Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Of deals, new and otherwise

As supportive as I am of America becoming more of an "ownership society", I am very skeptical of President Bush's social security reform plans. Borrowing billions of dollars to put into private accounts doesn't seem wise. It's akin to an individual building credit card debt to invest in the stock market. The only meaninful difference is that we're using the full faith and credit of the United States government to get good rates on that debt. With our twin deficits (trade and budget) continuing to climb with no sign of leveling, piling on the debt necessary to finance private social security accounts would put undue strain on the faith and credit we're depending on.

Rather we should get over the enormous baby boomer hump by reducing government spending, broadening the tax base, and cutting benefits. Eventually there will come a time, generations from now, when social security will have a surplus again. Only then can we safely shift into a private account system. The Bushies may be fearful that, by that time, new New Deal Democrats could be in power. But if Bush sinks our economy by taking on too much debt, he might bring about exactly what he fears, just as the last depression spawned the first New Deal.

Monday, March 21, 2005

France's multi-polar world

FT.com / World / UK - EU support ebbs for ending China arms ban

Britain seems to be coming to its senses about lifting the EU ban on arms sales to China. I've been wondering why Britain was going along with this in the first place. I know that France wants a "multi-polar" world, with America's might checked by real competition. France doesn't want to bulk up militarily itself. So lifting the embargo may be France's way of empowering China to create a better "balance." I figured that Britain at least would realize the folly and danger of such a scheme. The Cold War was certainly multi-polar. The hundreds of years European countries tore each other apart were certainly multi-polar. Is that really what France wants?

Wolfowitz, aid and extreme poverty

President Bush's appointment of Paul Wolfowitz to head the World Bank makes me think the President either thinks very hard about his appointments or not at all.

Part of me thinks he just wants to plug his buddies into whatever high post is available. Then again, it might be an astute maneuver to get the World Bank to focus more on encouraging democracy through its aid.

Some think money given to non-democracies only ends up in the pockets of corrupt officials or otherwise wasted. In The Education of Paul Wolfowitz by Fareed Zakaria, the Newsweek columnist reminds us that Taiwan, Indonesia, and South Korea were all under authoritarian regimes when they achieved some of the greatest strides in history at relieving extreme poverty. And they all have since become democracies.

But I wonder about North Korea. North Korea gets a substantial amount of food aid, although many of its people starve nonetheless. What if that aid were stopped? Certainly many more would starve in the immediate aftermath. But if North Koreans were to bear the full brunt of their government's policies, would they then finally shake off the despots? Would such a calculated strategy be immoral, even if it resulted in a net decrease in starvation?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

The birth of my blog

Hello, readers in the distant future (I can only assume you're reading this in the archive, since it will likely take a while for this blog to pick up steam).

My name is Daniel Sanchez, and this is the new home for my ideas. Your ideas are always welcome to visit.

My posts will be largely political, but I reserve the right to muse about broader culture.

First off, I am what is now called classic liberal or libertarian (although certainly not a driver's licence-burning extremist), and what used to be called just plain liberal.

That means I believe in freedom in broad terms: free people and free markets (both of which I see as impossible without the other).

I'll elucidate quite a bit in the future, as this will be a recurring theme in my writings.


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