Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Assault of Thoughts - 5/3/2011

"Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking" - JMK

- Christopher Hitchens on the death of Osama bin Laden. Hitchens is, of course, self-recommending. This one was surprisingly restrained, though. A good selection: "The martyr of Abbottabad is no more, and the competing Führer-complexes of his surviving underlings will perhaps now enjoy an exciting free rein. Yet the uniformed and anonymous patrons of that sheltered Abbottabad compound are still very much with us, and Obama's speech will be entirely worthless if he expects us to go on arming and financing the very people who made this trackdown into such a needlessly long, arduous and costly one."

- Peter Klein has a post up with good links on the role that apprenticeship played in innovation during the Industrial Revolution. Now that my title insurance report is done, I'm currently writing up a report on apprenticeship in the long-term-care industry. It's an excellent workforce model, but part of the problem with how formal education-centric this country is is that it's not a credential or career path that's as broadly appreciated. I'll hopefully be spending a lot of time working with an expert on apprenticeship - Bob Lerman - at American University. He's on this project with me at work, and he teaches at AU.

- Niklas Blanchard and Mark Thoma discuss a bill from Barney Frank that proposes removing voting rights from the regional members of the FOMC and leaving interest rate determination entirely in the hands of the DC Fed officials. I talk about federalism regularly enough on here that it shouldn't be a surprise to hear I think this is a very bad idea. Concentrated authority is never a good idea despite the fact that some policy decisions (such as macroeconomic policy) ought to still have some degree of coordination and unity. Monetary unions provide important advantages, but regional conditions can vary dramatically, and this variation needs to be represented. An FOMC that only feels beholden to the Congress and the President is a bad idea. Imagine what policy in Europe would look like now if monetary policy weren't essentially dictated by France and Germany.


  1. Daniel, in economics, what do we call a situation which goes like: "You do this, you lose, you do this, you still lose"?

    Because that is what US government faces with Pakistan. If US does not fund the Pakistani government, they have to exit Pakistan, leave Pakistan a safe haven for Aghan rebels, and then lose Afghanistan too.

    If US does fund the Pakistani government, it funds corrupt members of the government, and by proxy, the groups to which the said corrupt member may be sympathetic. Which may include Afghan rebels.

    I had read former President Musharraf's biography (in part, because it's a huge book), and I remember when he explains in the introduction that he was blackmailed. One US official had threatened to "bomb Pakistan to the Stone Age", if they don't comply. Musharaff did not like it, because he was willing to comply with Americans either way to rid terrorists on his soil.

    But it reflects what American position with Pakistan is. The only alternative to avoiding funding rebels and avoiding losing Afghanistan is to go to war with Pakistan. A government whose nuclear arms might actually be functional and usable!

  2. I believe the technical term for such a situation is "a diplomatic shithole".


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