Friday, July 30, 2004

Is Dubai the key to peace in the Middle East? I've been taking another look at this Wired article on Dubai and reading some others as well.

I'm pretty much convinced by Steven Den Beste's arguments that humiliation is as important as poverty as a key to understanding terrorism, and that those who identify with the Islamic terrorists are much less likely to do so when they have successful modern economic achievements to replace pride with humiliation. Steven has also pointed out that this kind of humiliation can be made worse rather than ameliorated by handouts. So in opposition to Steven, I believe that to all the other obstacles to America building a successful capitalist democracy in Iraq we must add the danger that they will on some level fear that having American 'help' will make this modern economy into another handout. And those other obstacles are formidable.

I still hope that we can prevent Iraq from turning into a complete disaster, but at best we can hope it will follow the example of Dubai rather than lead the Arab world. While attempting to prevent collapse in Iraq, we must look to Dubai for actual progress.

There is a sort of irony, since at least in the short term this progress would presumably mean loss of American jobs, as with India and China, and Japan in previous decades. It may even be that major economic rethinking on the order of Adam Smith's genius is required for us to absorb this, since on the path we are following now may lie eventual precipitous decline in the value of the dollar, which might well cause a collapse in the world economy. But things cannot continue otherwise, since pretty much everyone agrees successful Arab economies are the only long term cure. Major restructuring of the world economy must be the subject of another post; this one is about Dubai.

Dubai is far and away the most welcoming country for tourism in the Arab world. It is a regional hub for banking and shipping - which I believe merely means large shares of very small pies. They are building internet and industrial parks, but although they have made deals with major corporations, building may only be beginning. Still, they have made a start, and we must do whatever we can to encourage it, because progress there is not seen as synonymous with being an American puppet. I'm not sure precisely what we can do - but nobody has a plan for Iraq either, and this tiny Emirate is in much better shape.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Update: Jason doesn't feel the way the rest of this post says. See the link below.

Jason Van Steenwyk of Iraq Now is convinced the press is biased against Bush, but he still took the trouble to question a NY Times story critical of Kerry.

So what, exactly, is the tax shelter the New York Times is playing 'gotcha' with?

John Edwards, a high profile professional in a business with significant potential for malpractice liability...

wait for it...

owns an S corporation.

That's it. That's all.

And that generated a big-assed story in America's Newspaper of Reckless, with its clueless political reporters having to bother to ask "is it ethical?"

Yes, it's ethical. It's more than ethical. S corporations are a standard practice in law firms, medical practices, accounting firms, and other professional practices.

In view of this, perhaps Instapundit needs a correction. The last four words are not part of what Instapundit is quoting, they're from Reynolds.

Here's something that could have been a front-page story, but which the NYT put at the bottom of Page 15 and other papers ignored. John Edwards, the self-proclaimed champion of the little guy, used a tax shelter to avoid paying $600,000 in Medicare taxes--this from a man who made $27 million in the four years before entering the Senate and had criticized tax shelters for undermining Medicare. What would the media reaction had been if Dick Cheney was found doing the same thing?

I think we know.

Mailed to Reynolds about 10:30 PM est Monday July 14.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Instapundit watch:

In other words, a pointless exercise driven by social conservatives to fire up their base. But I wonder if people are thinking this through. If the amendment fails, as expected, isn't that going to be read as a defeat for the anti-gay-marriage folks, and as implicit permission for states to go ahead? It seems to me that it will be (which is fine with me, since I'm okay on gay marriage), but that makes me wonder why anti-gay-marriage folks are doing this. Am I missing something, or are they being played for suckers?

UPDATE: More thoughts here. And Eric Scheie has this observation: "I think that the proponents are more cynical than they might appear. I think they know they are going to lose, and therefore they'd rather lose in a big public way -- before the election."

Many neocons who favor Bush seem to think this way. They are Iraq hawks and favor tax cuts for the rich, but they can't quite believe Bush means what he says on social issues. Myself I would consider being willing to use the trust of those who rely on you against them something of a character issue. At any rate, the evidence is against calculated betrayal. If anything, some of the stuff quoted here risked offending religious supporters with hubris. If Bush is really pandering to the right with some of his statements - rather than humoring the center with the rest of them - I haven't seen an analysis to prove it, or even a serious attempt to make a case for it. It just seems natural to people who share his political beliefs but have no personal contact with serious evangelicals.

Why is Glenn Reynolds so willing to believe 'straight talker' Bush is involved in setting up some of his supporters, if not an odd combination of blind faith in some of his politics and the idea that he could not seriously believe a certain set of his religeous protestations? I disagree with them, especially the political positions often derived from them, but would require strong evidence to call someone who professed them a hypocrite.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Aside from lucrative tax incentives and ultramodern infrastructure, "it all boils down to leadership," he says. "You have to be open minded - open to international companies to come invest in your country and to let them also take a piece of the pie."

Yet more evidence they have the right idea in Dubai. India and China have become globally competetive in certain areas by their own efforts - why not the United Arab Emirates?