Archive

  • HACKER ATTACKS.

    HACKER ATTACKS. CNN: Hackers attacked the computer network at the Naval War College in Newport, taking down the school's network for more than two weeks, including some e-mail services and the college's Web site. The Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command in Norfolk, Virginia, detected the intrusion around November 16 and took the system offline, spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Doug Gabos said. He said the unclassified network was used by students. Military spokesmen would not give an estimate on when the school's Web site, www.nwc.navy.mil , will be back up... Gabos would not comment on who is suspected of attacking the network. Who is responsible? DoD, the Commerce Department, the Army , and the state of Kentucky (believe it or not) have all suffered extensive attacks by Chinese hackers in the last couple years. There's some unwillingness to directly blame the Chinese government, but most associated seem to believe that the attacks are at least tacitly supported by Beijing. The choice of target...
  • Growth: Europe vs. the U.S., Who's Counting?

    The WSJ has an article today reporting on how Europe appears to be outpacing the U.S. in economic growth at present. Most of the article is devoted to the positive aspects of the European economy, but at the very end the article reports the standard line about the need for deregulating the European economy. It tells readers that the U.S. economy has an underlying growth rate of approximately 3 percent, while the underlying growth rate in Europe is just 2 percent. Well some readers may have noticed that this gap also corresponds to the difference in population and potential labor force growth (@ 1 percent in the U.S. and 0 in Europe). This means that the underlying rate of per capita GDP growth in the two regions in approximately the same. Economists usually look to per capita GDP as most basic measure of economic well-being, not simply GDP. --Dean Baker
  • The Clinton-McCain Dream Panel? How About the Post Printing a Dissenting Voice on Social Security?

    The Jihad continues just blocks from the White House. The Washington Post has yet another column calling for fixing the incredibly solvent (by U.S. standards) Social Security system. There will be a day where real numbers, actual projections from the Congressional Budget Office in some real world context, will appear in the Washington Post. And then, Washington Post readers will realize that the paper's editors, coumnists, and reporters had been misleading them all these years into believing that Social Security was in a crisis. Okay, I'll stop dreaming. --Dean Baker
  • The Housing Crash Continues

    David Leonhardt uses his column to point out that house prices are declining far more than the standard indices show. He misses my two favorite reasons. First, sellers often throw in many extras to make a sale now (e.g. help on closing costs, paying for repairs, paying condo fees for a year etc.). Sellers had no reason to make such concessions a year ago. These concessions will not appear in the indices which are based only on sales price. The other big problem is that the OFHEO House Price Index (HPI) only includes mortgages that are small enough to qualify for the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage pools. These are capped at around $360,000, which is a 90 percent mortgage on a $400,000 home. In some of the most overheated markets, this cap puts you below the median home price. That means that much of the action in places like Boston, New York, Washington, and San Francisco will be completely missed by the HPI. It is likely that the price run-up was larger in the higher end homes...
  • WHAT'S RICH? ...

    WHAT'S RICH? It's often easy to forget how unequal the world really is. The richest 10% of adults own more than 85% of all worldwide wealth. And how much do you need to hold to qualify for that global top 10%? $61,000. --Ezra Klein
  • THE FIRST FEMINISTS

    THE FIRST FEMINISTS . You think modern feminists have to put up with the "hairy-legged man-hater" stereotype too often? Just imagine what it must have been like for these ladies . New research says neanderthals died out because their womenfolk didn't want to stay home and take care of the babies -- they wanted to join in the hunt. That's right. Their quest for equality is being blamed for the downfall of the entire species. In other words, the neanderfeminists are STILL facing the backlash , a hundred thousand years later. Doesn't bode well for the rest of us, does it? --Ann Friedman
  • BEING CONSTRUCTIVE. ...

    BEING CONSTRUCTIVE. On this whole Liberaltarianism thing, Julian Sanchez has a fair riposte : "Fine, pretend for a moment you aren't convinced this is a doomed idea and make a counteroffer. We want a system in which people are encouraged to rely more on individual saving and investment. Is there any distance you're willing to go down that road?" It's a good question. I'm all for opt-out 401(k)s and asset building plans, if that's what Julian's wondering about, but I've a feeling the road extends quite a bit farther. Problem is, part of what makes me a liberal is a belief in the power of collective action. I think a universal, government-run health care system would be far superior to any devolved, individualized alternative. I think we need countervailing powers in the economy. I think the common good is distinct from the macro growth numbers and needs to be enforced. As the saying goes, we live in a society, not an economy. But let's try some compromises: Within the context of a...
  • BAR THE GATES....

    BAR THE GATES . The more I refresh my memory about defense secretary nominee and former CIA Director Robert M. Gates , the more convinced I am that no senator on the Armed Services Committee, before which Gates appears today, who votes to move this nomination to the Senate floor will honestly be able to say that he or she has supported a man worthy of the job. In their rush to fill the Pentagon's top spot with anybody but Rumsfeld , the committee appears poised to replace an arrogant, loud-mouthed crank with a craftier player of the same philosophical bent. Like his prospective colleagues in the W adminstration, Gates has a reputation for bending intelligence to suit the political goals of his bosses, as he did during his stint as deputy to William Casey , who served as director of Central Intelligence in the Reagan administration. Lending support for the rationale that led to the unconstititutional arms-for-hostages deal known as Iran-Contra , Gates advanced faulty intelligence that...
  • OPIUM.

    OPIUM. Josh Meyer has a good article in the LA Times about resource battles between the Pentagon and the DEA over opium. I suppose that I'm of two minds on using military assets for opium eradication in Afghanistan. On the one hand, it's clear that the Taliban is using the opium industry to fund its resurgence, so the traffic is a military problem. On the other, the idea of U.S. forces diverting time and resources to supporting DEA anti-opium operations seems like a hell of a waste, especially since I suspect that, while the DEA has chosen to talk up its eradication efforts as being part of the counter-insurgency campaign, that it's really interested in the destruction of the trade for its own sake. As a policy problem on its own merits, I could really care less about Afghan poppies and the effect that their destruction has on the price of heroin in Seattle or Amsterdam. Obviously, poppy destruction also has a negative political effect, since many Afghans rely on production for their...
  • LIBERALTARIANS. The...

    LIBERALTARIANS. The blogosphere is abuzz today with discussion over Brink Lindsey 's call for a grand alliance between Libertarians and Liberals. This is the sort of thing I always want to believe in, but can never actually imagine happening. Part of that is because Lindsey has a very specific vision of what liberals should -- or do -- care about. His actual proposal advocates "A refashioned liberalism that incorporated key libertarian concerns and insights could make possible a truly progressive politics once again -- not progressive in the sense of hewing to a particular set of preexisting left-wing commitments, but rather in the sense of attuning itself to the objective dynamics of U.S. social development.' There's a lot packed in there, and most of it shreds Lindsey's hoped-for alliance. As becomes clear a couple of grafs later, Lindsey believes capitalism a truly progressive force because the civil rights movement was really enabled by the mechanization of agriculture, feminism...

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