There is an interesting aspect to the recent rise in the inflation rate that the media have not really explored. The biggest factor in the higher than expected May measure was a jump in rent. (The two rental indices, owners' equivalent rent and rent proper, account for nearly 40 percent of the core consumer price index [CPI].)
In his New York Times column today, "Changing Bedfellows", David Brooks did a far better job describing the nanny state conservatives' framing of economics than I could ever hope to do in my book. Of course, he ostensibly was saying how the world actually is, rather than how the nanny state conservatives want us to see it.
According to Brooks, we have the populist nationalists who argue against immigration and trade, and want to ensure workers' security through Social Security and national health care insurance. This group includes Pat Buchanan, Lou Dobbs, Al Sharpton and Kevin Phillips.
THE TWO CULTURES.Like Bryan Curtis, I've been puzzling recently over the apparent upsurge in intellectuals' interest in soccer. I don't think I really understood it, though, until I read this Frank Foer post noting that "[s]occer is largely immune from sabermatrics and other instantiations of mathematical nerdiness."
MORE GITMO. An Afghan government delegation says they'd just as soon not have their citizens held indefinitely in legal limbo on an American Navy base in Cuba. What's more, "about half of them were not guilty of serious crimes." Fortunately, "the officials said the Afghan detainees were not being held in bad conditions." Except, of course, for the sense in which being imprisoned for years without trial is a pretty bad condition.
THE MINIMUM WAGE. To follow up on Matt's post below, while reasonable people can disagree on the impact of minimum wage laws, it's time they stopped. William Niskanen, in arguing against a federal boost to the wage, trots out the same old canards about wage increases decimating jobs. And yes, if you jack the wage up to $16 an hour, jobs will be lost. But up to $7 over a period of years? The evidence doesn't back him up. And, luckily, it's so easy to check that you folks can play along at home.
THE QUEEN RANIA FACTOR. I was in Whole Foods the other day, like a good out-of-touch elitist, shopping for cheese, and at the checkout stand I saw a glamour shot of Queen Rania of Jordan on the cover of Washington Life magazine. I have to say that I've long been bugged by Western elites' fascination with this particular queen. Here she is hanging out with Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, and George Soros. And here she is with Laura Bush.
LARRY AND ME. As my time guest-blogging at TAP begins to draw to a close and as someone who�s had a fair amount of attention in the blogosphere lately, I want to say that the level of the comments here is pretty impressive. Now it would not be hard to be more rational and literate than much of what goes on amongst the mommy-bloggers (see the recent eruption of �Linda!
WORDS TO LIVE BY! In case you're wondering why the GOP leadership doesn't spend a lot of time taking advice from libertarian intellectuals, take a gander at William Niskansen's view that "the House Republicans should split off the minimum wage provision from the appropriation bill, allow a separate floor vote on this provision, and demonstrate the absurdity of this proposal by a defeating this measure by a large margin."
WHO SHOULD YOU CHEER FOR? The World Cup's a tough time for wannabe cosmopolitan progressives. We always hear about the Europhiles populating the left, but the truth is, Europhilia requires a bit more than a taste for good cheese and an affection for the welfare state. Indeed, it demands a near encyclopedic knowledge of soccer. And not just teams who've already penetrated the literate lefty's consciousness (I'm looking at you, Barca and Arsenal), but the unknown squads, the local teams, the regional powers. And even that knowledge, once acquired, proves itself rapidly obsolete come World Cup time, as the multinational European outfits disassemble so their players can rejoin their native country's all star teams. So who to root for? Who's good?
IGNATIUS ON GITMO. We need some content up here quick, so let me just say that David Ignatius is certainly right about this. It's hard to maintain consistent focus on the Bush administration's bizarre and inhuman passion for degrading the United States' record on core human rights issues, but what they're doing in Guantanamo is an enormous outrage.