THE DISTRIBUTION'S THE THING. Conservatives puzzling over this weekend's New York Times op-ed on "Freakoutanomics" would be well-advised to stop focusing so obsessively on growth numbers and begin paying a bit more attention to the distribution of growth numbers. That's basically the point of the op-ed, which argues that the 1870's saw a strong macro-economy that obscured a large class of economic losers.


    ENFORCEMENT FIRST. Tyler Cowen makes a valuable point in the immigration debate, noting that the seemingly commonsense principle that "at least we should enforce the law" is actually a bit odd. Lots of laws are very imperfectly enforced and this isn't necessarily a problem. The police deliberately downplay the level of resources they dedicate to solving burglaries in order to focus on the more serious crime of murder. But they don't completely cease trying to arrest, prosecute, and jail burglars just because not every murder gets solved.


    WHY WE CAN�T "ALL JUST GET ALONG." I am the author of "Homeward Bound" (The American Prospect, December 2005), where I argued that women quitting their jobs to stay home are making a mistake, work in the public and market world is more likely to produce a flourishing life, and, if men did more domestic work, women could do more public work. On June 12, my book, Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World, will be in the bookstores.


    THE ESTATE TAX. The Washington Post has a nice set of dueling op-eds on the estate tax today. They've matched up Sebastian Mallaby with doltish Alabama senator Jeff Sessions, which is a bit like setting a monkey in intellectual combat with his banana. It's proof, no doubt, that the editorial page's overlords treasure the estate tax, and are seeking to discredit its repeal by choosing an incompetent opponent.

  • Escaping With the Trust Fund

    Folks, I am off for a weeklong vacation. I will not be back at my blogging duties until Monday, June 12th. In the meantime, my colleagues at CEPR, Heather Boushey, David Rosnick, John Schmitt, and Mark Weisbrot will be intermittently filling in.

    I should also warn that there may be somewhat more delay before your comments get posted. Comments to the blog are moderated, and I can't guarantee the pace at which items get posted in my absence.

    I am sorry to leave in the middle of a lively debate on the Social Security trust fund. I am sure that there will be no difficulty reaching consensus on this issue in my absence.

    --Dean Baker


    GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT. Greg Anrig has a great post over at TPMCafe about the convoluted decision making process at the Department of Homeland Security and the way its evaluation criteria led to the current controversy over the new formula for funding didfferent localities. He's also unearthed a fact sheet (PDF), written by Department of Homeland Security assistant secretary Tracy Henke and now likely to embarass her, laying out how the department's grant-making decisions were to get made.


    PARTY OF DEATH REVIEWS. About a week and a half ago, I noted conservative whining that liberals weren't reviewing Ramesh Ponnuru's The Party of Death and promised that if the publisher or author of the book would take the simple challenge of sending me a review copy I'd gladly step up to the plate. So far, it hasn't happened, and the conspiracy of silence on the left continues. Peter Berkowitz, a conservative in good standing, did get a copy to write a review for The Wall Street Journal and seems unimpressed: "It doesn't matter to Mr.


    EDGING TOWARD A POSITION. One of the most curious political strategies I've seen in some time has been Mark Warner's apparent belief that he can run for president without taking a position on the Iraq War. Today, though, he starts edging toward one:

    Mr. Warner spoke empathetically of his potential rivals who as senators voted for the war.

    "I don't think any U.S. senator, regardless of party, if they had known there weren't W.M.D., that we were going to get selected leaks, I don't think anybody would have voted for it," he said. "Second-guessing people who made a valiant attempt at judgment is not where I am at."


    IT SHOULDN'T BE A CHOICE. Far be it for me to disagree with Enlightened Being and Creator of Fire Mike Tomasky, but his post on the Department of Homeland Security's funding allocations seems a bit wrongheaded. His point is that the cuts in cash for New York and Washington may well make sense -- who says terrorists won't next strike fear in our hearts by striking the Heartland? Fair enough. But it's not really the case that "New York�s still getting a lot of money, as is Washington." DC will get $46.5 million from the DHS's main grant program, and $4.3 million from their state-oriented program.


    WHERE THE RISK'S AT. The inimitable Dana Milbank throws up a terrific headline -- "Flash: DHS Disputes Al-Qaeda's 5-Star Rating of Two U.S. Cities" -- on his way to discussing how much different cities are at risk of terrorist attack:

    The new DHS plan is advertised as a "risk-based" model, but it came up with almost the opposite conclusions to a Rand Corp. study last year that calculated terrorism risk to 47 cities. Seven of the 10 highest-risk cities in the Rand study will lose funding under the DHS plan; six of the 10 lowest-risk cities in the Rand study will see increases in funds, including such hot spots as Milwaukee and Tampa.