Archive

  • WHY MORE GRADUATES?

    WHY MORE GRADUATES? All right, let's follow up since commenters never agree with my college-skepticism. For starters, let me say I have no objection to increasing the number of college graduates in the United States. One thing I do worry about, though, is this. Right now a hefty proportion of kids do go to college. When you try to increase the number of college-goers by subsidizing college attendance, the tendency is for the vast majority of the subsidies to accrue to families that would have sent their kids to school anyway rather than to the marginal families who otherwise wouldn't have been able to afford it. Since college-bound kids come, as a rule, from wealthier families than do non-college kids, these schemes can often resort to upward wealth redistribution. The specific Clinton /DLC plan mostly avoids these problems, which is good, but I still think it's a strange thing for progressives to be prioritizing given that you can only focus on so many things at once. The thing of it...
  • WOULD THAT IT WERE.

    WOULD THAT IT WERE. I fear Tom is looking deeper into the Clinton - Lieberman rally than is really needed. Word around here is that Holy Joe forced Hillary Clinton into something of a confessional on the floor of the Senate. Hillary, you'll remember, was the first major Democrat to throw Lieberman's independent candidacy under the bus, promising to back whoever the eventual nominee is. While that was the politically pragmatic move for her, it was painful to Joe and she didn't like doing it. So when he buttonholed her and asked if she could airlift in Bill to generate some good press, she readily agreed. As attractive as Tom's speculation that Clinton is trying to kill the independent candidacy may be, this is really just an instance of the establishment working to protect its friends. Would that they cared enough about the seat, the party, and the Democratic base to actually pressure Lieberman to drop the independent candidacy. --Ezra Klein
  • REALITY CHECK

    REALITY CHECK . So how bad are those vicious Canadian waiting times? Well, it turns out not so bad. StatCanada -- a government body somewhat similar to the U.S. Census Bureau -- just released a report on the time Canadians spend in medical purgatory, and it turns out limbo just doesn't last that long. Median waiting times for all specialized services are between three and four weeks, and 70 to 80 percent of patients found their wait "acceptable." And remember: Most everyone can receive care, and very few need to fear its affordability. Looking at this data, even though I'm no fan of the Canadian system, it nevertheless seems to offer a tradeoff I'd accept. The invaluable Matt Holt , surveying this data, notices not only that those times don't seem so bad, but that they compare pretty favorably with the sort of inequities faced in the United States. Here's a fascinating chart he grabs from Health Affairs that does a good job making the point: We're number one! We're number one! So here...
  • DID BILL STRIKE A DEAL?

    DID BILL STRIKE A DEAL? As we all know, Joe Lieberman called in Bill �Big Dog� Clinton to Waterbury yesterday to help his ailing re-nomination effort. It was all hugs and kisses with the predecessor to the other president Lieberman has been known to embrace. In the Post �s report , David Broder writes: The two have remained close through the years, despite the fact that Lieberman admonished Clinton for his moral laxity in the Monica Lewinsky affair in a celebrated Senate floor speech. Lieberman made no reference to that event Monday night but instead recalled, "I was the first senator outside Arkansas to endorse Bill Clinton for the nomination in 1992." Now, surely Clinton is first to determine who, among Democrats, is permitted to exonerate Lieberman for that 1998 speech. But even if the Big Dog has forgiven Joe (I can�t imagine he�s forgotten), it is precisely this Democrat-when-I-wannabe instrumentalism on Lieberman�s part that has him in the stew in the first place: He�s all...
  • DEMOCRATS BEHAVING BADLY.

    DEMOCRATS BEHAVING BADLY. It seems to me that the Senate Democratic caucus have started playing a small-but-destructive role in our Iraq policy. It started with the demagogic denunciations of Nouri al-Maliki 's perfectly reasonable amnesty plan for Iraqi insurgents. Such a plan would be a necessary component of any Iraqi national reconciliation scheme, but Democrats saw in it a good way to score political points. And they turned out to be correct, successfully pressuring Bush into pressuring Maliki to drop the plan. Which is a neat victory, except lots of people will die as a result. Today, my inbox includes this press release from Harry Reid 's office: Washington, DC - TODAY , Tuesday, July 25, 2006, at 11:00 AM, the Senate Democratic Leadership will hold a press conference in advance of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's address to a Joint Session of Congress. The Democratic Senators will discuss disturbing reports that the Prime Minister has condemned Israel but failed to...
  • JUST POSTED ON...

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: FRIENDLY ADVICE. "The idea," writes Matt , "that the United States or American Jews like me should support [Israel's war] out of friendship is akin to the notion that a real friend would lend a car to a drunk buddy after the bartender confiscates his keys." He makes the case that Israel's assault on Lebanon is "strategically blinkered and morally obtuse." Read the whole thing . --The Editors
  • FREEDOM-HATING, NOW MORE THAN EVER.

    FREEDOM-HATING, NOW MORE THAN EVER. Cato�s David Boaz is none too happy that even Hillary Clinton and the moderate DLC proposed some new government programs that involve spending money to help people. Nor would he be much of a libertarian if he thought otherwise. But then he offers this pearl of political advice: "There are millions of libertarian-leaning voters disgruntled with the Republicans� social conservatism, soaring spending, and ill-fated war. And Democrats are doing everything they can to discourage those voters from switching parties." Eh. The thing of it is that there are millions more voters who have a favorable attitude toward progressive economics but like social conservatism. An "American Dream Initiative" just might be the thing to convince them to switch parties. Meanwhile, in the short term at least, a libertarian disgruntled with Republican policies has no serious choice but to back the Democrats anyway -- divided government would produce a certain amount of...
  • The Washington Post Doesn't Believe in Market Incentives

    I was going to give this one a pass, since it's a column in the Post Outlook section, not a news story, but even opinion pieces should be able to pass the laugh test. The basic point of the piece is that the public and media are wrong to be concerned about the fact that researchers who do research and report findings, as well as the regulators who assess them, often get money from the drug companies that stand to make billions. The article assures us that these people are dedicated professionals, committed to bettering human life, who would not let money affect their behavior. It's great to know that the Washington Post would be willing to print a diatribe arguing that individuals act out of concern for society rather than for monetary gain, first socialist tract I've seen the Post since I've been in town. Of course, if anyone really believed what the column argues, then we should just take the money out of drug research altogether. If the scientists are high-minded individuals who...
  • GIVING SMITH THE BOOT.

    GIVING SMITH THE BOOT. Back in 2002, I wrote a profile of Bob Smith , then the incumbent Republican U.S. senator from New Hampshire. Smith was a likeable flake who once gave an unforgettable speech on behalf of an elephant that a circus had ensconced briefly on the grounds of the Capitol. (Yes, yes, you can all make your own jokes now. We'll wait. All done? Good.) However, in 1999, Smith also had made a speech excoriating the Republican Party for moving away from its guiding principles and, for a period of four months, Smith left the party entirely. Republicans in New Hampshire, in response, threw up Congressman John Sununu against Smith in that year's primary election. This was based partly on Smith's public apostasy, and also partly on the notion that the young and relatively charismatic Sununu could keep the general election with formidable Democratic governor Jeanne Shaheen close enough so that some jiggery-pokery with phone-jamming could help the GOP steal... ah...narrowly win it...
  • FARM SUBSIDY FREE FOR ALL.

    FARM SUBSIDY FREE FOR ALL. There's something very odd about the way the Doha Round of WTO talks have collapsed in an orgy of recriminations over agricultural protectionism. The essence of the issue is that poor countries were demanding that rich countries reduce their level of farm subsidies if they wanted poor countries to make any policy changes. Then the United States said it thought said subsidies should be reduced, but only if the Europeans reduced theirs too. The Europeans agreed with this position, but in reverse. Now both the United States and the E.U. are saying the other side wouldn't make enough concessions. The issue here is that these aren't really concessions at all. High levels of agricultural tariffs and production-subsidies are bad policies -- a classic case of interest-group capture. The Europeans really should reduce their own subsidies from their current high level, but our own lower levels of subsidies aren't doing us any good. There's no reason to make changing...

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