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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 21, 2006 / 21 Adar, 5766

Congress is trying to give the world a globotomy

By Niall Ferguson


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Think of the world as a human head.


If that makes your own head hurt, then perhaps a little nostalgia on my part may help. When I was a boy, I was an avid reader of a weekly comic called "The Beezer." My favorite cartoon strip was "The Numskulls."


Most of the action in "The Numskulls" took place within a human head operated by a small team of homunculi. Blinky controlled his eyes; Brainy controlled his brain; Cruncher, his mouth; Luggy, his ears; and Snitch, his nose.


The setting being 1970s Britain, the five Numskulls did their jobs with all the energy and efficiency we then associated with unionized employees in a nationalized public utility. There was chronic absenteeism, slacking and a total absence of cooperative teamwork. As a result, Our Man — as the owner of the head was invariably known — suffered humiliating mishaps on a weekly basis.


Now translate this metaphor into our own times. Think, as I said, of the entire world as a human head populated and run by Numskulls. There are many more of them than there were in "The Beezer." Indeed, the head has never been more crowded.


Yet compared with his British counterpart in the '70s, this global version of Our Man is amazingly well run.


Cooperation among the different faculties has never been so smooth. The Numskulls who operate the brain are busily exchanging ideas. Those whose job it is to send sensory information to the brain are working even harder. Above all, Cruncher is setting records for productivity. For this global head is consuming resources insatiably. Our Man was a relatively thin chap. But the body underneath this global head must be truly huge. This is not a bad metaphor for globalization — that remarkable process of international integration that policy wonks and finance geeks love to discuss.


Globalization is good. That is to say that by knitting together global markets for goods, capital, labor and knowledge, we have significantly raised the material standard of living for a majority of the world's population. Globalization also has reduced inflation and long-term interest rates. And, just as important, it has reduced volatility, so that the world economy seems to suffer fewer painful recessions.


Now let's ask what could go wrong. After all, globalization Part I fell apart disastrously in the mid-20th century. The Numskulls fell to fighting among themselves. They ceased to cooperate. Ideological fevers like fascism infected the global brain. Then, after 1945, the world was afflicted by a split personality, as one "lobe" went communist while the other stayed capitalist.


Could globalization break down again? History suggests it faces two kinds of threat: the natural and the man-made.


The most obvious natural threat is that the world could be swept by a pandemic. True, the World Health Organization has thus far confirmed only 176 cases of avian flu in humans. But more than half of those people died. And the virus has been spreading rapidly from East Asia as far as Western Europe. A small genetic mutation could greatly facilitate its transmission from birds to humans and among humans.


To understand just what could happen, consider the effect of the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918-19, which killed about 40 million people worldwide, including one in every 100 American males between the ages of 25 and 34. A pandemic of comparable magnitude would kill globalization, not least because of the panic it would unleash.


Yet it is just as possible that we might wreck globalization ourselves. After all, the end of the first age of globalization predated the flu pandemic by some years. The outbreak of World War I in 1914 led to an immediate breakdown in international trade. Even before that, a backlash against free trade and migration had already begun as states moved to raise tariffs or restrict immigration — trends that reached their disastrous nadir in the 1930s.


Call it a globotomy. For it was deliberate action by the Numskulls themselves that severed the world's neural pathways.


Today, the Numskulls doing the most to lobotomize the global mind are to be found (not for the first time in history) in Congress. Earlier this month, senators effectively blocked a company based in the United Arab Emirates from acquiring facilities in American ports on the ground that its employees might help Islamist terrorists. Not content with this insult to foreign investors, the same body last week came within a hair's breadth of defaulting on the federal debt, voting by just four votes to increase the debt ceiling. Given that about half of that debt is held abroad, this was playing with financial fire.


Never in the history of the world economy has one advanced economy been as reliant on inflows of foreign capital as the United States is today. It's that international overdraft that allows Our Man to keep sucking in and consuming foreign goodies. Unfortunately, the Numskulls in Congress seem more worried about impending midterm elections than the global economy.


Yes, globalization is good, but that doesn't make it irreversible. My fear is that if the flu doesn't get Our Man, the political Numskulls will.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


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Niall Ferguson is a professor of history at Harvard University. He is the author of "Empire" (Basic Books, 2003) and "Colossus" (Penguin, 2004). Comment by clicking here.

03/14/06: Lame ducks can still bite back
03/07/06: A 19th Century critique of a 21st Century president
02/28/06: The crash of civilizations
02/21/06: Not the president, but close
02/14/06: Want historic trouble? Look south
02/07/06: Greenspan advising Britain? It's housing bubbles, deficits and potential meltdowns all over again
01/31/06: Missing the Cold War
01/24/06: It's a sick, Thick World
01/17/06: Tomorrow's world war today
01/03/06: Scotland, it's over, but keep the accents
12/20/05: History, democracy and Iraq
12/20/05: History, democracy and Iraq
11/22/05: Ghost of Napoleon haunts Tony Blair
11/22/05: Can it happen in Britain too?
11/15/05: Red plus blue equals purple
11/10/05: The fires of disintegration
11/01/05: Triumph of an über-wonk

© 2006, Los Angeles Times Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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