MORE ON HOUSING FIRST. On Friday, I talked a bit about the Bush administration's Housing First program, a legitimately worthwhile policy initiative where the toughest homeless cases are given permanent, private housing without any expectation of behavioral modification. These are the toughest, most stubborn cases, the ones who've been in treatment six or more times, yet continue to live on the streets, using heavily and racking up enormous health and crime costs. The question for policymakers is always whether they can bear offering something for nothing, opportunity without responsibility, even if it'll be cheaper and safer for the community.
EVERYONE HATES CHARITY. Let me welcome Jon Chait to the charity-bashing bandwagon. As he observed in a column over the weekend, Warren Buffet's giant charitable contribution "matters as much as an annual increase or decrease of 1/10 of 1% of the federal budget," which gives rise to the question: "How much would it cost to influence the political system to move 1/10 of 1% of the budget out of, say, wasteful subsidies and into the sorts of programs the Gates Foundation supports? I'm not sure, but it's way less than $31 billion."
WHOSE PARTY? Big doings in Joe Lieberman's camp this weekend, as Lieberman began collecting signatures for an independent run that would allow him to remain on the ballot even if Ned Lamont wins the Democratic primary. This puts the Democratic Party in a rather awkward position -- Chuck Schumer has hinted that the DSCC will continue supporting Lieberman even if he's an independent. "[Y]ou can run as an independent Democrat," said Schumer, "who pledges to vote for Harry Reid as Majority Leader."
THE ITALIAN JOB. It always seemed likely that the Bush administration's practice of kidnapping people off the streets of Europe in order to have them shipped abroad for torture was carried out with at least the tacit consent of some of the relevant governments. But in democracies, governments change. And with Italy now under a center-left government, the investigation into the fate of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr is moving forward to include the arrests of two Italian military intelligence officers who supposedly worked with the CIA in abducting Nasr. Warrants, meanwhile, are still in effect for about two dozen Americans for their activities.
Economists always like to talk about the ideal situation of perfectly competitive markets. This is the world in which there are vast numbers of buyers and sellers so that no individual buyer or seller can affect the price. In this world, every producer is a price taker. This means that the price is set by the market, and they can sell as much as they want to produce at the prevailing market price.
In the real world, this is not an accurate description of most markets, which have a relatively limited number of sellers. The one market that does seem to fit the competitive story reasonably well is agriculture. Farmers see a price in the market for corn, wheat, soybeans, etc. and they can sell as much as they choose at this price.
THE BLIND (QUOTES) LEADING THE BLIND (PRESS). If you want to know how political journalism came to be in the state it's in -- c.f. "prone" -- and, therefore, how the present administration came to run merrily amuck, look no further than the following paragraph from Saturday's Washington Post, in which various West Wing moles 'n trolls try to make Hamden chicken salad out of that which our fathers told us one could not make chicken salad. To wit:
The New York Times editorial page went a bit overboard in its anti-Bush tirade on the budget deficit. The basic point, that the Bush administration deficits are too large, is on the mark. (By the way, they could better make this point using the gross deficit [4.0 percent of GDP], which includes the money borrowed from Social Security, or better yet, just report the change in the ratio of gross debt to GDP.)
ON OBJECTIVITY. Wow, a bunch of youngjournalists who don't believe in objectivity. I dunno, I'm going to have to side withMike here. I rather like the idea of objectivity in reporting, by which I mean approaching the world with questions and letting the answers you get shape the story you write, rather than seeking only those facts that you can fit into a pre-conceived narrative.