Helicopter gunship attack

by Henry on April 6, 2010

“Yglesias”:http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2010/04/massacre-and-coverup-in-iraq.php “if this is authentic, you have military personnel killing people without making any reference to the rules of engagement. … This obviously raises the question of how many broadly parallel incidents there have been that haven’t come to light since they haven’t happened to have involved a Reuters employee.”

“James Fallows”:http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2010/04/in-case-you-missed-them/38516/ – ” As you watch, imagine the reaction in the US if the people on the ground had been Americans and the people on the machine guns had been Iraqi, Russian, Chinese, or any other nationality. As with Abu Ghraib, and again assuming this is what it seems to be, the temptation will be to blame the operations-level people who were, in this case, chuckling as they mowed people down. That’s not where the real responsibility lies. ”

“Avram Grumer”:http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/012306.html#012306 – “So, apparently if you’re a bunch of goofballs with a fake language who are just talking about killing a cop, waiting for people to show up at his funeral, and then shooting them too, all in the name of freedom from tyranny, that’s a serious crime, and the government will raid you and the media will post all sorts of stories about how scary you are. If, in the other hand, you’re a US military helicopter crew who actually kill a bunch of Iraqi civilians, including a pair of journalists, and then, when some people (including two children) show up in a van to help the wounded and collect the bodies, shoot them too, all in the name of freedom from tyranny, the government will spend two years blocking Freedom of Information Act requests for the video of the event, and when the story finally breaks on the Internet, the media will spend their time talking about Tiger Woods and the iPad.”

And they’re off!

by Chris Bertram on April 6, 2010

Now that we have a British general election called for May 6th, I suppose we should have an open thread on the subject. The Tories are favourites, but by no means certain to get an overall majority. I’m still undecided how to vote, with Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens all possible recipients of my support. Some academic colleagues are even making pro-Tory noises on the grounds that David Willetts “understands what universities are”. Well good luck with that one, in the event. And of course, this may be a good election to lose, so that some other party ends up screwing us all at the behest of Standard and Poors and the bond markets.

A photo taken by my cousin “Hugh McElroy”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Eyes at a trendy leftwing-branded DC coffee shop.

The error has been there for at least the last couple of years. It reminds me of something that has always puzzled me – why are so many libertarians opposed to fair trade coffee?

It would seem to me that fair trade coffee is fairly hard to argue with on the principles of consumer sovereignty (i.e. the claim that consumers know their own interests best, and are able to realize them through the market mechanism). If consumers want to pay a premium for coffee that has been produced ‘fairly,’ then this should be no more troubling for libertarians than consumers wanting to pay a premium for e.g. luxury chocolate (which often is made from the same basic material as very-good-but-not-horrendously-expensive chocolate), and arguably less troubling. Perhaps libertarians can argue that fair trade coffee is a special case – and that consumers aren’t able to monitor the production of the coffee to ensure that standards are kept; that fair trade coffee has perverse consequences and so on. All this is certainly plausible – but the same problems of monitoring and possible perverse consequences apply to all sorts of government functions that libertarians are keen to have put out to private actors. If market mechanisms are poorly suited to promoting public welfare in situations where the profit motive is mixed up with the desire to do good, then many libertarian schemes for reform are in very big trouble. All in all, the left wing market skeptical case against fair trade a la (for example) Dani Rodrik seems a lot more plausible than the libertarian one (perhaps one can also argue that lefties who buy fair trade coffee ought to be plausibly more open to market mechanisms across a variety of other areas, by the same logic – but I’ll leave that for you all to discuss and dispute in comments).

Zombies walking

by John Quiggin on April 6, 2010

I sent the manuscript of Zombie Economics off to Princeton University Press last night. There’s still plenty of work (figures, index, copyediting, some last-minute changes, galleys) to be done for a planned release at Halloween. But this is the official submission. In writing the preface I checked over the comments I’d received, here and at my blog. Several thousand in total, from more than a hundred different commenters. Thanks to everyone who took part. It was a huge help and encouragement to me.