Archive

  • THE LIMITS OF...

    THE LIMITS OF MARKETS. Matt Singer tackles one of the under-noticed absurdities of Republican Party today as he muses over the weird conservative belief that privatization is always better. I tend to focus on the reasons that it�s BS as it relates to health care (an argument I make most fully and most recently here ). But the faith-based affection for privatization is absurd as a general organizing principle, not just in specific areas. For a nice, complete takedown of this perspective, take a trip in the Prospect 's wayback machine and read this excerpt from Bob Kuttner 's Everything for Sale . And while you're basking in that bit of brave economic counterintuitivism, marvel at how free and user-friendly the Prospect 's wayback machine is, and think about how you should subscribe to the magazine in order to support its continued maintenance and operation. --Ezra Klein
  • THE GATE IS...

    THE GATE IS CRASHED. I like Chris Hayes 's argument that much of the revolutionary rule changes suggested in the netroots manifesto Crashing the Gates are rapidly emerging as conventional wisdom -- moreover, I think it's correct. Despite widespread beliefs that the base is locked in mortal combat with some sort of coherent Democratic establishment, I've never really noticed that to be the case. This is ground largely covered by Prospect alum Nick Confessore 's The Myth of the Democratic Establishment , but it's worth going over again. The Democratic Party's power-sources are discrete, and largely in tension. The official party carries no recognizable center of power, just a procession of competing camps tied together by amorphous, continually-mutating webs of alliance. Nancy Pelosi is close to Jack Murtha but tacitly undermined by her deputy, Steny Hoyer . Howard Dean theoretically controls the official party apparatus but is routinely smacked down by individual senators and...
  • PRIORITIES, PEOPLE. There's...

    PRIORITIES, PEOPLE. There's a great op-ed in the Post about how Tony Blair 's government managed to take a big bite out of child poverty and how America should do the same. A conservative, of course, would tell you that whether or not millions of children grow up in poverty is none of the government's concern, and if you happen to feel bad about poverty you should just donate some money to poor people. A sophisticated liberal recognizes the need of structural change -- government action. Thus, leave the panhandlers alone and spend your money on something like a subscription to The American Prospect to help build support for the cause. --Matthew Yglesias
  • META-BROOKS. It...

    META-BROOKS . It was weird to crack open The New York Times this weekend and see David Brooks publishing not an op-ed column, but a meta-op-ed column . If he ever did publish a compendium of his columns entitled The Essential David Brooks , it would require only one page, on which would be printed Sunday's piece. Brooks' subject was a series of leaked requirement lists used by political advance teams to ensure the comfort and contentment of their peripatetic employers. Dick Cheney , famously, needs all his televisions preset to Fox News, while John Kerry doesn't like celery. The documents include favored meals, disfavored foods, bottled water, and all the rest. It's obvious stuff: guidelines for advance teams who need to scope out dinner locations while their bosses give speeches, or add in some snacks so they've a few reliable comfort foods or healthful meals while on the road. Brooks, for his part, spins these documents into an extended meditation on the nature of the political...
  • THE POLYGAMY THREAT....

    THE POLYGAMY THREAT. Jonathan Rauch is all about gay marriage but says polygamy's no good because it will generate excess unmarried men who bring with them social destruction. This seems a little dubious to me. As things stand, there are excess unmarried women because there are more gays than lesbians, more men die young (war, crime, car accidents), and way more men are in jail. So polygamy wouldn't generate a significant quantity of excess males unless you really had a lot of polygamists. That just seems unlikely to me. The current legal prohibition on polygamy lacks efficacy. Realistically, most people don't live like that because they don't want to. Modern economic conditions allow almost everyone in America to live well above a level of bare subsistence and afford women much more social and economic independence than existed in traditional societies where polygamy was the norm. However, since gay marriage is never going to go through if people think it will lead immediately to...
  • THE POWER OF...

    THE POWER OF IMMIGRANT CATHOLICS. The Catholic Church's welcome support for Mexican immigrants to the U.S., both legal and illegal, has occasioned much speculation about the potential of immigration policy to become a wedge issue driving apart Catholics and Evangelicals, who have been more united than not on a host of other hot-button issues in recent years. The one question I haven't seen answered yet, though, is to what extent the Catholic Church's support for illegal immigrants is a result of noble principle in regards to treatment of the poor and justice for immigrants, and to what extent it's a product of equally valid self-interest in maintaining and defending vibrant congregations. Mexico is the second-most populous Catholic nation in the world, and many of the most Catholic counties in America lie along the Mexican border. Los Angeles, whose Cardinal Roger Mahony has led the charge on behalf of illegal immigrants, is 40 percent Catholic, and also the single largest diocese in...
  • TIME IS ON...

    TIME IS ON OUR SIDE. John J. Miller observes that "The person who invented the abomination that is Daylight Saving Time obviously was not responsible for getting children out of bed and off to school." Indeed, DST is a huge pain in the ass for everyone. So who's to blame? As is often the case with bad ideas (segregation of the US Postal Service, Yugoslavia, mass arrests of union leaders, censorship of newspaper flu coverage) the culprit is the wartime policies of Woodrow Wilson who introduced DST as an energy conservation measure in 1918. After the war, DST blessedly went away in most jurisdictions, only to return during World War II, be formalized by the federal government during the late 1970s energy crisis, and expanded in duration in last year's energy bill. For one thing, as far as energy conservation measures go, altering the structure of time is a little extreme. More to the point, there's no evidence that this actually works . Even if it did work, the amount of possible...
  • DEMOCRATS AND SECURITY....

    DEMOCRATS AND SECURITY. Two more brief notes related to the Democratic security plan . First, the Iraq material is, of course, some pretty thin gruel . The Dems' position on Iraq involves calling for 2006 to be a "significant year of transition," even though the party won't have a chance to actually affect policy until (possibly) 2007 -- this confusion is sort of inherent to an "agenda statement" that's really a campaign document. Beyond that, their failure to specify any actual mechanisms by which the United States can induce "Iraqis [to] make the political compromises necessary to unite their country" is understandable, given that such mechanisms don't exist , but substantively it points to some rather starker conclusions about the right way forward. Various Democrats disagree in good faith about this issue so the banality on display here is probably unavoidable, but on the merits it�s problematic. Secondly (and this is only tangentially related to the Real Security plan), one...
  • SO MANY PLANS,...

    SO MANY PLANS, SO LITTLE TIME. For those of you confused by the various plans out there (at last count, there are no fewer than eight, and at least four are seriously being considered), this side-by-side comparison (PDF) from the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute is the best summary you'll find. Remember, too, that guest-worker programs don't just come in terribly bad and pretty bad flavors ; the McCain-Kennedy plan offers so many routes to citizenship that their guest-worker program isn't too bad at all, though I'd prefer the path to citizenship be activated instantly after hire. --Ezra Klein
  • POST-PATRIOTIC PROGRESSIVES AND...

    POST-PATRIOTIC PROGRESSIVES AND THE PUNDITS WHO LOVE THEM. I found this post of Michael Lind 's, supposedly lampooning post-patriotic progressives who believe nation-states outmoded and all men to be brothers, notably absurd. Lind's a sharp mind and a good writer, so it's strange to see him swing and miss so widely. The question in the immigration debate is not one of globalization but one of tradeoffs: Should we help tens of millions of desperate immigrants pull themselves and their families from third-world levels of poverty at a cost of -- and this is the high estimate -- eight percent wage depression for native high school dropouts? Cruelty, thy name is McCain-Kennedy ! It is, of course, straight pretense to pretend the issue is a simple tradeoff between the advancement of citizens and the betterment of immigrants. If you somehow did staunch the flow of immigrants and deport the undocumented, you would destroy a hefty chunk of the remittances that currently help keep Mexico stable...

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