hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Tuesday, January 07, 2003
initially posted in Max Sawicky's comments section, discussing the betrayal of Komrade Kaus. Matt Yglesias said Kaus supports Universal Health Care, voted for Gore, etc. but Atrios said the Mickster never writes about those subjects, and if you spend all your time attacking liberals, and coming up with tendentious, sophistic arguments why, despite all surface appearances, liberals are wrong and conservatives are right, then at some point you have to turn in your "I'm a Liberal!" card:

Actually, Kaus's book not only advocated Universal health care (and a universal draft), he also advocated a guaranteed, sub minimum-wage, above-poverty line federal jobs program. Here's a quote from his booknotes interview

"I advocate an ambitious welfare reform proposal that would end welfare, replace it with WPA-style guaranteed jobs. It costs $50 billion. . ."

His blog is becoming semi-embarassing, especially his defense of Bush's economic policies and his attacks on Krugman, but I'm not quite ready to give up on "Rhino" Kaus. He was, for example, the only bonafide journalist to acknowledge that the Judge overseeing the recount *would* have counted overvotes, therefore Gore *would* have won, therefore the Supreme Court decision *did* steal the election for Bush. He was also the first to report the obvious - the media hated Gore's guts. He also endorsed Mark Green over Mike Bloomberg, though I think Bloomberg seems to be a pretty good Mayor. He also had a link the Daily Howler, though he seems to have removed it. BTW, his caption for the Daily Howler link was "tries to spoil the fun" What exactly is that supposed to mean?

Here are more relevant quotes from his very readable and interesting Booknotes interview:

". . .There are disputes between liberals and conservatives. The primary one between [Charles] Murray and myself would be a belief in the efficacy of government. I would argue government worked during the New Deal. The WPA worked; Desert Storm worked. . .And I think Murray would say, "Oh, any government effort is going to be crippled by bureaucracy and liberal interest groups, and the unions are going to sue and the legal aid groups are going to sue, and you're never going to be able to fire anybody from these WPA jobs. It's just going to degenerate into a sort of shadow dole, where people are doing make work and raking leaves and doing useless tasks." And that's a legitimate argument. I mean, I certainly can't win that argument hands down. I can argue that let's give it a try, that I think government can work, but it's a legitimate conservative position to say the government can't work. . ."

". . .It's interesting. The book is pitched to liberals, pitched to Democrats. I find that I am love-bombed from the right and I am attacked from the left. . .If you take two steps in the direction of conservatism, they say, "That's great, Mickey. You know, come on all the way. Come and be a Republican conservative." Whereas the left, if you take two steps in the direction of conservatism, say, "You've defied the true faith. You're attacking unions in this book. You know, forget you. You're hopeless. . ."

". . .I find that people on the left -- I mean, part of the book is -- part of this is my fault, in a sense. I'm very confrontational with the left. I like to be very clear and pick fights with the left. The book is antagonistic to people on the left, and they naturally react back antagonistically.

When you get in a dialogue, you find that there really isn't all that much antagonism. For, you know, people say, "Well, it's unfair to ask welfare mothers to work," you know. And then you say, "Well, but I'm offering them a job. I'm supplementing it so it's an above-poverty job. I'm offering day care. And I'm offering national health insurance." And are you telling me that it's -- you offer all that to somebody and she says, "To heck with you, I want a check," do you think she has a right to a check?"