Omnibus blog post written at 5:30 CDT

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Blogging will be light today, as I am wending my way west towards the Aspen Ideas Festival, where I'll be blogging, and moderating a few panels.  If I have time between flights, I will try to provide you with a couple of posts on intellectual property and other goodies.  Meanwhile, a few thoughts to tide you over:

Really moving article on black autoworkers in Detroit.  This seems mostly like a hook, because the core story is the same as that of white autoworkers in Detroit.  Liberals often accuse conservatives of hating union workers, and maybe some do, but I think it's great that people who maybe weren't cut out for college had a decent way of earning a good living, getting ahead a little.  I think it's really sad that era is over, especially for people who were encouraged to bet their whole futures on a deeply troubled industry.  It's just that I'm also aware that the reason people could have well-appointed jobs-for-life was an oligopolistic cartel which was able to cut rich side deals in order to buy labor and political peace.  The culmination of this was the hideous junk of the 1970s, which is the kind of place that oligopolistic cartels tend to end up.

But that doesn't make all this any less tragic for the workers.

Next tragedy:  Michael Jackson.  Oxycontin.  Discussion question for libertarians:  assume we all agree that drugs should be legal.  Is a doctor who enables an addicted patient to take fatal doses a good doctor, or should he be liable for malpractice?  Discussion question for non-libertarians:  how, pray tell, is this an argument in support of our current draconian drug laws?

Third tragedy: now we've lost Billy Mays too.  Whatever cosmic force is targeting celebreties, I think it's time to stop, 'kay?  I was really enjoying Pitchmen, though of course, I'm not sure there's really a wide market for business-and-economics themed reality shows.  (The Apprentice doesn't count as either, thank-you-very-much).

Off to Aspen, where Madras goes to die.

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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