The Latest Tweets from Team NRO . . .
What Will Jim Webb Say About John Kerry’s Remarks
Webb has a son serving in Iraq. Instead of making bogus excuses and making another news story about Rush Limbaugh when it isn’t, Kerry ought to apologize to Jim Webb’s son and every other man and woman serving.
The New Economy Cont’d
From my Productivity Guy:
I haven’t read either the New Republic or Heritage articles, but since you were nice enough to make me productivity guy (not that anyone else wanted the job) I feel like I should chime in with a few points, so for better or worse here goes – and I’m particularly interested if you have any comment/reaction to the fourth bullet point below
- In general, you’re right to be skeptical of the claim that the “new economy” is heading into unchartered territory –pessimists like Chait now seem to be attracted to these arguments, but it was only about seven or eight years ago the optimists were saying the same thing. The result was the late 90s equity and economic bubble as investors dumped capital into new, unproven, unprofitable companies because they didn’t want to miss out on the next big thing. The “revolutionary” upside was overstated then and the downside is overstated now. To oversimplify a bit, the fundamental change brought on by the “new” information economy is that it processes and disseminates information more efficiently, which reduces the cost of transacting in the marketplace (e.g. the costs of communication, transportation, price discovery, processing transactions etc.) This has implications for the marketing and distribution of products, which will ultimately affect production (and of course it will also affect the labor employed at all these stages of the production process). While these changes are important, they do not overturn all other economic reality. And even more importantly, these aren’t new developments, they’re really just a continuation, and perhaps acceleration, of technological trends since the industrial revolution (for example, improvements in transportation technology and the development of railroad infrastructure which in the mid 19th century reduced the time it took to get from New York to Chicago from three weeks to three days – talk about making the World seem very Flat).
- It should also be remembered that whenever anyone talks about globalization and the downward impact on wages, they are only talking about tradable goods and services i.e. things that can be produced in one location and traded to consumers in another. Tradeability is essential for, say, US workers to be competing against labor in India. One implication of the “new” economy may be that more goods and services become tradable (e.g. call centers based in India). But many goods and services are not tradable and won’t be affected by any new economy trends. The best example is the biggest item in most consumers’ budgets – housing – which obviously depends on location, location, location and can’t be physically traded. There’s always going to be a demand for local residential and commercial construction, and for the well-paid skilled labor (carpenters, electricians, plumbers etc.) that is required. So if you’re a new/potential entrant to the labor force and not particularly good with language/math or otherwise suited to office work, some good advice would be “learn a trade.” Those jobs aren’t going away, but that is less true of well paying factory work.
- And on the issue of factory work, a similar principle applies – labor commodification and globalization becomes much easier for unskilled tasks. Factory jobs that involve specific skills that takes years to develop and hone (like producing a number of machine tools) can’t be easily or economically moved abroad and are therefore safer.
- Some economic trends brought on by the new economy also work in the other direction. One example is that new information technologies allow people to profit by being able to differentiate their “product” and/or the skills brought to their job. One prominent example of this could be….Jonah Goldberg. The internet gave you the ability to reach an audience much more directly and quickly than would have been the case with the legacy media, and it also gave you more freedom to develop a unique style of analysis/commentary. Of course this has led to more mainstream (and I’m guessing better paying) gigs at the LA Times, CNN etc., but this wouldn’t have happened without the new economy technologies. I suspect we’ll be seeing more examples like this as these technologies mature, as small businesses like specialty furniture makers, organic farmers, music producers etc. find new ways to bypass traditional communication and distribution channels and discover their audiences. In other words, the new technologies don’t just flatten and commodify, they also allow and reward specialization and differentiation.
- On the relationship between productivity and wages, I think this is being distorted by health care costs, which continue to grow at rates well above other inflation. The competition for workers in the labor market depends on total compensation, not just wages, and employer payments for health care are likely siphoning off cash that would otherwise be distributed as wage gains. To the extent that this is true, this is driven by factors such as the aging of our society and inefficiency of our health care delivery system and not the new economy per se.
OK, I’ve gone on way too long, and I’ve got to bill a few hours before the day is over. This productivity stuff may be dry but it matters if you want to move beyond BS platitudes and get a better understanding of economic reality. One source I would recommend on the issue of the “new economy” … I don’t agree with everything they say, but there’s a lot of good stuff from two credible economists (even if they worked in the Clinton administration!) who communicate without resorting to a lot of technobabble or incomprehensible math (to non-economists and Derb, at least).
Boehner on Kerry
This is, I imagine, (another) one of very many Republican press releases we’ll see today:
House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) called on Senator John Kerry (D-MA) to apologize to the men and women serving in the U.S. military for the insulting and disparaging comments he made yesterday. Boehner issued the following statement:
“Senator Kerry’s comments were disrespectful and insulting to the men and women serving in our military. These Americans who are risking their lives in the fight against terrorism in Iraq deserve better than to have their service demeaned by a United States Senator. Our soldiers need John Kerry’s support, yet John Kerry offers nothing more than disparaging commentary.
“John Kerry should apologize and Democrat candidates across the country should publicly denounce them and demand that Senator Kerry apologize to the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces serving in Iraq.”
Yesterday, Kerry belittled the educational level of American troops when he told a gathering of students: “You know education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don’t you get stuck in Iraq.”
If I were a Democrat, I’d be denouncing Kerry’s remarks, loud and immediately.
Re: Kerry’s Statement
Well, I’m sure the Kos crowd thinks that’s nifty. What a fighting Dem! Still, it’d be nice if Kerry simply explained what he meant.
My own hunch — echoed by many readers — is that Kerry’s just a Vietnam-era fossil who thinks the old nostrums about the draft and the underprivileged still apply. That’s the language he’s comfortable with. That’s the tradition he comes from. And that’s the sort of rhetoric that comes naturally to him. He’s hardly alone in perpetuating the Vietnam paradigm, but he seems uniquely gifted at souning like a moron when he does. A lot of Kerry supporters never really understood why a “war hero” didn’t win more support from military folks. The simple fact was that most military folks saw him as part of the anti-war tradition. And his service notwithstanding, that’s the only reason anybody ever heard of him. So when he tried to claim credit for fighting in a war he called a war-crime, most military types saw through it as rank opportunism.
I don’t think Kerry meant to insult America’s military (which doesn’t mean he didn’t insult them). What he doesn’t realize is that his reflexive Vietnam era talking points get him into trouble because — this just in — this isn’t the Vietnam era. The more you think about it, the more Kerry represents almost everything wrong with the Democratic Party.
Webb and the novels
One theory from the Allen camp is that the novel tid-bits didn’t have much effect because they are so lurid the media couldn’t really reproduce them…
Moonbat: Stern Not Enough
Here’s George “Moonbat” Monbiot’s plan to save the world from global warming. A sample:
Every citizen is given a free annual quota of carbon dioxide. He or she spends it by buying gas and electricity, petrol and train and plane tickets. If they run out, they must buy the rest from someone who has used less than his or her quota. This accounts for about 40% of the carbon dioxide we produce. The remainder is auctioned off to companies. It’s a simpler and fairer approach than either green taxation or the EU’s emissions trading scheme, and it also provides people with a powerful incentive to demand low-carbon technologies. Timescale: a full scheme in place by January 2009.
Mr Monbiot was around and about the Conservative Party Conference. I shall say no more.
MCCAIN ON KERRY
Senator Kerry owes an apology to the many thousands of Americans serving in Iraq, who answered their country’s call because they are patriots and not because of any deficiencies in their education. Americans from all backgrounds, well off and less fortunate, with high school diplomas and graduate degrees, take seriously their duty to our country, and risk their lives today to defend the rest of us in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.
They all deserve our respect and deepest gratitude for their service. The suggestion that only the least educated Americans would agree to serve in the military and fight in Iraq, is an insult to every soldier serving in combat, and should deeply offend any American with an ounce of appreciation for what they suffer and risk so that the rest of us can sleep more comfortably at night. Without them, we wouldn’t live in a country where people securely possess all their God-given rights, including the right to express insensitive, ill-considered and uninformed remarks.
Military Mom vs. Kerry
Dear Kathryn, My son graduated from West Point in 2001 and he served in Iraq. He is now a young captain with a wife and child. He was a National Merit Scholar and had full scholarships to the University of Chicago and Holy Cross. I’m sure his IQ is more than 20 points higher than Kerry’s. Another son left a full scholarship at BU after his second year to go to West Point where he is now a plebe. His SAT scores were extremely high as well. My husband attended Columbia University and also served two tours of duty in Vietnam. The real Kerry, the skillfully manipulative dimwit, has just surfaced.
Iraq PM orders checkpoints removed
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq’s prime minister, in a very public demonstration of his influence over the U.S. military, ordered the lifting on Tuesday of a week-old cordon around the Baghdad militia stronghold of one of his key Shi’ite allies. U.S. troops, at first apparently taken by surprise by the command, abandoned roadblocks within hours around the sprawling Sadr City slum, meeting Nuri al-Maliki’s early evening deadline.
He also ordered the clearing of other checkpoints that have snarled traffic around the capital for the past week as U.S. and Iraqi forces have hunted an American soldier of Iraqi origin who was kidnapped, possibly by Shi’ite militiamen.
A Maliki aide said the move, which follows days of public friction between the prime minister and U.S. officials in the run-up to next week’s U.S. congressional election, had been agreed with the U.S. ambassador and the U.S. military commander.
Reporters saw U.S. troops leave positions around Sadr City, the sprawling slum controlled by the Mehdi Army militia of anti-American Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, and Iraqi forces manning others open them up to let all traffic flow freely.
A crowd gathered outside the local headquarters of Sadr’s organization, some firing in the air in celebration at the end of what a senior follower called a “barbaric and savage siege” that marred last week’s Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr.
Re: Kerry’s Reply
So, having stuck his own foot squarely in his own mouth, Kerry now blames Republicans for putting it there.
Speaking of choices...
…here’s my column on immigration and the election.
If anyone thinks a veteran would criticize the more than 140,000 heroes serving in Iraq and not the president who got us stuck there, they’re crazy. This is the classic G.O.P. playbook. I’m sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did.
I’m not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium, or doughy Rush Limbaugh, who no doubt today will take a break from belittling Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s disease to start lying about me just as they have lied about Iraq. It disgusts me that these Republican hacks, who have never worn the uniform of our country lie and distort so blatantly and carelessly about those who have.
The people who owe our troops an apology are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who misled America into war and have given us a Katrina foreign policy that has betrayed our ideals, killed and maimed our soldiers, and widened the terrorist threat instead of defeating it. These Republicans are afraid to debate veterans who live and breathe the concerns of our troops, not the empty slogans of an Administration that sent our brave troops to war without body armor.
Bottom line, these Republicans want to debate straw men because they’re afraid to debate real men. And this time it won’t work because we’re going to stay in their face with the truth and deny them even a sliver of light for their distortions. No Democrat will be bullied by an administration that has a cut and run policy in Afghanistan and a stand still and lose strategy in Iraq.
Allen still leads...
…in his internals apparently, although he’s not over 50. One GOP strategist I talked to dismisses the CNN poll showing a Webb lead as a weekend sample, in which Democrats are over-represented. Democrats are pouring money into Virginia, though. This insider’s guess is that they may be thinking they’re not going to win in Tennessee, and therefore pouring it on in Montana, Missouri, and Virginia.
This election does not provide a cost-free opportunity to punish congressional Republicans for their many sins. A Democratic Congress will have real-world consequences for taxpayers, the economy, the judiciary, immigration, Iraq, and the War on Terror. No matter how disappointing the GOP has been, the country doesn’t deserve a Democratic majority.
Are we saying that the case for the Republicans largely consists of the fact that the Democrats are worse? Yes, actually. Every election presents a choice, and voters have to decide which alternative is better than the other. For conservative voters, that is not as hard a call as it has been made out to be.
Read the rest of our editorial today on why the midterms and voting for Republicans matters here .
More Kerry Reax
I’m getting a lot of e-mail from understandably angry readers who have served in Iraq. Among them:
Kathryn just wanted to toss in my thoughts.
Kerry then told the students that if they were able to navigate the education system, they could get comfortable jobs – “If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq,” he said to a mixture of laughter and gasps
I have two masters degrees. I had a comfortable job…working for the government. I voluntarily left it to serve my country in Iraq for nearly two years. Thus, Kerry is wrong on all counts.
Kerry Is Wrong
Heritage has a new study on the demographics of those who serve — they’re our best and brightest and not just poor fools who got “stuck,” the numbers show.
From a reader:
Kerry was talking to crowd of college students when he said:
You know, education, if you make the most of it,
if you study hard and you do your homework, and
you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can
do well. If you dont, you get stuck in Iraq.
All of his examples are directed to the students, if he were
talking about President Bush, he would have ended with
“you get us stuck in Iraq.”