Archive

  • WHITE HISTORY MONTH?:

    WHITE HISTORY MONTH?: I think Gary Younge is really onto something in his column in this week's Nation . Writing about how February is Black History Month, he arges that there is a crucial component missing: examination of who the pepetrators of racism themselves have been. For instance, there is much discussion of Rosa Parks and what motivated her, but none of James Blake , the bus driver who told her to give up her seat. Says Younge: So much of Black History Month takes place in the passive voice. Leaders "get assassinated," patrons "are refused" service, women "are ejected" from public transport. So the objects of racism are many but the subjects few. In removing the instigators, the historians remove the agency and, in the final reckoning, the historical responsibility. Younge argues for a new approach to American historical education that takes equal responsibilty for the bad as well as the good. Though its a little unclear what he actually argues for as policy proposal, (does...
  • The Dynamics of a Collapsing Housing Bubble

    Economic analysts are now acknowledging the shake-up in the sub-prime mortgage market. Lenders had used ridiculously lax standards, and a high percentage of recent loans are now at some point in the foreclosure prcoess. However, the conventional wisdom assures us that this will only affect the sub-prime market, not the larger mortgage and housing market. I remain a skeptic. Consider that nearly 20 percent of the mortgages issued in the last two years fell in the sub-prime category. This is a large segment of the market. Now suppose that many of these borrowers can no longer afford to buy homes or at least must pay much lower prices. The homes that sub-prme borrowers would have otherwise bought are the homes that other potential buyers would be selling. Without the sub-prime buyers, many homeowners looking to move up will be getting far less money for their current home. This will affect what they can pay for their move-up home. Of course, mortgage lenders across the board are also...
  • More Tired Cliches on Globalization at the NYT

    The NYT has yet another columnist ( Roger Cohen ) telling the fairy tale about how the market processes underlying "globalization" led to greater inequality between rich and poor. Of course, people who actually know anything about globalization, know that we have not had a market driven process, but rather one that was explicitly designed to redistribute income upward. If globalization was purely market driven, we would have removed the barriers that prevent smart people in Mexico, China, and India from working as professionals in the United States. If globalization was purely market driven, we would have eliminated the antiquated patent system of financing drug research, which makes life-saving drugs unaffordable and creates enormous economic distortions. If globalization was purely market driven, we would have promoted efficient 21st century models for financing creative and artistic work and software design, instead of tightening the patent and copyright protections that make Bill...
  • Combating Drug Counterfeiting: Big Pharma and the Soviet Union

    Parade Magazine had a two page spread this weekend warning their tens of millions of readers of the evils of drug counterfeiting. While the article correctly pointed out the risks, the article never discussed the obvious solution -- a free market. Government patent monopolies allow the pharmaceutical industry to charge prices that can be ten or even a hundred times the actual cost of production. This provides enormous incentives for people to manufacture unauthorized copies of patented drugs. Given these incentives, the United States government will be no more able to stamp out unauthorized copies of patented drugs than the Soviet Union was in banning black market sales of blue jeans. Any believer in free markets should recognize this fact. If you get rid of the patent monopoly, Wal-Mart will sell all drugs for $4 a prescription, and the incentive for counterfeiting disappears overnight. Of course, we do need to finance drug research, but the patent system is an incredibly corrupt and...
  • A BLAST FROM...

    A BLAST FROM THE PAST. One of the many list-servs I'm on is the Women, Action, & the Media list run by The Center for New Words in Boston. In the context of a broader discussion about women's worries about being seen as too pushy, I remarked that virtually every powerful woman in Washington about whom I know anything has a behind the scenes reputation as being either crazy or a bitch, and so perhaps people ought not to be so cowed by that word. In reply, Catherine Orenstein suggested that it has been ever thus, and that I read "Joreen" Jo Freeman 's 1968 "The BITCH Manifesto" . And so I did. Freeman wrote :
  • WHAT HAPPENED TO...

    WHAT HAPPENED TO THE WSJ? I'm a bit freaked out to read such a cogent and smartly argued health care op-ed on the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal , but Nobel Laureate Daniel McFadden goes ahead and shocks me anyway. The piece recounts the author's research group, which has tracked the implementation and performance of Medicare Part D. McFadden, like most of us, is relatively pleased with Part D's performance, though it's worth saying that he seems to think liberals believed the program wouldn't work at all, rather than would simply cost more than it had to. The left made the latter charge, and I think it remains correct. Regardless, these are quibbles, particularly in the face of such an anti- WSJ conclusion. First, he notes the cost benefits increased insulation from certain prices can bring: Dana Goldman at RAND Corporation has found that making at least some drugs available to seniors at lower cost more than pays for itself in decreased incidence and cost of health...
  • A MODEST QUESTION.

    A MODEST QUESTION. To ruthlessly steal from Scott and his earlier post about the Edwards bloggers and Joan Walsh of the Salon : I have a question, and it has to do with this quote by Walsh: Clinton hired Peter Daou, who'd run John Kerry's Internet operation and later licensed his Daou Report to Salon (it is now the Blog Report, run by Steve Benen). But given the netroots' distrust of Clinton, especially her failure to firmly repudiate her vote authorizing the Iraq war, Edwards was emerging as a possible blogger favorite, especially after he hired the swashbuckling and unabashedly feminist Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan to blog for him. When I heard the news I found myself thinking, boy, Edwards is really running a ballsy campaign. And then the thought quickly followed: Has he or his top staff ever really read those bloggers? The posts that got them in trouble were intemperate in their take on Catholicism, but that's not the only thing they've been intemperate about. They are young...
  • POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: ALL SMILES

    POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: ALL SMILES AND WHEN COUNTRY WENT RIGHT . Terry Samuel gives us yet another reason why everyone seems to love Barack Obama : Heart-warning, inclusive, all-American. The bad, racial-hatred part of the story never comes. Obama's emphasis is not on the horrors of the past injustice but on a kind of human decency that transcended it. And it is exactly this lack of grievance in Obama's politics that has made some call his "blackness" into question. Also, ethnomusicologist J. Lester Feder explains that country music and conservatism haven't always gone hand-in-hand. In the pre-Nixon era, the Dixie Chicks would have fit right into the country music mainstream. -- The Editors
  • A MODEST REQUEST.

    A MODEST REQUEST. Would it be possible for people discussing the Edwards blog pseudo-scandal to stop discussing Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan as if they're the same person ? OK, from Dan Gerstein , what do you expect, but could Joan Walsh get this straight? In context, isn't it kind of important that one of these two women, as far as I can tell, never wrote specifically about Catholicism--the ostensible basis of the "bigotry" charges--at all? Do all young liberal women just look and write alike? Yeesh. -- Scott Lemieux
  • GLAD TO SEE...

    GLAD TO SEE IT. The NBA has responded to Tim Hardaway 's homophobic rantings by bouncing him from all promotions for this weekend's All Start Game. Good for them. --Ezra Klein

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