Archive

  • Most Workers Hurt by Trade Don't Lose Their Jobs

    It is understandable that the proponents of the current trade agenda would try to assuage critics by promising to help those who lose their jobs from trade. These are the most obvious and hardest hit victims of this trade policy. However, the vast majority of the victims are those who see their wages fall as a result of the impact of being placed in competition with workers in the developing world who are willing to work for low wages. The impact of trade on the wages of less educated workers, for which the proponents of current trade policies have no agenda (of course the downward pressure on their wages is the point of the trade policy) should be the focus of policy and news reporting, not the chosen topic of the pushers of current U.S. trade policy. --Dean Baker
  • Wages Are Growing Now, They Didn't for Four Years

    USA Today makes the mystery of stagnant wages a bit more mysterious than necessary. In an article today, it asks why wages for most workers have been stagnant even with the unemployment rate at a relatively low 4.5 percent. Well, real wages are actually growing now, at a rate of around 1.0 percent annually. Given the rise in health care costs and some necessary adjustments to get from reported productivity to what I call "usable productivity" (this reflects differences in deflators and the fact that you can't eat depreciation) this is about what we should expect. The story here seems to be that with current labor market conditions (weak unions and pressure from trade), most workers will only be in a position to see rising wages when the labor market has gotten fairly tight. It was not tight in the years 2000-2005, hence no wage gains. That's not very mysterious, but also not very good news for most workers. --Dean Baker
  • OBAMA & DEAN...

    OBAMA & DEAN ON IRAN. Not to run this into the ground, but looking into what various politicians, left and right, have actually said about Iran has proved surprisingly eye-opening, and made me think perhaps we were all being a bit hard on John Edwards by focusing only his comments to Herzliya last week. For example, this Chicago Tribune story from September 2004 reports that Barack Obama , during his run for the U.S. Senate, laid out that he thought a missile strike on Iran would be needed to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons. From "Obama Would Consider Missle Strikes on Iran" : U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama suggested Friday that the United States one day might have to launch surgical missile strikes into Iran and Pakistan to keep extremists from getting control of nuclear bombs.... Obama said the United States must first address Iran's attempt to gain nuclear capabilities by going before the United Nations Security Council and lobbying the international community to...
  • LIBBY CLOSE. Scooter...

    LIBBY CLOSE. Scooter Libby 's defense has announced that they're not calling Dick Cheney as a witness after all, and confirmed that Libby won't be testifying. In fact, they're going to call a few CIA briefers to testify to the important matters Libby was briefed on, enter a few documents, and rest their case. Closing arguments are apparently going to happen next Tuesday, though there are some outstanding issues that may delay that. I'll let the lawyers assess whether Libby's surprisingly brief defense means that his team feels confident about their prospects. I will say this: my lawyer friends tell me it's a big no-no to make a claim in the opening that you don't go on to substantiate, and as far as I can tell the defense has offered no evidence, beyond one note from Vice President Cheney and an attempt to elicit testimony from Robert Novak to the effect that Karl Rove was a key political figure, for its opening claim that in the fall of 2003 Libby was acting not to save his job but...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: STILL CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: STILL CRAZY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS. This week, Matt contemplates the insanity and sheer incoherence of the Bush administration's "moderate"/"extremist" realignment strategy in the Mid-East. [ Warning: This column is rated PG:13. ] --The Editors
  • INSIDER TRADING IN STUDENT LOAN INDUSTRY:

    INSIDER TRADING IN STUDENT LOAN INDUSTRY: As recently reported, President Bush 's budget will cut wasteful subsidies to student loan corporations and redirect the funding to Pell Grants. Finally Bush has done something progressives can cheer, though experts think he could have gone farther. Meanwhile, Albert L. Lord , chairman of Sallie Mae, sold 400,000 shares of the company's stock the week before the budget was announced. What a lucky coincidence! Now that Democrats control Congress and can actually investigate these kinds of mysterious shenanigans, it may be harder to get away with suspicious trading. And sure enough, leaders in Congress are investigating whether Lord benefited from an illegal stock tip from somewhere inside the Bush White House. Sure, this may pale next to the myriad unethical and possibly illegal actions administration officials took in the run-up to the Iraq war, from misleading Congress and the public to allegedly disclosing the identity of an undercover CIA...
  • MITT ON IRAN....

    MITT ON IRAN. And here is Mitt Romney on how to handle Iran , in remarks at the Herzliya conference in Israel, where he was the only one of the five American presidential contenders to deliver his speech in person: First, we must continue tighten economic sanctions. Our model should be at least as severe to the sanctions imposed on Apartheid South Africa. We should demand no less from the international community today ... Second, we must impose diplomatic isolation of Iran's Government. Ahmadinejad should not be provided the trappings, respect, and recognition of a responsible head of state as he travels....He should neither be invited to foreign capitals nor feted by foreign leaders.... Diplomatic isolation should also include an indictment of Ahmadinejad for incitement to genocide under the Genocide Convention. The United States should lead this effort... Third, Arab states must join this effort to prevent a nuclear Iran. These states can do much more than wring their hands and urge...
  • HEROES. Via...

    HEROES. Via Kevin comes this data point on the increasing representation of torture as a tool of heroes. From 1996 to 2001, prime time television had 102 torture scenes. From 2002 to 2005, there were 624. But it wasn't only the quantity that change. "During this uptick in violence, the torturer's identity was more likely to be an American hero like "24's" Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland ) than the Nazis and drug dealers in pre-9/11 days." A competent analyst of culture could probably wring a three-book deal from the datum, but let me just say this: There's been an unsettling change in not only what heroes do, but what makes a hero at all. Any comic book reader knows that what separates heroes from evildoers is their unwillingness to kill, torture, or even personally punish the guilty. Restraint , in and of itself, is a heroic attribute. DC's Identity Crisis series spends quite a bit of time on that question, as it comes out that a few caped crusaders have spent decades covering up the...
  • WHAT REAL HAWKISHNESS...

    WHAT REAL HAWKISHNESS LOOKS LIKE. Lest everyone get so entangled in parsing the statements of Democrats that they forget the country contains a lot of people to the right of Iowa caucus-goers, here's what a real Iran hawk sounds like. Here's John McCain on Meet the Press in 2004 : SEN. McCAIN: [T]his is a harsh comment, but at the end of the day, it's the United States of America that may have to act if we act, but I hope that we can dissuade them through other means. Well, of course, the first attempt would be to get the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions. So we'll see, but it's a very great challenge.... MR. RUSSERT: What's our timetable? How much time do we have for Iran to stand down? SEN. McCAIN: I don't know. I would think we're talking about a matter of months rather than years. Note the complete absence of any call for negotiations, and the suggestion that a military confrontation would be necessary some time in 2005. Or look at his statements on Face the...
  • POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: STATUS ANXIETY.

    POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: STATUS ANXIETY. Olivia Starr reports from Kosovo on the recently unveiled plan providing a framework for the area's future status. --The Editors

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