April 15, 2007

Hollywood Do-Gooders Actually Doing Some Good

Fascinating story (via Stephen) in the International Herald-Tribune about Mia Farrow, of all people, spearheading a successful effort to pressure China to put pressure on Sudan to accept international intervention in Darfur. When weak-kneed liberals talk about the usefulness of soft power, this is exactly what we mean.

Debt Service

Like Oliver Wendell Holmes (or so it is believed -- scroll down) I view taxes as one's payment for civilization. That's why I find it so frustrating to learn that so much of our tax dollars go to paying off old debts, most of them racked up during the Republican spending binges and tax giveaways of the last few years. It also doesn't help when the Bush-controlled IRS is now rewriting the tax rules to favor the superrich.

April 11, 2007

Things I Didn't Know

Having gone to a small college with a small student government, I appear to have missed out on the phenomenon of political parties for student government elections. This is possibly a more instructive way of introducing students to the political process, rather than the popularity contest mindset of individual candidates running for office. After all, most independent runs for the presidency tend to be vanity campaigns, rather than expressions of a larger movement (e.g., Mike Bloomberg, if he runs).

Also worth checking out is the recent protest at the University of Maryland over the lack of housing. It's a real issue, I can tell you that.

April 10, 2007

Shorter Laurson and Pieler

Throw the peasants a bone every now and then, and they'll stop grumbling.

In a sense, though, they are right that the minimum wage (and other redistributive programs, I would add) is more about fairness than efficiency, but it's a worthwhile tradeoff. A sense that the system is fair, regardless of your own personal outcome, is absolutely necessary for a market economy, or any economy, actually. Thomas Geoghegan makes a similar argument, BTW, albeit from a much different perspective.

April 4, 2007

Johnnie Blogging

A friend of mine from college, Aaron MacLean, has an article in the American, a kind of Yankee version of the Economist, about the Islamic finance movement, which tries to provide investment opportunities to the Muslim world without charging interest, something forbidden in the Qur'an. As it turns out, sharia-compliant lending can do just as well as Western-style lending -- so long as the former functions just like the latter.

April 1, 2007

Sheep Albedo and Global Warming

Of the many April Fool's Day items this year, I'd say RealClimate's post wins the award for most brainy. NPR's offerings -- two of them this year -- were also good, though I thought the one about indigenous sculptures (follow the link to find out what that is) was much funnier than the one about the ring tone ban.