Number losing unemployment benefits



Paperblog

Monday, November 30, 2009

Visceral has its Value

I must strongly protest Maureen Dowd's advice to the President (Visceral Has Its Value, New York Times Week in Review, November 22, 2009: 11). The suggests that the President tell his general(s) "Your pie holes you will shut, or rise higher you will not."

That, essentially was what President Bush told the top echelons of the military when General Shinseki was sidelined when he spoke the truth about the number of boots on the ground needed to pacify Iraq.

We need Generals, Administrators, and lawyers who will speak truth to power. Without them, as was very much the case during the Bush Presidency, we are lost.

Democracies thrive on informed debate.

Sent to New York Times



Monday, November 23, 2009

Adding insult to infamy

It is absurd that the families of those killed in the Beirut bombings of 1983 are still waiting for restitution.

There is a simple remedy. If the US government wishes to avoid upsetting delicate negotiations between itself and a foreign government, then it should pay the costs incurred by that government through judicial decisions.

It is unconscionable that this cost is being born by the families who lost loved ones 26 years ago.

Finance: Softer Approach, NYT 11.13.2009: B2

Mr Feineberg seems to be living in the same dream world as Wall Street Executives (Finance: Softer Approach, New York Times, November 13, 2009: B2).

He is arguing that pay cuts would make it difficult for Wall Street firms to retain talent. He seems unaware that there is an enormous pool of talent in the job market with similar skills, alumni of Bear Stearns and Lehman, who would be delighted to fill the shoes of any executive foolish enough to depart his or her current job.

We, as shareholders and owners of these companies, must keep up the pressure against excessive compensation.



Sent to New York Times
Mr Fineman seems to be living in the same dream world as Wall Street Executives (Finance: Softer Aproach, New York Times, November 13, 2009: B2).

He is arguing that pay cuts would make it difficult for Wall Street firms to retain talent. He seems unaware that there is an enormous pool of talent in the job market with similar skills, alumni of Bear Stearns and Lehman, who would be delighted to fill the shoes of any executive foolish enough to depart his or her current job.

We, as shareholders and owners of these companies, must keep up the pressure against excessive compensation.

ent to New York Times

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Obama Meets his Anzio

Paul Krugman (New York Times, Oct. 6, 2009) claims that progressives have lost faith in the President because of his soft treatment of Wall Street.

Alas, the betrayal is much more profound and includes his endorsement of the outrageous States Secrets privilege, the failure to bring the innocent Uighurs to the United States as refugees, and his failure to prosecute those responsible for the torture memorandums.

He might not have succeeded, but at least he could have fought for each of these.



Sent to New York Times

The Fleet is in

It seems that the Times is in the business of exploiting labor.

In the advertisement, The Fleet Is In (November 5, 2009: C1), the New York Times store boasts that each of the hand made ship models featured takes more than 100 hours to craft.

The average price of these models is about $540 which means that if all the money went to the craftsmen, they would be making under $6.00 per hour. But, if, as I was once taught, "Materials is half your business," then they are receiving under $3.00 an hour and this still leaves nothing for shipping or profit.

The Times is always extolling fair trade; does it (or the New York Times Store) practice it?


Sent to the New York Times

For University Presidents, a pay cut is in order

If I were a University President responding to the Globe's admonition (November 5, 2009:A16) to take a pay cut, I would say, "I will be the first to take a cut once those Finance Professors in the Business School take a cut. They, after all, either devised the derivatives that sank the economy, or trained the people that did. The Finance Professors need to give back in a big way."


I am waiting to see if they do.


Sent to Boston Globe



Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The gaggle of economic sociopaths

I am the last person to defend the behavior of the Wall Street tycoons who brought down the economy by their actions over the past eight years, but we were ill served by the publication of Neal Gabler's rant about the “economic sociopaths” of Wall Street (Boston Globe, October 31, 2009: A11).

The diagnosis of a psychiatric condition (like those articulated in DSM-IV-R) should be done on an individual basis by a highly trained specialist. Such diagnoses should not be applied in a broad brush way to any subpopulation, even Wall Streeters deserve that amount of restraint. Though the phrase is an appealing metaphor.

Furthermore, there is in psychology an ongoing argument about whether behavior is driven by person or by situation. Situations, it is argued, call forth relevant behaviors. One could argue that over the past eight years, we ,through our government, created the situation in which this irresponsible behavior was appropriate. We cut taxes, we repealed Glass-Steagall, we neglected regulation, and we glorified winners. We got the behaviors that might have been expected.

On one point I agree with Mr Gabler. It is a great shame that President Obama appointed two men who facilitated those situational changes, Mr. Geithner and Mr. Summers, to be major figures on the team trying to undo those disastrous changes in the situation.


Sent to Boston Globe


Allston shoudn't suffer on Harvard's account

Your advice to Harvard points out the wrong strategy (Allston shouldn't suffer on Harvard's account, Boston Globe, October 28, 2009: A14).

What Harvard should do is go full steam ahead on the Science Campus Development even if it means dipping into the endowment. This is exactly the time to do so.

Money can be borrowed at reasonable rates and Harvard has impeccable collateral. It can buy more construction for the dollar in a recession. Stopping and restarting projects are more expensive than continuing on.

Finally, counter-cyclical spending of this magnitude will give a big boost to the city, region, and state economies.

Be a better citizen, Harvard.


Sent to Boston Globe



Allston shoudn't suffer on Harvard's account

Your advice to Harvard points out the wrong strategy (Allston shouldn't suffer on Harvard's account, Boston Globe, October 28, 2009: A14).

What Harvard should do is go full steam ahead on the Science Campus Development even if it means dipping into the endowment. This is exactly the time to do so.

Money can be borrowed at reasonable rates and Harvard has impeccable collateral. It can buy more construction for the dollar in a recession. Stopping and restarting projects are more expensive than continuing on.

Finally, counter-cyclical spending of this magnitude will give a big boost to the city, region, and state economies.

Be a better citizen, Harvard.

Afghanistan

Your two op-eds today ([Victor Sebestyen] Transcripts of Defeat & [Nicholas Kristof] More Schools, Not Troops, New York Times, October 29, 2009: A23) provide forceful counter-aguments to that of Max Boot a few days ago (Max Boot, There's No Substitute for Troops on the Ground, New York Times, October 22, 2009).

It is clear that we do not have the stomach to put the necessary force on the ground. With 110,000 troops, the Russians were unsuccessful in "pacifying" Afghanistan. Counter insurgency experts estimate that 390,000 troops would be required (that's the Petraeus doctrine, not mine) to be successful.

Even that may be too optimistic. There are 780 cities, towns and villages in Afghanistan. Max Boot tells us that to hold the town of Nawa took 1000 marines carrying out a clear and hold policy. To succeed in them all would require 780,000 troops

Do we and NATO have enough troops? Are we prepared for the kind of casualties that would be incurred? I think not.

The time has come to try the Kristoff strategy: saturate the land with schools: Cost effective, less dangerous, and with a long term payoff. If we go the escalation route, we need to be sure that we can win, before we commit more troops and we will probably have to commit many more than are presently contemplated.




Sent to New York Times