PERPETUAL WAR. Another bizarre Bush press conference led off the week followed by another great column by Fred Kaplan. Something I note in the text of the article that Kaplan doesn't make a big deal about, though, is Bush's statement that "We're not leaving, so long as I'm the president."
Good to see that reporters and my fellow economists are now discovering some of the downsides of the housing bubble. The WSJ now recognizes the problem in part, although we're still only talking about something "harder than a soft landing but softer than a hard landing." But, that's progress.
The article earns a BTP goat prize for failing to note that current house price indices are failing to pick up the full decline in prices because they miss the various concessions (seller paid closing costs, buyer-side realtor bonuses, and seller subsidized mortgages) that sellers often use to move their houses.
NPR ran a piece this morning on �counterfeiting� in China. (Anyone who heard the story knows that NPR disapproves of the practice being discussed, but the term that neutral reporters use is �unauthorized copying.�)
The segment included no economic analysis of the practice, which would point out many of the benefits of unauthorized copies. The segment included no discussion of the relative quality of the authorized copies. Nor did the segment even clarify the extent to which the unauthorized copies are genuinely counterfeit products. (The goods are only genuine counterfeits if the consumers believe that they are buying the brand whose products are being copies.)
As I have noted before (see �Missing Fact on British Health Care,� May 7, 2006), the New York Times feels the need to periodically run articles on the health care crises in countries with universal health care systems. These articles never make comparisons to the health care situation in the United States, which might help readers put the articles in some context.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: TANF TURNS TEN. On this, the 10th anniversary of welfare reform, we've posted two articles assessing a decade of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. From our March print issue, Chrisopher Jencks, Scott Winship, and Joseph Swingleanalyze what went right (or at least, better than feared) and what may still go wrong.
BOOKS OF SAND. Chalk me up as one of those skeptics who don't buy, not even for a second, the spin that George W. Bush has read more than sixty books this year (via Steve Benen). C-SPAN claims to have a partial catalog of his reading list, but none of it makes any sense. While I'm pleased Bush is trying to accrue some intellectual credibility, the boast reminds me of nothing so much as Steve Carell in The 40-Year-Old Virgin recounting how "her" breasts felt like big bags full of sand! Right guys!?
FROM THE SEPTEMBER PRINT ISSUE: THE RISE OF THE REPUBLICRATS. The Bush era has signalled the death of small government conservatism. What comes next for the GOP? Ezrareads the tea leaves:
...[T]hree longer-term factors have deprived [small govenrment conservatism] of both intellectual legitimacy and popular support: structural changes in the GOP�s coalition, accelerating economic insecurity, and the empirical failure of supply-side economics.
NOW HEAR THIS: I AM NOT A TERRORIST. Today Eric Lipton of The New York Timesreports on the Bush administration's latest effort to leave no stone unturned in its quest to terrorize the American people:
A proposal by Homeland Security Secretary Michael
Chertoff would allow the United States government not only to look for known terrorists on watch lists, but also to search broadly through the passenger itinerary data to identify people who may be linked to terrorists, he said in a recent interview.
No big deal, you say? Well, it could be for someone like me -- or maybe even you.
WHEN THE OP-ED PAGE DOESN'T KNOW WHAT THE NEWS PAGE IS DOING... Yesterday's Washington Post op-ed page had a very sensible column from education writer Jay Mathews. He argues that the media sensationalism surrounding over-worked, over-pressured high-schoolers is totally misplaced. Media elites regurgitate this story because their own children attend fancy suburban public schools or urban private or magnet schools, where students have too much work, too many extracurriculars, and too much pressure to get into Dartmouth.