Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Short List - September 14, 2011

International
  • The day after President Ahmadinejad's pronouncement that the release of two imprisoned American hikers was eminent, the Iranian Judiciary denied anything was imminent and that the terms of potential bail were still under review.  This is another instance that seeks to highlight how fragmented power is in Iran.

  • NATO-led forces ended the 20 hour attack on several buildings, including the U.S. embassy by Taliban fighters.  President Hamid Karzai condemned the attacks and said it would not interfere with the transition of authority from NATO to Afghan security forces.

  • China's leader, Wen Jiabao, urged cooperation and coordination in future global economic growth, specifically stretching a hand out to Europe.  He also addressed concerns by many in the West that China's currency is radically devalued which is artificially increasing Chinese exports by saying, "China would now aim to boot domestic demand."  A new Communist Party Congress is coming up and while typically there are not radical shifts in Chinese policy it could be interesting to see if Wen's successor is truly committed to boosting domestic Chinese demand that would cause the renminbi to appreciate.
Domestic

8 comments:

Colin said...

I fail to understand the vitriol directed at the Heritage Foundation over its poverty study. Having a TV is better than not having a TV. Having an air conditioner is better than not having one. These are very real improvements in one's material standard of living (and let us recall wikipedia's definition of poverty as "the state of one who lacks a certain amount of material possessions or money.") that are worth noting. Why does the left get so upset when this is pointed out?

On a related note I would urge that everyone read this column
by Tim Worstall on how poverty is measured.

Jason said...

I get upset when the poverty level goes up because it means there are more families of four making less then $22,000 a year. Doesn't that concern you? As an individual what standard of living would you enjoy at $22,000 a year?

Colin said...

Sure I get upset when the poverty level goes up -- but that wasn't the question. Rather I asked why the left gets upset when the Heritage Foundation points out that even those in poverty have access to modern amenities such as televisions, refrigerators, etc.

Jason said...

I get upset with the Heritage Foundation because they use statistics like refrigerator ownership to discount the Census Bureau statistics on poverty.

I get upset with the Heritage Foundation because they note at the link I posted that "typical poor American family was also able to obtain medical care when needed," but that don't bother to explain what that means. Does that mean people going to the ER? Access to care and the ability to pay are two different things.

I get upset that the Heritage Foundation seems to think that poverty in the United States should be defined as the complete inability to provide the most basic needs of shelter and food. An organization that defends the concept of American exceptionalism sure seems content to think the poor of our country should be in the same lot as the famine stricken people in the Horn of Africa in order to be considered poor.

Do you think it's satisfactory that the richest country in the world should only consider people as "poor" if they can't provide the basic of food and shelter?

Colin said...

Do you think it's satisfactory that the richest country in the world should only consider people as "poor" if they can't provide the basic of food and shelter?

"Poor" is a relative measurement, and thus the poor will always be with us. Place me in Beverly Hills and I suddenly become poor. Move me to the libertarian paradise of Somalia and I become rich. In the future I imagine we will have people with personal jet-packs that will nonetheless be considered poor.

I do think that we need to have a conversation about what exactly poverty entails and how it should be defined. If someone has an iphone, TV, fridge, AC, a roof over their heads and food in the kitchen, is that really a poster child of privation?

So, as someone who supports taxpayer funded efforts to assist those in poverty, how would *you* define it? What is it that everyone should be entitled to?

Jason said...

You're not answering my question. You have defended the Heritage Foundation and specifically cited their report to retort claims that there is growing income disparity.

Can I then assume you agree with the Heritage Foundation that poverty should be defined by the inability to meet the most basic of needs in any country, regardless of the economic means of that country?

Colin said...

You have defended the Heritage Foundation and specifically cited their report to retort claims that there is growing income disparity.

I most certainly have not. I readily cop to the fact that there is a growing income disparity -- I just fail to see what the big deal about it is.

Can I then assume you agree with the Heritage Foundation that poverty should be defined by the inability to meet the most basic of needs in any country, regardless of the economic means of that country?

Seems about as good of a definition as any. What's yours?

Jason said...

I think you're seeing, to some degree, what the big deal is about. People are having a harder and harder time engaging in upward class mobility. Their real wages are falling, and more people find themselves in poverty.

I think a family of four that's making less then $22,000 or less per year is a pretty good definition of poverty in the United States. Cost of living fluctuates in different regions and there may be parts of the country where a family of four is doing okay on $22k per year, but I'd expect that's the exception, not the rule.