Archive

  • Trade Nonsense in the NYT

    For reasons that I will not pretend to understand, newspaper editorial boards are huge proponents of trade agreements as a remedy to world poverty. They endlessly promote these agreements on their editorial and oped pages. Papers like the New York Times and Washington Post are as likely to print an oped critical of recent trade agreements, as Pravda would have been to print an anti-communist diatribe back in the days of the Soviet Union. Today's piece in the NYT is a great example. It touts a new W.T.O. agreement which would raise world income by $54 billion annually. Even better, the piece tells us that the lowest income countries, which have just 1.2 percent of world income, would get 1.9 percent of the gains. Before anyone celebrates this prospect, let's have some context. World income is approximately $50 trillion. So, the prospect of $54 billion in annual gains comes to 0.1 percent of world income. If the poorest countries get 1.9 percent of these gains, that comes to just over $...
  • The Minimum Wage and Doctors' Pay

    Since there have been some interesting comments on two separate posts from last week, I thought I would pull them together. To get up to speed, NPR ran a piece last week which decried (slight exaggeration) the low pay of doctors. I also commented on the failure of reporting on a minimum wage hike to note the extensive research showing that modest increases in the minimum wage (like the ones being debated) have no significant effect on employment. The responses have raised issues about the appropriate wages for doctors and people who work at the type of jobs that get the minimum wage. The point that I wanted to make is that these two are linked. The wages of people working at low paying jobs are a cost to doctors, and doctors' pay is a cost to those earning low wages. The logic of this is simple. While some wage increases may be absorbed in lower profits, and may also be offset by higher productivity, at least some part of any wage increase will be reflected in the prices of the goods...
  • IN DEFENSE OF...

    IN DEFENSE OF HRC. Hillary Rodham Clinton , lately keeping us safe from burning flags and Grand Theft Auto, gets one right in a big way with this speech . In a general way, defending privacy is the most important issue in domestic politics, both in and of itself, and as a way to attack the Human Growth Hormones that John Yoo execrably injected into the Executive Branch by dressing Alexander Hamilton up as one of the Plantagenets. People like privacy. Respecting someone's privacy is a virtue; otherwise, nobody ever would have invented Venetian blinds. Most people could care less whether the Sixth Amendment applies to some poor sod swept up by the Northern Alliance and packed off to Botany ... er... Guantanamo Bay. But they believe their personal privacy is something the government is supposed to protect. I think you might even be able to chip off some of the libertarian right with this one. My one quibble, and it's largely a personal one, is that there doesn't seem to be any mention of...
  • BAUER, MEET CHERTOFF....

    BAUER, MEET CHERTOFF. Thanks to the redoubtable, and ludicrously well-married, Mr. TBogg for finding this bit of comedy gold. If you missed Bruce Springsteen 's little gavotte with Soledad O'Brien this morning on CNN, you missed his making the point to Sunshine that no network on which Ann Coulter ever has appeared can credibly ask musicians about being qualified to speak out on politics. Seriously, do you think Coulter -- or for that matter, Ken Mehlman -- knows more than Springsteen does about any pressing issue of the day? Mehlman's an automaton, and Coulter's from the Planet Of The UltraVixens. Yes, Soledad, better we leave the serious stuff to you guys and to those deep thinkers at places like the Heritage Foundation who, I'm sure, are going to look positively darling in their Savile Row suits and Jack Bauer t-shirts. Send the bill for the Chee-Tos to the Olin Foundation. --Charles P. Pierce
  • A METAKOS MOMENT....

    A METAKOS MOMENT. Though part of me thinks Matt treated the outbreak of open war between TNR and Daily Kos with the appropriate level of seriousness (for now) below , there's still some actual points to be made, rather than scored, about what's been happening over the past few days as this flamewar writ large has escalated. Two analytic points made by other bloggers over the past few months come to mind. Chris Bowers of MyDD had a great insight into how poorly some online dynamics, such as the flamewar, translate into real life, which he talked about at the Yearly Kos conference in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, on a panel called "MetaKos." After the opening remarks, an audience member asked him if he thought that blogs served as models for offline communities. Bowers' reply: I would say no. [audience laughter] That would be a very dark and disturbing place....where someone jumps into a room and says something that makes everyone mad, and then a mob starts chasing them...I can't...
  • A MAN, A...

    A MAN, A PLAN, A CANAL, IMPERIALISM. I hate to ruin a good suggestion about political messaging with a lefty observation that Democrats should arguably refrain from making, but I think Josh Marshall is mistaken about this: Let's work through a bit of this. If the president had a plan for success he would say, 'I plan to get X, Y and Z done and then we're going to bring American troops back home. I expect those three things will be accomplished by the middle of 2007.' Or maybe he'd say 2008 or the beginning of 2009. But he doesn't say any of those things. When he says we're staying in Iraq as long as he's in the White House he makes clear that he doesn't have any plan other than staying in Iraq. Other than staying their indefinitiely or basically forever. Isn't it possible his 'plan' could work and have us out in 2008? Obviously, he's discounted that possibility because, again, he has no plan. Bush has a plan for Iraq all right, and it's trouble with a capital "T" and that rhymes with...
  • CONSERVALOVE. This...

    CONSERVALOVE. This is why it's impossible to hate TNR for very long. Sour as I felt after this morning's Lee Siegel post on blogospheric fascists (who gave him the keys to a blog anyway?), I nevertheless found it impossible not to love this just-posted article where one of their writers, my friend Eve Fairbanks , signed up for a conservative dating site and went out with three of the guys -- political sociology in action. The piece, which could've been cruel, elects not to dynamite its barrel o' fish, and instead surfaces with some genuinely interesting observations on the nature of conservalove. The most fascinating, which tracks with my observations, is that: The women on ConservativeMatch--at least the women of Washington, Virginia--are both much rarer and more quintessentially "conservative" than the men are. Out of the 40 profiles I considered, only ten were women. Several of these described themselves as "simple," even "prudish" girls with "old-school" values, looking for a "...
  • GROVER SPEAKS, WE...

    GROVER SPEAKS, WE LISTEN. The Prospect hosted a breakfast with conservative enforcer and liberal bogeyman Grover Norquist today and, let's just be honest -- the man gives good quotes. No wonder reporters like to call him up. He also took an obvious delight in taking on a room full of liberals. Some of his answers were insightful, some informative, some nuts, some the utterances of a man deep in denial. Which is to say, you could hardly have hoped for a livelier breakfast guest. A few notes: Grover on political coalitions : "If you keep everyone happy on their primary issue but disappoint them on their secondary issue, everyone grumbles, but no one walks out." This is Grover's way of reconciling what is a tolerant, pro-immigrant, pro-gay worldview with his partisan electoral concerns. He's convinced, or at least hopeful, that gays and immigrants are a second-tier issue, subordinate to taxes and regulations. The trick is figuring out "when you are talking to somebody on a vote moving...
  • INORDINATE FEAR OF...

    INORDINATE FEAR OF COMMUNISM. The harder I think about it, the less I understand why Bill Perry and Ashton Carter want to bomb North Korea to stop them from testing the Taepodong 2 missile. They say we don't need to worry that the DPRK will retaliate since "an invasion of South Korea would bring about the certain end of Kim Jong Il's regime within a few bloody weeks of war, as surely he knows." But by the same token, he surely knows that launching a nuclear missile at the United States would bring about the certain end of his regime. So what are we worried about? It seems to me that we shouldn't let the North Koreans send us into these states of periodic panic -- it only serves to encourage them to keep acting up to get a rise out of us. Their technology is crappy, their country is dirt poor and militarily inferior to South Korea, to say nothing of Japan or the United States. There's nothing in North Korea that we could conceivably want (cabbage? starving people? the world's weirdest...
  • PUBLIC HEALTH ANNOUNCEMENT....

    PUBLIC HEALTH ANNOUNCEMENT. Don't use your cellphone during a lightning storm. Contrary to popular belief, getting struck by lightning isn't nearly the worst that can happen to you. Generally, the high resistance of your skin works to ground the blast, leaving you little more than singed. According to a new study , however, the presence of a phone disrupts the transmission process, vastly increasing the likelihood of serious internal injury. The findings are particularly on the mind this morning as D.C. experienced an absolutely epic thunderstorm last night. Being a naive Californian who'd only experienced irregular bolts in the past, the constancy of the light led me to believe, for the first half hour, that there were sirens outside. When Zeus nailed my street a few times, though, I revised my opinion. Impressive stuff, but not the sort I want to describe from outside on my LG. --Ezra Klein

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