Archive

  • LABOR 101, PLUS...

    LABOR 101, PLUS SOME EXTRA CREDIT. You owe it to yourself to read Nathan Newman 's inspiring, irresistible " Why Unions? Labor 101 ." Folks here know I'm a health care guy, but one of the reasons why is my belief that among our health system's many destructive tendencies, it's largely helped doom the labor movement. To be fair, the union movement was often complicit, offering insubstantial support to national proposals and preferring to expend resources on improving limited benefits for their direct members. It's a sin they've long since repented for, with yesterday's UAW convention offering only the latest example. All that said, the most demonic, nightmarish vision for anti-union employers is letting a union arise and corner them into so-called "gold plated" health benefits. Given the double-time march of health costs, reasonable contracts negotiated now may prove financially unfeasible twenty years down the road (see the auto industry for an example of that), but an active union...
  • LET'S GET READY...

    LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE! Slate is hosting a debate between former New Republic Editor-at-Large Peter Beinart and American Prospect Editor -- and advanced, multidimensional life form -- Mike Tomasky on Beinart's new book The Good Fight . Attentive readers will already have read Mike's review of the book, but if not, check it out , then grab your ringside seat to Slate' s prominent pundit thunderdome . --Ezra Klein
  • BORROWED TIME. I'm...

    BORROWED TIME. I'm not going to try and strain to work myself up into a lather of ineffectual indignation about it, but obviously beating a crowd of 200 women's rights protestors in Teheran in loathsome. The article even comes with bonus Islamic Republic weirdness: "Throughout most of the confrontation, female officers beat female protesters and male police beat male protesters there to support the women. Male police generally are not permitted to touch female suspects." What I will observe is that there's clearly a rather large level of political unrest in Iran. I'm not really among those who believe there's very much the American government can do to affect the pace of political change over there. Rather, I think the thing to remember here is that there's no need to get panicky and paranoid about a regime that's clearly living on borrowed time. Even if a U.S.-Iranian diplomatic accord doesn't hold up over the long term, the Iranian regime probably won't either. Meanwhile, a...
  • UNCHARITABLE. Cato's...

    UNCHARITABLE. Cato's David Boaz has a gleeful post whipping Andrew Cuomo -- and by extension, all liberals -- for his relatively paltry commitment to charity. "In 2004 and 2005," Boaz writes, "Cuomo had more than $1.5 million in adjusted gross income. And he gave a total of $2,000 to charity. He made no charitable contributions in 2003, when his income was a bit less than $300,000. It�s no wonder that Cuomo believes passionately in taxing Americans to support all manner of welfare and transfer programs. Looking within himself, he quite understandably fears that in the absence of coerced transfer programs there would be no support for the poor. Yet in fact Americans gave about $250 billion to charity in 2004, or an average of about 2 percent of income." Oh boy, 2 percent of income! You hear this quite a bit, that liberals support large welfare programs because they fear their own selfishness. It's a nifty bit of ideological jujitsu. Liberals, who want to codify sufficient support for...
  • THE QUIET IRAQI....

    THE QUIET IRAQI. Check out yesterday's Spencer Ackerman post noting that the Iraqi government includes a man by the name of Muhammed Shahwani who was appointed back in the Iyad Allawi days. He apparently can't be fired by Allawi's successors, is paid by the United States of America, and runs a secret police outfit that, likewise, is accountable to the American government rather than the Iraqi one. --Matthew Yglesias
  • THERE'S THE BEEF....

    THERE'S THE BEEF. The New Republic has obliged those of us puzzled by their previous Darfur editorializing with a new one spelling out what exactly they think we should do. I have some concerns. "The consensus among experts," they write, "is that it would take approximately 20,000 troops to secure Darfur." At the same time, the explicit model for this operation is Kosovo where the initial KFOR deployment was over twice that size, and even today "more than 16,000 peacekeepers" are on the ground. Darfur contains 2-3 times as many people as Kosovo, is over 20 times as large in terms of area, is more diverse in ethnolinguistic terms, and is less conveniently located to NATO's home base. So why should a much smaller mission suffice? And what if Sudan doesn't want to be invaded by 20,000 foreign troops? Well, if they resist, "NATO would have to follow through on its threat and attack Sudanese military installations from the air until Khartoum got the message. This is precisely the strategy...
  • Is Alan Blinder a Protectionist?

    Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne is a decent person, whose views on many issues I share, but his column today is almost a caricature. It perfectly demonstrates why liberals/progressives are so lost on economic policy. Dionne notes the collapse of good-paying jobs in the auto industry, the manufacturing sector, and increasingly other sectors due to trade and outsourcing. He then cites a recent article by Princeton University professor and former Fed Vice-Chairman Alan Blinder (identified as "no protectionist") warning that the trend toward declining wages due to competition with the developing world is likely to spread to more sectors in the future. The implicit question that Dionne then poses is "how can we maintain middle class living standards without being hoary protectionists?" The answer of course is that Alan Blinder, Bill Clinton and the other "free traders" referred to in the article are in fact protectionists. They just don't own up to it. The competition that our...
  • THE MYTH OF...

    THE MYTH OF THE FREE RIDE. Via Tom Lee I see that in the course of editorializing against network neutrality, The Washington Post 's editorial writers have decided that big Internet firms "want their services delivered fast but don't want the pipe owners to extract fees from them." This is misinformation pure and simple. As Tom writes, "Content providers pay for their bandwidth." Here's a quick-and-dirty experiment that can prove the point to readers. Try to start a website. Go do it now. Give it a shot, and you'll see soon enough that to start a website you need to pay someone to host it and for the bandwidth it uses . Right now, my website is a TypePad site. To start one, you need to pay Six Apart a monthly fee. As you'll see here , for $4.95 a month you get two gigabytes per month of bandwidth, whereas $8.95 a month will get you (among other things) five gigabytes per months of bandwidth. It costs money. As it should. Bandwidth is a valuable commodity, so if you want it -- either...
  • SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK. ...

    SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK . On the great David Brooks debate , can I suggest a compromise? Let kids read what they want. Give them a list of books to choose from and allow them into the classes, or into the groups, that are studying books they'd actually like to read. As it is, Brooks' contention that boys are desperate to read Hemingway but foiled by a feminized education system is a bit silly. Hemingway, for one, would think any male lacking the gumption to stride into Barnes and Nobles and pick up the damn book himself deserved a whupping. Except he would've said so with fewer commas. As for Mike Tomasky 's musings about what kids actually read, a quick glance at college syllabi shouldn't be that hard. My experiences with the educational system are relatively recent, so here's some anecdotal evidence: High school offered lots of literature that I was too young to appreciate. None of it was the estrogen-laden sludge of feelings that Brooks identifies. I don't know why he thinks The...
  • KEEP DIGGING, TOM....

    KEEP DIGGING, TOM. The Tom Friedman column mocked �round the world (in which he boldly declared for the umpteenth time that "the next six months are crucial in Iraq") just gets funnier as Friedman goes on the defensive. To wit, on CNN today he defended that stereotypically hollow, centrist nonsense with... hollow, centrist nonsense! Money quote, via Think Progress: So the left � people who hated the war, they want you to declare the war is over, finish, we give up. The right, just the opposite. But I�ve been trying to just simply track the situation on the ground. And the fact is that the outcome there is unclear, and I reflected that in my column. Here Friedman engages in several typical MSM pundit tactics to discredit his critics. First he implies that everyone on either the right or the left is an ideologue whereas he is a disinterested reporter. He doesn't seem to recognize that one could be, say, a liberal who honestly observes the situation on the ground and comes to realize...

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