Archive

  • Unemployment By County

    Vie Econbrowser, this map showing unemployment rates by county is really very interesting (click on it for full size version): How're Nebraska and Kansas doing so well? Nevada and Texas seem in good shape as well. Ohio and its neighbors, not so much. Oregon's in terrible straits and, let's be honest, poor Michigan. Anyway -- interesting visual of how the country's doing. And with unemployment rates like that, I'm surprised we're not hearing more about Kansas's Democratic governor, Kathleen Sebelius.
  • On Culture

    Even though the whole argument about denouncing/regulating/ignoring pop culture is petering out, I want to quote this Mark Schmitt post as both the best statement I've seen on the subject and a perfect, though far more eloquent, articulation of my views on it: First, this is one of those issues about which the only reasonable reaction is an ambivalent one, and it's fair to assume that many of those who say they're concerned about culture in this way have a similarly ambivalent or complex reaction. That is, they want some greater sense of control on the influences on their children, but they suspect that any legal solution will either be ineffective or will have negative consequences. Likewise with any technological solution, like the V-chip or internet parental controls. That doesn't lessen the concern, though, and parents want to feel that politicians understand that concern. ... Third, avoid "policy literalism." Just because people in polls say, "I'm concerned about sex and violence...
  • Where Is The Love?

    Reviewing John Harris's The Survivo r* , Alan Ehrahalt makes a point worth taking on : Roosevelt made enormous and sometimes reckless changes in the American government and economy, and when his critics loathed him for it, he loathed them back. ''They are unanimous in their hate for me'' he said of them in his 1936 re-election campaign, ''and I welcome their hatred.'' Clinton, on the other hand, was a centrist who undertook no dramatic transformations of society or government and, what was more, showed himself to be an instinctive conciliator who believed in compromise almost to a fault. Ehrahalt is comparing, here, the deep-seated hatred for Clinton with the only "recent" president loathed enough to be used as precedent -- and you have to go back 75 years to find one Moreover, he's right. In 1992, a Democrat who eschewed liberalism beat a Republican who violated conservatism. Republicans should have been bouncing off the walls. Not only did their ideological betrayor find defeat,...
  • What Does Wal-Mart Want?

    You know you're a nerd when your breaks from studying are to write about health policy. But then, I do know I'm a nerd, so no problems on that front. This study break is brought to you by Jon Cohn, who wrote an excellent column on Wal-Mart's attitude towards health care (which is, essentially, that the country should have less of it). They elect folks who cut Medicaid even as their own workers are forced to apply for the system. They stack Congress with pols opposed to universal health care even while they undermine the employer-based system. Odd. As Matt notes, this kinda puts the lie to the current round of claims that business is begging for government-run health care. I say kinda because Matt's brush is too broad. Yes, Wal-Mart, along with a variety of similar corporations, support Republicans who don't like health care. But they're not the businesses pushing the issue. It's GM, Ford, and the like -- the dinosaurs who were giants in the days when unions were strong, and okay'd a...
  • Too Complicated?

    One thing I really don't like about the health care debate is the "complexity test". After Clinton's health care plan failed, in part due to its monstrous incomprehensibility, folks began quickly dismissing anything that hints at being hard to explain. Unfortunately, health care is a tough issue and the policy solutions may end up taking a few sentences. Because of that, we on the left should be trying to make these things seem simple to understand, not bolstering the idea that a solution has to fit on a flash card. So, for instance, if you're ever asked about CAP's health plan , don't say it's too complicated to ever be understood. Say instead that: • The whole country could buy into FEHBP, which is the menu of insurance options Congress uses; • People making less than 150% of the poverty line would be eligible for Medicaid; • Private insurance would still exist for those who wanted it; • And it'd be funded through a small VAT tax, which is a sort of sales tax that every other...
  • TGIF. So I Can Study.

    There are just some quarters determined to kick your ass. Some quarters when you get a midterm back, see that your score is too low, read the comments that say "you know the material but write unclearly", realize it's the other way around, and finally get a fraction of your missing points back because your TA doesn't speak English, couldn't understand the more polysyllabic terms, but doesn't want to admit full culpability and so still screws your grade over. And in quarters like this, it's almost a foregone conclusion that the term paper you've spent so much time crafting was due on last Monday, not this Friday, and you somehow took that down wrong, in addition to missing said Monday so you had no idea. So too, during quarters like this, should one simply assume that your hard drive will immolate itself right before finals, you will leave a crucial, heavily notated book on a plane, and the library will lack replacements. Which is all to say that it has not been a very good week, and...
  • It's Not You, It's Us

    EJ Dionne's column on the Kerry critics, the many Democrats who happily bash Kerry now that the election is over, rings a bit too true. So, as part of my plea bargain, let me say that Dionne is exactly right on this: The three debates were the only moments in the campaign in which Kerry's fate was entirely in his own hands, and he used them well. Kerry trounced Bush the first time and, I'd argue, beat him in the other two encounters. His one false move was mentioning Mary Cheney in connection with the gay rights issue. He shouldn't have done that. But the Cheney slip became a big deal because the Bush machine is so skillful at turning little things into big things -- always with help from Rush and Fox and the rest of the party-line conservative media eager to read scripts generated by the White House. This is not just a Kerry problem but a long-term challenge for his party. Is that ever true. The Mary Cheney fluff blunted Kerry's momentum coming off the third debate, and, in my mind,...
  • Warner 08?

    Looks like VA governor Mark Warner will be running for president. Think Evan Bayh, but from the South and touting a background in the tech industry. Should be interesting. Any Virginians reading have impressions of the guy? In any casde, it's not certain whether he's running for president or senate, but speculation focuses on the former. Guess we'll know for sure once he invites me to dinner.
  • How Much Does Trade Matter?

    Good post by Matt on why the trade issue is overblown. As a psychological point, though, trade's political resonance comes from its logic. Even the bottom of the pyramid can understand why those at the top want to flip their jobs to India and have them done for 1/50th as much. Thus, while conventional layoffs may be more widespread, they can be rationalized away as the type of thing that happens to bad workers, not a top employee like me. Outsourcing, however, seems like a smart idea, and no matter how good any of us are, we're not as good as the ten or twenty Indians who could be hired for our wage. That lends it an air unpredictability -- it's not about your performance, it's about the economic decisions and, in some ways, altruism of your employer. There are a number of issues that Americans believe to be Big Problems, but really aren't. Social Security, welfare, foreign aid (yes, really), violence in video games, same-sex marriage, Medicare fraud, tort reform, and so forth. As...
  • Just a Thought

    As a fellow attendee of the Edwards dinner, I'd argue that revoking the posting privileges of folks who criticize him on your site is probably not the best way to look as if you exited the meal with integrity intact. Even if Stirling had other reasons for banning BOP News poster RJ Eskow and deleting all his old pieces doing it directly after RJ posted something critical of John Edwards is about as bad as optics get. When Stirling tipped Garance off about the dinner, she wrote: Gaining the loyalty of bloggers...is not that hard to do if you just talk to them In my eyes, that made us all look bad, in addition to being a load of crap. But who knows, maybe Garance put her finger directly on the problem. As bloggers begin to get courted by more pols and bigger names, we're going to have to figure out some way to deal with the attention without looking -- without being! -- hopelessly compromised. Maybe that means full disclosure of every meal and conversation, though, like in journalism, I...

Pages