Thursday, October 28, 2010

Keep Fear Alive - the Juan Williams Edition

Juan Williams became a center point of attention this past week. Williams, a contributor to both NPR and Fox News, made some controversial comments about his feelings of fear whenever he saw people in Muslim garb on planes. This follows his colleague Bill O' Reilly's comments about Muslims and 9/11 the previous week on "The View". Not surprisingly, Williams was fired from NPR for his comments. Also, not surprisingly, conservatives went on the offensive about his firing. Williams' comment, and the defense of his comment, only reinforce points I've made earlier re: bigotry in America towards Arabs and Muslims...apparently, it's totally cool. Hell, candidates are using bigotry openly as a campaign strategy this year - hating Muslims, immigrants, blacks, gays...apparently all kosher. The response to the Williams firing has made this point even more clear.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

We're SUPPOSED to Lose those Jobs Overseas

Stephen Colbert had a piece on the other night about goats stealing American jobs (see below) that cracked me up, but also got me thinking about posting on this topic. So much has been made about Americans losing their jobs to illegal immigrants (though this isn't exactly true - they do the jobs few Americans are actually willing to do) and workers in China and India, especially in this tough economy. Many candidates use the "I'll keep American jobs at home" line while campaigning. (Other popular campaign tactics this year: bigotry, profanity, and porn - Carl Paladino does all 3! Way to go, Carl!). Of course, the dirty little secret is: we're supposed to lose these jobs. It is a function of larger economic issues. The truth is, you can't fix this problem simply by going at corporations - yes, I know, I can't believe I just wrote that. You have to address the education system, instead, something that most ignore.

So, here's how it works. We're a rich country. We happen to be capital rich (vs. labor rich), like most (if not all) developed industrial countries. If we do the economically efficient thing, we should focus on capital, not labor - capital is our comparative advantage. In the long-run, we want to export our abundant factor, capital, while importing the scarce factor, labor. Pretty what you're best at, and buy from others the thing you're not so good at (labor), which they happen to be best at. Each part of this maximizes economic efficiency, which lets us all get optimal goods for the lowest price (labor rich countries get capital for lower prices than they would if they decided to produce these factors themselves - hence the importance of international capital in poor countries).

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The US is about to Become Far Worse than China: The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act


In the United States, a new law proposal called The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) was introduced last week, and there will be a hearing in front of the Judiciary Committee this Thursday.

If passed, this law will allow the government, under the command of the media companies, to censor the internet as they see fit, like China and Iran do, with the difference that the sites they decide to censor will be completely removed from the internet and not just in the US.

Please see the following article from the Huffington Post for more information.

Stop the Internet Blacklist

And if you are a US citizen, please take the time to sign this petition - Petition to Stop the Internet Blacklist!

Update: Also for US citizens, you can email your Senator from the following link and tell him or her your concerns about this bill

Tell Your Senator: No Website Blacklists, No Internet Censorship!

Update, from EFF's website: the Senate Judiciary Committee postponed the scheduled markup of the Internet censorship bill — a fantastic outcome, given that the entertainment industry and their allies in Congress had hoped this bill would be quickly approved before the Senators went home for the October recess. Massive thanks to all who used the EFF Action Center to write to your Senators to oppose this bill. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

"Celebrating" Columbus Day

So, some of us (myself included) have the day off on Monday to celebrate Christopher Columbus. I remember when I was young, we were told by school teachers that Columbus discovered the new world, lived in peace with the natives (so...if people were already here, how was it a discovery? I asked too many questions, even at a young age), and was a great hero. We spent the day making weird arts and crafts to honor him, sometimes watched some videos, and in general, got to basically get a day off from doing any real school work, on top of the day we usually got off for Columbus Day, anyway. We thought it was pretty sweet - less work for us. Though I was terrible with art stuff (still am), so maybe that wasn't that great. I digress.

As I got older, I started reading more, and found myself not really all that crazy about that Columbus cat. At some point, I realized we were basically celebrating the beginning of the genocide of the American Indian.