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  • WATERS WARS. Let...

    WATERS WARS. Let me recommend Jon Margolis 's fascinating piece on TAP Online about Canada's strange, and potentially untenable, refusal to export their fresh water. As Margolis writes , "Canada has 20 percent of all the world�s fresh water, to slake the thirsts and irrigate the crops of only 0.5 percent of the world�s population. [And] with the United Nations estimating that almost two-thirds of everybody, or almost 5.5 billion people, will face chronic water shortages by 2050," such protectiveness of their reserves will eventually appear cruel. Margolis focuses mostly on Canada's unwillingness to sell water to the profligate United States, but I'd be interested to know their position on dampening drought and quenching Third World thirst. And if you're interested in reading more on the issue, Brad Plumer has further context and commentary . --Ezra Klein
  • TRUTHINESS IN THE...

    TRUTHINESS IN THE STYLE SECTION. Inspired by Friends With Money , The New York Times decided to inflict a little ignorance on the American people, informing their readers that economic barriers to friendship are growing in salience because "other barriers have been broken down." After all, people make friends in college where "Students from country-club families and those on scholarships are thrown together as roommates, on athletic teams and in classes." This is best put in the "deeply misleading" file. Tuition is so high at private colleges that most of the people on financial aid ( e.g. , my freshman roommate) are from richer-than-average families. Similarly, while it's true as the article states that a higher-than-ever share of people from more modest backgrounds go to college nowadays, rich kids and poor kids go to different colleges . The actual level of economic diversity on elite campuses is low and declining. If economic differences among friends really are increasing in...
  • STATES' WHATS? ...

    STATES' WHATS? The Washington Post 's invaluable business columnist Steven Pearlstein has an elegant little takedown of this week's round of supposed health reforms. "The Republicans," he writes, "are engaged in a largely cynical exercise to blame government regulation for everything that's wrong with the insurance market while offering to reward their friends in the small-business lobby with a lucrative new health insurance franchise. The proposal they back requires them to ignore everything they've ever said about federalism and states' rights." That's true enough. The proposal in question is the so-called " Enzi bill, " which would invalidate all statewide regulatory structures for insurers. It's a remarkable little ball of cynicism, a clear win for the GOP's business overlords against the party's supposed conservatism. Worth keeping in mind, too, is that when state's rights collided with the moral imperatives of desegregation, the Republican Party gave primacy to the coherency of...
  • A SIMPLE PLAN....

    A SIMPLE PLAN. Pondering the common good versus individual rights while in line for a burrito just now, a thought occurred to me: Why do you need to opt-in to be an organ donor? I'm not going to take such a stridently collectivist line as to suggest that we harvest organs against people's wills, but surely we could change the default rule so that objectors can opt-out of organ donation. I see lots of saved lives and no real downside. --Matthew Yglesias
  • IF A, THEN...

    IF A, THEN A. Good to see my colleague Harold Meyerson continuing the GOP-has-no-ideas argument. As he notes, their case for retaining Congress isn't an agenda, but a tautology -- if the Democrats win Congress, then the Democrats win Congress. It's an unsettling thought, to be sure, though when pollsters ask , "Overall, which party, the Democrats or the Republicans, do you trust to do a better job in coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years?,� Democrats come out on top by a 14 percent margin. One might also wonder why the GOP is so obviously terrified by the prospect of investigations. Bush hasn't done anything wrong, has he? --Ezra Klein
  • A COUNTERINSURGENCY TACTIC...

    A COUNTERINSURGENCY TACTIC BY ANY ANOTHER NAME. I think there's more heat than light to my disagreement with Fast Leon , since we're in pretty close agreement about reasonable policy responses to the situation in Sudan. On the semantic issue, I -- and the U.N. -- want to say that a given mass killing is either a genocide or else a war-fighting tactic. Mark , the State Department, Samantha Power , etc., want to say that both kinds of mass killing deserve the label "genocide." As far as that goes, that's fine -- we often have words that denote more than one kind of thing. The word "rock" applies to both diamonds and to random stones you might find anywhere. But here's the thing. You wouldn't want to develop a response to finding a rock in your backyard -- pick it up and throw it away, say -- and then apply when you find a diamond, all the while saying "well, look, it's a kind of rock !" If you have two kinds of phenomena -- mass killings inspired by a desire to exterminate an ethnic...
  • The Conservative Nanny State is Here!

    The moment you have all been waiting for has finally arrived. You can download your copy of The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer today. The book is available as a free e-book (read chapter 4 for the reasoning). You will soon be able to order paperback copies at Conservativenannystate.org . The book takes issue with the prevailing political metaphor in U.S. politics: that liberals want the government to intervene to promote fairness and equity, while conservatives want to leave outcomes to the market. The book argues that conservatives (or at least those in power) support a wide range of government interventions that have the effect of distributing income upward. This list includes a trade and immigration policy that places less-skilled workers in direct competition with workers in developing countries, while protecting highly paid professionals from the same sort of competition. Another item on the list is Federal Reserve Board...
  • CONTRA MATT. My...

    CONTRA MATT. My friend over the cubicle wall does a disservice to the debate over Darfur by calling into question some basic facts about the genocide. First, he falls into a trap that paralyzed international responses to genocide following the holocaust. Namely, that �genocide� primarily means the German slaughter of the Jews of Europe. The legal definition is a bit broad, and it's best to leave it up to the lawyers at the State Department and the United Nations to argue over whether it fits the case at hand. What comes to mind when non-lawyers hear the word "genocide," however, is something akin to the events of the Holocaust, where a regime pursues the destruction of an ethnic group as an end in and of itself. Without denying that monstrous things are being done in Darfur, I don't think that genocide -- in this sense -- is what's happening. Undoubtedly, he is correct. Darfur is not Europe in 1939. Jews are not getting carted off to death camps in Poland. But genocide is not the...
  • WHERE MY HO'S...

    WHERE MY HO'S AT? While we've been busy with blogosphere inside baseball, Laura Rozen points out that the MSM has been mighty quick to swallow the White House line that Porter Goss 's rapid and unexpected departure has absolutely nothing to do with the burgeoning investigation into Hookergate. To review the contrary case quickly, we're talking about a scandal involving a contractor who liked giving bribes to people who sit on the Intelligence Committee ( Duke Cunningham ) or are high-level CIA personnel ( "Dusty" Foggo ). Goss just so happens to be a former House Intelligence Committee member who was put in charge of the CIA, is friends with Foggo, and promoted him soon after taking over. What's more, members of Goss's staff seem to have been taking bribes from Brent Wilkes , the very same person doing all the rest of the bribing. And then Goss is supposed to have suddenly resigned -- by coincidence! -- right in the middle of all this coming out? I'm completely prepared to believe...
  • THE END OF...

    THE END OF THE MEME. We've been hearing for the past two years, mainly from Republicans, that the Democratic Party has no ideas. It's time to put that meme to rest, because the American people clearly disagree. According to today's New York Times /CBS News poll, which also found President Bush with a 31 percent approval rating : By better than two to one, Democrats were seen as having more new ideas than Republicans. Two-to-one. Over. Done. Time to move on. --Garance Franke-Ruta

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