THE CONEHEAD ECONOMY. Among the best of the new Times Select features are their "Talking Points," long backgrounders penned by the editorial writers on all manner of major issues, from inequality to global warming. This week, Teresa Tritchpublished one on "The Rise of the Super-Rich," explaining that "[i]ncome inequality used to be about rich versus poor, but now it�s increasingly a matter of the ultra rich and everyone else." Few stories are as important, or as poorly understood. From 2003 to 2004, real average income for the top 1 percent of households shot up by 17 percent. For the remaining 99 percent, the average gain was under three percent.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: GENERAL HOSPITAL. Remember the SEC's investigation into Bill Frist's conveniently-timed sale of stock from his family's hospital chain, HCA? This week's news that the for-profit hospital behemoth is selling to a group of private equity investors has reminded people of that ongoing investigation. Maggie Mahar, author of the new book Money-Driven Medicine, tells the story of the Frist family empire and contemplates the larger saga of for-profit hospitals in America -- a history marked by cycles of boom, bust, and scandal.
GOOD NEWS FOR PEOPLE WHO LIKE BAD NEWS.The New York Times has a perceptive article today documenting the shift in support towards Hezbollah in the Arab world. After an early moment of hope, when a variety of Arab governments condemned Hezbollah�s extra-state provocations, the sustained brutality of the Israeli response has warmed the Arab world to Hezbollah's side.
THE DETERRENCE DEBATE. Here's a new wrinkle in a longstanding controversy. Rather than argue, implausibly but in line with tradition, that we can't deter Iran because "the Mullahs are crazy" or some such thing, Reuel Marc Gerechtthinks we can't do it because we're too soft and weak. As a read of American psychology, this strikes me as stunning. It's also a theory that ill-suits Gerecht's generally hawkish views. We lack the grit to respond to a direct, unprovoked attack on our citizens but are the sort of country that should make a series of preventative wars the linchpin of our national security strategy. Really?
JUST POSTED ONLINE: WHAT WOULD JOE AND EILEEN DO? To complement the audio, here's the transcript: It's Chuck Schumer unleashed. The senator had breakfast with journalists from the Prospect and elsewhere on July 12. Hear him expound on the death of New Deal liberalism and Reagan conservatism, what American swing-voter prototypes Joe and Eileen can teach Democrats -- and what Tomasky got wrong about the common good.
CHRIS CANNON: COALMINE CANARY. As we move closer to the midterms, the list of top targets produced by various prognosticators is congealing a bit, and this week NPR published a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner survey (PDF) of the top 50 most competitive districts, based on a pooled list taken from the Cook Political Report, the Stu Rothenberg Report, the Hotline and Larry Sabato�s Crystal Ball.
SUBSTITUTES AND COMPLEMENTS. I was going to just mock Lee Siegel's decision to revisit the blogofascism controversy, but he says something in there that I think is worthy of a serious response since I hear the sentiment from a lot of people. "Linking," writes Siegel, "is no substitute for thinking." This is true, but misguided. Compare it to "deciding which articles to print is no substitute for writing magazine articles." Obviously, the former is no substitute for the latter not because the former activity is useless, but because it complements the other.
Reporters should always use inflation adjusted numbers when making comparisons of dollar values at substantially different points in time. A dollar is worth much less today than it was 20 or 30 years ago. While most readers may know this, they do not typically have ready access to the consumer price index tables, so they will not generally be able to adjust the numbers themselves.