Archive

  • THE ECONOMY ROCKS.

    THE ECONOMY ROCKS. According The College Board, tuition costs are far outpacing inflation this year. In fact, "[i]n the report, the board also found that in the past five years, tuition and fees at public institutions rose more than at any other time in the past 30, increasing by 35 percent to $5,836 this academic year." Yikes. The report attributed the cost increases to declining state and federal support. Unsurprisingly, when you cut taxes, you just end up paying more elsewhere. With the tax cuts, however, the rich got far more back than the poor or the middle class. So far as tuition costs go, the prices fall equally (or get transferred to students in the form of loans). Just another reason the Bush economy rocks. If only Senator Bluto were around to make this an issue... --Ezra Klein
  • RISK ASSESSMENT. Ezra's...

    RISK ASSESSMENT. Ezra 's first submission in the exchange with Jacob Hacker is now up. Hacker will be responding to him and Matt tomorrow. --The Editors
  • GENDER SEGREGATION AND...

    GENDER SEGREGATION AND SEXISM. Becks of Unfogged is appalled that the ACLU and a feminist group are threatening to sue over a federal decision to permit more single-sex public education. I think the issue is a little more complex, however. I do agree with Becks that the equation of gender and racial segregation by Nancy Zirkin is excessively simplistic, and probably the former is somewhat more defensible than the latter when education is concerned. Current Supreme Court jurisprudence would seem to agree. In her landmark opinion ruling Virginia's exclusion of women from the Virginia Military Institute, Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted that "[s]ingle sex education affords pedagogical benefits to at least some students, Virginia emphasizes, and that reality is uncontested in this litigation," and implied that if Virginia offered a school for women comparable to VMI, its exclusion of women from VMI itself would be defensible. However, the VMI case also suggests that there is serious cause for...
  • Take the President Seriously: Social Security is on the Ballot

    President Bush has repeatedly said in the last two weeks that he wants to push his plan for privatizing Social Security again after the election. This presumably means that it will be back on the table if the Republicans keep control of Congress. This means that Social Security should be a major issue in every Congressional and Senate race. The media should asking candidates where they stand and telling the voters. --Dean Baker
  • BUSINESS FOR SPITZER.

    BUSINESS FOR SPITZER. Speaking of business, this endorsement of Elliot Spitzer , on the Wall Street Journal editorial page , by a former executive vice president of Morgan Stanley, is interesting stuff. The argument, which others have made from the outside but Donald Kempf makes from experience, is that Spitzer's style of anti-corporate populism is a boon, rather than a threat, to capitalism in general and business in particular: Mr. Spitzer often had a better grasp of the underlying facts, legal implications and policy considerations than many from the federal regulatory agencies. Discussions (sometimes debates) with him on the substance of matters were both focused and fruitful. He was especially constructive when it came to searching for sensible solutions that would facilitate firms resolving problems and getting back to running their businesses for the benefit of customers, employees and shareholders. Moreover, because he is both smart and self-assured, Mr. Spitzer is willing to...
  • The Rising Stock Market: It's Not a Record and It Wouldn't Be Good If It Were

    I know everyone wants to find something to celebrate these days, but record stock market highs really should not be on the list. While the Dow has passed its 2000 bubble peaks, as everyone should be aware, it's still well below its 2000 level after adjusting for inflation. That is the only serious basis for a comparison. Furthermore, the Dow index is comprised of 30 large companies, the S&P 500 index is far more representative of the larger stock market, consisting of companies that account for close to half of the market's capitalization. The S&P 500 is still almost 10 percent below its 2000 peak in nominal terms. It is down more than 25 percent after adjusting for inflation. The more important part of the story is that the stock market is supposed to represent the discounted value of future profits. If profits are expected to be higher because there is widespread optimism about more rapid growth, then this is genuinely good news, but if expected profits rise simply because...
  • BUT HE STARTED IT.

    BUT HE STARTED IT. I've long been of the opinion, in all seriousness, that Republicans have it in for the disabled. First there is their positioning regarding discrimination against people with disabiilties in the workplace (President Bush , for instance, has repeatedly appointed judges who are extraordinarily hostile to discrimination claims). Then there is their desire to eviscerate social insurance programs that support people with disabilities, like Social Security, and recently there has been their opposition to funding for potentially life-improving stem cell research. My suspicions have now been confirmed , at least in the case of one Congresswoman, Rep. Barbara Cubin (R-WY). As pointed out yesterday on Midterm Madness , Cubin's Libertarian challenger, Thomas Rankin , says she approached him after a campaign debate on Sunday and said, "If you weren't sitting in that chair, I'd slap you across the face." What chair she was referring to? The electric wheelchair that Rankin, who...
  • END OF DENIAL?...

    END OF DENIAL? A curious headline popped up on the New York Times homepage today: "Bush Offers Gloomy Assessment of Iraq." In an Associated Press story on remarks by the president delivered this morning from the East Room of the White House, Bush , against precedent, actually spoke of the number of deaths suffered by American troops this month -- 93 so far. The AP described the occasion of the president's foray into the reality-based community as "a speech and question and answer session at the White House 13 days before midterm elections." A last-gasp attempt, apparently, to close that credibility gap. The White House likely finds itself stung by yesterday's MSNBC/McClatchy poll , which shows the war in Iraq having a serious impact on the Senate races. Most unnerving, one would think, is the close race between Harold Ford, Jr. , and Bob Corker in Tennessee, in which the Democrat advocates a plan for an American pullout after dividing Iraq into three autonomous regions. --Adele M. Stan
  • PILING ON KAPLAN.

    PILING ON KAPLAN. As Spencer notes below , Larry Kaplan apparently fears that Americans will not want to invade other countries in order to install democracy after recoiling in horror from what's happening in Iraq. Kaplan writes as if there isn't a robust democratization literature that, although it hasn't definitively settled every question, has at least achieved consensus on some big-bucket factors that make a country a good candidate for democracy. Though there are some important scholars (notably Max Weber ) who laid the groundwork in different areas, the democracy literature generally started back with Seymour Lipset's seminal 1959 journal article , Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy, which laid out a number of conditions under which democracies develop and thrive. (Lipset is no stranger to neoconservative circles, as for instance it was Nathan Glazer who urged him to develop this article and a number of others into his famous book...
  • THE SPECIAL INTERESTS...

    THE SPECIAL INTERESTS GO MARCHING ON AND ON, HURRAH, HURRAH... The Wall Street Journal has an excellent article chronicling the desperate attempts of various rapacious and over-indulged industries to spend the Republican majority into safety. The piece starts with the drug industry, whose sweetheart deal preventing Medicare from centrally bargaining drug prices will, according to Nancy Pelosi , be overturned within the first 100 hours of Democrats taking control. Hoping to head that off, the industry has donated almost $14 million, 70% of it to Republicans. In total, the 2006 midterms are forecast to be the most expensive ever, costing $2.6 billion. Three-quarters of this, or $1.85 billion, will come from business interests. That's a sobering statistic: In this age of people-powered politics and netroots-driven donating, it's easy to forget that business interests still fund the mechanisms of our "democracy." That doesn't change if Democrats take control, and there's a real question...

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