A few random thoughts on the passing scene:
• World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz is rightly concerned that the Doha Round of trade talks will be a failure unless the proposed rollback of subsidies and expansion of markets for agricultural products is approved, with dire consequences for world trade and economic growth in underdeveloped countries. It’s a clear case of “no pain, no gain”, and failure will be disastrous in economic terms as well as for stability in the developing world. Protectionist forces must be overcome, here and elsewhere.
• Paul Krugman complains that wages have not kept up with U. S. productivity increases over the past five years, and he might have a point, but he ignores the worldwide drag on wages from India and China and other parts of Southeast Asia, as well as the particular drag on them in the U. S. from the impact of the onslaught of illegal workers, a problem he doesn’t seem to want to fix in any meaningful way.
• From Karl Zinsmeister’s farewell editorial in leaving The American Enterprise: “Ordinary Americans are not saints or savants with magical decision-making powers. But there are structural reasons why individual households will often make better decisions than experts. For one thing, they usually have richer information………Rule by the millions works because they are close to daily realities.” Pretty good sentiments coming from the President’s new domestic policy advisor!
• If you haven’t read Tom DeLay’s farewell speech to Congress, you should do so. Here is a brief excerpt on just one point: “……partisanship, Mr. Speaker, properly understood, is not a symptom of a democracy’s weakness, but of its health and strength, especially from the perspective of a political conservative…..The point is, we disagree. On first principles, we disagree. And so we debate………” Apropos his career and there could be no better legacy to this principle than the Supreme Court decision a few weeks later substantially validating victory in the Texas redistricting case, a fittingly partisan monument to him.
• My friend and subscriber, Jim Lockart, has admonished me to be less pessimistic about the cultural trends that I often observe, and suggests that I try and emphasize the “good that is flourishing”, so I promise to seek out more of the positive elements. As an example, I note with favor a recent island of optimism—the movie United 93, which from all accounts depicts the best sentiments and tendencies of Americans in their inclination to rise to any occasion, confront evil, and refuse defeat. And the fact that the source of this work is typically the country’s largest purveyor of cultural pessimism makes it all the more encouraging.
• The Weekly Standard invites us to look into the fever swamps in the upper reaches of our institutions of higher education, where theories are rampant that the 9/11 attacks were a conspiracy orchestrated by the U. S. government. I briefly visited the web site of these “scholars” and was appalled, if not surprised, and most disappointed that among the members of their group called Scholars for 9/11 Truth were at least three from Texas institutions—one each from Rice, UT-Austin, and (gasp!) Texas A&M. Get a rope! If you want to take a look, go to www.scholarsfor911truth.org. And for this we need higher tuition?
• As a write, Mexico is electing a new President. Watch closely the outcome, which seems to be a dead heat. If Obrador wins, it’s “Katy bar the door”, almost literally, for a leftist administration will mean less freedom, slower economic growth, more government, and much more pressure on our southern borders. If Calderon wins, there is hope for a continuation of the Fox policies, but there should still be increased pressure from the U. S. to open more of Mexico’s markets to foreign investment and significantly reduce the heavy hand of government on entrepreneurial innovation, as well as to cease and desist in facilitating illegal immigration.