Monday, September 28, 2009

City = Green

I'm pretty sure this article says basically the same thing as the New York Times Magazine piece a few years ago (which I can't find at all).  But that's fine with me as the message is more relevant than ever.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

high quality, high paying jobs

I've been thinking that the goal of "high quality, high paying jobs" is a bit of a catch-22. Of course, all things being equal, we prefer them. But they also assume a static world and, if endowment effects and similar are significant, there are real downsides. I'm thinking that those are the same jobs which involve significant personal investment and have high specificity of skills (i.e., they are high paying because the employees are not easily replaced). While the industry is healthy, this is great. If the industry shrinks (whether because of something specific to the industry or macro), the displaced worker almost certainly cannot replicate his or her prior income in the near term. Which is painful. Especially if he or she took on liabilities on the assumption that the income would be there. We can't stop people seeking these jobs (and I don't think we want to) but it does suggest that economies with lots of lower skilled jobs will have (assuming away regulations that limit labor flexibility) a leg up on those that depend more on high skilled jobs. Of course, this is probably part of the natural order of things.


Whether one thinks he is serious or joking, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi's proposal to create a single Israeli/Palestinian state is actually the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that can square a circle.

Among the most intractable problems in that conflict have been the crazy-quilt arrangement of settlements and control of holy sites. By having a single country, if there were actually general support (and, interestingly, Israel and Palestine are two of the rare middle-east examples of a meaningful popular vote that can actually gauge popular support), everyone could declare victory. I know this won't happen but it opened my eyes to a path I hadn't really considered.

I am generally against combining separate peoples into a single political group but, in thinking about it, that may be more because historic examples have been forced (see: nearly all of sub-saharan africa) and lack popular support than because of some inherent problem. Legitimacy counts for a lot (but, here, is unlikely to overcome longstanding enmity).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

campaign finance

Hadn't realized that there were meaningful challenges to campaign finance rules coming up. Thank goodness. I still don't understand: (i) why is a politician permitted to sell an advertisement (i.e., a book published in connection with a campaign) but not to buy an advertisement; (ii) how can it possibly be legal to penalize a candidate for private efforts on their behalf; and (iii) how can we possibly distinguish between spending money and giving time when it comes to campaign finance limits?