Monday, June 19, 2006

A Lot To Chew On

First, happy Juneteenth. June 19th, for the uninitiated, is the day in 1865 that Union troops landed in Galveston, Texas, bringing freedom to the slaves of Texas with them. Since then, June 19th has become a day of celebration for the African-American community. So let us pause today to appreciate freedom, to remember those who fought for the end of slavery and for the end of segregation, and to remember those around the world who still fight for their freedom...

A few quick thoughts that are completely unrelated:

- The Economist has an excellent article on the increasing inequality in American wages since 1980. They correctly point out (in my mind, anyway) that the problem is not the inequality per se, but the lack of upward mobility - parental income determines more in the U.S. than in most other industrialized countries (Ben posted on this a while back, and I'll add the link in here when I find it).

It doesn't seem to me that there's a whole lot that the government can do about the income inequality (short of mandating a limit on salaries, and no one wants to do that). But does extreme inequality imply low upward mobility? It seems to me that the costs of moving up increase as the gap between rich and poor widens - just look at the astronomical rise in college tuitions over the past few decades. And with the continuing offshoring of middle-class jobs, are we dooming ourselves to a society stratified between capital and labor? And what, if anything, can government do to ensure that upward mobility is possible? I'll muse more about the economy in future posts (which is somewhat like a code monkey musing about building a car), but feel free to add your thoughts.

- What the hell? Then-Iranian president Mohammed Khatami offered to recognize Israel, stop supporting Palestinian terror organizations, and begin relations with the U.S. - and Bush turned it down?!?!?! I know the issue is more complex than this, but how? Even if Iran was using the conciliatory tone as cover for a nuclear program, wouldn't diplomatic relations with a powerful possible anti-terrorism ally and some much-needed muscle in the Middle East peace process be worth the risk? Especially if they're going to be enriching uranium anyway... so might as well open relations and try to persuade them to keep it peaceful, right? (I'm kinda surprised Zhubin hasn't posted on this yet.)

- And finally, to all my single male friends out there - stay away from Scottish women.

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