Morning links: What if we are all middle class?


The world goes middle class, vs. the case for less
Infectious Greed– Does the increasing first-world sense of austerity give the rest of the world room to grow into middle-class status? Or will we all meet in the middle somewhere, with declining resource requirements increasingly hard-wired into our makeup.
As governments borrow, many people save
New York Times– The association of more public dissaving with more private saving continues to be confirmed with data from recent quarters.
Misguided compassion hurts the poor– The more impoverished the country, the greater the need for foreign aid; the greater the foreign aid, the more privileged the elite; the more privileged the elite, the greater the adherence to policies that resulted in poverty.

Spillonomics – Underestimating risk
NY Times– For all the criticism BP executives may deserve, they are far from the only people to struggle with such low-probability, high-cost events. Nearly everyone does.
World military spending soars in spite of recession– Although military spending wasn’t usually a major part of the economic stimulus packages, it wasn’t cut either.
Switzerland ratchets up tax relief as rest of Europe fights hefty deficits– Tax breaks under an “auxiliary company regime” have helped Geneva attract oil and commodity trading companies. One third of the world’s petroleum is traded through the city.

Why Europe is responding so timidly to its economic crisis– A whiff of inflation and Americans think about Jimmy Carter. In Germany, when there’s a hint of a whiff of a trace of inflation, they think about Hitler.
Iran selling 45 billion euros of reserves for dollars– Iran’s shift out of euros has been prompted by the single currency’s decline. Other central banks, including those of the Persian Gulf states, also are selling their euro.
When does large-scale public ownership work?– Very often governmental prestige stifles innovation and implies a series of more general insider, elitist, and sometimes authoritarian attitudes.
Why our poverty measure misleads
Real Clear Markets– People get richer but “poverty” stays stuck. The new “supplemental measure” raises questions about whether the statistic is tailored to favor a political agenda.

WikiLeaks and Julian Paul Assange– WikiLeaks is not quite an organization; it is better described as a media insurgency.
How links hurt reading– Reading on the Web takes more self-discipline than it does offline. How many browser tabs do you have open right now?
Life in a glass house– Self-invasions of privacy on the Internet now compete with “bureaucracy with its documents” and “the press with its reporters” for a place on Kundera’s list of the institutionalization.
How butterfly wings can stop counterfeit currency– Scientists have reproduced the brilliant optical effect of tropical butterfly wings. The advance could lower bank fraud by leading to improved security in the printing of paper money.
Selling free food– The sense of adventure and discovery that comes with trying to make weeds palatable spreads even to those working with more traditional ingredients. Producers feel empowered to innovate. Consumers offer direct financial support for even their most radical R&D efforts.

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