I finally moved a entire site, domain name and all, over to the new server. AnimalRights.Net should now point to the new server, though your mileage may vary. At my house I can call it up fine through my ISP, but when I walk a mile and a half to work, their DNS server still points to the old site. Might take another 48 hours for it to switch over everywhere.
of Rich and Poor: Why WeÂ’re Better Off Than We Think
By W. Michael Cox and Richard Alm
Amazon.Com Price: $17.50
EveryoneÂ’s heard the glum rhetoric:
the U.S. economy is no longer as competitive as it used to be.
Young adults today will never achieve the standard of living their parents
enjoyed. Large numbers of people are doomed to work at low-paying McJobs
Economist W. Michael Cox and journalist
Richard Alm have a reply to such notions: hogwash! Their book, Myths
of Rich and Poor, presents a detailed look at economic trends over
the past 25 years that demonstrates Americans are living better than ever.
How can this possibly be when
everybody knows that wages have been stagnant since the 1970s and the
government reports that more than 13 percent of Americans continue to
live in poverty? Alm and Cox argue persuasively that the mediaÂ’s obsession
on what Americans earn is misplaced; instead they argue the real
focus should be no what Americans consume.
Consumption figures clearly show
an America with increasing prosperity. In the third quarter of 1997, for
example, a record 66 percent of American families owned their own homes.
Forty-one percent of poor families owned their own homes. Per capita
ownership of everything from large appliances to books is on the rise,
in large part because the amount of time people must spend working to
buy goods and services keeps declining.
The discrepancy between wages,
which are down, and consumption, which is up, is caused by the ways in
which wages are measured. First, government measures miss a lot of the
money people earn from benefits, income transfer payments and other sources.
Alm and Cox note that while wages are down, per capita personal income
has risen 1.6 percent annually since 1974.
Second, the governmentsÂ’ official
measure of inflation, the Consumer Price Index, overestimates the extent
of inflation by as much as 1 percent. Once adjusted for this effect, the
decline in wages actually disappears and results in a real wage increase
of 12 percent since 1978.
Alm and Cox also dispense with
the horror stories of growing income inequality. Citing a long-running
study of 50,000 Americans by researchers at the University of Michigan,
Alm and Cox note that few people stay in the bottom-fifth of income levels
for long. Of the people in the University of Michigan study who were in
the bottom fifth of income earners in 1975, only 5 percent were still
there in 1991. As Alm and Cox put it, “Â…[the] data suggest that low
income is largely a transition experience for those willing to work, a
place Americans may visit but rarely stay.” Many of those in the
bottom fifth are young people beginning their career or older Americans
who may have large asset holdings but relatively low income.
The real message of Myths of
Rich and Poor, however, is the role that the free market plays in
promoting technological change and invention that improve the living standards
of all Americans. In a chapter appropriately titled “New and Improved,”
they note consumers today can buy many products that didnÂ’t even exist
in the early 1970s, and the 1990s versions of 1970s products are usually
much cheaper and of much higher quality. TodayÂ’s 19-inch color television
is not only much cheaper but also of vastly superior quality than one
consumers could buy in the early 1970s. Bulky calculators that cost $120
in 1972 have been replaced by wafer thin models costing $10 and less.
The improvement in performance and price of computers since 1970 has been
one of the most extraordinary economic events of this century.
Alm and Cox characterize this constant
innovation and improvement as “churn.” But economic churn has
its downside and its detractors Â– for every improvement in process or
products, some special interest group pleads to be protected from superior
products. Detroit whined about Japanese cars in the 1980s. U.S. high-tech
industry complained about cheap memory chips from Asia. Today big steel
companies complain they are undercut by smaller domestic firms and large
foreign companies. And the cry is always the same Â– pass protectionist
legislation to save American jobs and firms.
Alm and Cox remind us that adopting
such regulatory regimens would have meant stifling past innovations that
we now take for granted, and adopting them today would mean stifling future
innovations that today we can only begin to imagine. The constant churning
of the economy has created levels of wealth unimaginable at the beginning
of this century Â– today most of those in the bottom fifth of wage earners
enjoy higher consumption levels than did their middle class counterparts
only a couple generations ago.
This point is made clear in Alm
and CoxÂ’s comparison of European economic performance with that of the
United States. Critics of the United States point to wages which are higher
in some European countries such as Germany than in the United States.
But as Alm and Cox point out, consumption figures show U.S. consumers
consume significantly more than their European counterparts Â– the United
States continues to lead the world in per capita ownership of everything
from dishwashers to televisions to VCRs to personal computers. How can
Americans earn less but consume more? The answer is that the wage figures
arenÂ’t very helpful since they donÂ’t take into account the cost of living.
After adjusting for this, it turns out the United States leads the world
in per capita income by a wide margin — $28,338 compared to JapanÂ’s $23,667
and GermanyÂ’s $21,594 per capita personal income.
But the picture is even worse for
Europe since job creation has stagnated there since 1980. From 1980-1996,
for example, the United States added more than 27 million jobs. In the
same period, Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom managed to
add only 3.4 million jobs (and almost half of those were in the United
Kingdom which privatized many of its governmental functions during the
1980s). The massive regulatory apparatus in places like France and Italy
not only lower European standards of living but also hinder job creation
primarily by hindering innovation.
Myths of Rich and Poor covers
an impressive array of issues, most of which canÂ’t be touched on in this
review, and is required reading for anyone trying to understand the economic
trends of the last 25 years.
I am not easily impressed by every new technology that comes along, but Conversant — the software I’m using to manage my web sites now — blew me away. You can
sign up for a free Conversant site at Free-Conversant (which, unlike a lot of other free hosting sites, does not frame ads over your
It took me about two weeks of using Free-Conversant to decide I had to move
all of my sites over to this system. There are many, many things I could say
about this system, but the bottom line always comes down to this: it makes updating
and maintaining a web site almost effortless which, in the long run, translates
into a better site and more revenue.
And, from my point of view, they are practically giving the software away.
This site is on a dedicated server which cost me $300 for set-up fees and a
$250 per month fee. I had been looking at just a plain old regular server to
dump my static site onto, and Rackspace charges that much just for the server without any content management
system. The cost for basic domain hosting — essentially 150 mb of server space
using your domain name — is also dirt cheap at $75 for setup and $35/month.
Conversant is one of the few technologies I have seen that I have not been
able to break. Most technological solutions to problems that actually reach
the marketplace do reasonably well at solving the core problem they were designed
for. Where technology usually breaks down is when the user decides to do something
that the designers had not anticipated. So far, there is very little that I’ve
found you cannot do in Conversant and every time I bring something up that I
cannot seem to do, it usually appears as a new feature very quickly.
Which brings me to the final reason why I chose Conversant — the folks at
Macrobyte who put it together. Not only
are the people who program the software available for tech support, but they
use the software themselves and seem to have an excellent understanding of the
challenges facing harried webmasters. A lot of the tools I buy and use regularly
often work, but in order to really exploit their power you have to start thinking
like a software engineer rather than a web master. Conversant, however, is extremely
intuitive and as such removes a lot of the boring, task-oriented chores that
a lot of web tools make you go through.
It boggles my mind when I hear people saying that the Internet is becoming increasingly corporatized or that only large enterprises can succeed on the Internet. Personally, I think large enterprises will always have a place on the Internet, but the playing field is as level in cyberspace as it probably can be. (I have a strong suspicion that many of the people who make this claim don’t spend too much time actually surfing a large number of sites, so they aren’t clued in to just how wide open things are on the Web).
The major reason I moved to a dedicated server solution was that my sites were becoming victims of their own success. I started my first web site in 1996 thinking I’d create a web newspaper that would compete with the print newspaper at the university where I was a student. That flopped — Internet access wasn’t ubiquitous enough at that time — but one thing led to another and four years later I’m amazed at the number of people I reach.
The short version is that in 1997, the first full year these sites were on the web, people accessed about 171,000 pages on my site. For 2000, we’ll probably serve up about 4 million pages, and at the current rate of growth (which will continue to increase, if anything), we’ll hit the 1 million pages views per month level in a year or two and my site revenues will double my current salary (I’m never going to get rich doing this, but the site already more than pays for itself and helps to pay the rent). Not bad for someone working in his spare time.
The really cool thing, however, is the people I’ve met online. I’ve provided reporters with background information on topics, helped countless students with research projects, and established active friendships with many of the experts and nationally known figures in my areas of interest — most of whom I would never have talked to without the web.
In addition to the FBI’s investigation
of ALF as a terrorist organization from 1988 through 1990, and the ultimate
enactment of the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, federal authorities
have responded to animal rights extremism by launching a number of grand
jury investigations of major incidents. Some of these currently are ongoing,
including inquiries into the following incidents:
- June 1991 break-in and firebombing of mink farm facility at Oregon
State University. The facility damaged by fire was used for storing
feed and equipment. ALF claimed responsibility.
- June 1991 destruction by fire of the Northwest Farm Food Cooperative
facility in Edmonds, Washington. The cooperative supplied animal feed
and bedding to northwest fur farms. ALF claimed responsibility.
- October 1992 break-in, release of animals, and arson at Utah State
University. The target was a USDA-sponsored predator ecology project
in which coyotes were maintained for experimentation. [19: Many of the
university-based research projects victimized over the years have been
funded-either partially or in full-by government agencies such as the
U.S. Department of Agriculture or the National Institutes of Health.]
ALF claimed responsibility.
- On July 16, 1993, a federal grand jury in Grand Rapids, Michigan returned
a five count indictment against Rodney Coronado-a suspected ALF member-in
connection with the February 1992 break-in, vandalism, and arson at
Michigan State University. [20: Rodney Coronado, who also is wanted
in Canada on charges relating to the vandalism of fur retailers, is
still at large.] The indictment includes charges of arson, destruction
of government property, theft, and the use of an explosive. The targeted
project involved fertility research using minks for experimentation.
ALF claimed responsibility for the incident.
Since the appearance of illegal
activity relating to the cause of animal rights, only nine persons have
been convicted in connection with a specific incident. Only one person-Fran
Trutt-was convicted on federal charges (see footnote number 27 below),
and only one person – Roger Troen-has been convicted of involvement in
an incident claimed by ALF. [21: In January 1988, Roger Troen was convicted
in an Oregon county circuit court on charges of first-degree theft and
second-degree burglary relating to his involvement in an October 1986
break-in and theft at the University of Oregon in Eugene.] To date, no
one has been charged under the Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992.
Since 1988, 32 states have
enacted laws aimed at protecting-animal enterprises from animal rights-inspired
violence and destruction. They are, by year of enactment, as follows:
As of June 1993,
similar legislation was being considered by legislatures in New Jersey,
Alabama, and New Hampshire.
Is animal rights “too
good an idea for the next century to be suppressed,” as Paul McCartney
claims? Only if people no longer want access to lifesaving medical treatments.
McCartney and his wife, Linda,
campaigned for years against the use of animals in medical experiments.
As spokespersons for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the
McCartneys parroted that organizations claims that animal
experiments dont lead to reliable treatments for human diseases.
When Linda McCartney was diagnosed
with breast cancer, however, she received chemotherapy a treatment
tested extensively in animals before ever being used in human beings.
This might lead some to accuse
Paul and Linda McCartney of being hypocrites, but after Lindas death,
Paul offered what he thought was a reasonable explanation of the seeming
contradiction. He claimed neither he nor Linda knew that the drugs she
was taking had been tested in animals, which in itself is an amazing admission.
In the United States all
drugs must be tested in animals before being tested on human beings. That
the McCartneys could campaign against animal experimentation without being
aware of the fundamental role that animal experiments play in the drug
development and approval process is typical of animal rights activists
who are often ignorant of even basic scientific and medical concepts.
On the other hand, some animal
rights activists do understand the importance of animal experiments but
just dont care. Consider another celebrity activist, Linda Blair.
Asked about actor Christopher Reeve, paralyzed after a 1995 horse riding
accident, Blair blamed Reeve for the accident and said she hoped a cure
could be found for his paralysis “but not at the expense of innocent
Reeves wife, Dana,
replied to Blair saying, “It’s too hard to watch 6-year-old children
with spinal cord injuries and say, ‘No, don’t do a medical experiment
on a rat'” Animal rights activists, however, are committed to doing
PETA president Ingrid Newkirk
once summed up this callous view by telling a reporter that even if animal
experimentation could find a cure for AIDS, “wed be against
it.” Without animal research, life saving treatments and vaccines
for everything from diabetes to polio would not exist.
Most Americans support and
benefit from medical research involving animals, however, so animal rights
activists choose to direct much of their activism at banning hunting and
the sale of furs.
As the number of hunters
nationwide has declined over the past few decades, animal rights activists
have made inroads convincing non-hunters to ban or curtail hunting. Similarly,
since the market for fur products is largely among wealthier Americans,
activists have been able to gain a lot of sympathy for their cause.
But the animal rights agenda
goes far beyond those narrow issues. Animal rights groups such as PETA
want a nationwide ban on fishing, for example, and an end to all meat
eating, which they consider cruel. Opposing hunting is just a way to get
a foot in the door.
Similarly, though animal
rights activists concentrate on fur, they are committed to ridding the
world of leather and other common products, such as down-filled jackets,
that are made from animals.
PETA is so committed to the
rights of animals that it even advocates an end to keeping dogs and cats
as pets. As a PETA fact sheet puts it, it is “important to stop manufacturing
pets, thereby perpetuating a class of animals forced to rely
on humans to survive.” PETA would prefer to see all breeding of pets
stopped so domestic animal species could gradually go extinct.
This is what Paul McCartney
thinks is “too good an idea for the next century to be suppressed”?
If blocking medical progress and eliminating pets is his best idea, McCartney
should stick to trying to revive his music career.