"Certain nationalities have come to be known for their skills in certain fields — Egyptians are skilled carpenters; Moroccans are good interior decorators and Syrians are excellent masons. At present, skilled workers face real competition from those who learned a profession after coming here. This group is always ready to take whatever job is offered for a little money — never mind the quality which is constantly being compromised."
OK, which is it? Have the Egyptians developed a comparative advantage in carpentry? Similarly, have the Syrians developed a comparative advantage in brick laying (did they help build the Hanging Gardens years ago?) If these migrants have developed skills, even locally, what's with the final sentence about quality being compromised? Or haven't Saudi consumers figured out yet that prices have information content?
The real howler is in the next paragraph:
"It seems this country has become the largest training camp in the world. People from every nationality come here to learn a profession, find a job and then send the profits abroad."
I will not live long enough to kill the mercantilist fallacy, here in the States, the ghost of Abraham Lincoln (if we build it here, we keep the money and the goods) continues to haunt the debate. But c'mon ... what good is a riyal sent to Egypt or Syria or Morocco if it doesn't ultimately become a purchase of a Saudi export or an investment in a Saudi factory? And if there are no such opportunities to spend riyals the Saudi consumers are getting their carpentry and their houses in exchange for worthless pieces of paper. What's the Arabic for "crying with your mouth full?"
What I fear will be lost is any serious assessment of ways that the war, or the intrusive airline security measures, are imposing adjustment costs on the economy.
4. Fueling climate change and environmental destruction. Fossil fuel corporations benefited from over $24 billion in World Bank financing between 1992 and August 2002, according to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). The Banks' fossil fuel portfolio, IPS estimates, will generate roughly twice as much carbon dioxide (a potent greenhouse gas) as industry produced worldwide in the year 2000.
5. Bankrolling forest destruction. Following a disastrous history of supporting forest destruction around the world, the World Bank in 1993 adopted a policy prohibiting further direct financing of commercial logging activities in primary tropical moist forests. The Bank has not effectively enforced this policy. The Bank's solution? A revised draft Forest Policy which removes the ban and provides no new protections for forests or forest peoples.
Wouldn't development of fossil fuel resources attenuate the incentive to cut trees? Aren't trees carbon dioxide sinks?
"From the point of view of Israel, the Israeli lobby and their representatives in the Administration, the apparent benefits of such a free hand are clear enough. For the group around Cheney, the single most important consideration is guaranteed and unrestricted access to cheap oil, controlled as far as possible at its source. To destroy and occupy the existing Iraqi state and dominate the region militarily would remove even the present limited threat from Opec, greatly reduce the chance of a new oil shock, and eliminate the need to woo and invest in Russia as an alternative source of energy."
I'm sure somebody else will weigh in on the gratuitous swipe at Israel. Let's take the cheap oil premise seriously. Wouldn't it be in Russia's interest to develop its oil business so as to raise the living standards of Russians, and wouldn't Russian oil supplies be a source of price competition, if in fact the objective is cheaper oil? And wouldn't -- somebody else made this point recently but I don't recall who and where -- somebody who is interested in access to oil favor lessened sanctions against the al-Tikriti regime, because using existing capacity is cheaper than rebuilding capacity that has been torched, good as Red Adair is?
It gets better."It would also critically undermine the steps already taken towards the development of alternative sources of energy. So far, these have been pitifully few. All the same, 11 September brought new strength to the security arguments for reducing dependence on imported oil, and as alternative technologies develop, they could become a real threat to the oil lobby - which, like the Israeli lobby, is deeply intertwined with the Bush Administration. War with Iraq can therefore be seen as a satisfactory outcome for both lobbies. Much more important for the future of mankind, it is also part of what is in essence a strategy to use American military force to permit the continued offloading onto the rest of the world of the ecological costs of the existing US economy - without the need for any short-term sacrifices on the part of US capitalism, the US political elite or US voters."
Huh? Hasn't this guy heard about the Asian Brown Cloud? Hasn't he considered the possibility that cheaper oil, extracted with modern technology, just might be an incentive to the Indonesians to cut fewer trees for fuel, and to the Chinese to mine less of that brown coal? Moreover, has it ever occurred to Mr Lieven that these "alternative technologies" will be an incentive for sellers of oil to lower their prices?
Readers, if you come across any other fiskings of this essay, please let me know (skarlson - at - niu dot edu).
"The modern incarnation of this spirit can indeed be seen above all as a reaction to the double defeat of the Right in the Vietnam War - a defeat which, they may hope, victory in Iraq and a new wave of conservative nationalism at home could cancel out once and for all. In Vietnam, unprecedented military defeat coincided with the appearance of a modern culture which traditionalist Americans found alien, immoral and hateful beyond description. As was widely remarked at the time of Newt Gingrich's attempted 'Republican Revolution' of the mid-1990s, one way of looking at the hardline Republicans - especially from the Religious Right - is to see them as motivated by a classical nationalist desire for a return to a Golden Age, in their case the pre-Vietnam days of the 1950s."
Let me propose a simpler explanation. The America of the 1950s was an America that worked. The counterculture that followed did not. It's more accurate to describe aspects of it as alien, immoral, and destructive.
Consider this: amnestied workers might not be the fountainhead of Mexican irredentism that the Clam fears, or the event endorsers might be expecting.
UPDATE: Editorial coverage at Cold Fury.
Notice of Embargo: The Superintendent will not provide links to Washington Post stories as long as the Washington Post persists in its intrusive registration requests.
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What's the Words-L moment? Years ago some programmers wrote a program called "Virupaksha Mokshagundam" that faked posts by someone using the subcontinental version of English. I sometimes wonder if the Nigerian email spammers aren't using something similar.
There is a more troubling aspect to these posts. One of Paul Krugman's less polemical columns of the past two months (I don't know how to mine the Times archives to find it) drew some parallels between the US and Japanese economies: a recession, a popping of a stock market bubble, and the inability of the central bank to further lower interest rates. Add a bubble in housing prices and rising energy prices, and be very, very afraid.
Welch provides links to a more diverse population of public intellectuals than Bronski does.
The Paint Shop has some more work tonight. Posting resumes Monday, God's time.
The Guardian's editorial page (not that there's a difference with a European paper) has been, shall we put it, less than enthusiastic about military action against the Hussein regime. Is this article simply another version of the give-peace-a-chance argument?
Perhaps not newsworthy, but not a surprise either. Many Iraqi immigrants to the Detroit area are Chaldean Christians, who are not well served either by Islam or by socialism.
Sullivan also links to a Financial Times essay by Gerard Baker that he credits with making the unilateral multilateralism point "better" than he did yesterday (minidissertation here), which it might, but Baker buried his lede ("If both sides can only hold to it, it should, like all good bargains, make everybody better off") on the markers end.
You'll also find a link to Robert Fisk serving as useful idiotarian to Osama Bin Laden. I particularly liked this Bin Laden quote: ''Once I was only 30 metres from the Russians and they were trying to capture me. I was under bombardment but I was so peaceful in my heart that I fell asleep. This experience has been written about in our earliest books. I saw a 120mm mortar shell land in front of me, but it did not blow up. Four more bombs were dropped from a Russian plane on our headquarters but they did not explode. We beat the Soviet Union. The Russians fled.'' Sammy, you can't read my comments because quality control is better in United States munitions factories.
Something else that occurs to me ... the site is supposed to get an improved subway, tube, and commuter rail station underneath. Why not borrow some ideas from the concourse area of the old Pennsylvania Station? The space is dignified enough (based, in part, on the Basilica of Constantine) that a chapel would not seem out of place.
"Chris Toensing, editor of the Washington-based Middle East Report, said the administration had invested too much political capital in 'regime change' to give up its hard-line.
''Administration officials have a history of saying that arms inspection cannot be trusted to contain the 'mortal threat' of the Iraqi regime's putative weapons of mass destruction,'' he added."
Catch the non-sequitur? Past investments of political capital, whatever that is, are irreversibly lost and cannot be salvaged despite current investments. A past pattern of duplicity, on the other hand, is evidence of an adversary at the negotiating table that cannot be trusted. Putting scare quotes around "mortal threat" does not conceal the modus morons.
UNILATERAL MULTILATERALISM: I've long been skeptical of the notion that governments in foreign affairs are either multilateralist (good) or unilateralist (bad). It seems to me that any government's first priority in foreign policy should be the pursuit of national interest, broadly understood. For some, that's a unilateralist position, almost by definition. But I'd argue that it's more nuanced than that. The pursuit of national interest can (and should) lead to multilateral arrangements - NAFTA, GATT, NATO, the EU, etc - that benefit each party. Moreover, these multilateral arrangements work precisely because they do represent the sum of national interests, and aren't merely talking shops based on high-minded but impractical ideals. These diplomatic contraptions, in other words, are means, not ends. Bush gets this, I think. And it's a profound improvement on the muddled abdication of American leadership in the previous administration. But Bush adds a twist. It may be that some multilateral deals only really work when one of the critical parties to them threatens to abandon them and go it alone. Call it "unilateral multilateralism". Thatcher's relationship with the E.U., was rather like this. And Bush's continued insistence that the U.S. reserves the right in the last resort to deal with Iraq by itself has, I think, been the single most important factor in forcing the U.N. to act. His unilateralism made multilateralism possible. And it also gave direction to the multilateralism, reminding the U.N. that it should be concerned with tangible results not just debates and resolutions. I doubt the U.N. is up to the task, but it is one of the ironies of the present moment that without Bush's threat to walk, the U.N. wouldn't even recognize the task in front of it. You know, he really is a lot smarter than his critics recognize. Which is, of course, fine by him.
There is a lot of economics at work here.
1. People act in what they perceive to be their best interests. As governments are established to serve somebody's best interests (not everybody begins with the same premises as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution) "unilateralism," broadly understood, follows immediately.
2. Cooperation is more likely where there is mutual benefit. (Everyone who has been through one of my basic classes has heard this 2^(k-1) times for k large.) Multilateral agreements, therefore, enable each party to share in the gains from trade, if you will, made possible by the agreement. (That's not the same thing as the sum of individual interests, but I don't act in plays and Mr Sullivan probably hasn't read Paul Samuelson and Abraham Bergson on social welfare functions).
3. One cannot discuss sharing the gains from trade without some understanding of what one stands to lose by not sharing. This third point is somewhat more subtle and it has been the subject of an area of economics called game theory. Three elements are central. First is creating cooperation. "The problems in cooperation are detection of cheating, punishment, and restoring cooperation after punishment." Next comes commitment, where sometimes President Bush's strategy, "[C]ommit to a move first, and tell your opponent so he will respond in a certain way," is best, but sometimes the vicars of vacillation have the right idea: "wait to act as long as possible, to delay costs and maintain flexibility." Finally there is credibility: your response must be rational given the circumstances you're in. "A threat that is not credible is useless." A concept closely related to credibility is reputation: will you follow through on your threats. Mr Sullivan's complaint about the "muddled abdication" of the previous administration recognizes this point. Perhaps al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, (and the elderly delinquents in Teheran?) anticipated continued turning of the other cheek from the United States. With one relocated to Cuba and another in hiding, the bad actors remaining standing must update their expectations in light of new information, another point that keeps recurring in class notes.
"PS: If I'm way off, feel free to shove it in my face during the Monday chat!"
For the record, it was Wisconsin 24, Northern Illinois 21, with the outcome in doubt to the final series.
I have long maintained that two major contributions to the low esteem in which education, particularly the common schools finds itself held, are teachers' unions and teachers retiring their coats and ties. And of the two, looking like mill-hands has probably done more damage than associating as-if mill hands.
A note for Northern Illinois University students: the game lasts 60 minutes, and the semester lasts 15 weeks.
Three possibilities occur to me.
1. The simplest explanation is that the Florida story is really a false alarm with no terrorist implications.
2. Al-Qaeda's operatives are not the brightest bulbs in the marquee, and somebody (yet again??) talked too much.
3. The bad guys are learning, and this Florida team was supposed to be the mechanical rabbit. But the good guys are learning too, and some of the greyhounds have been rounded up.
UPDATE: More information, and local knowledge about potential targets, here (Via InstaPundit).
Today the situation is much different. Many parks charge a different lump-sum fee on weekends than they do on weekdays, and several charge a lower lump-sum fee in the evening (classic peak-load pricing). Some of the parks still offer a choice between pay-one-price plan (enforced by a wristband) or a two-part tariff, but in addition they offer quantity discounts for ticket purchases. A few, mostly the coastal piers, allow walk-ons and sell rides only by ticket.
The major developments in the last few years are these.
1. There has been a proliferation of go-kart parks adding amusement areas to the go-kart tracks. Many of these parks sell thrills on a pay-as-you-go basis.
2. Conventional amusement parks and waterparks tend to affiliate. Sometimes admission to the amusement area includes the use of the waterpark. Otherwise, consumers can buy the services of both as a bundle more cheaply.
3. The latest version of the pizza and birthday party center is an amusement park. There is a chain, Jeepers, that offers such things all over the USA.
4. National amusement park chains have done a lot of acquisition. I was surprised to see what Anheuser-Busch has been up to, and Six Flags are in a lot of states that cannot claim to have been territory under six flags. The Crystal Beach Comet is now an asset of Six Flags, in its new home in Lake George, New York.
Perhaps Josh has discovered the Silent Generation. Social science based on cycles of history may or may not be useful, but that doesn't stop people from trying. Go to Fourth Turning to see some efforts.
The short version of the story: does anybody else remember Vice President Agnew dismissing thirty-something "vicars of vacillation?" He was trashing the same cohort who are now the sixty-somethings running the New York Times (and occupying most of the faculty committees, but that's a rant for another day.) Such people were born during a major secular crisis (the Depression and World War II) and had no major coming-of-age challenges (perhaps apart from civil rights -- how many of the Guilty Southern White Boys are sixty-somethings?)
The circumstances of their youth lead to the following tendencies: "Overprotected as children, they become underprotective parents. Their principal endowment activities are in the domain of pluralism, expertise, and due process. Their best-known leaders include: William Shirley and Cadwallader Colden; John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson; Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson; Walter Mondale, and Colin Powell. These have been sensitive and complex social technicians, advocates of fair play and the politics of inclusion." (from Fourth Turning).
I have read the book. The authors have a maintained hypothesis that Europe's last secular crisis ended later than it did in the Anglosphere. Thus, Europe's Silent Generation is a few years younger than the Anglosphere's.
The first question from the audience: "How is Josephine (the civilian who the firefighters were escorting) doing?" Very well.
The Chief lingered to sign Last Man Down. Our conversation: "What's your name?" Steve. "That's my son's name." My dad had trouble getting me started in the morning [I had read some of the book in line]. Chief Picciotto is concerned for his son. Chief, don't sweat it, he's got good parents, he'll turn out OK.
Tunku Varadarajan picks his best and worst September 11 books. Last Man Down is in neither category. Buy it. Read it, particularly if you're disposed to give the highers-up a hard time when they deserve it. (Is highers-up the proper plural?)
UPDATE:Eugene Volokh makes the case that Saddam is likely to be less committed to institutional survival than, say, Nikita Khrushchev's commissars. Reason's basic question remains open.
10% (3 of 30 respondents) chose "recruiting a diverse workforce in which women and minorities are advanced and promoted."
50% chose "providing clear and accurate business statements to stockholders and creditors."
26.7% chose "minimizing environmental pollution by adopting the latest anti-pollution technology and complying with government regulations."
One respondent chose "avoiding layoffs by not exporting jobs or moving plants from one area to another."
Three were not sure.
I also offered the assertion, "The only real difference between executives at Enron and those at most other big companies, is that those at Enron got caught."
Four respondents strongly disagreed, sixteen agreed somewhat, nine disagreed somewhat, and five strongly disagreed. The set of "not sure" responses was empty.
My first question: What proportion of the work force earns minimum wage?. Of the 83 responses, the mean was 32.6 percent, the (divided by n-1) standard deviation was 17.8, the mode 25, the lowest estimate 0.73, and the highest estimate 80 percent.
The reality: less than 10 percent of the work force earns minimum wage.
Next: Are real living standards in the U.S. better or worse today than they were 100 years ago?. 46 students offered better, 34 offered worse.
Last: In a financial transaction, who benefits, the seller or the buyer?. 35 respondents offered the seller, 8 the buyer, and 41 showed the initiative to answer both. That's an encouraging note on which to begin the term.
Update: The post linked above is part of an ongoing conversation. Dawn Olsen has responded here. Scroll down and follow her links to get the subtext.