Archive

  • 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...
  • Creative Stories on Wage Growth in the Washington Post

    There was a larger than expected jump of 8 cents in the average hourly wage reported for June. This left some folks scrambling for an explanation. The Washington Post found a creative one, courtesy of "some analysts." According to these analysts, the more rapid wage growth in June is partly explained by a change in the mix of jobs, with the economy losing low wage jobs in the retail sector and adding jobs in the relatively high-paying manufacturing sector. Okay, sports fans, let's check the numbers. Employment of production workers (the relevant category) in the retail sector reportedly fell by 20,000 in June. Employment of production workers in manufacturing increased by 19,000. This gives a total change in composition of 39,000. This change in composition is equal to 0.042 percent of the total employment of production workers (92,700,000). The difference in pay between manufacturing workers and retail workers is $4.25 an hour. This means that 0.18 cents of the reported increase in...
  • A TRIP DOWN...

    A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE. Each person who opposes Joe Lieberman has their own theory of when the tide started to turn against him, and why , but I date it to the speech he gave at the National Press Club on August 4, 2003. Lieberman in 2003 pioneered a raft of negative criticisms later used by Republicans against Democratic candidates, including John Kerry , at a time when the G.O.P. had not yet begun to publicly fight the '04 race. So he did not merely mouth Republican talking points -- something he's been frequently accused of doing in recent months -- but actually actively helped write them. And he laid most of them out that day at the Press Club, in a whalloping blast of a speech. Wrote Susan Page at USA Today on August 5, 2003 : "A candidate who was opposed to the war against Saddam, who has called for the repeal of all of the Bush tax cuts, which would result in an increase in taxes on the middle class ... could lead the Democrat party into the political wilderness for a long...
  • GROVERPALOOZA. Transcript yesterday,...

    GROVERPALOOZA. Transcript yesterday, audio today . Unfortunately, the sound quality at times isn�t great, but, in two installments, you can hear Grover discussing his views on the current political landscape. Tell us what you think. --Alec Oveis
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: PUNISHING THE PRI. An explosive teachers' strike, a heated national election, and the eclipse of the once-mighty PRI in one of its last strongholds -- Rachel Blustain and Jennifer De Barros report from Oaxaca, Mexico. --The Editors
  • WHY LAMONT? ...

    WHY LAMONT ? In answer to Matt , the pro- Lamont forces (Lamonties? Lamounties? Lamonters?) wax indignant when you attribute their anger to Lieberman 's war views because Iraq, for better or for worse, isn't what really pisses them off. It's becoming quasi-trite to say this, but Lieberman's votes really don't substantively diverge from those of a variety of other moderate senators. Yet the netroots are trying to save the Nelsons and eject Holy Joe. Why? Because it's not about the war. Or moderation. Or ideology at all. It's about partisanship. The lines are brightly drawn, but in unexpected places. You can support the President's war, but you can't protect him from criticism. You can vote with Republicans, but you can't undermine Democrats. You can be a hawk, but you can't deride doves. The politics here are tribal, and Lieberman's developed too severe a crush on the neighboring chieftain to participate. I've tried to explain why that may be -- he gropes towards praise and recognition...
  • The Coin of the Realm

    The Washington Post had an interesting piece about whether it still makes sense for the government to mint pennies, given how much they cost to make relative to their value. The article might have asked the same question about the dollar bill. Coins are in general much cheaper to keep in circulation than bills, and given that a dollar today is worth about as much as a quarter was 35 years ago, it might be time for the switch. Of course we do have dollar coins, but they rarely circulate. In this respect, it's worth noting that the last two dollar coins both feature women (Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea [a native American woman who accompanied Lewis and Clark on part of their journey]). These are the only U.S. coins or notes to portray women. --Dean Baker
  • THE ADMINISTRATION'S ENERGY...

    THE ADMINISTRATION'S ENERGY POLICY. Last night on Larry King 's show, George W. Bush offered the most succinct explanation of his approach to global warming yet: We have done a lot to deal with greenhouse gases by advancing new technologies. I campaigned against Al Gore. I said we're going to spend money for clean coal technologies and we're in the process of doing that and one of these days people are going to look back and say, well, thank goodness the Bush administration made these investments because we'll be able to have electricity from coal that won't pollute.[...] But we're the ones -- my administration started the hydrogen initiative. Spent over a billion dollars for research in the hopes that we'll be able to power our automobiles by hydrogen, which would be an amazing advance in -- in -- in -- in -- in cleaning the environment. We've done more on ethanol that any administration. We've got a great record and -- but this town is full of politics. People just say what they...
  • HOW IT'S DONE....

    HOW IT'S DONE. If you missed last night's Lieberman / Lamont steel cage match, you'll find no better blow-by-blow than the Hartford Courant 's recounting . Remember when Lieberman delivered the death elbow off the ladder? Or when Lamont dropkicked off the turnbuckle? Me neither. But all of the stuff I do remember is in the Courant piece, a model of informative debate coverage that quickly dispenses with the political positioning to offer a detailed recap of the actual issues at hand and how the two candidates addressed them. It puts the Reuters and Associated Press coverage to shame. --Ezra Klein
  • WHAT, INDEED? Alex...

    WHAT, INDEED? Alex Massie takes a look at the Connecticut Senate primary and wonders, "What on earth is all this about?" I wonder myself sometimes. I wonder especially why pro- Lamont forces get so indignant whenever someone suggests it's about what it appears to be about -- the war. That, to me, would be a perfectly reasonable issue for a vigorous primary campaign in a safely blue and anti-war state. The war is, if I may say so, a big deal and Lieberman 's views on it are ridiculous. What's more, insofar as the primary becomes a referendum on the war, Lieberman is bound to lose since his views on it are very unpopular among Democrats. But friends of Ned become, as I say, indignant if you characterize the race this way and want it to be seen as about . . . what, exactly, I couldn't quite say. The implication that the real issue here is that Lieberman once sort-of kissed Bush seems equal parts silly and inexplicable. Why can't the campaign be about the war? --Matthew Yglesias

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