Friday, June 30, 2006
There ain't nothing soft about the power of Elvis
In a world fraught with short-term crises piled upon long-term crises, it's occasionally nice to blog about diplomacy going right.
Which brings me to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's trip to the United States. Sheryl Gay Stolberg reports on the first leg of the trip for the New York Times. I think she had as much fun writing up the trip as I had reading it:
In the annals of international diplomacy, it was not exactly Yalta. But today's visit to Graceland — the ticky-tacky Elvis Presley mansion here — by President Bush and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan brought a little bit of shake, rattle and roll to American foreign relations.My only objection is Stolberg's use of the word "ticky-tacky" to describe Graceland. I had the honor of visiting the Jungle Room back in the nineties, and although there are many, many adjectives that could be used to describe Graceland, ticky-tacky ain't one of them.
Thank you very much.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Pssst.... want to listen to a podcast?
Did the New York Times endanger national security by publicizing the existence of the US government’s SWIFT program, designed to track the funding of international terrorists? Or was the news organization simply an agent of the public’s right and need to know the actions of the US Government?You can hear my (muddled) take on this question in Pajamas Media Blog Week in Review, which I taped with Austin Bay, Eric Umansky, and La Shawn Barber. Other topic discussed include the Bus Uncle.
Open Hamdan thread
Comment away on the Hamdan decision and its implications.
What the Court has done is not so much countermajoritarian as democracy forcing. It has limited the President by forcing him to go back to Congress to ask for more authority than he already has, and if Congress gives it to him, then the Court will not stand in his way....Both Barnett and Kerr observe how Hamdan highlights the Bush administration's strategic miscalculations on this issue. Barnett first:
It has long seemed clear to me and many others who are otherwise sympathetic to its policies that the Bush administration made two colossal errors in prosecuting the general war on terror.Finally, Orin Kerr:
The combination of the Mayer article and the Hamdan case today brings up an interesting question: To what extent did lawyers in the Administration expect the courts — and in particular, the Supreme Court — to agree with the Addington view of the law? Did they think there were five votes in support of the Addington approach, or that the Court would stay away from the issues? Alternatively, did they figure that the first priority was to do what was needed to protect the country in the short term, and that it was better to push the envelope and have the Courts strike down their efforts than not to push at all?Talk amongst yourselves.... and play nice.
Now I'll pick on Congress
My last post took the side of the legislative branch over the executive branch when it comes to how this president uses signing statements. So let's pick on Congress a little.
Here's a trivia question: how many legislative mandates govern U.S. policy towards the International Monetary Fund?
Answer below the fold....
Since 2001, we reported that the United States had maintained nearly 70 legislative mandates prescribing U.S. policy goals at the IMF. These mandates covered a wide range of policies, including policies regarding combating terrorism, human rights, international trade, and weapons proliferation....The truly surprising thing is that this is actually one fewer mandate than last year.
Click on the report to see the specific mandates. Most of them are perfectly unobjectionable -- but with this many constraints, it's a miracle that Treasury can keep track of them all, much less comply with them. Plus, the aggregation of hard constraints makes it difficult for the U.S. to have the policy flexibility that makes it easier to lead the institution.
Not surprisingly, the executive branch would like a little more latitude. In their response to the GAO, Treasury said:
As noted in the past, the extensive mandates tend to undermine our effectiveness in influencing the IMF. We would welcome efforts by the Congress to effect a consolidation of the legislative provisions to remove unnecssary mandates.Indeed.
Full disclosure: the author of Treasury's response was one of my bosses when I worked there.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Your scary quote of the day
"It is often not at all the situation that the president doesn't intend to enact the bill."Michelle Boardman, a deputy assistant attorney general, testifying before a Senate pane on presidential signing statementsl, as quoted in the New York Times.
Getting rid of the double negative, and this translates into, "the president often intends to enact the bill." Not always, but often. Which is great, but I always thought that when Congress passes a law -- no matter how stupid that law might be -- the president is always supposed to implement it. UPDATE: Obviously, the president can veto a bill. Signing a bill and only partially implementing it, however, is another kettle of fish entirely.
To be fair, let's see how Boardman expands on her comments:
Michelle Boardman, a deputy assistant attorney general, said the statements were "not an abuse of power."The problem with this line of reasoning is that the current president is operating under a theory of executive branch power that is way, way out of the mainstream.
I'm not opposed to signing statements in principle -- indeed, they probably serve as useful guidance for executive branch agencies. However, quotes like the one above give me hives.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Thanks to Appalled Moderate for adding more context to Broadman's comments.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Orin Kerr puts his finger on the larger problem:
It seems to me that the Bush Administration’s approach to Article II powers has two features: (1) an unusually broad view of Article II powers and (2) a refusal to explain in detail the Administration’s broad view of Article II powers. Most criticism of the Administration’s approach has focused on (1). I’m no expert on these issues, but my sense is that, from a structural perspective, the real difficulty is the combination of (1) and (2).
Monday, June 26, 2006
The blogosphere, R.I.P.--- wait, this sounds familiar
Less than six months ago I observed that many media outlets seemed to be burying the blogosphere. Maybe it's a cyclical thing, but blogs are being buried... again.
There was the whole TNR-Kos debate, but that's so last week. As an bizarre offshoot of that dogpile, there is Lee Siegel's badly written and badly reasoned rant over at TNR. Siegel says in his first post that "The blogosphere's fanaticism is, in many ways, the triumph of a lack of focus." Er, in my book, the one thing fanatics don't lack is focus. That's without trying to deconstruct the "fascism with a Microsoft face" metaphor. Siegel doesn't help matters in his follow-up post.
Whatever one thinks about the structure of the internet as a whole, it is becoming increasingly clear that the particular architecture of the blogosphere is the chief impediment to its becoming a place where new ideas can be deployed, tested, and developed. Take, for instance, the problem of comments.Jacobs has a point about the architecture -- though I would say that the spammers have feasted on the architecture much more than the trolls.
On the development of ideas, Jacobs is both right and wrong. Of course blogs are imperfect vehicles for the long-form development of ideas. However, they are a great place for the germination of ideas. Most of them might be bad ideas, but occasionally I'll come up with something in a blog post that ripens into something even better in a different format.
A final point, before I undoubtedly have to dredge up this topic six months from now. It it just me, or does much of the critical curdling towards the blogosphere evoke how intellectuals of the fifties turned against television? Elite critics went from praising the educational possibilities of the medium to complaining about the "vast wasteland" of television. Perhaps blogs, like TV, will never live up to the hype that was churned out in its technological infancy. However, no one today would think of bashing television as a medium when the variety of programming is so diverse.
Why, then, do critics fall into this trap when they talk about blogs?
Nationalism comes from behind!!
Ah, just as Europe takes a step to reject economic nationalism, we turn back to Latin America.
The Financial Times' Andy Webb-Vidal reports that the U.S. Southern Command is worried about "resource nationalism" in the region:
Future supplies of oil from Latin America are at risk because of the spread of resource nationalism, a study by the US military that reflects growing concerns in the US administration over energy security has found.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Capitalism 1, Nationalism 0
One of the great things about capitalism is that when there is enough money at stake, national prejudices fall by the wayside.
Which brings us to Mittal Steel's latest acquisition. Heather Timmons and Anand Giridharadas explain in the New York Times:
A new steel giant is being created out of a bitter battle, after Arcelor agreed today to a merger with its rival Mittal Steel in a deal valued at 26.8 billion euros, or $33.5 billion.Timmons and Giridharadas also raise The Big Question in the closing paragraphs:
The fight for Arcelor was closely watched around the world, as it evolved into a clash between two major forces shaping the world economy: the ascendancy of India and China as sources of new business models and ambitious new companies, and a rising tide of protectionism in the West, fueled by anxiety that new competition will erode a way of life.
Are you addicted to A Capella?
There is help. And I'm proud to say that my alma mater is at the forefront of this disorder that plagues at least 30% of all graduates of northweastern liberal arts colleges.
Friday, June 23, 2006
A libertarian move by the Bush administration.... really, I'm not kidding
Reuters reports that President Bush has decided that the federal government won't take advantage of the Kelo ruling. Reuters' Jeremy Pelofsky explains:
President George W. Bush issued an executive order on Friday to limit the U.S. government from taking private property only for the benefit of other private interests, like corporations.Here's a link to the actual executive order.
Happy as I am about this, two aspects of this move puzzle me:
1) Why did it take a whole year?UPDATE: Ilya Somin is not impressed:
Read carefully, the order does not in fact bar condemnations that transfer property to other private parties for economic development. Instead, it permits them to continue so long as they are "for the purpose of benefiting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties to be given ownership or use of the property taken."
So how's the hard balancing going?
For the past fifteen years, the big question in international relations is why no balancing coalition has emerged against the United States.
The answer you get depends on who you ask. During the nineties, some liberals credited the existing framework of international institutions as forming binding constraints on the U.S., assuaging the concerns of other states. Other liberals credited America's "soft power" in getting other countries to want what we want. Still more liberals would have answered with variations on the democratic peace. Realists didn't say much about the topic during the nineties, other than to warn that a balancing coalition was sure to come, you betcha.
With the arrival of George W. Bush, the September 11th attacks, the U.S. response, and the Iraq war, just about everyone has been predicting a balancing coalition. And yet the funny thing is that it hasn't happened.
Sure, some realists have claimed the existence of "soft balancing," but that's really just a fancy term for self-interested diplomacy. Plus, it's just plain odd to read realists who would otherwise pooh-pooh the existence of international organizations suddenly claim that the diplomatic activity taking place within those organization really matters. The lack of appreciable evidence is also kind of a problem.
This head-scratcher has caused people to start looking for hard balancing coalitions in out of the way places -- inside sofa cushions, under rocks, near Central Asia, you name it. The latest example is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which the Guardian's Simon Tisdall breathlessly reports as follows (link via Peking Duck):
China's president, Hu Jintao, says the SCO represents "a new security concept" based on mutual trust and benefit. "Experience has shown that the SCO is an important force in safeguarding regional and world peace," he said last week. Sino-Russian relations, increasingly the group's cornerstone, had never been better, he said. It was not exclusive and did not target third parties.Tisdall is not the only commentator to think of the SCO in this way.
Over at EurasiaNet.org, however, Stephen Blank points out that the SCO suffers from even greater inrernal tensions than, say, NATO (hat tip to Passport's David Bosco):
Beijing and Moscow have differing visions for the SCO, but these differences are being papered over at present by both countries’ shared desire to drastically reduce, or eliminate altogether US influence in Central Asia. Russia wants to transform the SCO into a club of energy producers, of which it would be the dominant partner. This notion, of course, not only goes against the interests of Central Asian producers, it also poses a threat to China and India, both of which are major consumers of Russian and Central Asian energy.A negative consensus is sufficient for a hard balancing coalition when the threat is so pre-eminent that state survival is at stake. The United States does not constitute that threat.
UPDATE: Drat!! Dan Nexon beat me the blog punch on this. Go check out his post as well.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
My third concentric circle in hell
Well, I have
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Now the circle of co-optation is complete
Way back in August 2004, Henry Farrell and I wrote the following:
We predict that as blogs become a more established feature on the political landscape, politicians and other interested parties will become more adept at responding to them, and, where they believe it necessary, co-opting them. To the extent that blogs become more politically influential, we may expect them to become more directly integrated into ‘politics as usual,’ losing some of their flavor of novelty and immediacy in the process.That pretty much sums up what's happening with the allegations of "blogola" -- excessive chumminess betweek Markos Moulitsas, Jerome Armstrong and whoever hires Armstrong as a political consultant.
For links on what's happening, see Mickey Kaus, James Joyner, NRO's Jim Geraghty, Ann Althouse, and Jason Zengerle at TNR's The Plank (this post about Kos' marketing power is particularly interesting). UPDATE: Thanks to Bob McManus for providing links to the left half of the blogosphere -- Ezra Klein, Max Sawicky, Stirling Newberry, Duncan Black, and Kos himself (see this Kos post on Zengerle's Plank posts as well).
Read all the links. What's going on is not illegal, or even out of the ordinary in Washington, DC. It's politics as usual. The only reason the story is noteworthy is because bloggers like Kos have persistently said that they and theirs -- a.k.a., the netroots -- are not about politics as usual.
Over time, however, that claim looks less and less viable. The question is whether bloggers like Kos find that their legions of readers are turned off by these kind of revelations, or whether they comfortably adjust into being middleweight power brokers.
UPDATE: Commenters seem to be very upset that I'm accusing Moulitsas and Armstrong of corruption. I find this puzzling since I specifically did not do that. All I'm saying is that as Armstrong and Moulitsas rub elbows with powerful Democrats on a repeated basis, it becomes tougher and tougher for them to play the role of independent outsiders without a stake in the system. As Markos himself points out:
I have friends that work or are closely allied with every single 2008 candidate. I have friends working in every single high-profile Senate race this fall. And at the DCCC, DSCC and DNC. Fact is, in this biz, I've made a s***load of great friends. And I won't tell them to f*** off because they work for a campaign. In fact, I ENCOURAGE my friends to work for campaigns. It's -- gasp! -- a good thing.Garance Franke-Ruta makes this same point in Tapped. In other words, the gates have been crashed.
This is pretty much what Henry and I predicted, and it's coming to fruition (and it's certainly not limited to the left half, either).
Ozzie Guillen's unique gift of gab
Ozzie Guillen is the manager of the Chicago White Sox, and congenitally incapable of going two days without doing or saying something controversial.
Last week he got into hot water in a game against the Texas Rangers because Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski was hit by pitches twice in the game. Sean Tracey, a White Sox rookie, was in the game with instructions to drill Texas' Hank Blalock. He didn't do it (he tried, but darnit, he got Blalok to ground out). TV cameras showed Guillen screaming at Tracey in the dugout. Tracey apparently broke into tears and was sent to the minors the next day.
That's nothing, however, compared to his latest screw-up. ESPN.com explains:
On Tuesday to reporters, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen referred to Chicago Sun-Times columnist and Around the Horn contributor Jay Mariotti as a derogatory name for a homosexual.Sports columnist Greg Couch of the Chicago Sun-Times puts this latest statement in context -- and then gives Guillen enough rope to hang himself:
The issue is that Guillen said the wrong thing, and he does it often and it never sticks to him. That's just Ozzie, we hear. And the Sox tend to chuckle about this stuff, as if we can just forgive him. Why? Because English is his second language?Wait a minute, he attends WNBA games? He gets a pass from me then!!
Seriously, to answer Couch's question -- the reason people tolerate Guillen in Chicago is that his team is winning. The moment that changes, Guillen, like Billy Martin before him, will quickly get frogmarched out of town.
What is it about managers of Chicago baseball teams, anyway?
Before Wednesday night’s game, Guillen acknowledged that his use of the word might have offended some.ANOTHER UPDATE: Mariotti responds in his Thursday column:
I can shrug it off as an occupational hazard, knowing I'm called meaner things at the coffee stand every morning. I also know it places me on an extraordinarily long list of people the Blizzard has dissed or launched into, including Magglio ("Venezuelan [bleep]'') Ordonez, Buck Showalter, Phil Garner, Sean Tracey, the Los Angeles Angels, every American League umpire, the reporter he threatened to rub out last winter and, by not showing up at the White House for a ceremony, the President of the United States.Eric Wilbur thinks Mariotti is being too kind to Boston beat writers.
Wacky government incentives, continued
A quick follow-up to my post on the bizarre tax incentives for hybrid vehicles.
As fate would have it, David Leonhardt at the New York Times looks at this scheme and confirms the explanation made by many commenters in the last thread -- the goal of the tax credit is to help the domestic auto industry, not energy conservation:
The first thing to understand about the hybrid tax credit is that it was never really intended to reduce oil imports from the Middle East or slow the effects of global warming. The credit was created to prop up Detroit while giving conservation a nod.I'll close this post with an e-mail excerpt from a good friend and high-powered Chicago lawyer who shall remain nameless:
Much of the law has a kind of internal coherence. The common law, especially, is a kind of organic effort to rationally work out social ordering. Federal statutes are often broad efforts to impelement a basic policy objective -- sometimes successfully, sometimes not. Because the law "makes sense" much of the time, one can usually infer the "purpose" of a law from its provisions.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
So what's it like outside of the Green Zone?
The leaked memo from the Baghdad embassy to Condoleezza Rice on the situation for Iraqis in Baghdad makes for very sobering reading.
Read it and comment away. The first thought that came to mind for me: please, please tell me that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has sources of intel on the situation there beyond the locals working at the embassy.
I hope Dick Cheney is right when he says that 10 years from now people will look back at 2005 and say, "That's when we began to get a handle on the long-term future of Iraq." Memos like the one linked above, however, make Cheney's assertion look pretty out-of-touch.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Who's the best briber at the International Whaling Commission?
At academic conferences, when the whiskey and the port run low, and all the international relations specialists bask in the warm glow of
"What's your favorite international governmental organization?"OK, that never actually happens -- we're not that geeky, and most IR types I know are oenophiles rather than whiskey-drinkers, and on the whole we can't afford good port.
This is too bad, because I have an answer -- the International Whaling Commission.
The IWC has a fun history. Originally set up by countries with active whaling industries, powerful members shifted policies once environmentalists became a more influential domestic lobby than whalers. By 1986, the IWC had institued a ban on all commercial whaling.
At present, the United States supports a ban on the commercial hunting of all whales to protect the endangered species. Because of their politically powerful whaling industries – and consumer preferences for whale meat – Japan and several Scandinavian countries prefer reversing the ban. Japan has tried to circumvent this rule by authorizing the hunting of more than 500 whales in the North Pacific, ostensibly for scientific research – but much of the whale meat harvested from these scientific hunts has found its way into commercial restaurants.
In an effort to alter the status quo, Japan has attempted to pack the IWC membership with loyal votes, paying membership dues so microstates such as Dominica, Grenada, and the Solomon Islands can join. These countries have consistently supported Japan’s position in return for large dollops of official development assistance, preventing the creation of new sanctuaries for whales in the South Pacific.
This, by the way, is why I love the IWC -- it's not that there isn't vote-buying in other venues (including the UN Security Council), it's just that the bribery at the IWC is so wonderfully blatant.
This leads us to today's plenary meering. Let's start with the Independent's rather hyperbolic coverage:
The environment movement suffered one of its greatest reverses late last night when pro-whaling countries, led by Japan, gained control of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and immediately began undermining the 20-year-old international whaling moratorium.I think the Independent is hyperventilating just a bit (click here for the more buttoned-down AP report). Here's why.
First, the pro-whaling coalition still needs to get another 25% of the membership on their side.
Second, the pro-whaling coalition has a point -- there are some species of whales which are not endangered. The Economist (subscription required) points out that not even Japan is proposing hunting blue whales or other endangered species right now. UPDATE: This Joshua Kurlantzick piece from 2004 in The New Republic makes the policy and gastronomic case for why the whaling ban should be partially lifted.
Third, the United States and other anti-whaling countries have not begun to bribe (though they have in the past). I therefore predict a vast expansion of the IWC's membership over the next few years, as both pro and and anti-whaling countries sponsor members.
Which leads to the question at the top of this post.
Wacky government incentives
In moving to Massachusetts, the Drezner family needs to buy a second car, and we're thinking about a Prius (like Virginia Postrel, I like the styling as well as the gas mileage).
This caused us to stumble onto one of the odder tax credit schemes I've seen, the 2005 Energy Policy Act's credit for qualified hyrbid vehicles. The credit is based in part on the fuel-efficiency of the hybrid vehicle, which makes sense... sort of (why someone should get a tax credit of over $1,500 for a Lexus GS 450h when its gas mileage is below a lot of non-hybrid cars on this list is beyond me).
What makes no sense to me at all is the tax credit's half-life. Here's the IRS's explanation:
Consumers seeking the credit may want to buy early because the full credit is only available for a limited time. Taxpayers may claim the full amount of the allowable credit up to the end of the first calendar quarter after the quarter in which the manufacturer records its sale of the 60,000th vehicle. For the second and third calendar quarters after the quarter in which the 60,000th vehicle is sold, taxpayers may claim 50 percent of the credit. For the fourth and fifth calendar quarters, taxpayers may claim 25 percent of the credit. No credit is allowed after the fifth quarter.Unless it was designed to reduce the fiscal impact of the tax credit, this makes no sense to me. All it does is give people an incentive to buy cars in the first half of the year. If anything, the incentive penalizes brands and models that perform well -- since they would hit their cap quicker than less appealing brands.
Knowledgable readers are implored to comment on any rational reason for puting a quantity cap on the tax credit.
It should be stressed, however, that this is not the most bizarre government incentive scheme in recent years. No, you're going to have to click here to read about the government incentive scheme that generated the most bizarre, disturbing -- and yet thoroughly predictable -- response.
You wanna know why America is unilateralist?
After a timid and embarrassing peformance against the Czechs, the United States tied Italy in its World Cup match today, 1-1. In doing so, the US team earned its first point in a World Cup tournament held in Europe.
The outcome of the game also helps to explain the source of the occasional American impulse towatds unilateralism -- when Americans agree to play by the rules, the rules are suddenly changed to stack the deck against the Americans. The U.S. team outplayed Italy in this game, and might have won if the friggin' ref hadn't gotten red-card happy. Apparently the British commentators were even more cheesed off about the bad refereeing in the game than ABC, according to Frank Foer. His comment about the refereeing is on point:
How can we account for his Mickey Mouse performance? What hint of corruption will be turned up? Was this a display of anti-Americanism? Or just sheer incompetence? Clearly, his miscues affected both sides--and clearly they affected one side more than the other.I implore the referees to announce prior to the U.S.-Ghana game that they will be vigilant and even-handed -- otherwise, I can see either Bruce Arena authorizing a pre-emptive raid against FIFA or George W. Bush authorizing a pre-emptive strike against Ghana.
Friday, June 16, 2006
Is politics really a beauty contest?
Today I received the following e-mail request from Niclas Berggren:
Several studies document that beauty plays a role in the labor market: beautiful people earn more than others. Three economists are conducting a study to see whether there is a beauty premium in politics as well, such that beautiful candidates have greater electoral success. You, humble readers of daniel drezner.com, are hereby invited to participate in the study, run by Associate Professor Niclas Berggren (The Ratio Institute), Dr. Henrik Jordahl (Uppsala University) and Professor Panu Poutvaara (University of Helsinki).
Just how much do Democrats and Republicans differ?
In a previous post on partisanship, I asserted the following:
This is where I break ranks with both [Tom] DeLay and [Marc] Schmitt -- I don't think Democrats and Republicans disagree on the first principles of governing. I'm not even sure they disagree on second principles. There are policy differences, to be sure -- but Carl Schmitt (not relation to Marc) does not travel well to these shores.Evidentiary standards in the blogosphere are pretty low, but still, I should probably back up this assertion a bit.
Now I can, thanks to Greg Mankiw, who posts the following:
John McCain gave a speech to the Economic Club of New York yesterday....As fate would have it, two months ago Hillary Clinton gave a speech to the Economic Club of Chicago about similar issues.
If one takes Clinton and McCain to be the standard-bearers fopr their respective parties in two years -- a stretch, but not a wholly unreasonable one -- it would be useful to compare and contrast the content of the two speeches.
CLINTON ON GLOBALIZATION: "[T]oday we have no choice about whether or not to embrace globalization. It is happening. We can't pretend it's going away. We can't wish it away. It is occurring. But as in earlier times, we do have a choice about how we deal with globalization and the competitive threat that it poses. We can choose to unleash the power of innovation and enterprise in ways that promote our economic growth and our values so that all Americans share in the prosperity."
MCCAIN ON GLOBALIZATION: "[D]espite all the defeatist rhetoric, America is the world’s biggest exporter, importer, producer, saver, investor, manufacturer and innovator. Americans do not shy from the challenge of competition: they welcome it. Because of that, we attract foreign investment from all over the world. Our government should welcome competition as the people do, and not resort to mindless protectionism.
While we embrace free trade, it is important to recognize that trade can lead to painful dislocations for some individuals. We must remain committed to education, retraining, and help for displaced workers all the while reminding ourselves that our ability to change is a great strength of our nation. We cannot let fear and the appeals of protectionists lead us backward."
CLINTON ON FISCAL POLICY: "Now, I think a return to fiscal discipline, living within our means, is essential for our long-term health. It is also critical to whether or not we control our own destiny as a nation.
Over the long-term and maybe the median term, red ink fiscal policies will undermine America's competitiveness. We have to ask ourselves whether our taxing and spending policies are in line with our economic goals. Do we have the right priorities and values in the federal budget?....
You know, we can do this. But we've got to forge a new bipartisan consensus. In the 1990s we did have tremendous economic growth underpinned by economic policies geared toward deficit reduction. That's why I support a return to pay-as-you-go budget rules in the Congress.
Every institution needs rules. And when the pay-as-you-go rules expired, all bets were off in the Congress. One of the ways we were able to obtain a balanced budget and a surplus in the Congress in the 1990s was you could not cut taxes or raise spending unless you could pay for it. A very old fashioned idea, but one which I hope we can begin to return to."
MCCAIN ON FISCAL POLICY: "While booming entitlement spending threatens us in the long run, our short term fiscal situation is terrible as well. In the past six years, government spending has gone from irresponsible to utterly indefensible. The numbers should shock us, and government’s indifference to them should shame us. According to the latest figures, spending in the 2005 fiscal year was $683 billion higher than it was in 2000. If we had simply held spending growth in check we would not have a budget deficit today.
Some of this money has necessarily been spent on the war on terror that was unexpected and has been obviously and hugely expensive. While at the same time we know we must focus most of our defense spending on tomorrow’s threats, not yesterday’s. But when Ronald Reagan increased defense spending to win the Cold War, he slowed non-defense spending growth at the same time. This time, we have fallen again for that most alluring delusion, we have tried to have our cake and eat it too. Non-defense spending, often on the most unnecessary projects, is out of control.
Legislators pass pork-filled bills without the fear of public retribution or presidential veto. Federal spending, and the special interest earmarks that destroy the budget process and waste taxpayer dollars by the billions continues at a breakneck pace. Sadly, we haven’t reformed the bankrupt “tax and spend” policies decried by Ronald Reagan. We have, it is now evident, merely replaced them with a new and even more insidious scheme of “borrow and spend.”
We are fooling no one, my friends. Inevitably, the bill will come due. In the mean time, we rack up big debts. With those debts come higher and higher interest payments each year. Instead of spending the tax payers’ dollars on real priorities, more and more of them will be devoted simply to keeping the bill collectors at bay. Bills that perpetuate wasteful spending should be vetoed – not some of them, all of them."
CLINTON ON ENERGY INDEPENDENCE: "We need a national energy strategy that is more than one line in the State of the Union. Energy costs hurt everyone's bottom line. And over the past 30 years, the ups and downs of the global oil market have cost the U.S. economy $7 trillion -- enough to pay off almost all of our national debt. The U.S. chemical industry says national gas price hikes over the last two years alone have cost it $10 billion and $50 billion in sales lost to cheaper foreign competition. Meanwhile, the average family is spending 75 percent more on transportation costs than it did five years ago.
We need a drive for smart energy that starts right now. The way to reduce our oil addiction is through technology, and we need a much more aggressive strategy. We have a National Institutes of Health. Why don't we have a National Institute of Energy? I think we need a major energy research program similar to what President Eisenhower did after Sputnik went up because we are suffering through what might be called -- and some have -- silent Sputnik. And the energy issue is one of those.
If we had a major energy research program, it would create a portfolio of cutting edge energy research technologies that would reduce our oil dependence, increase our efficiency and reduce green house gas emissions."
MCCAIN ON ENERGY INDEPENDENCE: "Recent events have also made it clear that rising energy costs and our dangerous dependence on an unreliable supply from unstable parts of the world is potentially crippling to our economy. When Wall Street wants to limit risk, it diversifies. The obvious approach to resolve our energy problems is to increase and diversify our sources of power and look for ways to reduce our demand. We have promising technologies in development, but also proven alternatives at hand – the most obvious of which is nuclear.
Genuine improvement in our energy security, must respect markets and avoid the temptations of nearsighted politics. While it is tempting to assail windfall profits and executive compensation, it is not a substitute for a viable and long-term energy strategy. We will never be fully independent of global energy markets. But we must work for the day that energy supply volatility no longer imperils our economy and our security."
Is it just me, or is there a lot of similarity here?
To be sure, these quotes do not mean that Clinton and McCain are carbon copies of each other. If you read the speeches back-to-back, you see Clinton keeps mentioning fiscal discipline, but the bulk of her policy proposals are about substantive increases in "infrastructure" spending. McCain seems more emphatic about deficit reduction, but as Mankiw correctly points out, he's a bit vague on the details. Clinton wants to subsidize manufacturing; McCain doesn't. Read the two speeches yourself and see if you can spot other differences (and, for the record, I strongly prefer McCain's speech on the points of divergence).
The differences, however, are one of small degrees, not orders of magnitude. They are not differences of first principle.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
How to make people read about economic concepts
Megan McArdle has two posts today on economics that are worth checking out -- both for their substantive content and for the excellent way in which she lures readers who might be put off by economic jargon into perusing them anyway.
For example, in this post on comparing the U.S. macroeconomic situation to the developing world, there is this great passage:
It is common, and silly, for people worrying about America's current account deficit to make statements like this:Check out this post on stagflation as well. It's a moment of convergence between Megan and Kevin Drum.If the US were a developing nation, it would have been IMFed by now.And if I were Anna Nicole Smith, I would have absolutely ENORMOUS . . . vacation homes. This is not very relevant to my current summer plans.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
In honor of Flag Day....
The Senate is going to vote today on a flag-burning amendment, an act that even the conservative base knows is meaningless. Seriously, is this really a problem in this country? Utah Senator Bob Bennett points out the obvious: "The only time there's any significant amount of flag burning is when the flag amendment is introduced and people go out and burn flags in opposition to the amendment."
If you must think about this kind of nonsense, go read this Julian Sanchez post about the proposed constitutional amendment to ban flag-burning. And then try to think of an even sillier amendment to the Constitution and post it in the comments.
UPDATE: Thanks to the reader who linked to this John Scalzi post from last year on this very topic.
Fewer Americans are going postal
Frances Williams reports in the Financial Times about some interesting trends in workplace violence in the developed world:
Physical and psychological violence in the workplace is on the rise worldwide and has reached “epidemic levels” in many industrialised countries, according to a study published on Wednesday by the International Labour Organisation.Here's a link to the ILO press release, as well as the introductory chapter. I wouldn't describe the data cited in the report as "patchy" so much as "completely incommensurate between countries."
Putting that caveat aside for a moment, would any readers like to posit why workplace violence appears to be on the decline in the Anglosphere but on the rise elsewhere?
Seth Mnookin has started up a blog on his web site that's worth checking out if you like the Boston Red Sox, baseball in general, and savvy media criticism.
UPDATE: In other blog news, Matthew Yglesias is clearly making a buck off of his blogging and discovers to his irritation that he has to pay the government some of it.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
For the philosophers in the audience....
Luc Bovens has a fascinating article in the Journal of Medical Ethics about whether strict pro-life activists -- i.e., those who are as concerned about embryonic death as they are about fetuses -- can ethically endorse the rhythm method as a means of family planning. Why?
Pro-lifers oppose IUDs because their main mode of operation is to make embryonic death likely. Now suppose that we were to learn that the success of the rhythm method is actually due, not to the fact that conception does not happen—sperm and ova are much more long lived than we previously thought—but rather because the viability of conceived ova outside the HF period is minimal due to the limited resilience of the embryo and the limited receptivity of the uterine wall. If this were the case, then one should oppose the rhythm method for the same reasons as one opposes IUDs. If it is callous to use a technique that makes embryonic death likely by making the uterine wall inhospitable to implantation, then clearly it is callous to use a technique that makes embryonic death likely by organising one’s sex life so that conceived ova lack resilience and will face a uterine wall that is inhospitable to implantation. Furthermore, if one is opposed to IUDs because their main mode of operation is to secure embryonic death, then, on the assumption that one of the modes of operation of the pill is to make embryonic death likely, one should be equally opposed to pill usage. This is essentially Alcorn’s argument and assuming that the empirical details hold, consistency does indeed drive IUD opponents in this direction. If, however, our empirical assumptions about the rhythm method hold, then one of its modes of operation is also that it makes embryonic death likely. And if embryos are unborn children, is it not callous indeed to organise one’s sex life on the basis of a technique whose success is partly dependent on the fact that unborn children will starve because they are brought to life in a hostile environment?This rests on the belief that the rhythm method works because of embryonic death rather than a failure to fertilize an egg in the first place. Amanda Schaffer's article in the New York Times about the Bovens paper discusses the scientific lay of the land on that question.
I have no idea whether Bovens' empirical assertion is correct -- but if it is, it would seem to pose a very interesting quandry for some pro-life activists.
UPDATE: The comments tend to run towards the distinction between sins of omission and sins of commission. Just to be really subversive, try applying that framework to this question and see if your views remain internally consistent.
The Bush administration's whack-a-mole on data privacy
In less than a month, the Bush administration has had two gaffes on the security of electronic data.
Energy Department officials have informed nearly 1,500 individuals that their Social Security numbers and other information may have been compromised when a hacker gained entry to a department computer system eight months ago, a spokesman said Monday.
In which direction is Bush headed?
As of late, George W. Bush has suffered a few bad
So what does the future hold? There are two takes on the web today.
The American Spectator recently published a special issue devoted mostly to detailing the litany of Bush sins. One recent book (Impostor, by conservative columnist Bruce Bartlett), a forthcoming book (Conservatives Betrayed, by right-wing activist Richard Viguerie), and innumerable op-eds (e.g., "HOW THE GOP LOST ITS WAY," by Reagan biographer Craig Shirley) condemn the president as an ideological turncoat.Meanwhile, John Dickerson at Slate notices a small countertrend:
Boy, that Josh Bolten is good. Since taking over as White House chief of staff, he has successfully installed a new spokesman, landed a Wall Street wizard to run the Treasury Department, killed the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, got the Iraqis to form a government, and brought about the exoneration of Karl Rove. Political observers search for a turning point. When the narrative is written, Bolten's promotion will seem like the moment everything changed for the White House.So is the wheel turning or not?
My two cents is that it actually doesn't matter. In 2004, the residue of George W. Bush as the resolute post-9/11 leader was strong enough for him to eke out an electoral victory. I suspect the hangover from the Iraq occupation will be so massive that there is little Bush could do between now and November to affect the Republicans' political fortunes.
But I could be wrong... and I welcome readers telling me that.
Monday, June 12, 2006
Rauch, realpolitik, and realism
Rauch argues that current policymakers should pay more attention to realism -- which requires him to define the term and then explain why it's been neglected:
[T]he United States would do well to recall and learn from President Kennedy. But which President Kennedy? The idealist who made the speeches, or the realist who made the decisions?Much as I admire Rauch's writings, there are a few problems with this column, and at the risk of stepping into some paradigm wars, I think it's worth pointing them out:
1) The far left and right aren't the only ones to embrac realism. Rauch overlooks a gaggle of sober, respectable policymakers and public intellectuals who would be considered realists. Brent Scowcroft and Henry Kissinger certainly fit this mold.The Bush administration may not be pursuing a strictly realist foreign policy, but its behavior suggests they're well aware of the concept that Rauch is trying to promote.
The tragicomedy of North Korea
In the Financial Times, Demetri Sevastopulo, Stephen Fidler and Anna Fifield report that Kim Jong Il would like the United States to pay more attention to North Korea now, please:
North Korea is preparing for a possible test of an intercontinental ballistic missile with the potential to hit the US, according to Washington officials.The title of this post aside, there's actually nothing funny about this... unless your mind wanders involuntarily to certain movie musicals.
Team America references aside, the most obvious indication that this is serious is that the South Koreans are not downplaying it:
Ban Ki-moon, South Korea’s foreign minister, last week said the preparations were of “great concern” – comments that underscored South Korean anxiety given that Seoul has traditionally played down the chances of any inflammatory actions by the North. The official said the US wanted to avoid creating a crisis because “ that is what North Korea wants”.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
What happens when I go on vacation
I am toying with a new concept, namely The Work Vacation. Pick some exotic locale and bring your laptop. Write your book and blog as usual. Go out every now and then to see some sights. In essence seeing sights replaces the time at home you would spend doing chores and taking care of family.This is almost but not exactly what my vacations are like.
Indeed, the joke in my family is that the only difference between me working and me on vacation is that I read a slightly different set of books.
Friday, June 9, 2006
Drezner gets results from Richard Lugar!!
Senator Richard Lugar has an op-ed in the International Herald-Tribune that sounds a theme familiar to readers of danieldrezner.com -- high energy prices hurt the developing world a hell of a lot more than the developed world:
As we in the West contend with spiraling world crude prices, we must remember that they can be devastating to developing countries, blunting the effectiveness of foreign aid and the push for democracy. This is more than a humanitarian issue - it is also a global security concern that demands our urgent attention.
Thursday, June 8, 2006
The role of partisanship in American politics
It's been a busy day for the partisanship meme today.
In The American Prospect, Marc Schmitt points out what many have observed in the past -- the rising ideological purity of both Democrats and Republicans:
If there is a voter backlash against the GOP this November, it will be aimed at the far-right Republicans who've been running the party. But, like a quail-hunting Dick Cheney, it will instead take out an unintended target—the so-called "moderate" Republicans who are somewhat pro-environment, more or less pro-choice, and sometimes labor-friendly leftovers of the genteel GOP tradition. Generally speaking, these are the only Republicans in vulnerable districts.Oddly enough, partisanship is also the theme of Tom DeLay's valedictory address to the House of Representatives. I've never been a big fan of DeLay, but his address offers an interesting rejoinder to Schmitt:
In preparing for today, I found that it is customary in speeches such as these to reminisce about the "good old days" of political harmony and across-the-aisle camaraderie, and to lament the bitter, divisive partisan rancor that supposedly now weakens our democracy.Two cavils to DeLay's farewell address. First, the defense of "higher principles" would have a better ring to it if the Hammer hadn't played such a large role in policies that served no ideological purpose other than dishing large slabs of pork to favored constituencies.
Second -- and this is where I break ranks with both DeLay and Schmitt -- I don't think Democrats and Republicans disagree on the first principles of governing. I'm not even sure they disagree on second principles. There are policy differences, to be sure -- but Carl Schmitt (not relation to Marc) does not travel well to these shores -- no matter what Alan Wolfe says.
If Marc Schmitt is correct, then the next few years will be an interesting test of my beliefs.
Open Zarqawi thread
Accoding to both U.S. and Iraqi officials, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in an airstrike today.
Question to readers: what effect, if any, will this have on the security situation in Iraq?
UPDATE: I do like this AP headline: "Around the world, al-Zarqawi death praised"
ANOTHER UPDATE: Greg Djerejian has some instant analysis that is worh reading.
Wednesday, June 7, 2006
Is Mark Malloch Brown really a diplomat?
Yesterday Kofi Annan's deputy, Mark Malloch Brown, gave a speech in which he asserted the following:
[A]s someone who has spent most of his adult life in this country, only a part of it at the UN, I hope you will take it in the spirit in which it is meant: as a sincere and constructive critique of US policy towards the UN by a friend and admirer. Because the fact is that the prevailing practice of seeking to use the UN almost by stealth as a diplomatic tool while failing to stand up for it against its domestic critics is simply not sustainable. You will lose the UN one way or another....Democracy Arsenal's Suzanne Nossel was at the conference where Brown gave his speech, and it even made her cringe a little:
He argues that the UN's role is a secret in middle America because of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh's disinformation campaigns. That's true, but its been true for years despite efforts by organizations like the UN Foundation and UN Association to address the ignorance and publicize the UN's important contributions. What we need is creative and new ideas for how to turn this around, not more ranting about why American perceptions of the UN aren't what they should be.So, if Nossel thinks the speech was overblown, how do you think John Bolton is going to react?
It was a rare instance of a senior U.N. official directly and openly criticizing a member state. An unwritten U.N. rule says high-ranking officials don't name names or shame nations.I wager to say that Bolton is hopping mad about this. How do I know? Because I, a lowly blogger, was e-mailed this story by Bolton's deputy press secretary. And I'm guessing others were as well.
Bolton might be mad, but he's also right -- the speech will hurt the UN more than it will help it in this country. Brown's speech will do for U.S. attitudes towards the UN what Mearsheimer and Walt's "Israel Lobby" article did towards elite attitudes towards U.S. policy towards the Middle East -- it will roil everyone up, but the kernels of insight contained in the speech (Brown makes a good point about the merits of UN peacekeeping) will be safely ignored because of the rhetorical and conceptual overkill.
There is one big difference, however -- Mearsheimer and Walt were academics trying to be provocative -- Brown is ostensibly a UN diplomat. He says his speech was meant as, "a sincere and constructive critique of US policy towards the UN by a friend and admirer," but in characterizing Middle America as moronic xenophobes, he's creating the very attitude he seeks to change.
UPDATE: Kyle Spector at FP's Passport points out that Bolton's reaction might be equally overdramatic:
Brown's speech, including the criticism that the US uses "the UN almost by stealth as a diplomatic tool while failing to stand up for it against its domestic critics" was, for Bolton, the "worst mistake" in 17 years by a UN official.
What is new and essential in international relations?
Tyler Cowen worries that after a burst of innovation in the late eighties, economics has gone a bit stale:
I see mid-1980s as the end of a great era in economic theorizing. Take game theory, principal-agent theory, and the economics of information, and apply them to everything, for better or worse. This was an exciting, indeed intoxicating, time to learn economics. While applications continue, we have run out of new ideas on those fronts. Experimental economics is completely Nobel-worthy, but it is now over forty years old. What are the next breakthroughs or the breakthroughs which have just been made?Readers have requested more IR theory posts, so let's take Tyler's question and apply it to international relations. What has been written in the past decade that is essential reading for an up and coming IR grad student?
[What do you think?--ed. I'll add my picks in a few hours. For now I'll just observe that my thoughts run to books rather than articles, and I'm not sure that's a good thing.]
Tuesday, June 6, 2006
Davos has so jumped the shark
Rob Long has a very amusing piece at ForeignPolicy.com on how celebrities can maximize their star poweer to pursue foreign policy agendas:
Welcome to the fascinating world of foreign policy! It’s wonderful that Hollywood has taken such an interest in world affairs—the hotel lobbies and corridors of Davos have never been so glittering, and hotspots in Africa and the Middle East are sprinkled with stardust. Boffo kudos, as we say in the business.Apparently, going to the Davos Economic Forum is a no-no:
Honestly, Davos is a no-win situation for you. You won’t be the most famous person there; that honor will inevitably go to Bill Clinton. You won’t be the richest; that honor will go to Bill Gates. You won’t really get the respect or the attention that you deserve. It’s sort of like going to the Oscars when you’re not nominated. No matter how famous you are, people will wonder what, exactly, you’re doing there. You’ll be photographed in a swank hotel lobby with a lot of short men in dark suits. Someone will try to hire you to appear in a commercial in Bahrain. The scientists and techies will ignore you. The Economist will print something snarky about you. Davos is a terrible costar.Read the whole thing.
[Do you have any more advice?--ed. Oh, yes... lots of very valuable advice... but I'm saving myself for a particular Academy award-nominated actress.]
Has Al Qaeda acquired a new base?
I've occasionally riffed about how Al Qaeda acts like the
Which brings me to Somalia, and the takeover of Mogadishu by an entity called the Union of Islamic Courts. There are some very disturbing parallels between what's happening in Mogadishu, Somalia right now and what happened in Afghanistan when the Taliban took over Kabul. Consider this BBC report:
The Islamic Courts say they want to promote Islamic law rather than clan allegiance, which has divided Somalis over the past 15 years.This July 2005 report from the International Crisis Group about Somalia does not make me feel any more sanguine.
"Now you've got a safe haven for al-Qaida," said a defense intelligence official monitoring the country that was used as a base to stage attacks on two U.S. embassies and an Israeli resort in East Africa. "It's definitely a concern."Developing.... and not in a good way at all.
Sunday, June 4, 2006
So long, Chicago
As of today, my family and I are no longer residents of Chicago.
It is a bittersweet departure, for obvious reasons. However, it's also a good time to reflect on what I will miss and what I won't miss about the place....
WHAT I'LL MISS ABOUT CHICAGO:
1) The workshop system. This will always be the U of C's comparative advantage. The paper workshops -- especially PIPES -- were a place where ideas and theories were ripped apart and then stitched back together by the faculty and graduate students. I will sorely miss the looks of shock and awe from visiting presenters when they see their paper expertly dissected by a 2nd-year graduate student.WHAT I WON'T MISS ABOUT CHICAGO:
1) The Co-op supermarket. There is one supermarket in the Hyde Park neighborhood, and it is just awful. How awful? We stopped shopping there after our first few years in Chicago -- as this Chicago Maroon essay points out, "how can a supermarket chain that charges higher prices and offers lower quality products sustain itself?" Never have I seen a better advertisement for the evils of barriers to entry than that sorry excuse of a store.Time to turn the page. On to Boston!!
Saturday, June 3, 2006
The Soccer Wars
That's the title of my essay in Sunday's Washington Post Outlook section. It bears more than a passing resemblance to this blog post from earlier in the week. The punchline:
Soccer will never bring about peace on its own. The flip side is also true -- by itself, soccer cannot start a war. The World Cup, like the Olympics, suffers from a case of overblown rhetoric. Bono's assurances to the contrary, the passions inspired by the World Cup embody both the best and worst forms of nationalism.A few citations, beyond those found in the earlier post. Joschka Fischer's quote about the World Cup can be found in Goldman Sachs' The World Cup and Economics 2006
Here's a link to the Edmans, Garcia, and Norli paper demonstrating the correlation between international soccer losses and poor stock market performance. And here's a link to the 1973 Richard Sipes paper, "War, Sports and Aggression: An Empirical Test of Two Rival Theories" that appeared in American Anthropologist.
For more on the World Cup and international relations, check out Michael Moran's useful and link-rich summary at cfr.org, and Pablo Halkyard's linkfest at PSDblog.
Finally, a thank you to Frank Foer for getting on the phone and chatting with me about Frank Rijkaard spitting on Rudi Voller -- though Frank always enjoys talking about soccer. And let me once again praise Foer's How Soccer Explains the World as a good read regardless of whether you like watching soccer.
And yes, between this and my Newsday op-ed on the World Baseball Classic, I plan on cornering the public intellectual market on sports and international relations. Bwa ha ha ha ha!!!
Thursday, June 1, 2006
Hugo Chavez wants to impoverish the developing world
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez wants OPEC to join his anti-American bandwagon. The Financial Times' Carola Hoyos reports that he hasn't been all that successful:
Ministers of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, the oil cartel, on Thursday united against Venezuela to reject its call to cut the group’s production.Read the whole thing, because there's some interesting bits of info about the possible expansion of OPEC's membership.
For now, however, let's focus on Chavez's bolded statement, because it's pretty much the opposite of the truth. If one posits that the cartel's reason for existence is to keep the price of oil at artificially high levels, then OPEC does little for the third world except to impoverish countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East that are not members of OPEC.
How is Africa fairing with past year's rise in oil prices? Let's check with the African Development Bank:
According to the African Development Bank (ADB), current oil prices will certainly translate into a higher average inflation of 2.6 percentage point for oil-importing African countries in 2006. High oil prices will exert a heavy toll on the finances of many oil-importing African countries. Increasing oil prices spell real economic danger for these countries as many companies faced with higher energy bills may attempt to cut down on cost and one way of achieving this is to lay off some workers. In the event of such a situation, governments of affected countries will see their tax bases eroded. Lay-offs in one sector of the economy could have huge and devastating effects on the entire economy and many African countries already caught up in the throes of an economic crisis, may have to deal with more complex economic and political situations.Hmmm.... what about Asia? Well, the Asian Development Bank is not as sanguine as Mr. Chavez:
The region of developing Asia and the Pacific is potentially vulnerable to high oil prices. It is a large net importer of oil (in this section oil is taken to include petroleum energy products excluding natural gas) and much of its rapidly expanding energy needs are met by oil. Developing Asia produces about 11% of the world's crude oil, but consumes more than 20% of it, and this gap is widening. Economies in developing Asia are nearly as oil intensive in energy consumption and much less energy efficient than most industrial countries. For each unit of gross domestic product (GDP), measured at market exchange rates, developing Asia consumes nearly five times as much energy as Japan and nearly three times as much as the United States (US).Click here to see a more in-depth analysis by the ADB of the effect of higher oil prices on the region.
In fact, let's just excerpt this 2004 International Energy Agency report to see the effect of high oil prices on the non-OPC members of the developing world as a whole:
The adverse economic impact of higher oil prices on oil-importing developing countries is generally even more severe than for OECD countries. This is because their economies are more dependent on imported oil and more energy-intensive, and because energy is used less efficiently. On average, oil-importing developing countries use more than twice as much oil to produce a unit of economic output as do OECD countries. Developing countries are also less able to weather the financial turmoil wrought by higher oil-import costs. India spent $15 billion, equivalent to 3% of its GDP, on oil imports in 2003. This is 16% higher than its 2001 oil-import bill. It is estimated that the loss of GDP averages 0.8% in Asia and 1.6% in very poor highly indebted countries in the year following a $10 oil-price increase. The loss of GDP in the Sub-Saharan African countries would be more than 3%.[Surely Chavez is correct about the Middle East, right?--ed. Er, no. According to this UN Development Program table, the Arab states have actually seen their energy efficiecy per unit of output decline by close to 50% in the past 25 years. Countries like Egypt and Jordan would get hammered as well.]
Hugo Chavez has zero interest in helping the countries of the developing world. And it's a good thing for the developing world that the rest of OPEC chooses to ignore him.