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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

What Makes For Success?

Explaining how income is only one of many traits that go into what makes a human being "superior", Don Boudreaux's short letter to the editor of The New Yorker is brilliant. He responds to an article by John Cassidy "Relatively Deprived".

Because status among humans is determined not only by income but also by traits such as political power, athletic prowess, military heroics, intellectual success, and good looks, equalizing incomes will intensify the importance of these non-pecuniary traits as sources of status. And there's no reason why persons with low status in these non-pecuniary categories will not suffer all the stress and envy now allegedly suffered by people with low incomes.

Thomas Sowell has explained that so many facets of a person go into their wealth creation, that such things as racial preference through Affirmative Action do not necessarily offset all of the other advantages that successful people have. Cultural norms within ethnic or racial groups, innate intelligence, individual character and those traits listed by Boudreaux cannot also be "evened" by law. So merely basing redistribution of money or access to higher education does not alter the likelihood of results. The key is to make the opportunities fair through an unbiased process.

CBS-The Same Wine In A Brand New Bottle

Today, Lowell Ponte and Jonah Goldberg looked at the CBS hiring of Katie Couric as the new anchor of their nightly news. The Today Show star of many years is trading in her light-weight credentials for the more serious daily treatment of the news.

Goldberg sees her as just another actress/model/news anchor.

Ponte provides a sampling of Couric's ultra-liberal ideology:

“Good morning. The Gipper was an airhead! That's one of the conclusions of a new biography of Ronald Reagan that's drawing a tremendous amount of interest and fire today, Monday, September the 27th, 1999,” said Couric in opening that day's show.

“Only four percent of the delegates in the convention hall are African-Americans,” said Couric to General Colin Powell on August 1, 2000, during the week of the Republican National Convention. “Do you feel troubled at all by this, and do you feel used by your party?”

“Let's talk a little bit more about the right-wing…a climate that some say has been established by religious zealots or Christian conservatives,” said Couric in an interview with former Texas Democratic Governor Ann Richards broadcast on C-SPAN on April 3, 1999. “I just would like you to reflect on whether you feel people in this country are increasingly intolerant, mean-spirited, etc., and what, if anything, can be done about that….”

“Then the fallout from the death of Matthew Shepard. The tragic beating of the college student in Wyoming has some activists in this country saying there is a climate of anti-gay hate that's been fostered by a provocative advertising campaign by the political Right in this country,” said Couric on Today, October 13, 1998.

On October 12, 1998, while interviewing the governor of Wyoming, Couric asked whether “conservative political organizations like the Christian Coalition, the Family Research Council and Focus on Family [sic.] are contributing to this anti-homosexual atmosphere” by suggesting that homosexuals can change their sexual orientation.

(“It was clear six years ago, and remains clear today,” said Focus on the Family President Don Hodel in December 2004, after NBC had defended Couric's comments, “that Ms. Couric's tone and manner were not that of an impartial journalist seeking the truth about a tragedy. It was the tone and manner of an advocate intent on repeating an unfounded accusation disguised as a question.”)

“Some people are very concerned about talk shows, radio talk shows in general, of course. Most of them around the country have a decidedly conservative bent. The rap that some people give them is that they reflect the views of a very vocal minority, the extremists in this country, and don't really reflect the true nature of political debate in the United States. And, as a matter of fact, they tend to be quite divisive and sort of have a bad, a negative impact on the country,” said Couric during a Today interview with Oliver North, March 13, 1995.

“Some suggested over the weekend that it's wrong to expect Elian Gonzalez to live in a place that tolerates no dissent or freedom of political expression. They were talking about Miami,” said Couric on Today, April 3, 2000. “Another writer this weekend called it 'an out of control banana republic within America.'“

“So you don't think the right-wing should be so narrow-minded or rigid when it comes to abortion?” asked Couric of Republican National Committee chair Haley Barbour, February 1, 1993.

And there are more samples at DiscoverThe Networks.org.

Think Tanker Andrew "Skip" March has this take:

It doesn't matter who is sitting in the CBS anchor chair as long as the culture and programming doesn't change. There will be a temporary curiosity spike and probably some change in viewer demographics based on gender. The selection certainly suggests gender pandering and an entertainment (rather than news) bias. They tried to fool or divert the public's attention by putting Dan Rather in a sweater and it didn't work. I'd have to say that CBS still has the typical liberal disregard for the general viewing public's intelligence and insight. They also haven't gotten the message that it's not about the anchor...it's about the content. Frankly there are some things that Couric does very well, otherwise she wouldn't have been so successful. Hard news hasn't been one of them. We'll see.....

I see that she fits CBS new image as an important source for objective news reporting. Now, Katie, what was that question about Reagan being an "airhead"? Can you give a few recipes around the Thanksgiving holiday in between that item about Republicans starving babies and black curches burned down by skin-heads? Come 2008 she will be treating Al Gore as a sensible candidate.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Bartlett Sounding Like Another Krugman

Economist Bruce Bartlett, formerly a very interesting analyst, has taken Andrew Sullivan pills and become very uninteresting. Both Bartlett and Sullivan share a dislike towards the President's policies after being partisan's of Bush's early administration and policies. Sullivan discarded everything Bush over "the gay rights" issue. Now, to Sullivan anything Bush does is grossly wrong and his web site will provide you up to the minute word on gay marriage and the torture of Islamic terrorists. While I was slightly surprised at Sullivan (and what do I know), who still claims to be a free market proponent, the greater shock is with Bartlett's conversion to anti-Bushism.

Bartlett had rarely published a snoozer editorial like today's until his latest book, Impostor : How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy.

There is no question that spending is a problem created by all parties in DC and most notably the President deserves much of the credit by failing to veto a single spending bill. While Bush has been steadfast and true (and correct in my mind) on fighting terrorism, his failures domestically have been largely due to political considerations---trying to buy votes for himself or the party. Such pandering is the life of a politician. And an intellectually honest economist should find a lot wrong with Bush's record.

But there is so much right, that Bartlett's omissions of such great news does not grant his latest columns much credibility.

This was something Bartlett wrote today:

If people have jobs, if their wages are rising, if they can pay for the things they need and have a little left over to invest, then they are happy about the economy. If they are unemployed or fear layoffs, if their wages are stagnating and they are wary of losing benefits, and they are having to go into debt rather than save for the future, then they are going to be unhappy about the economy no matter how great the data are or how hard the White House and Treasury hype the numbers.

I can always find such deep economic analysis from Krugman.

Bruce, besides hearing how tariffs harm our country, how anti-trust litigation brought by the administration harms our competitive abilities, how boondoggles like Medicare siphon too much from our vibrant economy and our children's future, how the failure to continue pushing for Social Security reform was a show of political weakness when change is so critical, I also want to know how the economy can improve. I want to know how the spending crowds out growth. I want to know how the tax cuts deserve credit for our booming economy as compared to the relative statistics from other countries.

Bartlett's new song has gotten boring quickly. Yes, McCartney issued many dogs during his solo career. But he remains a "must hear" to this day. Do not become another Andrew Sullivan. You will become just another carper. We need your analysis

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