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  • AND THE MONEY...

    AND THE MONEY GOES MARCHING ON AND ON, HUZZAH, HUZZAH? There�s an interesting bit of political entrail reading from The Wall Street Journal , which notes that Big Business, beginning to feel a little shaky over prospects of a Democratic resurgence, is funding donkey candidates at a level not seen since Dick Gephardt was majority leader. According to the article, "[t]he Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has, so far in this election cycle, raised more than its Republican counterpart for the first time since Democrats lost control of Congress in the 1994 election. In the House, Republicans have raised more money than the Democratic campaign arm, but the gap is narrower than in previous campaigns. "Democrats are realizing the importance of working closely with business leaders," says Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, the top fund-raiser for Senate Democrats." How charming. Before 1994, the corporate world split its contributions basically evenly between the majority-holding...
  • THE DEVIL READS...

    THE DEVIL READS TAP . Dig the plug for our fair magazine in the opening graf of this New York Times article on the new movie version of The Devil Wears Prada . The concerned father described in the piece seems to be operating under a couple of notable misimpressions about relative status and prestige in the journalism business, but it's probably best not to discuss those too explicitly here on the The American Prospect 's website. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP: HARD LABOR. Harold Meyerson notes in our July/August issue that the Change to Win leaders had big plans last year when they left the AFL-CIO to do more organizing. The resolve is there -- but so are all the usual impediments. --The Editors
  • MOTIVATIONISM. Picking up...

    MOTIVATIONISM. Picking up on Greg Sargent 's latest post on the media, let me note that there's something rather illogical about the habit of dismissing media criticism from progressive blogs or, say, Media Matters on the grounds that it's "partisan" in its motivations. After all, what's motive got to do with it? If The New York Times were to, say, slander a new car from Toyota as unsafe when it was, in fact, quite safe, one assumes the Times would hear about it from someone at Toyota. Toyota's interest in the matter would, of course, be the corporate bottom line rather than an abstract concern for journalism. But, still, you'd have a car, its actual safety record, a Times article, and what the article says about the car's safety record. If the article was wrong or unfair, that's a problem. If a Toyota PR guy points out the problem, you don't question his motives, you fix the problem. Of course, if the Toyota PR guy complains about negative coverage that actually was fair and accurate...
  • FROM AT IT...

    FROM AT IT AGAIN. Ah, they apparently unlimbered the Jaws Of Life to pry Al From out of a corporate hospitality tent long enough to write another op-ed , this one for The Washington Post on Sunday. The equally inevitable Bruce Reed is accessorial to the argument in which the Democrats (again) are urged to knuckle poor people sufficiently so as to build a shining new Clintonism on their spavined bones. This is an old tune played badly, but even my cynical eyes popped at the following sentence: "Clintonism has never been about mushy compromise and electoral expedience." Holy Jesus H. Christ on a suck-egg mule. This is funnier than whistling fish. For all his obvious advantages, including his invaluable gift for making all the right enemies, Bill Clinton would have sold his white-haired granny to the Malay Pirates for four points in a Gallup Poll. Not about electoral expedience? The man who left the campaign trail to sign the execution order for Rickey Ray Rector , who was so aware of...
  • Do the Washington Post Editors Know How Markets Work?

    The Post has a piece this morning about the non-enforcement of laws against hiring undocumented workers. The article includes several statements, including one from Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, to the effect that native born citizens will not do the jobs that are filled by undocumented workers. Believers in markets would say that if wages rose, then plenty of native-born citizens would be willing to fill the jobs. Interestingly, meat processing is one of the industries discussed in the article. Thirty years ago, this was an industry with relatively high-paying (albeit extremely unpleasant) jobs. It was also relatively highly unionized. Plenty of native born citizens wanted these jobs. The Times had a much more insightful piece on the same topic. It reports on the growing use of undocumented workers as custodians and how this has been associated with a decline of wages in the occupation. --Dean Baker
  • Wasting Public Funds on Destroying the Planet

    It is remarkable that ostensibly intelligent people can be made to fear the possibility that Europe and Japan will be less crowded places in the years ahead. The Financial Times has an article that reports on a warning from "top fertility experts" over "Europe's chaotic response to its demographic crisis." It is hard to find the evidence for the crisis in the story. The article reports that health care spending as share of GDP is projected to rise from a Europe-wide average of 6 percent at present to 8 percent by 2050. Since the U.S. currently spends 15 percent of its GDP on health care, it is difficult to get too concerned about this prospect. The article gives the usual hype about the rise in dependency ratios, there will be fewer workers for every dependent. Those who have mastered arithmetic know that the projected increases in productivity swamp the impact of rising dependency ratios on living standards. For example, if productivity growth averages a very modest 1.5 percent...
  • Interesting News On China

    The New York Times reported on Saturday that China's central bank is adopting a more contractionary monetary policy in order to slow its economy and reduce inflation. If China's central bank is concerned that inflation is getting out of control, then it would be an ideal time for the country to begin to raise the value of its currency against the dollar. This would have two beneficial effects from the bank's standpoint. First, a more valuable Chinese currency will make Chinese exports more expensive. This will slow China's export growth, and thereby help to slow its economy. The other effect is that a higher valued currency will make imports cheaper. Lower priced imports will help to alleviate domestic inflation by making cheap goods available as inputs into production, and also by allowing workers to consume more without pay increases. A higher valued Chinese currency will be a mixed story for the United States. On the one hand, it will make U.S. goods more competitive, both in the...
  • Strong Words on the Fed

    "The Fed chairman may be appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, but his real bosses are on Wall Street." This isn't the ranting of some crazed radical; it is a line from a column in the Washington Post 's Outlook section, by Richard Yamarone, an investment analyst. While I probably never would have phrased it so bluntly, I think that Mr. Yamarone is largely correct. It is worth reflecting on this one. The interests of Wall Street investors are not necessarily the same as the interests of the public as a whole. For example, big wage increases, that come out of corporate profits, would be very welcome news to the vast majority of the population, since they depend on wages for the bulk of their income. Needless to say, lower profits are not welcome news on Wall Street. The fact that we have an arm of the federal government that answers to the special interests on Wall Street, rather than the larger public, should be cause for concern in a democracy. --Dean Baker
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP: HARD SELL. Garance Franke-Ruta reports on the icy reception Mark Warner received at this year�s Yearly Kos convention. --The Editors

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