Archive

  • IT'S THE MERITOCRACY,...

    IT'S THE MERITOCRACY, STUPID . David Brooks has an op-ed today rebutting the "populist myths of economic inequality" that's just...wrong. It's not sneaky, or subtly misleading, or anything else. It's simply an incorrect recitation of economic data that is meant to convince readers of things that aren't true. As Dean Baker points out his must-read take-down , just about no economic statistic Brooks cites is actually correct. Where Brooks argues that "[w]ages and benefits have made up roughly the same share of G.D.P. for 50 years," "roughly" conceals an actual 1.7 percent drop in the corporate sector (the only area where profits matter), which equates to six percent of family income for the bottom 60 percent. And don't take Baker's word for it; as Harold Meyerson mentioned in a past column, "According to a report by Goldman Sachs economists, 'the most important contributor to higher profit margins over the past five years has been a decline in labor's share of national income.'" I...
  • APPEASING THE EVIL-DOERS....

    APPEASING THE EVIL-DOERS. Among the many nasty developments from which yesterday's speech by President George W. Bush has proved to be a distraction is the recent, uh hem, appeasement deal made by Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf with the resurgent Taliban. Musharraf is expected to visit the United States less than a week after it marks the 5th anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Just days before NATO commander Gen. James L. Jones called upon NATO nations to provide more troops for the alliance's intensifying conflict with Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, Musharraf cut a truce deal with the Taliban, promising to move Pakistani troops out of the tribal areas in which al-Qaeda operatives and Taliban fighters have taken refuge, in exchange for a moratorium on Taliban attacks within Pakistan's borders. In truth, Musharraf's balancing act between the demands of the United States for the apprehension of al-Qaeda figures and the pro-Taliban Pakistani intelligence officials who...
  • David Brooks Swings and Misses in Inequality Debate

    NYT columnist David Brooks weighed in on the origins of inequality in his column (sorry�it�s NYT select and therefore not linkable). While he wants to assure readers that inequality is not a serious issue, and not caused by policy, he gets almost everything in his article wrong. Briefly, here are the highlights:
  • Labor Costs and the Fed

    Both the NYT and Post had articles this morning that warned about the 4.9 percent annual rate of growth in unit labor costs in the second quarter reported yesterday, and indicated that this could cause the Fed to raise interest rates further to combat inflation. Whatever the Fed does on interest rates, let�s hope that the quarterly data on unit labor costs is not the reason. Unit labor cost data are highly erratic and are also subject to large revisions. This is due to the fact that both the numerator (compensation in the national income accounts) and the denominator (productivity) are highly erratic. Compensation can jump because of the timing of health care payments to insurers or the decision of workers to take stock options. (Compensation for the first quarter was revised up in yesterday�s release to show a 13.7 percent annual rate of growth, after originally showing a 6.9 percent rate of growth.) Productivity for the second quarter was reported as growing at 1.6 percent annual...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: STILL NOT THE ONE.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: STILL NOT THE ONE. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to vote on John Bolton 's renomination as U.N. ambassador tomorrow. Mark "Fast Leon" Goldberg games out the votes in the Senate and argues that Bolton is facing an uphill battle. --The Editors
  • WHERE'S BILL?

    WHERE'S BILL? As Ezra has noted , ABC has decided to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the September 11 atrocities by broadcasting a documentary that has tripped over itself a bit here in the reality-based community. Here�s an interview with the auteur, and here�s one of the minor factual errors that mar his upcoming opus. I long ago gave up being outraged at the historical embroidery of such projects -- talk to some veterans of the civil-rights movement about Alan Parker 's Mississippi Burning some time -- but this one does seem rather egregious, and it certainly seems to have been marketed curiously. I do have one question, though: Where the hell's Bill Clinton ? In case he's missed it, a major television network, owned by a huge American media conglomerate, is going to memorialize the worst attack on this country's soil by portraying him as a feckless incompetent surrounded by prissy legalistic girly-men, thereby taking most of the onus off the actual feckless incompetent who...
  • YOUR LIBERAL MEDIA....

    YOUR LIBERAL MEDIA. ABC will apparently air a hatchet job on the Clinton administration's terrorism record in the form of a special program that is supposedly based on the 9/11 Commission Report but is in fact composed of rightwing hagiography and bizarre smears. Early reports have them laying Osama bin Laden 's actions at the doorstep of Bill Clinton , and those worries aren't easing as the network steadfastly refuses to provide Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright , Sandy Berger , or any of the other major Clinton-era figures an advance copy to review for accuracy. The stonewalling prompted a concerned Albright to write this letter: While I have requested a copy of the broadcast, I have yet to receive one. I have been informed by some who had been given the right to view the broadcast that the drama depicts scenes that never happened, events that never took place, decisions that were never made and conversations that never occurred; it asserts as fact things that are not fact. For...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE COST OF HIGH COSTS.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: THE COST OF HIGH COSTS. Harvard scholar David Cutler has made waves arguing that high health-care costs in the U.S. have actually been advantageous and provided real bang for the buck in terms of health outcomes. As Maggie Mahar puts it today, "If only it were true." Alas, it ain't. --The Editors
  • ACCOUNTABILITY '06.

    ACCOUNTABILITY '06. Democrat Bill Nelson won the Florida Republican Senate primary yesterday. Okay, technically, recount queen Katherine Harris won it. But her victory practically ensures Nelson�s re-election this November. What�s most fascinating in today's Post account of the race is that Harris won on the strength of true-red Republicans in the Sunshine State who, according to the Cook Political Report �s Jennifer Duffy , feel Harris has gotten a �bum rap.� For her part, Harris trumpeted the fact that her �great victory�shows each of us we can overcome adversity to achieve extraordinary victories.� Huh? Only in Harris� twisted mind can a rich heiress who had a sinecure political job, then performed that job so poorly and was so out of the loop about the administration of the 2000 election that she had to punt most of the major questions to subordinates, yet then still won a seat to become just one of 435 Americans privileged enough to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives,...
  • FEAR FACTOR. With...

    FEAR FACTOR. With the American people now soured on the war in Iraq, President George W. Bush today turned his attention to the subject of military tribunals for terrorism suspects, demanding that Congress legislate just what rights are to be granted to evil-doers like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed , believed to be the mastermind of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, in those tribunals. A June Supreme Court decision had left it to Congress to determine the shape of these tribunals, and now on the eve of the 5th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, and with the midterm elections looming, the president is once again playing the fear card (as well as the patriotism card), using an East Room address to dare Congress to grant rights to 14 detainees that the administration names as party to the attacks of September 11, 2001. --Adele M. Stan

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