J. Goodrich

J. Goodrich is a recovering economist and the sole proprietor of the political blog Echidne of the Snakes. She also blogs for TAPPED.

Recent Articles


BLONDECTOMY . Mayor Gavin Newsom checked into a San Francisco hospital last night for an emergency blondectomy. Just kidding. But Newsom has stated that he is going to enter rehabilitation for alcoholism. In that he follows in the large footsteps of many other politicians who have been caught (for the lack of a better term) red-handed, doing something they shouldn't have done. Whether alcohol use played a role in these political scandals might not even matter that much. Alcoholism rehab is a nice way of getting a rest from the media and also the Proper Thing To Do in a society where the religious people demand repentance and most everybody values medicine. A few months of earnest self-examination at a retreat and, presto! , the politician can emerge all born-again. But we really need to invent a new name for rehabilitating politicians who get caught for something and yet don't drink enough to qualify for this traditional remedy. --J. Goodrich


CORPORATE WELFARE . The 1990s may have succeeded in making welfare for the poor a dirty term but corporate welfare is still thriving. Matthew Yglesias makes a good point about its recent explosion under the Bush administration: The trouble with government work, as opposed to the private sector is that there's a lack of efficiency. It's important to understand, however, that there's nothing intrinsically efficient about private sector work. No magical "it's the free market" dust comes and renders private enterprises effective. Rather, the idea is simply that an inefficiently run private enterprise (and there are many) would simply go out of business. An inefficiently run government office, by contrast, goes out of business when it loses political support and sees its budget grow as long as it maintains political support. Thus, you see public sector dollars flowing to whatever there's a strong political constituency for, whereas private sector dollars flow to wherever well-managed firms...


THE OBAMA MESSIAH WATCH . Timothy Noah of Slate is planning to make this a regular feature : I therefore inaugurate the Obama Messiah Watch, which will periodically highlight gratuitously adoring biographical details that appear in newspaper, television, and magazine profiles of this otherworldly presence in our midst. What a wonderful idea! I'm sure that Noah had a similar Messiah Watch feature about John McCain. You know, the maverick. The last honest man. The man Noah described like this : Like most reporters, Chatterbox harbors an admiration for John McCain's integrity, humor, and independence of mind that tends to distract him from substantive policy disagreements. (Click here and here to read two critical pieces Chatterbox forced himself to write about McCain's refusal to tax e-commerce.) There's no question that McCain is the finest person running for president this year; and, unlike George Bush p�re (who was the finest person running for president in 1992), McCain has a public...


MOLLY IVINS, RIP. She wrote beautifully, making something very difficult look deceptively easy: the combination of intelligence with guts and humor and compassion. She wrote with an earthy enjoyment and love of all humankind, including its follies, and she wrote with the courage to make any point she felt needed making, and the courage to make it as simply as possible. For all this she will be missed. --J. Goodrich


THE RICH AREN'T THAT MUCH HAPPIER. So says Tyler Cowen in a New York Times opinion piece which argues that income inequality in the United States isn't such a bad thing, really. Cowen presents many arguments but the one I want to highlight here is the idea that inequality in happiness is not as great as inequality in income, and, my friends, it is happiness that really counts! Cowen states : A man earning $500,000 a year is not usually 10 times as happy as a man earning $50,000 a year." Perhaps not. Who knows, really, given that interpersonal comparisons and the very measurement of happiness are fraught with all sorts of problems? I myself would prefer to cry in a Rolls-Royce if cry I must, actually, but I get the point Cowen is trying to make: Money may not make you happier, so no need to envy the rich or to worry about income inequality. Funnily enough, Cowen's argument also works in the opposite direction: If increasing income produces smaller and smaller increases in happiness...