Mandatory Private Health Insurance

A friend at work was proposing something along these lines, so I collected these articles to give him some context. Read the rest of this entry »

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“Moderate” Hopes for Rational Response to Katrina

While its hard not to be cynical about
politicians, even on a Friday, I did see two articles today that gave me some
amount of hope…

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Rationalizing Civil Servant Incentives

In the wake of the Katrina blame-game, my first
thought about the root of the problem is the culture of risk-aversion inherent
in bureaucracy. Given that we do need lots of people to tackle big problems, is
there any way to organize them to be more responsive and accountable — without
the discipline of the military or the customer pressures of
corporations?
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Pundita on the Kargil Morality Tale, told in soup

Pundita was kind enough to give me a personal
shout-out in her poignant, first-person parable about shepherding Americans in
Kargil — as a metaphor for the central truth that foreign policy systematically
overlooks
:

Dr.
Ernie, I hope you see this essay. The ultimate point I make is that
it’s just a bunch of
people
, whether they reside on
the other side of the globe or right here in the USA. To never lose sight of
that fact is to always have a bridge that is much stronger than academic
analysis and policy and development language.

We might not always be
‘right’ in how we try to deal with the problems of the developing world, but the
bridge allows us to keep refining communications.

So it is for dealing
with misunderstandings that arise between neighbors, co-workers and family
members, and so it is for “foreign” relations and development strategies.

I’m
not saying a couple master chefs can’t do wonders with a few kerosene stoves and
cooking pots, but the other Westerners at the table were lulled by their
expectations into assuming that the kitchen staff and accouterments matched the
menu offerings.

That,
in one sentence, is the type of mistake behind much that goes wrong with US
policy toward governments in less-developed countries. Such governments have
learned to project the trappings of modernized administration but are in truth a
long way from modern and informed.


Pundita’s response to Sach’s “Global War on Poverty”

Foreign-policy blogger Pundita graciously took
the time to summarize her perspective on Jeffrey Sach’s proposed solution to global poverty. Read the rest of this entry »


Pundita on post-modern paternalism

I perhaps didn’t quite make my point as well as I
would’ve liked — I came across as way more ‘soft’ than I’d intended — but it
was still gratifying to see Pundita’s lengthy response to post-modern paternalism:

But Pundita gets your
drift and appreciates it: as private citizens we should strive to create
relationships that are based on our personal value system. Yet if 9/11 has
taught us anything, we should also pay more attention to our civic duties.

don’t know how to term
this matrix, except maybe to call it, “What Americans and especially Americans
in big business, the news media, State Department, Pentagon, Congress and the
White House need to know about peoples in really old cultures who are stuck in
their ways and very proud, and who know they have to change their ways but who
don’t appreciate peoples from very young cultures who act like know-it-alls just
because they’re
rich.”

I sense from the
wording of your proposal that this matrix is also of interest to you. If so, let
it be known that we here in Pundita-land — this would include even the squirrel
member of Pundita’s foreign policy team — applaud all intelligent efforts to
bridge the old-young gap in US foreign policy relations. It is this gap, rather
than the communism/ capitalism, democracy/ despotism, WTO membership/
nonmembership gaps that is the most important one for American foreign relations
to bridge.

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When is Balance One-Sided?

This anecdote from Daniel Weintraub, about a panel including my friend Keith Richman, would be just too funny — if it wasn’t so sad:

On my way out, a legislative aide who was attending stopped me to chat and asked, “Isn’t this a one-sided panel? Two moderate legislators and an administration official.”

I guess he meant that there were not enough partisans on the panel.

But only in Sacramento could a Republican, a Democrat and a Democrat working for a Republican be considered one-sided.

Read the rest of this entry »