OBSCENE. Both the Times and the Post note this morning that Bush laid two wreaths at ground zero last night in the company of George Pataki, Mike Bloomberg, and Rudy Giuliani. The Post goes well out of its way to remark that the event �left aside the partisan rancor� that�well, that Bush & Co. have enforced on the country since about 9-14.
After getting a few things wrong in his last column, David Brooks is back to tell us his remedy for the problem of inequality: education (sorry, it�s Times Select and therefore not linkable). He proposes an agenda that would promote educational opportunity for middle class and poor kids. I question whether his route is the best one for this task (universal child care and health care would rank higher on my list), but promoting educational opportunities for the less advantaged is certainly a good thing.
The Fed released data for consumer debt for July on Friday. The release got little attention, and the short pieces that did cover it mostly focused on the slower rate of growth. The growth in consumer credit overall slowed from a 7.3 percent annual rate in June to a 2.8 percent rate in July. For the revolving debt component (primarily credit card debt), the slowdown was much sharper, from 13.2 percent in June to a 3.4 percent rate in July.
LAWRENCE KATZ SPEAKS. One last thing on yesterday's David Brookscolumn. My friend Reihan Salamwondered why I was so dismissive of the piece, and he was right to. In short, I've done a lot of reading into the economic literature on inequality and never, ever come across what Brooks was saying. Moreover, I'd read a fair amount of Lawrence Katz's work on inequality and it also failed to support Brooks' thesis. Something seemed wildly awry.
WHY THE REPUBLICRATS WILL RISE.Julian Sanchez has some thoughtful comments on my feature in the latest issue arguing that small government conservatism is dying and the right is going to swing towards an economic progressivism that takes the survival and encouragement of the nuclear family as its raison d'etre. His comments make me fear, however, that I overemphasize poll numbers in the original piece, so let me restate the evidence a bit.
THEY EVEN HURT THE ONES THEY LOVE. One of the real, overlooked tragedies of this whole ABC docudrama mess is that it plays political handball with the story of the late John O'Neill -- who is, by all accounts, superbly played by Harvey Keitel -- the relentlessly hellraising FBI cop who beat people over the head on the subject of al Qaeda until he finally ran out of friends and allies, and who died at the World Trade Center. I never met O'Neill, but I knew a lot of NYC reporters who knew him, and I trust all of them implicitly.
THE PROBLEM WITH THE LIKABILITY ECONOMY. Yesterday, David Brooks argued that merit is its own reward in the contemporary economy, and that those who are falling behind are doing so because of a lack of merit. Even on its surface this philosophy is among the most pernicious and noxious forms of historical justification for social inequality around. A story in today's New York Times news section really drives that point home. Let's look again at what Brooks wrote:
300 MILLION AMERICANS CAN BE WRONG. I do like the continual sharpening of differences between the libertarian health care wonks and, well, me. Today, Cato's Michael Cannonfiles the shank a bit more and stabs down to the heart of it: I think panels of experts should watch over health care decisions, he thinks individual patients should evaluate care (he is responding to a study that found individual patients are incompetent at evaluating care -- he believes that, if the world were radically different than it is, that study would be incorrect).
GOOD ONE, CALIFORNIA. The Corner's Anthony Dick needs a better sense of your humor. He's got a post today on California House Resolution 36, which focuses on Pluto's planetary status and the concern that "[d]owngrading Pluto's status will cause psychological harm to some Californians who question their place in the universe and worry about the instability of universal constants."