Saturday, January 31, 2009

Reality TV: Harmless Entertainment or Bloodsport?

What do Brett Michaels and Julius Caesar have in common?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

for whatever reason....

I'm reading up on postcyber punk online. As some know i'm not a big fan of fiction...

more to come on this topic soon...

From the outgoing chair I want to wish congrats to Robert...

For Immediate Release: Henry County Democrats elect Chairman

Henry County resident Robert Abercrombie was elected last night as the next chairman of the Henry County Democratic Committee.

For Immediate Release: January 26, 2009
Contact: Jim Nichols

Henry County resident Robert Abercrombie was elected Chairman of the Henry County Democratic Party. “We have so much to do,” Robert stated upon his election, “and I look forward to working to build a Democratic Henry.”

Robert has been employed by the Fulton County Sheriff's Office for the last 17 years and is the father of two children. Robert joined the committee last year and has been working as chair of the candidate recruitment committee.

“I became involved in politics a few years ago, but really began to take an active role in the past two years. I assisted the Obama team with canvassing and voter registration drives. I truly believe that we can make Henry County and the state of Georgia a better place.”

Robert is joined on the executive committee by Vice chair Cristie J. Baptiste, 2nd vice chair Jarrett Bell, Secretary Cara Richardson, and Treasurer Edith Gonsal. The Henry County Democrats meet the 4th Tuesday of every month at 7:30pm at the Henry County Government Annex. Their website is

Monday, January 26, 2009

Wittgenstein, Hume, and induction...

A Wittgensteinian Answer to the “Problem” of Induction: Why the Scare Quotes are Merited

Professor President

Appiah on Obama

was darwin wrong?

Darwin : The Genius of evolution
Its not a surprise that Darwin was wrong and in fact he was wrong at many places but he cant be blamed for all those as he did not have any knowledge about the science of microbiology and molecular evolution at that time.

But keep in mind ,the two biggest ideas in Natural selection and common descent survived all the tests for more than a century, speaks volumes about the brilliant man and his insights on subject.

Graham Lawton’s article “Why Darwin was wrong about the tree of life “ talks about horizontal gene transfers in bacteria and consequences of that on tree of life. The article somewhat justify such a headline ,which talks about some very valid points that Darwin didnot and could not know , but definitely these things doesn’t go against the theory of Darwin but just fills in the gaps occurring in tree of life.

and back to my theme for the day...
But with such a strong headline tilts the balance more in favor of headline than the real content. To be honest most people read just the headline and few lines than the whole article. So i believe that editors should be more careful in selecting the titles especially on subjects like evolution which can send wrong signals to students

interesting point to the quandry of post industrial new media information overload

Very few readers will read your article. But everyone will see the cover.

Very few people will read this post to the end, especially the links on the bottom that really contain the meat of the argument. But everyone will see this post title in their feeds.

Graham, you know print is swiftly dying and that journalism is moving to the Web, don't you? Do you understand that this means that in a year or two you will have to come here and play with the Big Boys? Do you understand that all the silly comments you plastered all over the blogs will be remembered? And if not remembered, easy to find - this blog has bigger Google juice than The New Scientist, you know?

Do you understand that in your future transition to online journalism you will have to abandon all the lies you were taught in J-school? That you will need to upgrade your journalistic ethics in order to match the higher ethics of the blogosphere?

food crunch? or lack of crunch you mean? (should one even joke about hunger that way?)

World warned of ‘food crunch’ threat
The world faces “the real risk of a food crunch” if governments do not take immediate action to address the agricultural impact of climate change and water scarcity, according to an authoritative report out on Monday.

Chatham House, the London-based think-tank, suggests that the recent fall in food prices is only a temporary reprieve and that prices are set to resume their upward trend once the world emerges from the current downturn.

of late....

I've been pondering my blogging directions of late. Oh, don't worry, i'm going to keep up with the blog filtering and news (with a tid bit of commentary) posting. But at what cost/benifit?

Pondering more original content. Pondering more cultural content. Pondering just writing more songs and posting on youtube--which probably isn't exactly my average readers interest.

So what if I lose readers? "Ah, but I want readers who want to talk economics, and policy" replys my other self.

Well, self, don't you also want readers who "put up" with your bad music, strange cultural leanings(aversions), and will let you be you?

"What does it mean for me to be me?"

good question. I'll ponder that one at work today.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Schopenhauer on anonymity

Thus Spoke Schopenhauer
[A]bove all, anonymity, that shield of all literary rascality, would have to disappear. It was introduced under the pretext of protecting the honest critic, who warned the public, against the resentment of the author and his friends. But where there is one case of this sort, there will be a hundred where it merely serves to take all responsibility from the man who cannot stand by what he has said […]. Often enough it is only a cloak for covering the obscurity, incompetence and insignificance of the critic. It is incredible what impudence these fellows will show, and what literary trickery they will venture to commit, as soon as they know they are safe under the shadow of anonymity. Let me recommend a general Anti-criticism, a universal medicine or panacea, to put a stop to all anonymous reviewing, whether it praises the bad or blames the good: Rascal! your name! For a man to wrap himself up and draw his hat over his face, and then fall upon people who are walking about without any disguise—this is not the part of a gentleman, it is the part of a scoundrel and a knave.

--Parerga und Paralipomena, Ch. 23

philosophers make me smile

Time out for a logic lesson!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

do you remember when the cops crashed the party in fairburn pines and we all had to go to court?

the starw man...

Media promote false calculation of job-creation costs in stimulus
Summary: Numerous media figures have asserted that the proposed stimulus package supported by President Barack Obama would amount to spending at least $223,000 for every job created, echoing a press release issued by the Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee. But by calculating the per-job cost by dividing the estimated total cost of the stimulus package by the estimated number of jobs created -- and thus suggesting that the sole purpose of that package is to create jobs -- these media figures ignored other tangible benefits stemming from the package, such as infrastructure improvements and education, health, and public safety investments.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rep. Teilhet has a youtube show...

He tried to get me to run against Steve Davis this past election--smirk...

: )

via email:

Dear Fellow Constituent,

The George W. Bush Presidential Library is now in the planning stages and accepting donations.

The Library will include:

The Hurricane Katrina Room , which is still under construction.
The Alberto Gonzales Room, where you won't be able to remember anything.
The Texas Air National Guard Room, where you don't even have to show up.
The Walter Reed Hospital Room, where they don't let you in.
The Guantanamo Bay Room, where they don't let you out.
The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room, which no one has been able to find.
The National Debt Room, which is huge and has no ceiling.
The Tax Cut Room, with entry only to the wealthy.
The Economy Room, which is in the toilet.
The Iraq War Room. (After you complete your first visit, they make you to go back for a second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth visit.)
The Dick Cheney Room, in the famous undisclosed location, complete with shotgun gallery.
The Environmental Conservation Room, still empty.
The Supreme Court Gift Shop, where you can buy an election.
The Airport Men's Room, where you can meet some of your favorite Republican Senators.
The Decider Room, complete with dart board, magic 8-ball, Ouija board, dice, coins, and straws.
The library will feature an electron microscope to help you locate and view the President's accomplishments.

The library will also include many famous Quotes by George W. Bush:
'The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country.'
'If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure.'
'Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.'
'No senior citizen should ever have to choose between prescription drugs and medicine.'
'I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy - but that could change.'
'One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared'.'
'Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things.'
'I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future.'
'The future will be better tomorrow.'
'We're going to have the best educated American people in the world.'
'One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures.' (during an education photo-op).
'Illegitimacy is something we should talk about in terms of not having it.'
'We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur.'
'It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.'
'I stand by all the misstatements that I've made.'...George W. Bush to Sam Donaldson


Jack Abramoff, Co-Chair G.W. Bush Library Board of Directors

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Situationism

the failure of a self-interested society...

Why Bonuses Are Bad
A lot of outrage has been expressed over the possibility that some of the people who greased the financial slide we're on may still get substantial bonuses. How can anyone at Merrill Lynch, for example, merit a bonus when its losses in the last year exceed its profits for the last forty. We should be outraged by undeserved bonuses. But we ought to be thinking bigger. Why are we paying bonuses at all? Why pay people extra-often a lot extra-just for doing their jobs? Pay them a nice salary. Give them a promotion. But a bonus?

Review: The Political Mind by George Lakoff

Owen Flanagan knocks around Lakoff's recent book The Political Mind pretty successfully.

I don't think it takes away from the merits of the book, Flanagan is making a broader intellectual history challenge to Lakoff's context.

Also I'm gonna plug Flanagan's The Problem of the Soul which is a wonderful book that I highly recommend.

abortion thought experiment

Left on Lanier points us to this excellent post: How to Stump Anti-Abortionists With One Question

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Colin Powell...

"The America We Remember Is Back Again"***

Can Obamanomics solve the crisis?

new movie... on torture

looking out for one another...

Tactics for hard times as Japanese turn to job-sharingor something else?

on the global collapse

Capitalism's Self-Inflicted Apocalypse
by Michael Parenti
After the overthrow of communist governments in Eastern Europe, capitalism was paraded as the indomitable system that brings prosperity and democracy, the system that would prevail unto the end of history.

The present economic crisis, however, has convinced even some prominent free-marketeers that something is gravely amiss. Truth be told, capitalism has yet to come to terms with several historical forces that cause it endless trouble: democracy, prosperity, and capitalism itself, the very entities that capitalist rulers claim to be fostering.

Medea Benjamin inauguration

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

that was then... this is now...

Brad Delong
The difference between now and 1982 was that back in 1982 the interest rate on Treasury bills was 13.68%--there was a lot of room for the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates and so reduce unemployment via monetary policy. Today the interest rate on Treasury bills is 0.03%--there is no room for the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates, and so monetary policy is reduced to untried "quantitative easing" experiments.

The fact that monetary policy has shot its bolt and has no more room for action is what has driven a lot of people like me who think that monetary policy is a much better stabilization policy tool to endorse the Obama fiscal boost plan.

Safire on the speech

The Speech
Obama was wise not to blame only the capitalists for the sinking economy, as F.D.R. angrily had done; instead, he called it a “consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices.” That was an unexpectedly tolerant note, but which he stepped on with an imperious, lecturing pointer phrase about meeting challenges: “Know this, America.” That get-this tone is better directed to the Russians.

"As if feminism didn't have a lousy enough reputation already"


Adam Smith and slavery

Adam Smith's lost legacy
Public comment in Britain and North America, aided by endless television repetitions that ‘slavery’ means the ‘slave trade’ from Africa to the USA, is almost completely blind to the fact that slavery from Africa to the Arab Middle East, classical Europe, and all countries to the East, persisted for thousands of years (note the number of African slaves in ancient Egypt) long before America was ‘discovered’.

The appalling practice of slavery was widespread in Eastern Europe and Russia at the time Smith was writing Wealth Of Nations, and Smith was pessimistic that it would ever be abolished.

The camel-led slave-trading 'trains' that left sub-tropical Africa to cross the Sahara, hardly penetrate public consciousness in the way that the African slave ships, made visual by film and television, which only show of the lesser, and shorter in calendar time (though no less evil), slave trade to America.

Not only were Arab traders active in the overland slave trade, they were often the local slave agents active in supplying slaves to slave trading ships from Europe for the American and Caribbean markets.

When the American market was closed eventually by the self-imposed political action of the governments of the USA, Britain, and other European countries, the Arab slave traders continued their despicable trade north across the Sahara, and by sea along the East African coast.

very cool...

Jason Pye points us to The Obameter: Tracking Obama's Campaign Promises...

I doubt you'll see the tax increases for a while... Expectations that i've seen are still for 7-8% unemployment in 2010 with the stimulus package. I don't want to see those increases until the legs are back underneath the economy.

go read the whole thing....

King's Anti-Imperialism and the Challenge for Obama
The Martin Luther King, Jr. that most Americans know is the man who said, "I have a dream" at a massive rally 250,000 strong in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963, while standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during a March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. That speech is about racial justice and ultimate reconciliation in the United States, and with the changes wrought in American law and practice by the Civil Rights movement, it is a speech that Americans can still feel hopeful about, even if we have not, as Dr. King would have said, "gotten there yet."

But there was another King, the critic of the whole history of European colonialism in the global South, who celebrated the independence movements that led to decolonization in the decades after World War II. The anti-imperial King is the exact opposite of the Neoconservatives who set US policy in the early twenty-first century. Barack Obama, who inherits King's Civil Rights legacy and is also burdened with the neo-imperialism of the W. era, has some crucial choices to make about whether he will heed the other King, or whether he will get roped into the previous administration's neocolonial project simply because it is the status quo from which he will begin his tenure as commander in chief.
Cont'd (click below or on "comments")

The US so neglects its educational system that relatively few Americans are exposed to world history in school. Few of them know that roughly from 1757 to 1971 the great European powers systematically subjugated most of the peoples of the world. tiny Britain ruled gargantuan India, along with Burma (Myanmar), what is now Malaysia, Australia, some part of China, and large swaths of Africa (Egypt, Sudan, Gambia, Rhodesia/ Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania, Ghana, etc., etc.) The colonial system was one of brutal exploitation of "natives" by Europeans, who derived economic, strategic and political benefits from this domination.

Dr. King frankly saw this imperial system as unadulterated evil. In his "The Birth of a New Nation," a sermon delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama on 7 April 1957, King, just back from Africa, lays out his vision of the liberation of the oppressed from the failing empires.


Obama's plan to order the beginning of a withdrawal from Iraq on day one of his administration is consistent with the anticolonialism of the King tradition and of Obama's own autobiography.

But the dark clouds over the Obama administration are Afghanistan and Palestine. What Obama accomplishes on those two issues will powerfully shape his presidency. Only if he can avoid perpetuating colonial abuses in both can he hope to claim the mantle of anticolonialism from King and from his own father. For the Bush administration assiduously robbed other human beings of their status as images of the divine, and the US will not be whole until Afghans and Palestinians can say in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at Last, Free at Last, Great God Almighty, I'm Free at Last."

Israel's blunder?

"They even killed the cats!"
The Israelis' brutal murder of hundreds of innocent Gazans, and wounding of thousands of women and children, in the war they just concluded will rebound on them in some horrible way. The campaign likely has already probably ensured the reelection in Iran of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who had faced a tough campaign this June. Likewise, the war much weakened the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah party of PA president Mahmoud Abbas, because the Palestinian public perceived it to be implicated in the attack on Gaza. The US and Israel won't talk to Hamas, and if Fatah has been discredited with the Palestinians, then the Iraelis really have no one to talk too. That may suit them now, but timeis not on Israel's side.

I recommend to both sides Leo Tolstoy's short story, "A Lost Opportunity."

Monday, January 19, 2009

the Bush years as 300

Eight years 300 spartans
The problem with picking a film to be a symbol of a political era is that it has to be many things to many people. George W. Bush might exit office with an abysmal approval rating, but it is worth remembering that he was a two-term president who sustained an astonishingly high approval rating for several years after the September 11th attacks. He was re-elected with more than 50% of the vote. So the key is to pick a single film that best encapsulates the myriad reactions that American have when they think about George W. Bush.

My nominee is Zack Snyder's 300, based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller, and starring Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, and enough CGI to choke George Lucas. The reason 300 works so well is its dual appeal. Both supporters and critics of the president can find aspects of the movie that epitomize the themes of the Bush administration.

For supporters, the meaning of 300 is clear. The movie tells the (highly stylized) story of three hundred Spartans who stood their ground at the Battle of Thermopylae against the might of the Persian Army. Although they lost, Persian losses were so great that the battle rallied the city-states of Greece into opposing Persia in full force. As the Wikipedia entry about the battle suggests, many writers have used the Battle of Thermopylae as an exemplar of the superior power of a patriotic army of freemen defending native soil.

Filmmakers too —which is why 300 plays so well with Bush's supporters. In the movie, King Leonidas exhorts his soldiers (in his best Scottish brogue): "A new age has begun. An age of freedom!!" Sharp contrasts are made between the martial virtues of Spartan warriors and the decadent, authoritarian methods of the Persian empire. Contrasts are also made between Sparta's warrior caste and its venal politicians. It is not that difficult to draw the parallels between this conflict of the ancients and a modern clash of civilizations. Kerill O'Neill, a classics professor at Colby College, told ABC News at the time of the film's release, "the rhetoric of the Spartans about defending freedom is comparable to that said by the administration and the treacherous politicians who seem to be selling out to the enemy could be seen as Democrats who are soft on terror."

The great thing about 300, however, is that because the film is so cartoonish, critics of Bush can have their fun as well. The film is based on a graphic novel, not actual history, so there are a few problems with the film as told. The notion of Sparta as a freedom-loving country, for example, clashes somewhat with its actual existence as a slave-based economy. For all the verbal claims of heterosexual lust made by the film's protagonists, it is impossible to look at the Spartans and not think that you are watching the most homoerotic mainstream cinema since the volleyball scene in Top Gun. In other words, all the special effects, all of the hoary speeches, all of the historical inaccuracies succeed in subverting the film's stated themes. Like the Bush administration, the best intentions of the movie are undercut by its execution.

The release of 300 also reveals two other themes that fits with the Bush administration. The first is the law of unanticipated consequences. As hokey as the movie was, it provoked outrage in Iran, because of its negative portrayal of Persians. Rumors swirled in Tehran that the Bush administration bankrolled the film to whip Americans into a frenzy about attacking Iran. The final theme is the ephemeral nature of the Bush era. Two years after its release, 300 is remembered, if at all, as an amusing action flick. With luck, memories of the outgoing administration will fade just as quickly.

the art of blogging?
We all ought to be humble about our arguments, given how many smart people disagree with us completely, but a man whose claims are always tentative will (a) never make any progress against, toward, or with his opponents, and (b) bore everyone. Rather than offer the commonsense advice that an off-the-cuff medium like blogging should be handled with humility, I’ll read that advice against the grain and say that, the more humble a blogger is, the less tentative he will be.

Having a realistic estimation of one’s talents is a virtue, and having enough self-respect to be willing to suffer humiliation is, too. These two virtues yield utterly opposite styles of argumentation and I can’t imagine why they are both called "humility." I am more interested in the latter kind. In the same way that every man will eventually die, every man will eventually be wrong. The dogmatist never accepts this; the pragmatist accepts this before he begins; the humble blogger knows his humiliation is coming, but argues assertively until it arrives, secure in his confidence that, when it does, it won’t be that bad. This illogical confidence is an important rule of engagement

why diets don't work....

For the Overweight, Bad Advice by the Spoonful
scientists recently have come to understand that the brain exerts astonishing control over body composition and how much individuals eat. “There are physiological mechanisms that keep us from losing weight,” said Dr. Matthew W. Gilman, the director of the obesity prevention program at Harvard Medical School/Pilgrim Health Care.

Scientists now believe that each individual has a genetically determined weight range spanning perhaps 30 pounds. Those who force their weight below nature’s preassigned levels become hungrier and eat more; several studies also show that their metabolisms slow in a variety of ways as the body tries to conserve energy and regain weight. People trying to exceed their weight range face the opposite situation: eating becomes unappealing, and their metabolisms shift into high gear.

The body’s determination to maintain its composition is why a person can skip a meal, or even fast for short periods, without losing weight. It’s also why burning an extra 100 calories a day will not alter the verdict on the bathroom scales. Struggling against the brain’s innate calorie counters, even strong-willed dieters make up for calories lost on one day with a few extra bites on the next. And they never realize it. “The system operates with 99.6 percent precision,” Dr. Friedman said.

The temptations of our environment — the sedentary living, the ready supply of rich food — may not be entirely to blame for rising obesity rates. In fact, new research suggests that the environment that most strongly influences body composition may be the very first one anybody experiences: the womb.

According to several animal studies, conditions during pregnancy, including the mother’s diet, may determine how fat the offspring are as adults. Human studies have shown that women who eat little in pregnancy, surprisingly, more often have children who grow into fat adults. More than a dozen studies have found that children are more likely to be fat if their mothers smoke during pregnancy.

The research is just beginning, true, but already it has upended some hoary myths about dieting. The body establishes its optimal weight early on, perhaps even before birth, and defends it vigorously through adulthood. As a result, weight control is difficult for most of us. And obesity, the terrible new epidemic of the developed world, is almost impossible to cure.

force either way...

Jason Pye was criticizing the rail funding in the stimulus package

I stated that one might do this, "to make people use more of one over the other..."

He then responds by stating
Because that is all government is...force.

I'm assuming he stated this because I said "make people use." But this has me perplexed. The debate seems to be spending money on rail vs. roads. Either policy decision is going to create incentives for certain behaviors over other behaviors (force in Jason's terminology). Thats policy.

I responded that
all policies impose certain incentives over other incentives. A traffic ticket creates an incentive to not speed... "forcing you". But once we move past an obvious truism i'm not sure what that has to do with anything on the policy front.

he responded that
I’m referring to government forcing individuals to change personal habits, such as creating an atmosphere that is more amenable to riding transit instead of driving.

If you divert enough money away from roads and into transit, you can’t construct new roads or at least be effective with new roads or maintenance on existing roads. You’re using the power of government (force) to get a desired end. It’s an incredibly misguided and expensive angle for government to take.

but again thats a policy decision... either decision would be impacting personal habits.

which is why I'm still perplexed by the use of the term "force" in his response.

Either action is a government decision to spend money in a specific way. Therefore force is implied in either decision and there is no reason to bring in "force" in regards to spending on rail rather than spending on roads. Either decision is going to impact peoples behaviors. I don't walk around saying the government forces me to drive all the way to Indian creek to jump on the train. I guess I could?!?!?

You can state that more people use their cars, but the government isn't forcing people to not use cars in this instance, they are just increasing the quality of trains--which would increase ridership, and change the development/growth of those areas; for better or worse.

The force is implied either way when it comes to government spending/policy because all policy decision preference some behaviors over others.

Anyways it just seemed strange to bring up force for one when its just as true for the other.

They may be two different policy decisions with different impacts... but thats a political decision... that is determined in the political process.

You can argue more people prefer spending on roads, but thats what representative government is for to make such decision and if ones representative doesn't people would kick them out.

One mans misguided and expensive angle is another perfered policy...

I guess one could argue that increasing rail would increase the infrastructure costs over the long term, which the orginal quote he cited noted, and increase the services that government is obligated to fund--hence need to raise revenue for.

But I was just intrigued by the word on this one...

the soviet decline...

Samuelson on Hayek, A Comment on Comments
while Hayek argued that centrally planned socialism would be inefficient, an argument PAS agrees with, Hayek no more forecast the moment of the Soviet collapse than did PAS or the CIA or pretty much anybody other than a French sociologist named Revel in 1976. Also, the severe economic decline in the Soviet bloc largely came after the political collapse of the bloc. It is not at all clear such a collapse would have happened without the political collapse, if the Soviet leaders in 1989 had cracked down on the independence demonstraters in Lithuania, the people fleeing across the Hungarian border into Austria, and of course supported the Honecker regime in East Germany in preventing the Berlin Wall from falling. After all, the upshot of the Chinese crushing the demonstrations in Tienanman Square was continued economic growth with a gradual transition to its current peculiar mixed economy that has grown very rapidly. And for all the carrying on many make about the Soviet economy, while it may have been inaccurate to describe it in 1989 as "thriving," and it was falling behind the US in growth, technical innovation, and quality of goods, it was functioning, and the population was not starving or homeless or without clothing or education or medical care, although it was politically repressed. But it had provided the industrial expansion that allowed it to build a military capacity that defeated Hitler's military at Stalingrad and Kursk. In short, this dumping all over PAS for these statements is fairly ridiculous, whatever one thinks of Samuelson's ultimate or broader influence on economics as the godfather of its mainstream neoclassical form in the last half of the 20th century.

article on Hayek in Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization

A few remembrances of Friedrich von Hayek (1899–1992)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

the Bush years...

Farewell to All That: An Oral History of the Bush White House

outside of academe...

Journeyman: Getting Into and Out of Academe (1997)

joint economic development hearing 1/15/08

We heard from the home builders, and developers, and GEDA. We did not hear from consumer groups...

--the housing bubble was not unforeseen, builders and developers helped increase the bubble--i.e. they made bad business decisions?

--according to them we have "pent up demand" but they also stated we have have about 148,000 vacant lots — a 117-month supply.... meaning we have an abundance of supply not demand the idea that we need to "get people back into the market place" is absurd no? [what they mean is the market place for new homes but we're talking about the housing market broadly when we are speaking about economic development because vacant homes and homes that won't sell hurt economic development also?]

--tax credits or reductions for vacant lots or houses helps those who are sitting on over capacity--why not help those trying to sell or buy the homes they are in rather than investors? Those who are sitting on vanct lots or empty houses helped perpetuate the crisis and profit off it--bad business decisions on their part
would a tax credit for down payment on housing be only on new houses or any house on the market?

--why should regulatory arena be more even across the state? Why view home building as a statewide industry? Thats to assume that urban and rural housing needs the same regulation. One would assume that we would have to have the tighter urban regulations on rural areas which would make no sense? [i'm certain builders would want rural regulations on urban areas--which would harm urban areas?]

--removing impact fee's on roads would be the single biggest cost that would be passed on to local communities and would increase incentive to build (by reducing cost to builder) beyond the means of the existing roads?

here's the ajc article: Legislature considers ways to jump-start home building

--what was the deal with the cut your own firewood because of global warming joke from the chair?

interveiw with Chantal Mouffe

Hegemony, democracy, agonism and journalism: an interview with Chantal Mouffe

Friday, January 16, 2009


Confederate history month pushed by lawmakers


ex phi in Scientific American

Can a Robot, an Insect or God Be Aware?

cut taxes

Stop Taxing the Poorest Incomes at 20 Per Cent
Removal of the income tax from the very poor may mean that the richer would pay ‘proportionally’ more on their much larger incomes, which Adam Smith said was appropriate in other contexts, and not at the expense of the poor, ‘who are least able to supply it.’ [WN V.i.d.13: p 728; Edwin Canaan, 1937 edition, Random House, p 686]

I oppose Obama's taxs cuts as stimulus--because they aren't/won't. But if he's gonna get some republican votes do it... but don't spend such a large chunk of the package on them from thor's sake!

I like this point

Tax and Sales and SPLOST’s OH MY!
I’m generally inclined to support the T-SPLOST, and inclined to oppose the local SPLOST on similar grounds.

A SPLOST is supposed to ignite growth, fund emergency projects, or create a more habitable environment for citizens. It was not meant to be a crutch for local governments to fund their normal responsibilities.
You hear a lot from the right about cuting taxes and cutting spending--but at the same time you hear them decrying vote buying (i.e. representing those who have a certain preference over another--in a democracy we call this an election) and they tend to thereby support underfunding government programs that are needed and/or supported. This works to make government less effective (and there-by less popular) at doing its job of protecting and empowering its citizens. The conservatives then get to point to how terrible government is at "doing business" (which in itself is an interesting framing of an entity that is not intended to make profits) and that we need to cut it even more because of how terrible it is.

His post had nothing to do with most of that... it just got me on a train of thought...

Keynes on NPR this morning...

Keynes' Economic Theories Back In Vogue

the end of economics as we know it...

The tendencies of irrational behavior

Chomsky on Obama

let the good times... go?

Generation L and its fearful future
Long periods of peace and prosperity, however, are not always terribly interesting. Amid all the economic gloom, I do not think I am alone in feeling an odd excitement at the sense of living in uncertain and historic times. As Philip Larkin, a gloomy British poet, once wrote: “Life is first boredom/Then fear.” We have had the boredom. Now it is time for the fear.

Jim is tired this morning...

thats all...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Steve Davis on the session...

Saw Rep. Davis today. I'm excited to see him actively using new media.


Modern Liberalism and Libertarianism: An Economist's View
By Brad DeLong
Let me give you what I take to be an American card-carrying modern liberal economist’s take on classical liberalism--which I think is broadly an updated version of Adam Smith's take. It is, in short, that modern liberal economists are wanderers who have been expelled from the garden of classical liberalism by the angel of history and reality with his flaming sword...

It starts with an observation that we are all somewhat more interdependent than classical liberalism allows. It is not completely true that it is from the self-interest and not the benevolence of the butcher that we expect our meat. Self-interest, yes, but benevolence too: a truly self-interested butcher would not trade you his meat for your money but instead slaughter you and sell you as long pig. So this opens up a gap between the libertarian view and the world.

That said, and modulus this basic human--well, call it "sympathy" as Adam Smith did--modern liberal economists were very happy for a long time with classical liberalism. Yes, there were externalities, and increasing returns over a range, and market power--but the presumption was that market failures were tolerable and in a sense optimal because of the magnitudes of government failures that would attend any attempt to compensate for them. The near-consensus of economists was at least crypto-classical liberalism, along the lines of Colbert's exchange with Legendre in the reign of Louis XIV:

"What do you need to help you?" asked Colbert. "Leave us alone" answered Legendre. ("Que faut-il faire pour vous aider?" asked Colbert. "Nous laisser faire" answered Legendre).

Then starting in the late nineteenth century liberal economists were mugged by reality:

--on issues of income distribution--the Gilded Age--and how laissez-faire did not appear to be producing the reasonable distribution of the fruits of the social division of labor that economists had all expected...

--on issues of macroeconomic stability--the Great Depression was a big shock--and the argument that the Great Depression arose because markets were not free enough never acquired legs or force outside the theological...

--on issues of the persistence of "unfree" labor--Adam Smith expected the imminent collapse of slavery, but ending slavery took a war, and the market economy in America did not appear to be doing very much at all to undermine Jim Crow...
last and most recently, the fear of the increasing importance of "market failure"--the coming of the "information economy"--caused economists to worry that we were moving from a Smithian to a Schumpeterian world, and even if the presumption of laissez faire works for a Smithian world it is not at all clear that it works for a Schumpeterian world...
The upshot is what Keynes said eighty-four years ago:

It is not true that individuals possess a prescriptive ‘natural liberty’ in their economic activities. There is no ‘compact’ conferring perpetual rights on those who Have or on those who Acquire. The world is not so governed from above that private and social interest always coincide. It is not so managed here below that in practice they coincide. It is not a correct deduction from the principles of economics that enlightened self-interest always operates in the public interest. Nor is it true that self-interest generally is enlightened; more often individuals acting separately to promote their own ends are too ignorant or too weak to attain even these. Experience does not show that individuals, when they make up a social unit, are always less clear-sighted than when they act separately. We cannot therefore settle on abstract grounds, but must handle on its merits in detail what Burke termed “one of the finest problems in legislation, namely, to determine what the State ought to take upon itself to direct by the public wisdom, and what it ought to leave, with as little interference as possible, to individual exertion”...

One way to understand Keynes's General Theory is that Say's Law is false in theory but that we can build the running code for limited, strategic interventions that will make Say's Law roughly true in practice. The modern Ametican liberal economist's view of libertarianism is much the same: libertarianism is false in theory, but it is very much worth figuring out a set of limited, strategic interventions that will make the libertarian promises roughly true in practice.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

Wall Stree Warriors: Capitalism Rules

Niall Ferguson, the Ascent of Money

tax multipliers

This Mankiw op-ed starts a tuffle...

Intellectual Dishonesty (Gasp!) from a Conservative Economist

Mankiw retorts: The Importance of Being Exogenous

The Romer View of Tax and Spending Multipliers Revisited

Is There a Serious Conservative Argument Against the Stimulus?

This is honestly a bit beyond me for the most part...I remember the basics from macro101. But i'm still working on it!

August 8th 1853

Marx: The Future Results of British Rule in India

Art History

Short History of Art for Everyone

Matthew Collings, This is Modern Art

something I notice all the time...

I'm a terrible speller. And I don't use spell check enough! sigh....

Second verse (Obama), same as the first (Clinton)

Lei-off: Obama snubs Dean

I'm hearing the 50 state stratedgy is dead... Obama machine,doesn't want or need true grassroots...

Ah yes, the sorry state of the Democratic Party--why i'm not running for Chair in Henry County again; its not worth my time.

I found this comment post very to the point
Obama is a creature of the Village -- Dean never was, and it was his 50 State strategy that made him persona non grata for Emmanuel and the rest of the corrupt Democratic establishment.
Keep in mind that the political media is concentrated in DC, and Dean's strategy was all about returning power, money, and influence to state and local party organizations. And since KT and her "political reporter" ilk need the DC establishment for their sources, influence peddlers like Rahm and Schumer received far more favorable media treatment than did Dean.
But ultimately, Dean really has no one but himself to blame for this -- he threw his private support behind Obama in a manner that guaranteed Obama the nomination, and did so to advance his own agenda . Dean wanted to piggyback his 50 State Strategy on Obama's grassroots organization, and fell out of favor because he wanted to continue to empower state and local party organizations, while Obama wants to centralize power in his hands and use the Democratic Party for his own personal benefit and self-aggrandizement. Dean found out too late that Obama's organizational efforts were designed to advance only one thing -- Barack Obama's personal power.
So instead of genuine grass-roots organizing, and listening to what Democrats across the country have to say, we now have the astroturf of, in which Obama sets the agenda for the grassroots, ignores their concerns when they conflict with his personal empowerment agenda, and co-opts grassroots concerns when they can be folded into the overall strategy of Obama self-aggrandizement.

democracy in action?

Israel bans Arab parties from running in upcoming elections

Thomas Frank interview

Q+A With Thomas Frank
In the book you talk about this cynicism as being self-fulfilling.

If you believe in bad government you will deliver bad government. If you think big government is by nature going to fail, is corrupt, is evil, that's what you'll deliver. That's the larger message of the book...

...And yet they love big government, in the sense that they've figured out a way to appropriate it.

But they have the deniability. They can always get out of it. "No, we're against Bush. He's a Big Government conservative!" And then the people that criticize Bush will get in and do the same thing. My friend calls it the "no true Scotsman fallacy." The story goes like this: a guy is Scotland says no Scotsman would put soy milk in his porridge and someone says, Oh yeah, Joe Blow puts soy milk in his porridge. "Ah," he responds, "but no true Scotsman would ever put soy milk in his porridge. You can always retreat, but you see it's a fallacy. It's time to make that retreat impossible.That's one of the projects of the book, to take that sanctuary away from the conservatives. Let's examine this beast, this movement, not by what is says but what it has done every time it takes over.

the economists who can't get fired...

Finally somebody says it!
Economist, author and Audit pal Jeff Madrick has a piece on the Daily Beast that I’ve been hoping someone would write:

How the Entire Economics Profession Failed

Economics is probably unique among academic disciplines in the extent to which its academic debates end up affecting the lives of everyday people. Put it this way, art historians, comp-lit scholars, and anthropologists may be susceptible to the same academic pitfalls as economists—group-think, a focus on minutia, the lack of interaction with humanoid life forms, poor hygiene, etc.—but it doesn’t matter because policymakers don’t actually rely on them to make policy.

That’s not true with economics. This is a profession that could stand for some soul-searching, and some scrutiny. Come to think of it, that’s not a bad story idea for a business-news outlet.
If you screwed up flipping burgers as many times as some major economists have they'd be fired in a heart beat...

Bush years...

Economy Made Few Gains in Bush Years
Eight-Year Period Is Weakest in Decades
"It's sad to say, but we really went nowhere for almost ten years, after you extract the boost provided by the housing and mortgage boom," said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's, and an informal adviser to McCain's campaign. "It's almost a lost economic decade."

Health Care Crisis Highlighting Health Care
Back in 2003, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies concluded that the societal benefits of covering the uninsured "are likely greater than" the added costs to society. It also determined that the potential economic value from covering all Americans was between $65 billion and $130 billion a year. A more recent report, from the New America Foundation in 2008, reached a similar verdict: "The economic cost of failing to fix our broken health care system is greater than the upfront expense of comprehensive health reform. In 2006, our economy lost as much as $200 billion because of the poor health and shorter lifespan of the uninsured."

Tauzin cited a 2007 study by the Milken Institute, and funded by his organization, that found common chronic diseases had an impact on the U.S. economy, both in real dollars and lost productivity. The Milken study found that seven chronic diseases had a $1.3 trillion impact on the economy annually, with the majority of that figure, $1.1 trillion, in the form of lost productivity. The study didn't call for universal health care as a fix, and some of the diseases could be mitigated with public health measures even without addressing insurance. But the Milken report did say that improving people's health, by increasing prevention efforts and early intervention, and reducing obesity rates – all things that could come about with a solid health plan – would lower costs and boost workers' output.

The ad ends by saying that "quality, affordable health care" is "not just something we should do for America's families. It's something we must do for America's economy." Hours after the group launched the ad, Barack Obama mentioned health care in what was billed as a major speech on the economy, pushing for electronic medical records and echoing the words of Nielsen in saying that an investment in health care (along with energy and education) "will jump-start economic growth."

highest voter turnout in decades!

One slight snag: 38.4 percent of eligible voters didn't cast a ballot for president in 2008

What is going on...

Jason Pye on the legislative session that just started today.

If you aren't reading his blog you do so at your own peril.

One of my academic interests is the question of where theory and reality merge and Jason's pretty staunch philosophy creates a number of intrigues... and quandary's for me. Plus he's up on his p's and q's of current conservative debate/policy

Also you should check out Georgia Legislative Watch where he is blogging on the session.

tax cuts vs. government spending...

"Measuring the Effect of Infrastructure Spending on GDP"

300 billion to do next to nothing...

Obama's $300 Billion Tax Cut: Lots of Buck, Not Much Bang

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Taxing Matter...

Economic Stimulus-2009
Most seem to think that some kind of economic stimulus package early in the Obama Administration is a foregone conclusion. The question is, what will it include?

Book Review

The Economic Sociology of Capitalism.

Taxs cuts--the not so magic bullet...


Federal Budget

A Balanced Approach to Restoring Fiscal Responsibility
Rather than spending time trying to hammer out complex budget procedures of dubious merit and effectiveness, policymakers should focus on actual steps they can start taking to reduce projected deficits by slowing the growth of health care spending throughout the U.S. health care system while also reforming Medicare, closing the Social Security shortfall, and raising more revenue. While policymakers may not yet be ready to address such matters fully, they can begin by seeking “grand bargains” involving changes in both the big spending programs and taxes, including the changes suggested below. To be sure, some of these changes will be difficult to enact on their own. But, in the spirit of “shared sacrifice” as exemplified by the deficit‐reduction packages of 1990 and 1993, these measures may be achievable as part of overall deficit‐reduction packages. (Note: Not all signatories to this statement favor all of the following measures, but all favor at least a majority of them.)

• Adopting recommendations of Congress’ Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, which could generate substantial savings;
• Increasing the Medicare premiums that affluent beneficiaries pay;
• Instituting vigorous research programs to determine the comparative effectiveness of different health care treatments and procedures as well as what is causing the huge differences in health care costs across the country, and using the results as the basis for new policies to restrain health care costs without compromising health care quality;
• Curbing or eliminating outdated or unproductive tax expenditures;
• Switching to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ alternative, more accurate Consumer Price Index in computing the annual cost‐of‐living adjustments in Social Security and other entitlement programs (while taking steps to shield low‐income and other vulnerable beneficiaries) and the annual inflation adjustments in the tax code;
• Reforming farm price supports; and
• Adhering to Pay‐As‐You‐Go rules for both increases in mandatory programs and tax cuts.

While, taken together, these proposals would have a substantial effect on future deficits, policymakers will need ultimately to enact more extensive measures to achieve long‐term fiscal sustainability.

very telling...

Pecision warfare

UN says halting aid to Gaza, citing danger to staff from IDF
The United Nations on Thursday said it was halting aid deliveries to the Gaza Strip, citing the danger its staff was under from the Israel Defense Forces offensive in the coastal territory.

The announcement came shortly after the driver of a UN truck was shot and killed by tank fire as he was headed to an Israeli border crossing to pick up an aid shipment, according to the UN.

"The UN is suspending its aid operations in Gaza until we can get safety and security guarantees for our staff," spokesman Chris Gunness said. "We've been coordinating with them (Israeli forces) and yet our staff continue to be hit and killed."

Whats hardcore? and the Dandy...

Having fallen out of the [music]"scene" a few years ago I miss out on a lot of the cutting edge stuff. Thanks to NPR and the New York Times I can play catch up with the rest of the world.

The World/Inferno Friendship Society

Addicted to Peter Lorre (That Voice, Those Eyes)
As leader of the World/Inferno Friendship Society, a Brooklyn band that mixes Weimar-style cabaret and roisterous ska-punk, he is the driving force behind “Addicted to Bad Ideas: Peter Lorre’s 20th Century,” a self-described punk songspiel


Somali Rapper K'Naan Schools American MCs
News from Somalia usually involves violent warlords, or pirates hijacking ships off the coast. Other than that, average Somalis don't have much of a voice. But a rapper from Somalia named K'Naan is trying to change that, and in the world of hip-hop, he's become an artist to watch.

K'Naan grew up in Mogadishu, on what he calls "the meanest streets in the universe." In one song on his new album, he calls his hometown the "risky zone," full of pistols and Russian revolvers.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I'm going to work... you ponder this...

The Robert Rubin welfare plan...

More Money for Robert Rubin
It looks like President-elect Obama is picking up President Clinton's promise to end welfare as we know it. Back in those pre-welfare reform days, welfare checks went to poor families. Welfare as we know it now seems to involve giving taxpayer dollars to Citigroup and other banks.

The media seem to have largely overlooked the Citigroup tax credit in their discussion of the latest items in President Obama's stimulus proposal. According to the Washington Post, the proposal will allow companies to write off current losses against taxes paid over the last 4-5 years, not just 2 years, as in current law.

There are relatively few companies that could benefit from this tax break since most companies will not have losses so large that they would need more than two years of tax payments to balance them against. But, really big losers, like Robert Rubin's Citigroup, and other badly failing financial institutions, are losing much more money in 2008 and 2009 than they earned in 2006 and 2007.

Did the political connections of Robert Rubin and others in the financial industry have anything to do with the decision of Obama's economic team to be so generous to them? I don't have an answer to that question, but the media should be asking it.

What would happen if that bad boy came to GA?

Dawkins and his godless buses

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

GREGORY PENCE on teaching

How to Be Happy in Academe
To be happy as a professor, you don't need to teach in buildings that win architectural awards. You don't need a two-course-a-semester load to publish (I published during my first years in Birmingham, despite teaching nine or 10 courses a year). You don't need your university to give you a dedicated blog site or IT personnel to support your home computer. You need a tenure-track job, and then you need to work hard at the three things we are expected to do: teach students who want to learn, publish about things you care about, and be a good academic citizen through service to your institution and field. That's the deal. If it doesn't sound good enough, then maybe you should try bartending in San Francisco. And when you do, lots of adjuncts will apply for your job.

from UN on the ground...

At least 30 killed in IDF strike on Gaza school; IDF: Troops fired in self-defense
"There's nowhere safe in Gaza. Everyone here is terrorized and traumatized," said John Ging, the top UN official in Gaza, blaming the international community for allowing the violence to continue.

"I am appealing to political leaders here and in the region and the world to get their act together and stop this," he said, speaking at Gaza's largest hospital. "They are responsible for these deaths."

I didn't get time to finish reading today...

Refuted economic doctrines #2: The case for privatisation

Gaza and Double Effect

Israel’s self-defeating Gaza offensive

Growing Public: Volume 1, The Story: Social Spending and Economic Growth since the Eighteenth Century (Vol 1)

i'm blessed...

So I don't have to be in to work today until 3:30 but I still got up at 1. So i'm sitting here with my coffee in the microwave--made it yesterday!--and i'm cutting a grapefruit. Mind you i've been reading about the crisis in gaza all morning. And it hits me. All my little complaints about the world--are little. My home isn't being blown to bits... nor are my children... my wife... my dog. I don't get to see my dad or my brothers sister and stepmom, nor my grandmother... but i can email them (which I don't do enough of).

Challenge for the day... appreciate this without getting stressed out about the petty stuff.

Whats the plan again?

Israel is all tactics and no strategy
One thing I'm struck by is just how little the Israeli government seems to have thought things through. Yes, we know that plans were in the works for something like six months. Yes, Hamas was clearly surprised on a tactical level, but the group must have been expecting to be hit sooner or later.

But what is the exit plan here? Pound Hamas until they cry uncle? And why would Israel be willing to trade some temporary advantages in Gaza for a number of strategic setbacks: the effective end of the Annapolis process, a possible collapse of the peace track with Syria, worldwide opprobrium, a reinvigorated radical camp in Iran, the further undermining of pro-Western regimes in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and a Hamas that may in fact emerge stronger vis-à-vis the ever-shrinking Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction?

I'm not sure what that means...

probably one of the most meaningless statements i've read in my entire life...
So far, the Israeli public has displayed much more sensitivity to soldiers' deaths than Gazans have to Hamas combat dead.
How ya figure that one?

operation cast lead

ANALYSIS / Dead troops is price of stubbornness over Gaza exit
When the IDF first entered the Strip on the ground on Saturday night, Hamas avoided engaging it directly. Only when the troops began to make preparations to stay, including the takeover of Palestinian homes, did the Palestinian group begin to take on the invaders at closer range.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Zizek at google! : )

spineless democrats....

It's time to redefine "pro-Israel"
Americans "are closely divided over whether the Jewish state should be taking military action against militants in the Gaza Strip" (44-41%, with 15% undecided), but Democratic voters overwhelmingly oppose the Israeli offensive -- by a 24-point margin (31-55%)." Yet Democratic party leaders like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are standing squarely behind the brutal Israeli offensive and the Bush administration has put the blame solely on Hamas and blocked a UN Security Council statement calling for an immediate cease-fire. So far, only a couple of members of Congress have offered even the mildest criticism of Israel's actions.
that goes double for Obama's silence...

fashionista alert...

in Atlanta

Israel's long-term strategic goal is the elimination of Hamas control of Gaza.

Analysis: Battling toward the collapse of the Hamas regime
After the Hamas takeover in June 2007, Israel imposed a regime of economic sanctions on Gaza, constricting the flow of goods and materials into Gaza via its border crossings. The idea was gradually to undermine the popularity of Hamas in Gaza, while at the same time bolstering Abbas.

Israel enjoyed considerable success in this approach. While the diplomatic "peace process" with Abbas didn't move very far, the West Bank enjoyed an economic boomlet, as Israel removed checkpoints and facilitated the movement of capital, goods, workers and foreign tourists. So while Gaza languished under sanctions, with zero growth, the West Bank visibly prospered - reinforcing the message that "Islamic resistance" is a dead end.

Hamas, from the outset, sought to break out of what it has called the Israeli "siege" by firing rockets into Israel. Its quid pro quo was an end to Hamas rocket fire in exchange for a lifting of the Israeli "siege." When Israel and Hamas reached an agreement for "calm" last June, Hamas hoped the sanctions would be lifted as well, and Israel did increase the flow through the crossing points, by about 50 percent. Fuel supplies were restored to previous levels.

But Hamas was fully aware that sanctions were slowly eroding its base and contradicting its narrative that "resistance" pays. This is why it refused to renew the "calm" agreement after its six-month expiration, and renewed rocket fire.

thoughts on gender online...

interesting thoughts

US social safety net in trouble...

A safety net in need of repair
Unemployment insurance is one of the economy’s most important automatic stabilisers, helping to maintain household purchasing power when the economy weakens. But that role is impaired by the short duration of benefits and their skimpy level. At just under $300, the average weekly benefit is less than half the average private-sector wage. Mississippi’s maximum benefit of $230 is not much more than the federal poverty threshold of $200 for an individual. Benefits are low, in part, because they are financed by payroll taxes that states levy on their employers. States don’t like to raise such taxes, even when times are good. But that means they lack the funds to pay benefits when times are bad, forcing them to raise other taxes or borrow from the federal government, as some 30 states are now considering.

One of the best features of America’s system is “experience rating”: employers that frequently lay workers off must pay higher payroll taxes, thereby discouraging such lay-offs. But according to Alan Krueger of Princeton, many states have neutered that feature by charging most employers the lowest tax rate.

news from the labor movement...

SEIU President Andy Stern is a threat to labor soul

Obama's tax cuts... not a great idea...

Tax Cuts Aren't The Solution
It's not entirely clear to me what the logic is behind the tax cuts, other than as a political gesture. I'm not dismissing the value, on its own, of another $1,000 for a family to have to spend. Yes, we need economic stimulus. But, first, if economists of "all political stripes" agreed that the last hunk of cash sent to people didn't work because people were putting it under their mattresses, where is the evidence that the current situation is any different? People are still in massive debt and home equity is gone as a place to get cash. Why do we think people will react differently.

But, the larger question really is: tax cuts compared to what? Would $300 billion give back more to people if the money was used, for example, to states to stop cuts in health care and education, or invested in rebuilding every crumbling school in the country, or...well, you pick your priority.

It seems to me that part of the reason we got into this mess is thinking too short term. Yes, put spend $1 trillion over the next two years in a vast array of investments that create jobs--but I don't see the same return from tax cuts.
I may be one of the few people left in America who crinkles my nose at the slogan "tax cuts".
count me in! Nose crinklers unite!

John Case on Krugman's Depression Economics

"Depression Economics" and Recovery
“Depression economics” is a term that Krugman came up with over a decade ago. His main point is that monetary policy, once you get into a depression, becomes ineffective, and the only possible way to manage the economy or influence its direction once interest rates have reached zero – which, coincidentally, they are pretty close to right now – is by means of very aggressive financial intervention by the federal government, not just in terms of liquidity, but by employing people directly or indirectly so they have the power to purchase things. This is the only way, according to depression economics, that you can effect a recovery in the economy.

Depression economics overthrows the reigning ideology, which, under the influence primarily of Milton Friedman, has long asserted that it was the failure of an injection of sufficient liquidity by the Fed that caused the Great Depression. Friedmanism maintains that by simply manipulating interest rates you can adequately influence the expansion or contraction of the economy, so that you do not need to think about any federal programs or entitlements, or anything else. This is a conservative view that fits in very nicely with the interests of people who wanted no government. For many years it has been the dominant philosophy, because for years a combination of reasonably steady growth and moderate inflation has allowed interest rates to have enough flexibility. That is, they remained high enough so that if you needed to bring them down a bit you could have an effect. This situation led a wide range of people, from the center to the extreme right wing, to transform Friedmanism into a kind of free market fundamentalism, which probably even Friedman never would have completely endorsed.

The Austrian and Chicago Schools

Excerpt from History of Economic Thought: A Critical Perspective, by E.K. Hunt via Mark Thoma

I think the best point made is this
Every human being has ideological, moral and political views. To pretend to have none and to be purely objective must necessarily be either self-deception or a device to deceive others. A candid writer will make his preconceptions clear and allow the reader to discount them if he does not accept them. This concerns the professional honour of the scientist.
You see this all the time. I always think about Howard Zinn's you "can't be neutral on a moving train."

the web of denial

Arguments from global warming skeptics

new music find...

go listen to slut

The PR campaign

Israel has been forced to revise their story of late through a concerted public relations campaign.
Just last January, Olmert told the Knesset that there is "no need to get all fired up" about the rockets, and a major military operation in Gaza would be "out of proportion to the pressures we face." Public Security Minister Avi Dichter declared in July 2006 that disengagement was a success despite the rocket attacks, because "10 months without any Israeli being killed" from Gaza "is an extraordinary achievement"; that same month, former premier Ariel Sharon's chief strategist, Dov Weisglass, said the rockets do not detract from disengagement's success, because "the physical damage they do is not great." In short, daily rocket fire is unimportant as long as nobody gets killed.
The mispreception is that this operation is about the missiles that are being lobbed into Israel, but its actually and deterrence and intimidation
Mark Heller, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, said that that energy reflected the deep feeling among average Israelis that the country had to regain its deterrent capacity.

“There has been a nagging sense of uncertainty in the last couple years of whether anyone is really afraid of Israel anymore,” he said. “The concern is that in the past — perhaps a mythical past — people didn’t mess with Israel because they were afraid of the consequences. Now the region is filled with provocative rhetoric about Israel the paper tiger. This operation is an attempt to re-establish the perception that if you provoke or attack you are going to pay a disproportionate price.”

the humanitarian crisis continues to grow worse...

Gaza civilians tell 'Post' their city has 'gone backward 50 years'
Meanwhile, United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) officials said on Sunday that contrary to statements made by Israeli officials, there is a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

"Bread and wheat are going to run out extremely rapidly, and people are going to start getting extremely hungry," said UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness. "Medical supplies are in critically short supply. When you have a situation where houses are being blown up and women and children are being maimed, I would say that's a humanitarian crisis."

Israel is still blocking humanitarian convoys.

From CFR

Gaza Land Raids

The conflict between Israel and Hamas intensified significantly on Saturday as Israeli ground troops launched a ground invasion into the Gaza Strip. The New York Times reports Israeli tanks and soldiers have pushed deep into Gaza, taking control of some areas from which militants have fired rockets into Israel, and cutting a swath through the territory in order to surround Gaza City. Despite Israeli efforts to control regions along its border with Gaza, the Times reports Palestinian militants continued lobbing rockets into southern Israel through much of Sunday.

The BBC reports more than 500 people have been killed in Gaza since fighting started ten days ago, and some 2,500 more have been wounded. Al-Jazeera reports on casualties among Palestinian civilians.

Israel's push into Gaza comes despite a series of international calls for a ceasefire. Two high-level diplomatic missions to the region are being spearheaded separately by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and a delegation of EU officials (AFP). U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has also called for a ceasefire (AP), as have senior officials from Britain's foreign ministry (Guardian).

Among Arab leaders, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah met this weekend with Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an effort to raise money to assist Palestinians and bring the Israeli raids to an end (Arab News). Iranian and Syrian officials also held bilateral talks on how to help Gaza residents (Fars). Meanwhile, the Israeli paper Haaretz reports Egyptian officials will meet today with leaders from Hamas and may press them to accept an immediate truce.

Background and Analysis:

- The BBC has a map and timeline detailing Israeli troop movements within Gaza.

- The Middle East Times surveys Arab media reaction to the flare-up.

-'s Crisis Guide on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict examines the roots of the region's problems.

- CFR's Steven Cook discusses what the current fighting might mean for the incoming Obama administration.

If you or I were a Palestinian

something to think about

Sunday, January 4, 2009


72% of Conservatives Still Support Bush

show me the money...

or historical proof...

Laissez-Faire as a real world, rather than ivory tower, policy position is based on a fabricated interpretation of history. You can see a great example in a recent op-ed Bush and Obama Opt for Corporatism over Freewheeling Capitalist Economy
We've always had some elements of the corporate state in America — subsidies, tariffs, monopoly privileges, regulatory cartels — but we've prospered because of the freewheeling entrepreneurship and creative destruction that characterizes most of our economy.
How do we know it was "freewheeling entrepreneurship and creative destruction" rather than... well... the other thing he mentioned?

Its creative reinterpretation of how the world works... and/or how the world is allowed to work by societies and those who run them.

Stiglitiz on the crisis

Capitalist Fools
Behind the debate over remaking U.S. financial policy will be a debate over who’s to blame. It’s crucial to get the history right, writes a Nobel-laureate economist, identifying five key mistakes—under Reagan, Clinton, and Bush II—and one national delusion.

web find

every once in a while you find something online that makes you marvel at how great the web is.

Go learn something.

On operation cast lead

I'm glad i'm not the only one that is dismayed by Obama's recent silence on the crisis in gaza. In fact I find it very worrisome for those of us who want to see the Democrats go from a center right party to something a little more to the left if not center.

But I'm perplexed by Jason's comment
I'm not taking any side here because I believe would should stay out of the conflict entirely,
Seeing as how we are helping subsidize this little slaughter, we're knee deep in the conflict whether we like it or not.

Also because Israel is helping to empower Osama Bin Ladin with this atrocity, and weaken its own security, it might be wise, from our own national security standpoint, to not "stay out" of this conflict.

I read his "taking sides," statement as claiming one is either for Isreal or for Hamas. That would be terribly simplistic to one of the truly complex issues of our era.

Jason is one of the few commentators that I have come across on the right that has some substance and depth to his arguments and positions. Hopefully he'll go a little more indepth on such an important issue.

Rocker on Liberalism and Democracy...

"Liberalism and Democracy were pre-eminently political concepts, and since most of the original adherents of both did scarcely consider the economic conditions of society, the further development of these conditions could not be practically reconciled with the original principles of Democracy, and still less with those of Liberalism. Democracy with its motto of equality of all citizens before the law, and Liberalism with its right of man over his own person, both were wrecked on the realities of capitalist economy. As long as millions of human beings in every country have to sell their labour to a small minority of owners, and sink into the most wretched misery if they can find no buyers, the so-called equality before the law remains merely a pious fraud, since the laws are made by those who find themselves in possession of the social wealth. But in the same way there can be no talk of a right over one's own person, for that right ends when one is compelled to submit to the economic dictation of another if one does not want to starve" --Rudolf Rocker "The Ideology of Daily Life"

I dunno...

Must a journalist listen to the true believers in Austrian economics?