Out of Work, Out of Luck

MIT Press

Back to Full Employment, by Robert Pollin. A Boston Review Book. The M.I.T. Press. 187 pages. $14.95

Achieving full employment has been at the center of the progressive project for more than a century. If work is available at decent wages for everyone who wants it, then the rest of the agenda is a lot easier. Opportunity proliferates. People feel a sense of dignity and worth. Human potential is fully utilized. In a virtuous circle, adequate purchasing power has a rendez-vous with the economy’s productive capacity. Tight labor markets give workers the leverage to bargain for decent wages. Social-transfer programs can be reserved for special needs rather than being strained to make up for the fundamental lack of decent income.

The Last King of the Iron Curtain

Socialism was supposed to create a new socialist man—a fellow or gal whose labor was unalienated, who was freed from want, who had time off to read, to fish, to play, to parent. He would be healthier, longer-lived, better educated and wiser than his counterpart under capitalism. To a considerable degree, social democracy (or even its attenuated American cousin, New Deal liberalism) has accomplished some of those goals (higher pay, more time off, widespread education) if not all of them (unalienated labor, widespread wisdom).

Capitalism by Any Other Name

Republicans are fighting to rebrand capitalism as economic opportunity but their agenda remains the same.

I've been thinking about the term "capitalism" since Frank Luntz, the renowned pollster, told Republicans to quit saying it. The Occupy Wall Street movement has turned "capitalism" into a dirty word, he said. If Republicans want to win in 2012, they'd better stop worrying and learn to love "economic freedom" instead.

What to Read Before You Unwonk Tonight

  • Obama gave a really good speech yesterday, one that clearly announces his main campaign strategy for the next year and has the potential of having his 2008 base return to occupying his camp. You should read it, but if you don’t have the time, Derek Thompson has a pretty thorough reader’s guide.

The Smarty-Pants Problem

Chris Mooney -- Prospect alum, science journalist, known smart person -- is unsettled when liberals say conservatives are dumb:

Over the weekend, Maureen Dowd penned the column that somebody—some liberal—was bound to pen eventually. Basically, it was about, uh, why conservatives have embraced being "stupid," or at least anti-intellectual.

Better Hacks, Please.


The Heritage Foundation needs a better class of propagandist, since this is embarrassing:

Once Again, Ideology Isn't Good For Business.

The Atlantic's Max Fisher read my post yesterday on which states offer a good environment for business, and promptly misread it. To revisit, CNN posted a slideshow ranking the best states to start a business based solely on how little taxation and regulation exists in each.

It's the Institutions, Silly.

I agree with Jamelle's criticisms of Tom Friedman's widely and justly mocked column calling for a third party that coincidentally agrees with Tom Friedman about everything. This kind of longing for a party that allegedly transcends politics is indeed anti-democratic. Just to pile on, it's also worth noting that Friedman's third-party solution doesn't even make sense on its own terms.

When It All Went Wrong.

Mark Schmitt says the 1970s were a decade of lost opportunities to reconstruct the New Deal order.

The short postwar miracle was built on a "great compression" of broadly shared economic gains, a "liberal consensus," around the idea of a supportive government committed to expanding rights and opportunity, and a loose social compact between industry and organized labor. In the late 1970s, these phenomena, dependent on prosperity, gave way to a particularly predatory form of financial capitalism, joined to an aggressive and opportunistic conservative politics capable of winning electoral majorities.


No, I'm Not Exaggerating.

I know a lot of people think I'm exaggerating for rhetorical effect when I argue that some conservatives are "against fair trials" or due process. But I'm really not. I'm just describing what the mainstream of the modern Republican Party has come to stand for. Just ask Mike Potemra, writing over at National Review (via Kevin Drum):

Kennedy: Go-To Guy For "All the Excluded in American Life."

Harold Meyerson on Ted Kennedy's legacy:

He was, as he lay dying, new again. Ted Kennedy outlived the Reagan-Thatcher conservative era to which for so many years he led the opposition. He played a key role in putting Barack Obama in the White House, creating the possibility for a renaissance of American liberalism, the cause he led for the past four decades. He came to Washington one last time to vote for the kind of Keynesian stimulus that had been out of favor in the age of laissez-faire but that embodied, however imperfectly, Kennedy's belief that government had the ability and the duty to create an economy that not only mitigated capitalism's excesses but made it work for ordinary Americans.


Since Peter Suderman linked to me yesterday as an example of liberals being unhappy with the health-care reform effort, I thought I might respond to his assertion that this isn't a failure of leadership, but "a feature of democratic politics" which is a common refrain from libertarians and small-government types: Things would run much smoother without the messy business of politics getting in the way.