• When will Nuclear Energy be safe enough?

    Like Mark Kleiman, I believe that the spectre of global warming is so serious that, in addition to curbing our energy usage, nuclear power should not be off the table. What's the good of worrying about how to keep the nuclear waste safe for hundreds of thousands of years if, at the rate we're pumping out greenhouse gasses and pollutants, there won't be much of a civilization left in a few thousand years? Having said that, I also don't like the idea of energy cowboys, like the guys who ran Enron, blazing in lobbyists in a tow and building plants on the cheap. Nathan Newman raises a good point regarding the recent flurry of lobbying for government subsidies of nuclear plants: But these proposed subsidies are chicken feed compared to the 1957 Price-Anderson Act, which limits the insurance liability of nuclear reactors in case of a meltdown. Yep, if there's a catastrophic accident, the taxpayer is stuck with the bill. My view is that nuclear might be worth exploring, but if private...
  • The Nightmare Scenario

    (Via Calculated Risk ) Bank of America put out some dire words yesterday. Run for cover! "...the debt financed spending spree of consumers is petering out while the almost unprecedented surge in government spending looks increasingly unsustainable" "Skyrocketing house prices" had enabled consumers to draw down "staggering" levels of mortgage equity for spending. But the "multiplying" effect of the boom was running out under the delayed impact of earlier rate rises. "We cannot rule out a nightmare scenario in which a decline in consumption caused by a sudden correction in house prices would lead to an explosive rise in the fiscal deficit that would have to be addressed by a tighter fiscal policy," Oh, wait. They're just talking about Britain. Phew. Nothing like that can ever happen here, right? --Battlepanda
  • Let's (Not) Get Mean

    Hey again, Ezrafficionados. Much thanks to Ezra for once again tossing this opportunity my way; it's a pleasure to be back. I think we're going to have some fun this weekend, as I have a few decent rants planned. Due to a scheduling thing, I won't be posting much until later this evening. For now, I want to flag some weird advice from the Democrats' answer to Jeff Foxworthy, Dave "I Actually Make People Call Me 'Mudcat'" Saunders: "Bubba doesn’t call them illegal immigrants. He calls them illegal aliens. If the Democrats put illegal aliens in their bait can, we’re going to come home with a bunch of white males in the boat." Okay, listen. I know Democrats have to be more sensitive to the cultural concerns of white guys. On some fronts, I'm sympathetic to that impulse. But it seems like a lot of advice Democrats have been getting lately amounts, essentially, to "Be rhetorically meaner to group X," and that kind of bothers me. First, it's bad politics, because people can smell a phony a...
  • A Libertarian for bailing out United

    I don't know if it is bad form to drag an on-going debate to a guest blog, but here it goes. Jane Galt took exception to my characterization of the United Airlines pension bailout by the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp as corporate welfare . In fact, she went on to write lengthy posts defending the decision to let United offload their pension obligations onto the PBGC. Shouldn't somebody take her libertarian card away? Jane's objections: 1) It's not exactly corporate welfare The PBGC, while it is grossly underfunded, isn't exactly "corporate welfare"; it's a government-chartered pension insurer, which forces pension plans to pay it premiums (the worse shape their pension/company is in, the higher the premium), and in return regulates the hell out of the pension plans. It is not incorporated for the benefit of the corporations, who do not like either the premiums or the regulation; it is for the benefit of the workers. I guess I have a broader definition of corporate welfare than Jane...
  • eBay for Workers?

    Hi again, everyone. It's Angelica, a.k.a Battlepanda. I'm going to be filling in this weekend. Has anyone here heard about ? I blogged about it a few days ago at my blog because it is an interesting idea that I don't know exactly what make of, so I just thought I'd mention it here to see what people think. It's a kind of reverse eBay for workers that got started in Germany. You post a job listing (typically freelance in nature) and wait for people who want that job to bid down the price of their labor. Sounds pretty Hobbesian, right? And indeed the unions and many politicians are up in arms about it. But when the unemployment rate in Germany is up there at 12.5%, it seems foolish to denounce any venue of job creation. Make no mistake. I am pro-union. I think the power assymetry between individuals on the one hand and corporations on the other requires collective bargaining for workers to get a fair shake. But JobDumping's target customers are different...these are jobs...
  • Weekend Guest Stars

    Battle Panda and Daniel Munz will be helping me out this weekend. Better recognize.
  • Holy Skirmishes

    Kevin writes : Matt Yglesias wonders if liberals spend too much of their energy fighting meaningless fights against religious symbolism...I think he's right, and I say that from the perspective of someone who's such a stone atheist that I'm pretty sure it's not philosophically possible to be more atheist than me. Still, there are fights and there are fights, and some are more worth fighting than others. Evolution? Worth fighting over, even if it costs us. Prayer in public classrooms? I'm agin it, but let's face facts: we won 98% of this battle long ago. The last 2% probably isn't worth too much bloodshed. Creche scenes in front of city hall? Lighten up. That's right, and I hear it a lot. The problem is that liberals, broadly defined, aren't the folks fighting these battles. Democratic legislators aren't scouring the nation's public lawns for nativity scenes. In fact, most of us just don't care. It's a small set of liberally- affiliated organizations waging these battles. The ACLU,...
  • Liberal Academia

    How can it be that I was just accepted as a writer at one of the most staunchly, proudly, progressive magazines in the country, and yet my natural opinions routinely place me on the rightmost edge of my classes? It's really quite strange.
  • Your Daily Must-Read

    August on Voinovich. In George's defense, the amount of pressure that was brought to bear must've been simply unbelievable, and his assurance that the vote would historically leave the committee without a recommendation is going to make it possible to kill on the Senate floor. On the other hand, I really don't understand what Bush is saying to these guys that's scaring them so much. Voinovich won 77% of the vote in his last race; you'd need a stick of dynamite to eject him from his Senate seat. So what are the threats that force all these folks to stand down? And how powerful must they be to have ensured that no one, no one , decided the White House had simply gone too far and it was time to teach them a lesson? Very weird.
  • Point for Lula

    America decides to meddle in Brazil's HIV-prevention program. America demands Brazil sign oath condemning prostitutes. Brazil to America : "Go screw yourselves (safely)." In early May, Brazil declared its defiance of American diktats abroad. The country's national AIDS commissioner, HIV doctor Pedro Chequer, turned down $40 million in US assistance for its fight against AIDS rather than sign a statement condemning prostitution. "For us it was an ethical issue," Chequer told The Nation. "We have to reach every segment of society, with no discrimination. Besides, no country is supposed to decide what another country must do." At a time when the Bush Administration has elected itself not only the world's cop but its pope, too, Brazil's audacity carries the shock of the new. Over the past two years, organizations around the world have been asked to sign similar statements and to halt their advocacy for sex workers' rights, the result of restrictive language slipped into AIDS and human-...