GIVE ME DIGNITY OR GIVE ME EMPLOYMENT! This weekend's New York Times had a fascinating piece on the growing number of middle-aged men who are jobless by choice. It's always hard to discern if the anecdotes and quotes chosen for these articles accurately reflect the trends, but assuming they do, it's worrying stuff. The basic outline is that many workers from blue or gray collar jobs who lost their positions in layoffs and bankruptcies are finding it nearly impossible to find subsequent positions offering the same level of dignity and challenge.
OHIO SWIFTBOATING NOT SO SWIFT. The Ohio Republican Party has fired �social conservative coordinator� Gary Lankford, the operative responsible for last week�s e-mail suggesting that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland and his wife are gay. Lankford�s effort to discredit Strickland proved even too embarrassing for the shameless Ohio GOP, and chair Robert Bennett gave him the boot.
IRAN RESOLUTION. In a move not likely to enhance the reputation of the Security Council, Russia and China forced the West to water down the resolution on Iran's nuclear program so that it now threatens to threaten Iran with sanctions if they don't stop enriching uranium by August 31, rather than actually threatening sanctions as such. On the other hand, Iran has already said that they'll respond to the latest Western offer by August 22 so the whole thing may be moot anyway because people will be reconsidering their positions in light of whatever Teheran says then.
THE TROUBLE WITH THE IMPOSSIBLE. I don't really have new observations to offer about the war in Lebanon, which continues to be a bad business. Sebastian Mallaby does, however, have a positively Yglesian analysis in today's Post concluding that "wars are only defensible if they can be won" -- something Olmert and Bush would both do well to consider.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: JOE, KO'd. Provoked by that blistering Times editorial, Mike "Bossman" Tomaskyspeculates: What if Ned Lamont not only beats Joe Lieberman, but throttles him by, say, 10 points? "[I]f it were to happen, Lieberman�s career might be effectively over August 9," says Mike. He explains why here.
HOLY HOWELL RAINES, MARKOS! It's as though the ghost of Howell Raines has somehow snuck back into the New York Times editorial page. Who could have guessed when looking at the Lieberman/Lamont headline that The Times would ditch their establishmentarian penchant for high-minded bi-partisanship and endorse Ned Lamont? To a political junkie, this was like Bobby Thomson's pennant-winning shot heard round the world.
DEMOCRACY, IF YOU LIKE IT. I don't quite know what Jackson Diehl is trying to say about Ukraine here, but his column seemed to me to partake freely of various unfortunate but all-too-common presuppositions. As you'll recall, back in 2004 Viktor Yanukovich was Ukraine's ruling party's candidate for president. He lost to Viktor Yushchenko, but Yanukovich tried to steal the election through fraud. Then came the "Orange Revolution" and Yanukovich was forced to back down and let Yuschenko take office.
Last quarter the markets were surprised by a stronger than expected number for personal consumption expenditures in March. I commented that the surprise was surprising because March personal consumption expenditures were embedded in the first quarter GDP data that had been released the prior week.
Apparently the reporters at MarketWatch can't. An article noting the uptick in labor compensation reported in the second quarter Employment Cost Index reported that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said that higher labor costs need not lead to inflation, if they are offset by rising productivity. Well, in the very next sentence Mr. Bernanke also said that higher labor costs could be offset by lower profit margins:
The House came up with the brilliant idea of linking the partial repeal of the estate tax with raising the minimum wage. In the words of West Virginia Representative Shelley Moore Capito, this linkage made sense because, "the sustaining of small businesses by keeping their vital assets will allow those making the minimum wage to continue working. This is a jobs bill."
I'm sorry, this is nuts. Only a tiny percentage of small businesses will ever be liable for the estate tax and it is paid out after they are dead. It has no obvious effect on how they would operate their business. It is hard to see how cutting the estate tax will save even a single minimum wage job.