Friday, September 30, 2005
The shift in jobs and the need to shift job training
The Economist reports on the decline in manmufacturing employment in the U.S.
Of course, the good service sector jobs do require some training. And this Chicago Tribune story by Barbara Rose highlights the deficit in human capital investment in Chicago:
Here's a link to the Chicago Jobs Council report discussed by Rose.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
The Red Sox cause heartburn -- but do they save lives
It's going to be an agonizing/wonderful/intense final weekend of Major League Baseball's regular season. Whenever Major League Baseball has to post this kind of web page to explain the possible playoff permutations (link via David Pinto), you know there are some close races.
Naturally, the piece de resistance is the AL East, with the streaking Yankees a game ahead of the Red Sox, who are tied with Cleveland in the wild card standings.
I don't know how these games could top the drama of the last two years with these two teams -- but then again, I thought that was true right before last year's ALCS, and look what happened.
Fewer ER visits and more babies -- you know the recent Red Sox revival has been good for New England.
[Sure, there are fewer visits, but do the Red Sox save lives?--ed. The reportage is unclear. On the one hand, it seems that people with chronic ailments might defer or postpone visits. On the other hand, "There was no evidence, the researchers from Children's report, of a surge in ER visits immediately after the game concluded." One has to wonder if there were fewer driving accidents, etc. while people were watching the games.]
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Gone grand strategizin'
Blogging will be intermittent for the next few days, as I'm off to Princeton University for the next couple of days. I'll be participating in a conference sponsored by the Princeton Project on National Security, which I referred to a year ago as "a nonpartisan effort to strengthen and update the intellectual underpinnings of U.S. national security strategy."
If you glance at the planned agenda you'll see that participants will be trying to think big thoughts. In my case, it will probably consist more of listening to others think big thoughts.
In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves about this truly horrifying report.
The end of the immigration spike
Bernstein's story is a riff on the Pew Hispanic Center's latest report, "Rise, Peak and Decline: Trends in U.S. Immigration 1992 – 2004." The executive summary also observes that:
Indeed, the report makes it clear that the shift in immigration flows to new states is a permanent and not temporary shift.
Beyond allaying fears of Mexifornia, the study has two take home points.
First, immigration flows follow the economy:
This finding probably won't surprise many economists, but it is politically significant -- because it counters the belief that immigration is some unyielding, unstoppable force.
That said, the second, more disturbing take-home point is that the composition of immigration flows is changing -- and not for the better:
This kind of study may give greater impetus to a grand bargain on immigration reform -- in which legal immigration flows are expanded at the same time there is a crackdown on illegal immigration. [I thought the grand bargain involved a guest worker program--ed. Yeah, but my grand bargain would ditch that part -- guest worker programs don't have a great track record, and the dispersal of immigrants to non-border states would probably reduce its allure anyway.]
Go check out the whole report.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
So how's the public diplomacy thing going?
Karen Hughes, the under secretary for public diplomacy, is in the middle of a "listening tour" of the Middle East. Guy Dinmore reports in the Financial Times on how it's going.
The stop in Saudi Arabia was apparently quite an eye-opener:
Doesn't sound great -- but read this section, and consider the possible sample bias:
UPDATE: If this Josh Marshall post is accurate, then the FT has downgraded Hughes from Minister of Propaganda to her actual title.
Serenity -- the review
The answer partially depends on where you fit in the movie-going universe:
1) Joe and Jane Moviegoer. If you like action flicks with a dash of surprising levity, Serenity is definitely worth checking out. Writer/director Joss Whedon clearly knows his genres, and has no trouble mixing them -- in this case, sci-fi and westerns -- and has even less trouble subverting genre stereotypes. The best parts are the first and last 30 minutes of the film. There's a lot of backstory exposition, and if you go for opening weekend, you might notice a lot of oddly enthusiastic moviegoers, but I agree with Variety's Derek Elley in saying that, "Familiarity with the original episodes isn't necessary, as a tight opening effectively recaps the backstory." This is not Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me -- thank God.
[UPDATE: I'm glad to see this thumbs-up from someone illiterate in Whedon-speak.]
If geeks and fanboys scare you, do not see Serenity on opening weekend. Then go.
2) Firefly fans. Hmmm... how to put this.... hell yes, it's worth the coin. Whedon brought his "A" game and Universal gave him just enough money to make it very, very shiny. Whedon accomplishes in Serenity what he did so proficiently in his best work on TV -- he creates characters who stay true to their motivations, and then makes you realize that just because an actor is featured in the opening credits, there's no guarantee that they'll still be alive when the end credits run. It's that credible danger that makes the final half-hour of Serenity so intense for fanboys and fangirls alike. In Chiwetel Ejiofor, Whedon has found the perfect villain for this piece. Summer Glau and Nathan Fillion are equally good in the emoting and kickass fighting categories. The rest of the cast has their moments as well.
3) Aspiring movie auteurs: This take from Ken Tucker's New York magazine review should whet your appetite:
My take: You wish you could do a tracking shot like the one Whedon serves up in the opening credits. Serenity is a nice exercise in demonstrating how special effects should serve the story and not vice versa. As for dialogue, one person who saw an earlier preview put it best: "Han Solo wishes he was this cool." Whedon betrays his TV past with some claustrophobic shots at some junctures, but this is a great big-screen directorial debut.
Sara T. Hinson thought the show sounded libertarian themes -- like all sci-fi:
Having seen Serenity, I have to side with Hinson. While I thought the television show had both libertarian and modern liberal themes, the movie is actually more libertarian . Indeed, without giving Serenity's plot away, the information you discover about the Reavers negates one of the anti-libertarian critiques present in Firefly.
So go see the goram movie.
UPDATE: Jacob Levy saw the same screening I did, and blogs an excellent review. This paragraph captures the film well:
Matthew Yglesias also liked it -- though I don't agree with Yglesias' assertion that Whedon painted "the Alliance as a cartoonishly evil empire."
[Dude, don't you and everyone else are overreading a sci-fli flick?--ed. You don't know Whedon. From the Toronto Star's Marlene Arpe:
ANOTHER UPDATE: In Reason, Julian Sanchez has a link-rich, spoiler-rich essay on the philosophical roots of Serenity -- and makes a persuasive case for the role of Camus as well as Hayek. In Slate, Seth Stevenson likes Serenity but thinks Joss Whedon's comparative advantage is in the long narrative arcs of episodic television. Salon's Stephanie Zacharek agrees:
Monday, September 26, 2005
I seriously doubt the latter is true, but I do have a partial explanation for Smith: the motto of Grace Hill Media -- the PR firm tasked with the blogger promotion -- is "Helping Hollywood Reach People of Faith." I wonder if there's another PR firm to hype the event for liberal blogggers.....
2) And I wonder if they're better than Grace Hill Media, because I must agree with this blogger's complaint about the confirmation e-mail they sent to everyone. Juuuust a bit too bossy.
3) As someone who was captain of my high school math team, I can say with some certainty that I know from geeks. With that background knowledge, I must confirm what one of my moviegoing compatriots said: "I've been to Star Wars and LOTR openings, but this was easily the geekiest moviegoing audience I've ever seen."
3) Universal studios showed one preview before Serenity -- Doom, starring The Rock. From an audience primed for Joss Whedon quips, it provoked a... bemused reaction.
4) Despite the high fan-to-nonfan ration, there were enough interested outworlders such that the preview accomplished what Whedon said was the marketing strategy in this New York Times interview:
How to try Saddam
How do you try a dictator for crimes committed while in office? The question is not an easy one to answer. The best treatment I've seen of this problem, ironically, is fictional: Julian Barnes' The Porcupine.
This question will rear its head again when Saddam is put on trial in three weeks. Gary Bass -- author of Stay the Hand of Vengeance: The Politics of War Crimes Tribunals -- has a non-Times-Select op-ed in the NYT expressing concerns about how the Iraqi government is handling the matter:
If this sounds trivial, Bass is correct to point out that the treatment of Saddam's past affects Iraq's political future:
Read the whole thing.
Spammers, please help the Chinese government out...
Another Xinhua report has this priceless tidbit:
Isn't this sort of request exactly the kind of useful activity that spammers could engage in instead of bothering me?
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Wild Portuguese cigar orgies in Vatican!!!
Well, no, not exactly. But the AP's Nicole Winfield does have some new information on the conclave that eleated Cardinal Ratzinger to Pope Benedict XVI:
Wow, that last paragraph had some spicy info, let me tell you.
This is one of those stories where the news is not in the content but in the fact that someone made it public. [What about the prospect of a Latin American pope?--ed. Possible, but prior second-place finishers are far from guaranteed to be viable candidates in the next round of voting. That said, I'm sure Andrew Sullivan or Stephen Bainbridge could parse out further meaning.]
UPDATE: Ed Morrissey is saddened at this news, believing that, "[this] comes as a sad commentary that even the princes of the church cannot be trusted with secrets any longer, except those which specifically benefit themselves."
Hmmm... as someone who occasionally studies closed-off regimes, I can't say I agree.
What's the end game on Iran?
It looks like the IAEA will pass a resolution on Iran -- what happens after that is unclear. Here's the gist from the New York Times' Mark LandlerRaising the stakes in the West's confrontation with Iran, Britain formally proposed Friday that the Iranian government be reported to the United Nations Security Council for its failure to comply with treaties governing its nuclear program.
But in a sign of the deepening rift over Iran on the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Britain submitted the weaker of two draft resolutions, which leaves open the timing of such a report to the Council.
After a rancorous debate over when to vote on the measure, the 35-member board agreed to reconvene on Saturday. Diplomats here said they expected it to be passed by a solid majority, though Russia, China, and several other countries have signaled they were likely to oppose it. [NOTE: John Ward Anderson reports in the Washington Post that the minority might try to deny a quorum vote today--DD]
The resolution, drafted by Britain, France and Germany, and endorsed by the United States, said there was an "absence of confidence that Iran's nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes."
Under the circumstances, the resolution said, the issue should be taken up by the Security Council....
Russia's likely opposition, as well as China's, sets up a confrontation on the Security Council, where both hold permanent seats.
The European nations' aggressive move reflects their frustration with Iran, which announced last month it would abandon an earlier pledge to suspend its conversion and enrichment of uranium. Iran had agreed to halt such activity while it tried to negotiate a settlement with Britain, France and Germany.
The goal of reporting Iran to the Security Council is not to impose sanctions, said diplomats involved in the negotiations.
"Our goal is not to punish Iran, but to put further pressure on Iran," said a Western diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the talks. "We have no intention of sanctioning Iran; we recognize that sanctioning Iran would hurt Russia and China."....
Iranian officials did not speak during Friday's board meeting, but diplomats here said they showed two unsigned letters to some board members. In one, the Iranian government said that if the resolution were passed, Iran would resume uranium enrichment at a plant in Natanz.
In the second, Iran said it would withdraw from a set of agreements with the atomic energy agency that provide for more intrusive inspections....
The agency's board has passed seven resolutions on Iran since June 2003, all unanimously, which chided Iran for its concealment and urged it to grant inspectors unfettered access.
By early this month, when the agency's director general, Mohamed ElBaradei, issued his latest report, patience was running thin.
Departing from the agency's usual tone of studied neutrality, the report said, "In view of the fact that the agency is not in a position to clarify some important outstanding issues after two and a half years of intensive inspection and investigation, Iran's full transparency is indispensable and overdue."
Still, officials at the agency viewed this resolution with chagrin. The debate over the vote on the measure was as vitriolic as some here could recall, and they said it could harm efforts to seek consensus on Iran.
Mr. ElBaradei is said to be reluctant to report Iran to the Security Council now, according to officials familiar with his position, who said the director general believes the Europeans and the Americans do not have a strategy for managing the issue before the council. (emphasis added)
Count me in with ElBaradei here. I think I know what the endgame is for this, but it's not clear to me if the risk is worth the reward.
If sanctions are off the table, and force is clearly out of the question, what is left for the Security Council to do? Presumably, passing some kind of resolution that upbraids Iran and threatens more punitive action down the road. Except, given Russia and China's opposition, it's far from clear the Security Council would even agree to that. So, one of two things will happen -- either the U.N. Security Council will look fractured, or they'll pass a toothless resolution. Either way, the Iranians have made clear what they will do if the issue goes to the Security Council.
So what's the benefit of going to the UN? If the consensus is that Iran is actually further away from developing a nuke than we previously thought, why make them accelerate their timetable?
I'm not saying that a move to the Security Council won't make sense at some point. But given the oil market at present, Iran has more economic leverage than they might in the future.
Readers are invited to submit their endgames in this latest standoff.
Friday, September 23, 2005
For those who care....
For those of you in the audience who care about the political economy of intellectual property rights, global civil society, or global governance -- yes, you sitting in the Pick Hall computer lab, I'm looking right at you -- check out my revised APSA paper, "Gauging the Power of Global Civil Society: Intellectual Property and Public Health."
[Isn't this the one you were fretting about in August?--ed. Yes, but I'm pleasantly surprised with how it came out.]
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Define first -- then vote
Glancing at the list, I kept thinking that some of these names did not belong with others. Foreign Policy's explication of the criteria doesn't make me feel any more sanguine:
Is it my imagination, or do the underlined portions fail to completely agree with each other? Doesn't the first underlined section imply public influence and intrinsic achievement?
To be fair, this can be like arguing about the Most Valuable Player award in baseball. But, using both influence and achievement as my criteria -- and picking those closer to my intellectual predilections in case of a tie -- here are my five:
Commenters are encouraged to report back on their choices.
A genuine blogging perk
[Won't real members of the media giggle that you're at the screening?--ed. As a member of Chicago's media elite, I expet them to respect my authoriti, thank you very much.]
UPDATE: The people at Grace Hill Media have been kind enough to e-mail me Serenity's synopsis so I don't have to:
You can't handle the budget cuts!!
So I'm glad that the Porkbusters meme is catching on and all, and that there's some small-government criticism of this administration -- even on the Wall Street Journal's op-ed page.
I would like to think that outrage over the ballooning size of government will lead to some of this steps, but the political scientist in me is hugely skeptical. Budget cuts always sound great in the abstract, but as a policy it's identical to trade liberalization -- the benefits of fiscal stringency are diffuse and indirect, while the costs of budget-cutting are tangible and obvious. True, it's tough to get maudlin about bridges to nowhere, but I can easily picture media accounts demonstrating the tragic losses from cutting Amtrak or the space program, all to shave a quarter of a point off the interest rate. This would be even easier to do with the prescription drug benefit. And while it's OK to scorn government spending that doesn't affect you, once budget-cutting affects your bread and butter, suddenly the public trough looks mighty tasty.
To paraphrase A Few Good Men:
UPDATE: Kevin Drum is equally cynical:
ANOTHER UPDATE: On second thought, maybe I'm being too pessimistic. If AEI's Veronique de Rugy is correct, then Bush has expanded nondefense discretionary spending by the greatest percentage since LBJ (link via Andrew Sullivan and Nick Gillespie). Maybe, just maybe, there's so much execrable spending that cuts are politically viable.
Hey, Beijing -- wanna be a stakeholder?
Read the whole thing to see what the U.S. wants China to do.
I'll be very curious to see how the Chinese react to this speech -- it's pretty blunt about China's need to change its foreign economic policy in order to avoid a protectionist backlash in the U.S. Blaming this on Chinese mercantilism is a deft maneuver that happens to be partially true.
UPDATE: On the other hand, Sam Crane thinks Zoellick's speech was not terribly Confucian.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Feelng the café buzz in Hyde Park...
Lots of current and former Hyde Park residents reacted to this post about my neighborhood allegedly becoming the "next hot restaurant zone." Whatever the merits of the claim, it cannot be sustained unless neighborhood residents actually frequent the places that open up.
I would therefore encourage those in the area to stop by just-opened the Istria Café. They have wi-fi (yes, I'm blogging from here right now), good coffee.... and gelato.
It's located at E. 57th St. & Lake Park Avenue, right under the Metra tracks. If you're in the area, go check it out. Oh, and ask the manager about the myriad hoops City Hall requires people to jump through in order to open up such an establishment -- it's quite a tale.
U.S. calm, blogosphere worked up on North Korea
David Adesnik has an excellent round-up of blogospheric discussion of the proposed North Korea accord.
Meanwhile, Steven Weisman's latest report in the New York Times makes me feel just a smidgen better about the accord:
Lavrov and Hill's statements are reassuring -- they indicate that the other four members of the six-party talks agree with the American interpretation of the Beijing agreement.
And -- again -- this was the point of the six-party talks; they insured that all the major players in the region were on the same page.
Greetings, disenchanted conservatives
It's no secret that I've been disenchanted with President Bush for some time now. Recently, it seems, a lot of conservatives have joined the club.
Shailagh Murray and Jim VandeHei report in the Washington Post that Congressional Republicans are less than thrilled with the Bush administration:
The conservative blogosphere is not really thrilled with the administration either:
And most conservatives -- Glenn Reynolds most prominently -- are as concerned as some in Congress (well, Tom Delay excepted) about the pork that should be cut to help with Katrina relief.
So it was definitely amusing to read Pandagon's Jesse Taylor write: "I find the conservative blogosphere to be one of the most closed-minded, insular, circular pits of denial I've ever encountered."
UPDATE: In Slate, John Dickerson thinks Bush might actually listen to fiscal hawks this time, but depresses me the likelihood of any long-term impact on either party:
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
"The streets were full of miniskirts"
Mohamed El Baradei speaks a bit too soon
Daniel Dombey and Gareth Smyth report in the Financial Times that the head of the IAEA is very excited about the proposed settlement on North Korea's nuclear ambitions:
Well, turns out there are a few problems with this model:
Monday, September 19, 2005
Think tanks and the media
A week ago I posted some (half-formed) thoughts on think tanks. There have been a few responses.
Virginia Postrel has been all over this -- triggering responses from Fabio Rojas, Tim Kane, and Will Wilkinson. All three observe that think tanks are a more diverse ecosphere than perhaps Postrel or I observed (see the Rojas post in particular).
See Arnold Kling's defense as well.
Well.... scholars still need operate within the mediasphere to get attention, and the constraints on that sphere remain formidable. It's far from clear to me whether an academic with a politically unclassifiable idea -- like, say, this suggestion for how to better assist the disabled and the elderly -- could get the necessary oxygen. Consider this missive from economist Bruce Bartlett:
I am more skeptical than Bartlett. I've had the same experience with bookers that he has had. Worse, there is only one show that I remember appearing on in which I was allowed to voice all the nuances of my position -- Gretchen Helfrech's Odyssey on Chicago Public Radio.
Naturally, Odyssey has been cancelled.
A nuclear-free Korea?
CNN reports that the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons programme have produced a breakthrough. The key parts of the joint statement:
Even though the Bush administration signed on, U.S. officials are still acting very cautiously -- and rightly so, given the average lifespan of an agreement with North Korea.
Readers are invited to speculate on how likelihood of the six-party statement being implemented.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
What I've been up to this weekend...
I've been playing host to a small conference on the political power of blogging. Although some of the participants got a bit stressed prepping for the conference, on the whole it led to some very stimulating discussions
Ethan Zuckerman has a round-up of some of the papers. And those interested in international relations should check out his blog anyway.
UPDATE: Laura McKenna has some kind words -- "it was quite excellent talking to people whose blogs are part of my daily consumption and who are just as freakishly obsessed as I am."
And Eszter Hargittai has pictures!
Friday, September 16, 2005
The subfield split on the dollar
Brad DeLong has a very good post up detailing the split among economists at a Jackson Hole conference (poor Brad) about what will happen when the dollar falls in value:
Read the whole thing.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Follow up on the commercial peace -- Gartzke replies to Rummel
Erik Gartzke sends along his reponse to R.J. Rummel's critique of his chapter "Economic Freedom and Peace" in Cato's 2005 annual report on Economic Freedom in the World. (click here and here for my previous blog posts on this topic.
I've put Gartzke's reply after the jump, because it's on the longish side and may bore non-IR types. I will, say, however, that the reply addresses many of the concerns I had about the study.
[So did you send it out for external review?--ed. Alas, no -- Erik can't count this as a refereed publication. It should count for something, though.]
UPDATE: Rummel replies here.
REPLY TO RUMMEL
by Erik Gartzke
In a recent blog post titled “The CATO Institute Gets It All Wrong” posted on his webpage, Dr. R.J. Rummel presented some rather intense criticism of my recent chapter “Economic Freedom and Peace” in the 2005 edition of Economic Freedom of the World. I offer this note as a reply.
Dr. Rummel claims that I am wrong to write that “researchers have found that democracies are less likely to fight each other, while being no less ready to use force generally.” This is what other researchers have found. In fact, it is what most proponents of the democratic peace claim to show. Dr. Rummel knows that the majority of studies by democratic peace proponents do not support the assertion that democracies are generally less warlike (Rousseau, et al. 1996). Indeed, he has advocated the strong claim that democracies are generally pacific, in opposition to other proponents of the democratic peace. This difference of views within the democratic peace research community is not made clear in Dr. Rummel’s comments and may confuse his readers.
The comment that Dr. Rummel objects to thus simply summarizes the dominant view among democratic peace researchers. As Huth and Allee put it “patterns of military conflict between democracies and non-democracies are not very different from patterns of military conflict among non-democracies” (page 1, 2002). Bruce Russett, the dean of quantitative democratic peace researchers acknowledges that there is “little systematic evidence” in support of the claim that democracies are generally less warlike (page 11, 1993). Together, Russett and his research partner John Oneal, state that, “Our analyses clearly reveal the separate peace among democratic states” (page 288, 1997). There are many other examples. I quote the wikipedia encyclopedia:
Thus, even if one admires Dr. Rummel’s research, it is simply not correct for him to suggest that I have mischaracterized the literature. Further, he does not make clear why I should adhere to his version of democratic peace when he has failed, despite vigorous efforts, to persuade other democratic peace researchers to do so. As a critic, I must address the most widely used version of an argument, or risk being attacked for setting up a “straw man.” In fact, by using the special dyadic claim of democratic peace, I am able to acknowledge that the study in question does not directly contradict the claims of dyadic researchers, though of course my findings also do not support the assertions of those who make the strong claim that democracies are generally more peaceful. (In other research, my results seem to show that even the weaker, dyadic version of democratic peace is not sustained when any of several measures of capitalist development and market integration are included in the analysis, but this is a discussion for another time.)
Dr. Rummel argues that I am doing democratization injustice by using the term “impose.” He suggests no alternative term, but references another blog post titled “Unchaining Human Rights, Not Imposing Democracy.” Certainly, “unchaining” sounds more affirmative, just as “freedom fighter” sounds more affirmative than “terrorist.” By “imposed,” I meant situations like Iraq, where democracy has not evolved endogenously. In Iraq, for example, unless democratic peace exists and is general (monadic), there can be no robust effect of democratization because other states in the region (besides Israel and Turkey) are not democracies. Research by Hegre (2004) shows that increasing democracy when few states are democratic tends to increase, not decrease, conflict. Even many advocates of democratic peace doubt that democratization in the Middle East will lead to peace in anything but the very long run. This, of course, also requires that we assume that US efforts to democratize Iraq will succeed, a debatable claim in its own right.
Dr. Rummel takes my study to task because I point out that the democratic peace observation has recently been limited to prosperous states. Here again, I am simply reporting the evolving consensus of democratic peace researchers themselves. Mousseau (2000) and Hegre (2000) report that an interaction term between variables for democracy and economic development leads the democracy term to become no longer statistically significant. In a newer study, John Oneal himself collaborates with Mousseau and Hegre in further substantiating this conclusion. As the result makes clear, democratic peace, if it exists, is conditioned by economic development. My view is that it is development itself, along with economic liberalization, that explains the peace.
Dr. Rummel claims that my assertions are falsified in my own data. As evidence, he argues that there are no “wars” between democracies. The specific claims that I make, and the data that I use involve militarized interstate disputes (MIDs), a broader category of conflict behavior. Wars are very rare. There are just 44 state participations in wars beginning in 1970, the earliest date for which the Index of Economic Freedom supplies data. Less than 1% of state years (think “man hours”) involve a war. For this reason, democratic peace researchers and others studying conflict among nations have overwhelmingly preferred in recent years to examine MIDs.
Still, it is not difficult to have a look. I examined the Correlates of War project listing of wars (conflicts involving at least 1000 battle deaths per year per participant). I find no statistical relationship between either the index of economic freedom, or the democracy variable, either separately or together, using these data. The effect of capitalism is either more subtle, reducing conflicts only over a lower intensity, or the sample of wars is too small, or both. In any case, democracy does not have the effects Dr. Rummel claims in these data, even when it is left by itself in the regression. As a further check on these findings, I also examined data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). These data report conflicts involving at least 25 fatalities. Thus, they are clearly conflicts involving “violence.” Using SIPRI conflicts as the dependent variable, I am again unable to find a statistically significant relationship linking democracy and peace. I can, on the other hand, find weak support for the suppression of major violence by the economic freedom variable. This variable is just short of the 5% significance threshold in a quick statistical comparison of democracy and capitalism as determinants of peace.
So, to summarize, Dr. Rummel’s critique that I should look at wars seems unfounded, though it did not hurt to check. The claim that democracy generally causes peace is again unsupported.
Dr. Rummel claims I am using the wrong data and that my study “confounds nonviolence with violence.” I am not sure what this means. Every Correlates of War Project MID involves threats or acts of a militarized nature, almost all of which involve violence (the threshold for inclusion in the dataset is high, resulting in relatively few threats and more “uses of force”). Again, I rely on the same data as democratic peace researchers, the most widely used and referenced data, in fact, in the quantitative study of international relations. For Dr. Rummel to claim that the MIDs data are not an appropriate framework for testing the democratic peace is to reject most studies of democratic peace out of hand, something I, and most other researchers, are unwilling to accept.
Still, it would be nice to establish that my findings do not depend on a particular kind of data source. MIDs, COW wars, and the SIPRI data code conflict behavior of a given intensity level or higher. The Interstate Crisis Behavior dataset, on the other hand, examines crises. This can be useful because some conflicts, even relatively violent ones, do not involve direct leadership decisions. Suppose some sergeant decides to lob mortar shells at the enemy, perhaps because he is tired, irritated, or afraid. This would be a MID, and possibly a SIPRI conflict, depending on casualties, but it would not be an ICB crisis if the actions of the sergeant were not initiated by national leaders. The ICB data have also been used in studies that support the democratic peace (Hewitt and Wilkenfeld 1996), and potentially better reflect some of the arguments made about why democracies should be more peaceful. If democracies are more peaceful in any context, it should be in situations where decision making is explicit, conscious, deliberate, and not the result of accidents on the front lines. Results using the ICB dataset, however, are largely the same as those I report for MIDs in my chapter in the 2005 edition of Economic Freedom of the World.
Dr. Rummel argues that collinearity between economic freedom, other variables, and democracy interfere with the effect of democracy on militarized disputes. As Dr. Rummel almost certainly knows, but did not explain to the reader, multicollinearity is not a severe problem in multivariate analysis until correlations are quite high, on the order of 0.9 (he argues they are 0.7. I find that the two key variables correlate at 0.4135). Similarly, the idea that democracy creates capitalism is, I think, questionable. Few, if any, of the archetypal laissez faire economies of nineteenth century Europe would be considered democratic by contemporary standards, though they became democratic in time. Similarly, in South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and elsewhere in recent decades, capitalism and development gave rise to pressures to democratize, not the other way around. Rather than treat democracy as a gift of the gods or something that landed from outer space, it seems more reasonable to recognize that democracies formed out of the same soup as did contemporary capitalism and economic development. In any event, the claim that capitalism and democracy are correlated does not obviously lead to the conclusion that democracy should be given preference (or deference) as the key contributor to liberal peace. If the two processes are related, then why treat one as if it is important and the other as if it does not exist?
Yet, again to be safe, I remove all of the variables from the regression model, except democracy. Democracy is not remotely statistically significant, even with no competitors (P value 0.448). Maybe economic freedom gets “help” from the other variables? I ran the regression model with just democracy and the freedom index, and find that economic freedom is statistically significant (P value 0.001), while democracy is insignificant. The claim about sampling is debatable, and is debated, in the literature. Whether we observe all possible states of the world, or just the ones that came to pass in this iteration of history hinges on issues outside the realm of the knowable. Democratic peace researchers have consistently used the statistical significance of democracy as evidence of the validity of their claims. How else can I challenge the conventional wisdom?
At several points, Dr. Rummel notes that “there are NO (zero) wars between democracies over almost two-centuries.” This sounds persuasive, but note that the claim treats as a conclusion that which is presumably the subject of this debate. Is it democracy that makes peace or something closely associated with democracy? Dr. Rummel emphasizes that capitalism is correlated with democracy, but refuses to treat seriously the possibility that it is capitalism that causes peace. The “two-centuries” claim is also misleading. Democratization is a recent phenomenon in world affairs. How many two-centuries old democracies are there? Indeed, we can also say that over the same period, no advanced free market economies have gone to war with each other, either.
Dr. Rummel asks “How could CATO let such a poor study into their prime report?” Clearly, this is a rhetorical question, but let me answer it as honestly as I can. The study conforms as closely as possible to the state of the art in democratic peace research. Rather than being “incompetent,” I adopted the same variables and evaluation standards, and a similar research design to those of the most widely cited research program on the democratic peace. That this happened to be the approach of Oneal and Russett and not Rummel is unfortunately a consequence of the greater popularity of the former among researchers and the wider public. Dr. Rummel does not like the choices I made in my analysis, but he does not like the choices made by other democratic peace researchers either. Differences between Dr. Rummel’s views and those of the larger democratic peace research community were not made clear in his comments, a possible source of confusion.
At the same time, I do not claim that my findings are definitive. They are a cautionary tale that gives some backing to those who are concerned that enthusiasm for the democratic peace has exceeded good judgment. No doubt this is not the end of the debate, though I hope Dr. Rummel and other interlocutors will cease from impugning my professional reputation every time I offer evidence that differs from their conclusions. Science is a perpetual learning process, in which we gradually whittle away at uncertainty. The fervor with which researchers on the subject hold to their respective visions of democratic peace should itself lead intelligent observers to caution.
Let me add in closing that, while the study Dr. Rummel critiques does not directly contradict the dyadic version of the democratic peace, my other research does. I have replicated the major dyadic studies of Oneal and Russett and others, using several indicators of capitalism, including but not limited to, the Index of Economic Freedom. I find that democracy does not sustain a dyadic effect on conflict either (there is not even a special peace among democracies), when appropriate measures of global market integration and economic development are introduced. I have shared these findings with democratic peace researchers (John Oneal, Bruce Russett, Erik Weede, Patrick James, James Lee Ray, to name a few), and expect that they will soon be available in print. Of course, I will also provide copies to Dr. Rummel, if he wishes.
The Wrath of Tribble
Three months ago I and many others blogged about Ivan Tribble's Chronicle of Higher Education essay on blogging and academic hiring. Shorter Tribble: "Don't blog, because it's kind of strange, my colleagues and I don't quite get it, and your online self might come off as an unstable git."
Tribble responded to his critics yesterday in the Chronicle. He appears a touch miffed:
Read the whole thing. My biggest disappointment in the piece is this section:
That's funny, because what what truly annoyed me in Tribble's initial essay were the motivations he assigned his committee members -- and the concern then was pretty much the medium itself:
I'll just repeat what I said back in June, because it echoes Tribble's last few paragraphs:
My only post about the Roberts confirmation
On Monday, I has assumed that Dahlia Lithwick was probably overreacting in her Slate appraisal of the first day of John Roberts' Supreme Court confirmation hearing day. After all, weren't the Senators getting some of their questions from the blogosphere?
Then I actually heard some of the hearings.
To be specific, it was Tom Coburn's spiel about looking at Roberts' body language -- "[Using] my observational capabilities as a physician to know that your answers have been honest and forthright as I watch the rest of your body respond to the stress that you're under." As Ann Althouse put it, "I'm under some stress over here, listening to this nonsense."
Admittedly, it's Tom "Schindler's List is obscene" Coburn, so you have to grade it on a curve. But still....
So I was all set to write a wildly satirical post about the bloviating capabilities of the Senate Judiciary Committee. But I don't think I could top what David Brooks wrote in his column today. Killer quote: "We're not here to argue among ourselves and ignore the nominee. We're here to deliver 30-minute speeches disguised as questions and ignore the nominee."
"Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Northwestern!!"
I explained to my wife that Northwestern is, technically, in Evanston. She continues to insist that they smoke it.
Virginia Postrel shows me the way of the world
Read the whole thing.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
A good news post about New Orleans
I hope in the ensuing days and weeks there are more stories containing this kind of good news.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Is the U.S. losing out on science and math education?
And what about the U.S.? We're constantly fretting about the decline in our educational system -- does the OECD data support this anxiety?
Yes and no. If you rifle through the executive summary of Education at a Glance, you come away with three observations about the U.S. performance:
Is the U.S. losing out on foreign students?
Jon Boone writes in the Financial Times that the United States and United Kingdom have competitors in the global marketplace for university education:
ANOTHER UPDATE: Hmmm.... maybe the decline in foreign student enrollment is because the American academy in general -- and the University of Chicago in particular -- is staffed by nutjobs.
Is George Will reading Megan McArdle?
Megan McArdle, "The poor really are different," Asymmetrical Information, September 9, 2005:
George Will, "A Poverty of Thought," Washington Post, September 13, 2005.
What's interesting is that McArdle and Will end up at somewhat different places with the same basic starting point.
Other reads relevant to this conversation for today: Jon Hilsenrath's Wall Street Journal piece on what economists think about rebuilding New Orleans. Money quote from urban economist Ed Glaeser: "Given just how much, on a per capita basis, it would take to rebuild New Orleans to its former glory, lots of residents would be much [better off] with $10,000 and a bus ticket to Houston."
Then there are these Washington Post poll numbers:
Is Enron responsible for weak job growth?
Tyler Cowen links to this informative Daniel Gross article in the New York Times about possible explanations for the relatively weak job growth the economy has experienced over the past few years:
Gross then summarizes an NBER working paper by Philippon and his colleague Simi Kedia. Their abstract:
I agree with Tyler: "It is too early to evaluate this research, and let us not get carried away by monocausal theories, but today I felt I learned something."
Let's see, where can I publish next?
This week marks my third blogging anniversary. [Three years??!! So when do you plan on going back to just pointless, incessant barking?--ed]
And, by a freakish coincidence, I have two articles on the web today. In either case, I doubt I would have been approached were it not for the blog.
The first, in honor of the United Nations' 2005 World Summit (and, gee, those preparations are going swimmingly) is a review in the Wall Street Journal of Pedro Sanjuan's The UN Gang: A Memoir of Incompetence, Corruption, Espionage, Anti-Semitism and Islamic Extremism at the UN Secretariat . My varnished opinion:
My unvarnished opinion -- after reading this book, it's hard not to come to the conclusion that there's something a little bit loopy about Mr. Sanjuan.
Remember when Robert Reich published his memoir Locked in the Cabinet, and then Jonathan Rauch discovered that Reich had either made up or exaggerated certain events and quotes? Reich’s defense was that this was how he viewed the events at the time. The UN Gang suffers from the same defect.
Let's put it this way -- if I was a lawyer trying to indict the UN, there is no way in hell I would call Sanjuan as a reliable witness.
One last little irony about The UN Gang. Sanjuan continually (and justifiably) lambasts the UN Secretariat for being a hothouse of nepotism. All well and good -- but his editor at Doubleday was Adam Bellow, the accomplished author of... In Praise of Nepotism (though, to be fair, after reading this precis, Bellow would probably classify the UN as an example of "old nepotism" and not the "new nepotism" that is the subject of Bellow's praise).
The second piece is a companion essay to WNET's Wide Angle documentary on how offshore outsourcing is affecting Indian society, entitled "1-800-INDIA" -- which will be aired this evening. I was asked to provide a background briefing -- entitled "Offshore Outsourcing: Perceptions and Misperceptions."
Go check them out!!
Monday, September 12, 2005
What's the value-added of think tanks?
There's another international relations blogger out there -- R.J. Rummel, one of the godfathers of quantitative research in international relations. Rummel is also a persistent and oft-published voice arguing for the monadic version of the democratic peace -- in other words, it's not merely that democracies don't fight each other, but that democracies are generally less war-prone than other states. [How much evidence is there for this version of the democratic peace?--ed. Rummel -- as well as Paul Huth -- have generated some interesting findings, but it's not the majority position of the field, and there are a lot of studies out there arguing that Rummel is wrong.]
Rummel is also a libertarian and therefore one would expect him to be sympathetic to Cato's latest study on economic freedom and conflict. However, he is far from keen on the study -- go check out his scathing assessment of the Cato report. He closes with this assessment of Cato: "After reviewing the one study on what I know something about and finding it so poor, it provokes a questioning of their other studies in areas I know less about."
Without signing on to all of Rummel's critique, it opens the door to a larger question about the value-added of think tanks. This past Friday I was at a meeting in DC on how academics can better transmit foreign policy-relevant ideas to those in the government. One obvious transmission belt is think tanks -- the experts who staff these institutions can consume academic research and then generate more policy-specific research based in part on that more abstract research.
However, several participants enmeshed in the think tank culture argued that this wasn't the direction thik tanks were going. Instead, several of them -- and Heritage, Cato and the Center for American Progress were the leading examples -- had switched their focus from churning out deep policy proposals in favor of op-eds. Indeed, the staffing at many think tanks had shifted, with the communications and PR sides receiving a much larger share of the pie relative to the policy wonks.
Anyone who knows anything about organizations recognizes that all bureaucracies like to use quantifiable metrics, and surely op-eds would be one example. And it would be insane to argue that think tanks should forswear the op-ed. But the overall point was that the cost of this change in direction for think tanks was fewer in-depth monographs or books, and more output devoted to the 24-hour news cycle. Some would like this trend to accelerate -- one of Matt Yglesias' themes is that think tanks need to blog more.
There was no real discussion about whether this is something that can or should be fixed -- so I'll leave that to the commenters.
UPDATE: Yglesias e-mails the following:
China 1, Yahoo! 0
As China holds its annual "Internet summit" today, it's worth reflecting that last week Reporters Without Borders broke a story revealing that Yahoo! provided information to China's government that helped them to identify and detain a dissident reporter (link via Rebecca McKinnon).
In today's Chicago Tribune, Evan Osnos provides a recap of what's happened, including Yahoo!'s response:
Well, this New York Times story by David Barboza suggests that Yahoo! did tie its hands when it agreed to invest in Alibaba.com, because "as part of the deal, Yahoo even agreed to hand over its Yahoo China operations" to Alibaba.
The larger problem is that this falls under the "China contradicting the liberal paradigm" [And don't forget Singapore!!--ed.] I've said before that after weighing the scales the liberal side still wins in the long run -- but everyone should check out Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and George Down's essay "Development and Democracy" in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs. They argue that, "savvy autocrats have learned how to cut the cord between growth and freedom, enjoying the benefits of the former without the risks of the latter."
Katrina is all Alan Greenspan's fault
No, I'm just kidding. But as much of the blogosphere is focused on the New York Times autopsy of what went wrong with Katrina. However, for sheer weirdness, Tina Susman's account in Newsday has better anecdotes. Consider this snippet, for example:
Bizarre as it sounds, this job description does in fact mention that, "Federal Reserve Police Officers may also serve on our emergency response or emergency medical teams."
Anyway, read both accounts and then see if anyone deserves to be removed from -- or added to -- Belle Waring's list of shame.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Koizumi wins in Japan
Both the exit polls and the early returns suggest that Japanese PM Junichiro Koizumi has won a handy victory in parliamentry elections -- reversing a decade-long decline in the fortunes of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and paving the way for privatization of the postal savings system, which has been a corrupt albatross on the Japanese economy.
From a U.S. perspective, this is a huge win. A staunch U.S. ally has been re-elected, and if Koizumi's proposed reforms are implemented, then Japanese growth could finally escape its 15-year doldrums. Since Japan is a natural market for U.S. exports, a growing Japanese economy would be a very good thing.
Some reporters will credit Koizumi's charismatic leadership as the key to victory.
The New York Fed tackles offshore outsourcing
The following is excerpted from Erica L. Groshen, Bart Hobijn, and Margaret M. McConnell, "U.S. Jobs Gained and Lost through Trade: A Net Measure" in the August 2005 edition of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Current Issues in Economics and Finance:
This is the part I found of particular interest:
Friday, September 9, 2005
Post-Katrina American foreign policy
Read the whole thing. And then, go read this Economist summary of the past week.
UPDATE: One thing I'm hoping about Katrina -- like what happened after 9/11 -- is that the estimated body count turns out to be less than originally expected. This AP report (link via Instapundit) offers some hope that this will also happen post-Katrina.
ANOTHER UPDATE: James Joyner thinks Haass is overstating his case -- particularly on the energy angle:
Andrew Sullivan takes a gloomier view: "What the response to Katrina has done is make the U.S. super-power look a lot less credible, a lot less fearsome, a lot less capable. Ditto, of course, with regard to the inept conduct of the war in Iraq."
Thursday, September 8, 2005
The commercial peace?
I know Erik, and I know that Erik knows a lot about the causes of war, so this tidbit definitely piqued my interest.
You can read Gartzke's paper by clicking here. His policy conclusions are provocative. For example:
I'd really like for Gartzke's theoretical conclusions to be true, and he makes a persuasive case in the paper. I have three small cavils, however:
Again, I still think Gartzke is onto something. Plus, I can't pass up mentioning Gartzke's observations about offshore outsourcing:
Helping the homeless from Katrina
Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution relays an excellent policy proposal from the University of Virginia's Ed Olsen on how best to find housing for those displaced by Katrina. I'm reprinting it below in its entirety:
I'd like to think that there actually would be bipartisan support for such a proposal. As Megan McArdle points out, "Section 8 vouchers, while certainly not perfect, have been a big improvement over the failed government housing projects they replaced." They use Republican-friendly means to achieve Democrat-friendly ends. And, since Congress is currently not doing much of use with regard to Katrina, maybe they could act on this. And this proposal is much better than some of the other ideas that are floating around. [That's a bad, bad pun--ed.]
Let's see if someone notices.
Assignment to Mickey Kaus: what would be the secondary and tertiary effects of such a proposal?
"Katrina is not the Worst Case Scenario"
Amy Zegart -- danieldrezner.com's resident expert on homeland securit and intelligence reformy -- e-mailed me these thoughts on Katrina's lessons for defending against terrorist attacks:
Zegart also has a sobering reminder -- it is easier to cope with natural disasters than terrorist attacks:
Take that, Lincoln Park!!
Residents of Hyde Park are keenly aware that although our neighborhood possesses many fine qualities -- ample bookstores, nice housing, diversity of residents -- one quality it does not possess is a surfeit of great restaurants.* For that, you have to go up to the downtown, the West Loop, or the North side.
Read the whole article, if you care about such things. I've heard this kind of talk about Hyde Park many times since I've been here, but Kleiner's track record makes me more optimistic than usual. Look out, Lincoln Park -- in, say 20 years, we will have closed the restaurant gap!
Of course, this section of Vettel's piece brings me back to reality. It quotes Mary Mastricola, the owner of La Petite Folie, the one high-end restaurant in the area:
Left unspoken in the piece is why Mastricola doesn't just hire neighborhood residents beyond the student population.
And don't get me started on the supermarket situation around here.....
*Yes, devotees of Dixie Kitchen, or Medici, or Pizza Capri, there are some lovely places to eat around here. But a neighborhood of this size needs more than just a handful of good eateries.
Wednesday, September 7, 2005
Whither Egyptian democracy?
Egypt's first multi-candidate presidential elections were held today, and much of the press coverage echoes this London Times account by Richard Beesron: "the experiment in democracy risked being seriously compromised by intimidation, electoral abuse and widespread voter apathy."
Dan Murphy's account in the Christian Science Monitor includes corruption among the sins of this elecvtion:
Sounds rather depressing. However, Steven Cook writes on Foreign Policy's web site that in the long term, Hosni Mubarak may get more reform than he originally planned:
UPDATE: The AP's Maggie Michael reports that Egypt's regime might be feeling some blowback earlier than he had anticipated:
So how's the transatlantic divide going?
Some of the more interesting results highlighted in the press release:
Click here to view all of the topline results. One interesting finding that should temper concerns about a European desire for superpower status: when asked whether "a more powerful European Union should compete or cooperate with the US," 80% of Europeans in the big seven countries say "cooperate" -- and those numbers are higher in France and Germany. [Yeah, but don't forget to mention that only a bare plurality of Americians believe that a European superpower actually would cooperate--ed.]
IISS weighs in on Iran's WMD program
When we last left the Iranian WMD saga, it turned out that U.S. and U.N. intelligence were downgrading the likelihood of Iran developing nuclear weapons anytime soon.
In this week's installment, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) weighs in. Reuters provides the summary:
Click here to read Chipman's press release.
Tuesday, September 6, 2005
The perils of teaching in Italy
As a public service for readers of danieldrezner.com, below is a photo of Ms. Bonci.
Readers can judge for themselves.
I'd blog more if it wasn't for that darn Jacuzzi-tusion
In honor of the the 10-year anniversary of Cal Ripken's breaking Lou Gehrig's iron-man streak in baseball, Jayson Stark has an amusing column at ESPN.com on his "favorite injuries, calamities or miscellaneous excuses for missing games during Ripken's fabled streak."
Go check them out -- my two favorites:
I was convinced that last one had to be a misprint, but I stumbled across this fine Peter Gammons column on Ripken that mentioned the same injury:
September's anti-Book of the Month
The topic of Slate's Book Club this week is Barbara Ehrenreich's Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream . The book is about Ehrenreich's efforts to create a fictional persona and land a job in "media/public relations work." Along the way, the career self-help industry is mocked.
Let's see how the reviewrs went for it. Hmmmm.... Tyler Cowen didn't like it very much:
Well, one would have expected Cowen, a free market economist, to dislike Ehrenreich. Surely Alan Wolfe, the other reviewer, who believes that capitalism, "cause[s] needless suffering to far too many innocent people," has a more positive take?
Do not read the whole thing.
UPDATE: Kieran Healy weighs in on Ehrenreich and suggests an intriguing alternative read.
I guess protecting Iraq's border isn't really that important
Read the whole thing.
Given the bolded portion, either one of two things is happening:
UPDATE: Greg Djerejian has a nice pre-Katrina round-up of what to read around the blogosphere about Iraq.
The revenge of ham radio
Among those debating the relative influence of the blogosphere in American politics, the facile question has always een whether blogs will become "talk radio or ham radio?" The obvious implication is that talk radio is now a permanent feature of the media ecosystem that covers politics, while ham radio was a fad that remains sustained only be true enthusiasts. Blog enthusiasts tend to favor the former comparison over the latter.
After reading this Wall Street Journal story by Christopher Rhoads on what ham radio has done in the wake of Katrina, perhaps the blogosphere should become more comfortable with the latter comparison as well:
Good news about Chernobyl
Peter Finn reports in the Washington Post that twenty years after the disaster at Chernobyl, the health effects have been much less than prior estimates would have suggested:
Here's a link to the World Health Organization's press release on the report -- compare and contrast with this media assessment from a decade ago.
Environmentalists will likely not appreciate the irony of Finn's closing paragraphs:
Sunday, September 4, 2005
Underreaction and overreaction on Katrina
President Bush appears to have figured out that the federal government's first response to Katrina was pretty pathetic (though not just the feds -- see this Glenn Reynolds post and this jaw-dropping Brad DeLong post), and is now working overtime to correct that first impression, for political reasons if nothing else.
A White House official told me Friday night that, after fumbling around for days, practically every White House agency was getting involved in coping with Katrina. As this New York Times story by Adam Nagourney and Elizabeth Bumiller suggests, Bush has revamped his schedule this month to respond to Katrina.
This readjustment is clearly necessary to a point. But here's the thing -- the criminally slow underreaction from last week could lead to a criminally big overreaction in the next few weeks. As this Knight-Ridder story by Warren Strobel points out, the President has other things on his plate this fall:
Add to those things the WTO ministerial in Hong Kong.
Let's be clear -- I'm not saying that the president should not be devoting a healthy fraction of his attention to rebuilding the Gulf Coast. My point is that by screwing up in one direction last week, the administration will now screw up in the other direction for the next several weeks, and I guarantee you that a year from now we'll be bemoaning some foreign policy crisis that would have been defused if everyone had kept their eye on the ball in the present.
Saturday, September 3, 2005
William Rehnquist, R.I.P. (1924-2005)
My thoughts about Rehnquist can be found here. My only addendum is that while there will undoubtedly be a focus on Rehnquist's ideology as a justice, his greatest legacy for the Court might be his management skills -- he was a vast improvement over both Burger and Warren in that capacity.
Earlier this summer, Charles Lane wrote an informative article about Rehnquist for Stanford magazine. I'm sure SCOTUSblog will have more tomorrow.
Milton Friedman, meet Robert Reich
Milton Friedman introduced the idea of a "negative income tax" in his 1962 book Capitalism and Freedom. The idea behind it was a way to provide welfare in the most efficient and least welfare-distorting manner possible.
In the New York Times today, Robert Reich drives this point home by looking at the deleterious effects of the alternative policy possibilities -- protectionism and pork-barrel spending:
Read the whole thing -- Reich proposes a number of policy possibilities, including the expansion of the modern-day equivalent of the negative income tax, the earned income tax credit.
I'm not sure I buy all of Reich's proposed package, but his analysis of the political economy of the status quo is dead on.
Attack of the lipstick ninjas
In the Washington Post, Anthony Faiola reports that Japanese PM Junichiro Koizumi is pulling out all the stops in the run-up to parliamentary elections in Japan:
Friday, September 2, 2005
Will the Saints go marching back in?
In Slate, Josh Levin mourns the loss of his hometown city:
Also in Slate, Daniel Gross posits that the national economic effect of Katrina could be more devastating than the 9/11 attacks. Kieran Healy has two posts worth reading about the magnitude of the social disaster.
If there is any comfort that can be taken at this point from Katrina's aftereffects, it's in this story by Michael Phillips and Cynthia Cossen in the Wall Street Journal: cities beset by catastrophic attacks refuse to fade away:
Read the whole thing.
Thursday, September 1, 2005
September's Books of the Month
This month's general interest book is in response to the question I get asked on occasion -- "So what's the University of Chicago really like?" The work that I've seen best capture the spirit of the place is actually a play -- Proof, by David Auburn. The drama won a Pulitzer and some Tonys, and has been made into a movie that will be released this month (click here to see the trailer).
The movie's director, John Madden, was smart enough to shoot the film on location on campus and in Hyde Park, and even in the trailer you get a strong sense of place. Ordinarily I'd say more about it, but I'd rather not give away important plot details (as an aside, kudos to Madden and Miramax for not revealing these details in the trailer).
Proof is quite short, so I'll counterbalance by recommending a mammoth of an international relations book -- S.E. Finer's three-volume The History of Government. Finer -- an Oxford Professor of Government -- decided to write about the development of government from Sumeria to modern times as his retirement project. After surviving a massive heart attack, he devoted the next six years to the project and managed to almost finish it (34 out of 36 chapters). Some polishing by his colleagues and former students led to three volumes that the Economist raved as the best political science book ever when it came out in 1997.
[So you've read it then?--ed. Er, no. But this year I've agreed to join a small book club (only one other member) devoted to tackling this tome over the rest of the academic year. With September upon us, I look forward to cracking the spine -- especially since I just finished Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steeland I'm intrigued about whether Finer will buttress or refute some of Finer's assessments about the ancient world. So, you just finished a 1998 book and are now tackling a 1997 book. You are so cutting edge.--ed.]
The diplomatic aftereffects of Gaza
According to the Associated Press, Israel is reaping some diplomatic fruit from its Gaza pullout: