Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

David Harvey and Ha Joon Chang

BBC has an discussion with them, which I just downloaded.

The $3 Trillion Dollar War — Stiglitz & Bilmes Were Too Modest

One of the greatest uncounted US losses in our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has been the mental damage to the young people who have been exposed to the violence and brutality of our war.  The recent Wikileaks release of the young people killing Iraqis as if they were playing video games is a case in point.

The number of suicides offers additional evidence.

Maze, Rick. 2010. “18 Vets Kill Themselves Every Day.” Army Times (23 April).

Also, consider the frequent reports of domestic violence and homicides.

The number of troops who have been deployed to Iraq over the last 7 years must have been somewhere around 1 million.  Since May 2003, the US has had less than 130,000 in only four months.

Economists like to think of human capital — a stupid expression for the creative capacity of people — as the key to economic growth.  Ignoring the economic costs of the war, as well as the consequences for the Iraqis; not even counting the physical destruction of the lives and the bodies of those soldiers who survive, these human losses for the tortured souls and for those who are hurt by them should surely be enough to say that starting such a venture should constitute a crime.

Hate Crime in Chico

Our student body president is in stable condition after being repeatedly stabbed last night.

A bright student of mine running for student body president had his posters defaced, no doubt because his is a Palestinian.

Thoughts on the Tea Party

I was asked by our weekly paper to give some thoughts on the Tea Party movement.  Here is what I came up with:

The Tea Party movement combines ignorance, anger, and justifiable indignation.  For some, this ignorance reflects a degree of racism and ethnic hostility.

The anger has been nurtured by the demise of journalism along with a cynically crafted rhetoric of hate.  Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was a master of this mode of communication.  In 1990, four years before Gingrich ascended to his leadership position, his organization, GOPAC circulated a memo instructing Republicans about the most effective method of communication in the political arena.  The memo recommended that his fellow travelers adopt a vocabulary built upon confrontational words, such as “decay, sick, unionized bureaucracy, greed, corruption, radical, permissive, and bizarre.”  Without a responsible media, this strategy went largely unchallenged until it became common practice.

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The Logic of Monitoring Workers

Juan Gonzalez published a fascinating article about New York’s over-priced, dysfunctional computer system that pointed to a number of problems with the world we live in.

First of all, the system, like many complex computer systems, does not work.

Second, 230 consultants are getting an average salary of $400,000.

Finally, one of the great ironies is that the system is supposed to keep track of ordinary workers to make sure that they are not overpaid.

Gonzalez, Juan. 2010. “‘Consultants’ Getting $722M from City for Coomed CityTime Computer Project.” New York Daily News (26 March).

“The city is paying some 230 “consultants” an average salary of $400,000 a year for a computer project that is seven years behind schedule and vastly over budget.  The payments continue despite Mayor Bloomberg’s admission the computerized timekeeping and payroll system — called CityTime — is “a disaster”.”  Eleven CityTime consultants rake in more than $600,000 annually, with three of them making as much as $676,000, city records obtained under a Freedom of Information request show.”

“The 40 highest-paid people on the project bill taxpayers at least $500,000 a year.  These enormous salaries are coming out of a $139 million extension to the CityTime contract that began July 1 and runs to September 30.  Some of the consultants have been working at these rates for as long as a decade.  Take, for example, Brian Fallon, a CityTime “project manager.” The Science Applications International Corp., which employs Fallon and supplies the consultants, charged $653,554 for his services in 2009.  When the Daily News approached Fallon, 40, this week outside his home in Belle Mead, N.J., he declined to say what he does to merit such a fat check.”
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Greek Economic Corruption

Today’s Wall Street Journal reports on the large burden of corruption in the Greek economy.  I posted a brief comment on the Journal website:  “I am appalled by the reports of Greek corruption.  A civilized country, such as the US, manages to keep corruption in check by redefining it as lobbying.”


Has any nation ever claimed as legitimate the right on to attack virtually any nation that he chooses? Would the US subject if Cuba were used drones to attack its enemies in Miami? Or the Chinese to attack a gathering of Falun Gong teachers?