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Resorting to freedom

Mié, 04/02/2015 - 19:42

MEASLES outbreaks in California and other western states, due in part to a trend in parents choosing not to vaccinate their children, have raised the question of whether vaccinations against certain diseases ought to be made mandatory. Given his libertarian streak, it is not surprising that Rand Paul, a Republican senator from Kentucky who will probably run for president, believes that vaccinations ought to remain voluntary. Nevertheless, a few of his comments on the subject on CNBC's "Closing Bell" on Monday provide a telling glimpse into his worldview. 

Mr Paul, a Duke University-trained ophthalmologist, favours vaccination. But he questioned the wisdom of vaccinating infants and worried aloud about "tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines". Mr Paul earned a lot of flack for this remark,...Continue reading

Surprisingly expensive

Mié, 04/02/2015 - 15:45

DETROIT may be one of the only cities in the rich world where it is possible for someone on a fairly modest income to buy a street. At the edges of Boston-Edison, a historic district of gorgeous old houses built as one of the city’s first wealthy suburbs between about 1900 and 1930, so low has the cost of housing fallen that fairly grand houses can be acquired simply for the cost of back property taxes. A local reporter who showed me around is in the middle of building his own empire—buying up abandoned homes and renovating them. Copying him was extremely tempting.

But the cost of such attractive housing is so low because people don’t want it. And one of the things I simply had not appreciated about struggling cities like Detroit before visiting is that a lot of the reason why housing is so cheap is because in other respects, life is surprisingly expensive. Even for relatively well-off yuppies who are gradually gentrifying some parts of the city, cheap housing is only barely compensation for other costs. Together with more obvious problems such as poor schools and high crime, it is one of the reasons why despite all of the investment...Continue reading

Resistance bands

Mar, 03/02/2015 - 17:08

WITH the Supreme Court set to decide this June whether same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, some conservatives in southern and western states are seeing the writing on the wall. As Adam Liptak reported last week in the New York Times, officials in Alabama, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah are taking preventive action in case the justices vote to permit same-sex nuptials nationwide.

Some of the moves will not survive the barest of judicial scrutiny. Bills barring state officials from issuing marriage certificates to same-sex couples, for example, or withholding their pay for doing so, are clear violations of federal court rulings holding the opposite. Alabama’s chief justice, the irrepressible Roy Moore, faces an ethics complaint for defying a...Continue reading