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Poverty in U.S.: The View from the American Enterprise Institute

by The Maven Mon Sep 12th, 2005 at 11:13:19 AM EST

Last Friday's New York Times provided us with a truly boneheaded op-ed by Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute, "Broken Yardstick", which took issue with the new Census Bureau report on poverty rates.  (For those who might not know, the AEI is one of the major right-wing think tanks in the U.S., along with the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute.)  I understand the Times' policy of publishing op-eds that disagree with the editorial page's "forceful, long-held view on a certain topic", but the illogical posturing and lack of thoughtful reasoning that pervade Eberstadt's essay are hardly a testament to the process of editing those submissions.

Eberstadt's principal thesis seems to be that America's measures of poverty are seriously flawed, given that the poverty rate is higher now than it was 30 years ago, in 1974.  While there might be some changes worth examining (see this Census page for some discussion, and more generally, this series of links), the types of examples he provides are both specious and misleading to the extreme.  The Census Bureau, interestingly, does provide a link to the AEI's website for a seminar series on poverty.  Not surprisingly, Eberstadt made a powerpoint presentation, "Indicators of Deprivation and Wellbeing in Modern America", back in March of this year at one of these seminars, covering much the same ground as his op-ed.   Let's take a look below at some of his distortions put forth in the Times:

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For Jerome: More on Energy Consumption

by The Maven Wed Jun 15th, 2005 at 09:52:30 AM EST

Further to Jerome's story on energy consumption, it seemed logical to post this as well.  (Originally, this was designed as a comment there, but it got a bit too large for that.)  I realize that there's a distinct U.S.-focus to this, but because of the tie-in with Jerome, here goes:

Today's New York Times has a front page article on the explosive growth of U.S. imports of liquefied natural gas ("LNG") and the likely impact that this trend will have on a variety of issues, several of which are discussed further after the break, below.

The principal focus of the piece is on the need to build a significant number of new terminals to handle the imports and the objections that the proposed construction is stirring up.  Patrick Wood III, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, expects at least eight additional terminals to be built in the U.S. (or just offshore) by 2010.  The article notes:

Energy companies want to construct more than 40 such terminals at a cost of $500 million to $1 billion each. The emerging conflict is taking place as some scientists and environmentalists say that the nation is once again placing too little emphasis on improving energy efficiency and making investments in other methods for producing power and heat, including wind, biomass and nuclear energy.

Meanwhile, utilities that buy gas warn that in becoming ever more reliant on natural gas from abroad, the United States would be running the same risk it made when it came to depend on oil from unstable sources in the Middle East.

It's not clear to me why energy companies are so eager to build so many new terminals at such great cost while at the same time they appear to have such reluctance to the idea of building new oil refining capacity in the U.S.  Perhaps someone can educate me.

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