From the Editor
If you would like a possible refutation of the argument put forward in this week's From Liberty Street -- and believe me, I'd like to see it refuted, if it could be done convincingly -- you might check a book by Indur Goklany titled The Improving State of the World: Why We're Living Longer, Healthier, More Comfortable Lives on a Cleaner Planet. It's published by the Cato Institute which in itself is a reason for my suspecting the thesis. And the review by James Surowiecki in the current Foreign Affairs gives me others. Surowiecki says Goklany's account leaves out too much that matters by lauding market forces as a kind of god force on earth, which, again, is what you would expect from a Cato Institute issuance.
If my remark that the Iraq adventure came from unbalanced ideologues strikes you as being over the top, I invite you to read Michael Isikoff and David Corn, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War. If you do, I suspect you'll come away marveling at the moderation of my language.
We've had interesting commentary from president watchers lately. Historian Douglas Brinkley, generally a man of moderate speech, said that Mr. Bush is not only a lame duck, he's a dead duck. Jonathan Alter elevated the president somewhat by calling him a cooked goose. The CBS poll showed that Bush's approval rating has for the first time dipped below Dick Cheney's, with the president ahead in the race to the bottom 27 to 28.
On the Tim Russet show, Jon Meacham debated with Christopher Hitchens about whether God is great. Truth is, they couldn't summon a very hot argument because both of them were talking more about various beliefs in God than they were the entity itself. And with respect to the beliefs they agreed that many and perhaps most are nuts. I've noticed, by the way, that when people argue about religion, they almost always are talking about belief in belief. It may be the case that no one actually believes in God; people believe only in their own belief. That's because they can't imagine what God is.
I read a bit about Burkina Faso, an African country I would wager not even five percent of Americans have heard of. Nine million people there live on 105, 869 square miles, which doesn't qualify as packed but is still, I guess you could say, more than adequately populated.
I watched Steve Kroft interview Russell Crowe on 60 Minutes. Kroft didn't get head-butted even once. I came away convinced that Crowe is one of those persons who think people should behave sensibly and that when they don't you should take direct action. I don't suppose it's always a practical program, but it does have a certain appeal. Who knows? If everyone adopted it, things might actually improve. I've suspected, more than once, that mild violence is the best antidote to the lethal variety.
Write us when you get a chance about whether the world is tending up or down. And offer as many reasons for your opinion as you can find. We'll put your words on the web and thereby either depress or cheer up at least a few readers.
(Please include your name so that we may publish your remarks.)
Articles may be quoted or republished in full with attribution
to the author and harvardsquarecommentary.org.