Thursday, July 24, 2008

This week in The Economist

More wind from a gas company blowhard. T. Boone Pickens wants to go to wind for lighting our homes and gas for transportation. Do we really need to transition to natural gas for our cars or will we be clever enough to make the transition once to electric?

Measuring poverty. Federal poverty line: 20,444 for a family of four, which has been relatively stable in real terms since 1968. Proposed level for New York City using a new methodology: 27,138. That means 23% of New York's population is poor, up from 19%. I don't have any real thoughts on this - changing the numbers doesn't do much to change the problem.

Teachers' Unions. Sure, teachers' unions can be part of the solution, but will they and should they? Teachers' unions fight for higher wages and equal for their people and oppose anything that would make it easier for the boss to cut employees loose. The result is social pressure not to try too hard and make your peers look bad, and mediocre teachers being the most vocal folks in union meetings. But that's some of what education in America needs - more pay for good teachers and less job security for bad ones.

China's Economic Constitution. I'm a little cynical, but this will probably be like the contract law for workers' rights - it'll hit the books but no one will enforce it, and few among the public will even know about it. For those of you saying "contract law for worker rights in China?"... exactly.

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