Bjorn Lomborg on 'Green' China Before we hail China's "green leap forward," let us not forget, writes Bjorn Lomborg in The Washington Post, that "it is beleaguered by severe pollution and generates more carbon emissions than any other nation." Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, points out that while "China indeed invests more than any other nation in environmentally friendly energy production," the green energy its producing is sold to Western nations--"which makes it a giant of manufacturing, not of environmental friendliness." That said, while most of China's energy is generated by coal and other fossil fuels, it has succeeded in producing cheap and effective solar heaters that need not be subsidized, something Lomberg suggests the West take note of: "A green future will result not from subsidizing immature technology today but from developing competitive green technology that is effective and cheap." To put it more bluntly: "Research would be a much better investment for Western countries than subsidizing imports of today's green technology from China."
Matthew Kaminski on Egyptian Political Economy Matthew Kaminski understands why, in the effort to create a truly democratic Egypt, privatization and liberalization are being avoided for the good of "social justice," but argues that rejecting capitalism altogether "carries a price. It keeps investors and capital away," he writes at The Wall Street Journal. "And it poisons the political atmosphere, pushing off already overdue changes necessary to meet the great expectations of better jobs and wages." Capitalism is not the opposite of democracy, in fact, Kaminski argues, the foundations of both are actually the same. Instead of wasting time going after Mubarak cronies, "Egypt would be better served by focusing on modernization," he suggests. "There's a democratic imperative to market reform. Growing economic opportunities and middle classes can help guard against reversal."
Joshua Green on Tim Pawlenty's Biggest Hurdle "In theory," writes Joshua Green at the Boston Globe, Tim Pawlenty "should be a political star," and instead "is one of several accomplished, credentialed Republicans having a much harder time breaking through than they ever would have imagined." Passed up for Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate in 2008, he's now "the victim of the conservative electorate's sharp turn to the right and its appetite for bombast over competence and professionalism." He's tried to appeal to the Tea Party and played up his evangelicalism, "but Pawlenty isn't rich or well-connected. He lacks other candidates' preexisting bases of support. So he has to make himself stand out." Green warns that the conservativism has changed so drastically in recent years that "an electable conservative" like Pawlenty may have "lost its appeal altogether."
Dan Lyons on the Mutually Beneficial Obama-Zuckerberg Relationship Dan Lyons argues at The Daily Beast today that Barack Obama's and Mark Zuckerberg's new friendship is based on need. "When it comes to dealing with government, Facebook needs to get as cozy as it can" to stay out of "hot water with lawmakers for [things like] changing its privacy policies in ways that some found creepy and opportunistic." And Obama equally needs Facebook. "Zuckerberg's company has 600 million members, making it about twice as big as the United States," Lyons points out. "What TV was to John Kennedy, Facebook is to Obama. Social media in general, and Facebook in particular, have become so important to politics that you almost can't run for president without mastering the new medium."
Max Bazerman and Ann Tenbrunsel on the Psychology of Unethical Behavior The two authors, taking the current scandal and lawsuit on Warren Buffet's doorstep as a starting point, point out that "much unethical conduct that goes on, whether in social life or work life, happens because people are unconsciously fooling themselves." Our psychological desire to help ourselves and those on our team succeed "helps explain why ethical lapses in the corporate world seem so pervasive and intractable," they argue at the New York Times. "It also explains why sanctions, like fines and penalties, can have the perverse effect of increasing the undesirable behaviors they are designed to discourage." The threat of sanctions removes the idea of ethics from the equation, permitting us to circumvent the rules "while maintaining a positive self-image." Understanding this psychology and not only holding people accountable for intentionally unethical actions, they propose, will do more for reforming the finance industry than fines. "Unintentional influences on unethical behavior can have equally damaging outcomes."