Thursday, February 26, 2004

Thomas Friedman imagines he's "getting real" on outsourcing....
"Yes, I want to be able to huff and puff about complex issues — like outsourcing of jobs to India — without any reference to reality. Unfortunately, in this life, I'm stuck in the body of a reporter/columnist..."
-Thomas Friedman
This is what I'd say to Mr. Friedman:

I'm stuck in my body, too, Mr. Friedman. Here's my problem with your column. You said
" exports from U.S. companies to India have grown from $2.5 billion in 1990 to $4.1 billion in 2002. What goes around comes around, and also benefits Americans..."
Unfortunately, you completely neglected to mention the fact that, despite the nice news about the exports, the U.S. trade deficit with India has still managed to soar to the tune of $8 billion or so. This being the real world and all, and being stuck in this writer's body (just like you), I felt compelled to mention that you either conveniently neglected to mention the monstrous deficit... or perhaps you overlooked the fact. Comparative advantage is fine if all reasonable attempts toward trade balance are ensured. In a dynamic economy there are supposedly plenty of ways that new jobs are created and old jobs are made obsolete. So I ask you, Mr. Friedman, where are the new American jobs? I agree we should trust individual initiative more than government programs to deal with those circumstances, but let's not assume that government intervention is not a realistic necessity here. Our American middle class is put into near-direct competition with second and third-world workers. If you have your ideological differences, Mr. Friedman, please discuss them within a reasonable economic framework and do not tell us we are not looking at the matter 'realistically." I see what could be a rush of American businesses to outsource jobs with too much arrogance about the eventual effects of a lack of reasonable trade equilibrium between nations. Billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett warned last November that allowing the trade deficit to grow amounted to transferring America's net worth abroad "at an alarming rate." I guess you don't recall that. At the going (growing) trade deficit rate, China's economy will surpass our American economy by 2041. I guess you don't know or don't care how cocky we're getting here in America about this issue. I guess you don't think too hard about that.
Jadoo Works sounds really cool and all, but you've missed some very important points in your nice slice of business-life tale.
Maybe you'll do better next column.
I really hope so.
"If a traveler tripped over a rock in their path 700 years ago, and from this event altered the course of their life, we might conclude the rock was only incidental. But if that same rock trips thousands, through the centuries, each walking away with a different message and a different lesson, then can we call this incidental?

When foolish people trip, they get up and walk away as if nothing happened. They learn nothing. A wise person will find a greater meaning for their fall. But a rock that trips travelers in every age, each time imparting a different meaning, that is not just a rock. That is God."

--Fihi Ma Fihi (Discourses of Rumi) translated by A.J. Arberry

For lo, the multitudes did gather in multiplexes across the land, as the prophets had foretold. And at last they beheld The Passion of the Christ, and did render unto Mel Gibson millions upon millions of dollars in ticket and merchandising sales.


Today in history...

photo credit:

"Sunday a soldier of Company A died and was buried. Everything went on as if nothing had happened, for death is so common that little sentiment is wasted. It is not like a death at home."

-Elisha Hunt Rhodes, 2nd Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry
photo credit:

1862- Civil War, In camp with Elisha Hunt Rhodes

1935- Hitler organizes Luftwaffe

1993- A bomb built by a group of Islamic extremists exploded in the parking garage of New York's World Trade Center, killing six people and injuring more than 1,000 others

Today's Headlines and Opinions

GUILTY NEOCON FLIES THE COOP! The Prince of Darkness has left the building, leaving the lives of over 500 American troops and countless lives of Iraqi citizens (and no WMDs) in his idealistic wake. Here's his resignation letter.

U.S. lifts Libya travel restrictions after 23 years-Removal follows Tripoli affirming it was behind airliner bombing
Hello? Would that mean we'd open relations with Osama Bin Laden and/or the Taliban as long as he/they admitted to being the masterminds of 9-11? How would that sit with you as a parent of someone killed on 9-11?
Ask Susan Cohen what she thinks. Susan's the mother of Thea, a Syracuse University student who was killed at the age of 20 when
Pan Am 103 was blown from the skies over Lockerbie, Scotland in December, 1988. Susan has not forgotten that tragic day. Susan is aware that all Moammar Gadhafi has done is to "buy peace" from our nation. She's disgusted, and you know what? I cannot blame her. Libya's Prime Minister has admitted they needed to buy peace from the U.S.::
"After the sanctions and after the problems we have [been] facing because of the sanctions, the loss of money, we thought that it was easier for us to buy peace and this is why we agreed to compensation."
--Shokri Ganem, Prime Minister of Libya

In a recent Reuters article, Susan Cohen is quoted as saying: "For the Bush administration, Lockerbie is just an issue to get around. It is typical of the Libyans to say one thing one day and another the next," said Susan Cohen, whose daughter died in the bombing. She accused the administration of trying to "whitewash" Lockerbie and of making Gaddafi into a hero..."

Can the father be far behind? A son of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri , has been captured by Pakistani forces , one of Pakistan 's leading newspapers reported on Wednesday.

I hear the investigation's really heating up on this Rep. Nick Smith-Medicare-House of Representatives bribery case. The House Ethics Committee may not be the only investigators...I hear there may also be an ongoing criminal investigation.

Macedonia's president killed in plane crash

When I read this, my first thought was that Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan isn't telling us anything we don't already know. While a lot of people would like to jump all over the messenger, conservative leaders Grover Norquist, Paul Weyrich, and Karl Rove have been talking about shrinking U.S. social programs for years. If we keep voting the GOP ticket, I don't see how we will be able to complain if and when markets sag and security nets disappear (and the Ken Lays are still thriving). Perhaps we will then know we've been officially bilked. The Boston Globe editorial on Greenspan's announcement says, in part:"No raid on retirees...Congress needs to find the money to keep Social Security solvent."

According to The Hill, Republicans plan to stage a lengthy Senate debate on Iraq today to respond to intensifying Democratic attacks on President Bush over his conduct of the war and its turbulent aftermath. The debate, is meant to catch the Democrats off-guard.

Also from The Hill, Senator Ted Kennedy has asked his staff to put together a case that he hopes will prove that President Bush’s recess appointment of Alabama Attorney General William Pryor to the U.S. Court of Appeals was unconstitutional.

Political strategist Dick Morris says the only way President Bush will be re-elected in November is, basically, to continue to frighten us into electoral submisson.
"He [Pres. Bush] must underscore the limits of his own success and focus upon the huge tasks and enormous dangers that lie before us. It is only by summoning the sense of national urgency — that we should, in fact, be feeling — that he can win.
Americans want Bush for one thing and one thing only: to lead us out of danger from terror. We don’t really think he is much good at anything else..."

What does it say about the Democrats that they appear to feel their best hope of winning is to ask the competition to politely bow out?

SAFIRE: Manipulating Bloviator Extraordinaire-
Seeing a prominent opiner such as Mr. Safire manipulating news of the actual developments on the war on terror will not help Americans make educated decisions. His own newspaper directly refutes him (almost daily) with a bothersome thing called "FACT", yet they continue to let him blather on. What does that say about the integrity of the Times? With recent journalistic failures such as Jayson Blair and Judith Miller, one would think they would try to be as ethical as possible.

Front-running presidential candidate John Kerry says he backs Massachusetts state ban on same-sex marriage
Quote: "If the Massachusetts Legislature crafts an appropriate amendment that provides for partnership and civil unions, then I would support it, and it would advance the goal of equal protection," the senator said yesterday, stressing that he was referring only to the [Massachsetts] state, and not the federal, Constitution. He has said he would oppose any amendment that did not include a provision for civil unions. "I think that you need to have civil union. That's my position," he said Tuesday.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Anti-Gay Proposals:
"The debate over this issue, the latest battleground in the culture wars that have so divided the nation, is more about politics than principle..Misusing the very constitutional documents that bind us together as a people doesn't protect marriage, it defiles and cheapens them."

Kucinich: "I do not view the media as a monolith. I know there are people . . . who want to do the right thing [and] others want to use their influence to achieve a certain outcome. I understand where that's coming from. I also know if I had a fraction of the coverage these other candidates have had, I'd be running away with the nomination."

credit: Get your War On