Friday, December 18, 2009

Linkism, Belated

A couple of interesting pieces out on the economy. From David Leonhardt’s consistently good “The Economic Scene” column, here’s the first three grafs:
Greg Woock is the chief executive of Pinger, a fast-growing Silicon Valley company that makes iPhone applications. So Mr. Woock spends a fair amount of time interviewing job applicants. In almost every interview, he told me recently, the applicant asks about Pinger’s health insurance plan.

Now think about that for a minute.

In the cradle of American innovation, workers are making career choices based on co-payments, pre-existing conditions and other minutiae of health insurance. They are not necessarily making decisions based on what would be best for their careers and, in turn, for the American economy — that is, “where their skills match and where they can grow the most,” as another Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Cyriac Roeding, says. Health insurance, Mr. Roeding adds, “is distorting the decision-making.”

And Noam Scheiber on business schools:
One of the themes that came up while I was profiling White House manufacturing czar Ron Bloom earlier this fall was managerial talent. A lot of people talk about reviving the domestic manufacturing sector, which has shed almost one-third of its manpower over the last eight years. But some of the people I spoke to asked a slightly different question: Even if you could reclaim a chunk of those blue-collar jobs, would you have the managers you need to supervise them?

Basically, business schools have been churning out financial types rather than people who like to make stuff, and there’s far more innovation in the latter than the former. Good read.

A good comment on conservatism:
Think back to the 2004 RNC—which I happened to be up in New York covering. After witnessing three days of inchoate, spittle-flecked rage from the people who had the run of all three branches of government, some wag (probably Jon Stewart) puzzled over the “anger of the enfranchised.” And itwould be puzzling if the driving force here were a public policy agenda, rather than a set of cultural grievances. Jay Gatsby learned too late that wealth alone wouldn’t confer the status he had truly craved all along. What we saw in ‘04 was fury at the realization that ascendancy to political power had not (post-9/11 Lee Greenwood renaissance notwithstanding) brought parallel culturalpower. The secret shame of the conservative base is that they’ve internalized the enemy’s secular cosmopolitan value set and status hierarchy—hence this obsession with the idea that somewhere, someone who went to Harvard might be snickering at them.

A libertarian admits that French health care > U.S. health care (well, it's more nuanced than that). Speaking of—my insurer only accepts mailed checks. Does it accept credit cards over the internet, like practically every other big business today? Nay, my friend, nay. Does it accept credit cards/check number over the phone, as most big businesses did in the eighties? Nay. Only a mailed check. WTF, insurance industry?

This is a really cool development in the e-reader business: The Atlantic and Amazon are starting to bring short fiction to the Kindle. Very cool—the great thing about the internet is that it unshackles writers (theoretically) from length restrictions.

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