Makrellimajandusest, gurmeerburgeritest, meediamagnaadist ja ebavõrdsusest USA’s

Kes meist poleks televisiooni ja filmide vaheldusel teadlik sellest, et USA vanglates on raha kasutamine vangide vahel keelatud ja selle asemel on juba aastakümneid teenuseid ning kaupu mustal turul ostetud sigarettidega. Hiljuti otsustati aga vanglates suitsetamine ära keelata, mis tähendas asendaja leidmist sigarettidele. Wall Street Journal tõestab, et inimeste leidlikkusel pole piire:

There’s been a mackerel economy in federal prisons since about 2004, former inmates and some prison consultants say. That’s when federal prisons prohibited smoking and, by default, the cigarette pack, which was the earlier gold standard.

Prisoners need a proxy for the dollar because they’re not allowed to possess cash. Money they get from prison jobs (which pay a maximum of 40 cents an hour, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons) or family members goes into commissary accounts that let them buy things such as food and toiletries. After the smokes disappeared, inmates turned to other items on the commissary menu to use as currency.

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Rupert Murdoch on tõenäoliselt üks edukaimaid meediamagnaate maailmas, kes nii vihatud kui armastatud, kuid eelkõige siiksi vihatud, üle terve maailma. Vanity Fair’i ajakirjanikul õnnestus mõne kuu vältel Rupert’i tegemisi jälgida ja tulemuseks on suht avameelne ja pretensioonitu artikkel Tuesday’s with Rupert:

His odd lack of seductiveness or felicitousness—contributing to his aura of villainy—became after a while alluring in itself. There’s no spin, because he really can’t explain himself. Rather, what you see is what you get. He’s transparent. The nature of the beast is entirely evident.

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Esimese hooga nagu ei olekski võimalik hamburgerist mingit pikemat huvitavat lugu kirjutada. Ent sellegipoolest on üks mees hakkama saanud terve raamatuga, mis andis alust ka Weekly Standardis ühele valgustavale loole sellest, kuidas lihtsast võileivast on aastatega saanud isegi gurmee toit:

This might sound excessive, but the DB is still a magnificent creation. The flavor combination of the sirloin and short ribs is divine–even without the fresh black truffle. Its inventor, the French chef Daniel Boulud, describes the DB, which weighs nine ounces and is four inches tall, as a “burger for grown-ups.” Boulud had the idea for “a fancy French-American burger” in late 2000, and to this day, out of 100 lunchtime customers at DB Bistro Moderne, roughly 80 will order the $32 indulgence. (When in season, a roughly $150 version is available, with a double portion of black truffle shavings.)

But is it even a burger? Not so, says Marc Sherry, proprietor of the Old Homestead Steakhouse in lower Manhattan’s meat-packing district. “It’s a good product–a very damn good product–but it’s not what America is looking for in a burger.” Two years after Boulud’s creation debuted, the Old Homestead, which was the first American restaurant to feature Japanese Kobe beef on its menu, announced it would be selling its own hamburger for the first time in its 140-year history: the $41 Kobe burger.

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Prantslased ei vea enda poliitilise loomingulisusega peaaegu kunagi alt. Nii on prantslastel juba õige pea võimalus valida endale esindajaid “uuest antikapitalistlikust parteist”, mille juhiks süütult poisiliku väljanägemisega Olivier Besancenot. Väidetavalt töölisklassi huve esindav noormees pole aga kaugeltki läbi ja lõhki töölisklassist nagu kirjutab Weekly Standrd:

Another reason for Besancenot’s popularity is that he is supposedly working class. He got a job with the French postal service in 1997, when he was 23. Technically, he still qualifies as a mailman and earns less than 1,200 euros a month. That allows him to dress casually when he’s on TV, use down to earth language, and dismiss other guests as “members of the elite.” In fact, though the public doesn’t know it, this is largely a fraud.

Besancenot never actually worked much as a mailman. Under French law, workers are entitled to long leaves, on full salary, if they serve as officers of unions or political parties. Besancenot is both. And he knows how to make the most of it. He has been on leave almost continuously, either as a union activist or as an LCR figure–assistant to an LCR member of the European Parliament, party spokesman, or presidential candidate. This was his real job, and it was much better paid than his nominal job at the postal service. As a European Parliament assistant, he apparently made 5,000 euros a month.

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Minu jaoks tunduvad mitmed Joseph Stiglitz’i avaldused ja soovitused kummaliselt piiravad ja sobimatud. Ma ei ole selles arvamuses üksi ja kuna Stiglitz ei kao enda Nobeli memoriaalpreemia tõttu ajaleheveergudelt kuskile on see hea võimalus viidata ühele Ken Rogoff’i Stiglitz’i kriitikale, mis võtab kokku enamuse sellest, millega mees ka täna tegeleb vaatamata sellele, et kirjutis pärineb kuue aasta tagant:

Throughout your book, you betray an unrelenting belief in the pervasiveness of market failures, and a staunch conviction that governments can and will make things better. You call us “market fundamentalists.” We do not believe that markets are always perfect, as you accuse. But we do believe there are many instances of government failure as well and that, on the whole, government failure is a far bigger problem than market failure in the developing world. Both World Bank President Jim Wolfensohn and IMF Managing Director Horst Köhler have frequently pointed to the fundamental importance of governance and institutions in development. Again, your alternative medicines, involving ever-more government intervention, are highly dubious in many real-world settings.

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Arnold Kling ja Nick Schulz üritavad selgitada, mis on sissetulekute ebavõrdsuse peamiseks peamiseks põhjuseks USA’s. Nende arvates on sissetulekute ebavõrdsuse kasvul neli peamist põhjust (1) tehnoloogia, (2) “võitja võtab kõik” turud, kus suured domineerivad, (3) immigratsioon, sest võimekatele on kõik teed avatud ja (4) perekonna struktuur:

A trend is underway in America for marriage to be increasingly “assortative.” That means children of well-educated parents tend to marry one another and the children of less educated parents tend to marry one another. This was less the case a few generations ago. For example, sociologists Christine Schwartz of the University of Wisconsin and Robert Mare of UCLA found that beginning in the early 1970s there was a striking “decline in the odds that those with very low levels of education marry up.” And they found that between 1940 and the late 1970s the likelihood that someone with only a high-school diploma would marry someone with a college degree dropped by over 40 percent.

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