Multiple rationales

by John Quiggin on July 1, 2005

A piece by Noam Scheiber in The New Republic , prompted me to get to work on a piece I’ve been meaning to write for ages, not so much because I have new and original ideas, but because I’d like to clarify my thoughts, with the help of discussion. The piece is subscription only, but the relevant quote is a point that’s been made before

The problem with [criticism of Bush’s handling of the Iraq war] is that there’s a difference between expecting the administration to fight a war competently and expecting it to fight an entirely different kind of war than the one you signed onto.

[click to continue…]

Not so different

by Ted on July 1, 2005

Shortly after September 11th, 2001, Andrew Sullivan wrote:[1]

The terrorists have done the rest. The middle part of the country – the great red zone that voted for Bush – is clearly ready for war. The decadent Left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead – and may well mount what amounts to a fifth column. But by striking at the heart of New York City, the terrorists ensured that at least one deep segment of the country ill-disposed toward a new president is now the most passionate in his defense. Anyone who has ever tried to get one over on a New Yorker knows what I mean. The demons who started this have no idea about the kind of people they have taken on.

I thought of this quote when I came across something on Lifehacker: a map of US military casualties in Iraq by hometown. From the maps, it didn’t immediately appear that the Democratic-leaning coastal states had avoided their share of casualties. But, of course, the coasts have a heavy share of the population.

Have states with a high percentage of Bush voters suffered a larger share of casualties per capita? If Sullivan’s statement had been true, I might expect to see that I could predict the rate of military casualties per capita by looking at Bush’s support in 2000 and 2004. [click to continue…]

The Way of the Leprechaun

by Henry on July 1, 2005

An indubitable Airmiles “classic”:http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/01/opinion/01friedman.html?ex=1277870400&en=342cb2bd52a44f4e&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss :

bq. There is a huge debate roiling in Europe today over which economic model to follow: the Franco-German shorter-workweek-six-weeks’-vacation-never-fire-anyone-but-high-unemployment social model or the less protected but more innovative, high-employment Anglo-Saxon model preferred by Britain, Ireland and Eastern Europe. It is obvious to me that the Irish-British model is the way of the future, and the only question is when Germany and France will face reality: either they become Ireland or they become museums. That is their real choice over the next few years – it’s either the leprechaun way or the Louvre.

Now those familiar with leprechauns will recall that they’re untrustworthy little bastards, inclined to evaporate along with the pot of gold when given half a chance. The same is true of dodgy generalizations constructed around trite metaphors, especially when they’re employed by someone who clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about. We’ll leave aside the basic claim that a small post-industrial economy provides the right model for two largish economies with large industrial bases, and concentrate on the glaring material errors in Friedman’s account. Point One: Ireland is _not_ an exemplar of the “Anglo Saxon model.” For evidence, take a look at this recent “paper”:http://www.u.arizona.edu/~lkenwor/institutionalcoherence.pdf by Lane Kenworthy, which argues convincingly that Ireland doesn’t fit well into either the Anglo-Saxon ‘liberal market economy’ or Rhenish ‘coordinated model economy’ models. Point Two: Ireland is an _especially_ poor fit with the Anglo-Saxon model in the area of labour market policy, a fact which rather undercuts the argument Friedman is trying to make. Again, Dr. Kenworthy:

bq. beginning in the late 1980s and continuing throughout the 1990s, [Ireland] has had a highly coordinated system of wage setting (Baccaro and Simoni 2004). In addition, Ireland has higher levels of employment and unemployment protection than other liberal market economies and longer median job tenure (Estevez-Abe et al. 2001, pp. 165, 168, 170).

Finally, there’s a very strong argument to be made that it is _exactly_ the non-Anglo-Saxon features of the Irish economy – and in particular the “systematized concertation”:http://www.ucis.pitt.edu/cwes/papers/work_papers/ODonnell.pdf between trade unions, management, government and other social actors – that was at the heart of Ireland’s economic success in the 1990’s. This system, unbeloved of free market economists, set the broad parameters for wage and income tax policy, and provided Ireland with the necessary stability for economic growth. It’s now coming under strain thanks to growing inequality in Irish society, but that’s another story. As already noted, Ireland isn’t necessarily the best example for big industrial economies to follow; but insofar as it does set an example, it isn’t the kind of example that Friedman thinks it is.

Linkage

by Henry on July 1, 2005

Quite wonderful news; Kelly Link’s short story collection, “Strangers Things Happen,” is being “released under Creative Commons”:http://www.lcrw.net/kellylink/sth/index.htm to celebrate the launch of her new collection, “Magic for Beginners”:http://www.lcrw.net/kellylink/mfb/index.htm. I can’t even start to say how great this is; Link is one of the best short story writers of her generation, and I generally keep a couple of copies of “Stranger Things” in the house so that I can press spares on likely-sounding visitors. The stories make you want to proselytize. I’d recommend starting with “Travels with the Snow Queen,” then “Most of My Friends are Two-Thirds Water,” and then the sublimely disturbing “Water off a Black Dog’s Back” and “The Specialist’s Hat.” But more than that I’d recommend downloading the book, trying it out, and buying it if you like it (it’s a beautiful book, and easier to read on paper).

(via “BoingBoing”:http://www.boingboing.net/2005/07/01/kelly_links_gorgeous.html)

The plunder of Iraq

by Chris Bertram on July 1, 2005

There’s been much huffing and puffing in parts of the blogosphere about how development aid always ends up in the Swiss bank accounts of dictators, etc. etc. It is good to see, therefore, that (Iraqi) money being spent by the US on the reconstruction of Iraq is being properly accounted for to make sure it isn’t pilfered by nefarious types, that there are proper audit trails, etc. Or rather not. As “Ed Harriman explains in the latest LRB”:http://lrb.co.uk/v27/n13/harr04_.html . (Hat tip to “The Virtual Stoa”:http://users.ox.ac.uk/%7Emagd1368/weblog/blogger.html .)

Disingenuous Dupe

by Chris Bertram on July 1, 2005

“The Dupe has been sounding-off again”:http://slate.msn.com/id/2121674/ , this time about the inappropriateness of anti-war people asking of pro-war people whether they’d send their kids to fight in Iraq. Like many columns of his, this one has been cited as an example of his perspicacity and genius by his blogospheric admirers. So let’s set them straight.

Correct claims by Hitchens (2)

1. The question of whether the war in Iraq is a good, moral, just, etc. cause is logically independent from the question of whether pro-war advocate X is willing to “send” his or her children to fight there.

2. Talk of whether people should “send” their kids is misplaced where we are dealing with adults whose decision to enlist or not is their own.

Commentary on those claims:

1. It is perfectly reasonable to ask of someone who advocates a policy that involves people in significant personal sacrifice whether they would be willing to incur or risk that sacrifice themselves. A person who says “I favour X, but I want to offload the cost of X onto others because I’m unwilling to bear my share of the burden of realising X” is a hypocrite. Not all pro-war types have children, and arguments for or against the war should be conducted on their merits. But a person who favours the war but would try to dissuade their children (if they had any) from enlisting or who would (if they could) try to exploit connections (family, friends, business associates, etc.) to enable their children to avoid a draft (if there was one) is a despicable hypocrite whose prattlings do not deserve the attention of reasonable people.

2. Rhetorical insistence on the voluntary nature of the choices made by those who do enlist is misleading and disingenuous if not accompanied by due acknowledgement of the circumstances in which such choices are made. No such acknowledgment is made by Hitchens (of course). Those who fight are disproportionately drawn from the poor and the non-white, whose menu of career choices is typically less appetising than that available to the children of politicians and the wealthy members of the commentariat.

Here endeth the lesson.

Update: Matt Yglesias writes to say that the claim I make above that “those who fight as disproportionately drawn from the poor and the non-white” is not accurate. I’m happy to accept that correction in the light of “this”:http://www.americanprogress.org/site/pp.asp?c=biJRJ8OVF&b=700477 . So let me amend that claim to read “Those who fight are disproportionately drawn from layers of the population whose members typically have a menu of career choices less appetising than that available to the children of politicians and the wealthy members of the commentariat.” That I’m fairly confident, remains true.

… begat …

by Kieran Healy on July 1, 2005

Brian Leiter “links”:http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2005/06/the_philosophic.html to some “philosophical genealogies”:http://webspace.utexas.edu/deverj/personal/philtree/philtree.html where Josh Dever tries to trace lineages back as far as possible through a sequence of advisers. As David Velleman points out, lineages in mathematics are “much better established”:http://genealogy.math.ndsu.nodak.edu/index.html because the tradition of formal training is much older. There are other limits to tracing lineages, too, notably the different evolutionary paths of academic institutions in various countries. In the philosophical genealogies compiled by Dever the longest chains are for logicians, and go back to Leibniz and beyond (which speaks to the point Velleman makes), but they’re also all German. Academics tracing themselves through English lines have a much harder time, because the “was the doctoral supervisor of” relation was much less institutionalized in that system. So, for instance, “my wife’s”:http://www.u.arizona.edu/~lapaul lineage goes back to “A.N. Whitehead”:http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Whitehead.html (via Lewis and Quine), but stops there because I don’t think Whitehead ever had a doctoral adviser in the sense demanded by the lineage-makers. The closest you get (I think) are the examiners of Whitehead’s dissertation (submitted in a successful effort to win a Cambridge Fellowship), one of whom was “Lord Kelvin”:http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Thomson.html, or William Thompson as he then was.