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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Friday, March 25, 2011
Arthur Silber - Sick, Broke and Scared

I'm still recovering from the ailments that landed me in the hospital again recently. . .

. . .It would be helpful to have access to semi-decent, ongoing medical care; since I have no money and no insurance, that's not an option for me. So I'm left to wonder about what exactly may be going on.

By the end of next week, I'll have to pay the April rent, electric and telephone bills, plus a few additional outstanding bills. And I'll need to get two prescriptions refilled. One of them costs $200. Yes: $200 per month (30 pills, one a day). Thanks to some very kind individuals who have sent in donations recently (a multitude of thanks, as always), I have a little less than half of the rent. That's all I have. . .

. . .Obviously, I could use some help. I still want/hope to complete some long-planned articles; if I get a little more strength back, I'll turn my attention to them. The few recent posts that have appeared here burst forth because of the outrage I was feeling about current events. The other articles awaiting completion are considerably more complicated and require that I hold a lot of information in my head. At the moment, I simply can't do it, try as I might.

I'm deeply grateful for any support you might be able to provide, especially in these increasingly uncertain times. . .

Many, many thanks for your consideration.


I guess the only opinion I have on Libya is that the concerns of Turkey and the Arab League should be treated with respect and taken seriously, and not ridiculed. Yglesias's post "in defense of half measures", Juan Coles' posts, Alan Grayson's suggestion for an oil embargo, have all been interesting.

Jay Ackroyd - Clarity

. . .[the voters] want jobs, retirement security and a health care system that doesn't threaten them with bankruptcy. No matter how frequently he and his fellow Beltway denizens characterize those voters as wanting the moon, these are not unreasonable demands. . .

Tony Judt - Ill Fares the Land

. . .We need to become confident once again in our own instincts: if a policy or an action seems somehow wrong, we must find the words to say so. . .

. . .. . .Social democrats are characteristically modest - a political quality whose virtues are overestimated. We need to apologize a little less for past shortcomings and speak more assertively of achievements. That these were always incomplete should not trouble us. If we have learned nothing else from the 20th century, we should at least have grasped that the more perfect the answer, the more terrifying its consequences. . .

. . .Social democracy does not represent an ideal future; it does not even represent the ideal past. But among the options available to us today, it is better than anything else to hand. . .

Stephen Fry (podgram 2.1):

"In the end I like structures that are human-shaped, not idea-shaped and humans are great heaps of inconsistency, ambiguity and complexity."

I guess a running theme in my mind lately is the importance of preferring, in certain contexts, judgement & discretion & human beings to rigid rules.

Two examples which hit me when I read them in Ben Bradlee's memoir (which Gene Lyons always calls "disarmingly frank")

p. 45
"we had pretty much a permanent black jack game going. . .I forget the stakes except they that they were higher than I could afford. But I won - a few hundred dollars. In fact, everyone won, except Bill Haskell, who couldn't afford it either. And suddenly he owed everyone - a few thousand dollars. In varying degrees we began to feel sorry for him, but we had won it, and each felt sure we would have had to pay up had we lost it, or quit before our losses got too big. . .

. . .My father was as sore as he ever got. Quiet, but serious. First, he announced that I was no longer a creditor. Haskell owed me nothing, since I didn't have the money to pay him if I had lost that much, and he would not have bailed me out. He told Dick Cutler that he knew the stakes were too high for him, too. Potter and Tuckerman were better off than we were, but he let them have it, asking them if they enjoyed watching a friend squirm just because he wanted to be part of our crowd. We were all enormously relieved, truth to tell. Someone called Haskell with the news, and we adjourned to the living room for a big pitcher of Martinis - unaware of the importance of the moment in our lives. . ."

p. 65
"We used to gamble - for high stakes because there was no place to spend money - but that had pretty much been outlawed by our skipper, Tommy Ragan. . .All of a sudden "Tubes" owed me more than $4,000, which approximated a year's pay. When the captain heard about the debt, he ordered me to play double or nothing until I lost, and then quit playing for money. Took me three boards."

Don't you sort of wish Ben Bradlee's father or skipper had been in charge of HAMP the past few years?

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