Davos Newbies Home

The power of wristbands 

My nine-year old son wears a Stand Up, Speak Up black-and-white wristband both because he likes its message (anti-racism) and he thinks it’s cool.

But it was odd to be accosted in a cafe at lunch today by a waiter desperate to get hold of one. Although Nike originally sold them for £1.50 in their shops, they are apparently hard to find now. You can get them on Ebay, our waiter said, but they cost around £15.

Given that the idea is to contribute to an anti-racism charity, selling in an aftermarket seems to me a violation of the intent.

Shlaes jumps the shark 

Financial Times columnist Amity Shlaes left the reality-based community a long time ago. But her most recent column (subscribers only) may mark a new low.

First, she defies economic sense in parroting the Bush administration claim that social security is truly in crisis and that its plan offers a sensible solution:

  Social Security privatisation, especially the Bush plan, is eminently reasonable. The plan will narrow deficits in the long term and erase trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities. (Indeed, anyone who natters on about US fiscal imbalances and does not mention Social Security in the next breath is a hypocrite.) Such reform is the most important domestic step a president can take.

Worse is her characterisation of OMB head Josh Bolten. First she brackets him with Greg Mankiw as the president’s “most credible men in their most credible coats and ties”. Can anyone really say that in the midst of the budget fiasco that Bolten has perpetrated? Brad DeLong, for example, recently opined:

  Josh Bolten is the worst OMB Director in the history of the office–worse than David Stockman, worse than Mitch Daniels. Stockman and Daniels at least understood that the OMB Director was supposed to be the voice in the government for fiscal responsibility, even if they decided to ignore their proper role. Bolten doesn’t even understand what the job is.

I fear for Brad’s blood pressure with Shlaes’s next assertion:

  Robert Rubin, Mr Clinton’s Treasury secretary, taught the country that Democrats also care about fiscal responsibility. The Bush men who are making the case for Social Security privatisation this week are not so very different from the Clinton men who once argued, in an analogous campaign, for the retirement of the 30-year long bond. Blink, and Josh Bolten becomes Bob Rubin.

I can almost hear Brad saying something along the lines of, “I knew Bob Rubin. Bob Rubin was a friend of mine. Director, you’re no Bob Rubin.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *