June 16, 2002
R21 Week in Review 6.16.02
Latest posts from R21:
TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION
Some slightly prosaic but true stories about how new technologies are in fact changing established industries:
Nanotech changing things like cosmetics, batteries, and lightbulbs…
E-Commerce changing used books…
Linux changing enterprise computing…
And from the mundane to the surreal:
Deep linking (am I a criminal??)…
and deep thinking (can I live forever???)…
TAXES & SPENDING
George Will said this morning on This Week: “when wealth is acquired legally and transferred peacefully, it is not the business of the federal government to say we don’t like the way it is distributed.” Do you agree? Clearly most people don’t because we have consented to a tax code that would put Karl Marx to shame in its progressivity and, in the words of Ed Crane, treats us like gerbils with its maze of incentives and disincentives.
For more ranting on the core economic issue that splits moderates down the middle, read this missive on taxes:
Still not convinced? How do you feel about taxes when they hit home? Such as on options…
And if the redistribution of wealth doesn’t rankle you on moral and ethical grounds (or if in fact it is on ethical and moral grounds that you favor redistributions), read this post on how the progressive income tax simply doesn't work…
And for the coup de grace (I can dream, can’t I?) to those who still favor high taxes and high spending, read this post on how government spending is simply out of control:
Back to George Will this morning:
“The term ‘war profiteer’ usually referred to a business or individual taking advantage of wartime conditions to gouge the public or the government. The new war profiteering is the political class using wartime conditions as an excuse to buy votes.” His example is the Homeland Security Bill S2551, which is ostensibly for “further recovery from and response to terrorist attacks” but is larded with pork barrel spending utterly unrelated to the war on terrorism or to homeland security. For example:
$16 million subsidize fishing
$1 million to convert some Baltimore apartments to student housing
$11 million for training grants for OSHA
$55 million in additional subsidies for Amtrak
$10 million to repair flood damage in WV, KY, VA
$80 million to repair damage from a New Mexico wildfire
Will noted that these items go on and on and total $4 billion of spending irrelevant to terrorism and homeland security. The bill cries out for a veto, but Bush has been in office for 511 days and still hasn’t vetoed anything. By contrast, Harry Truman used the veto every 11 days. Please, Mr. President, let’s get serious: there is a war on.
BUSINESS & LAW
The public sector wasn’t the only area to fall under the ire of R21 this week—nor of George Will, who also said this morning that he believes that “American capitalism is in the worst crises since the Depression because it’s a crisis of confidence in the quality of financial information, which goes to everyone who has a pension fund. It goes to all of our capital markets, which is the source of our nation’s strength.”
The Economist tackled the issue of trust in business, as noted in this post:
And what would a week of R21 be without beating up on the lawyers? Last week R21 discussed how tort law abuses was America’s number one domestic problem, and this week cited three examples of how these abuses actually cost society:
Finally, some criticism of short-term thinking: How budgets can damage, not improve, productivity. Every manager should read this:
EDUCATION & SOCIETY
One of the positive developments in the past 10 years is the increasing understanding that the education monopoly is part of the problem, not part of the solution, and that choice and competition in education are needed. The nation doesn’t seem ready to wholeheartedly embrace vouchers yet, but charter schools have been getting traction and, amazingly, polls say that people now trust Republicans as much as Democrats on education. Who would have thought? By why isn’t choice a Democratic issue? After all, as this post points out, school choice already exists for the wealthy—the debate on school choice is really about whether the poor should have choice as well:
And while it is strange that a left/right alliance on educational choice hasn’t taken root more strongly, it may be equally strange to see a left/right alliance that is developing: condemning TV! The left blames Reagan and deregulation (absurd!) for allowing smut on TV and corrupting little minds, and the right praises the indignation of the left while questioning the source of the problem. We in the middle simply ask: haven’t these folks heard of an off button?
NATIONAL SECURITY, CIVIL RIGHTS, & FOREIGN POLICY
Some thoughts on civil rights and national security. First, the Jose Padilla case suggests that perhaps it should be legal to violate certain civil rights. This post suggests that, in fact, we violate civil rights all the time for less worthy causes. What makes this any different?
The “slippery slope” you say? But how slippery is it really? Eugene Volokh opines…
Perhaps our energies are better spent debating the merits and understanding the ramifications of the new Bush doctrine…
And figuring out how countries like Iran really work…
Finally, this week, don’t count Bill Simon out just yet—this dark horse is galloping…
And, Democrats, don’t count on the Jewish vote sticking around forever.