Friday, May 27, 2005
The latest on offshore outsourcing
Ted Balaker and Adrian Moore have written a lengthy report for the Reason Foundation entitled "Offshoring and Public Fear: Assessing the Real Threat to Jobs." Click here or a more concise summary of the report. Nut sentence: "Outsourcing is not a newly created threat to jobs. It is merely a version of trade, and like previous versions of trade it brings some pain—but it brings even more promise."
One anecdote that's given as an example of how offshoring saves and even creates jobs:
[Sure, but what about the jobs that will be destroyed in, say, the financial sector?--ed. Hmmm.... let's check out this Silicon.com report by Andy McCue:
So there's a complex trend going on -- some big firms are increasing activity, but almost all small firms are not. My hunch is that the overall effect on employment is a wash.]
Meanwhile, a new book coming out suggests that estimates of jobs lost from offshoring are both exaggerated and reversible:
Click on this paper by Scott Noble to see some reasons why offshoring fails.
A very important post about..... Paris Hilton's food porn
When we last left the topic of food porn, the staff here at danieldrezner.com was gently mocking the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CPSI) for awarding this label to the Hardee's/Crl's Jr. Monster Thickburger, pointing out that:
From the comments to that post, it was clear that many readers were eager to eat the burger out of sheer bloody-mindedness because of the CPSI's excessive preachiness on the topic.
One wondered, however -- riling a group like CPSI works only once in generating the kind of necessary buzz. Which group could Hardee's/Carl Jr. manage to rile up in order to secure the appropriate payoff?
Which brings me, of course, to Paris Hilton:
What you see above you is a still from the new Carl. Jr.'s ad for its new Spicy BBQ Six Dollar Burger. Click here to see the ad running on the Carl Jr.'s site, and here to see an extended version of the ad -- as well as.... commentary by Ms. Hilton herself. [How would you describe the ad?--ed. Er.... Paris Hilton doing a really bad job of washing a Bentley and an OK job of washing herself. And how would you describe her interview?--ed. A major turn-off. Hilton describes her outfit in the ad as a "bikini." For God's sake, the one thing she's supposed to actually know is fashion and she can't even use the proper term?]
Newsweek's Jonathan Darman reports that the usual suspects are not pleased with this ad:
Wow, that's hot. Note to self... check out the PTC web site more often.
Meanwhile, Carl's Jr. is just delighted by the PTC's ire:
So far Puzder has managed to aggravate the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Parents Television Council -- both to brilliant PR effects.
However, one wonders whether Puzder has run out of useful fools. Readers are strongly encouraged to suggest the next watchdog group that Puzder will provoke in order get more associations of his food products with porn.
The official campaign for the French referendum on the EU constitution has ended. According to the LA Times' Sebastian Rotella, Jacques Chirac ended things on a subtle note:
Hmmm... this line of argument sounds familiar... oh, yes, Romano Prodi tried it a month ago. I'll repeat what I said then:
Also, if Chirac needs to borrow lines of argumentation from Prodi, then it doesn't look good for "the future of Chirac, a 72-year-old political veteran who reportedly intends to run for a third term in 2007."
As for the referendum, six weeks ago I suggested that, "even if the referendum fails, the French can simply schedule another referendum." According to the EUobserver's Elitsa Vucheva, that's pretty much what the current EU president would like to see:
French speakers can read the Le Soir interview by clicking here. My French is tres rusty, but I'm pretty sure he implies elsewhere in the interview that without the constitution Europe will revisit the horrors of the the Balkan wars of the last decade.
POST-NON UPDATE: Click here for my (brief) post-non thoughts.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Dealing with the Iraqi insurgency
Scott Peterson has an excellent roundup of the state of the Iraqi insurgency in the Christian Science Monitor. Key paragraphs:
One other paragraph was interesting, going back to Virginia Postrel's point about understanding the other:
What to read about the blogosphere today
Two outstanding contributions about the way the blogosphere works:
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Gregg Easterbrook, war, and the dangers of extrapolation
Via Oxblog's Patrick Belton, I see that Gregg Easterbrook has a cover story in The New Republic entitled "The End of War?" It has a killer opening:
Is Easterbrook right? He has a few more paragraphs on the numbers:
Easterbrook spends the rest of the essay postulating the causes of this -- the decline in great power war, the spread of democracies, the growth of economic interdependence, and even the peacekeeping capabilities of the United Nations.
Easterbrook makes a lot of good points -- most people are genuinely shocked when they are told that even in a post-9/11 climate, there has been a steady and persistent decline in wars and deaths from wars. That said, what bothers me in the piece is what Easterbrook leaves out.
First, he neglects to mention the biggest reason for why war is on the decline -- there's a global hegemon called the United States right now. Easterbrook acknowledges that "the most powerful factor must be the end of the cold war" but he doesn't understand why it's the most powerful factor. Elsewhere in the piece he talks about the growing comity among the great powers, without discussing the elephant in the room: the reason the "great powers" get along is that the United States is much, much more powerful than anyone else. If you quantify power only by relative military capabilities, the U.S. is a great power, there are maybe ten or so middle powers, and then there are a lot of mosquitoes. [If the U.S. is so powerful, why can't it subdue the Iraqi insurgency?--ed. Power is a relative measure -- the U.S. might be having difficulties, but no other country in the world would have fewer problems.]
Joshua Goldstein, who knows a thing or two about this phenomenon, made this clear in a Christian Science Monitor op-ed three years ago:
The difference in language between Goldstein and Easterbrook highlights my second problem with "The End of War?" Goldstein rightly refers to the past fifteen years as a "lull" -- a temporary reduction in war and war-related death. The flip side of U.S. hegemony being responsible for the reduction of armed conflict is what would happen if U.S. hegemony were to ever fade away. Easterbrook focuses on the trends that suggest an ever-decreasing amount of armed conflict -- and I hope he's right. But I'm enough of a realist to know that if the U.S. should find its primacy challenged by, say, a really populous non-democratic country on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, all best about the utility of economic interdependence, U.N. peacekeeping, and the spread of democracy are right out the window.
UPDATE: To respond to a few thoughts posted by the commenters:
Go check out Daniel Nexon's blog for more on this -- he's an assistant professor of political science at Georgetown, and knows some things.
Why I've never trusted my parents' milkman...
Below is a photo of me, my brother and the other groomsmen at my brother's wedding:
Can you guess which one is my brother? There is a hidden clue, but on similarity of appearances I would wager there's no chance in hell anyone will get it right.
This fact, by the way, amuses my brother and I no end.
I promise to post an answer in 24 hours.
UPDATE: Answer below the fold
Congrats to those who either figured out that my brother has the white rose in his tuxedo -- or Googled to find an answer.
Oddly enough, we looked much more alike when we were children.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Some fine blogging going on this week!
Three great things to peruse in the blogosphere:
Arabs at home and abroad
In Foreign Policy, Moises Naim makes an interesting point about Arab Americans:
For Naim, this success presents an interesting puzzle:
Read the whole thing. And thanks to Colin Grabow for the link.
UPDATE: Hmmm.... Naim may have spoken too soon. Many thanks all of the commenters -- especially Andrés Vernon -- for pointing out the differences in the attributes of Arabs emigrating to the U.S. versus Arabs emigrating to Europe. Vernon provided a link to this Arab American Institute web page on Arab demographic. Two graphs worth reprinting:
BREAKDOWN OF ARAB AMERICANS BY COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
BREAKDOWN OF ARAB AMERICANS BY RELIGION
The second graph is particularly telling. I seriously doubt that only 24% of Europe's Arab influx is Muslim -- which means that the Arab immigrant stream into Europe is demonstrably different than those Arabs who empigrate to America. For more on the European side of the equation, see Claude Salhani analysis for UPI from last December.
And thanks to all the commenters for picking up the flaw in Naim's data.
LAST UPDATE: See Reihan Salam for more on this.
The Hotline focuses on.... me
The National Journal's Hotline has a new blog feature called Blogometer. It's like Slate's blog feature, but longer and with more links.
You can check out today's feature by clicking here -- there's a Q&A with yours truly at the end, in which I reveal my daily blog reads, and also confess a wistful nostalgia for This Week with David Brinkley.
You can filibuster all you want right here
I haven't blogged about the whole filibuster controversy -- constitutional issues aside, to me it was just a giant distraction from things like, oh, I don't know, getting the federal budget under control.
However, now that it's apparently been settled, I am amused to see the gnashing of teeth on both sides of the aisle.
Actually, that's not fair to Podesta, who opens up his statement by praising the 14 senators who crafted the compromise. Go see Jeffrey Dubner at Tapped for a more visceral reaction.
In the spirit of making only a few good predictions, here's the only one I'm willing to make: the big loser was Bill Frist. Conservatives are pissed at him because he didn't get all the judges past the filibuster. Moderates are pissed at him for pushing the nuclear option in the first place.
Comment away on the political and institutional implications.
Monday, May 23, 2005
One week left to say "Oui"
In my first post on the French referendum on the proposed EU constitution, I said that "It will be very interesting to see how this plays out over the next six weeks. My hunch is that support for the "yes" side will increase as the vote nears."
Drezner apparently gets results from the French!:
So does this mean the French will say "Oui"? Not necessarily. While the macro trend has been towards a tightening of the vote, the micro trend over the past few days has seen the "Non" vote gain strength. What's also interesting is that just as Chirac has used the logic of realpolitik to seel the constitution, opponents have also turned to realism. John Thornhill reports in the Finanicial Times:
Meanwhile, another FT story by Thornhill suggests that dissatisfaction with the constitution is not limited to France. The Netherlands, which also has a referendum next week, is even more hostile:
One caveat to all this -- Henry Farrell believes that the FT's reporting on this has been biased towards the "No" camp.
One final trend worth noting -- both FT stories note the extent to which foreign politicians are campaigning in France to try and persuade voters. For the "non" camp, it's "anti-constitution MEPs from several European countries, including the UK, Sweden, Denmark, and Poland." For the "oui" camp, it's German prime minister Gerhard Schroeder and Spanish PM José Luis Rodr´guez Zapatero. My guess is that these efforts will be a wash, but if "oui" wins, it's an interesting data point on the question of how other countries can influence voting.
Developing... until next week.