"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister
"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."
- Daenerys Targaryen
"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"
- Tyrion Lannister
"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."
- Jorah Mormont
"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."
- Tyrion Lannister
"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."
- Michael Barone
"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker
Friday, January 21, 2011
Last week, Penguin Press published Amy Chua's book Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother, which criticizes "Western" parenting and advocates an "Asian" approach that includes forbidding playdates and being highly critical of children in order to make them more successful. Here are some other tips from the book:
- Take your children to Chuck E. Cheese's and let them play any game they choose, then make them watch as you burn their tickets
- Ice cream is a great motivator for kids; promise them that if they do everything you ask, they can have some when they turn 18
- Inform your child that televisions receive all of their power from flawless renditions of Brahms' Violin Concerto in D
- Only let your children have a pet dog if they can tame the most rabid dog at the pound
- Should your child express interest in spending more time with his or her friends, simply pack up and move several hundred miles away
- To ensure academic excellence, inform your children that there is a mark higher than an A-plus and then shame them for failing to attain it
- Replace their frail little limbs with less fragile prosthetics
- Remember, you may have to put up with one or two suicides before you finally craft that perfect child you've always wanted
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
The column of the year so far. It hits on the issue. What he doesn't mention is that Bernanke and the Federal Reserve Bank are failing miserably at their mission. They have gone above and beyond, but it hasn't been enough.
The unemployment rate is higher in this country than in Britain or Russia and much higher than in Germany or Japan, according to a study of worldwide job markets that Gallup will release on Wednesday. The American jobless rate is also higher than China’s, Gallup found. The European countries with worse unemployment than the United States tend to be those still mired in crisis, like Greece, Ireland and Spain.
Economists are now engaged in a spirited debate, much of it conducted on popular blogs like Marginal Revolution, about the causes of the American jobs slump. Lawrence Katz, a Harvard labor economist, calls the full picture "genuinely puzzling."Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution and libertarians of his type leach politics out of their discussion. What would he think of Leonhardt's pitch-perfect column?
Why? One obvious possibility is the balance of power between employers and employees.
Relative to the situation in most other countries -- or in this country for most of the last century -- American employers operate with few restraints. Unions have withered, at least in the private sector, and courts have grown friendlier to business. Many companies can now come much closer to setting the terms of their relationship with employees, letting them go when they become a drag on profits and relying on remaining workers or temporary ones when business picks up.
Just consider the main measure of corporate health: profits. In Canada, Japan and most of Europe, corporate profits have still not recovered to precrisis levels. In the United States, profits have more than recovered, rising 12 percent since late 2007.
Yglesias had a post on this subject yesterday, where he linked to Krugman's speculations on "postmodern" recessions, that is ones not caused by the Fed hiking interest rates.For corporate America, the Great Recession is over. For the American work force, it’s not.
Germany’s job-sharing program -- known as "Kurzarbeit," or short work -- has won praise from both conservative and liberal economists. Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, has offered a bill that would encourage similar programs. So far, though, the White House has not pursued it aggressively. Perhaps Gene Sperling, the new director of the National Economic Council, can put it back on the agenda.Dean Baker gives the column a thumbs-up.
Restoring some balance to the relationship between employers and employees will be more difficult. One problem is that too many labor unions, like the auto industry’s, have been poorly run, hurting companies and, ultimately, workers. Of course, many other companies -- AT&T, General Electric, Southwest Airlines -- have thrived with unionized workers, and study after study has shown that unions usually do benefit workers. As one bumper sticker says, "Unions: The folks who brought you the weekend."
Today, unions are clearly playing on an uneven field. Companies pay minimal penalties for illegally trying to bar unions and have become expert at doing so, legally and otherwise. For all their shortcomings, unions remain many workers’ best hope for some bargaining power.