Paul Krugman begins his column today, "Bits, Bands and Books," with an interesting question:
Do you remember what it was like back in the old days when we had a New Economy? In the 1990s, jobs were abundant, oil was cheap and information technology was about to change everything.
Sure I remember the 1990s. In addition to the things listed above, we had Paul Krugman writing insightful and witty books and articles about economics. I don't know if it will last, but we have that Paul Krugman back today. I particularly liked these paragraphs near the end:
Indeed, if e-books become the norm, the publishing industry as we know it may wither away. Books may end up serving mainly as promotional material for authors’ other activities, such as live readings with paid admission. Well, if it was good enough for Charles Dickens, I guess it’s good enough for me.
I was on NPR's Marketplace this evening with a commentary titled, "We need a carbon tax on gasoline." Here's the teaser:
Can you put a price on pollution? That's the question Congress takes up this week as they begin debate on the Climate Security Act of 2008. The legislation would enact a cap-and-trade system, whereby large polluters would buy and sell emission permits.
Commentator and economist Andrew Samwick has taken a look at his carbon output and his family's. He says if we're serious about cleaning up our act, we should consider a straight tax on carbon.
In a nutshell, while it is true that the largest part of our emissions come from automobiles, plenty still come from heating our homes and traveling by air. The more emission reduction we can get at the thermostat and in the air, the less we need to squeeze out of automobiles.
Andrew, I share your frustration, but you have to keep in mind that The Wall Street Journal editorial and op-ed pages are not now and never have been "news." (I remember someone calling them the closest thing to the funny pages you'll find in the Journal). For that matter, no newspaper's op-eds qualify as news unless the writer is for the first time saying something very different from what they've said before. For example, an op-ed by George W. Bush saying that taxes should be raised would indeed be news.
Anyone who has tried to place an op-ed with the WSJ recently knows that if you're saying something different from the paper's editorial position, you have a very very small chance of actually getting it published. The op-eds are seen as an extension of the editorial board's positions or as validation for what the paper either has already said, or agrees with but prefers that someone else say.
You raise the right point in your post: the op-ed ignores the fact that taxes could be higher than 19.3 percent if we wanted them to be. But that's not the point the WSJ wanted to make.
Andrew...I was there with you all the way until the last sentence. In talking about the media you said "... they have no one to blame but themselves for their declining reputations and increasing irrelevance."
Here's my problem: we (and I'm putting myself in this category) are all assuming that reputations and relevance are what motivates media types. Or we want to think that's what's motivating them. Or should be motivating them.
That might have been the case at one time and for some it may still be. But I'm increasingly coming to the conclusion that monetary compensation is the primary, and perhaps overwhelming motivator. Higher readership, page views, subscriptions, and ratings arew what get you bonuses and raises. That makes it important to attract the largest audience possible and keep them reading/ listening/watching for as long as possible.
Stan picks up on Brad DeLong's posting of Ezra Klein's thoughtful op-ed in the Los Angeles Times to address Brad's oft-asked question, "Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?" To understand Brad's exasperation, I think we should consider three progressively more challenging meanings of the word "better" in these posts: competent, professional, and inspirational.