Wednesday, February 17, 2016

O motivo por Bush julgava que havia armas de destruição massiva no Iraque?

Segundo a Fox News (numa entrevista com Donald Trump), "the Portuguese prime minster said they were there".

Sunday, February 14, 2016

O que é a classe média (capítulo XXVII)?

Hoje (ou ontem) numa discussão sobre a classe média, expus a opinião que cerca de 1300 euros por mês é um ordenado de classe média-alta (e que a classe média começaria algures nos 700 e tal euros por mês). Toda a gente discordou, e alguém até disse que era triste eu achar que 700 e tal euros é classe média...

Thursday, February 11, 2016

O "sonho americano" e o trabalho por conta própria

The Fading American Dream of Working for Yourself, por Charles Hugh Smith, em The American Conservative:

Americans pride ourselves on being entrepreneurial, and praise for the start-up culture that created Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb and other global success stories is a staple in the media. But the data paints a much different picture: when the self-employment rate is compared among the 34 wealthy countries that make up the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the U.S. comes in dead-last at 6.6 percent. Germany and Japan both have self-employment rates above 11 percent.; Italy and South Korea have rates above 25 percent.

Last time I checked, The American Dream was not “working for someone else.”

One common way to define the middle class is in terms of self-employment and the ownership of one’s work. As Marian Kester Coombs wrote recently, “Economically, the middle classes were once proprietors, self-employed owners of property and their own labor.” In Coombs’ analysis, “Middle class is not an income level but a material relationship to society,” specifically, ownership of one’s labor and income-producing capital: “the key middle-class elements (are) independence, self-sufficiency, ownership, entrepreneurship, and real social power.”
 Diga-se que, aparentemente, Tocqueville, quando andou pelos EUA, terá ficado com uma ideia diferente do que seria o "sonho americano", considerando que a cultura norte-americana consideraria trabalhar por uma salário mais aceitável do que na Europa [pdf]:
Les serviteurs américains ne se croient pas dégradés parce qu'ils travaillent; car autour d'eux tout le monde travaille. Ils ne se sentent pas abaissés par l'idée qu'ils reçoivent un salaire; car le président des États-Unis travaille aussi pour un salaire. On le paye pour commander, aussi bien qu'eux pour servir.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

O Estado polui mais que o sector privado?

Governments are more likely than businesses to break pollution regulations, por Tyler Cowen

Imagino que a principal razão é que mesmo que uma empresa pública tenha que pagar uma multa por violar legislação ambiental, o dinheiro acaba por ficar em casa.

Já agora, uma coisa que costumo ouvir dizer em Portugal é que em termos de legislação laboral o Estado faz muitas coisas (sobretudo aos seus trabalhadores que não têm vínculo de "funcionários públicos") que numa empresa privada dariam logo direito a uma inspeção e processo (diga-se que eu, pessoalmente, sou um trabalhador do Estado sem vínculo de "funcionário público" e não tenha nenhuma razão de queixa)

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Venezuela e reestruturação da dívida - posições trocadas?

Pro-default populism in Venezuela, por "boz":

Venezuela is tens of billions behind in payments to various foreign companies who have provided food and other imported goods. The country owes China billions, much of which is being paid in oil. There is about $10 billion in payments due this year between sovereign debt and Pdvsa bonds. (...)

In the past in Latin America, there has occasionally been support for strategic default by populists, usually from the political left, who believe that bankers and bondholders deserve to not be paid for the unethical way they have treated countries. Looking back at Argentina's default in the early 2000s, the Kirchners and their political allies certainly played up the narrative of default being both the proper economic strategy as well as the ethical thing to do as they fought the "vulture funds" who tried to profit from Argentina's loss.

The interesting part of what we're about to see in Venezuela is that the populist and moral case for defaulting on unethical debt is about to be made by the right leaning side of the political spectrum. They will argue that the banks, bondholders and Chinese who have profited from the Venezuelan government's poor economic policies deserve to lose the money they have invested as the cost of propping up the Chavez and Maduro governments. (...)

Meanwhile, the Maduro government continues to insist it will pay Wall Street and China first and second, even at the expense of rising poverty and food scarcity in the country. That is not exactly the most revolutionary or socialist of policies.

"Eles assustam-me"

They Scare Me, por Bryan Caplan:

Occasionally, though, I wonder: What would happen if Mormons were a solid majority of the U.S. population?  Maybe they'd be as wonderful as ever, but I readily picture a sinister metamorphosis.  Given enough power, even Mormons might embrace a brutal fundamentalism.  Despite my lovely experiences with Mormons, they scare me.

To be fair, they're hardly alone.  You know who else scares me?  Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, and atheists.  Sunnis, Shiites, Catholics, and Protestants.  Whites, blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and American Indians.  Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, Marxists, and reactionaries.  Even libertarians scare me a bit.  Why?  Because given enough power, there's a serious chance they'll do terrible things.  Different terrible things, no doubt.  But terrible nonetheless.

If you're afraid of every group, though, shouldn't you support whatever group has the minimum chance of doing terrible things once it's firmly in charge?   Not at all.  There's another path: Try to prevent any group from being firmly in charge.  In the long-run, the best way to do this is to make every group a small minority - to split society into such small pieces that everyone abandons hope of running society

Monday, February 08, 2016

A divisão nos "progressistas" norte-americanos

The progressive crack up, por  (do think tank conservador American Enterprise Institute):

From a historical perspective, Bernie and Hillary are both progressives. Yet the ideological divide between them, and the constituencies they represent, could not be more profound. (...) the political battle now underway in the Democratic Party has roots much deeper than most people realize, revealing a rift in the Progressive Movement that dates to its birth in the early 1900s.

The debate then was over “bigness” — specifically the emergence of industrial giants known as “trusts” — and it was fresher and hence even more politically potent than today. As business historian Thomas McCraw put it, the big corporations that rose up out of the Industrial Revolution “seemed to be mutations, the consequence of some sinister tampering with the natural order of things … powerful new political forces which must be opposed in the name of American democracy.” (...)

The early Progressives were united in their concern about big business, but the agreement ended there. The movement was deeply split between two wings: the radicals, who (echoing Jefferson a century earlier) thought bigness was an evil to be fought on principle, and a more pragmatic wing (more in the mold of Hamilton) who saw the rise of big corporations as inevitable and even positive — a phenomenon not so much to be resisted as to be accommodated and even promoted.

The principal combatants in this political and intellectual battle were no slouches. The radicals were led by Louis Brandeis, plaintiff’s lawyer, muckraker, and ultimately Supreme Court Justice. Brandeis famously bemoaned “the curse of bigness,” and opined that “If the Lord had intended things to be big, he would have made man bigger — in brains and character.” Brandeis inspired William Jennings Bryan (who favored a Federal law capping the size of corporations) and served as chief economic adviser to Woodrow Wilson (who nationalized big chunks of the economy during World War I) until Wilson put him on the high court in 1916.

Opposing Brandeis for the accommodationists or pragmatists was Herbert Croly, founder of The New Republic and author of “The Promise of American Life” (1909). Arguing that “the huge corporations have contributed to American economic efficiency,” Croly promoted a reform agenda that included legalizing and empowering labor unions and strengthening the regulatory state — that is, rationalizing the emergence of Big Business by promoting the rise of Big Labor and creating Big Government. Croly’s views initially were embraced by the (Teddy) Roosevelt wing of the Republican Party, and, 30 years later, by Teddy’s distant cousin Franklin, who mostly resisted calls to break up big companies or nationalize significant chunks of the economy and instead promoted the growth of government while trying (...) to grow the industrial economy.

The New Deal thus constituted what seemed until lately to be the permanent triumph of the accommodationist wing of the Progressive Movement. With the arguable exception of George McGovern in 1972 (arguable because McGovern was first and foremost an anti-war candidate and only secondarily a radical progressive), the radicals have never come close to controlling the Democratic Party, let alone the White House.

What about Barack Obama? He certainly campaigned as a radical, and as President he has often talked like one — but his policies are mainly accommodationist. Indeed, his two biggest domestic accomplishments — Dodd-Frank and ObamaCare — promote and favor big banks, big insurers, and big pharma rather than, as radicals preferred, breaking them up or nationalizing them.

Now comes Bernie Sanders, democratic Socialist and radical progressive, pitted against the ultimate accommodationist, Hillary, the “Progressive who gets things done,” for whom accepting $675,000 from Goldman Sachs for a few speeches seems perfectly natural. A radical candidate couldn’t have hoped for a better foil, but the energy behind the Sanders campaign flows from deeper wells than simple revulsion of the Clintons. It is grounded in legitimate dissatisfaction with the economy, driven by a sincere belief in the radical progressive agenda, and fueled by resentment of Obama’s perceived betrayal.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Candidatos "elegíveis" e "não-elegíveis"

"Unelectable", por Chris Dillow:

There’s one increasingly common meme I find very irritating: the dismissal of politicians as “unelectable”. Corbyn has long been tagged such, as are most US presidential candidates. (...)

As Anne Perkins and Jacques Peretti have pointed out, Thatcher was regarded as “unelectable” in the 70s, by both Tory wets and the Labour party. Look how that turned out. Public tastes are unpredictable – especially given today’s anti-establishment attitudes. (...)

What I especially hate here is the pretence to knowledge, even in the face of contrary evidence. People who never foresaw a Tory majority or the rise of Corbyn continue to pretend that they have the foresight to declare Corbyn “unelectable” (...)

My second problem with talk of “unelectability” is that it betokens a sense of entitlement. It is usually outsiders who are “unelectable” – Thatcher, Corbyn, Sanders, whoever – and only rarely Establishment figures. There’s a presumption here that elections can only be won by particular types: youngish good-lookers who went to the right schools and universities and who don’t unsettle the Very Serious People. “Unelectable” can be used to close off debate (...)

Monday, February 01, 2016

Um assunto que é capaz de criar confusão à esquerda e à direita

Reino Unido dá luz verde à manipulação genética em embriões humanos

Talvez mais à esquerda, onde o sector pró-escolha tem uma grande sobreposição com o sector anti-OGM, e muitos podem ficar com um conflito interior sobre o assunto; já à direita, parece-me que o sector pró-vida e o sector pró-OGM estão mais separados, o primeiro ligado à direita "cultural" pró-valores tradicionais e o segundo mais ligado à direita "económica" pró-empresas (aliás, alguns direitistas "culturais" que ei conheço até são bastante anti-OGM).