What to Read on June 22, 2009

  • Health Care and Defense: Two Similar Sectors? — Tom Ricks – Quote of the day. (And a hint to one of the chapters in my forthcoming book.)
  • What Should Be The State’s Role In Marriage? — Mario Rizzo – As I said earlier, I have little value to add to the debate of most social/moral issues, but from an economist’s viewpoint, Rizzo’s prescriptions for marriage are rational and fair.
  • Ancient Holy Land Quarry Found — Scientific American – Dan Brown, eat your heart out.
  • US is Starting to Make a Down Payment on Funding International Climate Change Efforts — Global Warming Is Real – Look at it from any direction — international development, foreign policy, or climate change — and this move is exactly the kind of action we need to be taking. Bravo for Congress. More steps along this path will win us allies, reduce poverty, and improve the environment. The world has been waiting. Let’s not stop here. (Oh, and in case you’ve forgotten what it looks like, this is called “leadership.”)
  • CBO Stunner: Waxman-Markey Cuts U.S. GHGs Sharply but Costs only a Postage Stamp a Day, Without Counting the Efficiency Savings — Climate Progress – This CBO report is good news all around. It leaves few doubts that, for all its flaws (and let’s be honest, if we only supported legislation without flaws, we’d never pass a single law in this country), Waxman-Markey is a net positive. And let’s not forget that this may be our one chance to do something about one of the most important issues of our time. The evidence in this report gives us reason to believe a long-awaited, long-term solution is possible.
  • Radio and Correspondents Dinner — Ezra Klein – Your entertainment for the day. Some golden punchlines here.
  • Stan To Obama On The Deficit: Do Nothing — Stan Collender – Collender is a deficit hawk of the first order, yet he makes the bold claim: “Anyone want to bet that there will be a cover story somewhere next year calling Obama the deficit killer?” Read it to find out why. Not only is he right, but his political analysis in point #2 is a good prediction too. Lesson: Don’t be fooled by the pseudo-economic fad of the week.
  • Iran Had a Democracy Before We Took It Away — Chris Hedges – Hedges’s primary writing flaw is that his passion sometimes overtakes his persuasiveness. He is preaching to the choir, for his is not a tone that treads lightly. If you are taken aback by his forward style, I implore you to look beyond it to the facts that he recites. The history of this piece is crucial to understanding our relationship with Iran, especially the paragraph where he asks the reader to envision a world where the roles are reversed. The vast majority of Americans do not understand this history, but the vast majority of Iranians do.
  • The N-Effect: Competition Goes Up, Motivation Goes Down — Ryan Sager – Very cool phenomenon which points to the broader behavior of people being afraid to take risks in life, especially early in their career when they matter most. One reason there are so few Bill Gates’s and Steve Jobs’s in the world is because people experience this precise lack of motivation when faced with the obstacles of the big bad world. Ironically (and sadly), what is needed in the face of more competition is more motivation.
  • Competition, Redefined — Paul Krugman – Don’t be fooled that the health care debate, unlike every other debate in Congress, is about what’s best for the public. It’s about politics. It’s about who pays for their elections. Check out this Krugman post for another example supporting everything I said in my first post on this blog (re lobbying reform).
  • What’s Moving Interest Rates? — Paul Krugman – Krugman’s economic analysis is, as usual, spot-on here. This is quick-to-read and easy-to-understand, even for the least economically inclined. If long-term interest rates and a high budget deficit have you concerned, read this. Our problems, at least for the moment, lie elsewhere.
  • Industry Group Says Solar to Become Cost-Competitive in Italy Next Year — Green Inc – Solar photovoltaic cells are The Future of Energy. PVs will do for energy consumption/production what Web 2.0 technologies (Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc) did for the Internet: decentralize and empower the consumer. Say goodbye to your regional power plants and monopolist utilities. Thirty years from now, we will witness a world of a PV on every building, just as Henry Ford envisioned a car in every garage. Critics warn that the technology won’t be ready for decades, but this article belies their pessimism. PVs will develop faster than the consensus predicts, just as Silicon Valley surged exponentially thanks to Moore’s Law.