Oil Speculators

I remember back in 2008 when I heard about all of the oil speculators who were causing the price of oil to go so high. The proof came after just a few months when the price of oil dropped by $100 per barrel. The one thing I didn’t really know what how speculators were doing what they were doing? Well, with current low oil prices, we are getting another view of how some of those speculators operate.

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Free Marketplace of Bad Ideas

Most people usually lament and fear the fact that technology is now making it easier than ever to spread hurtful ideas. From shaming someone into suicide on Facebook to recruiting jihadists on Youtube, there are certainly plenty of examples of the negative implications of social media. But is it possible that in another sense, this will prove to be the ultimate test, and hopefully vindication, of a free Marketplace of Ideas.

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Changing Campaign Finance is Tough

During the 2014 election cycle, Lawrence Lessig tried to change the shape of American politics. Or at least he tried to start a change. With his PAC, the Mayday PAC, Lessig raised over $10 million and spent it to influence eight elections around the country. This was meant to be a test election to see if the PAC could get people who were supportive of campaign finance reform elected. Here is a little bit of what happened.

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CIA helps spread of Polio

There have been a lot of unintended consequences of the War on Terror. This is one that I had not heard of before.

Polio had almost been eradicated in Pakistan and now it is on the rise again. This story from Freakonomics Radio is specifically about why more people don’t take the flu vaccine. In their examination they came across this story of how actions taken by individuals and organizations can effect peoples views of vaccines.

Humanities fight against disease has been waged for thousands of years. This fight has sometimes been extremely low tech such as sterilizing wounds alcohol and washing hands. Other times it is very high tech and experimental such as current efforts with gene therapy. Without a doubt, one of the greatest weapons in that fight has been vaccinations. Polio, small pox, measles, it is hard today to understand the fear that parents only a few generations ago had that their children would get some of these horrible diseases because our campaigns against them have been so successful

However, that success is leading to a strong backlash. This map from the Council on Foreign Relations shows the massive rise in preventable diseases, particularly in the United States. Even worse, the actions of the United States are giving people in other regions of the world proof that vaccines are part of a western plot.

As the Freakonomics story points out, providing additional information to people who don’t believe in vaccines tends to just make them less likely to get vaccinated. If we can’t change the minds of people in this country, can we at least not act in such blatant disregard for public health in other countries?

I encourage you to listen to the whole podcast, or subscribe on iTunes.

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