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July 28, 2004
Over the Sea

So, there was a "massive" suicide bombing in Iraq. 68 dead at last count.

Iraq: Not going well

And the international aid group, Medecins Sans Frontieres (or Doctors Without Borders) is pulling out of Afghanistan after having been there for 24 years. Seems that since we went in and improved things, the country just isn't safe.

A 'heartbreaking' decision.

Afghanistan: Not going well

Is the obsession with Iraq interfering not only with any actual efforts to combat terrorism, but with efforts to help Darfur?

Britain and America's preoccupation with Iraq has blocked international efforts to end genocide in the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan, according to a highly critical report published by a think-tank close to Tony Blair.

The study, to be published today, said that the war in Iraq had prevented effective planning for military intervention which could have bolstered diplomatic efforts to prevent the bloodshed, which has driven more than a million people from their homes.

It warned that discussion on Iraq had prevented the United Nations Security Council discussing the Darfur crisis in May and diverted attention from clear warning signs that started emerging more than a year ago.

That doesn't sound good, does it? Certainly it's true that the USofA would be hard-pressed to support any significant U.N. action in Darfur, these days.

The study, which was published by the Foreign Policy Center, a left-of-center think-tank which counts Mr Blair as its patron, said that there was a fatal lack of political resolve to take strong action against the Khartoum government, a key American ally in the war on international terrorism.

There we go again, siding with what may be the "wrong" side to further our personal political agenda.

African Union Says Arab Militia in Darfur Burned Villagers Alive

Observers from the African Union say Arab militiamen burned civilians alive in an attack last month in Sudan's western Darfur region.

African Union cease-fire monitors say in a report the Arab militias massacred civilians in the village of Suleia in early June, in some cases by chaining them up and setting them on fire.

In another incident, the monitors say the militias, believed to be Arab Janjaweed, attacked the village of Ehda, burning it to the ground. They say the entire village was deserted after the attack except for a few men.

The future of Darfur: Not good

Is the key to success to work harder, not smarter?

While several German companies have recently reached deals with workers to extend work hours in return for job security, French leaders have now also begun questioning the country's once sacrosanct 35-hour workweek. "We need to increase productivity and stay competitive to prevent companies from moving abroad."

It just seems to me we should be able to think of a system that can combine the maximum amount of freedom and leisure with "economic health." I know that a system has to grow or it will die. I do remember that bit of my economics classes, but I wonder if maybe we shouldn't be balancing the pace of growth or something? I mean, would Germany and France be in this situation if it wasn't for pressure from Japan and (possibly) the USofA?

I don't know if it's the speed of growth that's being attempted that's at fault or if we need to be concentrating on a different kind of "product" or what.

Experts should be thinking about this. Do so, and get back to me.

Capitalism: Being measured for cutbacks?

I should get back to work if I want to keep my job.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:51 AM


Comments

It seems to me that during and after a boom people can trade money away for leisure. Certainly that has happened before (Britain in the 1960s). But if the era of leisure goes on too long, it becomes harder to get back to having a boom (Britain in the 1970s).

I'm not sure if this analogy holds, but I know when I worked at summer camps that organized long (one or more weeks) hikes, we got the best morale from the hikers when we pushed ourselves rather hard. After a hard 18 mile day, people were excited about trying to do 24 miles in a single day. But when we tried to do hikes that were relaxed and easy, then we ran into problems with morale. After an easy 10 mile day people would complain that their feet were sore and could we, please, do only 6 miles the next day?

The work level is, of course, independent of what percent of GNP goes to workers, versus what percent goes to the capitalists. That is a separate issue.

Posted by: Lawrence Krubner at July 28, 2004 11:18 AM

Anne:

Is the obsession with Iraq interfering not only with any actual efforts to combat terrorism, but with efforts to help Darfur?

And which nation is the lead in pushing a Security Council resolution? The US.

And what is some of the reaction?

The United States scheduled a U.N. vote for Friday on its resolution threatening sanctions against Sudan if it did not stop atrocities in Darfur but changed contentious language to get support.

After facing opposition from seven countries in the 15-member Security Council, U.S. officials on Thursday deleted the word "sanctions" for the draft resolution."

But the measure still carries the same threat of unspecified sanctions against Khartoum in 30 days through more cumbersome language by referring to provisions in the U.N. Charter on economic, communications or diplomatic sanctions.

"The initial draft included the word sanctions. It turns out that the use of that word is objectionable to certain members of the Security Council," U.S. Ambassador John Danforth told reporters.

Well, at least now China will abstain and so will Pakistan (funny how Islamic nations were adamant about taking action about persecution in the Balkans but are silent on Darfur)..

And could we do something? You bet..the military is sized to do 2 major wars and 4 smaller contingencies (although the Balkans and Afghanistan and the Sinai count as 3 so the UN better decide before some other place claims the 4th spot).

but I think we're waiting for intelligence to actually prove conclusively the atrocities because just saying it doesn't mean it's really happening...

And also, we haven't exhausted all the "other options"


As for economic theory, one theory is labor's share of output is related to its marginal contribution to output times the marginal value of the output (and marginal doesn't mean trivial, it's in the traditional mathematical sense of the change by adding one additional unit)..

The theory for the marginal productivity of labor is that MP of L has a bell shape..adding labor increases marginal output but at some point you reach the too many cooks spoil the broth point and thus adding more labor decreases marginal output (and thus wages)..Since the labor contribution to a specific good or industry is somewhat unique to that product, setting an arbitrary standard of 35 hours could mean that you're not at the optimal point, especially when the wage is fixed..(not that 40 hours is a magic number either, but the point is allowing some flexibility)..It could also imply that adding more hours could lead to an increase in wages or a simple balancing of set wages with the true contribution of labor...otherwise you continue to perpetuate inefficiencies that have to get resolved at some point..

Posted by: Col Steve at July 29, 2004 11:24 PM

You know, I'd be more impressed by the recitation of what the USofA is doing about Darfur if I didn't know, from experience, that there has to be more to the story than I've read so far.

I know Darfur scares the U.N. They're desperate to avoid the "G" word that will force them to take action.

At the same time, I don't have any faith in the Bush Administration's foreign policy. I'm sorry, but after watching what they've done for the last three years, I'll have to read the USofA's original submission and read the objections placed by other countries before I'll believe we were (uncharacteristically) making an altruistic move.

I'd imagine that the odds of me finding English language translations of all of that on-line is slim, but I'll do some searching.

Posted by: Anne at July 30, 2004 06:59 PM

"before I'll believe we were (uncharacteristically) making an altruistic move."

Do you believe our actions in the Balkans were altruistic? Mind you, I"m not arguing that George W. Bush is capable of an altruistic foreign policy, I'm simply wondering what you thought of our actions in the Balkans.

Posted by: Lawrence Krubner at July 31, 2004 08:54 AM

Lawrence - You'd have to be more specific. A lot has happened in the region in the last ten years. Are you referring to some specific act or just general USofA policy toward the Balkans?

In either case, I think it's only fair to say, up front, that I didn't pay much attention to the Milosevic thing at the time.

Posted by: Anne at August 1, 2004 11:38 AM

Sorry for being vague. I meant, specifically, bombing of the Serb forces to break their offensive in Bosnia. Do you believe the US was acting in an altruistic manner during that bombing campaign?

And, again, I'm not saying that any policy of the Bush Administration would necessarily be altruistic.

Posted by: Lawrence Krubner at August 1, 2004 04:01 PM

Lawrence - Assuming you check back on this, know I'm not ignoring you. I'm just challenged for time this week.

Posted by: Anne at August 4, 2004 03:50 PM