DID YOU KNOW...? General Motors chairman Rick Wagoner has an op-ed in today's Los Angeles Times making the case that GM matters, not just as a car company or employer, but as a protector of Americana and a canary in the globalizational coal mine. It's a strange piece of work, most of all because it highlights GM's problems without offering anything beyond vague promises that said problems are being addressed. It doesn't suggest anything Americans should do to protect this storied firm, nor does it lay the blame anywhere in particular. One wonders why Wagoner wrote it.
STILL LOOKING. The embarrassing search for a new Treasury Secretary continues with today's news being that Donald Evans is apparently under consideration for the job. Evans was Commerce Secretary in the first term, a job that traditionally goes to a Presidential crony unqualified for a real job. Obviously, they put lots of unqualified cronies in important jobs, so being the crony so cronyish that you had to get the post actually designed for a crony is a real achievement. Putting him in charge of the Treasury Department would be ridiculous but, hey, you never know.
HELP HER HELP YOU. I think Matt sort of misses the point there. Hillary Clinton, realizing that America's youth are lazy, helped start this war in order to build character. After you've jogged around the sands of Mesopotamia with a rations pack on your belt and a rifle on your soldier, being a middle manager in the HR department doesn't seem so bad. Remember too that this occupation has forced lots of interpersonal interactions with hostile "clients" angered by our "practices." As the commercials say, these are skills for life, particularly in the coming, service-oriented economy. Clinton's just trying to prepare us.
CLINTON VERSUS THE SLACKERS. Further efforts by New York's junior senator to alienate me as she decides that young people these days are just all too lazy. "They don't know what work is. They think work is a four-letter word." Who, exactly, does she think is fighting her regret-free war? The legendarily hard-working, nose-to-the-grindstone baby boom generation?
National Public Radio had a piece this morning about how some think tanks committed to "law and economics" (applying economic principles to the law) were hosting seminars for judges. The segment asserted that these think tanks, which purportedly receive large contributions from the tobacco industry, the oil industry, and other industry lobbies, are committed to free market economics.
This should have been one of those paid public relations spots that helps NPR pay the bills. The tobacco industry does not want to be held responsible for things like marketing to children or concealing evidence of the danger of cigarettes. The oil industry doesn't want to be held accountable for the damage that oil does to the environment.
THE DAY AFTER. More interesting than the state of Hillary Clinton's marriage is the state of her foreign policy thinking:
But on Tuesday, she was also forced to deal with Iraq when two women protesting the war interrupted her speech. The protesters, who yelled, "Stop the war," were dragged from the room, leaving Clinton to explain in a question-and-answer session that she did not regret voting for war but opposed the way the president has conducted the conflict.
She said the United States could begin thinking about "making other decisions" about Iraq once an Iraqi government is "fully formed."
SO NOW IT'S SAFE. Within hours of Ken Lay's and Jeff Skilling's guilty verdicts coming down, the MSM had begun to form their inane analysis. No less a barometer of conventional wisdom than Newsweek's Howard Finemanwrote:
THE BENEFITS OF SOFTWARE PIRACY.Via the Technology Liberation Front, a study was released claiming that software piracy "resulted in a loss of $34 billion worldwide in 2005, a $1.6 billion increase over 2004, according to a study commissioned by the Business Software Alliance." This is moronic. As is typically the case with these industry sponsored surveys the method seems to have been to add up the number of pirated units, look at the retail price of one unit, and multiply the two together.
WALKING IT BACK. I want to retract my instapunditry of Tuesday morning about the New York Times article on Hillary Clinton's marriage. I momentarily forgot to put on my political journalist hat and reacted to it as a woman. As a woman, I find it impressive and admirable that she's been able to preserve her marriage and turn it into something that, by all accounts, works for her. She has a friend, advisor, and peer in Bill Clinton, and the article's unprecedentedly detailed accounting of their days showed that they somehow manage to find a way to spend a substantial amount of time together for a congressional couple, while still being mindful of not getting in each other's way.
THE ECONOMICS OF SELF-INTEREST. I tend to agree with the consensus in the economics profession in general, and with Alex Tabarrok in particular, in the current immigration debate. But this is a bridge too far for me: "Economists are probably also more open to immigration than the typical member of the public because of their ethics -- while economists may be known for assuming self-interested behavior wherever they look, economists in their work tend not to distinguish between us and them." That's a mighty generous self-interpretation.