“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Friday, November 08, 2002


LI was walking up near the University yesterday when we heard our name. It was an old friend. We said, conventionally, how are you doing, and our friend said well, what did you think?
The news had depressed her utterly, she said.
We said, yeah, it sucked.
What are we going to do, she said? I want to move out of the country!
Well, we said, we don't feel that strongly about it. But we are pretty blue all the same. Damn blue.
How about the arctic wildlife refuge, she said.
Uh, we said, just because they are putting Winona in jail shouldn't effect Alaska in particular.
I'm talking about the elections! she said.
Oh, we said.

Yes, LI, with our inverted sense of historical events, was much more impressed by the railroading of Winona Ryder on a trumped up shoplifting charge than by changes in that other factory town, DC.

LI has never found Winona Ryder a fascinating femme de film. But her singling out for this ludicrous circus trial because she looked like she was going to steal items from Sachs Fifth Avenue -- this strikes us as an intolerable injustice. Or rather, it is justice with klieg lights, the justice that comes from lynching a name victim for political effect. And now she faces three years. What did Millikan serve, five? What is Ken Lay going to serve? What is Buddy Ebbers going to serve? Winona's mistake was not to have plundered systematically, with Sachs Fifth stock, rather than purloining a dress and a scarf.

The LA times gives an in-depth, and very industry perspective on the Ryder dust up:

"Actress Winona Ryder may be in for a white-knuckle ride over the next few months, but experts across Hollywood said Wednesday morning's conviction for grand theft and vandalism will not have a long-lasting impact on her career."

Here's the meat of the story:

"Alan Meyer of Sitrick & Co., one of the biggest crisis management firms in the country, said the "injury day" was emblematic of how poorly Ryder's ordeal has been handled from the beginning.

"She was only charged with shoplifting, not felony hit-and-run or child molestation. It should have been a 48-hour story, not a six-month story. Why this wasn't resolved very quickly, I don't understand," Meyer said, adding that the pair of convictions were "a real blow."

"The easiest way out of something like this is to acknowledge you did it and throw yourself on the public's mercy. Show remorse. Be contrite. People love that," he said."

People do love that. The contrition. The talk shows. Barbara. Jay. The recollection, in tranquility, of one's motives in that vague moment. The moment the cops caught one being sucked off in a car. The moment one was found with some crack rock. The moment one drove, drunkenly, in the wrong lane on the Sunset freeway for eleven miles. Those breakdowns, so helpfully glossed by the talk show host, the p.r. guy, the studio head, the compliant Vanity Fair interviewer. The return to grace.

But there are other people -- LI is one of them -- who want our Winona to be defiant. Remember Robert Mitchum. He did his time and implied, at every turn, screw the bastards. So screw Sachs! But W.R. 's Free Winona campaign, and her obvious disdain for the charges, is not going down well in the Industry. The honchos are speaking. The honchos want contrition. They want the image to be, depression, she was out of her mind, the transition between this wierd Beetlejuice girl, this vulnerable punk, the black clothes, and the woman, we've watched her grow up. That is the image. We've watched her, she's part of the family. And so she gets the kleptomania out when she is seventeen. Not thirty one. The honchos want the therapeutic talk ladled on. and this is what they are saying:

"Her publicist, Mara Buxbaum, insists business is booming, but the claim that Ryder was approached this year to star in at least one film could not be independently confirmed.

Buxbaum said Ryder will "definitely not be doing the talk show circuit" after the trial, although the actress probably will sit down at some point for the obligatory tell-all interview."

We were reminded of Zola's Au bonheur des dames, his novel about a Paris department store. If someone is smart -- if LI was smarter -- someone would do the op ed piece, or the column piece, this Sunday in the LA Times, with the potted story of kleptomania. Its origins in the 19th century, the discovery that this, like breast cancer, was a disease of upper class women, and the inference that it must be related to some vice, some decay. All the anger of which upper class women are the recipients from the great mass -- from me, from you -- and the way it forms a warp of unconscious energy, and like all energy sooner or later finds a form. In art, in the novel, in a D.A.'s brief, in a psychologist's treatise.

Au bonheur des dames -- which we can translate, approximately, as What the Ladies Like -- is Zola's novel about a department store. The manager of the store, the insufferable Mouret, has already featured as the boarding house stud in Pot-Bouille -- which outgrosses even contemporary novels. Zola saw that between matter and woman there was a suspicious relationship -- something like love. This has already been castigated in our good old Western tradition -- the horror that accrues to matter as matter was once called idolatry. The idea that a thing possesses a divinity -- the psychological roots of this anxiety aren't explored enough. We are palmed off with stories of human sacrifice, or demons, or whatever -- but didn't Jehovah himself appear in a flame? Actually, a flame, through its de-materializing power, is a brilliant vehicle for a God as schizophrenic about matter as the one in Genesis -- the world is good, but evidently, the genitals of two of his creatures, revealed in all their interesting possibilities by munching on a fruit, are another matter. There's a little pussy and dick in every thing we buy, you know.

So Zola scoped out the buying scene. His klepto is a very proper bourgeois with a name that should remind us of Madame Bovary: Madame de Boves. She has a cowlike presence, and discovering Au bonheur des dames, she is ravished -- raped -- by the material on display -- the silks, the lace, the sheets, the textures, the textiles.

Here's how Zola describes her:

Mme de Boves venait de d�passer la quarantaine. C'�tait une femme superbe, � encolure de d�esse, avec une grande face r�guli�re et de larges yeux dormants, que son mari, inspecteur g�n�ral des haras, avait �pous�e pour sa beaut�.

(Madame de Bove had just passed forty. This was a superb woman, with the mane of a goddess, a large face with regular features, and large sleepy eyes, whose husband, a general inspector of horse stables, had married her for her beauty.)

Zola was nothing if not a gross painter of signs. Boves is close to bovine. Her husband is an inspector of haras -- the stables in which horses are kept. The large sleepy eyes -- the eyes of a cow -- seal the deal: this is one of Zola's animal-people.

She can be aroused, of course. But unlike Nana, she is not a woman of mouth and ass, a woman who, superbly, leaves an odor. Rather, to come out of her animal entrancement, she needs things. It is the store that excites her. It is the department store that eventually leads to her doom. At the end of the book, she is shopping with her daughter. As a clerk goes to take apart a packet of lace, Mme de Boves's daughter turns to speak to her:

Mme de Boves ne r�pondait pas. Alors, la fille, en tournant sa face molle, vit sa m�re, les mains au milieu des dentelles, en train de faire dispara�tre, dans la manche de son manteau, des volants de point d'Alen�on. Elle ne parut pas surprise, elle s'avan�ait pour la cacher d'un mouvement instinctif, lorsque Jouve, brusquement, se dressa entre elles. Il se penchait, il murmurait � l'oreille de la comtesse, d'une voix polie:
- Madame, veuillez me suivre.

(Madame de Boves didn't reply. It was thus that her daughter, in turning her soft face, saw her mother, her hands in the middle of the laces, engaged in making them disappear into the sleave of her coat, this Alencon pattern. She didn't appear surprised, she went forward, instinctively, to hide her mother, when Jouve, brusquely, stood before them. He leaned forward and whispered politely in the ear of the countess: 'Madame, if you could please follow me.")

Those Jouves! Just doing their jobs. But there's something dirty in the whole Sachs deal. We hope, when W.R. does the "obligatory tell all interview," that she doesn't grovel. She was the victim of a put up job, and she should imply that at every turn. And damn the honchos.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002


The Election.

LI, of course, hoped that the Republicans would not triumph at the polls. At the same time, LI did not much feel like voting himself. I did. I even voted for Democrats. But I did it with a rotten feeling inside, as though I�d compromised myself. In Texas, the two big dem candidates, Kirk and Sanchez, were nearly unbearable. Kirk ran at times to the right of his opponent, and spent much time attaching himself to Bush � a sort of disavowed, mutant twin to the Commander in Chief. I actually wanted to vote against Bush. I wanted, in other words, a second party to vote for.

Perhaps that is not going to happen in my life time. LI read, on the TAP Blog, a nasty little item about how the election might hinge on the guilty conscience of those who voted for Nader. This is just the kind of DC talk that makes one think of what Napoleon said of the monarchists: they have forgotten nothing, and learned nothing. Or was it Tallyrand? In any case, while Republicans do, indeed, stand for things, the very awful Democratic party got a deserved drubbing for standing for nothing.

To stand for something means that you lose for something. This, of course, seems to elude the thinking of the governing classes. The governing classes, in fact, are convinced, and have been since the seventies, that you have to slip civilization past the yahoos. That is Democratic political thought in a nutshell. The goal of a party should be to generate a set of principles of some sort, so that you can generally predict how the party will act. The goal of the Democratic party, however, has been the opposite, at least for the last twenty five years. Instead, they have pursued the image of the majority. In the pursuit, they have lost their minds. Or rather, among the Democrats, the head long ago seceded from the body. It is a party that expects its grassroots partisans to work ardently for it during election years, so it can betray those partisans the rest of the time. What grassroot Democrat wanted Tom Daschle to roll over for Bush about Iraq? To do that, and then to expect people like Limited Inc to vote for this kind of thing, is rather like inviting one into an abusive marriage, in which years of being beaten up are supposed to be compensated for by flowers on the birthdays. After a while, you drift away. You divorce.

LI thinks that the Democrats have addicted themselves to a delusion that there is a majority. There isn�t. To take positions on an array of existential topics -- and then to figure out how to persuade others to support those positions � that is all there really is to politics. In particular, if your positions are strongly inflected by your sense of justice, the pursuit of the image of the majority is fatal. The leftist party of the future should pursue, instead, its own singularity. When Paul Wellstone paraphrased Barry Goldwater�s campaign autobiography title (The Conscience of a Conservative) for his own campaign autobiography (The Conscience of a Liberal), he was acting on this insight. The whole history of the Democratic Party, however, works against the idea of singularity. The accidental identification of progressive politics and Democrats comes out of the melding together of lefty forces and the Democrats urban and rural patchwork politics under Wilson. As late as 1928, the black vote � or that bit of it allowed through the iron bars of American apartheid � was strongly Republican. The Democrats have always had the managerial, urban view � the view of compromised labor leaders and school teachers � that the important thing is to form a committee and make resolutions. The important thing, that is, is to act in a minor way. To create a little program here, to purvey pills to the elderly. To create a little program there. The incremental mindset is wholly unprepared for the charismatic act � the politics of the acte gratuit. That Bush is not a charismatic man doesn�t matter � he understands, instinctively, the charismatic nature of the times. To oppose him � for let�s be clear, the man is a disaster � requires understanding that landscape. Requires, that is, understanding how to lose. When you stand for nothing, you lose for nothing. Last night, The Democrats lost for nothing.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002


Mr. H. Pitt

Harvey Pitt just resigned. And LI would like to find the proper funereal words -- a send-off to this lost soul, whose last week was spent investigating himself, much like a Flann O'Brien character in one of the antsier novels.

Pitt should never have been the head of the SEC. He was not just sponsored by Bush, although the media, painting in black and white -- Whistler's colors -- has painted him as a stooge or crony of Bushism. Actually, he is a stooge or crony of the set of interlocking vested interests that briefly got a free ride in the 90s. The Wall Street brokerage houses, elevated bucket shops all; the banks, freed from the Glass Steagall act and acting, in consequence, like the suburban couples in some Updike novel that have just recieved news of the 'sexual revolution' -- i.e., fucking everyone; and the NY establishment, represented by the ever unbearable Democrat, Senator Schumer. Pitt started out as he was programmed to: the plan was to subvert regulation, as the plan had been since the glorious eighties. Alas, he ran into the brick wall of corporate malfeasance, and had to go against his character and present himself as an advocate for stricter regulation and concentrated enforcement. Pitt's conservative allies put up a fight for the man all through the summer. That Pitt's inclination was to go easy on the Street, to back the investment banks and the brokerages against their investors, was not a trait that could be changed in a political instant. LI is firmly on the side of greater transparency and more intervention in the banks vs. investors struggle -- but this is a hard issue to color, ideologically. After all, the investors are often what Marx called rentiers, not by and large a group with which LI has a lot of sympathy. In fact, the weird thing is that the Republicans have been complacently cutting the throats of their own constituency -- a tribal habit we thought more appropriate to Dems.

What counts, for us, is that the social composition of investor capital -- where it comes from -- has changed, significantly during the last twenty years. Investors include billionaires like Buffett and Pickens -- investors include all the old LBO guys, the Kerkorians and such. But investors also include the people with 401(k)s. If we have made a sullen and provisional peace with capitalism, it is always with the codicil that the mechanisms of enrichment common to large enterprises be fair. The SEC is a small part of making those mechanisms fair.
Pitt didn't see it that way.
So farewell. No doubt, we will see you again, being grilled by some greasy suit in Congress. Soon.

Monday, November 04, 2002

LAT's Megan K. Stack reports on Arizona killings Sunday. Here's the key graf:

(you will probably have to register at the LA Times -- which is no big deal).

"Eight migrants have been shot dead since March in a desolate patch of rattlesnake holes and scraggly paloverde trees where Interstate 10 rolls west out of Phoenix. Their hands were pulled back and bound with handcuffs, duct tape or the waistband of their own jockey shorts. They were shot at close range, their bodies left to mummify in the sun."

Last week, LI wrote a review, for the Christian Science Monitor, of journalist Charles Bowden's new book about casualties of the surface in the "drug war." We couldn't really say too much about the drug war itself -- because we had too much to say. One can't absolutely overrun a review with one's own ideas. You have to operate homeopathetically...

No such restraints bind me on this site. So let's get into it.

The migrants in Phoenix, the murder rate in Tucson, the border patrols and the shadow patrol of vigilantes -- these are the stray glass bits in the kaleidoscope. You can see an image, and then it is gone. You can see a system, you can see the breakdown of a system, and then it is gone, and it is time to go to work, bury the dead, or track down their names.

But the system is insane. The bodies in Phoenix are connected, by myriad threads, to the bodies in Medillin. Here's the NYT on the latest 'crackdown' in one of Medillin's poor quarters:

"...Colombia's new law-and-order president, �lvaro Uribe, has embarked on a pacification of Comuna 13 that officials say could become a model for other big cities hard hit by a 38-year-old conflict. The operation began on Oct. 16 when 3,000 troops, in what was called the largest urban offensive in Colombia's history, launched an assault that brought Comuna 13 under control in 48 hours.

"Days later, with guerrillas striking back with car bombs here and in Bogot�, the army raided poor neighborhoods in Bogot� and in the nation's third largest city, Cali. Similar raids, searching for guns, explosives and rebels melding into the civilian population, continued here this week with the help of paid informants. The United States-backed army, which is receiving training and intelligence information from American forces, is promising future operations."

The NYT editor tries to fit this into the standard law and order framework, ending the story with the kids playing soccer in the street -- as if they hadn't been doing that during the "bad" period previous to the military incursion. But, like a fly in the soup, or rather like the monster from the Black Lagoon, the system keeps popping up:

"The attack on Comuna 13 has also cast in doubt the state's commitment to fighting paramilitary groups. Most of Medell�n's slums are controlled by the paramilitaries of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, illegal antiguerrilla groups that often work with rogue military commanders."This army operation was not evenhanded," said Nacho Arango of the Popular Institute for Capacitation, a human rights group here. "Everybody says everything is fine. We do not see it that way."

"Indeed, high-ranking paramilitary commanders from two different groups said in interviews that they welcomed the operation. The absence of the rebels could allow the paramilitaries to control drugs, extortion rackets and corrupt politicians in Comuna 13."

What is the idea behind the drug war? Bereft of its ideological disguises, the drug war is an attempt to suppress a market that generates 400 billion dollars world wide. It is an attempt to suppress, theoretically, the whole market -- the producers, middlemen, and consumers.

LI believes that this is an example of New Deal Liberalism gone mad. The premise of liberalism is that the state can successfully regulate the market to achieve a certain set of goals. That is, the inefficiencies that might be associated with regulation are compensated by the greater social good accomplished by the regulation. Although Chicago economists are always bitching about this, there are strong reasons to think that this is, actually, how regulation works -- that is, the compliance of the regulated, while grudging, doesn't require violence on the part of the state because the regulated believe the story of regulation too. Their arguments against this or that regulation aren't that regulation creates inefficiency per se, but that this or that regulation is unfair, or doesn't serve a good purpose. Often there is an indirect reference to the inefficiency argument -- namely, that the costs of regulation are going to be passed along to the customers -- but on the whole, the arguments are couched in terms of liberalism.

That liberalism isn't a matter of the state operating with unilateral coercive power -- contra the Chicago boy toy model of it. A good example of the state using its ultimate power -- that is, to ban a product -- is given in the story of the banning of DDT. The contrast between DDT and cocaine is instructive.

The story of DDT's invention and use is detailed in this fascinating article from Hyle: the journal of the philosophy of chemistry (and have you been keeping up your subscription, camper?) DDT and the Dynamics of Risk Knowledge Production, by Stefan B�schen takes the story from the publicity surrounding DDT during WWII -- when DDT solved a grave military problem in the Pacific and Asian wars by temporarily eliminating the anepheles mosquito, the carrier of malaria -- to its widespread use in agriculture, and the gradual awareness of the risk it posed. That awareness exploded into public view when Rachel Carson (one of LI's heros) published Silent Spring. Rachel Carson is still routinely savaged by right wing publications, for whom she is the devil.

What was wrong? Among the excellencies in Boschen's article is his firm rooting of the problems associated with the bioaccumulation of toxic material in research that paralleled the chemical research of the golden age of medical and agricultural chemicals -- the thirties to the sixties.

"With regard to these insights [into the potential human toxicity of pesticides] the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had to deal with certain regulatory problems, because action was only possible at a moment of proven damage to human well-being (White 1933, p. 623).

The FDA was founded in 1927, when the old Bureau of Chemistry in the USDA was reformed. By this reorganization on the level of Bureaus, the USDA wanted to channel the conflicts of interest between the insecticide industry and farmers lobby on the one hand and the interests of the consumers on the other. The FDA was responsible only for regulations concerning the Pure Food and Drug Act � therefore the spray residue problem was one of the firsts to be solved by the FDA. Paul Dunbar, later vice president of the FDA, wrote: "Soon after it began operations, the Food and Drug Administration became involved in the spray-residue project, an activity which in varying phases claimed major attention throughout the ensuing years. (...) The project was loaded with political dynamite" (Dunbar 1959, p. 128). Therefore, the FDA attracted a lot of public attention in its first years. However, people did not really discuss the spray-residue problem before the beginning of the New Deal.

During this time, the formation of a problem-centered community began. This type of community augmented the �scientific communities� in the context of risk debates by including political and decision-related aspects. Typically, a problem-centered community emerges to analyze the different unexpected side effects arising from the evolution of technology and systems. The debates in these social places are necessary to the development of problem-solving capacities (e.g., to fix thresholds) and are oriented towards certain aims of protection. They are scientific debates that accompany regulation processes. Thus, it is not surprising that the administration frequently instigates important initiatives that are then elaborated in its regulatory units (see B�schen 2000, p. 323). The problem-centered community �Pesticide Regulation� was confronted with a particular conflict of interest between the fruit farmers, their lobby in the Congress, and the USDA on the one hand and the FDA and some physicians on the other. Furthermore, and for the first time in history, there was a great public interest in a scientific and regulatory debate (Jackson 1970, p. 108). Finally, there was a reform of the legislative foundations by the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) in 1938."

LI loves the Latourian beauty of "problem centered community." It expresses, exactly, the sense making mechanism that actually exists in most regulatory situations. What happened with DDT is that it suffered a drastic public relations change. From a miracle product, it became a killer. Carson documented the probable correlation of DDT use with the disappearance of a variegated bird population. From its deleterious effects on the laying of eggs, it wasn't far to go to its deleterious effects on the human body, especially as it persists with extraordinary stubborness in the human body.

"Under these conditions, the balance between the two discourses was adjusted anew. The ecological effects of DDT were now recognized as a serious problem, and new examples became part of the risk research program. Before the ban of DDT, the discourse on potential damage gained strength. At a summer school at MIT in 1970, scientists stated: "We recommend a drastic reduction in the use of DDT as soon as possible and that subsidies be furnished to developing countries to enable them to afford to use nonpersistent but more expensive pesticides as well as other pest control techniques" (SCEP 1970, p. 25; emphasis in the original). However, the more the discourse became politically influential, the more did it focus on selected research topics, with particular emphasis on cancer. Cancer research was widely compatible with many research strategies, like in molecular biology, and cancer was one of the main issues in the political arena. This reduced the problem field �chronic toxicity� in part to the issue of �cancer by pesticides�. That was also an outcome of the political debate after Silent Spring, because the topic was already dominant in Carson�s book (Marco et al. 1987, p. 195). Now the general public gained a significant impact on the definition of problems regarding environmental or health issues."

B�schen thus foregrounds William Ruckleshaus' decision in 1972 to ban DDT.

Now, the ban itself is interesting. Did the ban lead to huge illegal uses of DDT? Did the U.S. have to create a DDT Enforcement agency to fight DDT cartels world wide? In a word, no. The reason is that the problem centered community was firmly sited in the market. The makers of pesticides were not ultimately threatened by the ban because a., it at first included only the U.S., and more importantly, b., there were substitutes for DDT. DDT is an interesting pesticide because it has a rabid fan club. The Wall Street Journal editorial page, as well as conservative groups like the American Council on Health and Science (an organization that is well quoted in right wing journals -- you can spot the ACHS speaker from the frequency of the phrase 'junk science,' which has achieved mystical authority in these venues)
are apt to write things like: the ban on DDT is equivalent to genocide. Seriously. Here's an excerpt from a Fox News transcript:

DDT Ban Is Genocidal

By Steven Milloloy

Fox News
December 1, 2000 DDT Ban Is Genocidal Friday, December 1, 2000 By Steven Milloy As First-World children eagerly anticipate the holiday season, millions of Third-World children are about to be condemned to certain death from malaria by international environmental elitists. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Greenpeace, Physicians for Social Responsibility and 250 other environmental groups will advocate the insecticide DDT be banned at next week's United Nations Environment Program meeting in Johannesburg. The meeting's aim is a treaty banning or restricting so-called persistent organic chemicals. Malaria control experts oppose a DDT ban, arguing that spraying DDT in houses is inexpensive and highly effective in controlling malaria � especially in sub-Saharan Africa where 1 in 20 children die from malaria. Unfortunately, the eco-elites have out-maneuvered and outgunned public health advocates.

Formally, LI's point is not that DDT should or shouldn't be banned. We should, however, make clear that the bizarre conservative crusade for DDT has a tendency to concentrate around phrases like "malaria control experts." That malaria control experts have found better malaria fighting processes goes unreported (nor the fact that more money is spent researching cures for male pattern baldness than for malaria -- one of the epiphenomena of world wealth inequality). Ann Platt McGinn, in an article in this summer's World Watch, (which can't, alas, be accessed on the Net) presents a reasonable case for banning DDT in most cases, although reserving it as a possible pesticide in emergency situations. The Milloloys of the world have no patience for real science, or they would consider the reasons that DDT was abandoned in the late sixties and early seventies outside of the US as the major pesticide in the struggle against malaria carrying mosquitoes. Here is what McGinn says about the first stages of the Global Malaria Eradication Project:

"The malaria eradication strategy was not to kill every single mosquito, but to suppress their populations and shorten the lifespans of any survivors, so that the parasite would not have time to develop within them. If the mosquitoes could be kept down long enough, the parasites would eventually disappear from the human population. In any particular area, the process was expected to take three years-time enough for all infected people either to recover or die. After that, a resurgence of mosquitoes would be merely an annoyance, rather than a threat. And initially, the strategy seemed to be working. It proved especially effective on islands-relatively small areas insulated from reinfestation. Taiwan, Jamaica, and Sardinia were soon declared malaria-free and have remained so to this day. By 1961, arguably the year at which the program had peak momentum, malaria had been eliminated or dramatically reduced in 37 countries."

So why not, on balance, keep using the DDT? Well, the ban in the US happened in 1973. Between 61 and 73, what happened was that DDT produced resistance in the mosquito:

"With the miseries of malaria in full view, the managers of the eradication campaign didn't worry much about the toxicity of DDT, but they were greatly concerned about another aspect of the pesticide's effects: resistance. Continual exposure to an insecticide tends to "breed" insect populations that are at least partially immune to the poison. Resistance to DDT had been reported as early as 1946. The campaign managers knew that in mosquitoes, regular exposure to DDT tended to produce widespread resistance in four to seven years. Since it took three years to clear malaria from a human population, that didn't leave a lot of leeway for the eradication effort. As it turned out, the logistics simply couldn't be made to work in large, heavily infested areas with high human populations, poor housing and roads, and generally minimal infrastructure. In 1969, the campaign was abandoned. Today, DDT resistance is widespread in Anopheles, as is resistance to many more recent pesticides."

That doesn't mean that DDT is completely worthless. What has prompted the recent spate of headlines about the pesticide is that it is a UN treaty, POP, which schedules a worldwide ban on the substance. As McGinn writes, there are much more successful strategies against malaria:

"And yet Africa is not a lost cause-it's simply that the key to progress does not lie in the general suppression of mosquito populations. Instead of spraying, the most promising African programs rely primarily on "bednets"-mosquito netting that is treated with an insecticide, usually a pyrethroid, and that is suspended over a person's bed. Bednets can't eliminate malaria, but they can "deflect" much of the burden. Because Anopheles species generally feed in the evening and at night, a bednet can radically reduce the number of infective bites a person receives. Such a person would probably still be infected from time to time, but would usually be able to lead a normal life.

In effect, therefore, bednets can substantially reduce the disease. Trials in the use of bednets for children have shown a decline in malaria-induced mortality by 25 to 40 percent. Infection levels and the incidence of severe anemia also declined. In Kenya, a recent study has shown that pregnant women who use bednets tend to give birth to healthier babies. In parts of Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Senegal, bednets are becoming standard household items. In the tiny west African nation of The Gambia, somewhere between 50 and 80 percent of the population has bednets."

LI could go on -- we've written about evolutionary medicine before, in the Austin Chronicle. Go to our site on the Auschron in the archives and look up the article, Surreal Science. The point, however, is that POP, unlike the treaties banning narcotics, will do a fair job of eliminating DDT. That is because the market has internal inducements to cooperate. The problem centered community makes sure of that. The makers of DDT, and its users, were not imprisoned, for one thing. That is, the level of regulatory enforcement was elevated above the police. This is crucial -- the police are the regulators of the last resort. They are the most ineffective regulators, for a number of reasons we won't list here.

Second, the makers, dealers and users all had a system of substitutes they could use.
Now, in effect, this is partly true with narcotics. But because the desired physiological effects of these substances are substantially different, the substitutions have never really diverted users. They won't, of course, divert hardcore users at all.

Finally, resistance to the ban was taken seriously. DDTs banning, in other words, achieved critical mass outside the problem centered community. The pro-DDT element in that community was never able to acquire the political power to counter the ban. And that element acceded to that failure -- they had no incentive to start a black market in DDT. While the Steve Milloloys of the world talk of genocide, they don't, of course, mean it -- that is, LI doubts, seriously, that Milloloy is going to finance a covert DDT making factory.

The paradox of the ban on narcotics is that it has created an unregulated market in narcotics. LI thinks this is very interesting, and relevant to the real limits of government power -- which, contrary to libertarian ideology, have no natural scale. That is, small government isn't best -- nor is large government. The scale of governmental power can't be determined beforehand, for simple, devilishly Hayeckian reasons. We will go into that in some future post.