Archive

  • KIM JONG IL...

    KIM JONG IL AND DAVID KUO. Unable to match Brother Ezra 's heartfelt post about David Kuo and the compassion agenda, I offer readers a rueful laugh in the form of the title of a piece by Jason T. Christy of The Church Report , a right-wing political publication dressed in a cassock: " David Kuo: An Addition to the Axis of Evil ." --Adele M. Stan
  • A BITE SIZED SOLUTION.

    A BITE SIZED SOLUTION. I'm not sure how to feel about economist Martin B. Schmidt 's New York Times op-ed from yesterday. In it he argues for a 10% tax on food ordered from drive-throughs on the grounds that it will encourage people to get out of their cars, and raise money to off-set the social cost of obesity. In principle I think these are both laudable goals, but in practice this idea is deeply flawed. As long as there are drive-throughs, taxing the people who use them and not people who order the same food at the walk-in counter could reasonably be construed as discriminatory against people with disabilties. But I'm also troubled by the American state of mind that this suggestion seems to accept. Here is an economist, who clearly understands how our excessive driving culture bloats our wastelines -- and by extension our healthcare spending -- but his solution is almost comically miniscule. Getting people to walk a few steps from the parking lot to the door of a McDonald's will...
  • FAITH-BASED COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATIVES....

    FAITH-BASED COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATIVES. As Michael Crowley points out , David Kuo 's anecdotes about the Bush administration's total abandonment of the "compassion" agenda are rather remarkable: A West Wing friend called to say the president heard about the article as he walked from the Oval office of the OEOB. He was angry. "Well," he yelled through the stairwell, "is he right or isn't he? Have we done compassion or haven't we? I wanna know." An hour later we got the first and only call from the deputy chief of staff Josh Bolton's office requesting an urgent "compassion meeting." In the two years since the transition, it was the first time the president's senior staff fully engaged in the compassion agenda.... The president's question first needed to be answered. He wanted to know how much we had spent on compassion programs in his first two years in office. We made some calls and did some calculations and discovered that if we applied his definition of compassion to federal social...
  • THE TILLMAN FAMILY IS NOT GOING AWAY.

    THE TILLMAN FAMILY IS NOT GOING AWAY. If there's an iconic tale of the betrayal of the national unity and resolve in the wake of the 9/11 atrocities, it's what happened to Pat Tillman when he left the Arizona Cardinals and went off to war. His death occasioned one of the very first grotesque and demonstrable public lies in what has become an almost endless parade of them. Since then, it has been revealed that the original story of hs death was concocted by a military in thrall to a truthless and cowardly civilian political establishment, and it also been revealed that Tillman himself was possessed of a shrewd and interesting mind, with a good eye for how sacrifice gets coined into someone else's gold. Now, his surviving brother, Kevin , has stated his own case . Of course, the real shame is that this didn't appear in a more prominent and influential forum. Of course, if it had, Kevin Tillman would be riding the Cindy Sheehan swiftboat by now. Anybody who doesn;t believe that hasn't...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: ELECTROSHOCK.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: ELECTROSHOCK. Genevieve Smith explains why worrying about electronic voting machines isn't just for paranoid "conspiracy theorists." Not only is the machines' vulnerability to tampering real, but the potential for simple human error to cause major screw-ups is vast -- and has been demonstrated in practice already. Take a look . --The Editors
  • HOW BAD IS...

    HOW BAD IS CARD-CHECK? A couple days ago, Megan McArdle and I got into a heated argument over the morality of card-check legislation. Card-check is a top union priority that would effectively abolish the current system of employer-controlled union elections and create a situation where, if 50+1% of workers signed a card asking for a union, they've got a union. Megan found this -- and I quote -- "morally abhorrent," mainly because the ballot is not secret, and so unions can intimidate. My concerns fell much more with the current, constant, and far more effective intimidation tactics of employers. Research shows that, when threatened with a union, 30% of employers fire pro-union workers, 49% threaten to close down, 51% use bribery or favoritism to tilt the election, and 82% hire unionbusting consultants. Now that's what I call morally abhorrent. Today I found some interesting data with strong bearing on the argument. A poll commissioned by American Rights at Work (a pro-union org),...
  • POLL BAN.

    POLL BAN. Thirty years ago, when I was doing field organizing for Mo Udall 's presidential campaign, I made it a practice about three weeks out from every primary to establish a series of fines in my storefronts. Anyone bringing in a newspaper was assessed a quarter, and any mention at all of poll results cost you a buck. The fines later financed as much Election Night beer as we could afford, so, as you might imagine, there was a lot of obviously fraudulent civil disobedience down the stretch. Anyway, the point was this: at this point in the campaign, at the grassroots level, all information outside the operation of the storefront is extraneous. It is irrelevant to the grinding, thankless work of GOTV whether or not the candidate is three points up or 30. So, my advice to all the people in the trenches is to ignore stories like this one , even though they make your heart go pitty-pat. Work like you're five points down and you can turn a five-point lead into 10. Of course, the...
  • VICTOR DAVIS HANSON IS CONCERNED.

    VICTOR DAVIS HANSON IS CONCERNED. As I am old, and therefore new to life on the Internets, I haven't had a chance to catalogue personally all the fauna contained therein, but, I must say, that this fellow here strikes me as quite likely the silliest gibbering gibbon in the high forest. This isn't a column. It's something you hear on the radio between Traffic On The Three's and a commercial for hair-replacement nostrums. Let us ignore the rather, ah, flexible definition of the word "recent" as regards the Durbin and Kerry quotes, to say nothing of the fact that a Classicist and Historian can summon up as examples of Republican "ineptness" only George Bush in a flight suit and Mark Foley in heat. I'm neither a Classicist nor a Historian, but I'm fairly sure I can do better than that just by flying to Baton Rouge and driving down I-10 South for a while. I do give the Classicist and Historian big props, though, for managing to get the word "poontang" onto a website staffed by people very...
  • How High Will the Dow Go?

    That's the question asked in a NYT article this morning. Of course, the more important question is the path of the much broader S&P 500 index. The article notes that the price to earnings ratios here are not much higher than their historic average. But the key part of the story is the path of earnings going forward. Earnings are highly cyclical. They have risen very rapidly in the last three years and are now approximately the same share of income as they were at the peak year of the 90s cycle (1997). The earnings share typically falls substantially after peaks, implying stagnant or declining profits. Based on this pattern, the Congressional Budget Office projects that profits will actually be lower in nominal terms in 2011 than they are today ( The Budget and Economic Outlook , Fiscal Years 2007-2016, Table 2-1). My crystal ball would support the declining profit view. We are just beginning to feel the effects of the collapsing housing bubble and it is not going to be pretty. It...
  • More Corruption in the Health Care Industry: If Only Economists Knew Economics

    The NYT has yet another story detailing the problems of patent monopolies in the health care industry. This time the problem is a diagnostic device of questionable accuracy. Economists know that the monopoly profits created by patents give drug and medical equipment companies enormous incentives to lie about the merits of their products. But, economists almost never talk about this implication of their theory. As long as an auto worker is getting more than $20 an hour or a textile worker is getting more than $10 an hour, economists won't have time to waste worrying about drug and medical supply companies ripping the country off for billions at the same time that they jeopordize public health. --Dean Baker

Pages