Tuesday, January 31, 2006

More Made Up Stories?

Brainster is reporting on a story told by COL Karpinski (formerly BG Karpinski). If that name sounds familiar it is because she was the officer in charge of the Army Reserve MP unit that was responsible for the Abu Ghraib scandal. Anyway, the demoted officer is now claiming that an Army Master Sergeant died of dehydration in September 2003, because she was too afraid to drink water in the evening, for fear of being attacked and raped on the way to the latrines. To make this even more scandalous, the Army supposedly changed her cause of death from "dehydration" to unstated in order to cover up this incident.

Karpinski testified that a surgeon for the coalition's joint task force said in a briefing that "women in fear of getting up in the hours of darkness to go out to the port-a-lets or the latrines were not drinking liquids after 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and in 120 degree heat or warmer, because there was no air-conditioning at most of the facilities, they were dying from dehydration in their sleep."

"And rather than make everybody aware of that - because that's shocking, and as a leader if that's not shocking to you then you're not much of a leader - what they told the surgeon to do is don't brief those details anymore. And don't say specifically that they're women. You can provide that in a written report but don't brief it in the open anymore."

For example, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, Sanchez's top deputy in Iraq, saw "dehydration" listed as the cause of death on the death certificate of a female master sergeant in September 2003. Under orders from Sanchez, he directed that the cause of death no longer be listed, Karpinski stated. The official explanation for this was to protect the women's privacy rights.

Now first of all this story seems rather unlikely. After all, would a senior NCO sit and die of dehydration for fear of going outside, or peeing in a bottle? Remember, these aren't drunken sorority girls at a frat house, these are professional soldiers who in Iraq are required to wear body armor and carry an M-16 everywhere they go. But even if we put this aside, who is this woman who died? Brainster points out that there are websites like icasualties which track coalition casualties in Iraq, and none list a female senior NCO dying in that time period. Master Sergeant is not the most common rank in the army, in fact there is no record of any female Master Sergeants dying for the entire Iraq war!

I thought that maybe they missed this soldier. Since the DoD releases casualty notices on defenselink.mil , I figured I would double check there. Same thing, no female senior NCOs died for ANY REASON in August, September or October 2003. Did the pentagon just make this woman disappear somehow? More likely Karpinski has adopted the new "fake but accurate" standard for stories. If anyone can find this mystery woman, by all means, let me know.

UPDATE: CNN keeps another list here. Same thing, this woman does not exist.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Ted Kennedy is Losing It

Apparently the senior senator from Massachusetts believes that if Judge Alito is confirmed it will be the end of human rights as we know it. The 13th through 15th ammendements will be overthrown by judicial fiat, Halliburton will take over the US military, and women will be wearing burkas on the streets of San Francisco. This guy is losing it. Someone needs to take care of him before he has a stroke or drives off a bridge or something. You can catch the video at Expose the Left.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Inflation and the Sears Catalog

Economic naysayers often point out that wages adjusted for inflation are pretty much at the same level now as they were 30 years ago. While this is technically true, I feel that it is a rather weak claim to make that we have had no economic progress over this time period. Inflation, especially as measured by the CPI, has a difficult time tracking trends over the long run, paritcularly in the quality of a good. This has been such a big problem that they have even had to redo the way that they estimate inflation, and some economists have estimated that the CPI is off by more than 1% a year, which over a 30 year period is a huge difference. The always interesting Cafe Hayek addresses this issue through the (admittedly unscientific) but simple aproach of buying an old Sears catalog and comparing the goods in the catalog with what you could buy today. Check out the link, it is rather enlightening.

Of course, there’s been a good deal of dollar inflation since 1975. Judged by changes in the consumer-price index, what $100 bought in 1975 takes about $354 to buy today. So that six-digit calculator would today cost about $49. Sears lowest-priced microwave oven in 1975 would today set you back $672.

Here are some other 1975 products and their 1975 prices (along with their inflation-adjusted 2006 prices):

Sears Best kitchen range, $589.95 ($2,088).

Sears Best television, $749.95 ($2,655)

Sears Best black and white television, $137.95 ($488)

Sears Best typewriter, $278.99 ($988)

Sears Best motion-picture camera (no sound; but it did have 8X zoom!), $197.00 ($697)

Sears lowest-cost telephone answering machine, $99.50 ($352)

Sears highest-priced tent for four adults, $84.88 ($300)

Geez, Could You Be More Paranoid?

I was driving near Portland this weekend and flipping through radio stations when I came across Air America. Since it is always good for a laugh, and I figured I could double their audience, I listened for a while. The name of the show escapes me but a listener called in and gave a dramatic story of his. Apparently the listener's 17 year old daughter had a bomb threat at school and had called him on her cell phone to report that. Much to the delight of the hosts he told of his fear of talking about bombs on the phone, his voice was practically quivering in melodramatic angst, presumably because the NSA was listening and would soon swoop in and grab him. The next thing you know he would be in a room with Jack Bauer asking him, "Who do you work for?"

OK, now I can understand that people may be concerned about the oversight of certain intelligence programs, but unless the guy's daughter was speaking in Arabic and goes to high school in Islamabad, I seriously doubt they were in much danger. Does he honestly think that our intelligence agencies somehow suspect that Osama bin Laden has moved to San Dimas California and turned into a 17 year old girl?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

And You Thought Playing Christina Aguilera Could Make Al Qaeda Prisoners Talk

Although we would be talking serious violations of the Geneva Conventions.

MIAMI -- Former Attorney General Janet Reno got up and sang Aretha Franklin's "Respect" at a Miami fundraiser Thursday night.

The karaoke performance was caught on tape.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Ted Kennedy at Mos Eisley

Bad legal arguments aside, I was struck by the poor grammar and sentence structure of the hero of Chappaquidick's post at the far left website The Daily Kos. I guess that is what happens to your education when you get kicked out of Harvard, twice, for cheating. H/T Michelle Malkin.

Those conversations - and the overwhelming calls, letters, and e-mails I've received make it clear that the issue is all-important if our progress is to continue. The right wing is salivating over the prospect of Justice Alito on the Supreme Court, and the Republican majority in the Senate intends to rubber-stamp the nomination. The only realistic way to stop this nightmare is to stand up using tool we have.

To plagiarize Taranto, Mary Jo Kopechne was unavailable for comment.

As an aside, I also can't help but find the Kos Kidz komments amusing. Most telling is the wrath they display for Robert Byrd's reluctant support of Judge Alito. They don't appear to be offended by Byrd's former membership in the KKK, but confirming a judge who belonged to a conservative Princeton alumni organization is over the line!

Now this is What I Call "Bait and Switch"!

The title of a news alert e-mail received from the Seattle Times:

BREAKING NEWS: Finally! Seahawks going to Super Bowl for first time

The body of said e-mail:

State Senate passes gay rights bill

The Washington state Senate has passed a gay civil rights bill. More details to come.

They later sent out a corrected e-mail...

Freedom of Speech, If You Happen to Agree with Me

I saw this on Hannity and Colmes earlier in the week. Also Soundpolitics had a post on it. Now local columnist Robert L. Jamieson, hardly a crazed conservatives, criticizes the elite Lakeside School for disinviting conservative author Dinesh D'Souza because they were afraid students would be offended by being exposed to his viewpoint. Pretty sad for the alma mater of Bill Gates and Paul Allen.

Seattle's prestigious Lakeside School touts integrity, consideration and inclusion on its Web site.

These high-minded values are being tested at the private school that has produced great thinkers such as Bill Gates and Paul Allen.

Lakeside caved this month to political correctness, depriving students from hearing a viewpoint that would have sounded a different note on the progressive campus.

Editorial O' the Day

This is why the Wall Street Journal has the best editorial page out there.

According to CNN, Senator John Kerry announced yesterday that he will attempt to rally his fellow Democrats to stage a filibuster to stop the confirmation of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Apparently, this is not a parody.

Mr. Kerry made this dramatic political intervention from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he was communing with his political base. He wants his Democratic colleagues to revisit the filibuster strategy that they used to such brilliant effect during President Bush's first term. Republicans assailed Democrats for this obstructionism in 2002 and 2004, and the issue helped them win a mere seven or eight seats in red states.

And this was after filibusters on obscure appellate nominees. Imagine the political gain for Republicans after a Supreme Court filibuster -- with all of its 24/7 publicity -- by blue-state liberals against a modest Italian-American with impeccable legal credentials and stainless ethics. Mr. Kerry really seems to believe that the country will rise up in fury when it discovers that Judge Alito believes that the Constitution gives a President wide powers to defend America.

Metaphor O' the Day

From the Best of the Web:

John Kerry is following the New York Times editorial page's advice, which we noted yesterday, and promising to stage a futile filibuster of Justice-designate Samuel Alito's confirmation. Writing on DailyKos.com, the Mos Eisley of the Angry Left, Kerry declares:

"Mos Eisley spaceport: You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious. "
-Obi Wan Kenobi (Sir Alec Guiness)-

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

At Least Get the Quote Right!

Those who are opposing the NSA listening in on suspected Al Qaeda phone calls without a warrant have been repeating a quote from Benjamin Franklin quite often. Here is just one example from the NY Times.

More than two dozen students in the audience responded by turning their backs on Mr. Gonzales and standing stone-faced before live television cameras for the duration of his half-hour speech. Five protesters in the group donned black hoods and unfurled a banner, quoting Benjamin Franklin, that read, "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither."

The problem is, that isn't what the quote says:

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Somehow I doubt that if General Washington were giving out orders to intercept and read all letters addressed to the British Army, Benjamin Franklin would consider this "giving up essential liberty".

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin imitates me. And she even has pictures.

What Do These Two Countries Have in Common?

From the BBC:

Iraqis and Afghans are among the most optimistic people in the world when it comes to their economic future, a new survey for the BBC suggests.

Hmm, I think those two countries have been in the news a lot lately for something. I can't remember what. There must be something connecting them, but I can't put my finger on it... If anyone can think of anything let me know.

Well I Agree With One Thing, He is a Wuss

It is hard to take anything in the LA Times seriously, they publish letters by Barbara Streisand for God's sake, but this guy is a moron. I have to give him some credit though, at least he is honest. This is less duplicitious to those who pretend to support our troops as some sort of prophylactic against their judgment and patriotism being questioned.

But when you volunteer for the U.S. military, you pretty much know you're not going to be fending off invasions from Mexico and Canada. So you're willingly signing up to be a fighting tool of American imperialism, for better or worse. Sometimes you get lucky and get to fight ethnic genocide in Kosovo, but other times it's Vietnam.

And sometimes, for reasons I don't understand, you get to just hang out in Germany.

I know this is all easy to say for a guy who grew up with money, did well in school and hasn't so much as served on jury duty for his country. But it's really not that easy to say because anyone remotely affiliated with the military could easily beat me up, and I'm listed in the phone book.

I am not sure what he is trying to imply by "did well in school", believe it or not, many of the people in the military do well in school too. Despite the limosuine left stereotype we are not all illiterate high school dropouts. The guy sounds kind of lazy and spineless too, but as I said, how hard is it to get a job with the LA Times?

Update: Apparently this genius got a bunch of nasty e-mails (big surprise). It is actually rather hard to get mad at him, or feel sorry for him for that matter, since he is so clueless it is sad. One only needs to look at his biography on the LA Times link.

Joel Stein is desperate for attention. He grew up in Edison, N.J., went to Stanford and then worked for Martha Stewart for a year. After two years of fact-checking at various publications, he got hired as a sports editor at Time Out New York. Two years later he lucked into a job as a staff writer for Time magazine, where over seven and a half years he wrote a dozen cover stories on subjects such as Michael Jordan, Las Vegas, the Internet bubble and — it being Time and he being a warm body in the office — low-carb diets.

Yeah, that is a good use of a Stanford education, working for Martha Stewart and pissing off the US Army.

He also made the mistake of talking with Hugh Hewitt. In a battle of wits, it was not a fair fight.

HH: All right. Now who is your...this is a column about the troops that begins, "I don't support our troops." We'll get to the specifics in a second. But who is your closest family member or friend who is on active duty?

JS: That's an excellent question. I wouldn't say I have a very close friend. I would say only acquaintances. No family at all.

HH: Who are your acquaintances?

JS: There was a guy who works at Time, that's where I worked last, who quit to serve in the military.

HH: What's his name?

JS: (pause) You know, I'm blanking on his name. But your point is well taken that I don't have many people that I even know who are in the military.

HH: Do you have any, though, other than this guy at Time whose name you can't remember?

JS: Who are serving currently?

HH: Yeah.

JS: Or ever served?

HH: No, serving currently.

JS: Or only in Iraq?

HH: Active duty. Anywhere in the world.

JS: (pause) I'd say I've been pretty isolated from that. I mean, that's a point I made in the column.

It only gets uglier from there...

Monday, January 23, 2006

Well At Least They Would Finally Get Some Studying Done

I was rather amused to read about the ill effects of Wal-Mart as claimed by a WSU professor (disclosure: I actually delivered the Daily News for about a week, it was a for a fundraiser). H/T Soundpolitics.

Polousitics has the story:

Wal-Mart filed an application to build a 223,000-square-foot super center on Bishop Boulevard in October 2004. PARD formed in January 2005 to fight the controversial retailer’s presence in Pullman. That fight has included filing two appeals to Wal-Mart’s site plan and State

Environmental Policy Act checklist. A consolidated hearing on the two appeals began Jan. 13 and continued Friday. PARD presented about a day and a half of testimony from members and paid consultants about issues ranging from traffic and stormwater to the proposed store’s proximity to the Pullman cemetery.

Concerns also have been raised about noise and light pollution, including a much-discussed claim by Washington State University Professor James Krueger on Jan. 13 that light pollution could cause Pullman men to become impotent. He based the claim on research involving deer.

Hybrid Tax Breaks for the Rich

As I have mentioned before, buying a hybrid is the environmental equivalent of buying a Mustang to pick up chicks (disclosure: I own a Mustang). From the Weekly Standard:

HYBRIDS ARE ALSO failing to pay for themselves in gas savings. A study by the car-buying website Edmunds.com calculates gasoline would have to cost $5.60 a gallon over five years for a Ford Escape hybrid to break even with the costs of driving a non-hybrid vehicle. The break-even number was $9.60 a gallon for a Honda Civic hybrid.

Hybrid automakers and their supporters have their defenses. They quibble with how some studies are done. They point out that even with their fuel economy shortcomings, hybrids achieve the best gas mileage in three of five vehicle categories rated by Consumer Reports. Hybrids are still far lower-polluting than diesels. Their sales are growing fast, even though they make up a small 1 percent of America's annual sales of 17 million vehicles.

Then there's the ultimate defense: They are just like conventional cars because drivers buy them for many reasons other than fuel savings and cost. There's the "prestige of owning such a vehicle," says Dave Hermance, an executive engineer for environmental engineering at Toyota, the leading seller of hybrids. After all, many vehicle purchases are emotional decisions, he says.

SO, HYBRIDS have become the environmental equivalent of driving an Escalade or Mustang. Who cares if they deliver on their promises as long as they make a social statement?

Taxpayers should. The federal government subsidizes hybrid fashion statements with tax breaks that benefit the rich. The average household income of a Civic hybrid owner ranges between $65,000 to $85,000 a year; it's more than $100,000 for the owner of an Accord. The median income of a Toyota Prius owner is $92,000; for a Highlander SUV owner $121,000; and for a luxury Lexus SUV owner it's over $200,000.

Update: Scrivener points out that many hybrid buyers don't even get their tax break anyway, due to the AMT.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

We're going to the Superbowl, Baby!

OK the game isn't quite over yet, but it is 27-7, I have had a few beers and I feel like celebrating. The 3rd richest man in the world finally bought us a couple of playoff wins. It is pandemonium here, people are running all over Bellevue tipping over BMWs and espresso stands.

Now This is Some Freedom of Speech I Can Stand Behind!


A federal judge struck down Daytona Beach's anti-nudity laws, saying they're unconstitutional.

Regulations prohibiting public nudity and nudity in places that sell alcohol violate the First and 14th amendments' protections of free speech and equal protection, the judge decided.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Oddly Enough, People Still Live There

Now I completely agree that King County is an expensive place to live, but when you read a report stating that most people can't afford to live there you can't help but laugh at the idiocy of the logic. I am reminded of the Yogi Berra quote, "That restaurant is too crowded, nobody goes there anymore." From our esteemed Seattle-PI

Most jobs in King County and throughout the state don't pay enough to provide a basic "living wage" for a single-parent family, and little more than half the jobs will sustain families even when both parents are working, according to a new report on the gap between living wages and job availability in Washington.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Math of Terrorism

Too bad the guy piloting the Predator doesn't get the $5 million. I hope he at least gets a good bullet point for his NCOER.

One Predator UAV $2.5 million
Bounty for a top Al Qaeda bombmaker $5 million
One hellfire missile $60,000
Blowing a top Al Qaeda bombmaker to little bits while he is eating his rice pilaf... priceless.

The Idiocies of Union Labor

The Journal has an article today on Ford offering "an all-expenses-paid college education" to workers to whom it is currently paying a full salary to sit around and do nothing. The amazing thing is that this is actually cheaper for Ford. The average salary is listed at $51K a year, even Harvard only costs $35K. One would think that if you worked for an industry that paid salaries for workers who produced nothing, you would already be spending all of your free time at school preparing for a more viable career. But I guess that is too much to expect.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Cure for Poverty

I have been to some pretty poor third world countries, and can testify from first hand experience that what these people need is not more government programs, they need economic development. Freedom and access to capital has done more to alleviate poverty than USAID or the UNDP ever could.

Thomas Sowell, probably the best economist/columnist out there today, discusses this. All I can say is he is exactly right.

People on the political left make a lot of noise about poverty and advocate all sorts of programs and policies to reduce it but they show incredibly little interest in how poverty has actually been reduced, whether in China or anywhere else.

You can bet the rent money that the left will show little or no interest in how Chinese by the millions are rising out of poverty every year. The left showed far more interest in China back when it was run by Mao in far left fashion -- and when millions of Chinese were starving.

Those of us who are not on the left ought to take a closer look at today's Chinese rising out of poverty.

First of all, what does it even mean to say that "China is lifting a million people a month out of poverty"? Where would the Chinese government get the money to do that?

The only people the Chinese government can tax are mainly the people in China. A country can't lift itself up by its own bootstraps that way. Nor has there ever been enough foreign aid to lift a million people a month out of poverty.

If the Chinese government hasn't done it, then who has? The Chinese people. They did not rise out of poverty by receiving largess from anybody.

The only thing that can cure poverty is wealth. The Chinese acquired wealth the old-fashioned way: They created it.

The Definition of Irony

Don't the Democrats notice the slightest bit of irony in attacking someone because he had a loose affiliation with an outspoken alumni group? Maybe we should find out what Ruth Bader Ginsburg was doing in college? OK, maybe not...

In any case a former writer for the CAP magazine writes about the group. Ooh, they criticized the school administration. Sounds like a dangerous seditious group to me.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Sometimes You Get the Bear...

A pretty good article on a group of Marines hunting terrorist in Iraq as reported in the Journal (registration required).

RAMADI, Iraq -- On Christmas Day, Cpl. Alberto Reyes began to wonder if something had gone wrong with his ambush.

He and his Marines had arrived under cover of darkness Christmas Eve and selected a good position: The second story of an empty house with a clear view of a route insurgents were likely to travel if they wanted to plant bombs near a provincial government center. But no insurgents came their way. Instead, as the day wore on, Cpl. Reyes noticed that Iraqi civilians passing by on the street below consistently slowed to take a look at the front of the building.

Finally, the next day, the Marines called it quits. As they left the house, they found a handwritten note on a piece of cardboard taped to the front door. "Attention," said the Arabic-language note, which the Marines have kept. "There's an ambush with American snipers inside the building."

Score one for the insurgents in a tit-for-tat guerrilla war in which Iraqi fighters try to ambush U.S. troops with powerful hidden bombs, and U.S. troops try to ambush the ambushers. "I was stunned," says Cpl. Reyes, a 22-year-old squad leader in Kilo Company, Third Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment.

An Even Better Jay Leno Joke

As a general rule of thumb, one cannot pick on Ted Kennedy too much.

Ted Kennedy got pretty contentious, after he pointed out that Alito once belonged to a club that didn’t allow women, it was discovered that Senator Kennedy also once belonged to a club that wouldn’t allow women. Of course, with Kennedy those were club rules in place purely for the safety of women.

-Jay Leno

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Good Idea and Even Better One

Debra J. Saunders has a good idea, if Alito's nomination somehow falls through nominate Ted Kennedy, just for getting to ask about Chappaquiddick (H/T Michelle Malkin).

I have an even better idea. Let's nominate the distinguished Democratic Senator from West Virginia, Robert Byrd. I seem to remember him belonging to a rather controversial group in his youth. But at least he never went to Princeton...

Jay Leno Imitates Me

I should get a job as a writer...

Senator Ted Kennedy announced that he and his dog Splash are writing a children’s book. Is Splash the best name for Ted Kennedy’s dog? Isn’t that a bit like Jack Abramoff naming his dog Bribe?

-Jay Leno-

OK, that joke kind of wrote itself.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Ted Kennedy Lies a Lot

Jabba the Senator has been on TV a lot making speeches against Samuel Alito, thinly disguised as questions. Big surprise, most of what he is saying is not true.

From the National Review:

"In an era when too many Americans are losing their jobs, or working for less and trying to make ends meet, in close cases Judge Alito has ruled the vast majority of the time against the claims of individual citizens," Kennedy said. "He has acted instead in favor of the government, large corporations, and other powerful interests. In a study by a well-respected expert, Professor Cass Sunstein of the University of Chicago Law School, Judge Alito was found to rule against the individual in 84 percent of his dissents. To put it plainly, average Americans have had a hard time getting a fair shake in his courtroom."

As evidence for his claim, Kennedy's staff handed out copies of a December 29, 2005, letter from Sunstein to Kennedy outlining the findings of the study to members of the press at the hearings. But even a cursory reading of the Sunstein letter suggests that his analysis was so tentative, so filled with caveats, and based so extensively on political assumptions as to prove virtually nothing.

And Michelle Malkin

"In an era when America is still too divided by race and riches, Judge "Alioto" has not written one single opinion on the merits in favor of a person of color alleging race discrimination on the job. In fifteen years on the bench, not one." - Ted Kennedy-

This is, as the Committee for Justice outlines, complete bull. Alito's civil rights record:
Judge Alito repeatedly has ruled for plaintiffs in employment discrimination cases when the law calls for such outcomes.

* In Zubi v. AT&T Corp., 219 F.3d 220 (3d Cir. 2000), Judge Alito dissented from the majority's holding that a man who claimed he was fired because of his race could not sue in federal court. According to Judge Alito, the plaintiff was entitled to sue because a longer statute of limitations applied. The Supreme Court later vindicated Judge Alito's dissent. See Jones v. Donnelly & Sons Co., 541 U.S. 369 (2004).

* In Goosby v. Johnson & Johnson Medical, Inc., 228 F.3d 313 (3d Cir. 2000), a race and sex discrimination case, Judge Alito reversed the district court's decision to grant summary judgment to the defendant employer. The Third Circuit ruled that the plaintiff, a black woman, had introduced enough evidence to call into doubt the employer's explanation for why she was given lower-quality assignments.

It goes on, see the link for all the dirt.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Bad Taste Redefined

OK, while Ted Kennedy is probably the most unsavory person to write a children's book since Madonna, I am willing to give him a pass on that. But did he have to write a book about a dog named "Splash"?

Mary Jo Kopechne was unavailable for comment....

Friday, January 06, 2006

Is John Murtha Channeling Al Zawahiri?

I am not "questioning his patriotism" but...

"You remember I told you more than a year ago that the American withdrawal from Iraq is only a matter of time, and here they are now ... negotiating with the mujahedeen," al-Zawahri said.

"Bush was forced at the end of last year to announce that he will pull out his forces from Iraq, but he was giving excuses for his withdrawal that the Iraqi forces have reached a good level."

It is hard to tell them apart.

Appearing at a town meeting in Arlington, Virginia, with fellow Democratic Rep. James Moran, Murtha said, "A year ago, I said we can't win this militarily, and I got all kinds of criticism." Now, Murtha told the strongly antiwar audience, "I worry about a slow withdrawal which makes it look like there's a victory when I think it should be a redeployment as quickly as possible and let the Iraqis handle the whole thing."

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Outsourcing and Wages

I was in an argument on another blog (which will remain nameless to avoid piling on the author) in which my adversary was arguing that outsourcing was bad for both countries, because it drives US wages down, and foreign wages are low and will never increase. Of course I tried to explain that this was contrary to basic economic theory and observed reality, Micro 101 teaches us that as the demand for labor catches up to the supply, the cost will increase, but the protectionist crowd will not be swayed from their viewpoint no matter how brilliant the argument. In any case I was amused to read in the Wall Street Journal an article that proves my point exactly.

To be sure, some businesses are as yet untouched by the shortages. Marquee local software firms such as Infosys Technologies Ltd. continue to attract more than enough skilled applicants. The rest -- including large U.S.-based competitors -- have little option but to pay high wages to attract employees in fished-out talent pools in big cities such as Mumbai and Bangalore.

India isn't alone in suffering a skills shortage. The U.S. is sliding into one, due chiefly to early retirements by baby boomers and a lack of replacements. A skills drought in China is due partly to the fact that many of its graduates live long distances from the cities where jobs are being created and are unwilling to relocate, McKinsey & Co. says.

The demand for well-trained workers has prompted an explosion in wages for the most experienced Indian personnel. And attrition has reached epidemic proportions as workers job-hop to better salary packages. Pay for tech and banking executives, airline pilots, and engineers -- all sectors experiencing huge growth -- jumped between 25% and 30% in 2005.