FM newswire for 2 February, articles for your morning reading

Today’s links to interesting news and analysis.  If you find this useful, pass it to a friend or colleague.

  1. H1N1: now entering the recrimination phase“, Tony Delamothe, British Medical Journal, 14 January 2010
  2. Is Greece heading for default?“, Oxford Economics, 29 January 2010
  3. UN climate change panel based claims on student dissertation and magazine article“, Daily Telegraph, 30 January 2010 — “The United Nations’ expert panel on climate change based claims about ice disappearing from the world’s mountain tops on a student’s dissertation and an article in a mountaineering magazine.”
  4. It gets even better:  “The story of the Geography Major’s Dissertation“, ClimateQuotes, 31 January 2010 — “It is now official: The IPCC is citing self-acknowledged guesswork from non-scientific sources.”
  5. Ponzi scheme on the Potomac“, Tim Pawlenty (Governor of Minnesota), op-ed at Politico, 1 February 2010
  6. Trenchant analysis of Pawlenty’s article:  “Tim Pawlenty: Not Ready for Prime Time“, Bruce Bartlett, Capital Gains and Games, 1 February 2010 — “He rants about the deficit without proposing any spending cuts and insisting on still more tax cuts.”
  7. Big media in CYA mode:  “UN climate panel shamed by bogus rainforest claim“, The Times, 31 January 2010 — Eventually even the US news media will discover the story.
  8. Even leftist media are bailing on the climate change crusade:  “Leaked climate change emails scientist ‘hid’ data flaws“, The Guardian, 1 February 2010 — “Key study by East Anglia professor Phil Jones was based on suspect figures.”
  9.  “Strange case of moving weather posts and a scientist under siege“, The Guardian, 1 February 2010 — “In the first part of a major investigation of the so-called ‘climategate’ emails, one of Britain’s top science writers reveals how researchers tried to hide flaws in a key study.”
  10. This is true, not a joke:  “IPCC cites boot cleaning guide for Antarctica tour operators“, Climatequotes, 1 February 2010

Today’s features stories:

(A)  A picture tells the story of the Federal Deficit
(B)  The depressing story of Cuba
(C)  In counterinsurgency warfare everything new is old

(A)  A picture tells the story of the Federal Deficit

From:  “President Obama Largely Inherited Today’s Huge Deficits“, Kathy Ruffing and James R. Horney, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 6 December 2009 — “Economic Downturn, Financial Rescues, and Bush-Era Policies Drive the Numbers”:


(B)  The depressing story of Cuba

The results of the communist revolutions depress even leftists, but slowly.  This is an amazing perspective:  “Let’s Get Even More Depressed About Cuba“, Brad Delong (Prof Economics Berkeley), 14 May 2003 — Excerpt:

The hideously depressing thing is that Cuba under Battista–Cuba in 1957–was a developed country. Cuba in 1957 had lower infant mortality than France, Belgium, West Germany, Israel, Japan, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Cuba in 1957 had doctors and nurses: as many doctors and nurses per capita as the Netherlands, and more than Britain or Finland. Cuba in 1957 had as many vehicles per capita as Uruguay, Italy, or Portugal. Cuba in 1957 had 45 TVs per 1000 people — fifth highest in the world. Cuba today has fewer telephones per capita than it had TVs in 1957.

You take a look at the standard Human Development Indicator variables — GDP per capita, infant mortality, education — and you try to throw together an HDI for Cuba in the late 1950s, and you come out in the range of Japan, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Israel. Today? Today the UN puts Cuba’s HDI in the range of Lithuania, Trinidad, and Mexico. (And Carmelo Mesa-Lago thinks the UN’s calculations are seriously flawed: that Cuba’s right HDI peers today are places like China, Tunisia, Iran, and South Africa.)

Thus I don’t understand lefties who talk about the achievements of the Cuban Revolution: “…to have better health care, housing, education, and general social relations than virtually all other comparably developed countries.” Yes, Cuba today has a GDP per capita level roughly that of–is “comparably developed”–Bolivia or Honduras or Zimbabwe, but given where Cuba was in 1957 we ought to be talking about how it is as developed as Italy or Spain.

(C)  In counterinsurgancy warfare everything new is old

Since WWII, foreign armies fighting insurgencies have relied on three things.  Endless repainted to appear new and special, they fail again and again.

  • Popular front militia
  • Massive firepower on civilians
  • Sweep and destroy missions

Today’s installment:  “A Look at America’s New Hope: The Afghan Tribes“, New York Times, 29 January 2010.  For more about this sad pattern, see The trinity of modern warfare at work in Afghanistan (13 July 2009).


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8 thoughts on “FM newswire for 2 February, articles for your morning reading”

  1. There is a reason Pawlenty won’t mention any specific cuts. Presidents and candidates won’t stand up to special interests. Picture each of these squirrels hoarding their tax payer furnished nuts.

    One way out of the mess we’re in is to grow out of it. Going back to the moon (i.e., expanding) represents such a possibility. Sadly, helium-3 miners don’t have such a big presence on K-Street.

  2. While conservatives and liberals bicker over peanut butter in the chocolate, they take the whole cake … “Defense Analysts Blast Military Exemption to Spending Freeze, Pelosi Joins Critics of Obama Proposal“, Spencer Ackerman, Washington Independent, 28 January 2010 — Eexcerpt:

    “Its absolutely ridiculous to think that we’re going to cut things like education and spend money on nuclear weapons and programs that don’t work, are faulty, have been faulty for years and continue to waste money,” Olson said.

  3. I don’t understand the inclusion of the Bush tax cuts in the graph. Tax cuts don’t cause deficits. Period. Spending more than you got, THAT causes deficits. I beleive we have a new President, and other people, since Bush. So why, is he spending more that we are taking in?

    This graph is propoganda. Or am I wrong, is Bush still President?
    FM reply: What do you mean tax cuts “don’t cause deficits”. In some cases — very few — some kinds of tax cuts sometimes do not decrease government income. Such as lowering capital gains from high rates, or lowering high marginal income tax rates. But in general they do. It’s math.

  4. No, not having enough cash on hand to pay your bills causes deficits, either from lack of income or more bills. From a Keyensian perspective, tax cuts are another form of government stimulus (i.e., shifting the demand curve to the right). Philosophically I sympathize with you. After all it is my damn money.

  5. “FM reply: What do you mean tax cuts “don’t cause deficits”. In some cases — very few — some kinds of tax cuts sometimes do not decrease government income. Such as lowering capital gains from high rates, or lowering high marginal income tax rates. But in general they do. It’s math.”

    It’s not “government income”. It’s the peoples money.

    You are putting the government over the people.

    If government income diminishes, then the governments job is too spend less. Or propose new taxes. Tax cuts do not cause deficits. Spending money you don’t have does.

  6. Nice motto, but i prefer “A rolling stone gathers no moss.” I’m just not sure exactly how it applies to economic policy. :)

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