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 23, 2011
Violet Socks - Reclusive Leftist

Susie Madrak - Suburban Guerrilla

Guardian - Norway Attacks

I'm open to believing that some reforms/cuts in Medicare might be necessary, though Dean Baker argues that it's not. Cutting Social Security seems to me to be unwise and unnecessary. In fact, there's a good case to be made for taking a portion of any cuts to Medicare and applying it to increased Social Security benefits. The cuts to Medicaid seem bad, don't know how bad the damage will be.

Overheard a conversation between two conservative women talking deficit, recurrent theme was "we have stop the borrowing, it's out of control, out of control, out of control. . ." One possible way to deal with these debt-slavery worries might be Dale Carnegie's: 1) Imagine the worst. 2) Accept it. 3) Seek to improve upon it.

Obsidian Wings - My rational fear of inflation (by Doctor Science)

Paul Krugman - John Hicks and his Hot Licks accurate predictions

Brad Delong - Our Economic Problems: Larry Summers Is on Message

Daniel Davies - The world's second lowest productivity industry

Tony Judt - Ill Fares the Land (2010)
"In October 2009 I delivered a lecture in New York. . .the first question came from a twelve year old schoolboy. . .The question came directly to the point: "Ok, so on a daily basis if you're having a conversation or even a debate about some of these issues and the world of socialism is mentioned, sometimes it is as though a brick has fallen on the conversation and there's no way to return it to it's form. What would you recommend as a way to restore the conversation?". . .

. . .there is a significant distinction between `socialism' and `social democracy'. Socialism was about transformative change: the displacement of capitalism with a successor regime based on an entirely different system of production and ownership. Social democracy, in contrast, was`a compromise: it implied the acceptance of capitalism - and parliamentary democracy - as the framework within which the hitherto neglected interests of large sections of the population would now be addressed. . .

. . .Thus, when `social democracy' rather than socialism is introduced into a conversation. . .bricks do not fall. Instead, the discussion is likely to take an intensely practical and technical turn: can we still afford universal pension schemes, unemployment compensation, subsidized arts, inexpensive higher education, etc. or are these benefits and services now too costly to sustain? If so, how should they be rendered affordable? Which of them, if any - is indispensable?. . .

. . .Is a system of `cradle-to-grave' protections and guarantees more `useful' than a market-driven society in which the role of the state is kept to the minimum?. . .

. . .As I hope I have shown in this book, the question of `usefulness' needs to be recast. If we confine ourselves to issues of economic efficiency and productivity, ignoring ethical considerations and all reference to broader social goals, we cannot hope to engage it. . .

. . .In writing this book, I hope I have offered some guidance to those - the young especially - trying to articulate their objections to our way of life. However, this is not enough. As citizens of a free society, we have a duty to look critically at our world. But if we think we know what is`wrong, we must act upon that knowledge. Philosophers, it was famously observed, have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.

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