Archive

  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: KELLER MUST STAY. Prospect supreme leader Mike Tomasky boldly flip-flops on the "fire Bill Keller ?" question, in light of the current right-wing jihad against The New York Times sparked by the bank-records story. Liberals understand the need for institutions in society that at least strive to be impartial and non-ideological. The modern right believes no such thing, and that's why the Times , and its beleaguered editor, need defending. --The Editors
  • $1 BEEELION DOLLARS....

    $1 BEEELION DOLLARS. I don't find myself agreeing with Republican representative Dan Lungren very often, but this strikes me as a great idea. He's sponsored legislation offering a $1 billion prize to the first American automaker able to create, market, and sell 60,000 cars that get 100 mpg. He explains, "[c]ompetition for a prestigious prize is far more likely to get results than government programs aimed at anticipating and funding 'winners.' Although occasionally effective, federal subsidies are paid before an industry proves it can achieve what it set out to do, and all too often such subsidies are given to the politically influential, not the meritorious. But prize money is paid out only when the goal is achieved." Quite right. I'd quibble with leaving this to American automakers -- if the intent is to popularize the car rather than subsidize politically influential corporations, other companies should get to play. Maybe the prize can be limited to the first company that develops...
  • SIEGELISM. Matt...

    SIEGELISM . Matt says he agrees. But it's easy to agree that all these young kids and their insouciant fashion statements make you mad. Matt's 25 now, and I'm sure in three years, I'll agree, too -- there appears to be a schedule for these sorts of opinions. For that reason, the question isn't whether he agrees with Siegel's banal crankiness, but his proposed remedy. "When I see someone wearing a baseball cap in a movie theater," Siegel writes , "I want them to bring back the guillotine." Siegelism in action -- take a mundane point (I don't like bloggers or baseball caps) and go for the wild overreach (they're fascists or we should execute cap wearers). When agreeing with Siegel, the question isn't the underlying opinion, but the overlay of nuttiness. --Ezra Klein
  • STICKING UP FOR...

    STICKING UP FOR LEE SIEGEL. A lot of bloggers I respect are slagging on anti-blogofascist Lee Siegel 's tirade against baseball caps , but let me say that flaws in Siegel's other writing notwithstanding, I totally agree with him about this. --Matthew Yglesias
  • FOOL'S GOLD. ...

    FOOL'S GOLD. Folks may remember the newly declassified discoveries of WMDs being touted by Rick Santorum , Curt Weldon , and others. The haul amounts to about 500 munitions which include sarin and mustard gas components and they are very, very scary. At least if you're a common household insect. That, at least, is the opinion of folks who actually know what they're talking about. Salon 's Michael Scherer went by the congressional hearings meant to ascertain the potency of these armaments. The testimony, if it weren�t disproving the lies that led us into war, would've been funny. David Kay , the nation's top weapons inspector, explained that: As far back as September 2004, the CIA had disclosed the discovery of the old chemical munitions from Iraq's war with Iran. The CIA also explained that these weapons were not the ones the Bush administration had used to justify the invasion of Iraq. What's more, Kay said, the decades-old sarin nerve gas was probably no more dangerous than...
  • WHEN IN DOUBT:...

    WHEN IN DOUBT: FIND AN EXILE. Ah, excellent. Farid Ghadry , part of the Syrian exile group Reform Party of Syria, says that the recent operation where Israeli jets buzzed Bashar Asad 's house "is very encouraging to the Syrian opposition." Let me go on record as sharing Justin Logan 's skepticism . Appearing to be working in collaboration with the Israeli Defense Forces has not, historically, been a great method of gaining popular support in Arab countries. The good news is that a couple of weeks ago Ghadry "met with Vice President Cheney on June 17 at the American Enterprise Institute�s annual retreat" in Colorado, so it's not like there's any precedent for this sort of thing going awry. I mean, Cheney + exiles + AEI = victory, right? Right. --Matthew Yglesias
  • If the Politicians Say It, It Must Be True

    That's the word from the Washington Post when it comes to the WTO negotiations. Today's article on the prospects for the Doha round asserts that "unlike previous negotiations with similar aims, this set of talks has an ambitious twist: The main goal is to change rules that have put poor countries at a disadvantage in the global marketplace." Yes, and we know that because... Look, the people structuring the Doha round are politicians. It should not be news that politicians are not always entirely truthful in their public comments. In other words, just because they say that the purpose of the Doha round is to help developing countries, this does not mean that the real purpose of the round is to help developing countries. The evidence actually shows that the Doha round is likely to do very little for developing countries and will actually hurt some who are net importers of agricultural products. (The removal of rich country subsidies causes agricultural prices to rise, which means that...
  • The Problem of Rising Wages in China

    The Times had one of the most convoluted articles yet on demographics. Apparently, China's slowing population growth may lead to a shortage of cheap labor, no kidding the headline is "As China Ages, a Shortage of Cheap labor Looms." It wasn't that long ago that I learned my economics, but back then this was THE POINT of economic development. Countries wanted to have more good paying jobs relative to the size of their population so that people would not be forced to take the bad paying jobs. I am not quite sure what theory of economic development the Times has where a lack of people in low-paying jobs is a problem. (Maybe we can make Times reporters do them.) Just about everything else in the piece is equally incoherent. It gives us the warning of the rising ratio of retirees to workers. But let's toss in some arithmetic. China's per capita GDP is growing at more than 8 percent annually. This means that in a decade, per capita income will have more than doubled. Suppose the tax burden...
  • JONAH GOLDBERG RESPONDS....

    JONAH GOLDBERG RESPONDS. But not very convincingly. Here's the nut of it: I think Ezra is desperate to misconstrue my point so that he can wag his finger and whine about mean and dishonest conservatives. My point was simple. The American economy depends on fossil fuels and the world depends on the Amerrican [ sic ] economy. Jonah appears to cede the point that precisely none of his examples are related to the consumption of fossil fuels, and thus his markers of American economic leadership would survive a drastic increase in CAFE standards. Even so, this doesn't much help him. He'd now have to prove that the health of the American economy relies on our refusal to, say, deploy a serious carbon tax, or vastly raise CAFE standards, or embark on a serious conservation effort. He doesn't prove any of those things because he can't. As economists believe a serious anti-emissions effort would cost us about two tenths of a percentile of GDP growth over the next couple of decades, his point...
  • THE CASE AGAINST...

    THE CASE AGAINST READER MAIL. In response to the proposition that people should sometimes "make some decisions which are different from the ones dictated by narrow self-interest in a social context deeply shaped by the enduring legacy of sexism," reader J.R. remarks that my views are "simply fascism with a velvet glove." But I wrote them in a blog post, making it "hard fascism with a Microsoft face" in a velvet glove , which is really bad. Seriously, to coin a phrase, everyone needs to stop being such wankers about this. People make judgments about the prudential or ethical merits of others' life choices all the time -- that's not "fascism," it's functioning in human society. --Matthew Yglesias

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