Archive

  • I GET BY...

    I GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES. I'm happy to see Sebastian Mallaby giving a big ol' backhand to his colleague Robert Samuelson 's column on why only the engineers can save us from global warming. As Mallaby points out, the engineers ain't gonna do jack if government doesn't regulate and tax the incentives into place. Subsidies for new technologies are fine, but the bottom line is that conservation -- both to extend the life of our hydrocarbons and lower the temperature of our planet -- is going to be the name of the game here, as the market will lag in syncing prices to future damages. Moreover, government can subsidize tech, but it'd really be better if it adjusted the marketplace so private firms funneled some of their cash in that direction. As Mallaby points out, Bush has pledged a $1.2 billion over five years to get hydrogen cars to market. Now consider that the energy firms spend nearly $20 billion every year refining hydrocarbon technology...
  • NEXT UP: HOW...

    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!": Gay-marriage advocates often liken their struggle to the civil-rights movement. Well, consider the following contrast. In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court nobly ruled that �separate but equal� education was unconstitutional - a view that did the justices enormous credit. But what happened in its wake? Open revolt in the South. Black schoolchildren assaulted. The National Guard mobilized just to ensure kids could enter the school buildings of Little Rock. Riots in Alabama and Mississippi as their universities were forced to open their doors to all. Now recall what happened in the wake of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 1968 Fair Housing Act. All three were passed into law by both houses of Congress and...
  • A TECHNICAL PSA....

    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. After all, one of the biggest questions people in old media have about the new media is, "How on earth am I supposed to keep up with all of this?" The answer is: You're not supposed to -- your program is. Get yourself an RSS feeder and let it do the work for you. It will change your life. Once you can read 75 blogs and newspapers on one page you will kick yourself for not making the change sooner. (Also, if you are still using IE on a Mac -- unbelievably, I keep...
  • EVERYTHING OLD IS...

    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." As you may recall, several members of Sadr's party are actually serving in the Iraqi cabinet . What's more, it was initially thought after the election that incumbent Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari was going to lose his job. Then Jafari earned the support of Sadr's party and appeared to have the support in parliament necessary to stay in office. But after much arm-twisting by the United States, Jafari was dumped after all and Nouri al-Maliki installed as Prime Minister instead. And now we -- in collaboration with armed...
  • And, You Can Read More ......

    For those who want to read more of my ramblings, I am guest blogging at the Drum Major Institute this week. --Dean Baker
  • NO ONE COULD...

    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. Elsewhere in the paper, Avi Issacharoff reported that there is considerable Palestinian support for more kidnappings: Of the 1,197 respondents from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, 66.8 percent expressed support for further kidnappings of Israeli civilians while 77.2 percent backed the Kerem Shalom tunnel operation and subsequent kidnapping of Israel Defense Forces Corporal Gilad Shalit. Nonetheless, just 47.7 percent of those polled said they believed the...
  • FOUND IT. Some...

    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. According to the June comScore Media Metrix study , readers of Daily Kos, the biggest liberal blog and community, are a fairly cerulean bunch: Regional skews correspond heavily to the coastal "blue state" regions. Visitors are 82 percent more likely than average to come from the Pacific region, 36 percent more likely to come from New England, and 19 percent more likely to hail from the Mid-Atlantic region. Kos readers also tended to be older and wealthier: 62 percent were over age 45, and 56 percent reported household incomes...
  • WHATEVER HAPPENED TO...

    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? Or has the Department of Homeland Security simply changed the threshold it uses for issuing alerts? The latest news of disrupted plots hasn't been accompanied by any rises in the alert level, which makes me wonder. --Garance Franke-Ruta
  • The Washington Post Argues for More High-Skilled Immigrants

    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. In fairness, the article did conclude with a brief discussion of immigration and its impact on wages. It does not attempt to reconcile the claim that wages for less-skilled workers are being driven down by technology with the claim that the country is sufficiently short of such less-skilled workers, that it desperately needs immigrants. Let...
  • The NYT Magazine on Immigration

    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. A casual glance at the data suggests that there is a real issue here. Certainly housing costs have risen far more rapidly in cities with heavy concentrations of immigrants (e.g. San Diego, Los Angeles, Miami) than those with few immigrants (e.g. Cleveland, St. Louis, Detroit). Second, the article is rather cavalier in its treatment of high end immigration. The author notes in...

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