Saturday, May 21, 2005

Giacomo and His Trainer

Giacomo at Pimlico Posted by Hello

Shirreffs, Herrarte and Giacomo Posted by Hello

Giacomo's Trainer Makes Life Changes: "Two days before the Kentucky Derby, John Shirreffs had an experience that would have made his first trip to America's most famous race one to cherish no matter the outcome of the race. As he watched the colt he trained gallop around Churchill Downs for the first time, he was distracted by an equally satisfying thought.

On Giacomo's back was Frankie Herrarte, the gray colt's regular exercise rider who showed up at Shirreffs's barn at Hollywood Park when he was a teenager from the neighborhood, looking for a job. Shirreffs hired him as a hot-walker, and Herrarte proved a good one.

But the boy wanted more. He wanted to learn how to exercise racehorses in the mornings.

Shirreffs taught Herrarte the basics on his own stable pony, and then footed the bill for him to take more advanced lessons. Now there were Shirreffs, 59, and Herrarte, 22, together on horse racing's most hallowed ground.

"John was proud of Frankie, and I was proud of John, and it was a wonderful moment," said Shirreffs's wife, Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs. "Here was this young man who had never been out of California getting a horse ready for this beautiful, important race. It's what John is about. He treats horses and people as individuals and believes if you do right by both you can change lives."

A nice story about what what most people in sports are really like as opposed to the Sports/Legal section of daily news outlets. The second leg of the triple crown today with The Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, on NBC, post at 6:05 pm ET, so it will run 6:25 or so.

New US Ambassador to the Holy See

The Word From Rome May 20, 2005: "...Francis Rooney, 51, will be the next United States Ambassador to the Holy See.

Under the terms of diplomatic protocol, the Holy See has already given its agreement to the appointment, those sources said. At the moment, the White House is examining Rooney's financial disclosure forms, with a formal announcement of the appointment expected sometime in late May or early June, and Senate hearings shortly thereafter.

Barring a surprise, confirmation is expected to come swiftly.

Rooney, a Catholic, is an Oklahoma native and a graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center. A businessman, he owns Manhattan Construction and Hope Lumber in Tulsa, Okla., and is also CEO of the Florida-based investment firm Rooney Brothers Inc., as well as Rooney Holdings.

Assuming he's confirmed, the posting to the Vatican would be Rooney's first diplomatic assignment. He is not expected to move into the Villa Richardson, the residence of the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, until late summer or early fall.

Rooney has been an ardent supporter of U.S. President George W. Bush.

Rooney Holdings donated more than $500,000 to the president's re-election campaign in 2004. Data released by the Federal Election Commission on Feb. 7, listed Rooney and his wife Kathleen in fifth place on the list of largest individual donors to political campaigns in the 2004 elections, having distributed $341,396 to various candidates. According to the FEC data, 99 percent of that money went to Republicans.

In 2004, Rooney Holdings contributed $100,000 to "Progress for America," a group promoting the president's Social Security proposals.

In turn, Bush named Rooney to be part of a small delegation led by former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to the August 2004 inauguration of Panamanian President Martin Torrijos. Rooney's construction company does business in Central America, and since 2003 he has served on the advisory board for the Panama Canal.

Rooney's commercial activities have intersected with conservative political causes over the years. Manhattan Construction, for example, built the George Bush Presidential Library in Texas as well as the $6 million headquarters of the Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank with libertarian leanings.

The ambassador's position has been vacant since James Nicholson returned to Washington, D.C., in early 2005 to take up duties as the new Secretary of the Veteran's Administration."

Democrats Opposing CAFTA

'New Democrat' Bloc Opposes Trade Pact: "Traditionally pro-business and pro-trade House Democrats have announced plans to vote against the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement, a stance putting at risk support from the rapidly growing high-tech community, one of the few major industries that continue to give substantial backing to Democratic candidates.

The four co-chairmen of the 40-member House New Democrat Coalition have declared their opposition to the agreement, provoking an outcry from high-tech lobbying groups. The opposition is a major setback for the Bush administration, which is struggling to get House and Senate votes on the agreement before the Fourth-of-July congressional recess.

In a letter to the New Democrat Coalition last week, the heads of eight high-tech trade associations wrote: "CAFTA makes important progress in areas critical to the long-term success of our industry, and we consider the vote on this agreement to be one of the most important of 2005. We hope that you will reconsider your opposition."

Major Timothy Vakoc: Father Tim

Follow-up on the tribute from President Bush yesterday; from last year in the WSJ: "Maj. H. Timothy Vakoc is a Catholic priest who was serving in Iraq when his Humvee was hit Sunday by a roadside bomb. Maj. Vakoc--Father Tim--... ['s] mere presence [and all] chaplains help remind soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines of the higher law that obtains even in the thick of war. To put it another way, the chaplain is the unarmed soldier whose job it is to serve those who serve. In a story on chaplains in Iraq published by the National Catholic Register just before he was injured, Maj. Vakoc described this as "the ministry of intentional presence."

In pursuit of this calling, the major has become the first chaplain seriously wounded in Iraq. But he is part of a tradition of distinguished service much larger than himself, one that dates to a year before Independence, when the Continental Congress instituted a chaplain corps for the Army. The memorials at Arlington National Cemetery speak to the many chaplains who have given their lives on the battlefield. A number have even earned the Medal of Honor, including three in Vietnam.

In the age of Michael Moore, the phrase "for God and Country" may be greeted in some quarters with cynicism. But we take the measure of Father Tim and his fellow chaplains by their willingness to put their lives on the line for these words. Where others see a mass of troops, they see individuals with souls and troubles that need tending. As for the risks involved, Father Tim took the chaplains' view: 'The safest place for me to be is in the center of God's Will,' he explained to his sister during a previous deployment to Bosnia, 'and if that is in the line of fire, that is where I will be.'

The cliché has it that there are no atheists in foxholes, which has never been true. The more inspiring reality is that Americans such as Maj. Vakoc, knowing the odds, make those foxholes their ministry."

National Catholic Prayer Breakfast

National Catholic Prayer Breakfast Posted by Hello

Sister Minereche, Archbishop Chaput, President Bush Posted by Hello

President Attends National Catholic Prayer Breakfast: "This morning we also reaffirm that freedom rests on the self-evident truths about human dignity. Pope Benedict XVI recently warned that when we forget these truths, we risk sliding into a dictatorship of relativism where we can no longer defend our values. Catholics and non-Catholics alike can take heart in the man who sits on the chair of St. Peter, because he speaks with affection about the American model of liberty rooted in moral conviction.

This morning we pray for the many Catholics who serve America in the cause of freedom. One of them is an Army Chaplain named Tim Vakoc. He's a beloved priest who was seriously wounded in Iraq last May. We pray for his recovery, we're inspired by his sacrifice. In the finest tradition of American chaplains, he once told his sister, "The safest place for me to be is in the center of God's will, and if that is in the line of fire, that's where I'll be." Father Tim's sister, Anita Brand, and her family, are with us today, and a grateful nation expresses our gratitude to a brave Reverend.

Catholics have made sacrifices throughout American history because they understand that freedom is a divine gift that carries with it serious responsibilities. Among the greatest of these responsibilities is protecting the most vulnerable members of our society. That was the message that Pope John Paul II proclaimed so tirelessly throughout his own life, and it explains the remarkable outpouring of love for His Holiness at the funeral mass that Laura and I were privileged to attend in Rome. It explains why when the men were carrying his wooden casket up the stairs, and they turned to show the casket to the millions that were there, that just as the casket crests, the sun shown for all to see.

The best way to honor this great champion of human freedom is to continue to build a culture of life where the strong protect the weak. So, today, I ask the prayers of all Catholics for America's continued trust in God's purpose, for the wisdom to do what's right, and for the strength and the conviction that so long as America remains faithful to its founding truths, America will always be free."

And from the Washington Post: "For Bush, yesterday's breakfast was an opportunity to thank Catholics, who gave him 52 percent of their votes in November, compared with 47 percent for Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), a Catholic who supports abortion rights. Bush told the crowd, as he does at all religious events, that he was grateful for their prayers, and he reiterated his support for 'a culture of life' that rejects abortion and euthanasia. 'Pope Benedict XVI recently warned that when we forget these truths, we risk sliding into a dictatorship of relativism, where we can no longer defend our values,' Bush said...

The keynote speaker was Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, who said during the presidential campaign that voting for a candidate who supports abortion rights would be a sin that must be confessed before receiving Holy Communion. 'When a public official claims to be Catholic but then says he can't offer his beliefs about the sanctity of the human person as the basis of law, it always means one of two things: That person is either very confused or he's very evasive,' Chaput told the prayer breakfast. 'All law is the imposition of somebody's beliefs on somebody else.'"

The full text of Archbishop Chaput's remarks are here.

More Hanson in Chicago Tribune: "The Caricature and Reality of George Bush"

"Even when Americans consider that the president's foreign policy might just be working, he is still caricatured by critics and the media, here and abroad, as a clueless Inspector Clouseau who trips around and only stumbles into his good luck. How accurate is that cartoon?

Just imagine if George Bush had predicted to us on the morning after Sept. 11, 2001, what actually ended up happening. He might have delivered the following speech:..."

I encourage reading the rest to see and remember what remarkable events have occured since 9-11. Again, please read it all to understand what all has indeed happened and how fast events move in today's world.

Hanson in NRO: The Two Front War

"Our Two-Front Struggle: Pre-modern Plus Post-modern Equals Riots in Afganistan"Victor Davis Hanson on Europe on National Review Online: "Some Western intellectuals, I think, need a bin Laden to illustrate and confirm their nihilistic ideas about their own postmodern society, just as he needs them to explain why his culture's failure is not its own fault. So just as al Qaeda will always find an enabling Westerner to say, 'You lashed out at us in frustration for your unfair treatment,' so too a guilty Westerner will always find a compliant terrorist to boast, 'Yes, we kill you for your sins.' America was once a country that demolished Hitler and Tojo combined in less than four years and broke the nuclear Soviet Union - and now frets and whines that a few thousand deranged fascists want an apology.

Abroad, we battle Islamic fascists who hate us for our success and want to kill us with the tools of the modern world they despise. But at home, we are also at odds with our own privileged guilt-ridden aristocracy, whose very munificence has made them misunderstand why they are hated.
The Islamists insist, 'We kill you for being soft.' Westerners in response feel, 'We are killed because we are not being soft enough.'
And so they riot and kill in Afghanistan over a stupid rumor, and we seek to apologize that it somehow spread.
How truly sad."

Friday, May 20, 2005

Some EU Results

From MarketWatch this morning: "French GDP rose 0.2% in the first quarter, slower than the 0.5% expected by economists. The data took a shine off share trading on Continental Europe. Fourth-quarter 2004 GDP was revised lower to 0.7% from 0.9%. Italy recently slipped into recession, while Germany posted a surprise 1% rise in first-quarter GDP."

If only more Americans understood world-wide economic performance and how well off we in the US are both politics and investment results would be more satisfactory.

China Bows - Raises Taxes on Textile Exports Top Worldwide: "China will raise export tariffs on textiles, seeking to avoid U.S. government and European Union limits on shipments of Chinese shirts, trousers and underwear.

China's textile exporters will have to pay a tax of as much as 4 yuan (48 U.S. cents) per item to sell their goods abroad, up from a maximum of 0.3 yuan, the finance ministry said today on its Web site. The new duties, imposed on 74 product types from June 1, are five times higher than previous taxes for most items.
``It's a gesture of goodwill from China,'' said Qu Hongbin, an economist at HSBC Plc in Hong Kong. ``Everything is symbolic because China's exports are very competitive.''

China's plan to raise tariffs ``means that in this little round of arm wrestling that pits the Americans and the Europeans against the Chinese, the Chinese have decided to slow their exports of textile products,'' said Pascal Lamy, nominated on May 13 to be the World Trade Organization's next chief. ``The bottom line is that the Chinese are slowing their exports to avoid the Americans and Europeans slowing their imports,'' the Frenchman said in an interview on the French radio station Europe 1.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's biggest retailer, said the changes are unlikely to have much effect on its business.

``We did not significantly increase imports from China when the quotas were eliminated,'' Xu Jun, a Wal-Mart spokesman in Beijing. ``Consequently, the re-imposition of tariffs on certain types of apparel will have relatively minimal impact on our business.''

Higher export duties will probably mean European consumers will have to pay more for Chinese garments, said Ralph Kamphoener, a trade adviser at Brussels-based Eurocommerce, which represents 5.3 million retailers.

``An increase in the tax would, of course, have an effect to the detriment of consumers in Europe,'' he said, adding that the EU should consider ``the benefits of trade liberalization for the consumer.'' "

Yuan Revaluation: Krugman Says Economists Are Confused, Proves With His Confusion

Paul Krugman - The Chinese Connection - New York Times: "Stories about the new Treasury report condemning China's currency policy probably had most readers going, 'Huh?' Frankly, this is an issue that confuses professional economists, too."

And Krugman proves it with his own confused ineptness and hopes for American/Bush economic decline:
"Here's what I think will happen if and when China changes its currency policy, and those cheap loans are no longer available. U.S. interest rates will rise; the housing bubble will probably burst; construction employment and consumer spending will both fall; falling home prices may lead to a wave of bankruptcies. And we'll suddenly wonder why anyone thought financing the budget deficit was easy.In other words, we've developed an addiction to Chinese dollar purchases, and will suffer painful withdrawal symptoms when they come to an end. "

Stay calm, Krugman is confused and his forecast is nonsense. I agree with the editorial in The Economist I cited in a post yesterday: " Don't expect too much." A movement triggered by politics in economics moves slowly, e.g. allowing the yuan to float 2-6% won't cause upheaval in markets nor change employment, balance of payemnts, interest rates very much at all. Events out of policy makers control these days do have the potential for dramatic changes, e.g. 9-11-01.

In all economic situations, Krugman always looks for, predicts, and earnestly hopes for a depression caused by Republicans who are too foolish to just raise income taxes, sales taxes, payroll taxes, corporate taxes and use any tool to grab any assets in the hands of any entity not in poverty.

Come September the NYT wants us to pay $50 per year for access to columns like this? That new business model may need more work.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

CEO of Time Warner on Social Security

The following is from an editorial by Richard Parsons, the current Chairman and CEO of Time Warner, and a co-chair of President Bush's Commission to Strengthen Social Security: Chicago Tribune A real opportunity to fix Social Security: "If you look at any major newspaper today, you're likely to read conflicting views on what the future holds for Social Security. As my commission co-chair, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, put it, 'You're entitled to your own opinion. You are not entitled to your own set of facts.'

So let's look at the facts. In 1950, there were 16 workers supporting every retiree in Social Security's pay-as-you-go financing system. That meant taxes were relatively low.

Today, there are roughly three workers supporting each retiree, thus a higher tax burden per worker. By 2030, there will be only two workers for each retiree. This downward trend in the ratio of workers to retirees will inexorably require painful tax increases or significant benefit cuts or astronomical levels of borrowing. In a worst-case scenario, it might require all three.

Looking this problem squarely in the eye--something politicians have been reluctant to do for decades--Bush has put a bold plan on the table.

His reform proposal would ensure that benefits for low-income workers, those who depend on Social Security the most, would grow faster than benefits for people who are better off. By most accounts, this reform would solve 70 percent of the funding deficit facing Social Security.

At the same time, the president believes, and I agree, that giving workers the voluntary choice of investing in a personal retirement account--in addition to patching that hole in the Social Security safety net--will provide millions of current and future workers with the nest eggs they'll need to live in comfort once they retire.

Pat Moynihan and I agreed that this is not a debate about the success of the current Social Security system. Few would disagree that it has been a reliable source of income for 70 years that has virtually eliminated poverty among the elderly. Rather, this is a debate about how to structure a system that is fair and makes sense to today's young people.

If you asked Americans under 40 today what kind of public pension system they would create if we were starting from scratch, an overwhelming majority of them would tell you that a personal retirement account should figure prominently in the new system. Sadly, the voices of these younger Americans are not well represented in the debate today because there is no well-heeled interest group speaking for them.

Bush understands that personal retirement accounts are not a magical solution to all the fiscal woes facing Social Security. But by coupling that choice with a real plan to put the system's solvency on solid footing, I believe he has given us the first real chance in decades to say to current and future retirees, "The benefits you have been promised will be there when you need them."

The late Sen. Moynihan was both a loyal Democrat and a tried-and-true realist who recognized that there were problems that no one party could solve. He believed that by acting together and by favoring facts over theories, we could fix Social Security before it was beset by crisis. We need that same faith today."

The Economist on Yuan Revaluation China's currency: "...even if China does revalue, it will not be the salvation that American politicians are praying for. First, it is highly unlikely that the yuan will be allowed to rise very far; even optimists expect a revaluation only in the range of 3-10%, which will still leave the currency seriously undervalued.

Moreover, the effects of a relaxed peg on America's current-account deficit will be extremely modest. China accounts for less than one-tenth of America's trade, so even a 10% revaluation would only reduce the trade-weighted value of the dollar by 1%-not enough to produce any noticeable change in America's current account. Nor is it clear that even a big revaluation would help much. Morris Goldstein of the Institute for International Economics estimates that even a 25% revaluation would reduce the current-account deficit by less than 5%.

Nonetheless, China seems to be preparing the way for a slightly freer currency. This week it allowed some foreign currencies to be traded against each other for the first time in China. This is widely seen as a preparation for reform of the tightly controlled currency regime. And if a revaluation seems unlikely to please America's protectionist politicians, it should nonetheless help to correct the imbalances caused by the gaping American current-account deficit, if only by weaning America's spendthrift consumers-and government-off cheap Chinese credit. If the hour of reckoning is not quite at hand, it seems only a matter of time before China's financial system, and America's borrowers, begin to grow up."

Dean v. Russert

From Bob Novak : "...anticipation of Howard Dean, cut loose and unmuzzled, on 'Meet the Press' Sunday is unsettling for the party's faithful. This will be his first exposure as chairman on a major network interview, and Russert predictably will be well prepared with a rap sheet of the chairman's verbal assaults. The prospect that Dean will make juicy additions to that collection unnerves Democrats."
Bob handily goes through a run-down of Chairman/Gov./Dr. Dean's faux pas. I can say Bob because I have had drinks with Novak and his wife after an ACC basketball tournament game in a USAir Club. It was G&Ts all around and they were, and I'm sure are, very nice people in person. Novak is a huge Maryland fan and I'm with Wake.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Legal Affairs:The Supreme Court recently made history by citing a blog. Called "Sentencing Law and Policy," it's a year-old web log by Douglas Berman, a professor of law at Ohio State University ( Berman's is among the best law blogs in the country, though not the best known. That may be "The Volokh Conspiracy," a three-year-old group effort featuring conservative views that is led by UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh ( Or it may be "Underneath Their Robes," launched last summer by the anonymous A3G (Article III Groupie), who says her blog is about her "obsession" with federal judges, which extends to her picking Manhattan trial judge Kimba Wood as the hottest one ( Or it may be "How Appealing," the three-year-old blog specializing in appellate law, written by a Philadelphia lawyer named Howard Bashman and so respected that I'd mention it even if it weren't hosted by this magazine (

"A BLAWG,...: a blog about the law. Most blawgers are law professors, lawyers, or law students and, reading what they post online, you realize that they're not the uncredentialed challenging credentialed journalists, but credentialed lawyers (or lawyers-in-the-making) endeavoring to take back their subject from journalists and talking heads. While much of their content is gossip, a lot is commentary geared toward legal experts and virtually impenetrable for anyone else. Rather than being a populist advance, blawgs are often outlets for rarefied material...

You can herald blawgs as providing analysis, information, and opinion in a new form. You can dismiss some as a way for people with tenure and a lofty opinion of themselves to have their say in yet another forum. However you slot them, the impulse to blog often seems to be the opposite of the effect of blawgs. The key ones are efforts by lawyers and academics to be public voices, to matter outside the legal world, to connect. Yet while blawgs are blogs, they rarely have the populist touch that is supposed to make blogs blogs." {via Instapundit.}
So sometimes I'm a blawger. The headline might be that I'm starting law school this August so then my blog will more officially become a real blawg.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Arnold Palmer: Commencement Address at WFU

WFU Commencement 2005 Posted by Hello

Arnold Palmer: "Certainly, there are many things that I cannot fully comprehend, but there are still the absolutes that transcend place and time:

Hard work will always yield positive results.

Be fully aware of the world around you.

Act purposefully on your strongest perceptions, and then with no regrets.

Don't pass up opportunities that you perceive to be something of a gamble. I ran across a brief essay on that subject by a Chicago school teacher, who said: 'Risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, IS nothing. They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love and live.'

Or, as Bill Gates once said on a similar occasion as this: 'Life is not fair. Get used to it. The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. If you mess up, don't whine about your mistakes. Learn from them. Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off, and few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.'

Once I was talking about improving one's golf game, but it struck me afterward that what I had just said applies to life as well. I'm talking about self-confidence. There is no way you can focus your mind and your efforts to succeed if you're brimming over with self-doubts. Your level of performance has a way of living up to prior expectations and, if you start off believing you're going to have a bad day, you will. Errors tend to multiply and, if you have a bundle of self-doubts, you won't be able to cope with the problems and the failure that will follow...

...I don't despair of today's young people. I just ask all of you to seek your places in the world, to accept the responsibility that is being placed on your shoulders. I appeal to you to try to restore a more kind and gentle atmosphere to this world of ours. Greed should not be our goal. If we continue to tolerate cheating, stealing, lying and violence, we will be on a path to self-destruction. Only through an all-out effort to get back to the basic values and virtues of humanity can we give future generations the quality of life our forefathers worked and sacrificed for to give us the standards of life we now enjoy in our time.

Family, friends, neighbors, home, church and community used to be vitally important to most Americans. Perhaps it's time to return to some of those core values.

You will soon be assuming parental roles, and I urge you to accept the responsibility that goes with it. Be the kind of parents who teach your children the basic traits and habits that make good citizens and good human beings. Teach them the common courtesies, good manners, politeness, and standards of behavior that will make each and every one of you proud.

So, please, go forth from your college careers armed with a determination to truly make our world a better place to live.

Tomorrow belongs to you."

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Yuan: Wal-Mart's Currency Hedge Strategy

Dollar Doldrums Posted by Hello

Dollar Doldrums - CFO Magazine - May Issue 2005: "Consider Wal-Mart, arguably the U.S. company most heavily exposed to a run on the dollar. China is the discount retailer's largest source of products, supplying some $20 billion in goods last year, according to analysts. The company plans to increase U.S. borrowings in 2005, says Jay Fitzsimmons, Wal-Mart's treasurer and senior vice president of finance, though he contends it's not for purposes of hedging, since the Chinese currency is linked to the dollar.

In any case, says Fitzsimmons, "we try to do as much as we can naturally." Natural hedges include setting aside cash and borrowing in local currencies such as sterling, yen, and Canadian dollars. But Fitzsimmons says the company will probably borrow about $5.5 billion to $6 billion by year's end, up from about $1 billion so far this year. Its total debt portfolio currently weighs in at around $30 billion, including everything from public bond issues to commercial paper.

Like other companies, Wal-Mart has natural alternatives to hedging with debt, including diversification, thanks to retail operations in 10 different countries. "On one level, our retail operations portfolio contains a mix of emerging markets and more-established markets," notes Fitzsimmons. Two of Wal-Mart's largest markets—Canada and Mexico—recently saw their currencies actually fall against the U.S. dollar. (The company's 37.8 percent interest in a Japanese retail outlet, Seiyu Ltd., is accounted for as an equity investment, and is not consolidated.)

Also, Wal-Mart tries to get what Fitzsimmons describes as the "lowest possible margin commensurate with the risk" in its purchasing and retailing arrangements. As a result, he says, "the actual impact of currency on the merchandise we buy is minimal." The company buys very little from Europe. As for the risk posed by the Chinese yuan, he contends it is undervalued versus the dollar by about 4 percent, noting that "5 percent is kind of the margin of error."

Because of this, Fitzsimmons dismissed dire predictions that the Chinese government will wreak havoc on his bottom line by abruptly jettisoning its currency's link to the greenback. "We buy everything in dollars," he says. "The Chinese aren't interested in getting more yuan. Their number-one priority is keeping people employed."

Tougher US Voter Requirements

"To begin, we have much too much democracy. We need to discourage people from voting. In fact, the gravest obstacle to the restoration of civilization in North America is universal suffrage. Letting everybody vote makes no sense. Obviously they are no good at it. The whole idea smacks of the fumble-witted idealism of a high-school Marxist society. At least eighty percent of the electorate lives in blank medieval darkness regarding any matter of public policy or history. They might as well vote on the incisions needed in cardiac surgery as try to govern themselves. Poll after poll shows that even graduates of America's pathetic...universities, which means most of the universities, do not know who fought in WWI, or within a century when the Civil War took place, or who Galileo was. These are the better informed. The rest barely know what century they live in. Unalloyed ignorance is not an obvious qualification for governing, despite all appearances." --Fred Reed
Also from The Federalist Patriot 05-20 Brief.

The trick would be to have standards and yet avoid discrimination and disenfranchisement. I would support as a condition to vote a requirement that all citizens pass the same citizenship test we require for all immigrants to pass in order to become naturalized US citizens.

Memo to Sen. John Edwards on Poverty

"Avoiding long-term poverty is not rocket science. First, graduate from high school. Second, get married before you have children, and stay married. Third, work at any kind of job, even one that starts out paying the minimum wage. And, finally, avoid engaging in criminal behavior. If you graduate from high school today with a B or C average, in most places in our country there's a low-cost or financially assisted post-high-school education program available to increase your skills. Most jobs start with wages higher than the minimum wage, which is currently $5.15. A man and his wife, even earning the minimum wage, would earn $21,000 annually. According to the Bureau of Census, in 2003, the poverty threshold for one person was $9,393, for a two-person household it was $12,015, and for a family of four it was $18,810. Taking a minimum-wage job is no great shakes, but it produces an income higher than the Bureau of Census' poverty threshold. Plus, having a job in the first place increases one's prospects for a better job." --Walter Williams

Courtesy of The Federalist Patriot 05-20 Brief.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Robert Kagan: "The Illusion of 'Managing' China"

The Illusion of 'Managing' China: "The United States may not be able to avoid a policy of containing China; we are, in fact, already doing so. This is a sufficiently unsettling prospect, however, that we are doing all we can to avoid thinking about it. We conjure hopeful images of a modernizing China that seeks only economic growth and would do nothing to threaten commercial ties with us -- unless provoked -- even as we watch nervously the small but steady Chinese military buildup, the periodic eruptions of popular nationalism, the signs of Chinese confidence intermingled with feelings of historical injustice and the desire to right old wrongs.

Which China is it? A 21st-century power that wants to be integrated into a liberal international order, which would mean both a transformation of its own polity and a limitation of its strategic ambitions? Or a 19th-century power that wants to preserve its rule at home and expand its reach abroad? It is a worthy subject for debate, because the answer will determine the future as much as or more than anything we do. But it is unlikely we will have a definitive answer in time to adjust, to "manage" China's "rise," any more than our predecessors did. As in the past, we will have to peer into the fog and make prudent judgments, informed by the many tragic lessons of history."

"Guaranteed Collisions"

George Will - Guaranteed Collisions: "The public sector's problems with retirees are about to become more visible. The GASB, which writes accounting rules for state and local governments, is going to require them to reveal the cash value of their retirees' health care entitlements. Janice Revell, writing in the May 2 issue of Fortune, notes that when such rules were applied to corporations, in 1990, revealing huge health care liabilities, Wall Street blanched. So, between 1993 and 2003, the percentage of companies offering medical coverage to retirees plummeted from 40 percent to 21 percent...

The public sector is facing similar pressures. All but two states, and a majority of municipalities, have increasingly crushing legacy costs because they provide health care to their retired workers. Buffalo, Revell writes, pays $26 million a year -- equal to a fifth of property tax revenue -- for such benefits. After just five years on the job, any North Carolina state employee is eligible for free retiree health insurance for life, and the GASB's new accounting rules will reportedly add a $13 billion liability to the state's books -- about 40 times the state's annual retiree health care costs."