Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dunkin' Donuts cowers in the face of neocon intimidation

Seems that their spokesperson in their latest ad campaign was wearing a scarf that looked, well, a bit too Arab:
Critics, including conservative commentator Michelle Malkin, complained that the scarf wrapped around her looked like a kaffiyeh, the traditional Arab headdress. Critics who fueled online complaints about the ad in blogs say such scarves have come to symbolize Muslim extremism and terrorism.

The kaffiyeh, Ms. Malkin wrote in a column posted online last Friday, “has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad. Popularized by Yasser Arafat and a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos, the apparel has been mainstreamed by both ignorant (and not-so-ignorant) fashion designers, celebrities, and left-wing icons.”

Riiight. She wore a scarf that looked a bit like ones that Arabs might wear. Therefore, she doesn't hate Arabs, therefore she must be an anti-Semite. I think that's how those people's minds work, anyhow. From here.

What if the US had been on the gold standard?

A number of people (mostly libertarians, in the contemporary North American sense of the term) advocate a return to the gold standard, notwithstanding the fact that no country has used it in decades. Econbrowser has an interesting thought experiment- suppose the US had gone back on the gold standard in 2006?

Many things might have been different had the U.S. decided to promise to exchange dollars for gold at the 2006 price of $600 per ounce of gold. But let's start with some of the things that wouldn't have changed. I contend that we'd be no less worried today about geopolitical events in places like Nigeria, Iraq and Iran. The phenomenal growth of the Asian economies would presumably have continued. The bad mortgage loans made prior to that time would still be on the books and still be problematic, with attendant worries about the financial soundness of many institutions. All of this would have meant an increase in the demand for gold. Equilibrium would then require an increase in the relative price of gold compared to what it had been in 2006. That is, the number of umbrellas, or cars, or chairs that people would be willing to surrender in order to obtain an ounce of gold would have gone up relative to what it had been in 2006.

Now, if the number of dollars you have to surrender to obtain an ounce of gold is fixed by the government's commitment to a gold standard, and the number of umbrellas, or cars, or chairs you'd be willing to surrender for an ounce of gold has gone up, the only way that can be is if the dollar price of umbrellas, cars, and chairs have all fallen. Maintaining a gold standard while the relative price of gold increases requires deflation in the dollar prices of all other goods.

For more, check the original article. It doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement, that's for sure. The thing is, fiat currency gives governments more flexibility to control the economy than a gold-backed currency does. Presumably that's why libertarians don't like it, but that flexibility is necessary to keep a complex society functioning properly.

Thanks to Stephen Gordon at babble for the link.

Monday, May 26, 2008

This is unfortunate...

Fear is mounting at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver that the stolen gold artwork by late Haida native artist Bill Reid may be melted down because of their gold value.

"That will be a disaster if those pieces are melted down," Moya Waters, the museum's associate director, said Sunday.

Twelve of Reid's works displayed in glass-enclosed, stone showcases were stolen overnight on Friday. They include bracelets, brooches and cufflinks. Three golden-coloured Mexican art objects also vanished.
From here. I guess the fact that gold is running close to $1000 an ounce makes stuff like this more likely. On the radio they said that the museum is offering a $50,000 reward; the value of the gold in the works is apparently only around $15,000, so maybe the thieves will jump at the chance. Here's hoping, anyhow.