

It’s a Commercial Life

Whenever I hear that familiar Yuletide condemnation “Christmas is too commercial,” I recall George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life” wishing he’d never been born. For just as he didn’t realize the positive impact he’d had on others, the anti-commercial brigade doesn’t realize the positive impact commerce has on Christmas. In the movie classic, an […]

Religion and Capitalism Are Antithetical: The Defenders of Capitalism Should Invoke Secularism and Reason, Not Religion and Faith, as Their Justification

Conservatives regularly insist that religion is the basis of capitalism. Theologian Michael Novak, for instance, claims that “the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages was the main locus for the first flowerings of capitalism.” Politicians who purport to endorse free enterprise keep invoking the Bible for validation. The “religious right” calls the United States a […]

Obscene Non-Profits

Those who rail against profits and “greed” seldom stop to think through what they are saying, much less go check the facts. Most of the great American fortunes– Rockefeller, Ford, Carnegie, etc. — came from finding more efficient ways to produce a product or service at a lower cost, so that it could be sold […]

A Commercialized Christmas Carol

Christmas is not really about the myth of three astrologers trekking across the Middle East to see a magic baby. Nor is it about slopping gravy at a homeless shelter or plunking coins into a bucket outside a mall. What Christmas is and should be about, and what permits us to celebrate as we do, […]

‘Obscene’ Profits

Profits are certainly without honor among the intelligentsia. The very word produces negative reactions, even from people who cannot give you a single reason why money carrying that label is worse than money called by other names. Many professional athletes and entertainers earn salaries higher than what the vast majority of business owners earn as […]

The Road to Wealth

Why are we a rich nation? It’s tempting to suggest our wealth is a result of bountiful natural resources. However, if bountiful resources were the source of wealth, South America and Africa would be rich instead of being mired in poverty. Hong Kong, Japan and England, natural resources-poor nations, would be poor instead of rich. […]

A Tale of Two Crypts

A Tale of Two Crypts

The discovery of Saddam Hussein in a crypt-like hole, hidden by bricks and dirt, in a farmhouse in a small town near Tikrit brings to mind the story of another Iraqi who also hid from the authorities by literally going underground. That Iraqi is Jawad Amir Sayyid, 45, of Karada, a town southeast of Baghdad. […]

Goodness Through a Mystical Lens

Q: I have been in an ongoing discussion with a friend regarding belief in a higher, supernatural being. After many conversations, it finally became clear his true reasoning for believing: he believes that humans are essentially base, murderous, thieving, pillaging thugs, and so we must convince people to believe in a God for anthropological reasons, […]

The “Fun-Loving” Terrorist Who Was Good to His Mother

The news last month that police had arrested Sajid Badat at his home in Gloucester, England, shook many Britons. The charges against him concerned his training with al-Qaida in Afghanistan and his possessing PETN explosives, the same substance would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid had tried to set off. Police believe Badat intended to carry off […]