I finally got around to reading this blog article that my brother sent me with links to a BBC interview with Warren Buffett.  Am linking the video from the article below because they are definitely worth watching.  Buffett is a rare rich person today who is not offended by the progressive tax rate, though he notes that he also benefits from the capital gains rate.  Buffett and his friend Bill Gates also represent a fading class of the rich in America, one that believed that their great wealth brought with it social responsibility and not just greater power to be exploited.

First part of the interview here:

Second part of the interview here:

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Posted on 15-11-2009
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

Yglesias raises a question whether by terming terrorism as war you end up justifying (at least in part) the declarations of the perpetrators that they are somehow holy warriors instead of murderous thugs. This comes in light of the Obama administration’s decision to finally bring the 9/11 accused to trial.  This has caused the usual suspects including Rudy Giuliani to raise the standard weak on terror charge (ignoring his previous support for such trials by the Bush administration). A depressing characteristic of American conservatives after 9/11 is their willingness to eviscerate the rule of law in this country by permitting limitless wireless wiretaps, challenging the patriotism of attorneys who defended the Guantanamo accused (forgetting that John Adams defended the accused in the Boston Massacre) and letting a President claim that he can hold suspects (initially even American citizens) in prison indefinitely without trial.

After the Bush administrations bungled the opportunity of military tribunals by patently trying to turn them into show trials, it is hard to see how they could have regained international credibility.  However, a civilian trial is not without risks.  It requires a strong judge who will prevent the proceedings from turning into a circus Zacarias Moussaoui attempted to do and Slobodan Milosevic managed to do.

Ultimately, it is antithetical to American values to indefinitely hold persons without trial.  While some conservatives are fond of stating that as non-citizens have no rights, it flies in face of the Constitution which extend these rights to all “persons” and not just “citizens”.  It is time these criminals stop being used as a bogeyman to curb American values and liberty.

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Posted on 15-11-2009
Filed Under (Technology) by Rashtrakut

Fareed Zakaria sounds off on the risk that America may be losing its innovative edge.  He may have a point.  Over the last 100 years America has benefited from the brain drain from other countries, whether it was people fleeing persecution or emigrating for superior job opportunities.  All of this was also made possible by the finest higher education system in the world.  That no longer automatically holds true.

Like with many field leaders in the past the American education and political systems sat on their laurels.  The first item that seems to get cut in every state budget seems to be higher education.  The problems with high school education do not stem entirely from money, but even there resources are often a problem in inner city schools.  Worse, as the Chinese and Indian economies start creating job opportunities at home and with the American manufacturing industry in decline, their graduates no longer automatically consider America as the top job destination.  With improving economies the quality of research institutions that can compete with American universities is increasing.  And then there is the American immigration system which in the throes of post-9/11 paranoia scared off many researchers from moving to the United States.

The United States still has some advantages over the rest of the world.  However, harnessing that can use assistance from governmental entities not obsessed with tax cuts and who understand the importance of creating an infrastructure for growth and overcoming libertarian ideologues who pretend that the American  success story occurred in a government free vacuum.

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