NEXT UP: HOW CUSTER WAS KILLED BY VIKINGS. I know he's a slow-moving target, but this from John Podhoretz last Thursday is proof enough that some people occasionally encounter history the way other people encounter a rake in the tall grass -- "Boink! Ouch!":
A TECHNICAL PSA. I know this will seem dreadfully behind the times to the more technically sophisticated readers of this blog, but since most journalists I know are not yet using RSS readers, I'd like to heartily recommend the technology. Not having an RSS feeder to help you manage your blogs in 2006 is almost as bad as listening to 8-tracks in 1986, or not having a CD player in 1996. A simple, low-cost program like NetNewsWire (for Macs) or any of these (for PCs) can give you control over how you experience the Internet.
EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN. There's not much to say about the latest big outbreak of sectarian violence in Iraq. Somewhat more interesting is the news buried deep in the piece that recently "American and Iraqi troops have conducted several operations against the powerful Mahdi Army militia, which is loosely under the control of the influential Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, and is regarded by Sunni Arab leaders as a main force behind many sectarian reprisal killings."
NO ONE COULD HAVE PREDICTED THIS.Says Danny Rubinstein in Haaretz:
Israeli political sources said late last week that the aim of the military operations in the Gaza Strip and the detention of senior Hamas officials in the West Bank was to make clear to Hamas that the abduction of Corporal Gilad Shalit will be of no benefit to it. On the contrary - it will be harmful to the movement. This may be what will happen as time goes by, but in the meantime, the deteriorating security situation has considerably augmented Hamas' power.
FOUND IT. Some readers were wondering why I asserted last week that blog readers were more likely to be based in California than in, say, swing congressional districts. And that since they can't easily engage in local GOTV opportunities in such races, I argued that their actual electoral impact was somewhat lower than what their media profile would suggest. I'd wanted to include the link to this report in that item, but couldn't find it at first. So here it is.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ORANGE ALERTS? Anyone else remember these? Funny how we've only had one elevation of the national threat level since President Bush was re-elected, and how the last such alert based on "new and unusually specific information about where al-Qaeda would like to attack" was lowered on November 10, 2004. Since then we've had a single alert, for the rail transportation sector after the London bombings (and which was a less panic-inducing than usual, as it came with a warning that there was "no specific, credible information suggesting an imminent attack here in the United States"). Is America really that much safer from al-Qaeda plots than it used to be?
Okay, I tricked you. The Washington Post ran an article reporting that the wages of high-skilled workers in the Washington area are rising far more rapidly than the wages of less-skilled workers. It attributes this fact primarily to technology that has reduced the demand for less-skilled workers.
Those who believe in market forces would see rising wages as evidence of a labor shortage. In other contexts (e.g. nurses, construction workers, custodians etc.) the Post has reported that the country needs immigrants to deal with such labor shortages. Surprisingly, this article did not include any discussion of the need for more high skilled immigrants.
The NYT magazine had a pretty good piece summing up the state of the academic debate on the impact of immigration on the labor market. I have two quick observations.
The piece, like the literature, largely ignores the impact of immigration on housing costs. This is important, because housing is a large chunk of people's expenditures, especially those of low wage workers, who are the focus of the discussion. Examining wages across cities and regions provides little insight if we don't adjust for differences in housing costs, since housing accounts for close to 40 percent of the consumption of low income families.
There was a larger than expected jump of 8 cents in the average hourly wage reported for June. This left some folks scrambling for an explanation. The Washington Postfound a creative one, courtesy of "some analysts."
According to these analysts, the more rapid wage growth in June is partly explained by a change in the mix of jobs, with the economy losing low wage jobs in the retail sector and adding jobs in the relatively high-paying manufacturing sector.