Archive from January, 2006
26 Jan
2006
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Is the attack on Google unfair?

Everybody is currently up in arms over Google’s decision to alter its search engine in China, at their request, so that it filters information that the Chinese government thinks is inappropriate.

Now I’m in know way saying China is a great place when it comes to freedom but does Google have a point when it says that “while removing search results is inconsistent with Google’s mission, providing no information is more inconsistent with our mission.” I think what people are missing here is that considering where China is starting from on the freedom scale, it’s foolish to think that they should just throw the doors open to U.S. style freedom.

Taking the U.S. as an example, today we are spoiled with our freedom with some of it to the point where it can be argued it is out of control. Comparing our movies and TV today versus 40-50 years ago I think is a good way to look at where China is at currently. In 1939 the movie Gone With the Wind stirred an uproar when one of the lines in the movie stated “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a dam”. The line was considered scandalous and the producers of the movie were given a fine of $5,000, a large amount of money for the time. Studios back then believed in censoring anything on TV and the movies that could corrupt America, similar to the position China is currently taking with the Internet.

Over the last 5 decades America has more and more become desensitized to what is shown on TV. I think the same will go for China. As time goes on, China will continue to lower its guard. It was only 10 years ago where the idea of reading anything on the Internet in China would’ve been a no no. Allot of what will progress things in China like in this country is the youth of today will be tomorrows leaders. It is that youth that will get it most. Currently our government is trying to find ways to stop video games like Grand Theft Auto. 15 years from now there will be people running government who probably played it, how will that change any legislation passed today? Most likely by softening it up.

China will get there too and companies like Google are right to recognize that the baby steps are what will do the most good today.

26 Jan
2006
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If You Can’t Beat Them, Copy Them

CNN has been engaged in a battle for ratings with Fox News for some time now, and in recent weeks they have made some bold programming moves and snapped up some high-profile conservative talent to chip away at FNC’s arguably larger audience.

Losing Robert Novak to Fox News was a bad blow for Ted Turner’s kids, but they didn’t seem to have much place for him after he stormed off a live broadcast of Crossfire hurling curses at co-host Paul Begala (I’m so jealous; Novak has all the fun). On the plus side, they did manage to slough off that pantywaist Aaron Brown, whose touch-feely brand of journalism made watching his program feel like a session on a psychiatrist’s couch.

But in recent weeks, CNN has picked up radio talk show personality Glenn Beck, former Republican congressman and strategist JC Watts, and just recently author and talk-show host William Bennett.

CNN will probably only succeed in alienating some of its built-in audience. It’s doubtful they’ll pull away hardcore Fox News viewers by trying to be all things to all people. Ironic; isn’t that what the Democrats are doing?

26 Jan
2006
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Ed Cox Will Not Jump Back Into Senate Race

Citing that it is too late to jump back into the fray, Ed Cox announced just a short time ago that he will not get back into the race to unseat Hillary Clinton this November. Personally, I think that’s a shame, because he would have made a fine candidate. He was a great speaker at our general meeting last week. He’s a good friend to the New York Young Republican Club and a great Republican. Wish him well and hope he won’t be a stranger.

26 Jan
2006
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Cheers to Prince Harry, the New Black Prince!

Yesterday it was confirmed that after several years of talk, Prince Harry would join the Blues and Royal regiment. For some time now Prince Harry has said he would like to serve with other troops no matter how risky the operation. Can you say Iraq?

I say, good for Prince Harry! As a fan of history, his move reminds me of the old days when Kings and Princes rode the front lines giving their men the moral they needed to win the day. What fan of the Middle Ages could forget the impact of men like Edward the Black Prince, son of King Edward III, who led England at the ripe age of 16 to victories over the French at the famous battle of Poitiers and his capture of the French King, John the Good.

There has always been something special when those with position of power, who have more to loose then gain, decide to put themselves in harms way for God and country. What would our nation be like today had George Washington decided not to roam the front lines during the Revolutionary War?

Prince Harry, hats off to you!

26 Jan
2006
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Re: Will the Spread of Democracy be Israel’s Greatest Risk?

I don’t know if I would phrase the question that way. Democracy is only a risk to regimes that are undemocratic. If the new Palestinian government is legitimate and wishes to negotiate in good faith, then the question should be “Can the Spread of Democracy Resolve the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?” But just by looking at their track record, I have no reason to believe that Hamas will act in good faith even for the sake of their own people let alone for the stability of the region as a whole.

When I read that Hamas was victorious in the elections, I was disheartened. However, if the Palestinian elections turn out to be valid (and the verdict is still out on that), then we have to accept the outcome and deal with the consequences. At any given time in history, people get the government that they deserve, and if the Palestinians truly want a militant terrorist group like Hamas to run their show, then that’s what they will get. If they want peace, then they can have that, too. But peace will only happen when everyone, the Palestinians and the Israelis together, want it to happen. It’s enough to say that the ball is in somebody’s court. This is no game.

25 Jan
2006
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Will the spread of Democracy be Israel’s greatest risk?

Right now we’re all reading about the large turnout in the Palestinian elections in favor of Hamas. Many are calling it a victory for Democracy as the violent wing moves toward the political mainstream. The hope is that as official members of government it will open up dialog with Israel and lead toward a diplomatic solution, halting the violence that currently plagues the region. Is this what will happen or will Hamas exploit its new political capital to wage war as a nation? Though not officially a state, since they are recognized by the UN and holding elections, what else more do they need?

The potential problem as I see it, is that for years Hamas has stayed out of the Palestinian Authority which has allowed the authority to act as a continuous buffer between Israel, the western governments that support them and the militant Muslim wing that wants them destroyed. However now as part of that same authority the buffer has been removed but not Hamas’s desire to expel Israel, which means the chance for escalation can only increase.

In Samuel Huntington’s controversial best seller, “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order”, he prophesized in the late 1990’s how the world would shift from an alignment of nations based on ideology (Democracy vs. Communism) to a world aligned based on cultural beliefs. If he is correct, which so far he has, peace between Israel and the new Palestinian government will be difficult. Old hatred’s are hard to remove, especially when both groups have little in common.

25 Jan
2006
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Democratic Victory Strategy of the Week

The Democrats will try pretty much anything to regain control of at least one chamber of Congress this Fall. Last month they tried to capitalize on people’s disgust over the war in Iraq. Well, unfortunately, people are not as disgusted as Democrats first believed now that Saddam is on trial and a new democratically elected government is in formation.

Two weeks ago it was the “culture of corruption” that the Republicans supposedly created with their buddy Jack Abramoff. But that backfired too when it was revealed that not only are Senate Democrats equally complicit in their dealings with Abramoff, but the public is apathetic enough about corruption in Washington, that this latest scandal is unlikely to affect voter turnout or behavior in November.

Now, the latest kitchen sink the Dems are throwing at the GOP to gain Congressional seats in November focuses on the civil liberties argument. But, as Ron Brownstein argues in today’s LA Times, arguing civil liberties in time of war is a risky proposition. Anyone who argues liberty over safety in wartime risks coming off as weak. And let’s face it, the Dems can be accused of many things, but being tough will never be one of them.

Personally, I’m looking forward to their winning midterm election strategy for next week. Perhaps it may even involve men from Mars.

25 Jan
2006
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I’m not the only one saying it:

I love it when I take the time to write about something only to have a higher authority confirm it. If anyone gets a chance, today’s Financial Times (the one thing other than the Economist that Europe has over America) has a full-page article about how the U.S. has continually outperformed Europe. The article is titled “A productivity prescription: how the U.S. has pulled away from Europe and Japan”.

Here are some quotes:

“The idea that European economies are bad at exploiting new technology is supported by detailed research in productivity between individual U.S. and UK companies.”

“You could call it the productivity myth. It goes like this. European economies trail behind the U.S. because their citizens would rather people-gaze from a pavement café than labor loyally in the corporate salt mines.”

24 Jan
2006
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You have to love those silly Europeans:

Sticking with the economics theme, hey what else am I going to talk about, I read an article in the Financial Times today about some wrangling that is going on between France and Germany.

The issue at hand is about France’s desire to reduce the value added tax (VAT) that European countries charge their consumers. Jacques Chirac wanted to lower the VAT rate on French restaurant meals. As Americans, to us this sounds like a no-brainer and good way to get people to eat out more helping the French service industry. Germany’s call for Chirac to scrap his idea is because they are concerned that if France lowers their VAT, Germany will be pressured to do the same.

Here in America we call this friendly competition, which is why our companies and states are generally efficient. Could you imagine New Jersey complaining to New York about lowering their tax rates for downtown because it might get companies to move to New York? Isn’t that the point?

They just continuously make it to easy for us to kick their buts.

23 Jan
2006
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To NY State Senate: Economics, Anyone…Anyone

It seems some people just never get it, unfortunately allot of the time those people are in charge of running our government. Currently Democrats in the state senate of New York are in the process of introducing a bill that would force stores with 500 or more employees to pay $3 an hour for each employee to cover health care costs for the state.

As I have written countless times on this blog over the last month, such proposals can only lead to disaster for a state like New York. Time and time again, the only thing that has been proven to maximize the amount of people in our labor force, is a free and open system that gives companies the flexibility to price their offering package to employees at the point where they can hire the most people for their money. As I have said before this is known as the Equilibrium Wage point(Chart A) which represents the point where labor supply and demand is equal on a wage and labor chart. Any microeconomics textbook will teach you that pushing wages above the equilibrium level (like forcing companies to pay $3 an hour for each employee) will raise the quantity of labor supplied (those people looking for a job) and lower the quantity of labor demanded (the amount of people that company can now hire because of the increased costs) Chart B. In simpler terms, creating wage floors through the use of minimum wage or special taxes (which is what this is) only ends up increasing unemployment in the state and worse makes other companies think twice about moving into the state or expanding within the state. As I’ve said before this has been the difference between the U.S. and Europe and why our growth rates are higher and our unemployment is lower. (Click on the graph to expand it)

One of the reasons I love economics and business is because numbers and charts don’t lie. People in our government have to get over their emotions and how they feel is the right and fair way to govern and instead govern solely on what has been proven statistically correct for centuries.