Politics

Republicans Have No Head, but Democrats Have No Body.

Last night’s elections make clear that the ongoing comedy of a hapless GOP struggling to find a suitable House Speaker or Presidential candidate is a sideshow that continues to lull Democrats into complacency. As Obama takes his victory lap and Hilary does her on-deck stretches, Democrats would do well to consider: Since Obama was elected, […]

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Politics

Subsidize Motherhood, not Apple Pie

Last night’s Democratic candidate debate was more elevated but less entertaining than the GOP debates. Everyone loves a clown and, although he gave it his best shot, Lincoln Chafee is just not in Donald Trump’s league as a buffoon.  The question of paid family leave got a moment in the sun, with Bernie Sanders citing […]

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PoliticsWoW

Early Warning Signs

Business competition is always interesting, in part because smart companies figure out how to avoid competition by specializing and differentiating their product or service. When Sun Tzu admonished his generals against assaulting walled fortresses, he understood that head-to-head competition is a sure path to a headache. Many US universities have not read their Sun Tzu: they […]

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EconomicsMediaPolitics,WoW

Are Men Overpaid?

More women than men now graduate from college and they earn better grades. But at every level of educational attainment, men still earn more money and the gap grows larger with time. Are we systematically underpaying women? If so, why would labor markets behave that way? To some, the question is laughably simple: greedy male capitalists exploit […]

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EconomicsPoliticsWoW

Manufacturing Myths in Palo Alto and Pittsburgh

The transition from fields to factories always mixes agony with hope. Families abandon land and traditions that often go back generations, move to cities and reset their lives from sunlight to time clocks. Mass production industries flourish for a few generations. Life is hardly a bed of roses, but it is nearly always better or […]

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EconomicsMediaPolitics,TechnologyWoW

George McGovern 1922-2012

When George McGovern ran for president, I was the age the JamKid is now. He was then, and remained, a remarkable and vastly underappreciated American. He was a decorated war hero who had seen gruesome combat and calmly led a massive crusade against the Vietnam war. He was a professor with a PhD in History […]

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PoliticsWoW

Memo to the New Chancellor: Saving UC Berkeley

Dear Newly Appointed Berkeley Chancellor: Congratulations! Even though as of this writing, you have not yet been named, you take over the leadership of UC Berkeley at a critical time. At the end of your tenure, the world’s premier public university will either have found a sustainable path forward or will have entered a period […]

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EconomicsMediaPolitics,WoW

Lenin’s Rope: Universities Help Disrupt Universities

Lenin famously bragged that “Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” It would surely gall him to learn that the art of destroying capitalists with their own products has been mastered not by a militant, vanguard-led proletariat but by entrepreneurial capitalists. It appears that even universities, finally, are getting the hang of […]

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EconomicsMediaPolitics,TechnologyWoW

Peak Apple: Understanding the Foxconn Deal

Apple has quickly raised worker wages to address the highly publicized problems with working conditions in its supplier network. The decision protects Apple’s pristine brand and costs the company next to nothing. It cleverly exploits the high-minded principles and low-level economic literacy of those of us who are its devoted customers. A series of well-researched […]

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EconomicsPolitics,Technology

Will Technology Burst Higher Education’s Bubble?

Imagine a market with incumbents whose core processes are unchanged since medieval times that is held together by huge federal subsidies and protected by a system of self-accreditation designed to exclude rivals. Imagine that the resulting enterprises exploited their monopoly power by overcharging customers and wasting the revenue that resulted on guaranteeing senior employees lifetime […]

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EconomicsMediaPolitics,TechnologyWoW

Two Questions for California’s College Students

Perhaps the only thing more depressing than the sight of hundreds of students and faculty on a “99 Mile March” to defend California’s system of higher education from budget cuts is the failure of the state legislature to vigorously defend the engine of the state’s wealth and economic mobility. The protests now underway in Sacramento […]

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MediaPoliticsWoW

Whatever Happened to the United Farmworkers?

On New Year’s Day, a friend mentioned that Frank Bardacke had published his long-anticipated history of the rise and fall of Cesar Chavez and the United Farmworkers. It was worth the wait, he assured me and “completely stunning. Just get it and read it. You won’t put it down.” He was right. Bardacke, a respected […]

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EconomicsMediaOther classicsPoliticsWoW

Will Obama Ask Biden and Clinton to Swap Jobs?

Should the President ask his VP and his Secretary of State to trade jobs? This is one of those too-delicious by half ideas that builds up as beltway buzz and becomes the stuff of gossip columns and talk show chatter. Increasingly however, the idea is not crazy if Obama gets the timing right. It cannot cannot […]

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Politics

Promising not to promise….

In yesterday’s New York Times, Warren Buffett argues that super rich folks should pay higher taxes. Had I asserted that the rich should pay more, it would be an entirely unremarkable example of the famous ditty by Senator Russell Long (“Don’t tax me, don’t tax thee, tax that fella behind the tree”). These days, you can […]

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Politics

The GOP Raises Interest Rates. China Cheers.

As of tonight, it is not at all clear when the US debt ceiling will get extended or when the entirely artificial crisis caused by Republican House members will be resolved. But one thing is now very clear: the ham-fisted GOP tactics will raise interest costs for every American family and business. It is the […]

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EconomicsPolitics

Amazon.com: America’s #1 Tax Evader?

== Update: On September 7, Amazon relented and made a deal to pay sales taxes on shipments to California (no doubt the trenchant analysis that follows persuaded them to do the right thing). For details of the deal see http://goo.gl/kNwjQ. Now every other state in America needs to make a deal with Amazon — even if they […]

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EconomicsPolitics,Technology

Freedom Comes Out

Gay Freedom does not matter yet to most Americans — but it will, soon enough. Andrew Cuomo’s profile in political courage in mobilizing the New York legislature to allow gay marriage is a civil rights landmark. It is also more evidence that public attitudes have tipped. Twenty years from now, people may wonder what the […]

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MediaPoliticsWoW

Public Unions 5: Can Unions Innovate?

This post concludes a five part series on public sector unions. The opening post argued that political attacks on public sector unions are more likely to worsen fiscal or political problems than solve them. The second article asserted that low public sector productivity is primarily a management failure. The third article noted that efforts by unions to […]

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EconomicsMediaPolitics

Public Unions 4: Preventing Labor Capture

This is the fourth of a five part series on public sector unions. The opening post argued that political attacks on public sector unions are more likely to worsen fiscal or political problems than solve them. The second article asserted that low levels public sector productivity relative to pay is primarily a management failure. The third article noted […]

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EconomicsMediaPolitics

Public Unions 3: The Price of Job Security.

This post is the third of a five part series on public sector unions.The opening post argued that political attacks on public sector unions are more likely to worsen fiscal or political problems than solve them. The second article asserted that low public sector productivity is primarily a management failure. The third article notes that efforts by unions to […]

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EconomicsPolitics