Dynamist Blog

Yes, I'm Alive

Because of a brain defect, I'm unable to spend my time surfing the Web and writing blog posts and still get any real work done. Lately I've been opting for the latter, mostly intellectually stimulating but financially impoverishing research on economic sociology (for a Boston Globe Ideas section piece) and "modern with curves" design (for a Slate slideshow essay), plus a little bit of glamour research squeezed in on the side.

I also wrote my NYT column, which looks at interesting research on child labor in developing countries. Here's the beginning:

WHEN Americans think about child labor in poor countries, they rarely picture girls fetching water or boys tending livestock. Yet most of the 211 million children, ages 5 to 14, who work worldwide are not in factories. They are working in agriculture - from 92 percent in Vietnam to 63 percent in Guatemala - and most are not paid directly.

"Contrary to popular perception in high-income countries, most working children are employed by their parents rather than in manufacturing establishments or other forms of wage employment," two Dartmouth economists, Eric V. Edmonds and Nina Pavcnik, wrote in "Child Labor in the Global Economy," published in the Winter 2005 Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Their article surveys what is known about child labor. Research over the past several years, by these economists and others, has begun to erode some popular beliefs about why children work, what they do and when they are likely to leave work for school.

Good TV

Battlestar Galactica, which may very well be the best show on TV and is certainly the most philosophical, starts its second season on July 15. To catch people up, the Sci-Fi Channel is running a marathon on Wednesday, starting at 10 a.m. ET/9 a.m. CT. For the uninitiated, this LAT article provides background.

Is Nancy Pelosi Stupid, or Does She Think We Are?

The House has passed an amendment prohibiting the use of federal funds to seize private property for private economic development projects. In its report on the bill, the LAT quotes the Runaway-Bride-Eyed minority leader's reason for opposing it. She said she doesn't want to withhold federal dollars "for the enforcement of any decision of the Supreme Court, no matter how opposed I am to that decision."

This is, of course, a complete non sequitur. The Supreme Court's Kelo decision in no way said that cities must take private property or that Congress should encourage takings. It said those takings weren't constitutional prohibited. If anything, the House bill enforces Kelo, which requires legislative, rather than constitutional, protections at the federal level. Either Pelosi is an idiot or this is an ass-covering attempt to justify her support of takings by vaguely associating it with her support for Roe v. Wade.

The LAT report also mentions that "California and at least eight other states have laws on the books that forbid the use of the eminent domain power to condemn private property for economic development, except in 'blighted' areas." Does Pelosi oppose her own state's laws as well?

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