Cable news can rot your brain and make you crazy. A place where I’ve been going a lot recently almost always has a TV on cable news. After being subjected to this garbage for awhile, I sort of understand why so many people favor going to war — or at least “intervening” — in countries with oppressive dictators. The simplistic, emotional and context-free reports from television leave the impression that the obvious right thing to do is to intervene.
It seems that most people have seen so many simplistic television shows and movies — and TV news mirrors that simplicity — that they believe fixing complex problems is simple and easy. It’s maddening, because the solutions aren’t as easy as implied by the narratives laid out on news channels.
Speaking of wars, I’m worry about what’s going on in Iran. I’m not making a prediction about what’s going to happen there, because there are too many possible scenarios. But I can see the very real possibility of it leading to a large war that most people don’t want — all because the small players there are aligned with bigger powers outside the region.
If Israel attacks Iran, there’s a possibility that Russia could try to intervene to defend Iran. The Russians have already been warning Israel not to attack. If Russia gets involved — which might not even happen, of course — there’s going to be a lot of internal pressure here for the United States to get involved on the other side. Wasn’t there some big war nearly a hundred years ago that was triggered by an assassination simply because big powers were aligned with the players in a smaller-scale conflict? The Iran-Israel conflict isn’t exactly the same, but it’s similar enough to bring World War I to mind for me.
Did you watch Wednesday night’s GOP presidential debate? I didn’t. Other than catching a few specific segments on YouTube, I haven’t seen a single debate during this campaign cycle. It keeps me saner not to get frustrated with the idiocy that comes with these things. I like to pretend they don’t exist. Now if I could just pretend that the federal government didn’t exist, that would be a good next step.
Those who oppose manufacturing in China are today’s Luddites. That hit me the other night while I was listening to an economics podcast. The Luddites were those in England in the 19th century who didn’t want the mechanization of the textile industry and went so far as to destroy equipment to try to “save jobs.” Those who are trying to stop international trade just don’t understand economics and don’t understand that the distributed manufacturing process that we see today is good for everybody involved.
On the same subject, those who complain about Chinese manufacturing because they say it’s terrible for the workers need to watch the ABC News report from this week about what it’s like in the Foxconn factory that makes Apple equipment. People are lined up competing for those jobs, because they’re far better jobs than they can get back in their small villages. Take a look at the conditions in the villages they’re escaping from. Would they like easier work and higher pay. Of course. (Wouldn’t we all?) The work they’re doing is making their lives better. It’s making their families’ lives better. And it’s providing those in the West with products for lower prices than we’d otherwise pay. It’s a win for everyone.
If you’re interested in how American companies can successfully compete against Chinese manufacturing, there’s a fascinating discussion of that on this week’s EconTalk podcast. Adam Davidson of NPR’s Planet Money talks about his recent reporting about what makes some U.S. manufacturers successful. I learned a lot from the interview, and I highly recommend it.
Did you happen to notice that the National Enquirer has what it claims is a picture of Whitney Houston in her casket? That sparked a bit of discussion on my Facebook page Wednesday about the propriety of it. At least one person saw it as disrespectful, but someone else objected to the “inherent gnosticism” of being upset about such displays.
I neither object to it nor promote it. I just find it funny. I’m amused that there’s this weird fascination with celebrities that creates a market for it and I’m amused that the tabloids cater to that in ways that make it seem like important news. All around, it’s just self-satirizing.
One of our regulars around here got some very good news on Wednesday. He’s recently returned to full-time ministry and got official word from his denomination that he’s been reinstated to the roster of active, full-time ordained ministers. This is great news for him and for the church he’s recently started serving. We’re proud of you, JB. Keep up the good work.