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Corporations discover innovation swapping

19 December 2002
Half of the largest companies in the United States cut spending on research and development by 15 percent in the first half of 2002, while the other half did not increase spending. While reduced R&D spending might suggest a decline in innovation, some large companies are finding that need not…

Endangered species and energy do mix

19 December 2002
At 113 miles, Padre Island National Seashore in Texas is the longest barrier island in the United States. It's a prime example of what the Bush Administration argues regarding the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: that economic development – including energy production – does not have to come at the…

Conflict over African agricultural policies

19 Dec 02  
Norman E. Borlaug, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who saved millions of Asians from starvation in the late 1960s by developing highly-productive crops for farmers and promoting the use of fertilizer, pesticides and modern farming methods, is at loggerheads with the World Bank and Western donor countries. At issue is…

Assessing the U.S. economy

19 Dec 02  
The U.S. stock market may be shaky, but the American economy is a lot healthier than some analysts perceive it to be. Consider that gross domestic product has grown 3.2 percent this year – roughly the post-World War II average. U.S. output exceeds the combined output of Japan, the U.K.,…

California’s problems provide lessons for other administrations

19 Dec 02  
When times were good, many U.S. states spent their tax surpluses and ignored the need to save for rainy days. They are now paying for their profligacy and short-sightedness – and none more so than California, which is looking at a $25 billion shortfall in revenues over the next 18…

Inflation and higher interest rates are not caused by government deficits

19 Dec 02  
Those who want the U.S. to slash its budget deficit often say government red ink causes both inflation and higher interest rates. Neither is true, observers point out. Looking back on former President Ronald Reagan's tax cuts, many economists – including some Nobel winners – argued that tax cuts would shrink…

Wilderness areas cover almost half the world’s land surface

19 Dec 02  
Conservation International, an environmental group, has found that wilderness areas cover nearly half of the Earth's land surface – and are inhabited by only a small part of the planet's human population. More than 200 scientists participated in the group's global analysis. Here are a few of their findings: Thirty-seven wilderness…

Strategies for achieving poverty

19 Dec 02  
Politicians in all countries love policies known to prevent prosperity and we must therefore assume that they, or their advisors, want poverty. There is good news for them: the causes of wealth and poverty – free markets and interventionism respectively – are now so well known that state-of-the art…

Employee ownership plans not always successful

19 Dec 02  
The imminent bankruptcy of United Airlines (UAL) may be the final blow to an idea that once entranced both liberals and conservatives – employee ownership. But as UAL, an employee-owned company, demonstrates, it works a lot better in theory than practice. Part of the problem has been employee stock ownership…

Protecting intellectual property

19 Dec 02  
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick is reportedly considering a move to recognise the right of any developing country to appropriate a patent or import generic drugs if that country determines it is facing a health crisis. Critics are aghast at the idea. They point out that some people who would not…

U.S. Drug administration slow to reform

19 Dec 02  
Although there are many promising vaccines for the treatment of cancer, most patients can't get them, critics charge, because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), concerned that it might give its "seal of approval" to a drug that ultimately is not effective, is too wedded to statistics and to procedures…

Risks of smallpox vaccinations

11 Dec 02  
Should all Americans have the choice to receive smallpox inoculations? Or is widespread smallpox vaccinations a reckless idea? Most Americans say (59 percent in a May 2002 poll) they would take the smallpox vaccine if it were offered, even after hearing that the disease was eradicated from nature decades ago and…

Russia’s tax cuts result in high growth and increased tax revenue

11 Dec 02  
Russia has recently undergone a tax revolution, says the Wall Street Journal. The Russian reforms began in 2001, when a 13 percent flat tax on individual income replaced a convoluted system with a marginal rate of 30 percent. Then the tax on corporate profits was cut nearly one-third to…

Heart-care treatment is inconsistent

11 Dec 02  
Ideally, heart patients should receive the same optimal therapy – drugs, devices, procedures and operations – wherever they are treated. But according to studies reported at a recent meeting of the American Heart Association (AHA), they don't. One reason is that some hospitals and doctors are less aggressive than others…

Fighting dictatorships with credit restrictions

11 Dec 02  
Corrupt dictators often borrow huge amounts abroad, backed by the state's taxing power to extract repayment from citizens. Much of these borrowed funds find their way into the private accounts of the ruling elite. As a consequence, the population is left with a heavy debt burden, along with poorly-conceived…

Gun control and crime in England

11 Dec 02  
Into the early 20th century, guns were as freely available in England as in America. Indeed, the English Bill of Rights of 1688 was unambiguously clear that the right to be armed was an individual right, independently of any collective right of militias. In England over the centuries, "violent crime continued…

United States proposal for eliminating tariffs

11 Dec 02  
The proposal last week by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick and Commerce Secretary Donald Evans to eliminate tariffs on manufactured goods over the next few years was "timed to get the current World Trade Organisation negotiations in Geneva off to a rousing start," says the Wall Street Journal. The Zoellick-Evans proposal…

Would drug administration reform hasten the availability of cancer vaccines?

11 Dec 02  
Merck, a pharmaceutical company, has produced a vaccine for the human papilloma virus that appears effective in preventing cervical cancer, and products are currently being developed to treat many other cancers, including melanoma, breast and lung. But not one is close to market yet, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's…

Private company proposes a better route for Alaska natural gas

11 Dec 02  
Critics sighed with relief that the expiring U.S. Congress did not pass an energy bill. Among the items in the bill facing widespread opposition were a mandate and subsidies for an environmentally and economically challenged natural gas pipeline through Alaska. The bill would have required that a natural gas…

The good times are now

11 Dec 02  
Over the last 100 years, almost every measure of material human welfare has shown wondrous gains for Americans, says Stephen Moore – and the human condition improved more than in the previous 10,000 years. Consider, for instance: As recently as 50 to 100 years ago, the leading causes of death were…

South Korea leads in education results

11 Dec 02  
South Korea has the most effective education system among the world's 24 richest countries while the United States places near the bottom, according to a United Nations comparison. A United Nations study found: Japan ranks second, followed by Finland, Canada and Australia. The top ten is rounded out by Austria, Britain,…

Drug patents under assault

04 Dec 02  
The Wall Street Journal warns that countries and allied activist groups are trying to use the latest World Trade Organisation negotiations, called the Doha round, to strip away protection for drug patents. Last year's Doha declaration said the world's poorest countries should be allowed to ignore patents when faced with…