Thursday, March 31, 2011

Institute for Liberty - Tea Party Group With Business Agenda - NYTimes.com

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"There are days when I wonder if tenure is an anachronism."

"The Cronon affair strongly suggests to me that it is not."   --Richard K. Green

From The New Yorker: Wisconsin: The Cronon Affair

Facebook dialogue with myself...

Jim says:
Hey hey the Democratic Caucus actually put out a press release.... (sorry did I say that outloud?)

Jim Nichols Comments

Problem is I think this idea in my head of a multifaceted opensource political party only works with a multifaceted opensource engaged electorate who doesn't fall prey to "death panel" and "tax cuts good tax hikes bad" nonsense. I sometimes go Edmund Burke on myself and fall back on the fact that things are the way they are for reasons. Reasons that don't speak highly of the capacity of human beings with their enlightenment galoshes on. I like my enlightenment galoshes-- they are pink. 

Some people worry they won't get jobs from crazy pictures on their facebook.  My worry is my own conversations with myself...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Its important to remember how we got here; more importantly who got us here...

Brad Delong:

This is what Greg Mankiw had to say in 2004 about one of the principal sources of our long-run fiscal imbalance--the fact that the Republican-created Medicare Part D was a spending program, a very large spending program, that made no provision at all for covering its costs:

Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003: The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, enacted in December, adds a prescription drug benefit to the Medicare program. The new drug benefit will give more Medicare beneficiaries access to prescription drug coverage and will provide benefits for individuals with limited means and low incomes. A prescription drug discount card will be available for beneficiaries until the full drug benefit is available nationwide.... The passage of the Medicare bill was a major accomplishment, but much remains to be done.... The U.S. health care system has provided tremendous benefits for both American citizens and the global community. New knowledge, innovative products, and life-saving medical procedures are the results of the U.S. market for health care. [President Bush's] proposed policies will help preserve the strengths of the U.S. market and will improve the efficiency and affordability of health care.

That is all that Greg Mankiw had to say in 2004 about Medicare Part D. No notice that it busted the long-run budget by creating an enormous expansion of long-run Medicare spending and making zero provision to ever pay for any of it. Not even a subordinate clause stating that the expansion of Medicare through the creation of Part D increases our long-run fiscal problems.

Greg Mankiw today writes:

The Day When the Debt Comes Due: The following is a presidential address to the nation — to be delivered in March 2026....

The seeds of this crisis were planted long ago, by previous generations. Our parents and grandparents had noble aims. They saw poverty among the elderly and created Social Security. They saw sickness and created Medicare and Medicaid. They saw Americans struggle to afford health insurance and embraced health care reform with subsidies for middle-class families. But this expansion in government did not come cheap. Government spending has taken up an increasing share of our national income.... If we had chosen to tax ourselves to pay for this spending, our current problems could have been avoided. But no one likes paying taxes. Taxes not only take money out of our pockets, but they also distort incentives and reduce economic growth. So, instead, we borrowed increasing amounts to pay for these programs. Yet debt does not avoid hard choices. It only delays them. After last week’s events in the bond market, it is clear that further delay is no longer possible. The day of reckoning is here....

When you elected me, I promised to preserve the social safety net. I assured you that the budget deficit could be fixed by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse, and by increasing taxes on only the richest Americans. But now we have little choice in the matter.

If only we had faced up to this problem a generation ago. The choices then would not have been easy, but they would have been less draconian than the sudden, nonnegotiable demands we now face. Americans would have come to rely less on government and more on themselves, and so would be better prepared today.

What I wouldn’t give for a chance to go back and change the past. But what is done is done...

It is important to notice that when Greg Mankiw writes "if we had chosen to tax ourselves..." and "they saw sickness and created Medicare..." and "we borrowed increasing amounts..." he is talking about himself and his fellow budget arsonists. He is not talking about President Clinton, Clinton's appointees, and Clinton's supporters--they sweated blood to cut spending below and raise taxes above the baseline and actually balanced the budget. He is not talking about President Obama, Obama's appointees, and Obama's supporters--Obama's excise tax on high-cost health plans and the supermajority entrenchment of the Medicare cut recommendations of the Independent Payment Authorization Board are--if they are not repealed--the largest acts of fiscal responsibility ever undertaken in America.

Mankiw is talking about President Reagan, his supporters, and his appointees. Mankiw is talking about President George W. Bush, his supporters, and his appointees. And--as one of George W. Bush's cabinet-level appointees, Chairman of the Presidents Council of Economic Advisers in 2003-2004--he is talking about himself.

Is it too much for me to expect, from him, an apology to America? A whispered: "I am sorry"? An admission that the unfunded 2001 tax cuts that he cheerled for were a mistake, and that we as a nation would have been better off had they not been passed? An admission that the unfunded 2003 tax cuts that he cheerled for were a mistake, and that we as a nation would have been better off had they not been passed? An admission that the unfunded 2003 Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit that he cheerled for was a mistake, and that we as a nation would have been better off had it not been passed?

Is that too much to ask?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Wittgenstein: "leave a dozen white sheets for the reader to swear into..."

Wittgenstein in a letter to Ogden, the eventual publisher of the Tractatus, May 5, 1922:
"Rather than print the Erganzungen [supplements] to make the book fatter leave a dozen white sheets for the reader to swear into when he has purchased the book and can't understand it."
pg. 6  James Klagge's Wittgenstein in Exile  MIT Press 2011 

L.A. Marathon: 400-pound marathoner celebrates nine hours, 48 minutes and 42 seconds of 'pure hell' - latimes.com

 That is awesome.

“Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragement, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak”  --Thomas Carlyle

Shifting the tax burden isn't a cut...

Just the other day I was reading an email from Rep. Lynn Westmoreland cheering on budget cuts to the Federal government which he claimed was "broke" (which an an utterly incoherent concept).  Yet the reality is those aren't cuts.  They are simply shifting the tax burden of those programs onto individuals, businesses, local and state governments.  This morning I caught a great example from the Athens Banner Herald-- DEA no longer paying for cleanup costs

Law enforcement agencies across the state are bracing to lose some U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency funding even as they face what could be a record-setting year for meth labs busts.

"The cost of cleaning up these meth labs is now falling on the shoulders of local police departments and sheriff's offices," said Mike Ayers, special agent in charge of narcotics investigations for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Thomson and Athens offices. "There's no way that the GBI could pay for that statewide. You're talking about millions of dollars. So that's going to add an extra burden on these local communities."The DEA announced late last month that it no longer will pay to clean up the houses, cars and sheds where law enforcement officers discover meth labs, leaving local agencies on the hook for cleanup costs that can be thousands of dollars.

For years, the DEA has paid to remove and dispose of the hazardous, sometimes explosive, byproducts that are left behind in a raided meth lab, Ayers said. The cost to safely remove and dispose of the toxic chemicals used to make meth can run from several hundred to several thousand dollars depending on the size of the lab, he said.

Federal officials told the GBI that budget constraints have forced the government to end the cleanup program. The timing could not be worse for state and local law enforcement agents, who busted almost twice as many meth labs in 2010 as in 2009.

"We are working trying to come up with a viable plan for how to offset these costs, but right now we're not there yet," Ayers said. "So if (a meth lab) is seized in Clarke County right now, Clarke County is responsible for cleaning that up."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rep. Grimm; part of the reality based community

 Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) : “The extreme wing of the Republican Party is making a big mistake with their flat-out opposition to a short-term continuing resolution. They’re not looking at the big picture,” 

Disaster in Japan: A difficult Tuesday | The Economist

Free Exchange:

For the moment, markets look quite concerned. The Nikkei has lost 19% of its value since Friday. European indexes are off nearly 4% today. American markets are opening down over 2%. The dollar is strengthening against most currencies (though not the yen, reportedly because Japanese citizens are repatriating funds to handle crisis expenses). Yields on Treasuries are falling like a stone amid a general flight to safety. And commodity prices are down sharply across the board. Oil is off over 3% today, despitetroubling developments in Bahrain.

In other words, the world sees a non-trivial global demand shock underway. Japan's humanitarian and economic catastrophe is developing into a minor global economic crisis.

It's far too early to say how serious this global crisis could be. Much of it will depend on what happens in Japan and how quickly confidence can be restored. Some of it will depend on the policy response. If markets continue to get gloomier over the next month and expectations drop, central banks must be ready to step in (as they were reluctant to do last summer). Certainly, events in Japan and the Middle East indicate that unnecessary short-term fiscal and monetary tightening in Europe and America is very risky and should be avoided.

23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang

Book review in The Observer for one of the best books I've read in the past year....errr 5 years...

"Economists are not some innocent technicians who did a decent job within the narrow confines of their expertise until they were collectively wrong-footed by a once-in-a-century disaster that no one could have predicted." Far from being an inward-looking, hermetic discipline, economics has been a hugely powerful – and profitable – enterprise, shaping the policies of governments and companies throughout much of the world. The results have been little short of disastrous. As Chang puts it: "Economics, as it has been practised in the last three decades, has been positively harmful for most people."

In his 2008 book, Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism, Chang – an economist himself, a specialist in the political economy of development – mocked one of the central orthodoxies of his profession: the belief that global free trade raises living standards everywhere. 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism assaults economic orthodoxy on a much larger front. Dip into this witty, iconoclastic and uncommonly commonsensical guide to the follies of economics, and, among many other things, you will learn that free market policies rarely make poor countries richer; global companies without national roots belong in the realm of myth; the US does not have the highest living standards in the world; the washing machine changed the world more than the internet; more education does not of itself make countries richer; financial markets need to become less, not more efficient; and – perhaps most shocking to Chang's colleagues – good economic policy does not require good economists. Each of Chang's 23 propositions may seem counterintuitive, even contrarian. But every one of them has a basis in fact and logic, and taken together they present a new view of capitalism.

Chang may be our best critic of capitalism, but he is far from being any kind of anti-capitalist. He recognises the failings of centrally planned economies, and rightly describes capitalism as "the worst economic system except for all the others". At the same time he is confident that capitalism can be reformed to prevent crises like the one we have just experienced recurring. Making markets more transparent is not enough. "If we are really serious about preventing another crisis like the 2008 meltdown," Chang writes, "we should simply ban complex financial instruments, unless they can be unambiguously shown to benefit society in the long run." He is aware that he risks sounding extreme, but argues that the ban he proposes is no different from those that have been enforced on other dangerous products. "This is what we do all the time with other products – drugs, cars, electrical products and many others."

Monday, March 14, 2011

Romney vs. Perry

“Nearly 3 in 10 adults living in Texas (27.8%) do not have health insurance, making it the state with the highest uninsured rate in the country in 2010,” reports Gallup. Meanwhile, Massachusetts “continues to have the lowest percentage of uninsured residents, at 4.7%.”

Notably, both Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts responsible for the state’s health-care reforms, and Rick Perry, the current governor of Texas, are potential candidates for the GOP’s 2012 nomination. But the conventional wisdom is that Romney is likely to be unacceptable in a Republican primary because of his record on health-care reform, while Perry is not expected to face any particular problems related to health-care policy. So the governor responsible for the lowest uninsured rate is a heretic, while the governor responsible for the highest uninsured rate in the nation is a mainstream conservative. Telling, isn’t it?

Why study history of philosophy?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Politics is about power, policies should adjust accordingly

Probably one of the single most important points that my conservative friends refuse to include in their political equations is this key point:

There is an important lesson here about the nature of politics.  Politics generally encourages such misdirections of resources as the political system encourages people to enrich themselves by picking others’ pockets.  It also encourages people to invest in keeping their pockets from being picked.  All of the lobbyists in Washington, DC and state capitals across the country are consuming resources without producing anything valuable in return.

If you don't acknowledge rent seeking and efforts at regulatory capture into your equation you are missing out on what politics actually is about: power. The policies you support vs. the political parties, candidates, et al. that you back can be quite different. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

David Foster Wallace on Commercial literature and reading

Is The Arab Uprising A Revolution?

EconoSpeak:
What is going on in the Arab world looks to me most like what came in Europe in 1848, an international uprising with some similarities across nations as well as differences, although in the short run a failure, if not in the longer run. In some countries the ruler is a monarch, but so far none of those have been overthrown. Tunisia and Egypt were essentially military dictatorships, overthwrown by would-be democrats, although we need to wait and see what will happen, with some ugly anti-women and anti-Christian demonstrations in Egypt. As for Libya, recent developments suggest that Qaddafi may not fall after all. Too soon to tell.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

YDG Legislative Report: Week of 3/7/11

From the inbox: 
YDG Legislative Report: Week of 3/7/11

 We’re nearing the halfway point of 2011 legislative session and the heat under the Gold Dome is starting to simmer. From the HOPE bill making its way through the Senate to the passage of the controversial Arizona style immigration reform bill, we must take a stand and let our voices be heard.

On education: HOPE bill passes House, barely amended in Senate

Last week, as we indicated in one of our many emails on HOPE, HB 326, which makes major revisions, passed the House. Today, the bill passed through the Senate with only Republican amendments, rejecting those proposed by Democrats that would have served to keep the original intent of HOPE alive. With little room for discussion, the Senate Higher Education Committee passed the bill out of committee in a matter of minutes, not allowing the necessary debate on the bill.

Before the bill reaches Gov. Deal's desk, it must be passed in the House again with the Senate's amendments. With that in mind, we still have a chance for our voices to be heard! Please contact your Representatives and Senators to let them know you want to keep HOPE alive!

A special thanks to all the Democrats who stood up to the HOPE cuts in the House and Senate and a special thanks to Senator Jason Carter (D-Decatur), who proposed two amendments to the HOPE bill. While both failed (one was a grandfather clause for those already receiving HOPE and another putting an income cap for HOPE recipients), Senator Carter stood up for his beliefs during a raucus day in the Senate. We applaud his courage and the courage of all other legislators that stood up to the cuts and proposed sensible alternatives. 

On education: pre-K survives most drastic cuts 

Coinciding with his proposed changes to the HOPE Scholarship, Gov. Deal also proposed significant changes to Georgia’s very popular pre-K program. Deal’s original proposal called for cutting the school day from 6.5 hours down to 4 hours per day. Many balked at the Governor’s proposal fearing it would significantly damage the education pre-K students receive in the program. 

While the number of hours per day will not change, the number of days pre-K students will be in the classroom, from 180 to 160 per calendar year. The proposal would also increase class sizes from 20 to 22 students, allowing for 2,000 additional pre-K slots in Georgia. Many Democrats, including House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and Rep. Stephanie Stuckey-Benfield, considered the cut in days necessary to preserve the 6.5-hour school day.

More news on Georgia's pre-K program can be found here

On immigration: controversial HB 87 passes House

In vote largely along partisan lines, HB 87 passed 113-56. The controversial legislation is similar to the federally challenged Arizona immigration law that allows for profiling to determine who is or isn’t an illegal immigrant. As we’ve mentioned throughout the session, YDG strongly opposes the legislation and we must act now to prevent discrimination from becoming legal in Georgia. 

HB 87 is now headed to the Senate Judiciary Committee. If it passes out of committee, it is likely that it will pass the Senate with the current Republican majority. Please take the time to contact your senator and all those senators serving on the Judiciary Committee and urge that they vote against HB 87. Let’s preserve civil rights in the state that all but started the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.

Before contacting your senator, familiarize yourself with HB 87 and read some recent news on HB 87 and the potential dangers of passing such legislation.

On workers’ rights: HB 416 follows Wisconsin; challenges collective bargaining rights

Continuing his trend of fringe bills, Rep. Bobby Franklin (R-Marietta) sponsored a bill last week that would eliminate the collective bargaining power of public employees. This bill would attempt to do the same to public workers as Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) is doing in Wisconsin. This bill is nothing but an attempt to further marginalize the power of unions in Georgia. As with any bill that hurts workers’ rights, YDG strongly opposes HB 416.

Public workers are already struggling through tough economic times and collective bargaining rights are essential to ensuring that public employees receive a fair wage for their work. 

We cannot let a Wisconsin-type legislation spread to Georgia!

While many of Rep. Franklin’s bills are ignored by the legislature, HB 416 has the potential to gain traction in a time where many disapprove of unions and the rights of unionized workers. We’ll stay on top of HB 416 and bring you continued updates on whether this destructive piece of legislation moves forward.

For more information on HB 416, please read through the bill and be prepared to take action in the coming days.

Crossover Day approaches 

The all-important Crossover Day, the final day in which a bill can pass the house in which it was introduced and then “crossover” to the other, will be March 16

th
. As in the past, YDG will have an active role during Crossover Day. An email was sent out yesterday regarding what we’ll be doing for Crossover Day and how you can get involved. 

For more information, please contact one of the following people:

Joey Hornbuckle: 404-735-6570 

Amber English: 612-554-5705

Joel Mendelson: 404-538-7877

 

Thank you,

 

Joel Mendelson

Political Director, Young Democrats of Georgia

NH GOP Seeks To Disenfranchise Students Who 'Just Vote Their Feelings'

Republican House Speaker in New Hampshire, Bill O'Brien wants to 
disenfranchise young voters.  There are two bills currently being pushed in the New Hampshire House; one to disallow them from voting if they or their parents haven't established residency in that district, the other to disallow same-day voter registration altogether.

The GOP has been taken over by a fringe who promote a radical agenda. These aren't outliers; these are the base of a party that far too many moderates, who self identify as Republican, still think they can align themselves with.

Its time to gear up for election day 2012 right now...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Maureen Downey is a part of the reality based community

Loans to fill HOPE gap are limited. Some kids won’t get them. | Get Schooled  

Many of you compare today’s students to yourselves, noting that you funded your college education through part-time and summer jobs. But if you look at the rise in tuition, fees and room and board, the only way today’s students could cover their costs would be if their summer jobs included selling a kidney.

I also paid for part of my college and nearly all my graduate school through waitress jobs. I could not do that today. I could not earn enough waitressing to meet the higher tuitions and fees charged today.

Think Different

All time greatest commercial

Monday, March 7, 2011

Article in Foreign Policy on a No Fly zone in Libya

What do unions do?

Harvard Professor Richard B Freeman on Labour Unions 

The first thing unions do is to raise wages for working people, and that obviously benefits the working people. They also increase the kind of benefits that workers want. So, if workers want pensions, the unions negotiate for that. If workers want maternity leave, that’s what they bargain for. If workers want to have better insurance and are willing to give up some wages to get it, unions help them. Unions change the pattern of compensation towards greater benefits. 

Because unions make working life better for workers, they lower turnover in unionised workplaces. Employers with unions traditionally have workers who stay longer and contribute to raising the productivity of the enterprise. Employers also get more credible information about what workers really want in the workplace, because the union representatives are democratically elected and they really speak for the workers. So a good, functioning union is a real positive. Of course, not all unions function well. But our evidence, and the evidence people generated twenty years later, demonstrated that, on net, unions are a positive force in the economy.

Talk Doesn’t Pay, So Psychiatry Turns Instead to Drug Therapy - NYTimes.com

So psychiatrist are unhappy because they choose to get paid more (for drug therapy) than do what they love (talk therapy)?  Am I missing anything?

The key challenge we face, and I'd argue the biggest reason people oppose Obamacare is actually an existential problem.  People don't like to be cogs in a machine and they are trying to deny government the ability to make them a cog.  But they misdiagnose the problem as they are raging against a machine which the government is trying to sign on to.  The insurance industry has already made people cogs and opposing the governments efforts to make health care accessible to millions who can't afford it or can only receive subpar insurance that will bankrupt them if they get truly sick isn't going to allow people to get back to the good old days when your family doctor made house calls and new the names of your sisters kids.

The most productive discussion about what we need to do in terms of reforming our health care system occurred after the discussion moved away from the existential frustration to a discussion that centered on the bells and whistles of what should be done---all you have to do is look at the way individual parts of the bill poll well. 

Doctors are also feeling a loss of intimacy.

Medicine is rapidly changing in the United States from a cottage industry to one dominated by large hospital groups and corporations, but the new efficiencies can be accompanied by a telling loss of intimacy between doctors and patients. And no specialty has suffered this loss more profoundly than psychiatry.

They are making a lifestyle choice.  The doctor that the story centers around, "like a good Volkswagen mechanic.”  A good Volkswagen mechanic that doesn't want to disclose how much he makes. 
Don't get me wrong, existential problems are important and shouldn't be disregarded in policy questions.  I would argue that having meaningful, fulfilling work, is important.  I just thought it a bit odd when the crux of the story really hinges on this:

When he started in psychiatry, Dr. Levin kept his own schedule in a spiral notebook and paid college students to spend four hours a month sending out bills. But in 1985, he started a series of jobs in hospitals and did not return to full-time private practice until 2000, when he and more than a dozen other psychiatrists with whom he had worked were shocked to learn that insurers would no longer pay what they had planned to charge for talk therapy.

“At first, all of us held steadfast, saying we spent years learning the craft of psychotherapy and weren’t relinquishing it because of parsimonious policies by managed care,” Dr. Levin said. “But one by one, we accepted that that craft was no longer economically viable. Most of us had kids in college. And to have your income reduced that dramatically was a shock to all of us. It took me at least five years to emotionally accept that I was never going back to doing what I did before and what I loved.”

He could have accepted less money and could have provided time to patients even when insurers did not pay, but, he said, “I want to retire with the lifestyle that my wife and I have been living for the last 40 years.”

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Jon Stewart is a gateway drug to public policy....

Caught this interview with a GSU public policy student studying in Europe 

When it became time to graduate high school and choose my major to enter the big world of college I had to think about what made me passionate. I realized that for the past ten years of my life the only thing I did consistently in my life was watch
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. It was then that I realized I wanted to pursue a career in politics/government. 

Throughout my state senate campaign I argued that this generation faces different challenges in politics that will require different approaches.  We're not talking reinvention of the wheel--i'm not gaga over a new media revolution even less so because of my experiences on the campaign trail; its a tool that isn't being harnessed as it could be by some in politics.

But the fact of the matter is Jon Stewart has become the news for many, in fact sadly, the quality of his work sets a standard many in the media don't reach in a Fox News age.  It makes sense that he's inspiring people to pay attention to politics....

Left vs. Right libertarianism

Jason Brennan gives his take:

The words ‘libertarian’, ‘right libertarian’, ‘left libertarian’, ‘classical liberal’, and so on, are used in all sorts of different ways. For the purposes of this blog, I will use the word ‘libertarian’ more or less as Peter Vallentyne does here. His usage seems standard in philosophy, if not outside philosophy

Let’s say libertarians ground their theories of justice on the idea of self-ownership. (They don’t just assume this is true—they usually have arguments for this conclusion. But it’s their starting point for doing political philosophy.) Libertarians left and right agree that people are full self-owners, and in virtue of being full self-owners, have a strong and extensive set of rights over themselves.

Stereotypical libertarians (the ‘right’ libertarians) believe that the world’s resources begin in an unowned state, and to respect people’s self-ownership, people must be allowed to acquire strong property rights in the pieces of the world. Such property rights are regarded as extensions of people’s self-ownership.

 In contrast, left libertarians hold either that that the world’s resources are in some way by default commonly owned by all or that the commercial value of those resources is in some way by default commonly owned by all.

Left-libertarians often affirm welfare state-like provisions.  However, they do so not out of a commitment to social justice, but out of a view of what it takes to render private property ownership consistent with the starting point of common world ownership (or common ownership of the economic value of the world’s resources). To put it bluntly, on the left libertarian view, the world (or the value of the world) belongs to everyone. If an individual uses or privatizes a resource, he owes everyone else payment for using their stuff.

'Liberal', 'libertarian', 'high liberal', 'left libertarian', 'right libertarian', etc, are archetype concepts. We can't really give necessary and sufficient conditions for them, and the margins between them will be fuzzy.

Libertarianism is often thought of as “right-wing” doctrine. This, however, is mistaken for at least two reasons. First, on social—rather than economic—issues, libertarianism tends to be “left-wing”. It opposes laws that restrict consensual and private sexual relationships between adults (e.g., gay sex, extra-marital sex, and deviant sex), laws that restrict drug use, laws that impose religious views or practices on individuals, and compulsory military service. Second, in addition to the better-known version of libertarianism—right-libertarianism—there is also a version known as “left-libertarianism”. Both endorse full self-ownership, but they differ with respect to the powers agents have to appropriate unowned natural resources (land, air, water, minerals, etc.). Right-libertarianism holds that typically such resources may be appropriated by the first person who discovers them, mixes her labor with them, or merely claims them—without the consent of others, and with little or no payment to them. Left-libertarianism, by contrast, holds that unappropriated natural resources belong to everyone in some egalitarian manner. It can, for example, require those who claim rights over natural resources to make a payment to others for the value of those rights. This can provide the basis for a kind of egalitarian redistribution.

Zizek's beard

The “function” of universities

via Crooked Timber Frank Kofsky in his bookJohn Coltrane and the Jazz Revolution of the 1960s:

….the university is in some ways a microcosm of the Establishment as a whole. As we now know from studies that appeared as the by-product of protest movements at campuses all over the country during the second half of the 1960s, universities are governed by boards of regents, trustees, et cetera, on which sit representatives of the dominant business groups in the community.26 In a general way, the curriculum of the university is shaped to the demands of this corporate elite for an institution that will mass-produce mid-level technicians with all the approved social attitudes….

Leiter on Foucault, Weber, and postmodernism

Much of Foucault's corpus is of a piece with the Weberian project of analyzing the "iron cage" of the modern world, though Foucault locates the features of the cage in places Weber had not thought about (e.g., in the concepts of "normality" promulgated by the human sciences). Foucault's notion of a genealogical inquiry is, insofar as it is borrowed from Nietzsche, the idea that from the present meaning or significance of some institution or practice (e.g., the prison, the insane asylum, the hospital), we can not draw reliable inferences about where it came from, about its origins--indeed, its origins might be multivarious and have meanings far different from the institution or practice as we find it today. Foucault sometimes supplements the Nietzschean idea of genealogy with postmodern skepticism about historical knowledge of origins, but this is an unfortunate and, in my view, not entirely consistent, overlay, with which one might dispense.

Friday, March 4, 2011

How large of an employment problem we really have... the important numbers to look at...

The unemployment rate isn't really the numbers that everyday people see around them in the real world yet its the rate that the media focuses on.  In the real world people that work part time but want to work full time, people that have given up looking for a job; these people are also apart of the equation.  That's the reason the real number that needs to get more attention is the U6 unemployment rate.

FRED Graph

I ran the unemployment rate (red) and the U6 (blue) together so that you can see the difference.  

The impact of this recession has been devastating.  Opponents of the stimulus, those who blocked a better second stimulus, and have scoffed at a third (some haven't) have a lot to answer for.  Unfortunately the Republicans are busy trying to slow economic growth; even worse Obama long ago moved on to re-election so he pushed through a milquetoast 2nd stimulus rather than focusing on how large of an employment problem we really have and using the bully-pulpit to take on the Republicans and Democrats who were blocking a better bill.

Why did GA's unemployment rate just spike?

Trying to run some numbers and I pulled this comparison of the Southeast Regions unemployment with GA specifically. 

We are pulling away from our neighbors lately...

FRED Graph

Is it in the data i'm pulling? is it housing? was it the winter storm?  

quote of the day...

Came across this on facebook comment thread: 

"One reason I can't be a Republican is that there are alll these medieval mindset requirements."

FoxNews: Teachers Vs. Wall Street Pay Levels

"Part of winning the future is ending the raft of subsidies we devote to sustaining rural living"

Thursday, March 3, 2011

so much for the crazy idea about a 2nd stimulus

Caught this update from San Francisco Fed on current output gap via Mark Thoma:

Long-way-to-go

Economic Stimulus...

Obama's stimulus package plugged --- hole in GA's buget[sic] mess.

I posted recently on the need for more stimulus money--a jobs bill, extending unemployment, or more money to pactch [sic]state budgets...

Our economy is still facing a large output gap (Via the San Francisco Fed:)
Gap
A weak recovery is in the works/happening now.
Unemployment is going to be over 10%. A substantial amount of unemployed or underutilized labor and capital is just sitting around. We're going to be watching a lot more small and medium size banks fold...
State Budgets are going to be in worse shape next year than they were this year--as increased use of government services, a decline in revenue, and budget cuts further weakened state governments fiscal outlook.
More money to the states as well as money directed at those who will spend it (rather than save it)... are going to be needed.
I fear that Obama, just like on health care isn't going to take the lead. A lack of political will--created a weak first stimulus mostly directed at tax cuts (which people for the most part save, defeating the whole.. you know... stimulus aspect of it).
Getting a move on in regards to round two might help...

Former Chair of the Henry County Republicans chimed in that I was crazy to think we needed a second round of stimulus:

In the post he quotes a report from the San Francisco Fed which shows that yes currently there is a lag in economic activity but each year it shrinks and by 2012 is gone. However the go-go give it to me now politician can only see only to the end of his nose and pays no attention to the end result – a recovery of some sort.

That was 2009 this is 2011. Was going the Republican/Obama w/out backbone route to slow growth better?

Georgia unemployment rate is currently at an all time high. We've had massive problems in the housing sector. Therefore I'd say no it was the wrong call... But Mr. Mobley said it best himself, "There’s so much foolhardiness and lack of common sense in the world these days," and we call them Republican policymakers (and their hack bloggers) for short.

Got to admit though "the Political Scientist aka the tax increase kid" was cute tagline.

Perplexing commentary over at United Liberty....

Where we find this gem on Social Security: If its not a ponzi scheme then what is it? 

Social Security is fully funded for the next almost 3 decades.  At that point, with no changes, it pays out a 75% of promised benefits (which if I remember correctly is larger than current beneficiaries receive inflation adjusted).  How is this a situation where "my generation" isn't going to see a dime?

Social Security by law is funded by a 12.4% payroll tax (recent exemptions passed by Obama/Rep. excluded) on the first $107,000 of a persons income.  Any surplus is used to buy government bonds.  Its against the law for Social Security to pay out more than it has in reserves/"trust fund".  Social Security intentionally taxed a greater share of payroll tax than was needed to sustain the program via the Greenspan Commission formed by Reagan (hence building up a surplus) because it was preparing for the baby boom.  So the trust fund was intended to grow in size and then begin to decline in size when we were no longer taking in enough money to pay for the number of retirees in the system.

Are people in the private sector fleeing government bonds and I didn't get the memo? Must be something in a chapter of Fountainhead that I missed...

State leaders to make changes if Georgia really wants federal dollars to deepen Savannah port

Well, if Georgia really is concerned about why it’s not receiving more federal support, it should probably look in the mirror.

The chairman of the Georgia Ports Authority is Alec Poitevint II of Bainbridge.

But Pointevint also has another critical role that is hurting Georgia’s ability to get federal funding.

In early February, Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, announced that he was naming Pointevint to chair the Republican Party’s 2012 political convention in Tampa.

Okay, while serving as chairman of the Georgia Ports Authority, Pointevint also is heading the national convention to get President Barack Obama elected out of office in 2012.

And Georgia leaders are wondering why we didn’t get $100 million from the federal government.

Mayor Reed can be the hardest working Democrat in Georgia seeking federal funds for the port, but he can’t overcome the “shoot-yourself-in-the-foot” situation of having Pointevint as chairman of the Georgia Ports Authority.

Of course, Reed was too diplomatic to own up to Georgia’s awkward position. “I don’t see that as a problem,” Reed told me recently.

But someone who has worked closely with Washington, D.C. officials on this issue told me simply that the Obama administration is well aware of Pointevint’s dual role.

Of course, it also doesn’t help Georgia when 93 Republican state legislators support a bill that would require President Obama to provide proof of his American birth in order to get on the ballot next year.

My former colleague, Jim Galloway, pointed out in the Political Insider this week that the bill comes at the same time that the Georgia Ports Authority is pushing “the White House for hundreds of millions in federal dollars to dredge the Port of Savannah.”

Again, it appears as though Georgia is doing as much as it can to make enemies in the Obama administration. That certainly doesn’t seem to be the smartest move the state can make if it really believes that the deepening of the Port of Savannah is its most important economic development project.

where oh where has the middle class gone?

Republican policies aren't popular...

Poll after poll we find that what people prefer is far far away from what Republicans promise to bring them...

Interesting findings from the NBC/WSJ poll. Asked about deficit reducing options, the options the public overwhelmingly favors are ones Democrats favor, and the options they overwhelmingly oppose are ones Republicans are promising to propose:

[The survey] listed 26 different ways to reduce the federal budget deficit. The most popular: placing a surtax on federal income taxes for those who make more than $1 million per year (81 percent said that was acceptable), eliminating spending on earmarks (78 percent), eliminating funding for weapons systems the Defense Department says aren’t necessary (76 percent) and eliminating tax credits for the oil and gas industries (74 percent).
The least popular: cutting funding for Medicaid, the federal government health-care program for the poor (32 percent said that was acceptable); cutting funding for Medicare, the federal government health-care program for seniors (23 percent); cutting funding for K-12 education (22 percent); and cutting funding for Social Security (22 percent).

But the public demands deficit reduction, right? Well, actually, they care more about jobs:

In the poll, eight in 10 respondents say they are concerned about the growing federal deficit and the national debt, but more than 60 percent — including key swing-voter groups — are concerned that major cuts from Congress could impact their lives and their families.
What’s more, while Americans find some budget cuts acceptable, they are adamantly opposed to cuts in Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and K-12 education.
And although a combined 22 percent of poll-takers name the deficit/government spending as the top issue the federal government should address, 37 percent believe job creation/economic growth is the No. 1 issue.
Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted the survey with Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, says these results are a “cautionary sign” for a Republican Party pursuing deep budget cuts.
He points out that the Americans who are most concerned about spending cuts are core Republicans and Tea Party supporters, not independents and swing voters.
“It may be hard to understand why a person might jump off a cliff, unless you understand they’re being chased by a tiger,” he said. “That tiger is the Tea Party.”

By the standards of these things, those are extremely sharp comments from McInturff. Leaders are usually more worried about internal threats than external threats. Boehner needs to make sure he doesn't get deposed as speaker before he worries about winning a showdown with Democrats.

The specifics of the fight -- Republicans promising to cut overwhelmingly popular programs, being willing to shut down the government, and pushing a plan that private analysts predict will reduce jobs -- put them in a very tough position. Republicans are working really hard to buck each other up and ignore data about public opinion. Democrats have the upper hand here. President Obama may decide to cut a deficit deal, but both the politics and the policy say he should hand the Republicans their head first.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Georgia manufacturing rebounds in February

Atlanta Business Chronicle:

New orders and higher production fueled a significant increase in the Georgia manufacturing index in February, according to the Econometric Center at Kennesaw State University’s Coles College of Business.

Georgia’s Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) -- a reading of economic activity in the state’s manufacturing sector -- for February was 62.5, up 8.7 points from January. This is the highest state PMI level since March 2010.


A PMI reading above 50 shows manufacturing activity is expanding, while a reading below 50 shows it is contracting.


KSU said the latest reading shows the state’s manufacturing sector had an increased number of respondents who saw and felt growth. Fifty percent of respondents reported higher new orders and 42 percent reported higher levels of production.

The Georgia February PMI is now 1.1 point higher than its national counterpart.


Highlights of the February PMI:

  • New orders rose 13 points to 68.8
  • Production increased 14.7 points to 66.7
  • Hiring went up by 1.1 point to 64.6, with 33 percent of respondents reporting increased employment
  • Commodity prices edged up another 2.7 points to 85.4
  • Finished inventory increased 9.8 points to 52.1

New Directions in GOP Political Economy

« The Reality-Based Community 

Quite subtle, actually:

Public-sector collective bargaining is unhealthy and distorts democracy because it enables workers to influence the government which negotiates with them; but

Unlimited and secret corporate political campaign contributions are necessary to democracy because they enable corporations to influence the government which regulates them.

Discuss.

the death of reflection

The most recent edition of the Left Business Observer is out.

There is a review of Jodi Deans new book Blog Theory: Fedback and Culture in the Age of the  Drive  and this part got me to thinking about ways to blog in an impactful way...

With the not-so-news that blogs are declining in favor of social networking, the blog is now becoming the format for long-form journalism on the web. What does that 
mean? Dean argues that it’s wrong to evaluate blogs just by studying their content, whether journalistic or diaristic, or style, be it narcissistic or derivative (or sometimes 
arresting and thoughtful). 

That’s not enough: the materiality of the medium has to be investigated as well, meaning its routine of endless updates and links, with the 
newest posts at the top with older ones stacked below in reverse chronological order. Feelings often take precedence over thought, and immediacy over distance. 
There’s something compulsive about it. One posts, often into the void—and then Tweets the post, comments elsewhere, and posts again. “The value added…stems 
purely from the being added,” Dean writes.

It’s not only that there’s no closure—there’s hardly a moment’s rest. It all attempts to make connections, but actual contact is elusive; instead, there’s an endless repetition of the post–link–click 
routine. The means the death of “reflection,” which had been central to Western philosophy for several centuries.

I've always found my blog/twitter/facebook as a way to help filter the crap and highlight useful items of interest.  As well as an opportunity to think through items, brainstorm, or just save items to look at in the future.  With the recent social movements from Egypt to Wisconsin from individuals to retake their political systems and create space for the ability of people to have a say in their own lives its made me want to reevaluate my time/efforts....

One sliver of that would be to spend more time reflecting rather than consuming links and new items.  The biggest chunk should be in more real world organizing.

Pre-K and Early Childhood Update 2-25-11 « Voices Today blog

Georgia’s Pre-K: Governor Deal released his recommendations the funding and implementation of Georgia’s Pre-K. The plan commits to using one third of Lottery education revenues for Pre-K, includes the addition of 5000 Pre-K slots, but cut the Pre-K day from 6.5 hours to 4 hours. Some funds have been added to augment extended stay programs for low income children as well as transportation, but questions remain as to the effects such a significant cut in funding. Click here to read the Governor’s press release about his Pre-K and HOPE plan.

GA Pre-K Week: Both HR 362 (Rep. Brooks Coleman, 97th Dist.) and SR 183 (Sen. Fran Millar, 40th Dist.) were read and adopted, declaring the first week of October as Georgia Pre-K Week in recognition of the educational, societal and economic importance of preparing young children for kindergarten through pre-k programs.

Where oh where did middle class wages go?

um... maybe there is something to standing up to CEO's taking the bulk of a firms wages...

55% of Americans support raising taxes to deal with fiscal shortfalls...

I know its not exactly political correct in the post Reagan* era but 55% of Americans polled recently by the New York Times said they aren't opposed to raising taxes to deal with the state budget shortfalls.

Union-poll

*though of coarse we all know Reagan did raise taxes.  Don't tall the tea party.