Como um Nobel da Paz toca os tambores de guerra

Recomendo a leitura completa do artigo no New York Times, mas aqui ficam alguns excertos:

The White House’s goal is to persuade Congress to authorize a limited military strike against Syria to punish it for a deadly chemical weapons attack. But after a frenetic week of wall-to-wall intelligence briefings, dozens of phone calls and hours of hearings with senior members of Mr. Obama’s war council, more and more lawmakers, Republican and Democrat, are lining up to vote against the president. (…)

To improve its odds, the White House is enlisting virtually every senior official from the president on down. In addition to members of Congress, it is reaching out to Jewish groups, Arab-Americans, left-leaning think tanks and even officials from the George W. Bush administration, some of whom are acting as surrogates. (…)

The next phase of the campaign will be more individualized, and more from Mr. Obama himself. Democrats who are balking are being asked at least to vote against Republican procedural moves meant to delay or derail an up-or-down vote. After all the arguments are exhausted, aides said, it will come down to a personal pitch: the president needs you to save him from a debilitating public defeat. (…)

The White House is also putting officials, including the president, before audiences and television cameras. Mr. Obama will tape interviews on Monday with ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS and CNN. Mr. McDonough will appear on all five Sunday news programs, and on Monday the national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, will address the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan public policy institute.

The last time the White House lobbied this intensively on a single issue was the 2009 health care law.

Anúncios

Grandes momentos da imprensa portuguesa

Grandes momentos da imprensa portuguesa

“Let me tell you a story”

Elephant (Roger Ebert)

The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. “Wouldn’t you say,” she asked, “that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?” No, I said, I wouldn’t say that. “But what about ‘Basketball Diaries’?” she asked. “Doesn’t that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?” The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it’s unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. “Events like this,” I said, “if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.”

In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of “explaining” them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.

(via BoingBoing)

Welfare trap 101

«¿Un empleo? Gracias, pero prefiero seguir cobrando la ayuda»

«Buenos días, le llamamos de Lanbide para comunicarle que, como perceptor de la Renta de Garantía de Ingresos, ha sido seleccionado para optar a uno de los 212 puestos de trabajo que ofrecemos en Bilbao». Respuesta: «Gracias, pero no me interesa. Prefiero seguir cobrando la ayuda». Conversaciones como ésta forman parte de un estudio del servicio Vasco de Empleo, Lanbide, para conocer la empleabilidad de los perceptores de la Renta de Garantía de Ingresos (prestación económica para personas sin ingresos) en Bilbao. El resultado de la experiencia desveló fraudes y prácticas poco correctas entre algunos de los perceptores de esta prestación. Casi la mitad de las cerca de 2.000 personas con las que se intentó contactar para ofrecerles un empleo o no estaban disponibles -no contestaban al teléfono- o no les interesaba trabajar. Incluso, cerca de un centenar aseguró estar ya trabajando a pesar de cobrar supuestamente la RGI. (…)

En concreto, se ofertaron 212 puestos de trabajo reales destinados a perceptores de esta prestación en Bilbao. El área de servicio del Ayuntamiento de la capital vizcaína facilitó a Lanbide los datos y teléfonos de 1.875 perceptores para que Lanbide se pusiera en contacto con ellos. La primera dificultad que encontraron los técnicos de Lanbide fue dar con estas personas. Según el balance de esta experiencia, fue imposible contactar con 498 de estos perceptores. A 335 se les telefoneó un mínimo de cuatro veces en distintos días (a algunos se les llamó hasta ocho veces). Otros 163, en cambio, tenían un número erróneo o restringido.

Con los que se consiguió contactar también hubo sorpresas. De hecho, 279 personas a las que se les ofreció la oportunidad de un puesto de trabajo dijeron directamente que no estaban interesados. De ellos, 74 aseguraron que se encontraban trabajando y otros tres confesaron que vivían fuera de Euskadi, algo incompatible para cobrar esta prestación. Además, otros perceptores argumentaron que se encontraban al cuidado de menores o mayores, que estaban estudiando o que se hallaban enfermos. (…) Finalmente, se consiguió concertar la entrevista con 939 de los 1.875 perceptores, aunque de ellos 57 no acudieron a la cita. De los entrevistados, 213 llevaban más de seis años en el desempleo y 109 aseguraron no haber trabajado nunca.

Reino Unido: o medo de viver

Quando me mudei para as ilhas britânicas, uma das primeiras coisas que me chamou à atenção foi a forma como os britânicos pareciam viver permanentemente num filme de terror. Embora existam variações regionais relativamente fortes, é bastante evidente que, até nas localidades onde o crime violento é virtualmente inexistente, determinadas normas culturais diferem muito pouco. A minha primeira surpresa – especialmente porque as câmaras de vigilância nas ruas já não constituem nenhuma novidade para quem segue a imprensa local – foi verificar que até os mini-mercados exibiam vários cartazes com frases do género “Tem menos de 25? Esteja preparado para mostrar uma forma de identificação”. Os avisos referem-se a quem pretenda comprar qualquer bebida alcoólica, cuja venda é proibida a menores de 18. Várias lojas adoptaram este esquema para evitar a compra por parte de menores com um aspecto mais velho – ou seja, quem, neste caso, aparente ter menos de 25, arrisca-se a ter de provar que tem, na verdade, pelo menos 18. Como seria de esperar, estes esquemas, que começaram com um limite de 21, já estão a chegar aos 30 em retalhistas de grande relevo [Tesco, Asda]. O tema é uma espécie de tabu perante estrangeiros porque, tal como a prática do recolher obrigatório que menciono mais abaixo, a intenção não parece sequer ser a de “proteger” os menores do consumo, mas sim de “proteger” a sociedade dos menores que consomem. Continue reading “Reino Unido: o medo de viver”

The Curse of Machinery

A propósito das recentes declarações de Barack Obama sobre os supostos efeitos negativos da tecnologia na taxa de emprego, parece-me indicado recomendar a leitura de um pequeno texto de Henry Hazlitt, publicado em 1946 no seu Economics in One Lesson, o qual começa da seguinte forma:

Among the most viable of all economic delusions is the belief that machines on net balance cre­ate unemployment. Destroyed a thousand times, it has risen a thousand times out of its own ashes as hardy and vigorous as ever. Whenever there is long-con­tinued mass unemployment, ma­chines get the blame anew. This fallacy is still the basis of many labor union practices. The public tolerates these practices because it either believes at bottom that the unions are right, or is too con­fused to see just why they are wrong.

The belief that machines cause unemployment, when held with any logical consistency, leads to preposterous conclusions. Not only must we be causing unemployment with every technological improve­ment we make today, but primitive man must have started causing it with the first efforts he made to save himself from needless toil and sweat.

Como cortar um défice orçamental

Expect More Bailouts, de Veronique de Rugy

Short of declaring bankruptcy, Greece should cut its spending and mainly reform its entitlement programs. Using a large data set covering over 20 O.E.C.D. countries and spanning nearly four decades, the economists Andrew Biggs, Kevin Hassett and Matt Jensen identify more than 100 instances in which countries addressed their budget gaps. They find that “the typical unsuccessful fiscal consolidation consisted of 53 percent tax increases and 47 percent spending cuts. By contrast, the typical successful fiscal consolidation consisted of 85 percent spending cuts.” Their findings are consistent with the work of Harvard’s Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna.

They also found that successful consolidations involve important reductions in social transfers and that “cuts to government wage expenditures, meaning the size and pay of the public sector work force, and cuts to subsidies are typical in both successful and unsuccessful consolidations.” Unfortunately, only a minority of countries chose to cut spending. Most relied on revenue increases, which were unsuccessful in reducing the debt ratio.