It just so happens that the latest post there is on an academic study looking at how well--wait for it--mp3s are good substitutes for CDs. The study says "not very" -- although Tyler beleives that will change over time.
Thoughts on human interaction over the next 25 years
I think there's a Darwinian process when you have a large number of people doing it. If 10 million people are publishing their own opinions instead of sitting slack-jawed in front of the tube, that's got to be healthier for the public sphere. The mass media have disempowered people from the process and made them feel disempowered.I dunno--slack jaws in front of the TV seems better to me that slack minds chanting slogans. Politics is just a bad way to make decisions about society because any electoral result is an arbitrary artifact of whatever the election system happens to be, and this is true for all election systems.
[In] the U.N. Oil for Food program... billions of dollars that were supposed to provide food and medical care to the Iraqi people were used by Saddam Hussein to bribe powerful people around the world into opposing sanctions against his regimeThe truth is that people respond to incentives, and a centrally planned program involving complex transactions outside of market prices will lead to corruption and graft even if the main players were not dubious arab regimes and unelected unaccountable bureaucrats. The notion of "smart sanctions", where goods can be sold, but only at certain prices, and only if the money is used for particular things, seems to have proved as Utopian as it sounds.
Take, for example, the debate about the effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Although most of the public debate over that agreement focused on alleged job losses or gains (Ross Perot's "great sucking sound" vs. the administration's claim that NAFTA would create hundreds of thousands of jobs), most economists believed that the net effect on employment would be zero. This is basically because the overall number of jobs in the United States is determined by Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, who is always trying to get the economy as close to full employment as he can without creating inflation. So for serious economists the real questions about NAFTA involved microeconomic issues such as efficiency and income distribution--and efficiency concerns, at any rate, offered a strong case in favor of free trade.
Let me spare you the usual economist's sermon on the virtues of free trade, except to say this: although old fallacies about international trade have been making a comeback lately (yes, Senator Charles Schumer, that means you), it is as true as ever that the U.S. economy would be poorer and less productive if we turned our back on world markets. Furthermore, if the United States were to turn protectionist, other countries would follow. The result would be a less hopeful, more dangerous world.Stirring stuff. And he goes on
Mr. Kerry's Wednesday speech on trade... decried the loss of jobs to imports, but was careful not to promise too much. You might say that he proposed speed bumps, rather than outright barriers to outsourcing: rules requiring notice to employees and government agencies before jobs are shifted overseas, steps to close tax loopholes that encourage offshore operations, more aggressive enforcement of existing trade agreements, and a review of those agreements with an eye toward seeking tougher labor and environmental standards.The horrible truth is that trade has no impact on jobs -- those are primarily set by Greenspan when he sets the Federal Funds rate. IIRC, Krugman said this in an article he wrote (I beleive in Slate) which I can no longer find. At any rate, it's still true.
I don't see anything there that threatens to unravel the world trading system. If anything, the question is whether it provides enough of a "political safety valve."
Larry Lindsey, Bush's tutor on economics during the campaign and later chairman of the White House's National Economic Council, devised a scheme based on creative accounting principles. Essentially, it proposed that the government would issue substantial new debt to sustain old-style benefits. This debt would be serviced and paid down by confiscating revenues from the higher returns from those opting for new-style personal accounts.Firstly, Social Security is based and run on "creative accounting principles" where long term liabilities are ignored in a cash accounting system. As Milton Friedman, Arnold Kling, and many others who can do math have attested, Social Security is an unfunded mandate where retirees have been promised two or three times more than what the budget can afford at present tax rates.