Saturday, February 3, 2007

Help me help APSA to help you

The American Political Science Association is putting together an edited volume on how to publish in political science. There will be an an overview of the current state of scholarly publishing, as well as how-to essays on writing university press books, textbooks, review essays, op-eds, converting dissertations into books, etc.

In their infinite wisdom, APSA has asked me to contribute a chapter on writing a political science blog.

So, a request for comments from other political science bloggers out there on the following questions:

1) What do you think are the do's and don'ts of poli sci blogging?

2) Does your blog help your scholarly pursuits? If so, how?

3) Are your colleagues aware of your blog? If so, what is their reaction? Has it changed over time?

4) As a political scientist, which blogs, if any, are must-reads for you (something like IR Rumor Mill or Fantasy IR doesn't count).

[You don't have answers to these questions?--ed. Oh, I have answers, but I'd like to get some different views on this.]

Post a comment, e-mail me directly, or post on your own blog and link back. Remember, this is for APSA....

posted by Dan at 08:34 AM | Comments (10) | Trackbacks (0)

Friday, February 2, 2007

Worst Super Bowl journamalism yet

Over years, with focus and concentration, I have learned to tune out most of the Super Bowl press coverage. Every once in a while, however, something seeps through, and I must simply stand back and gape at what might be the lowest forms of sports literature known to man.

For exhibit A this week, I give you the following paragraphs from Time's Sean Gregory:

[W]hatever you think of Manning, I would argue that it's best to root against him in the Super Bowl. Yes, even among his fans. It's Manning's quest for that one missing part, that one imperfection, that will sustain our attention. "From a fan's perspective, the joy is in the conversation," says sports sociologist Jay Coakley, professor emeritus at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. "Peyton's longing for a Super Bowl keeps the conversation going, and if he wins, that conversation stops." In an age of sports parity, in which seven teams have won World Series titles this decade and about a dozen NFL teams were fighting for playoff spots during the last weeks of the season, we can use a dramatic story line.

Did anyone really want to see Charlie Brown kick that football (thanks for the reflexes, Lucy)? Would Ernie Banks, the smiling Mr. Cub chortling "Let's play two," be as beloved if the Cubs were winners? Is the sports world really a better place since the Boston Red Sox overcame their "curse" and in 2004 finally won the World Series?

To answer his questions: yes, yes, and hell yes.

I'm rooting for a Super Bowl that has a meaningful fourth quarter. But part of me also wants Manning to either win it or lose valiantly in the way John McEnroe lost his first Wimbledon final to Bjorn Borg -- precisely so sports fans do not have to recycle the exact same conversation about Manning that has taken place for the last seven years.

Hat tip: Slate's Tommy Craggs

posted by Dan at 09:03 AM | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)

Is economic protectionism on the rise in China?

That's the topic of Ariana Eunjung Cha's story in today's Washington Post. It starts out with an odd example, however:

"I know you don't know that you don't know."

Those insulting words, thrown out by a Chinese man to a Westerner, are the punchline of an Internet commercial that ends with a beautiful Chinese bride jilting her confused Western fiance for the Chinese hero.

The wildly popular video was created by Baidu, a Chinese search engine, to poke fun at its U.S. competitor, Google. It is but one of the growing signs that China is rethinking its stance on foreign companies and investment within its borders.

"Gee," I thought, "That's an odd example. There's no government action there -- it's a marketing campaign."

To Cha and her editors' credit, they do make this very point at the end of the story:

Richard Ji of Morgan Stanley Hong Kong said some companies have used China's new rules as an excuse for their own marketing or strategic shortcomings. He said that in the cases of Google and eBay, the companies' challenges have had more to do with failure to tailor the content of their Web sites to Chinese tastes and needs.

In the Baidu commercial about Google, the Western man begins by saying "I know" repeatedly as he stands, smirking confidently, next to his bride-to-be. But after the Chinese man bursts on the scene and the two get into a war of words, the Westerner becomes confused. By mistake, he says, "I know I don't know that I don't know" -- at which point the disgusted bride runs away.

So the commercial is "not about nationalism and protectionism," Ji said. "It says that it's localization that gives success. If you localize services, it means you understand the people you are selling to."

Read the whole thing. In between this vignette, there's some decent evidence that China is officially wigging out about certain forms of FDI.

UPDATE: Thanks to Mitchell Young for pointing to the Baidu commercial on YouTube:

The ad is a good example of the difference between economic nationalism and economic protectionism. The ad is clearly nationalist, and designed to foster a "Buy China" mindset, in part through rational arguments that Baidu is better than Google, and in part through cultural tropes designed to make the Western character in the ad look uncool. However, it's not an example of protectionism -- it's not calling for government intervention or relief, it's just trying to beat Google.

posted by Dan at 08:47 AM | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (0)

Most bizarre man in the street interview ever?

Is it just me, or does this C.W. Nevius story in the San Francisco Chronicle -- about the public reaction to Mayor Gavin Newsom's admission of cuckolding one of his principal staff people -- contain the wierdest man-in-the-street reaction ever to appear in a major newspaper?

Although almost everyone we spoke to admitted to some disappointment, Newsom's firm and unqualified apology played to raves....

That seemed to be the buzz on the streets of San Francisco, too. Tarri Chandler, who said she was homeless and was carrying a cardboard cup that read "Cold, very hungry, please help,'' said she didn't think it was much of a story.

"What? That he was sleeping with somebody?'' said Chandler, who was wearing at least three jackets to hold off the cold. "I thought that's why he got divorced in the first place. And let's be honest, if you are a woman and you want to move up in the office, what better way than sex?''

posted by Dan at 08:40 AM | Comments (1) | Trackbacks (0)

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Oops, je l'ai fait encore

Jacques Chirac has gotten himself into a bit of foreign policy hot water, according to the New York Times' Elaine Sciolino and Katrine Bennhold:

President Jacques Chirac said this week that if Iran had one or two nuclear weapons, it would not pose a big danger, and that if Iran were to launch a nuclear weapon against a country like Israel, it would lead to the immediate destruction of Tehran.

The remarks, made in an interview on Monday with The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune and Le Nouvel Observateur, a weekly magazine, were vastly different from stated French policy and what Mr. Chirac has often said.

On Tuesday, Mr. Chirac summoned the same journalists back to Élysée Palace to retract many of his remarks.

Mr. Chirac said repeatedly during the second interview that he had spoken casually and quickly the day before because he believed he had been talking about Iran off the record....

In the Monday interview, Mr. Chirac argued that Iran’s possession of a nuclear weapon was less important than the arms race that would ensue.

“It is really very tempting for other countries in the region that have large financial resources to say: ‘Well, we too are going to do that; we’re going to help others do it,’ ” he said. “Why wouldn’t Saudi Arabia do it? Why wouldn’t it help Egypt to do so as well? That is the real danger.”

Earlier this month, Mr. Chirac had planned to send his foreign minister to Iran to help resolve the crisis in Lebanon. The venture collapsed after Saudi Arabia and Egypt opposed the trip and members of his own government said it would fail.

Mr. Chirac, who is 74 and months away from ending his second term as president, suffered a neurological episode in 2005 and is said by French officials to have become much less precise in conversation....

In the first interview, which took place in the late morning, he appeared distracted at times, grasping for names and dates and relying on advisers to fill in the blanks. His hands shook slightly. When he spoke about climate change, he read from prepared talking points printed in large letters and highlighted in yellow and pink.

By contrast, in the second interview, which came just after lunch, he appeared both confident and comfortable with the subject matter. (emphasis added)

Two thoughts. First, what exactly is "a neurological episode"? Is this like "a minor circulatory problem of the head"?

Second, the implication in the Times report is that Chirac made more sense in the second interview than the first. To me that's really disturbing, because in the second interview Chirac actually makes less sense to me.

Chirac is essentially correct in stating that Iran would not nuke Israel because it would invite immediate retaliation, and Tehran would be leveled. Assuming that the political status quo remains in Iran and Ahmadinejad doesn't have his finger on the button, this is true.

However, for this to be true, the threat of retaliation has to be pretty clear. And this is what Chirac appears to amend in his second interview. Consider this part:

He retracted, for example, his comment that Tehran would be destroyed if Iran launched a nuclear weapon. “I retract it, of course, when I said, ‘One is going to raze Tehran,’ ” he said.
In the actual text of the interview, Chirac seems more conscious of how deterrence works. However, this is the one thing you do not want to water down.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan has an interesting theory for why Chirac seemed more lucid in the second interview

posted by Dan at 09:15 AM | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (2)

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I've gone to the bad place again

Really, I was going to do some work tonight.... but then I kept thinking about this Brad DeLong post about canonical Star Trek episodes. That led to some web surfing, and before I knew it found this at Youtube:

This was bad enough, but then it led to this clip, and then that led to this clip, which led to this bit, and, then, well this intrigued me but I just couldn't really enjoy it, and then, finally, oh dear God, there was this extract from my 13-year old id.

I'll post again once I've regained some equilibrium.

UPDATE: Ah, a Youtube video that brings me (sort of) back to the real world.

posted by Dan at 11:59 PM | Comments (4) | Trackbacks (0)

Are we moving towards apolarity?

Fareed Zakaria frets about this possibility in Newsweek after going to Davos:

We are certainly in a trough for America—with Bush in his last years, with the United States mired in Iraq, with hostility toward Washington still high almost everywhere. But if so, we might also be getting a glimpse of what a world without America would look like. It will be free of American domination, but perhaps also free of leadership—a world in which problems fester and the buck is endlessly passed, until problems explode.

Listen to the new powers. China, which in three years will likely become the world's biggest emitter of CO2, is determined not to be a leader in dealing with global environmental issues. "The ball is not in China's court," said Zhu Min, the executive vice president of the Bank of China and a former senior official in the government. "The ball is in everybody's court." India's brilliant planning czar, Montek Singh Alluwalliah, said that "every country should have the same per capita rights to pollution." In the abstract that's logical enough, but in the real world, if 2.3 billion people (the population of China plus India) pollute at average Western levels, you will have a global meltdown....

The ball for every problem is in everybody's court, which means that it is in nobody's court.

The problem is that this free ride probably can't last forever. The global system—economic, political, social—is not self-managing. Global economic growth has been a fantastic boon, but it produces stresses and strains that have to be handled. Without some coordination, or first mover—or, dare one say it, leader—such management is more difficult.

The world today bears some resemblance to the 1920s, when a newly globalized economy was booming, and science and technological change were utterly transforming life. (Think of the high-tech of the time—electricity, radio, movies and cars, among other recent inventions.) But with Britain declining and America isolationist, that was truly a world without political direction. Eventually protectionism, nationalism, xenophobia and war engulfed it.

In a provocative essay in Foreign Policy three years ago, the British historian Niall Ferguson speculated that the end of American hegemony might not fuel an orderly shift to a multipolar system but a descent into a world of highly fragmented powers, with no one exercising any global leadership. He called this "apolarity." "Apolarity could turn out to mean an anarchic new Dark Age," Ferguson wrote, "an era of waning empires and religious fanaticism, of economic plunder and pillage in the world's forgotten regions, of economic stagnation, and civilization's retreat into a few fortified enclaves." That might be a little farfetched. But for those who have been fondly waiting for the waning of American dominance—be careful what you wish for.

A few thoughts:
1) It's fascinating to contrast Zakaria's column with Gideon Rachman's take on Davos. Zakaria is gloomy because of the absence of U.S. policymakers; Rachman is (somewhat) more optimistic because of the optimish of American businessmen.

The fact that Rachman and Zakaria can draw such contrasting takes suggests that Davos is more of an IR Rorshach test than a place where consensus is created -- people take away from the conference the preconceptions they bring to it.

2) Zakaria -- and Ferguson -- exaggerate the lack of existing policy coordination and underestimate the extent to which China and India have been brought into important global governance structures. Pointing out that there's been little progress on global warming and only grudging progress on trade talks is not evidence of apolarity. A decade ago, when the US and EU more clearly held the levers of power.... there was grudging progress on global warming and little progress in advancing trade talks. This has little to do with the distribution of power and a lot to do with the thorny domestic politics of these issues.

[Er... what about the point on global governance structures?--ed.] I'll have a lot more to say about that in the near future.
[Ooooh, foreshadowing!--ed.]

posted by Dan at 10:25 AM | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)

Raul Castro... reformer?

Anthony Boadle writes a story for Reuters suggesting that Cuba under Raul Castro is somewhat different than Cuba under Fidel:

Six months after Cuba's sick leader Fidel Castro handed over power provisionally to his brother Raul, signs of an opening in public debate are emerging in the communist-run country.

Articles have appeared in the government-controlled media since October uncovering theft in state enterprises and other previously unmentionable deficiencies in Cuba's economy....

In unusual public statements, Cuban intellectuals have denounced the resurfacing of censors who were responsible for blacklisting writers and homosexuals 30 years ago.

The state conceded it made a mistake and allowed 400 writers and artists to hold an unprecedented meeting on Tuesday to discuss the Stalinist-style cultural purges of the 1970s....

The acting president has taken credit for stirring some of the debate, saying he has prodded the uncritical Cuban media to play a greater role in identifying economic shortcomings.

Raul surprised Cubans by encouraging greater discussion on government policies and more transparent state management. He said the country was tired of excuses and criticized delays in paying private farmers who provide 60 percent of its produce.

"Raul has made a point of abandoning Fidel's practice of scapegoating others. Instead, he is admitting that the revolution's problems are serious and home grown," said Brian Latell, a former CIA analyst and author of "After Fidel."

"The good thing about Raul is that he listens," said a Cuban economist who asked not to be named.

Raul has commissioned studies from think tanks on how to raise food production and stimulate the economy without ruling out private ownership of small business, he said....

"Each day there are more intellectuals speaking up, and that is new in Cuba," said dissident Espinosa Chepe.

But he said economic reforms wanted by most Cubans --the average monthly wage is $17-- are too slow in coming and Cuba may face turmoil without a leader of Fidel Castro's stature to contain it.

"Cuba is stable for the moment, but there is a lot of discontent on the streets," he said.

Calling for greater criticism of economic shortcoming might be a sign of greater openness -- or it might be a clue for how Raul plans to consolidate his political position. Much as China's central government highlights the daily demonstrations that take place within China as a motivation for greater government centralization, Raul might be highlighting economic difficulties to lay the groundwork for steps that consolidate his own political position.

Mind you, Raul Castro might actually be going for perestroika rather than abertura. But I'm not holding my breath.


posted by Dan at 10:14 AM | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)

I want more prizes

David Leonhardt has a near-excellent column in the New York Times today on why prizes are 1) A great way to foster innovation, but; 2) far less popular than grants or other compensation schemes:

in the 1700s, prizes were a fairly common way to reward innovation. Most famously, the British Parliament offered the £20,000 longitude prize to anyone who figured out how to pinpoint location on the open sea. Dava Sobel’s best-selling 1995 book “Longitude” told the story of the competition that ensued, and Mr. Hastings mentioned the longitude prize as a model at that meeting back in March.

Eventually, though, prizes began to be replaced by grants that awarded money upfront. Some of this was for good reason. As science became more advanced, scientists often needed to buy expensive equipment and hire a staff before having any chance of making a discovery.

But grants also became popular for a less worthy reason: they made life easier for the government bureaucrats who oversaw them and for the scientists who received them. Robin Hanson, an economist at George Mason University who has studied the history of prizes, points out that they create a lot of uncertainty — about who will receive money and when a government will have to pay it. Grants, on the other hand, allow a patron (and the scientists advising that patron) to choose who gets the money. “Bureaucracies like a steady flow of money, not uncertainty,” said Mr. Hanson, who worked as a physicist at NASA before becoming an economist. “But prizes are often more effective if what you want is scientific progress.”....

[There] are the two essential advantages of prizes. They pay for nothing but performance, and they ensure that anyone with a good idea — not just the usual experts — can take a crack at a tough problem. Much to the horror of the leading astronomers of the day, a clockmaker ultimately claimed the longitude prize.

Grants are still crucial. (Someone has to be paying those computer scientists while they’re trying to win the Netflix prize.) But it seems pretty clear that our research system doesn’t pay for results often enough.

Just look at how both political parties have so far tried to deal with global warming. They have handed out grants and subsidies for various alternative energy sources like ethanol, even though nobody knows what the best sources will ultimately be. A much smarter approach would be to mandate that the economy use less carbon. This would effectively set up a multibillion-dollar prize — in the form of new customers — for whichever companies came up with efficient energy sources.

A much smarter approach than Leonhardt's smarter approach would simply be for the government to simply offer large prizes -- we're talking in the billions -- for innovations that would reduce global warming. In return, the innovator would have to relinquish all intellectual property rights for the invention.

Beyond global warming, this approach should be used far more frequently for health care as well. Indeed, this is one of those tasks where government intervention might improve upon the market -- because the government has sufficient resources to withstand the inherent budgetary uncertainty that comes with the prospect of awarding prizes in the billions or tens of billions.

If the federal government can offer $25 million for capturing Osama bin Laden, why can't it offer a $10 billion prize for an AIDS vaccine?

I look forward to readers explain why I'm wrong.

UPDATE: Robin Hanson --cited in the above article -- elaborates on the historical switch from prizes to grants here.

posted by Dan at 07:48 AM | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (1)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Davos vs. Herzliya

Gideon Rachman attended two conferences last week, and writes about the resulting conceptual whiplash:

I went to two international conferences last week. The Herzliya security conference took place on the Israeli coast and the World Economic Forum was held in the Swiss mountains. It felt as if they were taking place on different planets....

By the end of the week I was left wondering whether these two worlds – Davos and Herzliya – can continue running in parallel. Are they fated to collide? If so, which will prove the more powerful – conflict or capitalism?

Davos man does not seem to be particularly worried by the business implications of chaos in the Middle East. There were 17 sessions at the forum devoted to climate change – and just one to global political risk. A debate on “globalisation at the crossroads” considered three main threats to the world economy – failed trade talks, financial regulation and global economic imbalances. Nobody mentioned the war.

Perhaps Davos man is right not to worry. Even in Israel, war and globalisation have managed to coexist. The Israeli economy grew at 4.8 per cent last year, in spite of the country’s involvement in a war in Lebanon during the summer. Israel is very much part of the global high-tech economy. There are almost 100 Israeli technology companies listed on New York stock exchanges.

But the Israelis are also acutely aware that conflict threatens their prosperity. At the most basic level, many are genuinely frightened that if Iran develops nuclear weapons, it might actually use them on Israel. But there is also a subtler version of the “existential threat” that the development of an Iranian bomb is said to pose to Israel. The Israelis know that their most talented technology workers could get jobs anywhere in the world. They worry that if 20,000 decided to emigrate, rather than live under the shadow of an Iranian bomb, the damage to Israel’s economy would be irreparable. At that point, security really would have trumped globalisation....

It may be a long time before capitalism can ride to the rescue of the most troubled parts of the Middle East. In the meantime, the capitalists will just have to hope that conflict in the Middle East continues to leave them largely unmolested.

Read the whole thing. And then, for fun, check out Rachman's description of his "brainstorm" nightmare at Davos on his blog.

posted by Dan at 10:34 PM | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)

Why doesn't the EU have an OFAC?

Steven Weisman has a story in the New York Times evaluating the transatlantic effort to squeeze Iran. There have been a few bumps in the road:

European governments are resisting Bush administration demands that they curtail support for exports to Iran and that they block transactions and freeze assets of some Iranian companies, officials on both sides say. The resistance threatens to open a new rift between Europe and the United States over Iran.

Administration officials say a new American drive to reduce exports to Iran and cut off its financial transactions is intended to further isolate Iran commercially amid the first signs that global pressure has hurt Iran’s oil production and its economy. There are also reports of rising political dissent in Iran....

One irony of the latest pressure, European and American officials say, is that on their own, many European banks have begun to cut back their transactions with Iran, partly because of a Treasury Department ban on using dollars in deals involving two leading Iranian banks.

American pressure on European governments, as opposed to banks, has been less successful, administration and European officials say....

The administration says that European governments provided $18 billion in government loan guarantees for Iran in 2005. The numbers have gone down in the last year, but not by much, American and European officials say.

American officials say that European governments may have facilitated illicit business and that European governments must do more to stop such transactions. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. has said the United States has shared with Europeans the names of at least 30 front companies involved in terrorism or weapons programs.

“They’ve told us they don’t have the tools,” said a senior American official. “Our answer is: get them.”

“We want to squeeze the Iranians,” said a European official. “But there are varying degrees of political will in Europe about turning the thumbscrews. It’s not straightforward for the European Union to do what the United States wants.”

Another European official said: “We are going to be very cautious about what the Treasury Department wants us to do. We can see that banks are slowing their business with Iran. But because there are huge European business interests involved, we have to be very careful.”

European officials argue that beyond the political and business interests in Europe are legal problems, because European governments lack the tools used by the Treasury Department under various American statutes to freeze assets or block transactions based on secret intelligence information.

A week ago, on Jan. 22, European foreign ministers met in Brussels and adopted a measure that might lead to laws similar to the economic sanctions, laws and presidential directives used in the United States, various officials say. But it is not clear how far those laws will reach once they are adopted.

I suspect that most of the rift on this issue is related to the difference in economic interdependence between the US and EU when it comes to Iran. However, the lack of an institutional infrastructure on the EU side is not insignificant. The Europeans have never had the equivalent of OFAC -- the Office of Foreign Assets Control that oversees the nitty-gritty implementation of U.S. sanctions.

The question is.... why? Economic sanctions have been a popular policy tool for the past fifteen years or so. Economic power is the primary means through which the EU tries to exert its influence in world politics. A EuroOFAC would, one hopes, allow the Europeans to implemebnt sanctions more quickly, while at the same time allowing for more precise in their targeting.

So why hasn't it happened yet? Two possible reasons:

1) European countries are less sanctions-happy than the United States. This is true, but there's a chicken-egg problem with this story -- the EU doesn't sanction as often because the tools aren't there;

2) European countries don't want to cede more foreign policymaking power to the EU. This is undoubtedly true, but again, I think it's overblown. A EuroOFAC would not be in charge of deciding when to sanction, but implementing the decision after its been made. The memver countries would still hold that decision-making power. There might be a slippery-slope logic at work, though -- making sanctions easier to execute puts the onus on the countries to decide to act.

I'm sure there are other reasons -- and I'mm sure my readers will inform me at great length about them.

This is part and parcel of a larger question, however -- to what extent does the EU really want to be seen as a great power? Is it willing to develop the traditional tools of statecraft that befit the moniker?

posted by Dan at 08:09 AM | Comments (7) | Trackbacks (0)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Remembering Milton Friedman

Only 20 minutes left for Milton Friedman day, so here are a few salient links:

1) At Open U., Richard Stern reports on the memorial service at the University of Chicago:

2) Paul Krugman offers his take on Friedman in the New York Review of Books:

[A]lthough this essay argues that Friedman was wrong on some issues, and sometimes seemed less than honest with his readers, I regard him as a great economist and a great man.

Milton Friedman played three roles in the intellectual life of the twentieth century. There was Friedman the economist's economist, who wrote technical, more or less apolitical analyses of consumer behavior and inflation. There was Friedman the policy entrepreneur, who spent decades campaigning on behalf of the policy known as monetarism—finally seeing the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England adopt his doctrine at the end of the 1970s, only to abandon it as unworkable a few years later. Finally, there was Friedman the ideologue, the great popularizer of free-market doctrine.

Did the same man play all these roles? Yes and no. All three roles were informed by Friedman's faith in the classical verities of free-market economics. Moreover, Friedman's effectiveness as a popularizer and propagandist rested in part on his well-deserved reputation as a profound economic theorist. But there's an important difference between the rigor of his work as a professional economist and the looser, sometimes questionable logic of his pronouncements as a public intellectual. While Friedman's theoretical work is universally admired by professional economists, there's much more ambivalence about his policy pronouncements and especially his popularizing. And it must be said that there were some serious questions about his intellectual honesty when he was speaking to the mass public.

It should be pointed out that Krugman has also played all three roles in his career -- I'll be intrigued to see whether he gets accused of similar flaws down the road.

3) Virginia Postrel has a nice round-up of links.

4) The Economist's Free Exchange offers an assessment of how far Friedman pushed policymakers:

And though he may not have achieved the low-government paradise he sought, he wrought a crucial change in the way that we expect government to serve us. Before Milton Friedman, progressives pursuing an idealised version of technocratic government bureaucrats running a vast government apparatus that would take over more and more of the functions of the economy. Milton Friedman's revolutionary idea was that, to the extent that government should help people, it should do so by giving them money, and the freedom to choose what was best for them. America's Earned Income Tax Credit, which has proven wildly successful at helping the poor into the workforce, is the most prominent programme along these lines, but by no means the only one.

posted by Dan at 06:51 PM | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)

The euro disconnect

There's something a bit odd about the contrast between a) economists debating the prospect of the euro supplanting the dollar as the world's reserve currency, and b) the fact that Europeans don't like the euro all that much. The Financial Times' Ralph Atkins explains:

An overwhelming majority of citizens in the big eurozone countries believe the euro has damaged their national economies, highlighting the popular scepticism that still surrounds Europe’s eight-year-old monetary union.

More than two-thirds of the French, Italians and Spanish – and more than half of Germans – believe the single currency has had a “negative impact”, according to an FT-Harris poll. In France, just 5 per cent said the euro has had a positive effect on the French economy....

[M]ore than half of citizens in countries using the euro say they prefer their former national currency, according to the poll of 5,314 adults in Germany, the UK, France, Spain and Italy, which was conducted between January 10 and January 22. Almost two-thirds of Germans say they preferred their former currency, the D-Mark.

UPDATE: Henry Farrell provides an explanation for the oddity.

posted by Dan at 08:42 AM | Comments (6) | Trackbacks (0)