Archive

  • IT'S ALL ABOUT...

    IT'S ALL ABOUT THE R'S IN '08. Bloggers and journalists focused on the Democratic presidential primary contest in '03 and '04 because there wasn't one on the Republicans side, and there still seems to be a bit of a hang-over from that reporting that leads people to pay more attention to possible '08 Democratic contenders than Republican ones. This really needs to end. The most common questions about the '08 contest in my experience involve Hillary Clinton : Will she run? Can she win? etc., etc. But the answer to such questions cannot be found by looking at Clinton's history or the political landscape alone. Clinton's electability will be entirely a function of who the Republican '08 candidate is, as will any Democrat's electability. This straw poll of Republican bloggers (via a Jerome Armstrong post at MyDD) reminded me of this and of just how different Republican bloggers are from the mainstream of the Republican Party. There's been a surge of support among Republican bloggers for...
  • MORE ECCODITTO.

    MORE ECCODITTO. GFR makes some good points below regarding EccoDitto, the company's founder, and John McCain . That said, I don't think my non- Mele friends at the firm would forgive me if I didn't draw attention to this post on the company's blog from Chief Operating Officer Harish Rao : Nicco's recent post about his support for Senator John McCain has caused quite a lot of ruckus. We at EchoDitto disagree with his decision. While Nicco does not work for Senator McCain, his support for a possible McCain candidacy runs contrary to many of our core beliefs at EchoDitto. . . . Everyone in this world has to follow their own heart. Nicco has agreed to, effective immediately, take a leave of absence from our company. We hope he takes some time to re-consider his position. I am assuming Nicco's responsibilities for the duration of his leave of absence. That said, the Dean /McCain nexus is an interesting one. They have similar images as hard-charging straight-talkers and, in a sense, come...
  • HORSE'S MOUTH PSA.

    HORSE'S MOUTH PSA. We're happy to announce a guest who'll be supplementing Greg 's work at The Horse's Mouth until Election Day: Brendan Nyhan , of Spinsanity and All the President's Spin fame. We expect great stuff from Brendan, and Greg will still be contributing regularly as well, so be sure to check in on the site. --The Editors
  • NICCO & MCCAIN....

    NICCO & MCCAIN. Alright, I have to weigh in on this . First of all, I should say that I consider Nicco Mele a friend. And now that it's been revealed publicly that Nicco has been talking to Sen. John McCain 's campaign, it seems the whole Democratic Internet community is upset or at the very least saddened to see one of their favorites cross over to the other side. But if you look at Nicco's business, this move is not really as much of a shock as some people are making it out to be. My sense is that in the wake of Howard Dean 's campaign, the Dean campaign technologists moved to Washington and started two companies, EchoDitto and Blue State Digital , which have increasingly diverged over time. Blue State Digital, led by Joe Rospars , has increasingly focused on Democratic campaign and candidate work -- they have the thankless task of improving the DNC's web and database operations -- while EchoDitto has worked with a few politicians, such as Barack Obama , but primarily developed...
  • Yet More Whining About Entitlements at the Post

    Okay folks, get your checkbooks out. The people who pledged a CEPR contribution for every Post article/column whining about entitlements owe us money. This one is from Bob Kerrey and Warren Rudman, the co-chairs of the Concord Coalition. In addition to conflating Social Security and Medicare as �entitlements� that will pose problems, the column also has a few other standard scare tactics. For example, it projects a rise in spending from approximately 20 percent of GDP at present to 40 percent in 30 years. The biggest part of this rise is due to a rising interest burden. See, if we run larger deficits, and Congress never responds by either raising taxes and/or cutting spending, then we get a rising interest burden. Silly trick, but this is the Post . And of course, the article never discusses health care reform as something that should be on the national agenda. Do the authors not know that the U.S. spends more than twice as much per person on health care as the average among other...
  • Falling Wage Shares

    The NYT had a good story on the falling wage share of output and the growing concentration of wage income among high wage earners (e.g. doctors, lawyers, CEOs). While the basic story is accurate, there are a couple of points that should be treated with more care. The article notes that the sharp drop in the wage share of GDP over the last three decades, from 53.6 percent in the first quarter of 1970 to 45 percent in the first quarter of 2006. While most of this drop is attributable to an increase in profits at the expense of wages, part of it is attributable to an increase in depreciation (the share of GDP that goes to replace warn out equipment and obsolete capital goods). The share of GDP going to depreciation has increased by almost 3 full percentage points over this period. This would imply a fall in the wage share of GDP, even if there was no redistribution to profits. The moral is just use national income or net national product (NNP) as the denominator. The point about...
  • Income Inequality: Missing Mechanisms

    There has been a raging blog debate, following in the wake of some recent Paul Krugman columns, as to whether the rise in income inequality is due to policy or the natural workings of the economy. While Krugman indicated that he believed the policy view (promising details later), many of the economists weighing in have said that they don�t see any policy mechanism(s) that could explain the rise in inequality. Perhaps I have different eyes (or maybe I don�t have sufficient training in economics), but I see the mechanisms almost everywhere. There is a nice example in the news today. A judge ruled that Northwest�s flight attendants can�t go on strike to oppose the wage cuts that the airline is unilaterally imposing, following in the wake of its bankruptcy. In other words, a U.S. judge is telling workers that they will go to jail if they refuse to work for the wages that Northwest wants to pay them. (I know, I�m skipping some steps here.) Judges don�t have to threaten workers with jail...
  • HOW DID YOU GET TO SCHOOL?

    HOW DID YOU GET TO SCHOOL? Another likely factor in the modern epidemic of childhood obesity and related illnesses like Type 2 diabetes, from the University of Texas: In 1969, about half of all students walked or bicycled to school. Fast forward 35 years and less than 15 percent of students walk or bicycle to school. Obviously this decline in daily exercise has some effect on the health of children. The steepness of this decline is especially noteworthy -- even within the same communities, where the distance from home to school may not have changed over this period, people are making different, less healthy choices. Dr. Tracy McMillan, a professor at UT, has been conducting surveys to figure this out. Apparently many parents view the time they spend driving their kids to school as quality time they wouldn't otherwise have with them. Also, they are concerned about the safety of walking in traffic-heavy areas, where automobiles are increasingly large and fast-moving. The first problem...
  • IT'S ALL RELATIVE....

    IT'S ALL RELATIVE. It's probably inevitable, but this sort of thing irritates me. From The Economist 's review of Bruce Reed and Rahm Emanuel 's The Plan: Big Ideas for America : If the system is made more efficient, Mr Emanuel thinks coverage can be extended to all American children. But he concedes that a nation as individualistic as America will probably never accept a European-style national health service�and he should know, having worked on Hillary Clinton's doomed health project in the 1990s. He argues, however, that maybe, some day, every American might receive a voucher for basic health services from the insurer of his or her choice. How interesting -- Emanuel dismisses the chances for a universal health system, but leaves open the option for an absurdly complicated voucher scheme, precisely the sort offered up by his brother, the bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel , in The Washington Monthly awhile back (a well-intentioned but misguided effort that I took on here ). On that note,...
  • FLOP. FLOP. FLOP....

    FLOP. FLOP. FLOP. A little over 20 years ago, I went fishing on a cold Wisconsin lake. I pulled in a fairly good-sized bass. It was a handsome critter, and it flopped around in the bottom of the boat. Flop. flop, flop. I had a Polaroid taken of me and the fish and then we threw it back into the lake. I remembered that moment while watching this remarkable hunk o� video . I can assure you that, as it was flopping around in the boat, believing itself on the way to the fishy afterlife, it was at every second more at ease and articulate than the Ivy-educated lady in the middle panel is in this clip. --Charles P. Pierce

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