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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Saturday, July 09, 2011
Arthur Silber - Once Upon A Time. . .

Violet Socks - Reclusive Leftist

Susie Madrak - Moral Hazard

A good fortune cookie this week: "Despair is criminal".

Dean Baker - Ron Paul’s Lucid Solution to the Debt Ceiling Impasse

I suppose my belief is that fake problems should have fake solutions.

Neil Irwin (WaPo) - Five economic lessons from Sweden, the rock star of the recovery

Parts of this Charlie Rose interview with Steve Wynn will be slightly grating to anyone who has an anti-elitist or anti-hedonist bone in their body, but it's still well worth watching, because Steve Wynn's description of doing good work is so plausible and interesting. I also think of the interview as an elegant refutation of "We're broke, We're bankrupt, We're in decline, We `just don't' have the money'"-style fatalism and despair.

Steve Wynn interviewed by Charlie Rose (2005)

. . .I have walked with my colleagues, on paper and in modeling & simulation, every POV, every spot that you can stand in this building - and if I've missed one I'll be sorely disappointed - but I've stood in every spot that a human being can wiggle their way into in this place, and I've asked myself: How high is the ceiling? What's the foreground? What's the mid ground? What's the background? What are the layers of visual experience? How will this feel as I move through this promenade, this esplanade, this hallway and when I walk off the elevator? I've stood in your shoes as best a man and his friends can do it, over and over and over again, until I thought I understood what you would see before you saw it. . .

. . .I've loved every minute of doing it. Anyone who would do the things you just said [build the best], first of all, would have to love the process. You don't do this just because you're in a hurry to get some cash flow out of a gambling joint. No, this is about process. Loving process is`something that is an absolute requirement. I mean I've loved each and every step of it. The 2 & 1/2 years of design before the 2 & 1/2 years of construction seemed like 4 months to me. Nobody saw me or heard from me. I was alone with a felt-tip pen and a few other people, working 6 days a week in total ecstasy. . .

. . .what I'm afraid of with the word "dreamer", it connotes Walter Mitty. . .[The Bellagio, Golden Nugget, every Wynn hotel] are real, they exist. . .and they're a vindication of the truth that if you build a wonderment the world will come to it. . .

. . .there's a very fine line between what the press calls a visionary, or an inspired creative idea, or a dreamer, or a conceited rich guy, who's a Judas goat, who's taking everybody, including his investors, over the cliff. And if you live with that responsibility, and the agony and the discomfort of that possibility, you forge ahead and you check your work . . .

. . .you measure your risk, you review your notes, and you say onward and upward, Excelsior! let's go. . .

. . .one thing is for sure, I'm not going to feel sorry for myself, and I'm going to do the best I can.

Readers Digest India interview of Devi Prasad Shetty
Q. So, you’re a happy man?
DS. See, all of us want to be happy. But the ultimate joy is not in having what you want in life, but seeing people around you also having what they want. Just suppose you love ice cream and you’re enjoying your favourite flavour. Then, suddenly, a hundred hungry children surround you. Would you enjoy it as much? Now imagine every child getting an ice cream and they are all very happy. Then your ice cream would have never tasted as good.

Q. But there’s the perception that doctors have become materialistic.
DS. You have to blame the medical education system for that, not the individuals. Under our program, called Udayer Pathey, we’re trying to help children from Bengal’s villages become doctors. Today, most children from poor families, irrespective of how bright or how passionate they are, can never get into medicine. But the world over, some of the brightest doctors, who radically transformed health care, came from deprived backgrounds—they are the ones who have the fire in their belly and can work twenty hours a day. You cannot expect a person who’s paid Rs1 crore [$250,000] to get an MD seat to be passionate about caring for the poor

Q. What is the one medical reform you are rooting for?
DS. Medical education should be made inclusive. Any young doctor who wants to become a heart surgeon or neurosurgeon should be able to become one. What he makes of it is left to him. If we create the infrastructure, we can train ten thousand heart surgeons a year. Why put an artificial barrier? It is exactly like a licence raj, when we only had Ambassador cars. Once we liberalized, we got the world’s best cars. Why not do the same with medical education?

Wikipedia on the License Raj

Reuters article on same

The system for patents & IP is arguably showing some of the same pathologies of the License-Raj. Still, a lot of people's jobs depend on the current patent and IP regime, so I'm not sure dramatic changes would produce the best outcome, instead of ad-hoc adjustments on a case-by-case basis.

Dean Baker on making health care more affordable (2009)

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