I HATE WORKERS.Nathan Newman, with typical subtlety and nuance, accuses me of "attacking the Chicago Retail Workers bill as a danger since it might actually improve the lives of Wal-Mart workers." What can I say? Nathan's got me. I'm a mean-spirited cur implacably opposed to any program that makes a worker's life slightly less miserable and any policy that leaves a cashier less likely to collapse into tears in the morning -- that's what I live to forestall. Also: Vote Bush!
ALWAYS MORE SHOES TO DROP. Most of what's gone wrong in Iraq was fairly widely predicted by invasion-skeptics before the event. Still, the doubters have hardly been clairvoyant. One of the most widespread predictions -- that Kurdish separatists would get embroiled in fighting with Turkey -- has really been the dog that didn't bark for years now. But this sounds like a bark to me: "Turkey and Iran have dispatched tanks, artillery and thousands of troops to their frontiers with Iraq during the past few weeks in what appears to be a coordinated effort to disrupt the activities of Kurdish rebel bases."
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: MY SUMMER READING JOURNAL. The president reads Camus and describes his existential journey to writer Julian Sanchez in a series of fascinating diary entries. This is a side of George W. Bush that few have seen before.
It is common for people to complain that politicians are using the Social Security surplus to hide the true size of the federal budget deficit. In fact, this is not possible. The media decide which budget numbers the public hears on the news and reads in the newspapers. If they believe that the appropriate deficit numbers include the money borrowed from Social Security, then it is a very simple matter to report this number, regardless of which deficit numbers politicians happen to use. Reporters don�t even have to do the simple arithmetic of adding two numbers together.
Economists believe that people respond to incentives. Unfortunately, they pay much too little thought to the incentives that the U.S. health care system gives to providers. The NYT has two very good pieces showing the practical effect of the current incentive structure in today's paper.
HEALTH CARE: STILL SCREWED UP. There�s nothing too new in all this, but in case you were seeking further confirmation that health care is now a middle-class problem, a new study by the Commonwealth Institute reports that 48 percent of adults making between $35,000 and $50,000 report major problems paying for health coverage, as do a fifth of those making between $50,000 and $70,000. Coverage, for that matter, isn't the only issue; 40 percent complain of unsafe or unsatisfactory care under the system and 76 percent say it needs either major changes or complete rebuilding.
USA Today had a great story about President Bush�s visit to a Harley-Davidson factor in York, Pennsylvania to tout the merits of �free-trade.� The reason why the story was so great is that the plant is in fact a testament to the effective use of protectionist policies to sustain a favored industry.
Don�t take my word for it, here�s the beginning of a 1983 article in the New York Times describing President Reagan�s decision to impose tariffs on imported motorcycles:
�In an unusually strong protectionist action, President Reagan today ordered a tenfold increase in tariffs for imported heavyweight motorcycles.
LEE SIEGEL, CALL YOUR OFFICE. At the nexus of blogofascism and Islamofascism lies Mahmoun Ahmadenijad�s new blog. Really. So far there's only one post up and its length indicates that he hasn't yet quite grasped the format. He does, however, promise that "From now onwards, I will try to make it shorter and simpler." The site even has an online poll question: "do you think that the US and Israeli intention and goal by attacking Lebanon is pulling the trigger for another word war?" Newsweekoffers analysis.
I BLAME THE POPE.Ramesh Ponnuruponders the theory that the Republican Party has become less anti-statist because it's become more religious, and then wonders "let�s assume for the sake of argument that Republicans have simultaneously become more religious-conservative and less anti-statist. What�s the causal relationship here?" My hypothesis would be . . . Catholics.