Thursday, October 20, 2011

This Situation is The Result of Human Agency

From NPR comes US Government document from 2000 worrying about the US paying off its debt by 2012 and wondering what the Government could do with its excess cash. Imagine that. Had Bush not cut taxes and bombed Iraq, we might right now be in the midst of a sustained bout of publicly financed investments infrastructure, education, and, as some quaint old document or another put it, general welfare. Instead, we are where we are. It's almost like they did it on purpose to wreck the lives of the rest of us in the interests of . . . . Well it's not clear who benefits over the long haul from these policies. But still, some of the 1%ers are clear dumb enough to think that our current horror story is real American freedom at its best.

That's The Ticket

Over to Paul Krugman's blog, we find this response to a post:
Have we completely ruled out the idea of artificial trees? We could then recycle the Carbon in a completely safe way and drill holes to the center of the earth.
While I assume the author is joking, he and/or she might be Dubner and Leavitt

Not Ready for Prime Time

 According to  Dana Goldstein DC school's are suffering a loss of competent, effective teachers because of the Rhee-based teacher harassment policies. Matthew Yglesias responds by pointing out that teachers get more money, or at least some of them do. This is, of course, not the point. DC and, in fact, any school district that decides to go the harass the teacher mode of "school reform" is going to suffer the same loss of good teachers. Why? People don't teach to make money. Teachers teach because they like to teach. Change the workplace rules, turn teaching into exam prep for the for-profit test making industry, and pay more: you'll get people who want to make money but don't care so much about teaching. Use the current system and pay more and you'll get more of the same, which is too say lots of good teachers working to help their students be all they can be.

 That's right, 85% of the teachers are good to excellent obviously the key to making the schools better is harassing them and the students with testing regimes. Not, say, alleviating poverty because that would be hard work.

Multipliers or Economics Still Not a Science

Why should 3rd world workers earn as much as 1st world workers, you ask. Well

First of all, even if we could assure the workers in Third World export industries of higher wages and better working conditions, this would do nothing for the peasants, day laborers, scavengers, and so on who make up the bulk of these countries' populations. At best, forcing developing countries to adhere to our labor standards would create a privileged labor aristocracy, leaving the poor majority no better off.
But what, you wonder, about the multiplier effect. You know where jobs create other jobs. Some people like to explain, slowly for those who need extra help, that
Funny how [ government] spending can only move money around, not increase total spending, if it comes from the government, and how the multiplier is a nonsense concept when applied to government spending, but totally valid when it involves oil companies …
So, apparently, jobs only create jobs in the 1st world.  

He's Right, You Know.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Parsing the 99%

Maybe they mean  something like this from John Woolman
To consider mankind otherwise than brethren, to think favors are peculiar to one nation and to exclude others, plainly supposes a darkness in the understanding.

Words Fail

I made the mistake of reading David Brooks this a.m.. He is, to coin a phrase, an idiot in the classical Greek and contemporary American meaning of the word. As an example, his preferred basis for fixing the economy? Read and weep, he argues that
[w]hile the cameras surround the flamboyant fringes, the rest of the country is on a different mission. Quietly and untelegenically, Americans are trying to repair their economic values.
He maunders on in the same vein. His point is clear, the cause of the current catastrophe is a failure of individual morality, the morals of the 99% if you will, not the corruption, cupidity, and concupiscence of the 1%.

He concludes that
America went through a similar values restoration in the 1820s. Then, too, people sensed that the country had grown soft and decadent. Then, too, Americans rebalanced. They did it quietly and in private.
To the extent that he is talking about anything here, he most likely means the 2nd Great Awakening which was loud and public commitment to spiritual rebirth that was so successful America avoided the boom and bust economy and solved the slavery problem without resort to war. Oh, wait.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

God Has a Sense of Humour

I can't remember where I saw this first but from Bloomberg news it seems that the four of Republicans running for President were called by God to do so. Given that they are the four worst of the candidates in terms of policies or performance, God, it would seem, needed a laugh.