Saturday, August 25, 2007

More from Howard Gardner

Out of concern with inequality, he says:

"The accumulation and cross-generational transmission of wealth in the United States has gone way too far. When a young hedge-fund manager can take home a sum reminiscent of the gross national product of a small country, something is askew. When a self-made entrepreneur can accumulate enough money to, in effect, purchase that country, something is totally out of whack. It’s impossible to deny that market fundamentalism has gone too far.

There are two modest and generous ways to change this situation. First, no single person should be allowed annually to take home more than 100 times as much money as the average worker in a society earns in a year. If the average worker makes $40,000, the top compensated individual may keep $4 million a year. Any income in excess of that amount must be contributed to a charity or returned to the government, either as a general gift, or targeted to a specific line item (ranging from the Department of Veterans Affairs to the National Endowment for the Arts).

Second, no individual should be allowed to accumulate an estate more than 50 times the allowed annual income. Thus, no person would be permitted to pass on to his or her beneficiaries more than $200 million. Anything in excess must be contributed to charity or donated to the government."

There are so many criticisms to be made here that I'm not sure where to start. I'll just focus on one. If we did this, I wonder how many days it would take for rich people to get their money (and themselves) out of the country? I'd say around .5 days at most.

A Harvard Professor Demonstrates His Brilliance

Howard Gardner says:

“The right wing isn’t just taking over the country, it’s shanghaiing all our values. If there’s a Republican administration after the next election, I would join in efforts for some sort of secession. It’s not the same country anymore.”

Democracy can be a real pain when you're in the minority, but this seems a bit extreme.

Shh, It's Cold

Why is it that when temperatures are colder than usual, the media never mentions how this relates to global warming:
Temperatures on the Atlantic coast have been on average two or three degrees Celsius below seasonal averages, said Jean-Marc Le Gallic from Meteo France.

No mention of global warming, though, just a description of how people are depressed as a result.

Now, if it was warmer than usual, no doubt this would be more evidence of global warming. But since it's colder, global warming is not mentioned.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Open and Transparent Government

I'm not sure what it's going to mean in practice, but I like Obama's latest:

To make the government more accountable, Obama said he would post all non-emergency bills online for five days before he signed them into law, allowing Americans a chance to weigh in on the legislation. In addition, he said he would post all meetings between lobbyists and government agencies online.

Obama said he would require Cabinet officials to speak to Americans via national broadband town-hall style meetings to discuss issues at their agencies. He also pledged to issue an executive order that information about the government's operations must be released to those seeking it unless it could harm a protected interest.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Questions for the Democrats on Immigration

Here are some questions on immigration for the Democratic Presidential candidates:

1) Should there be any limits on the number of people who can come live in the U.S. each year?

2) Should there be any limits on the number of people who can become American citizens each year?

3) If you think there should be limits under 1) or 2), how should those limits be determined?

4) If there are limits under 1), and people come to live in the U.S. in ways that evade those limits, what should happen to them? Should they be allowed to stay here?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Freedom from the Press

I just don't understand these sorts of decisions:

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling Tuesday lost a court fight in London to ban publication of a photograph of her young son.

Rowling, whose seventh and final Potter book was released worldwide last month to a frenzy of excitement and record sales, had argued at the High Court that her son David's right to privacy was invaded by the picture.

The photograph, showing Rowling and her husband Neil Murray with the child in a buggy, was taken by a picture agency photographer using a long-range lens in a street in her home city of Edinburgh in 2004.

The boy, now aged four, was 20 months old at the time. Rowling and Murray took action in the child's name against the agency, Big Pictures (UK) and Express Newspapers, seeking damages and an injunction banning further publication of the shot or any others of the boy.

But the court ruled that the law would not allow Rowling to carve out a press-free zone for her children and struck out proceedings against the photo agency. Express Newspapers had separately settled the claim.

Forget the law for a second. On policy grounds, does this make sense? Should the press have the right to publish pictures of a 20 month old kid who is not doing anything newsworthy? If so, why? Seems crazy to me.