Archive

  • WHO CARES WHAT ANTHONY WOULD DO?

    WHO CARES WHAT ANTHONY WOULD DO? Amanda Marcotte calls our attention to this excellent piece by Stacy Schiff , who debunks claims that Susan B. Anthony was a supporter of abortion bans. I find it particularly interesting because Anthony was able to ask questions about whether abortion bans actually accomplish anything even if you agree with the end of inhibiting abortions, a distinction which eludes most contemporary opponents of abortion rights. Still, there's another question here: what difference would it make if Anthony had supported abortion laws? With respect to Lincoln , Mark Graber recently pointed out: Many American political and constitutional arguments have something close to the following structure. 1) The following political action/constitutional understanding is wise, benevolent, and prudent. 2) Abraham Lincoln must have favored that political action/constitutional understanding because Abraham Lincoln was a wise, benevolent, and prudent leader. 3) We ought to adopt that...
  • U.S. Health Care Costs: Are We the Only Country in the World?

    USA Today had an article this morning on rising U.S. health care costs. It never mentions the fact that the United States pays more than twice as much per person as the average among other wealthy countries, yet has shorter life expectancies. I guess we can attribute this to protectionism. There are enormous potential gains from trade in the health care sector (if we can't do it right here, why not let people go elsewhere), but the media is so protectionist, it won't even allow the possibility to be discussed. --Dean Baker
  • Profits, Wages, and the Business Cycle

    Today's NYT has a column reporting on the redistribution from wages to profits that has taken place in most wealthy countries over the last quarter century. While the piece is useful in calling attention to an important trend, it is somewhat sloppy because it fails to adjust for cyclical effects. This is important because profits shares do follow well defined cyclical patterns: rising in a business cycle upturn, typically peaking before the actual peak of the cycle, and then falling sharply in the downturn. In the U.S. context, we see a substantial rise in the profit share from 2000 to 2005, which the column presents as the continuation of the trend of the last quarter century. However, the 2005 profit share was still slightly lower than the profit share in 1997, the profit peak of the last cycle, as explained in a short paper CEPR published last week. Whether or not the profit peak of the current cycle exceeds the 1997 peak remains to be seen. My guess is that it won't, as the...
  • Cutting Social Security on the Brain?

    Can you find the words �Social Security� in this text? So what�s our exit strategy from Iraq? Why do our soldiers have to keep dying? What about affordable health care? Can�t we support stem cell research? Why did we let down Katrina victims? Why won�t Congress do anything? Pass a decent minimum wage? Why are we losing so many jobs to overseas? (Narrator:) O.K., it�s kind of ridiculous to think you�re ever going to get an answer from this (pause) bush. But it�s also kind of ridiculous to think you�re going to get an answer (cue a picture of President Bush) from this one. Text: Demand Answers. Vote for Change. I couldn�t either. Which makes you wonder why the NYT�s commentary on this Democratic Party ad describes it as highlighting the fact that: �Congress has not acted on several major issues, including immigration and Social Security.� The Congressional Budget Office�s projections show that Social Security can pay all scheduled benefits for the next 40 years with no changes...
  • FREE SPEECH.

    FREE SPEECH. I have to say I don't quite share Pierce 's level of incredulity at Rohrbaugh 's notions and the fact that CBS would air them. I certainly agree that those notions are wacky. But creationism is no fringe outlook, even if the causal connections Rohrbaugh draws obviously constitute more of one. Lotsa people believe all sorts of crazy stuff -- it's this problem with the CBS segment that seems more compelling to me. --Sam Rosenfeld
  • NOTE THE ELLIPSIS.

    NOTE THE ELLIPSIS. While I was on the whole Catholic thing earlier -- sticking up for Holy Mother Church against the Worst Published Writer Ever -- I figured I'd slide on over to see what one of my favorite Papalettes was up to. Ah, mais oui . La Noonan never disappoints. It seems that nasty liberals -- in this case, Howard Kurtz (!) -- have been up to their censorious worst these days. For example: On Oct. 2, on Katie Couric's "CBS Evening News," in the segment called "Free Speech," the father of a boy killed at Columbine shared his views on the deeper causes of the recent shootings in Amish country. Brian Rohrbough said violence entered our schools when we threw God out of them. "This country is in a moral freefall. For over two generations the public school system has taught in a moral vacuum. . . . We teach there are no moral absolutes, no right or wrong, and I assure you the murder of innocent children is always wrong, including abortion. Abortion has diminished the value of...
  • PARTISAN ARMCHAIR STATISTICIANS:...

    PARTISAN ARMCHAIR STATISTICIANS: STILL HACKS. The indefatigable Daniel Davies states in lucid terms what the recent Lancet study means: First, don't concentrate on the number 600,000 (or 655,000, depending on where you read). This is a point estimate of the number of excess Iraqi deaths - it's basically equal to the change in the death rate since the invasion, multiplied by the population of Iraq, multiplied by three-and-a-quarter years. Point estimates are almost never the important results of statistical studies and I wish the statistics profession would stop printing them as headlines. The question that this study was set up to answer was: as a result of the invasion, have things got better or worse in Iraq? And if they have got worse, have they got a little bit worse or a lot worse. Point estimates are only interesting in so far as they demonstrate or dramatise the answer to this question... And the results were shocking. In the 18 months before the invasion, the sample reported...
  • THE RETURN OF...

    THE RETURN OF COINTELPRO? In one of the scarier articles I've read this week, an ACLU lawsuit has forced the Defense Department to turn over the information they've collected on anti-war protesters. The revelations are not comforting. The military labeled, for instance, a "Stop the War Now!" rally in Akron, Ohio, a site for "potential terrorist activity" (which, taken very literally, makes sense, as any place where humans can effectively exist has the potential for terrorist activity). Students United for Peace and Justice, an anti-war group at my alma mater of Santa Cruz, also made the cut. The reason they were considered a threat to military personnel? They protested recruiters for "don't ask, don't tell." Indeed, such information as weekly planning meetings for protests were collected and distributed across the military, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security. Lest you think this is notable for merely being chilling, it's also against the law . The government, which has to delete...
  • QUESTION.

    QUESTION. OK, so what's going on with Christopher Shays ? For a while, he fell squarely into that category of Republican congresscritter that we have come to call Not Insane. He even voted against the impeachment of Bill Clinton , for which vote the harpies of hell nearly descended on him . Now, though, locked in a tough race in a bad year, he seems to have sent away for the Time-Life Treasury Of Bad Analogies . First, in response to the mushrooming House sexapalooza, he summons up The Great Unmentionable at the heart of Edward Kennedy 's career. (Why Chappaquiddick hasn't been a more serious political issue for the senior senator throughout his career continues to be a mystery. His actions before the accident were reckless and his actions immediately after it were abominable, and someone died. I tried to get into it a few years back, and hilarious hijinks ensued from our friends on the right .) Then, as Josh Marshall shows here , Shays seems to have confused the events at Abu Ghraib...
  • ALWAYS HIGH SETTLEMENTS....

    ALWAYS HIGH SETTLEMENTS. ALWAYS. In what is only the latest of many such decisions, Pennsylvania courts decided against Wal-Mart in a 187,000 person class action suit alleging the company forced employees to work extra hours without pay and withheld rest breaks. The damages will reach into the hundreds of millions. Wal-Mart recently paid $50 million in Colorado and $172 million in California for similar suits, and is currently facing the largest gender discrimination case in history. You have to wonder about a corporate culture that seems to so routinely violate labor laws. -- Ezra Klein

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