A Wake Up Anthem: Cold Blast from Alaska

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– Steve Clemons

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86 comments on “A Wake Up Anthem: Cold Blast from Alaska

  1. questions says:

    Related to this discussion….
    http://rortybomb.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/kristol-kalecki-and-a-19th-century-economist-defending-patriarchy-all-on-political-macroeconomics/
    In part,
    “Which is to say, if you are a person who tends to use a capital N

    Reply

  2. questions says:

    This all sounds interesting. I was recently talking to someone about one of those “what does it mean to refer to a unicorn” examples that I never entertain for too long…. (smile) But I think that’s kind of where this is, in a way. What does it mean to refer to “the value of money” which probably does have this kind of funky status between thickly real and thinly real.
    So I grant this point in your direction and I’ll rethink the total fiction reading I’m very tempted by. Partial fiction backed up by a whole lot of imposed social behavior?? It actually reminds me of some of the work on race issues that Appiah has published. Race as not “real” but as social construct with real implications. He uses some genetics definitions regarding variation to move his case along. So I think there’s a status shift that is worth thinking through.
    So if we grant this constructed and supported reality status to money, I think it preserves my intuition that there is broad agreement granting value with your sense that the broad agreement is thick enough to give money a status that is thick, for lack of another word.
    And You’re right about the legal aspect, too. That thickens the pot significantly.
    It makes me wonder when it is that a mass delusion transforms from delusion to reality because of its mass. There are all sorts of “as if” constructions in the world. Socrates answer’s Meno’s paradox with an “as if”, Hume has us only philosophizing in armchairs and then bracketing all of that stuff so that we can be still men in the world. Clearly, we do have to embrace certain social delusions and reify them or we’re just not going to manage well. And I think it’s really interesting to make this process of reification, or the product I guess, actually real instead of merely delusionally real. Which in turn makes me wonder if WE are the ones who are schizophrenic in some metaphorical way. (See, I have to go there, no restraint, ever!)
    The statesman-on-a-coin thing is interesting. I would speculate wildly that the tradition got its start fairly simply from there being a picture of the legitimate issuer of the coin as coinage was, I think, private at some point in its earlier history. (Vague memories from some museum exhibit of old coins…?) But I think you’re right that there’s some incantation quality to our designs. Though the quarter series the US Mint offered definitely shifted that one for a while.
    Thanks again!

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  3. Dan Kervick says:

    “There’s nothing metaphysically real about any of this…”
    Questions, I don’t think there is a whole lot of disagreement here in spirit. But I do object on the letter to your repeated contrast between that which is based on convention and that which is real. Conventions are real; psychological states are real; patterns of human behavior are real. There is no reason to deny metaphysically reality to human beings, their mental states and their patterns of behavior.
    If I am imagining a bear under my bed, the bear I am imagining is not real. But I am real. And so is my mental state of imagining a bear. Money isn’t like the bear. Neither money itself – which is usually something physical – nor the value the money possess are merely imagined up out of nothing. Rather its value *consists* in the desirability of possessing it; and the desirability of possessing it is rationally *grounded in* the role it plays in real, actual social conventions.
    I agree that people like Loughner – and other less insane fiat currency-phobes – display a longing for money to be based on something that they regard as more substantive and durable than human decisions, attitudes, rules and conventions. When they learn or start to reflect on the fact that the value of our currency is not of the same type as the value of a commodity, and is also not based on the existence of a standing promise by the government to hand over some commodity on demand in exchange for the money, they start to yell, “Hey, the money is not real! It’s worthless! It’s all a scam!”. But they are just mistaken. They just don’t understand the nature of value, and the various ways in which things acquire value.
    It is an interesting empirical question to wonder about how many people have attitudes toward money that are based on superstitions, and what role those superstitions play in sustaining the value of money. (For example, by putting the faces of long-dead statesmen on money, we convey an impression of both antiquity and paternal approval.) Similarly, some people might believe that the laws of their country were delivered to them by gods, rather than written by men and women doing their best to devise enforceable rules to live by. These beliefs give the law more majesty in their eyes. They might even make the people who have these beliefs more disposed to obey it. And apparently some people in the UK still believe that their so-called “monarchs” were anointed by God.
    It is important to recognize that the stability of the value of our money is not just based on convention, but is also based on law. There are laws that establish dollars as legal tender. Because of this, if you own a store and someone comes in with dollars, you are required to accept them as payment. You are also required to pay taxes in dollars. In this a way, a fiat currency is more stable than a merely conventional currency; its role in exchange is based on more than just convention and people’s confidence that the convention will continue to hold sway over behavior. If people suddenly decided to stop using gold as a medium of exchange and a treating it as a form of money – it’s market value would plummet precipitously. And the value of god does vary wildly in speculative exchange markets. The fact that gold has sometimes possessed a stable value in the past has to do with the fact that gold was often the main ingredient in, yes, fiat currencies – governments made legal tender coins out of it.
    Fun discussion.

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  4. questions says:

    Gettier!
    Derrida??!!
    Anyway, yes analogies have a failure point, and you found mine!
    But it’s not dangerous to refuse dollars and live in a barter system parallel to the economy the way that it is dangerous to drive on the “wrong” side of the road. So even this analogy (yours) has a failure point.
    Probably the road driving side example wasn’t the best as there probably aren’t too many people floating around who feel a mystical connection to the side of the street on which we drive; and indeed, on one-way streets, we drive on the left, and we can even make left-turn-on-red turns if it’s from one one-way street to another. So we actually do recognize the convention as a convention rather than as some sort of mystical union of self and world.
    Money seems to have some odd properties, though. Loughner’s views, and those of others I’ve seen here and there, do seem to indicate a deep concern with the status of money as REAL rather than as agreement.
    If we all just stopped recognizing dollar bills, then dollar bills wouldn’t mean much. For someone whose worldly possessions depend on social agreement, whose labor product IS money, that’s got to be a little scary. And when you look at the things that fall under “money illusion”, you see more of this fixation on amounts and things rather than on relations and agreements.
    If I think of a better analogy than driving on the right, I’ll let you know!
    But I think my point still stands that money’s value really depends on a social agreement that could in principle be violated, an agreement, as you note, that might be pretty hard to violate, but an agreement nonetheless.
    Gold seems to some to transcend this possibility of being violated because 1)it’s scarcer than dollar bills 2)it’s pretty when mixed with platinum, polished and shaped into rings or chalices or links 3)because it’s natural rather than artificial 4)because we’re trained by the Crayola Corp (Binney and Smith, I think it is) to love gold, silver and bronze crayons in that order! (Didn’t everyone hate getting the smaller boxes for school when they didn’t have the metallic ones?)
    We “go for the gold”, we win gold, silver, bronze, and geeze, even Plato’s Republic has the myth of the metals in that order! Gold, golden, sunlight, good, pure, shiny, the metaphors are thick here. Thick with age, thick with meaning, thick in ways that affect how we think about the stuff.
    When you write,
    “These expectations are based on the way things are in the real social world that is external to my mind. It is not merely my perception. The fact that this social convention exists is a real fact grounded in the psychological dispositions of real people, and is not a mere fiction. ”
    you’re still not really debunking my position. In fact, you’re supporting it. What makes the value of greenbacks, umm, valuable, is precisely the social conventions, rules, beliefs, faith in future acts of other people, perceptions of those other people, their perceptions of me, all sorts of promise-making and promise keeping, habits and the like. There’s nothing metaphysically real about any of this, and it’s the lack of metaphysical reality that seems to hit people in the gut and makes them want to have the gold standard instead. And this, despite the fact that you really can’t limit the amount of currency to the amount of gold we can dig up out of the ground. Eventually there are just too many people and not enough ounces of gold for anyone to have enough and when money is in short supply, people use workarounds in informal economies.
    So somewhere between the fact that not even gold has metaphysical reality of the sort that people fantasize, and the fact that it probably wouldn’t bring about the lack of inflation that people fantasize about, and the fact that inflation is actually a good thing at some level for some people, and the fact that massive capital accumulation (on a scale lesser than we have right now, probably) allows for some truly massive production pieces in the world, somewher amongst all of these, it does seem that the gold standard doesn’t make much sense.
    I’m also not sure that the gold standard could tolerate the kind of capital pooling that allows really big things to be made. But this is total speculation on my part and might be totally debunkable without attacking my carefully thought out and quite beautiful metaphors, thank you very much!
    I’ll check out your link in a while. I have some other stuff to deal with for now….
    Thanks for the dialogue, by the way.

    Reply

  5. Dan Kervick says:

    “It’s only that we socially and together have agreed to this that there’s any there there.”
    I can’t quite agree, questions. I think you are defending on overly simplified form of social constructivism that confuses social conventions with “mere perception” and fictions, and are running together some diverse phenomena.
    But I agree with you on what I think is your underlying point: some people are in the grip of various superstitions about the nature of the different kinds of money, and when they contemplate the role of social conventions and decisions in generating the market value of a fiat currency, they become anxious.
    Consider a sentence like this:
    “In the United States, it is generally very dangerous to drive on the left side of the road.”
    That is a true statement, and we can agree that its truth depends on the existence of social norms and conventions. But there are at least two different ways of cashing in this latter statement: One could say:
    1. It is dangerous to drive on the left-hand side side of the road in the United States because there are both prevailing conventions and legal requirements in the United States to employ right-hand driving on two-way roads, and therefore people driving on the left-hand side of a two-way road substantially increase the probability that they will be involved in a head-on collision.
    … or one could say:
    2. It is dangerous to drive on the left-hand side of the road in the US because there is a social convention in the US to *regard* left-hand driving as dangerous.
    Both of these statements attribute the dangerousness of left-hand driving to social conventions and norms. But it is statement 1 that more accurately explains the nature of the relevant conventions that account for the dangerousness of driving on the left in the US. Merely regarding or perceiving something as dangerous might in some cases contribute to its actually being dangerous. But these kinds of perceptions are not the chief causal factor accounting for the dangerousness of left-hand driving. A convention toward P that in turn causes Q to be true is not the same thing as either a convention toward Q or a mere perception that Q is true.
    The point about the exchange value of money is that we have conventions and laws in the United States that push us in the direction of using US minted currency and notes as instruments of exchange. And the fact that we know such conventions and laws exist, and have rational expectations of their continued existence, gives us reason to value the possession of US currency. I am willing to accept a ten dollar bill in exchange for a book I own because I have an expectation that when I wake up tomorrow, I will be able to exchange that 10 dollar bill for something else of comparable value. I also have an expectation that although the exchange value of the 10 dollar bill will likely degrade over time, the degradation will happen at such a slow pace that I don’t run a great risk in holding on to the bill for a protracted period.
    These expectations are based on the way things are in the real social world that is external to my mind. It is not merely my perception. The fact that this social convention exists is a real fact grounded in the psychological dispositions of real people, and is not a mere fiction.
    As for gold, we can recognize that gold has physical properties by virtue of which it takes certain shapes in response to the application of certain forces, by virtue of which it can be deformed to a great extent without breaking, by virtue of which it reflects light in the particular wavelengths it does, and by virtue of which its surface can be polished in particular ways. Some of these physical properties, and the usefulness of these properties for various human ends, are responsible for gold’s value as a commodity. But the point is that these sources of gold’s market value are not the chief properties determining its market value. The market value of gold also reflects gold’s conventional use as money.
    Here’s a good bibliography on the nature of conventions:
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/convention/

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  6. questions says:

    Dan, you write:
    “Questions, while I think I know what you are getting at, when you put it this way you are conceding way too much. The value of our currency is not a fiction. Its value is demonstrated every day by the frequency with which that currency is exchanged, and the manifest market demand for it. How much people value something is revealed in the market by how much they are willing to give away in exchange for it.”
    And this is precisely my point. It’s only that we socially and together have agreed to this that there’s any there there. Like marriage, responsibility, non-murderousness, humane decency, driving on one side of the road or the other, it’s all based on a social agreement that has underlying it mere convention and nothing Platonically Form-like or thing-in-itselfy or formed matter-ish or any of the other things people have come up with to grant a REAL status to something other than mere perception.
    Gold appears to be solid and so gold is attractive as a means of exchange. But its solidity, too, is social convention.
    It’s frightening for some, near as I can tell, that so much rests on social agreement rather than on a deity or immutable laws of nature or Euclidean geometry or Newtonian physics. When the scientific revolutions hit, people freak at the sudden unrealness of things, the alternative frameworks for each. When Darwin hit, poets started worrying about the end of human kind because of evolution.
    When money becomes clearly a social fiction, those who measure themselves in the solidity of money freak at the relative or conventional nature of it.
    We, many of us, keep wanting real framworks, real simplicity, real rules of conduct and belief, and then some dumb academic or politician somewhere makes it all relative and we freak.
    It’s an interesting dialectic to follow, and it clarifies a lot of social anxiety, even if it’s an imperfect model and has some problems around the edges.
    Thanks by the way for the post. There’s definitely some new “stuff” for me to think about. I’m very taken by the notion of “money” and all the things that can count as “money.” The minute I try to get practical and memorize a graph, I fall back into conceptual fun!

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  7. Dan Kervick says:

    “Money is a fiction, its value is a fiction. The value of gold is a fiction. Our entire value system is, well, fictional. It’s pretty funky when you get down to it. Unless you hang out on fringe websites, I guess, in which case it’s scary instead.”
    Questions, while I think I know what you are getting at, when you put it this way you are conceding way too much. The value of our currency is not a fiction. Its value is demonstrated every day by the frequency with which that currency is exchanged, and the manifest market demand for it. How much people value something is revealed in the market by how much they are willing to give away in exchange for it.
    But what I think you are getting at is this: The gold bugs sometimes seem to be under the impression that the market value of gold is due primarily to its “intrinsic value”, or at least to its instrumental value as a commodity and a factor in production. This is a mistake. It is true that, monetary value aside, gold possesses more industrial value than paper. But the majority of gold’s market value rests on the same phenomena that produce the market value of paper currency: the market demand for gold is based primarily on the fact that gold is a traditional form of money. The desire to possess gold is driven primarily by the possessor’s expectation that in some near or distant term, they will be able to exchange it for something else
    The fact that gold’s value consists primarily in its exchange value – i.e. its monetary value – is revealed by the fact that gold’s market price fluctuated wildly, and in a dependent relation to other forms of money that are traded.
    Ultimately, there is no absolutely sharp distinction between commodities and monies. For almost everything that can be traded, there are some people who desire that thing as something to be consumed; some who desire it as a factor in production; and others who desire it so that they can trade it for something else. If someone wants something solely for the sake of exchange for something else, then they are treating that thing as money.
    And there is nothing whose value consists solely in its exchange value. Even paper can be used to stuff pillows, or used as tinder in fires. The things we call money are those things for which the market value consists primarily and *almost entirely* in their exchange value. The overwhelmingly predominant factor in people’s desire to possess it is the expected value they assign to it for the sake of future exchanges. That exchange value is not a fiction; it is real. But it is a value that resides in human customs and practices and the reasonable estimates we make about the durability of those customs.
    A fiat currency is more stable than a form of money whose exchange value is determined mainly by convention and market factors, like gold, or upon the faith and credit that resides in privately issued notes of various kinds, gold-backed or not. That’s because a fiat currency is more strictly governed by law and the power of government. Governments can establish a currency as legal tender, and require us to pay our taxes in it. It’s not a fiction that I have to pay my taxes, and it is not a fiction that I need dollars to do it.
    The fact that the strength and stability of a fiat currency is an expression of the power and stability of a government seems to underlie the libertarian aversion to fiat currency. Since they hate government, they hate the stable currency whose market power is underpinned by the power of government.
    If the chief form of currency in some place is gold, or notes backed by promises for gold on demand, then the supply and stability of that currency are moved out of the hands of democratic government, and into the hands of whomever has the capital and capacity to extract gold from the ground and refine it. That’s not a good thing for people who care about both democratic government and monetary stability.

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  8. questions says:

    Random walk down some street….
    Anyone ever look at taxation and opportunity costs? At the risk of encountering the wrath of drew for asking others to do my research for me!! it occurs to me that tax rate issues across classes might have some dimension of opportunity cost thinking.
    If a moderate income person has to pay more in taxes, that person might lose a vacation or some restaurant meals. Nothing terrible, terribly large, or death-causing.
    An incredibly high earner (hedge fund type) would lose not so much a hundred million in cash, but all that the hundred million would spawn as an investment tool. The opportunity costs must sting every time a successful investor pays out an extra penny, even. Every penny in the hands of a hedge fund is, like, a shit-ton of money.
    On the bottom end of the economy, every tax penny is a calorie of food or heat or a watt of electricity for light.
    The tax code seems to help people at the bottom and at the top avoid significant opportunity costs while hitting the middle where there aren’t such, ummm, costly costs.
    Maybe this is why billionaires pay lower rates than their secretaries?
    The love of money is a curious thing.
    If anyone has a link to an article that formalizes this a little more (or debunks it), I’d be interested.

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  9. questions says:

    I think the currency issue is some kind of odd fantasy that GOLD is REAL. And the currency has to be REAL because paper money is fake and we can’t build reality on the fake….
    The supply of gold is limited to what we can mine, and as we reach limits on what we can mine, gold’s scarcity will drive up prices anyway and people will simply do without until they come up with a substitute like barter.
    Note the potential mining/land use disasters if the gold standard comes back, by the way. It could get pretty ugly out there.
    Scarcity of commodities will push inflation no matter what, and the poor or ungolded will simply suffer more as the gov’t won’t be able to hand out dollars. The gov’t can hand out commodities instead, I suppose. And then those commodities become the new currency?
    I have read nothing by reasonable-sounding economists arguing that the gold standard is any kind of reasonable idea.
    Money is a fiction, its value is a fiction. The value of gold is a fiction. Our entire value system is, well, fictional. It’s pretty funky when you get down to it. Unless you hang out on fringe websites, I guess, in which case it’s scary instead.
    We are social creatures, and our values are determined socially. Our good is determined socially. Our luck for good or ill is determined socially. It’s kind of funky to be in the world WITH other people.

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  10. Dan Kervick says:

    “A steadily devaluing currency, which no economist would assert is not the result of fiat currency, only reduces the value of the fixed payments made to the needy, also an observation that no economist of left or right would dispute.”
    I think you are very wrong about this. There is no logical connection between a fiat currency and steady devaluation of that currency. The currency should only become devalued if the government allows the supply of it to increase at a greater pace than the production of real goods and services in the economy. If the central bank manages the money supply reasonably well, it gets price stability.
    Now usually, we do get modest inflation most of the time, a deliberate policy based partly on the view that deflation is more dangerous than inflation. If social welfare social welfare programs were indeed based on fixed nominal payments, this gradual inflation would be a problem, but in fact these payments are indexed to inflation.
    Inflation can occur with any kind of money, even monies that are privately issued or conventional rather than supported by government fiat.

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  11. questions says:

    So drew, since I don’t know the difference between a chronic condition and an acute incident, tell me what the difference is in this scenario….
    You’re going along fine in life and you get hit by a stray bullet and you need trauma surgery to put you back together. And you need rehab for a while.
    You’re going along fine in life and SUDDENLY you fucking have, say, diabetes.
    You had neither condition previously. You weren’t chronically ill and needing treatment for the rest of your life, you weren’t acutely bleeding to death on the sidewalk and needing some serious trauma surgery and reconstructive surgery and rehab, and the complications that go with the deal.
    So we should be able to buy insurance that deals with the first situation — sudden gun shot wound — and not the second situation — sudden diabetes?
    What do you do about sudden genetic disasters like Type 1 diabetes or lupus or Huntington’s or Alzheimer’s?
    These are chronic conditions that aren’t surgery/immediate emergency, but are just as urgent and personally disastrous and unpredictable as gun shot wounds.
    Medical disasters of all sorts hit people. Some of them have a little more predictability than others, sort of, but not all fat smokers get diabetes, lung cancer, emphysema, or the like. So there’s a limit to the predictability. Well visits help catch some of this, and it is thought to make some financial sense to cover some well care in some situations. I’m not making it up or being as ignorant as you seem to think I am.
    But, as Socrates notes somewhere (Meno?), if you describe me, you are really asking for me to describe you. So I’ll oblige. You seem to have been mightily affected by a brush with death and you have decided that that personal brush was caused by socialist Canadian medicine and you have become quite conservative as a result. You have convinced yourself that the only reason you had that experience is that you personally weren’t in control of what money could buy you. Had you had the personal control of your money in a system that honors your money, you could have purchased a better result.
    I think in a lot of ways, this is the dominant conservative fantasy. If one merely controls all that one earns, and if one never pays taxes into the system, never has one’s labor stolen by the government, then one can forestall death.
    But it doesn’t really work that way. We actually do need to work together in cooperative and mildly self-sacrificing ways.
    But clearly you don’t see it this way.
    And as for the currency issue, so far as I can tell in my limited and ignorant way… every time a bank makes a loan, it increases the amount of money in the system. Credit creates money. The lack of credit destroys money. A lot of “money” was destroyed in the credit crunch. We aren’t going to get much inflation for quite some time unless it’s related to commodity speculation or real shortages from global warming or peak oil. There’s not enough economic activity right now for there to be inflationary pressure. And a little inflation is good for some people, even if not good for hoarders. It’s a tradeoff that needs to be made sometimes.
    Your compassion at the end of the previous post is off key.

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  12. drew says:

    A steadily devaluing currency, which no economist would assert is
    not the result of fiat currency, only reduces the value of the fixed
    payments made to the needy, also an observation that no
    economist of left or right would dispute.
    If we care about the people who depend on social insurance, we
    need to care about the integrity of the currency we use to palliate
    the needy.

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  13. Dan Kervick says:

    “One must balance and match capital resources and future liabilities. In this regard there is no arithmetic difference whatsoever between a private and a public insurance contract. Money is just money, and claims and obligations are paid with money that first must be earned and
    accumulated.”
    Drew. No, I don’t think this is quite correct. The spending of the United States government is not financed entirely out of money it “raises” via tax revenues and borrowing. Nor should it be. The US government has another tool at its disposal that is not available to a firm or a household or a bank: it is the issuer of a sovereign fiat currency. Therefore, it can spend new money directly into circulation. The only constraint on this practice is that the money creation not be sharply inflationary.
    My point isn’t that growth might run ahead of projections. My point was that even if growth runs entirely according to projections, the US government can run permanent deficits at reasonable levels; and therefore some – but not all – of the deficit hysteria of recent months is overblown.
    On growth, yes we certainly need more of it. The private financial system has proven itself in practice to be a generally very useful but highly imperfect mechanism for allocating financial capital for production and innovation. We have seen that the system wastes huge amounts of resources in charging excessive fees for financial mediation, and also in running various schemes to attract imprudent gamblers and just plain suckers into highly speculative and Ponzi investment. The public needs to take more direct action to restart the engines of economic growth.

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  14. drew says:

    questions, you’re wasting your keystrokes. You demonstrate that
    you don’t know anything about insurance, and that you sure don’t
    know anything about planes, and that you don’t even know the
    difference between a chronic medical condition and a catastrophic
    injury, in the context of securing a risk contract against future
    illness and morbidity.
    You just have no idea what you’re talking about, and it’s not even
    entertaining to discuss your inability to think metaphorically. In the
    end, you libel anyone who displays any knowledge that you haven’t
    earned. I’m simply unable to take you seriously. You need to find
    someone else to argue with, or get used to talking to yourself in a
    public forum.

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  15. questions says:

    drew writes:
    “I buy insurance on my plane in case I wreck
    it. I do not get “free” routine maintenance as a component of
    that contract, such as an oil change.”
    But you probably could get a maintenance contract on your plane and get “free” oil changes that you paid for in advance.
    And the market likely has some system for dealing with such things.
    But it’s not something that makes a lot of sense as a broad service because 1)people who have planes have a lot of money and can afford to get that oil changed 2)oil changes aren’t that expensive anyway (30 bucks or so for a car, probably a little more for a plane.) 3)If you destroy your plane’s engine, you don’t generally take down a bunch of people in an epidemic, though if you crash it, you can do some serious damage, so you probably have to carry insurance against that.
    BUT, health care isn’t planes, and the deterrent of co-pays has been found to be a significant barrier for some people. That barrier keeps people out of the system and compromises the health and expense accounts of the rest of us. We pay in communicable disease rates, and we pay in the form of higher medical expenses for uncompensated care that is handed out humanely. Better to capture what we can, to keep health care money in the health care system, and to take advantage of the younger and healthier among us.
    By the way, drew’s health disaster in Canada is, dare I say, a pre-existing condition that could have led to rescission under the pre-ACA world. And the rescissions come when the insurance company becomes aware of you. The awareness comes when you make a claim. The claim is rejected. Not so good. Especially after all those years of making payments.

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  16. questions says:

    Yeah, pre-paid health care vs insurance…. If only those non-oil changing people among us could just, I don’t know, get themselves to the doctor and pay cash — that they don’t have — for treatments that they think they should have for free….
    If only we could ration health care based on ability to change oil….
    If only people could find insurance plans, regardless of the deductible, that didn’t kick them off for daring to make a claim! (Well, pre-ACA, that is.)
    Some people with emergency conditions in the US also wait a long time in the ER, and delay going in at all for lack of money, and people die, almost die, and get pretty close to almost dying in the United States for lack of a co-pay or the ability to take time off work to get in to see a doctor, or because the insurance they carry is junk insurance and doesn’t cover what ails them, or because they get kicked off the plan or can’t sign up for one at all…..
    The pre-ACA rationing system was inhumane. We’ll see what happens now.

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  17. drew says:

    Dan, I just wanted to add that I believe that you are making an
    extremely important point about growth: economic growth,
    today more than ever (because of our national debt and the
    obligations we sustain under our social insurance model) may be
    the single most important factor in our remaining a free country.
    It’s certainly more important than our Post WWII global military
    infrastructure.
    If we don’t grow our way out of this mess, as we did in
    overcoming the Reagan deficits in the 1990′s, the ChiComms
    will just own our ass.
    There is an old cliche in business that once you are into your
    banker for a large enough sum, he’s no longer a lender, he’s a
    partner. I think the Chinese are too smart to let us coopt them
    into being a ‘partner’: they’re going to go on a capital/lending
    strike unless we stop printing money. Ironically, it is the
    communists who may refute the Keynesian model before its
    enthusiasts (those in your camp) do. That puts me in the ironic
    position of being the hard-money advocate who depends on
    communists to save the government fisc.

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  18. drew says:

    Dan, I certainly agree that if growth outstrips current
    projections, the current, actuarially-unsound social insurance
    programs may be sustained. If a person believes in a safety net
    and social insurance that is government-directed, then one
    cannot pretend that the original insurance financial economic
    model was wrong. It was not wrong. One must balance and
    match capital resources and future liabilities. In this regard there
    is no arithmetic difference whatsoever between a private and a
    public insurance contract. Money is just money, and claims and
    obligations are paid with money that first must be earned and
    accumulated.
    I disagree that fiat currency policies do not steal from producers
    and savers, because if one measures the dollar against any hard
    commodity, that clearly is not the case. I won’t convince you of
    that, I understand, but I think the global welfare state crisis (i.e.,
    the current crisis in western economies, from the Mediterranean,
    to the UK and Ireland, to our own tower of debt that will
    consume more in interest payments in less than 10 years, than
    we spend on national defense) is a poor argument for continuing
    the Post-WWII Keynesian fiscal policies of the west.
    Nadine, thanks for pointing out the difference between pre-paid
    medical care, and medical insurance, which is a contract to
    protect against risk. I buy insurance on my plane in case I wreck
    it. I do not get “free” routine maintenance as a component of
    that contract, such as an oil change.
    I find that, in applying this same approach to my health
    insurance needs, that my health insurance contract is very
    affordable. IOW, I don’t pay $900 per month for my small family,
    because I carry a high deductible and I pay cash as a consumer
    for routine health maintenance. Most health plans are just pre-
    paid medical care, including self-maintenance as well as an
    insurance contract against illness and injury.
    Anyone who has nearly died, as I did, being routed through three
    different clinics before I could get emergency surgery in Canada
    a few years ago — a 24 hour queuing and qualification process,
    while I sat with a pneumothorax and multiple rib fractures, in
    one waiting room after another with 30 people with the sniffles -
    - is probably going to be very skeptical about the notion of
    conflating insurance and pre-paid care that is “free”.
    But a person, independent of that sort of personal experience,
    would have to know the difference between insurance and pre-
    paid expense reimbursement for routine health maintenance, in
    order to know what we are talking about. That may be too much
    to ask of a significant portion of the country. Anything that is
    “free” immediately becomes scarce; anything that is rationed
    immediately becomes scarcer.
    I don’t think that there is anything mysterious about suggesting
    that everything associated with personal health care be paid for
    by other people, but the general discussion wouldn’t be so
    puerile if people, discovering an ability to think their way out of a
    paper bag, just said that. Obviously Americans badly want an
    improved and more efficient health care infrastructure. This is
    the dominant issue in American public life now, obviously, and
    the dominant majority seems to have made its preference very
    clear two months ago.

    Reply

  19. questions says:

    nadine,
    Obama is doing nothing of the sort. The ACA IS insurance. We all pay in. If we cannot afford to pay in, we get subsidies. There’s a very strong logic to the thinking that underlies the structure of ACA.
    It’s humane to provide emergency care, and it’s totally self-serving to have public health for communicable diseases. We want ALL kids vaccinated so that OUR kids don’t get measles. We want ALL adults to have tuberculosis treatment access so that we don’t get TB. And we want people with hypertension to be treated so that they don’t leave orphans around for us to deal with. See, there’s a selfish side to this. And I suppose you can toss in the idea that bankruptcies are pretty socially costly too. So we should try to have structures that avoid widespread health cost-related bankruptcies.
    Given that we want people to have access to health care, we need insurance systems.
    Our pre-ACA insurance system worked well enough for people whose employers provided access, and it worked horribly for anyone on the individual market. This is market failure 101. There’s a service that people needed and that the market refused to supply. There are adverse selection issues in the individual market that pretty much guarantee failure.
    Still, we want people insured for our own selfish good, for humane good, and because the burdens of illness can fall quite unpredictably on just about anyone.
    So we provide health insurance opportunities for all. BUT adverse selection creeps in anyway. So we mandate coverage to deal with both adverse selection and the risk takers among us whom we’d treat in the ER anyway.
    If you have chance of needing emergency or communicable disease treatment (that’s all of us), you pay for it.
    If you can’t afford the risk hedging (which is certainly the case for some people), then we subsidize the coverage. You’re still putting something in, and so you’re taking some responsibility for your treatment, and you’re getting subsidies as well.
    Makes sense to me.
    drew’s remark about oil change suggests that the only people who will ever benefit from this system are those who refuse any kind of self care. They are fat smokers who, apparently, according to drew, deserve their fate.
    I don’t see the world that way, but even if I were to see it that way, I should still realize a couple of things: I could actually become a fat smoker (it happens to a lot of people for a lot of reasons), I could get a communicable disease from all those fat smokers, or I could suffer from and have to pay for all the orphaned children of all those irresponsible fat smokers out there. So probably it would be better for me to pay for the beta blockers and smoker cessation programs, and maybe even subsidize gym or community center memberships so that I don’t have a bunch of fat smoker fat children fatly being fat and sickly….. (See what happens with the oil change metaphor?)
    The ACA has a logic to it that should appeal to the more market driven among us, that should appeal to those non-fat-non-smokers like drew who will never personally need insurance subsidies because he’s incapable of losing his job and access to the group market, or he’s happy to drop on the hospital ramp rather than seek unreimbursed care.
    It’s not a government takeover, it’s a subsidy system that works to fix a significant market failure.
    Remember, hedging health care is a good idea, and the market was not providing the means for doing so, and was completely captured by adverse selection.

    Reply

  20. Dan Kervick says:

    Drew, governments are not corporations and they are not households, and that’s why the accounting rules that apply to corporations and households don’t apply to governments. A government like the US, that issues its own currency, can engage in deficit spending – spending in excess of tax revenues – that is not financed by borrowing, but is instead financed by money creation. The United States government has run a deficit throughout most periods in its history. Yet that doesn’t mean that our fiscal position has been constantly degrading. The deficit never has to be fully balanced by corresponding surpluses at a later time, because some of the deficit is due to the issuing of money at levels corresponding to increases in the production of goods and services.
    I would like to see the balance sheets you have prepared for all of the governments you claim are bankrupt, and how you have determined the assets and liabilities of these governments.
    There are practical limits to the amount of money the government can create without generating severe inflation. But as long as the increase in the money supply stays roughly in line with increases in the national product, our government can engage in deficit spending indefinitely. During periods of contraction and stagnation, when the private sector is heavily indebted and forced into high savings to pay off obligations, we should want the government to run higher than usual deficits. If the public sector is not in deficit that the private sector will be.
    Whether we are able to meet our future obligations depends only on how much we can grow. It is a mistake to think our children are necessarily going to be forced to run massive surpluses through onerous taxation in order to meet entitlement payout schedules that run ahead of projected tax revenues. They will only be forced to choose between high taxes and canceling government spending obligations of we are not able to restore growth.

    Reply

  21. Motorola Cliq XT says:

    Great post, thanks for sharing.
    Really appreciated.

    Reply

  22. nadine says:

    “It makes a great deal of sense to hedge health care. Health care is a “black swan” after a fashion. One never expects a crisis nor predicts it, but we must all be ready anyway, as we will have to pay for the crisis.” (questions)
    That’s quite true, questions. There is this great concept called “insurance” designed to do just that. However, Obama is trying to replace insurance with an unsustainable centralized rationing scheme.

    Reply

  23. questions says:

    Ok, here’s a link on costs and benefits.
    http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp0708558
    It makes a nuanced case about what treatments and interventions pay off and which ones don’t.
    No blanket statements here.
    Of course, I don’t know what I’m talking about! And I make other people do my research for me!
    At any rate, one cannot make a statement across all cases regarding costs. And of course, it’s clear that we’re most of us going to be pretty expensive on our death beds, so treating the high blood pressure just preserves us for cancer later! Woohoo!
    On the other hand, delaying morbidity and mortality long enough to get kids raised, jobs worked, pensions and mortgages dealt with, creativity added to the universe…. It’s all to the good. And doing so via the mandate so that everyone is paying in to the system and not just sucking out from it makes sense.
    drew’s oil change metaphor notwithstanding (really vile statement, by the way — I certainly hope you know precisely what kind of “oil” you have and nothing unpredictable ever happens to you…) the fact is that there are a few things we can do with risk. We can privatize it and let people suffer from horrific events; we can socialize it completely and encourage risk takers to avoid responsibility and still have their risk cared for (ER services); or we can do this muddle middle thing that the ACA does which is to mandate that the responsibility for modifying risk is shared between beneficiaries and the larger society.
    It makes a great deal of sense to hedge health care. Health care is a “black swan” after a fashion. One never expects a crisis nor predicts it, but we must all be ready anyway, as we will have to pay for the crisis.

    Reply

  24. nadine says:

    questions, preventative care has been extensively studied. It saves lives, but it costs money. The savings in early treatment for the one patient in ten thousand, or hundred thousand, whose disease is caught early does NOT offset, let alone exceed, the cost of giving the screening test to the other ten or one hundred thousand.

    Reply

  25. nadine says:

    Social Security just flipped to cash flow negative…not to mention the unfunded liabilities.

    Reply

  26. drew says:

    Paul,
    Germany is broke on any npv, actuarial basis.
    I *knew* someone would assert this, and it’s why all of these
    western societies with their government-teat policies are broke -
    - because people are financially illiterate, and confuse current
    cash flow with a viable balance sheet. Germany is broke already.
    Just like the USA is bankrupt. If the USA were a corporation, if
    Germany were a corporation, both would already be in
    bankruptcy and both would be restructuring their unfunded
    liabilities.
    –drew

    Reply

  27. drew says:

    questions, you should really save the keystrokes. I won’t respond
    to you, because you very rarely have any idea what you’re talking
    about, and you are the unique sort of person who, when she is
    proven to be ignorant on a subject, says, “So educate me then, do
    my work for me.”
    I will say that if people don’t want to pay for their oil changes, in
    the longterm it’s pointless to purchase collision and liability. I
    doubt you will understand that though. And arguing with you is
    like arguing with a child. There’s no point.

    Reply

  28. Paul Norheim says:

    Try Germany, Drew.

    Reply

  29. drew says:

    Hey, Dan, cool. So name one? Name one post-WWII social welfare
    state with more than 50 million citizens that is not broke. Just one?
    France? Germany? UK? Japan?
    If GAAP accounting rules were applied to governments, as they are
    applied to businesspeople, there would be a lot of politicians and
    civil servants in jail for accounting fraud.
    Anyway, I’d love to stop working and be taken care of for all my
    born days by other people (who are working). I just need your
    advice as to where I should move, because evidently you know
    where I should move, if I wish for other people to take care of me,
    instead of my taking care of other people.

    Reply

  30. questions says:

    drew writes:
    “As a small government sort, capable of telling the difference
    between pre-paid medical care and an insurance policy that
    protects my family from major accidents and dread diseases, I
    truly hope that the Democratic Party proceeds on this path of
    disregarding the outcome of the most recent election.”
    So, drew, what’s the difference between pre-paid medical care that diagnoses, oh, I dunno, maybe high blood pressure, and catastrophic coverage that deals with the kidney and heart problems, the inevitable stroke and rehab?
    Oh, yeah, price.
    If you catch things early, you save on some of that high priced catastrophic shit that happens.
    Oh, and there are all those orphans and grieving people whose parent or spouse keels over at work one day… or whose parent or spouse is on disability one day….
    There is a clear line from:
    It’s humane to treat emergencies
    to
    It’s cheaper to prevent emergencies
    to
    Let’s just cover health care because we cannot know in advance what’s going to happen to any of us, and we can’t all afford our own half-million dollar strokes…..

    Reply

  31. Dan Kervick says:

    “What you are describing is not insurance at all, but welfare. It is utterly unsustainable.”
    Social welfare programs are sustainable. Many countries have run them in the black for years, even with the temporary stresses and strains of the business cycle and recessions.
    What you mean is that they are not sustainable without a funding source that continually redistributes wealth from the few to the many.

    Reply

  32. drew says:

    As a small government sort, capable of telling the difference
    between pre-paid medical care and an insurance policy that
    protects my family from major accidents and dread diseases, I
    truly hope that the Democratic Party proceeds on this path of
    disregarding the outcome of the most recent election.
    I mean, after you lose worse than anyone has lost in 70 years,
    over one dominant issue, cognitive dissonance as an effective
    strategy seems somewhat lacking.
    It would seem that self-identified liberal Democrats don’t
    understand that they represent 20% of the voting population.
    Therefore, not able to believe that they represent 20% of the
    population, they assert that it doesn’t matter, because they
    represent 90% of the media and academic communities, plus the
    legacy union movement. This will be true the moment we
    disenfranchise anyone who makes a payroll, does not belong to
    a legacy union, or is not just sitting on his ass doing nothing
    collecting welfare. It’s a brilliant electoral strategy. Yay.
    Now, I want to go back to discussing Palin bending over, and
    what is she wearing when she does so? Is that a semi-auto in
    her garter, or a little pocket revolver? Why is Palin so
    maddening? She’s sexier than Madonna. (She’s certainly sexier
    than Cher, who reminds me of Andrew Sullivan, before my head
    hurts at the association.) Think about it.

    Reply

  33. nadine says:

    Some other recent polls on Obamacare:
    Rasmussen Reports* 1/15 – 1/16 1000 LV 40 55 Against/Oppose +15
    CNN/Opinion Research* 1/14 – 1/16 1014 A 42 50 Against/Oppose +8
    ABC News/Wash Post 1/13 – 1/16 1053 A 45 50 Against/Oppose +5
    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/obama_and_democrats_health_care_plan-1130.html

    Reply

  34. nadine says:

    “And here’s hoping that Obama’s regulatory reform is real. ” (questions)
    Of course it’s not real, questions. Don’t be silly. Obama’s regulatory reform serves the same purpose as Obama’s now-forgotten deficit commission – to deflect criticism from Obama’s unprecedented and profligate INCREASE in both the deficit and regulations. Obamacare creates over 150 new bureaucracies just by itself.

    Reply

  35. nadine says:

    “”What does that add up to? Gibberish.”
    Could be. But that didn’t prevent you earlier from deducing a fanciful political conclusion from the results.” (Dan Kervick)
    I did not – I simply read the poll numbers from last October to now and noted that contrary to the Huffpo’s claims, the movement in positions was slight. The poll also oversampled Democrats, if you care to compare the poll’s party breakdown to the latest Pew party self-identification results.
    “The thing is, majorities seems to support the major provisions of the law mandating universal insurance, requiring insurance companies to pay out an adequate portion of premiums as care, and refusing exceptions for pre-existing conditions”
    Hey, I support your paying me a pension for the rest of my life. Will you do that for me, Dan? What you are describing is not insurance at all, but welfare. It is utterly unsustainable. It is no benefit to set up a system that will immediately fasce the choice between crashing like a busted Ponzi scheme or be forced to impose draconian rationing.
    “The Tea Party is also going to end up with more egg on their faces when the country is reminded that the law is scored as reducing the deficit, which is supposedly job one for the Tea Party folks. It will just add more fuel to the growing perception that the Tea Party is 90% incoherent rant and 10% rationality.”
    Now, now, Dan. I know the DNC is pushing this line, but I really have to warn you against drinking your own Kool-aide here.
    The CBO has to score what it is given to score. If it is given a bill to score that assumes Medicare will be cut by $500 Billion (which it won’t be), and that the $500 will be used to fund Obamacare not just once but twice (it’s double-counted in the bill), then the CBO must score it that way. If the bill assumes the doc-fix won’t be passed and docs will treat Obamacare patients at a loss, then the CBO has to score it that way. The doc-fix has already been passed, so that’s already history. Best of all, if the bill tells the CBO to score 10 years of tax revenues against only 6 years of benefits paid out (isn’t that a neat trick?), then that is just what the CBO must score and did score.
    Which is how the CBO came to the absurd conclusion that a bill which will add 2 to 3 Trillion to the next 10 years’ federal deficit would actually save money. In short, it wasn’t the CBO’s fault.
    The Tea Partiers understand this, Dan. Tea Partiers can generally read a balance sheet, even if the Democratic Establishment has forgotten how. Matter of fact, if there is one skill set that makes you a Republican these days, it is some basic understanding of economics. If you understand that, you understand that the Tea Party’s demands are quite consistent and coherent. But if you believe in Democratic make-believe cook-the-books economics, then you think the Tea Partiers are irrational.

    Reply

  36. questions says:

    Insurance companies want the mandate. To the extent that lobbying has significant effects, the mandate will stay. To the extent that the status quo is powerful, the mandate will stay. To the extent that noisy subgroups can bargain to have the mandate waived via some other provision, the mandate will stay and will come with a pressure valve to deal with the most intense opposers.
    The Republicans need to play up the base as they all fear being primaried from the right. There will be lots of huffing and puffing to satisfy the right. Probably not a lot of successes, but a lot of huffing for sure.
    And note that the Tea Party, like most groups, has incoherent and/or inconsistent desires and a high tolerance for cognitive dissonance. They want freedom, low taxes, emergency room access, police, garbage pick up and the like. They want the programs and not the payments for those programs. If a few political boundaries really go full Tea Party, the dissolution of services will turn out to be pretty unpleasant and there will be a market correction eventually. People will wake up as if from a fever and not quite realize how foolish they were to believe that X was going to save them.
    Note that Erick Erickson of Redstate fame got himself elected to the Macon, GA city council and is leaving a year early so that he can take a better-paying more fun job on the radio in Atlanta.
    http://www.macon.com/2011/01/06/1399941/erickson-to-quit-macon-city-council.html
    See, it’s not a lot of fun to do the work of making government small and workable. Better to be a mouth on the radio than a shirtsleeves rolled up actual politician actually fixing what ails us one city at a time, which is the only real way to do it….
    Note also that Esquire has up apparently a readable piece on Roger Ailes. Haven’t read it yet. Salon has the link up.
    And here’s hoping that Obama’s regulatory reform is real. Layers of regulation build up like barnacles and should be scraped occasionally, but it should be done by good technocrats who understand the point of data, the reasonableness of the regulatory state, the rightness of some compromises between efficiency and fairness and safety, an appreciation for the rightful place of the precautionary principle and the realization that utilitarian trade offs should not be made without the people’s consent. Please, dear regulator-rationalizers, read your Rawls!

    Reply

  37. Dan Kervick says:

    “What does that add up to? Gibberish.”
    Could be. But that didn’t prevent you earlier from deducing a fanciful political conclusion from the results.
    Since a majority of the country supported a public option throughout the health care debate, I’m betting the bulk of the 42% who want the law to be changed to do more consist of public option supporters. Just an educated guess.
    The thing is, majorities seems to support the major provisions of the law mandating universal insurance, requiring insurance companies to pay out an adequate portion of premiums as care, and refusing exceptions for pre-existing conditions. So if people want to oppose the mandate, fine. They will need to come up with an alternative funding source in that case. Because none of the sensible group in Congress has any intention of unwinding the very popular core parts of the law.
    The Tea Party is also going to end up with more egg on their faces when the country is reminded that the law is scored as reducing the deficit, which is supposedly job one for the Tea Party folks. It will just add more fuel to the growing perception that the Tea Party is 90% incoherent rant and 10% rationality.
    Maybe the Republicans should back the public option after all. Without the mandate, which is unpopular, t’s probably the only way of driving costs down far enough to pay for the stuff that most Americans seem to want. The Republicans can even make political points against Obama by passing the public option while criticizing him for trading it away to Big Pharma.

    Reply

  38. DonS says:

    Not to clutter the brandwidth too much, but I was trying to find something I could stand listening to tonight while I was cooking dinner and settled on Ry Cooder. So, here, I looked up a couple of you tubes to throw in: I hadn’t heard this “Good Night Irene” before, though I love the song:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gASQ1_HEEHA&p=989585A7C651E8F9
    And this “How can a poor man stand such times and live” might be from the same concert, and has some soulful guitar work:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6efQ_GyQW3o
    Good night.

    Reply

  39. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “And why are you people so pissed off about everything all the time?”
    Do you really need to ask that on a thread that underscores the fact that we live in a nation where someone like Sarah fuckin’ Palin is actually paraded before us as being viable Presidential stock?
    Its a choice between anger or deep depression, and I’ve always kinda figured flippin’ someone the bird beats the shit outta suicide.
    That reminds me. Can a roo swim? Jus’ curious, is all.

    Reply

  40. nadine says:

    “Hmm… so 62% of respondents think that the new health care law is either good as it is or didn’t go far enough in changing the health care system.
    36% think that the law should either be repealed or changed so that it does less to change the system. Pro-repeal respondents down from 31% to 26%.” (Dan Kervick)
    Yes, but without specifying what kind of change, the question becomes meaningless. You have just added the numbers of those who would prefer a single payer system to those who want tort reform and freedom to buy insurance across state lines. What does that add up to? Gibberish.

    Reply

  41. DonS says:

    And one of the earlier, gritier version by the almanac singers (including at times Lee Hays, Pete Seeger, Woodie Guthrie)
    http://wn.com/I_Don%27t_Want_Your_Millions_Almanac_Singers

    Reply

  42. Dan Kervick says:

    Speaking of Willy Nelson (and friends):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Zdm985zUP0

    Reply

  43. Paul Norheim says:

    Hi Ross, take a look at this thread:
    http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/2011/01/salman_taseer_a/#comments
    from “Posted by PissedOffAmerican, Jan 16 2011, 7:24PM…” and downwards – especially
    the youtube-links.

    Reply

  44. Ross Sharp says:

    POA@5.10PM – That’s right, but so far, the recovery effort appears to be quite well-co-ordinated on all levels (so far). “A heck of a job”, one might say … By the way, next time New Orleans floods, give us a wave, we’ll be right over and onto it … We’ll leave your guys to hang out at Fatburger and scratch themselves for a few days while we fix it all up for you.
    And why are you people so pissed off about everything all the time?* It’s all rather strange** and it must be bloody exhausting … Why not just set out on the porch with a quiet beer and have a whittle of somethin’ for a whiles? Listen to some Willie Nelson tunes or whatever. Or watch Ricky Gervais host the Golde … um, well, maybe not.***
    *Rhetorical question only – I have to work and I suspect the answer would take so long, I’d be retired and on a pension by the time it finished.
    **We’re very sorry about Rupert, but if it’s any consolation you’ve had your revenge by giving the world umpteen seasons of “Two and a Half Men”. Thanks a whole bunch for that.
    ***This comment is meant to be read in a light tone, and should not be interpreted with any serious intent. I think more comments need to come with disclaimers. The internet doesn’t do tone very well, and I’ll be damned if I’ll resort to emoticons. Cheers.

    Reply

  45. samuelburke says:

    so whats the difference between these retards and the ones running
    our foreign policy?

    Reply

  46. MLK says:

    “MLK: humorless, eh?:
    In a “Full Metal Jacket” way, yup.

    Reply

  47. drew says:

    MLK: humorless, eh?

    Reply

  48. drew says:

    Dan K.:
    I take your point. The democratic ones cleaned up and won the
    election! Yay.
    That’s so great.

    Reply

  49. MLK says:

    Ross didn’t ask.

    Reply

  50. drew says:

    Ross in Brisbane, sorry for the hellish flooding. Keep the faith.
    In regards to guns, I’d go with the Remington 870 for home
    defense, and a traditional revolver (like a .38) if you have a
    tendency to get stage fright, or a .40 semi-auto if you don’t. What
    we have learned in Iraq and Afghanispermanentstan, is that a 9 mm
    is not a one shot pistol. .40′s are.

    Reply

  51. questions says:

    More Jonathan Bernstein:
    “That’s the danger of a closed information loop, and it makes compromise impossible even if the interests represented by both sides would benefit from cutting a deal. If Republicans really believe that cutting taxes will reduce the deficit, then there’s no way they’re going to reach a budget deal with Democrats that involves spending cuts and tax increases…..”
    http://plainblogaboutpolitics.blogspot.com/2011/01/why-doc-fix-and-rest-of-cbo-fight.html
    There’s more. I’m trying to reduce the copy/paste, which is unfortunate because click-throughs are probably rarer than reads here.

    Reply

  52. Dan Kervick says:

    Hmm… so 62% of respondents think that the new health care law is either good as it is or didn’t go far enough in changing the health care system.
    36% think that the law should either be repealed or changed so that it does less to change the system. Pro-repeal respondents down from 31% to 26%.

    Reply

  53. nadine says:

    questions, here’s the pdf for the poll:
    http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com/pdf/AP-GfK%20Poll%20011411.pdf
    Total support for Obamacare 40% Total oppose 41%
    The actual change in support is about 2% – 6% from November – a period in which Obamacare has not been discussed very much. It’s not that support has increased but rather some opposition has become ‘don’t know’. Huffpo is cherry-picking questions designed to provide low numbers for repeal.
    “What would you prefer Congress do with the new health care law:
    1/5-10/11 11/3-8 10/13-18 10/13-18
    Total Total Total Likely voters
    Leave it as is 19 20 18 15
    Change it so that it does MORE to
    change the health care system 43 38 39 36
    Change it so that it does LESS to
    change the health care system 10 8 9 10
    Repeal it completely 26 31 32 37
    Don

    Reply

  54. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “As we down here can’t just wander into a Wal-Mart and buy a gun………”
    Of course not. You’ll need a boat to get in.

    Reply

  55. Ross Sharp says:

    I’m in Brisbane, Australia, and I just listened to 40 seconds of that.
    As we down here can’t just wander into a Wal-Mart and buy a gun, would one of you kind folk send me one over?
    I figure I’ve lived long enough now. 40 seconds too long. Thanks a whole bunch, cheers.

    Reply

  56. Dan Kervick says:

    “Of course the people who appear to be most fascinated with Sarah Palin are the progressive media.”
    True enough. Why all the free publicity? One of the worst offenders is Huffington Post. The only thing Arianna Huffington seems to like more than fake news stories about the tech industry are stories about Sarah’s Palin’s latest escapades.

    Reply

  57. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, having had lived on Paramount Ranch when Reagan had the horse ranch cady corner from Paramount, (corner of Las Virgenes Rd. and Mulholland), and having had many conversations with his wrangler, “Vince”, I can say that Reagan was loosing it waaaaaay before he became President. Even as Governor of California he was already exhibiting problems concentrating or holding trains of thought. It is that knowledge that robbed me of any trust I had that the inhabitant of the Oval Office was anything more than a figurehead, a puppet.
    It makes sense to use an accomplished actor to play the role of President. I mean look at this wanna be thespian currently attempting to play the part. Completely and utterly unqualified. He has totally butchered his part, and turned a believable fictional drama into a B grade bomb. They musta switched directors in the middle of this shoot. He started out with a decent grasp on the script, and gave a reasonable performance for the first couple of segments, but the plot seems to have unraveled, and Obama’s acting skills are not sufficient to carry the show.
    Palin would do a far better job. Who cares what idiotic lines she reads as long as she bends over for the cameras occassionally, and uses bright red lipstick? I’d like to see a little more ass, though, and a bit less of the facial closeups. I mean, facials aren’t supposed to be so boring, are they? Or am I missin’ something?
    Now, if they’re reaaaally interested in ratings, they should get Michelle to do a cameo appearance with Sarah. That’d garner higher ratings than the Daytona 500 with Sarah’s fans, as long as they keep any hints of “marriage” out of the script. Its fine with them, as long as its only done on film. And if its bipartisanship they wanna portray, they might wanna get Liz in there too. But don’t let daddy watch, I doubt his heart could take it.

    Reply

  58. questions says:

    Rortybomb has up a couple of pieces on technocratic thinking in the blogosphere…
    So to add to that, here’s a link to a beautifully technocratic look at the use of value added scores to rate and fire teachers. Mr. Duncan, are you out there???
    http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2010/12/13/a-few-comments-on-the-gateskane-value-added-study/
    One of my favorite notes is:
    “3) Too many of these studies, including this one, adopt the logic that value-added outcomes can be treated both as a measure of effectiveness to be investigated (independent variable) and as the true measure of effectiveness (the dependent measure). That is, this study like others evaluates the usefulness of both value added measures and other measures of teacher quality by their ability to predict future (or different group) value-added measures. Certainly, the deck is stacked in favor of value added measures under such a model. See value-added as a predictor of itself below.”
    And there are many more, such as using free/reduced price lunch as the marker for low income without noting the differences in these categories or their percentages in any one classroom. There’s something about how April to October and October to April (think school year) reading scores work with 4th graders. 4th graders who read over the summer improve a whole lot as they mature. If they don’t read over the summer, their 5th grade teachers get nailed for the lower scores. Therefore, fire the teachers for not adding value.
    There’s also a note at the end that suggests that 5-10% of teachers, those in upper elementary and middle school, who teach multiple sections of the same math class, might be rankable at some level. So let’s for sure make this our national teacher firing and union-busting and Chris Christie-ing and Arne Duncaning policy!
    Note that none of this even touches on what the hell test scores actually mean in terms of churning out functioning, intelligent, compassionate adults.
    Sometimes the technocrats know more than the pundit/mouthpiece cabinet secretaries.
    Oh, the study was done by the Gates Foundation.
    The whole piece, and the blog as a whole, are worth reading/bookmarking.

    Reply

  59. DonS says:

    Hear you drew. Totally agree (cept I’m not ‘of the left’).
    No need to lecture me on sexual stereotyping, and I won’t lecture you. But in my 67 years on the planet, much of that time pursuing the opposite sex, I know a bimbo when I see one. I’d say some of my best friends are bimbos, but there not. But some of my female friends know a bimbo when they see one too.

    Reply

  60. drew says:

    Calling Palin a “bimbo”:
    See what I mean about the left not being able to handle her
    sexuality?
    Of course, the left is friendlier to feminism than the right, far more
    progressive, would never stoop to anachronistic, sexually-charged,
    slurs against a female political competitor.

    Reply

  61. nadine says:

    “Think about that Drew. She was effectively a nothing until St. John promoted her to bimbo in chief. ”
    She was governor of Alaska, DonS. Unlike Lisa Murkowski, she didn’t do it on family connections either, but on her own. You weaken your own arguments by denying the obvious.

    Reply

  62. DonS says:

    “Obviously she is an effective politician, and will always have a constituency.”
    Think about that Drew. She was effectively a nothing until St. John promoted her to bimbo in chief. She’s probably an effective bimbo but we really don’t know that either because she keeps pretending to be a politician. Not that the two are mutually exclusive.

    Reply

  63. DonS says:

    Questions, I’m not sure if you are agreeing with me in part or not about politicians — whether intelligent or not — being phonies. (that for the young here, and there may be one, is not someone glued to a phone, but someone whose rating for authenticity as a human being sucks). I will easily grant that, being like most other semi-sentient beings, politicians are likely to be unaware of the degree of their lack of authenticity. But I think we agree that politicians mostly say what [they believe, or the polls tell them, people want to hear].
    I don’t want to argue the role of a MC — whether to simply ‘represent’ the voice of interests, or to act on logic and conscience. Edmund Burke would be discomfited, I fear, theses days [ http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch13s7.html ]. I more with Edmund than not.
    And I admit to venting a bit, though not too far from the trunk.
    But where I find little reconciliation with politics and representative government in this country is not mostly related to the process, or even the quality of politicians. It is to the spectrum of debate and the apparent spectrum of acceptable actions. For me, the Overton window has moved much too far to the right. I don’t know who all is to blame; the media; the corporations; the corrupting influence of money? I don’t even know if ‘we’ are a ‘center right’ nation like the media love to tell us. And I’m not even a wool-dyed leftist; basically apolitical. But what I do see being proposed, debated and produced in large part reflects a narrowness and meanness of spirit. And if, as you say, the system works fine, and MC’s do what they need to do, I say a plague on all their houses.

    Reply

  64. questions says:

    drew, did you not read the excerpts from Ron Jr’s book? Or do you think Reagan’s son is lying to drum up sales or something?

    Reply

  65. drew says:

    Linda, I really couldn’t take Reagan at the time: the sound of his
    voice, his meandering, extemporaneous speaking style, the joke
    about starting the bombing of Russia in five minutes, the
    bombing run on Libya: I had Reagan derangement syndrome.
    My comment about his modest beginnings and education was
    facetious. (Today we see Obama celebrated by our cognitive
    elite, and his Ivy background contrasted with Palin’s state school
    past, and tut tut tut.) But as a young guy with a fairly prominent
    private education, as a left-liberal living and hanging with left-
    liberals in New York, I held most of the biases of the so-called
    cognitive elite. So part of our method of ridicule was to ridicule
    his intelligence, former career (Bonzo!), his spouse, etc. We
    would do stupid things like say, “I know Reagan has dementia, I
    just know it, why look at him.” I gather that some people still
    enjoy that sort of speculation. It’s a convenient way of not
    paying attention to someone and understanding what he or she
    is really up to.
    Palin breaks the code of the cognitive elite, plus her sexuality is
    profoundly threatening, I think. (Not to anyone here. Such
    speculation would be … ad hominem!) Obviously she is an
    effective politician, and will always have a constituency.
    There are great parallels between Hinckley and the Tucson
    shooter. One difference in the aftermath is that no one filled
    their newspapers with the suggestion that Hinckley was
    motivated by left-wing metaphors, or that Tip O’Neil was
    complicit in or somehow fostering of, Hinckley’s assault.

    Reply

  66. questions says:

    Ummm, Reagan had Alzheimer’s in office. Probably. For a while, since that’s how the disease progresses.
    And the Dems’ obsession –to the extent that there is one — is to remind moderate Republicans that their party anointed her. It’s a smart tactic. It makes moderate Republicans wonder.

    Reply

  67. questions says:

    From HuffPo:
    “Ahead of a vote on repeal in the GOP-led House this week, strong opposition to the law stands at 30 percent, close to the lowest level registered in AP-GfK surveys dating to September 2009.”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/16/health-care-poll-finds-de_n_809646.html
    You know, it’d be interesting if the Republicans actually caused themselves problems by being about 12 weeks behind the times on this and on 31 bullet clips and on three or four other issues.
    Timing in politics is everything. When you’re off kilter or off cycle or reactive to what happened a while ago, you don’t do so well.
    Gay marriage issues piss off teh olds, and perhaps ACA and bullets everywhere are also fading concerns.
    It’s kind of shitty to have to conduct yourself in office as if you were still in a primary!
    Maybe the Republicans need to look into party building activities and a little, I dunno, moderation of the message. Maybe there are other ways to attract supporters?

    Reply

  68. Linda says:

    Hey, Drew,
    We agree about Palin. I already ignore her, and she will only remain important to Democrats who waste time on her when they should be thinking about viable Republican candidates for 2012. She essentially made herself a non-candidate by resigning as Governor for no good reason.
    I didn’t vote for Reagan for governor or President and opposed most of his policies,
    but I strongly appreciated that he could communicate with the public extremely well. I often liked him when I didn’t like what he was saying. And I always thought he was quite intelligent as that has nothing to do with what college one attends or what degrees one has. “The best and the brightest” are sometimes neither–and probably more often than sometimes.
    Remember that Reagan started as a Democrat and labor union leader–and I apologize in advance, but I can’t resist–that Brady was his press secretary.

    Reply

  69. drew says:

    Nadine,
    Perhaps, but I think you exaggerate their concerns. Sometimes I
    get the impression she reminds them of their moms, and
    sometimes I think she reminds them of June Cleaver, and
    sometimes I think they are just freaking out, because, as POA
    notes, this woman obviously is having way more sex of much better
    quality than anyone in their book group.
    I’m not saying that’s true of anyone here. Speculating in that
    fashion would be a form of ad hominem discussion.
    Candidly, I think Palin is boring.

    Reply

  70. questions says:

    Anyone have any predictions regarding the popularity of ACA, esp. in the light of the 129 million Americans under 65 with potentially insurance-limiting pre-existing conditions?
    ACA is gaining popularity, just a little later than the admin had hoped. That summer of hating on ACA was probably the biggest mistake the dems let happen. It needed more time to worm its way into our psyches, and we probably needed a few more early benefits to kick in.
    *****
    Also, kos has up a gay marriage/civil union/ban it all poll and the only real laggards seem to be teh olds and teh Tea Party. Kind of what one would expect. The rest of us are adjusting to a new normal quite well and not feeling particularly threatened. Not bad for political change over generations.
    *****
    Oh, and this from Jonathan Bernstein:
    “A couple of caveats, however. One is that whether or not campaign contributions create a “deplorable structural imbalance” is an empirical question, and at the end of the day it’s not at all clear, in my reading of the literature, that it’s an “imbalance” that we need to worry about.”
    http://plainblogaboutpolitics.blogspot.com/2011/01/interests-resources-corruption.html
    There’s more at the click. I’m not the only one in the universe who makes this point…..
    *****
    And this is interesting:
    http://baselinescenario.com/2011/01/17/deficit-hawkoprite-watch/
    The people who voted, by party, for those acts which increase the deficit as against those who in the future might vote not to raise the debt ceiling even though they helped create the situation in which the debt ceiling needs to be raised.
    The pressures MCs are under to spend money, and then to be stern by sudden turns…. It’s not unintelligence. In fact, they are some pretty smart people working on how to survive in the public eye.

    Reply

  71. drew says:

    Paul,
    “Blood libel” has been used broadly and metaphorically by
    politicians (and the commentariot) of all stripes in this country. It’s
    another non-issue and the people hammering her highly
    conventional use of the term are making fools of themselves, since
    it takes about five seconds to show that the term has been
    commonly used by melodramatic politicians of left and right.

    Reply

  72. nadine says:

    drew, what MSNBC and the Koskids are doing by their 24/7 coverage of Sarah is showing their fear. They overestimate her chances of winning because she is exactly the kind of fresh faced, charismatic candidate they love to support. They think of her as the Right’s Obama.

    Reply

  73. drew says:

    Wigwag, I must say that I object to your characterization of Andrew
    Sullivan’s “mind.” But it’s certainly better than my impression of
    him, since there are times I confuse *him* with Cher, in respect of
    thinking ability.

    Reply

  74. drew says:

    Palin is running a distant third in this week’s Iowa Poll, behind
    Huckabee and Romney. Iowa remains the first primary-like
    event in the 2012 campaign.
    Out here, where I never miss a chance (POA) to stop by my
    neighbors when the lithe, fecund neighbor Mrs. is a’ out thur
    shoveling snow and rasslin’ with and corrallin’ her brood, I don’t
    think she is wearing very well. I know I wonder if she couldn’t
    just take a day or two off from her new media manipulations. I
    have Palin fatigue, and so do a lot of others. (I’m even getting
    Chris Christie fatigue.)
    I understand how her metaphors bother people — and
    particularly her theft of the targeting metaphor, from the other
    party that used it first — and note, I did not say, above, that she
    is “overexposed”, because, well, that’s another dangerous
    metaphor — and I have to say, her voice leaves me with a very
    high cringe factor. But I would think liberals would have a better
    chance of winning the next election if they blamed the woes of
    the world on someone who might actually have a shot at being
    elected.
    Back when I was an DFL (democrat farmer labor party) sort, I
    used to delight in pointing out how ignorant and dangerous
    Reagan was, and really, there’s not much difference in the
    irrational if not deranged (borderline metaphor alert; please
    don’t ban me) obsession the left has with Palin. It was
    inconceivable to me that Reagan won the debates with DFLer
    Mondale because, ya know, Mondale went to a better college and
    used complete sentences and everything. But Reagan was
    Gladstone by comparison with Palin. If I were a liberal I would
    be thrilled if Palin pursued and was nominated to run for, the
    presidency.
    I think I know why she drives people crazy but does it really
    matter? If I were to predict the course of this state’s caucus
    process, she’ll drop from her present 11% to finish fourth or
    fifth, and see that it’s more profitable for her to manage her fans
    with scripted appearances, reality shows, and the like. I would
    say she will wind up a kind of rough-hewn Phyllis Schafly, only
    without the abstract thinking skills.

    Reply

  75. questions says:

    DonS,
    Maybe you have the causal chains running the other way?
    If a politician could be elected by demonstrating…any quality at all, some politician likely would have tried it.
    In fact, there are plenty of very intelligent politicians, and they often do very intelligent things, actually. They represent the interests of a large enough bloc of voters that they get re-elected pretty routinely. They try to change the shape and scope of districts so that their re-election chances go up. These are the marks of intelligent people.
    They listen to pressures, they have competing interests to serve, and they manage to balance a whole lot of people’s highly varied interests long enough to motivate a bunch of people to exit daily routines long enough to stand outside in freezing cold, driving rains and winds, to go to some school or community center, struggle with levers or touch screens or paper ballots, drop the ballots in the ballot box and walk out. And they manage to get people do do this in Feb or March or April or May or June and again in November every couple of years.
    They try to figure out if the banking interests or the homeowners should win, and they do this in the face of economics pressures, morality pressures, campaign finance pressures, constituent pressures, media pressures, global economics challenges…. Note that I have just enough leisure that I’ve been working on reading bunches of econ blogs, books, I have a text book (that sadly presumes calc…) that I’m going to start paging through a little at a time… and not a single thought I’ll have will affect the global economic situation. I have the luxury of trying to grasp something I’ve never studied and the worst thing that happens to me is that Kervick thinks I’m an idiot or POA thinks I use too many words…. The worst thing that happens to an MC doing the same thing is a vote for devastating policy or career’s end. And note that MCs don’t have a lot of leisure time to study up on every single topic they have to vote on. They vote on EVERY topic there is. Information is expensive stuff.
    We don’t all agree, we don’t trust or like each other, so if an MC represents his/her district well enough to be re-elected, we still heap disdain on that MC because s/he isn’t representing, umm, ME. And I don’t even live there….
    That said, Palin hasn’t been elected to many offices, she’s got a small core of devoted followers who think she’s representing them and their concerns, and indeed she might be doing just that. So it’s good that some people feel a voice in her, or in the Tea Party in general. That said, they aren’t my, umm, cup of tea at all. And I personally think her use of “blood libel” was a little overmuch and in general, her grasp of complexity in policy-making is lacking. But in a participatory system, people participate.
    I think Tea Party policies are screwy, they don’t represent my position in the world, and they contain a lot of contradictions of the sort I don’t like.
    I’m an Obamabot through and through, and the Tea Party isn’t exactly thrilled with me, I would guess.
    Blanket statements about “politicians” are probably not really quite accurate, though it may feel good to vent once in a while. These people, however, really generally try to do good, to understand the complexities of policies and outcomes well beyond what even experts think. If economists are having a hard time figuring out just what it is that’s making unemployment so crazy high, whether or not we’ve reached a new normal, whether or not demand stimulation would actually stimulate demand in sufficient quantity to get us out of this mess…then what’s an MC to do?

    Reply

  76. cheneyourself says:

    “The only place where Sarah Palin gets more coverage than she gets at Fox News is on the pages of “The Daily Dish.”" (Wig Wag)
    Citation please.

    Reply

  77. DonS says:

    Palin’s got all the gosh durn ‘plain folks’ patois down. But that doesn’t mean she’s got their vote. Plain folks ain’t all stupid, and certainly don’t revel in having stupid elected officials. Only those who also subscribe and reinforce the thread of anti-intellectualism in American politics and polity. And, for my money, anti-intellectualism is a surrogate for class envy which, in our wonderful nation, can usually be translated into dollars and cents.
    Like most ‘isms’ these days, anti-intellectualism, overt or implied, is just another political football, with each side trying to grab the mantle, or tar the other — image wise. Tarring, the negative impulse, seems to work more effectively, and keeps a bunch of folks employed creating attack adds.
    The two basic teams, R’s and D’s, face off. It is arguable which team actually possesses more scoundrels or stupids than the other — they are, after all, all politicians, sort of the used car salespersons of a rapidly sinking culture, not to tarnish used car salespersons further. But what counts is the matter of perception. And the D’s, including especially Obama, are having a hard time fighting off the perception that they are all squishy and want to actually help Americans who are struggling. Amazingly this is a losing message today, so the R’s have the upper hand, rhetoric-wise, and D’s are trying as hard as they can to speak and act in accordance with the winning prescription for the losers in the great American economic sinkhole: “let them eat dirt”. “Corporations uber alles”.
    I wonder if I’ll live long enough to actually hear a politician praised for being intelligent and insightful, and actually make an honest argument to potential constituents. Maybe it’s that underlying quality that many who listen to Sarah lust for, unverifiable and totally devoid of content though she is, but with a chimerical allusion to all that is missing in politics and the politicians who people that world. No question, the R’s would love to harness the Sarah factor — since they can’t seem to destroy her — without actually embracing her snake oil (vs their own snake oil).
    Pretty sad options we have available.

    Reply

  78. WigWag says:

    “I find people’s fascination with her to be both amazing and quite disturbing…” (Warren Metzler)
    Of course the people who appear to be most fascinated with Sarah Palin are the progressive media; in fact, the liberal blogosphere can’t get enough of her. The only place where Sarah Palin gets more coverage than she gets at Fox News is on the pages of “The Daily Dish.”
    How to account for this? I think Governor Palin must remind Andrew Sullivan of Cher or maybe she reminds him of Madonna.

    Reply

  79. nadine says:

    CBS News ran a poll of adults (not likely voters, note) asking “Did harsh political tone have anything to do with Arizona shootings?”
    “Overall, 57 percent of respondents said the harsh political tone had nothing to do with the shooting, compared to 32 percent who felt it did. Republicans were more likely to feel the two were unrelated – 69 percent said rhetoric was not to blame; 19 percent said it played a part. Democrats were more split on the issue – 49 percent saw no connection; 42 percent said there was.
    Independents more closely reflected the overall breakdown – 56 percent said rhetoric had nothing to do with the attack; 33 percent felt it did.
    The telephone poll was conducted Jan 9-10 among 673 adults across the country. The margin of error is +/- 4 percent. ”
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20028105-503544.html?tag=cbsnewsSectionContent.5
    Notice how inclusive the question was – “did the harsh political tone have ANYTHING to do” – so you would say “Yes” even if you thought it had just a little bit to do with the shooting. And still only 32% of adults said yes! And that was after a media firestorm trying to push the idea as the obvious, inarguable truth!
    Just as I predicted, Steve, only the Koskids bought the line.

    Reply

  80. nadine says:

    Steve Clemons,
    Perhaps you should remember some other lyrics that were once sung to the same tune:
    John Brown’s body lies a’mouldering in the grave,
    John Brown’s body lies a’mouldering in the grave,
    John Brown’s body lies a’mouldering in the grave,
    But his truth goes marching on.
    Men of taste winced then too. But the lyrics proved influential, I believe.

    Reply

  81. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Having spent many years in rural Idaho, I can attest that there are huge numbers of Sarah Palins tending the kitchens and bedrooms of rural America.
    These are truly remarkable women. Hardy, barely literate, excellent child bearing stock, fiercely maternal, and highly proficient in preparing and maintaining sourdough supplies. Warm and suprisingly agile in bed, numerous rural exertions, (such as shoveling manure, saddling horses, and unearthing potatoes), seems to have instilled in them an unrelenting libido rarely found in thier urban counterparts. Considering that the main function of a modern day President seems to be to fuck the citizens out of any responsible leadership or representation, Sarah Palin is quite qualified for the position.
    Don’t knock her. Considering that mankind’s history is driven by an unrelenting lust for the very assets that this woman possesses, why shouldn’t she ascend to the Oval Orifi….uh, I mean….Office?

    Reply

  82. questions says:

    To the mix toss in the fact that some lawmakers seem concerned that there weren’t enough guns in Tucson!
    Note that Brad DeLong wonders if he should start his hist. of econ class with Aristotle and then discusses Aristotle’s chrematistics but leaves out the much more important oligarchy/democracy tension. THAT should be taught. And actually, there’s interesting stuff around on oikenomos and chrematistike:
    “And we can also see the answer to the question whether the art of
    wealth-getting (chr?matistik?) belongs to the householder (oikonomikou)
    and the statesman, or whether on the contrary supplies ought to be
    provided already, since just as statesmanship does not create (poiei)
    human beings but having received them from nature makes use of
    them, so also it is the business of nature to bestow food by bestowing
    land or sea or something else, while the task of the householder is,
    starting with these supplies given, to dispose of them in the proper
    way. For it does not belong to the art of weaving to make fleeces, but to
    use them, and also to know what sort of fleece is good and suitable or
    bad and unsuitable. (Politics 1258a)”
    http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~mshell/Shell.%20EconLit.%20Chapter%203.pdf
    ****
    The passage is Aristotle quoted in an article on poetics and production….
    Figuring out under what domain household acquisition and consumption falls probably belongs in a political economy class, or in a unit on political economy within a history of econ class.
    If we totally privatize exchange, then we’re siding with the idea that the household, isolated from other households, is responsible for getting and using or stockpiling material goods.
    If we think about the provision of material goods in more social terms, we get a very different idea of what we should be doing, how involved the state should be in our oikos.
    This question of state involvement in the home sphere, or of home’s creeping into the state is pretty fundamental, and it may actually be part of what’s going on in the Palinification of discourse.
    What Palin seems to symbolize for a lot of people is this move of the home sphere into the public. Palin is a MOM. She’s a mom whose kids do what a lot of kids do — fail and succeed in less than ideal proportion. She’s regular, plain spoken, tough but vulnerable — just like the home.
    Further, Palin shows that the political sphere of making and doing can be remade so that home can go out. She makes it safe for ordinary people to gather as if they were home and can participate in the regulation of their lives rather than merely reacting to the regulations made by the law they never had a role in making.
    I wouldn’t dismiss what Palin stands for, or the voices she speaks for, but her electoral chances are nil. The Republican establishment sees the problems and they will push a bit at a time to make sure that she is a spokesperson and not an elected official.
    (There are related issues in Antigone — the law commands no burial, the family commands yes burial — what do you do when the good man and the good citizen are not the same? And even Oedipus has a vague similarity — what do you do when Fate demands something that you are reluctant to provide? Palin fights for the private and the triumph over law and seeming fate. It’s a potent force for people who feel victimized or used or non-participants in their lives.)
    Meanwhile, we should be thinking about the boundaries between acquisition and creation, between the home/hearth and the outside world, and we should try to figure out where we want these boundaries to be, how fluid we’d like them to be, which direction we want the transfers to travel in.
    While we’re thinkin’ we should be pushing back at the oligarchy, and we should help Arne Duncan find a nice cush job at the Gates Foundation far far from education policy. There are many mosquito nets to be paid for and handed out!

    Reply

  83. Paul Norheim says:

    Katie Couric once famously asked Sarah Palin: “What
    newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you
    were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the
    world?”
    We are familiar with her reply.
    The fact that she still doesn’t read any newspapers and
    apparently doesn’t understand why she should read any
    newspapers, was emphatically confirmed yesterday. For the last
    couple of days, practically all the newspapers in the English-
    speaking world had commented on the revelation that that she
    didn’t know the historical background, or the common meaning
    of the expression “blood libel”.
    When asked about the meaning of the word on Monday, she
    replied to Fox News:
    “Blood libel obviously means being falsely accused of having
    blood on your hands and in this case,” Ms. Palin said, “that’s
    exactly what was going on.”
    Obvious for her in her egocentric world. Sarah Palin are among
    those who have their her own, idiosyncratic vocabulary. She’s
    certainly not one of those who would allow Washington DC or
    the liberal elitists from Harvard to “control her grammar” (to
    borrow a recently coined phrase) or semantics, would she? No,
    Sarah Palin literally controls her own grammar.
    The sad thing is that due to her popularity, she is darkening
    the already ignorant minds of many of her fans, by redefining
    the English language in front of our eyes – in this case even
    blocking a reference to a nasty part of the history of anti-
    Semitism.

    Reply

  84. JohnH says:

    Funny! It appears that rednecks have adopted the Battle Hymn of the Republic! What next?

    Reply

  85. Warren Metzler says:

    I couldn’t listen to the whole thing, given its utterly absurd premise. I find people’s fascination with her to be both amazing and quite disturbing. Repeatedly she lies, repeatedly she dramatically changes her position on some issue, almost never does she present a rational view on any issue.
    If she does get the Republican nomination, it will be a sine qua non sign that many Americans have become truly insane; what I call functional schizophrenia: have no reality testing, but have not yet been identified as needing institutionalization.
    We live in a truly sad country. I’m 63, and I never in my life has so many truly ridiculous views been given credence by main stream Americans.

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