Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Today's Recommended Web Reading

At LegalAffairs Debate Club, John Robertson and Barbara Katz Rodman debate "Choosing Your Child's Sex?" The question for debate: Should it be unlawful for parents to select an infant's sex through abortion or in vitro techniques and, if so, under what circumstances should it be legal? Robertson offers the usual liberal cant ("we prize individual autonomy and reproductive choice") and tries to cajole fellow liberal Katz Rodman into going along with him. She won't:

In this "more choice is better" argument, the children that are never created (whether as fetuses aborted or embryos unselected or sperm washed away) can hardly be said to be harmed by the fact of their non-being. So then there are the children who are "chosen," the selected ones, chosen for their sex. I think there really is the potential for harm there—any time we give parents reason to think they can control the kind of people their children are, I think we are doing damage to the child, the parent, the relationship. . . .

A woman with one or two daughters will face more, not less pressure to produce a son if sex selection becomes part of ordinary practice. The new "choice" will probably pretty quickly become an obligation.

And as to whether "family balance" will inevitably lead to sex selection in the first place: you know the "slippery slope" argument? Think greased chute.

Russell Roberts at Cafe Hayek explains once more (this time in "Mental Experiment") why international trade isn't a zero-sum game or a threat to the well-being of Americans:

A lot of people are worried about China as an economic threat to the United States. I'm not. China's economic success is good for Americans. When Americans buy toys and clothes and iPods made in China it means that we have more people and capital available to make other things.

A variation on the Chinese threat is that someday, if they keep growing, they'll pass us. This is the view that economics is like the Olympics. If you don't finish first, you're stuck with the bronze or silver medal or worse, you don't even get to the medal stand. But economic success is not like the Olympics. It's not a zero sum game. . . .

What if you woke up one more morning and discovered . . . . [that the] Chinese had mismeasured their national income information and it turned out that the Chinese, in fact, had a per capita income many times that of the United States. . . . . How would it change your well-being? Would it make any difference whatsoever?

Maxwell Goss at Right Reason points to a story about

Dutch MP Sharon Dijksma [who] proposes fining women with college degrees who choose to stay at home instead of entering the paid workforce. Dijksma explains: "A highly-educated woman who chooses to stay at home and not to work -- that is destruction of capital. If you receive the benefit of an expensive education at the cost of society, you should not be allowed to throw away that knowledge unpunished."

The first mistake, of course, is the subsidization of education, which encourages persons who will not use it (or use it well) to partake of it at taxpayers' expense. The second mistake is to assume that it is a "waste" to educate women who choose not work outside the home. Mothers are the main civilizing influence in society -- or they were before they went "to work" in droves. It makes a lot more sense to have college-educated mothers than it does to have college-educated pharmaceutical salesmen (to take but one of many examples of "wasted" education).

The Federal Election Commission has decided -- more or less -- to go along with the First Amendment. Tongue Tied reports:

The very idea of rules for the internet is anathema to me but America's FEC does not seem to think so. The rules they have just handed down have no terrors for bloggers at the moment but as sure as night follows day, more and more regulations will follow.

The Tongue Tied post then links to a story that includes a recap of some of the main points of interest to bloggers:

Feds' Internet rules

The FEC's final Internet regulations adopted on Monday are less onerous than an earlier version. Here's what they say:

• Paid political advertising appearing on someone else's Web site would have to be reported, regardless of how little or how much it costs. But that responsibility would lie with the candidate, political party or committee backing the ad--not a Web site accepting the ads.

• All ads that expressly advocate the election or defeat of a candidate or solicit donations would have to carry disclaimers.

• Bloggers and other individual commentators wouldn't have to disclose payments received from candidates, political parties or campaign committees--but those groups would have to report payments to bloggers.

• No one except registered political committees would be required to put disclaimers on political e-mailings or Web sites. The e-mail requirement would kick in only if the committee sent out more than 500 substantially similar unsolicited messages at a time.

• The media exemption enjoyed by traditional news outlets would be extended to "any Internet or electronic publication," which could include everything from online presences of major media companies to individual bloggers.

Thanks to the FEC -- for nothing.