Archive

  • The People's Money

    Hi, everybody! I’m the Ethical Werewolf . As my first post on Ezra's blog, I'd like to point out a nice little pattern that has held over the last 16 years of budget history : In every year when a Democrat has controlled the White House, the deficit has gone down (or the surplus has gone up). And in every year when a Republican has controlled the White House, the deficit has gotten worse or we've lost surplus. While this won't come as a big surprise to those of us in the wonkosphere, I'd bet that most Americans haven't fathomed the depths of Republican fiscal depravity. Pre-election polls that I can't find anymore gave Democrats a slight advantage on budget-related issues, but nowhere near what the 16-year streak would justify. A serious push to make people know that we're way better on fiscal stuff is especially important given how the Tom DeLay scandals are going. You earn cred as a reformer coming to clean up Washington by showing your commitment to taking care of the people's...
  • Star Wars

    By the way -- Star Wars? Just atrociously, terribly fucking bad. Some cool ships, to be fair, and some interesting alien design, but my main motivation during the movie was staying until something horrible happen to that whining, unlikable little snot Anakin. Lord was he a distasteful character. And it's not as if Hayden Christenson can't act -- his performance in Shattered Glass was terrific. So chalk another one up to Lucas's dialogue. And you might think, by the way, that the Jedi's great hope would be able to see through cheap, crude attempts at manipulation. Nope. Palpatine's arguments would alarm a five-year old he was enticing with candy, but Anakin blithely buys his crap. Beyond Anakin, Padme (Natalie Portman) had fewer dimensions than an 80's arcade game. Her role in life, insofar as a role could be ascertained, was thinking up newer and ever-more uninteresting ways to merge the words "love" and "Anakin" into the same sentences. She had no soul, no self-directed movements,...
  • Middle Class Woe

    The centrist Democratic group Third Way has released an analysis of the 2004 exit polls showing, quite starkly, that Democrats lost the middle class. The tipping point for white voters, the spot where they began voting for Republicans rather than Democrats, was $23,700, not that far above party level. More damaging, the same dynamic was on exhibit with Hispanic voters, who gave us a 21-point margin when their incomes were under $30,000, but only a 10-point win when they made between $30,000 and $75,000. To some degree, this can all be explained away as priorities. If you're making under $30,000, economic security is likely to be your foremost concern, easily outweighing wars a world away and terrorist threats that have long since become routine. Jack up the incomes and financial stability, though, and more mental space is freed to fret over terrorism, orange alerts, and gay couples. All this, I think, shows why a simple return to populism isn't going to do the trick, at least not in...
  • Guest-Bloggers

    This weekend, Neil Sinhababu from Ethical Werewolf and Paperwight from Papewright's Fairshot will be helping me out. Indeed they, and maybe a few others, will be on the site until Thursday, as I'm going to DC for the first few days of next week. I'll still be posting, just not with my usual frequency, so having them around will keep everything humming along nicely. Hearty welcomes all around!
  • Market 1, Consumer 0

    Kate catches doctors surrendering to their inner capitalist and accepting the practice of giving project funders -- often pharmaceutical companies -- full control over their research projects. That means control over design, what's studied, how the material is presented...the whole deal. Why is this so attractive in such a service-oriented profession? She explains: researchers at medical schools are often responsible for coming up with their own project funding after their first couple years on staff. Many will turn to pharmaceutical comapanies and other for-profit entities to foot the bill. This just perpetuates the conflict of interest cycle, from the researcher's petri dish to the doctor's prescription pad -- Big Pharma has their hand in all of it. So there's a funding gap in research, researchers need funding to do their job, and Big Pharma altruistically steps into the void, with a few little sub-clauses. Another win for the magical market, I guess.
  • Roe v. Wade, Men v. Women

    Via Steve Soto , here's some interesting poll data: While American voters have mixed opinions about abortion, they support the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision 63 - 33 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Men support it 68 - 28 percent, while women support it 58 - 37 percent. This is historically predictable -- men have almost always supported abortion rights in higher percentages than women -- but this is the first time I've seen a 10-point spread between the two. I've never quite understood why women are so much more loathe to come out for choice, but it's an interesting phenomenon. I've heard arguments postulating a decreased willingness for women to answer in the affirmative during telephone polls or, more interestingly, that there's a certain strain of denial (i.e, I'd never get accidentally pregnant, so I don't need to support Roe v. Wade) covering responses. Any readers have some insight on this?
  • More on Insurance

    Tim* has an interesting response to my health care post below. What he puts out is something of a extended meditation on the nature of health insurance, and how it differs from other forms of insurance. Oddly enough, his post, to me, seemed like an excellent argument for nationalizing health insurance in the country, but I assume that wasn't his intent. In any case, it is worth keeping in mind that health insurance does subsidize a number of known conditions and is not, in that way, a simple insurance market. It does redistribute some wealth from the potentially healthy to those known to be sick, but that's necessary. Nevertheless, it also redistributes from the healthy to the, for lack of a better term, formerly healthy. In addition, it demands huge premiums from the already-ill, often pricing them out of the market, so it's not really a free ride no matter where you're entering. Indeed, running through that structure shows why the incentives are off for providing health insurance,...
  • Get Up, Stand Up...

    The nation's big journalism schools are pooling resources to create new investigative journalism structures that they can aspire to send their students to. Why? Because the current lights of reporting are being tarnished and dimmed daily, and as a result, there's less and less for wannabe reporters to shoot for. The article's a little unclear on exactly what's going to happen -- the first project, it seems, is a 9/11 documentary with ABC News, hardly cutting edge stuff -- but the folks involved are smart and there's a bit of money backing it, so I'm glad to see the effort. More to the point, I'm glad to see the press waking from its slumber. As EJ Dionne wrote today, we're not seeing an uptick in incidents of journalistic dishonesty, but the fruition of a well-planned and impressively executed conservative strategy of tarring top outlets with small errors in order to defang them for the future. That's got to stop, and it'll only do so when the press decides to start punching back and...
  • Hillary's Turn

    A majority of Americans now say they're likely to vote for Hillary. In the last year, her strong support has jumped by 8% and strong opposition has dropped by 5%. This doesn't mean you should vote for her, but the whispers of giant anti-Hillary armies populating the heartland and preparing to take over the country come the kickoff of a Hillary candidacy are simply false. She's legitimately well-liked now, with 53% saying they want to vote for her and only 39% saying they simply won't vote for her, which is about the same number that'd sooner push a Democrat off a cliff than hand him a favorable ballot. All of this means it's time to start evaluating a Hillary candidacy on its own merits rather than as a function of the enormous hatred we're certain she engenders. Unlike us in Blogland or those signed to a Regnery publishing contract, few folks remain stepped in the passion of the Clinton years, and a fewer still have focused their long-term attentions on the then-First Lady. All this...
  • In Defense of Socialized Medicine

    CATO's Tim Lee has been running a very good blog named Binary Bits which seems, in large part, dedicated to correcting Matt, myself, and a few others on our health care posts. Oftentimes, Tim is right and I am wrong. But today he wrote a long post , in response to me, which lets me be right and him wrong (and they say liberals are wishy-washy), so let's get to it. Tim argues that universal health care, and indeed health care, is nothing more than an effort to redistribute money from the healthy to the sick. And he's right, I guess; that is one way of looking at it. But what society is aiming at isn't a redistribution, but a guarantee: it's promising that if you get extremely, expensively sick, the illness will not bankrupt you and funds will be available to cover your treatment. In this way it doesn't deserve to be grouped in with more commonly discussed forms of redistribution, say from rich to poor or, under Bush, from poor to rich, because it's redistributing to a group we all...

Pages