Tag Archives: Trade-offs

Monday Smorgasbord

I don’t have time to post these by themselves. They’ve been sitting in my “to do” pile for too long, but I find them all to be interesting reads. Read what interests you.

“How to Prevent a Depression” by Nouriel Roubini.

France imposes a “fat tax” on sugary soft drinks to combat obesity.

CNAS publication: “Hard Choices: Responsible Defense in an Age of Austerity,” by LtGen David Barno, Nora Bensahel, and Travis Sharp.

Megan McArdle: “By 2020, cases of throat cancer caused by the human papillomavirus may outnumber those of HPV-caused cervical cancer.”

Hitch on the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki.

Maurizio Viroli: Silvio Berlusconi and the moral malaise of Italy.

“The Value of Values: Soft Power Under Obama” Mark P. Lagon

A debate on whether too many students are in college. (My answer is yes.)

Cliff May, “Autocracies United: Why “reset” with Russia and “engagement” with Iran have failed”

A journalist on the argument for better football helmets, and an economist on the trade-off.

Lot of stuff going on here. Enjoy.

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Filed under Economics, Education, Europe, Foreign Policy, Health & Nutrition

“We Need Jobs, It’s That Simple”

A “rancorous” public debate over a $7 billion oil pipeline from Canada through the US highlights a more common debate among policy-makers: assessing the value of trade-offs.

“We need the jobs, it’s that simple,” said Bret Marshall, 53, a laborer’s union worker who said he hoped to get work on the line and drove more than 700 miles across Montana to be here for Tuesday night’s hearing.

The State Department concluded last month that the project, Keystone XL, would cause minimal environmental impact if it was operated according to regulations, and the operator, TransCanada, has said the nearly 2,000-mile line would create 20,000 jobs in the United States. Opposition groups around the country, though, said the federal study did not consider the effects of a major spill, while supporters said the nation’s economy had continued to worsen, making Keystone XL all the more crucial.

This is a classic trade-off: jobs versus environmental protection. Ideally there would not be a conflict, but we don’t live in that ideal, win-win world. Environmentalists have a strong case to make, but it is hard to make it when one-sixth of the American workforce is either unemployed or discouraged from looking. The priority now must be on job creation. When we again have full employment we can discuss such environmental impacts. For the time being, unless that impact is quite significant, it must wait. Obama was correct when, earlier this month, he asked the EPA to withdraw the draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

On that decision, the LA Times reported:

Environmental groups swiftly criticized the decision as the most recent surrender by the administration to the business lobby. “The Obama administration is caving to big polluters at the expense of protecting the air we breathe,” said League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski. “This is a huge win for corporate polluters and huge loss for public health.”

It wasn’t just a political move, it was an economic decision. If he was “caving” to something, it was to the priority of job creation. It is a well-understood trade-off, whether the environmental groups choose to acknowledge it or not.

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Filed under Domestic Politics, Economics, Energy, Environment