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, August 27, 2011
Arthur Silber - Once Upon A Time. . .
Briefly: after I pay the September rent next week, I'll be close to completely broke. Some other bills need to be paid.

Also, I'm spending most of my time right now taking care of Wendy, who's dying. We're in the roller coaster of the final phase: every second or third day, I think that perhaps she's rallying, and the situation will mercifully level off for a short while. Yesterday, she ate very well, for the first time in three or four days. Today, she's back to not being interested in food at all. Her face is still very beautiful; otherwise, she's a bag of bones. I spend hours with her on the bed, gently stroking her, talking to her, singing to her. I make up little songs, about how much I love her, how much joy and fun she's brought into our lives. She raises her head and tilts it toward me, asking for her ears to be massaged and scratched. She purrs a lot.

I don't know if I'm doing her any favors by letting this go on. She doesn't seem to be in pain ... but how do I know? And she still eats, sometimes. She's still able to get on and off the bed without difficulty. And she seems to enjoy the company. How can I have her killed? I can't, not yet.

Chances are I'll need some more money to pay for a few things in these last days for her. I don't have any.

Despite this, I think I've managed to do some good writing recently. Nothing mysterious about that: it's a distraction from the awful pain of watching Wendy die, and sometimes I'm grateful for it. There's more I want to say about the London riots, about Libya, about tribalism and its many manifestations and complicated dynamics. . .

. . .Anyway, I need some money. If you have some you can spare, I'd be very grateful. . .

Wendy is dying, and she remains a great source of joy and love. . .he capacity and willingness of humans affirmatively to choose unnecessary suffering, when there's so much suffering in life that we can't avoid, try as we will, never ceases to astonish and horrify me.

I'm going to spend some more time with Wendy now. . .

Susie Madrak - Richard Trumka's message to Obama

Susie Madrak - God’s waiting room

John Amato - Update on Susie Madrak's Condition

Juan Cole - How to Avoid Bush’s Iraq Mistakes in Libya

BBC - Horror scenes at Tripoli hospital (via Atrios)

Question for economists: If the cause if this recession is the wealth effect, how much did the various forms of wealth fall during the slump, and how big was the wealth effect across various kinds of asset classes? Dean Baker frequently refers to a "8 trillion dollar housing bubble". where does this 8 trillion figure come from, and how solid is it? In general, I see a lot of discussion of income accounting, and the velocity of money, but not a lot of discussion of wealth accounting, and the velocity of wealth.

Question for politicos: What do the American people answer when asked "What is your greatest hope of what might happen with the Republicans/Democrats in power? What is your greatest fear of what night happen?" I'd guess that for most Americans, their hopes and fears are not dependent on which specific party is in power. But I have no idea what the actual hopes and fears, themselves, would be.

Krugman - Bernanke
. . .in 2000 an economist named Ben Bernanke offered a number of proposals for policy at the “zero lower bound.” True, the paper was focused on policy in Japan, not the United States. But America is now very much in a Japan-type economic trap, only more acute. So we learn a lot by asking why Ben Bernanke 2011 isn’t taking the advice of Ben Bernanke 2000. . .

Brad Delong - Some Things that Could Have Been Done--and That Could Still Be Done (quoting Mike Konczal)

A quick thought on recent blog posts on the unemployed's suboptimal job-searching skills: 1) same population, same crappy job-search skills in 2005 as in 2011, yet different levels of unemployment. 2) Those kids really suck at musical chairs. If they all showed a bit more pep & hustle, surely everyone could get a chair.

Zack Beauchamp (Daily Dish) - Keep Talking About Willingham (quoting Steve Benen)

Where is the evidence that Rick Perry is God-fearing? He executed an innocent man, then covered up the evidence of his innocence. Some claim that Perry would not have had the power to stop the execution, even if he had tried. I don't believe this (parole boards are very receptive to the opinion of the Governor on specific cases), but the fact is that he didn't try.

Saturday, August 20, 2011
Deep Thought (in no way related to events of last night): By not supporting cheap late-night transit, conservatives are trying to impose Sharia law on me The American People: sip some tea, pray for all the boozers who you, generous soul, have personally informed and assured that you will pray for, then drive home.

(via Google): Save The Children's Somalia food crisis appeal

Jibril Mohamed - Famine in Somalia: Was it always like this?
The current famine and the previous one in 1992 are the result of a meaningless war that began in 1991 when the last effective government of Somalia was ousted from power by aimless warlords who mobilized their clansmen to create chaos. Somalia was in better shape than the grim situation that has become the norm for the past two decades, and I have hope that the future is much brighter than this.

Somalia joined the league of world nations in 1960. In the first 30 years of its existence, the country proved itself as a leader in democracy, diplomacy and development. In the 1970s, Somalia had undertaken ambitious development and diplomatic initiatives. The Somali language was written and literacy levels jumped from a meager 5% to more than 60%. . .

. . .In 1991, when civil war broke out, the simple life I loved was no more. I walked eleven days and eleven nights to find safety in Kenya. I found refuge at the Dadaab Refugee camps where my education was supported by the generous people of the United States. I started teaching mathematics and business studies at a tender age and I will always remember the malnourished faces of my 320 students who sat under the scorching sun of Dadaab for six hours every day to get an education from a youthful teacher who was considered a wealthy man by the standards of the camp despite making $30 a month. . .

Arthur Silber - Power of Narrative
. . .Did these two young men actually riot or loot? Did they themselves participate in the events they wrote about? Did they mean the Facebook posts seriously -- or just as some kind of joke?

But you see, the government isn't interested in any of those questions. And they didn't charge the two young men with actual rioting or looting. They charged them for the Facebook entries. For what they wrote. That's it. . .

Reclusive Leftist - Dr. Socks says hi
Hey everybody. I’m doing well; healing up nicely. I feel better every day. Thank you all for your kind wishes and support. I think I must have the nicest commentariat in the world. . .

. . . when you’re one of the people who actually needs Social Security and Medicare. . .

. . .For the rest of us, it’s no game.

I was wondering the other night about FDR. What motivated the man? He was rich, he was upper class, he was set for life. Why did he fight so hard for the working folks? Whatever it was, we need to bottle it and spike the drinks of everyone in Washington. . .

Susie Madrak - These kids today

This is pretty amazing!
. . .On a bleak winter hiking trip to the Catskill Mountains, the 7th-grader from New York noticed a pattern among tree branches, and determined (as naturalist Charles Bonnet did in 1754) that the pattern represented the Fibonacci sequence of numbers. Aidan wondered why, and figured it had something to do with photosynthesis.

In a pretty innovative experiment, this intrepid young scientist set about duplicating an oak tree, comparing its sunlight-capturing abilities to a traditional rooftop solar panel array. Guess what he found?. . .

(Via Shakesville): Towleroad - New Immigration Rules Could Help Same-Sex Couples
The Obama administration announced yesterday that immigration officials, guided by the Department of Homeland Security, can now use "prosecutorial discretion" to stop deportation for illegal immigrants who pose no threat to the nation.

While the move will largely benefit people who illegally entered the United States as children, Metro Weekly reports that the new policy will also help same-sex binational couples. . .

I think the Obama team has been taking some heat from some conservatives for this decision. But I think the principle of prosecutorial discretion is very, very important, something we all understand when it comes to laws it's possible for us to break, at the very least traffic laws. If the Obama adminstration sticks with this in the face of criticism, they'll deserve a lot of credit.

". . .I believe my business and non-profit investments are much more beneficial to societal well-being than sending more money to Washington.”
— Charles G. Koch, Chairman and CEO, Koch Industries, Inc.

I think what this misses is that government programs, as inefficient and mediocre and expensive as they may be, are willing to take line responsibility for things the private sector either can not, or will not. Social Security does take line responsibility for the incomes of most retirees. Medicare does take line responsibility for medical care for most retirees. Unless and until the private sector and the non-profit sector is willing to take line responsibility for these important jobs in the same way government currently does, government programs are worth taxing for, and worth paying taxes for.

Yglesias: . . .Hiking mass transit fares while cutting services is not some kind of close substitute to dealing with the projected increases in the cost of health care. It’s not just small relative to the scale of the real fiscal issue, it’s completely irrelevant. A form of short-term pain that has no benefit over the long-term.

Matthew Yglesias - Business Opposition To Economic Recovery
. . .My point is just that during the Great Depression insistence on monetary orthodoxy was worse than a crime, it was a mistake. The leading lights of the business community were perfectly sincerely in their belief that financial orthodoxy was good for America, and they were also completely wrong. Not just wrong about what was good for America, but about what was wrong for their own businesses. . .

. . .We could spend the next 80 years trying to understand the psychological, ideological, and class biases behind these views. The fact of the matter, however, is that the Chamber of Commerce was mistaken. . .[business leaders], even if they’re very smart about the businesses they run, don’t have particular insight into macro-stability issues.

Matthew Yglesias - To Save The Economy, You Sometimes Need To Ignore Business
Many on the right and center indicate that in order to restore the economy, President Obama needs to do more to cater to the whims of rich businessmen. Many on the left feel that this is exactly wrong and that in order to restore the economy, President Obama needs to do more to stick it to the rich and dispossess them. History suggests that both are wrong. Economic recovery would be good for business, but businessmen who may be good at running businesses are extremely bad judges of macroeconomic policy . . .

. . .The Depression was not good for big business. Nor was it good for banks and large financial institutions. Ending the Depression required stepping on some toes, but fundamentally the Depression was a negative-sum experience and everyone was better off when growth returned. But here’s a couple New York Times articles from June of 1933 — “Plea” from June 2, “Return to Gold” from June 4 — showing the business community’s intense hostility to the expansionary monetary policy that eventually saved all their skins. . .

. . .running an economy is not the same as running a nationwide network of big box retailers, or a diversified conglomerate, or a large bank, or an innovative electronics company, or any other successful business. People generally understand this in reverse. Nobody ever said “Bill Clinton was a good president, so he’d be a great replacement for Bill Gates when he steps down at Microsoft.” But it’s true the other way ’round as well. . .

Jessica Valenti - Learning to love my baby
After a life-threatening pregnancy and a premature birth I was scared to hold my newborn daughter – or to get too attached . . .

. . .Even today, with Layla pudgy and happy and starting to say words such as "kitty" and "baby", I worry about her health constantly and, at times, can feel myself starting to drift away from her. It takes work, more than I'd like to admit. If we really value parenting, if we value mothers and children, then we'll lose the notion that there's a proper way to love a baby. Believe me, mums will thank you.

Digby - And now for some good news...
. . .From about 7:00 every morning to 10:00 (or later) every night, activists from 18 states stood out in 100-degree heat, intense pouring rain and everything in between to stand with Dr. Carhart, his excellent staff and the women they serve with dignity, compassion and respect. At many points during those nine days we outnumbered the antis. Members of the community kept stopping by with doughnuts, drinks and thank yous for our service. There was no violence, the clinic stayed open, and we did a great job representing the pro-choice majority in this country . . .

Saturday, August 13, 2011
LORI MOORE and ROGENE FISHER JACQUETTE (NYT) - Photos of Military Personnel Lost in Afghan Helicopter Attack

Robert Paarlberg - Famine in Somalia: What Can the World Do About It?

Shakesville (Melissa McEwan) - Somalia food insecurity

Anderson Cooper (Aug. 9) - Somalia Food Crisis (interview with Iman)

Iman op-ed on Somalia crisis

DipNote - President Obama Announces Additional Funds for Horn of Africa Famine

Arthur Silber - Once Upon A Time. . .
Carolyn Lochhead - SF Chronicle (8/11/2011):
Citing the Defense of Marriage Act, the Obama administration denied immigration benefits to a married gay couple from San Francisco and ordered the expulsion of a man who is the primary caregiver to his AIDS-afflicted spouse.

Bradford Wells, a U.S. citizen, and Anthony John Makk, a citizen of Australia, were married seven years ago in Massachusetts. They have lived together 19 years, mostly in an apartment in the Castro district. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services denied Makk's application to be considered for permanent residency as a spouse of an American citizen, citing the 1996 law that denies all federal benefits to same-sex couples.

The decision was issued July 26. Immigration Equality, a gay-rights group that is working with the couple, received the notice Friday and made it public Monday. Makk was ordered to depart the United States by Aug. 25. Makk is the sole caregiver for Wells, who has severe health problems.


"We are appealing to the Obama administration to begin to put into action what they've said repeatedly they can do," said Immigration Equality spokesman Steve Ralls. "The Department of Homeland Security and ICE have said again and again that they can exercise discretion in individual cases, but they have not done so for a single gay or lesbian couple yet."

One thing I'd like to see change is the idea that "rules are rules, and have to enforced, no matter what the consequences". In reality, no rule is so perfect that it does not require judgement, discretion, common sense. You need to give people the power to use their discretion, and then trust them, and in some cases hold them accountable, for using it properly. A bureacracy that lacks discretion is not a protector of the rule of law, it's just another monstrous, unpredictable, unaccountable menace that people have to be scared of. It's important to note that a "rules are rules" mentality leads not just to harshness, but also to unpredictability, because there are thousands of laws, all of which contain ambigous wording, which can be twisted into novel and creative (and terrifying) interpretations, many of which contradict each other. Bastards though we might be, we have no choice but to put our trust in the discretion and common sense of human beings, not the satisfying pseudo-certainty of an infallible rulebook.

Violet Socks - Reclusive Leftist

Susie Madrak - (MLK) The Other America

(Via Susie Madrak) Kathy Kelly - More Lost by the Second in Afghanistan
. . .No matter which side of the Afghanistan/Pakistan border you are on, suffocating hot temperatures prevail day and night during these hot months. It’s normal for people to sleep in their courtyards. How could anyone living in the region not know this? Yet the U.S. JSO forces that came in the middle of the night to the home of a 12-year-old girl, Nilofer, who had been asleep on her cot in the courtyard, began their raid by throwing a grenade into the courtyard, landing at Nilofer’s head. She died instantly. Nilofer’s uncle raced into the courtyard. He worked with the Afghan Local Police, and they had told him not to join that night’s patrol because he didn’t know much about the village they would go to, so he had instead gone to his brother’s home. When he heard the grenade explode, he may well have presumed the Taliban were attacking the home. U.S. troops killed him as soon as they saw him. Later, NATO issued an apology. . .

. . .“The raids occur ‘every night. We are very much miserable,’ said Roshanak Wardak, a doctor and a former member of the national Parliament.” I am reading a McClatchy news report, dated August 8th of this year. “Residents of the Tangi Valley area, in eastern Wardak Province, about 60 miles southwest of Kabul, issued similar complaints about the night raids in their vicinity, charging that they have killed civilians, disrupted their lives and fueled popular support for the Taliban.”

Imagine it. People in an Afghan village pass sleepless nights, anxious that their home might be targeted by a U.S.-led night raid. Villagers are enraged when they hear stories of elders and imams being roughed up and detained, of wives and children being killed, of belongings stolen and property destroyed. . .

. . .In Helmand province, in Nad Ali, the district governor told a New York Times reporter one incident in the spiral of violence: a NATO foot patrol came under fire from a family home on August 5, 2011, killing one soldier and wounding an Afghan interpreter. The NATO troops called in an airstrike. NATO is now investigating a report that the airstrike killed eight civilians, seven of them children. “The home belonged to Mullah Abdul Hadi, 50, a local imam who Afghan officials say was helping the Taliban,” said Mr. Shamlani. “He was killed along with one of his two wives and his seven children, all younger than 7 years old.”. . .

Josh Marshall - Was It Worth It? (Wisconsin)
. . .It would be a mistake to see this as a distraction, a big mistake.

Susie Madrak - Shhh, it’s a secret
Blue Gal (of Blue Gal and Crooks and Liars) is getting married this Friday to the very funny Driftglass. . .

. . .But I just wondered how many more Blue Gal fans there are out there, and how many people might want to go hit the tip jar on her page to give this lovely couple a little extra money as a wedding present.

She’s one of the nicest, smartest, funniest people — and so’s Drifty. If you want to send a gift to the happy couple, click here.

Driftglass - Deny, Deny, Deny (2005)
In the flick Matthau asks Morse what to do if his wife nails him with another woman. . .

. . .“Deny, deny, deny.”

. . .“But what if…?”
“But suppose she walks right in and finds…?”
“Right there. In her bed. Right in front of her…?”

Deny everything. As your wife stands over your marriage bed, deny that the woman she is staring at even exists. When your wife demanded to know who this woman is as she (and you) get hurriedly dressed two feet away, just repeat “What? What are you talking about? What woman?”

What made me think of that:

Bob Herbert made me think of that.

Bob Herbert, one of the few reasons I might consider holding a bake sale to pay Charon to get me across the river Styx to the Times’ OpEd page once NYT closes the free pedway.

Herbet talks; You listen.

The Rumsfeld Stain

Published: May 23, 2005

How does Donald Rumsfeld survive as defense secretary? . . .

Juan Cole - Iraq & Syria
In contrast to the Iraqi executive, the parliament has recently strongly deplored the government’s use of violence against protesters. Two major blocs in parliament, the Kurdistan Alliance and the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya Party, are not Shiite and have ties to protesters in Syria, whether Kurds or Sunni Arabs. The Speaker of parliament is a Sunni Arab from Mosul who has strongly condemned the Baath government’s repression. . .

Iraq calls Syria to stop bloodshed

Saturday, August 06, 2011
Susie Madrak - 30 years ago today
Michael Moore:
. . .They say they've heard of a time when working people could raise a family and send the kids to college on just one parent's income (and that college in states like California and New York was almost free). That anyone who wanted a decent paying job could get one. That people only worked five days a week, eight hours a day, got the whole weekend off and had a paid vacation every summer. That many jobs were union jobs, from baggers at the grocery store to the guy painting your house, and this meant that no matter how "lowly" your job was you had guarantees of a pension, occasional raises, health insurance and someone to stick up for you if you were unfairly treated.

Young people have heard of this mythical time -- but it was no myth, it was real. . .

Arthur Silber - Once Upon a Time. . .
NYT, August 3, 2011:
Timothy F. Geithner, the Treasury secretary and dean of President Obama’s economic team, is expected to stay through the president’s term after intense White House pressure, according to officials familiar with the discussions. . .

words not in the NYT story: unemployment, HAMP
words in the NYT story: "cashing in"

Gary Farber's twitter feed: Every huge evil has a small beginning: Katharine Q. Seelye (NYT) - A Wall to Remember an Era’s First Exiles

Gary Farber's twitter feed:If you're Bay Area, HIV-negative, want to help in a safe way, & earn $50/$75 several times, you can participate in this: SFisReady - About HIV Vaccine Studies

Gary Farber - Amygdala

Dan Hurley (NYT magazine) - A Father's Search for a Drug for Down Syndrome
“All I could think is, She’s my baby, she’s a lovely girl and what can I do to help her?. . .

. . .With no experience in the study of Down syndrome, Costa took a short walk the next day to a library affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine, where he worked as a research associate in neuroscience. Reading the latest studies, he learned that the prognosis was not nearly as dire as it was once considered. . .He soon made a decision: he would devote himself to the study of Down syndrome. . .

. . .“It was an epiphany, that, oh, this is a field where I can apply a lot that I’ve learned,” Costa says. “Science is usually unforgiving with people who try to change career paths, but it was a risk I was willing to take.” Having earned his Ph.D. studying the electrical and chemical basis of communication between brain cells, “I figured, O.K., if there is something that can be done in this field, it’s going to be done at that level of neuronal electrophysiology.” After months of reading the latest studies, Costa knew he needed Davisson’s mice.

“He twisted my arm till I took him into my lab,” Davisson says with a laugh. “I didn’t have funding. He wrote a grant to get the funding. He is very enthusiastic.” She also found out that he was a “perfectionist, and not very tolerant of people who aren’t perfectionists. He doesn’t do experiments without being sure he’s doing them right. When he makes a finding, you know that it’s real.”. . .

. . .Even Costa has struggled to secure financing. He lives with Tyche and Daisy in a rented apartment, having never felt he had enough job security to buy a home. At his laboratory, some of his most expensive and sophisticated equipment for studying Down syndrome remains in storage, literally gathering dust for want of financing to use it. One source of his research money has been the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation, based nearby in Denver, and run by Michelle Sie Whitten, whose 8-year-old daughter has Down syndrome. Three years ago, the foundation established a research institute at the University of Colorado in Denver, where Costa works.

Plainly, though, he didn’t get into Down-syndrome research for the money. “There’s a reason why I’m doing what I’m doing,” he told me, nodding toward Tyche. . .

If raising taxes would increase NIH/NSF funding enough to allow one of the nation's leading Down syndrome researchers to buy a home, I for one would be cool with that.

Juan Cole - Informed Comment

Blake Hounshell - Syria
Al-Assad's regime is proving to be its own worst enemy. Its Ramadan assault has utterly failed to cow the protesters and has riveted the world's attention on the slaughter. . .

Turkish President Abdullah Gul said the killings were "unacceptable" in the strongest comments yet by a Turkish official. . .

Miriam (Feministing) - Famine in Somalia hits women and children hardest

Lori (Feministing) - Media overlooks lesbian heroes in Norway shooting

Talking Points Memo
. . .Really makes me wonder what the President's plan is for the economy. And that's not a dig. I'm really curious.

Daniel Davies
. . .The basic issue, and the one which ought to have people running around like their hair is on fire, is the unemployment rate. That, combined with the interest rate, shows you that deficit reduction is the stupidest possible policy at the current time. This is a very important issue, and the current President of the USA is on the wrong side of it. . .

. . .I am still irked by this "family budget analogy" that is out there doing so much damage in the world. Here's another go. . .

Another way to look at it: Inflation is not always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon. It is caused by too much money chasing too few goods. So you get inflation in two ways 1) producing too much money 2) producing too few goods. So by not supporting full-employment policies, "inflation hawks" are possibly causing 1) a lack of real investment in the present 2) a lack of real production capacity in the future 3) Recession now, and inflation in the future.

Paul Krugman - Clinton's trip recalls his finest moment (1997)
. . .In early 1995, only months after the crushing GOP congressional victory, a handful of officials persuaded Clinton to support a daring and extremely unpopular policy initiative: the rescue, with a huge loan, of Mexico's collapsing economy. Had that initiative failed, it might well have doomed Clinton's presidency. But it succeeded, and history may record the decision to go ahead with the plan as Clinton's finest hour. . .

. . .And so one day Rubin and Summers marched into the Oval Office with their plan -- and, incredibly, Clinton agreed. Mexico's economy, after plunging 10% in the first year after the crisis, has recovered most of the lost ground. Private investors are returning, and the Mexican government, years ahead of schedule, has repaid that emergency loan.

So what are the morals of the story? One is that sometimes it pays to listen to experts like Larry Summers -- and Clinton did. The other is that sometimes it actually pays to do the unpopular thing. If Clinton had listened to the polls that winter day, Mexico probably would be a basket case -- and Bob Dole probably would be president.


Time, Money & Politics
1. Political professionals (including political writers & reporters, I think)
2) Activist leaders
3) Activist rank and file
4) citizens/voters
5) non-citizens affected by US policies

I'd imagine the line between professional & activist leader is somewhat blurry, and I'm not sure how to draw that line. In any case, doesn't really concern me, as I am neither.

For activist rank & file:
Doable amount of political & non-political volunteering: 1 Saturday every 2 weeks + 1 weeknight a week = 350 hours. A 100/250 split, i.e. 100 hours a year for political volunteering, 250 for non-political volunteering

Doable amount of political and non-political money: 12% income, 1% to official candidates/parties, 1% to political entities outside any official party structure, 10% for non-political giving.

Religious worship/volunteering/donations: A portion of Sunday + another 10% tithing for religious organizations/charities. Alternatively, you could, as my English teacher used to say, worship at St. Kubiak's First Church of the Polish Hedonist. You wake up early Sunday and say "Thank you, St. Kubiak", then roll over and go back to sleep.


I actually think a common ground position on taxpayer subsidies for health insurance is that conservatives would agree that taxpayer credits to buy health insurance does not constitute taxpayer funding for abortion, and liberals would agree that school vouchers for religious schools do not constitute violation of separation of church and state. Instead, unfortunately, we have gone from the default position of freedom and live and let live to the default position of "I pay the money, so I get to control you."

George Orwell - The Lion and the Unicorn (1941)
. . .What it does link up with, however, is another English characteristic which is so much a part of us that we barely notice it, and that is the addiction to hobbies and spare-time occupations, the privateness of English life. We are a nation of flower-lovers, but also a nation of stamp-collectors, pigeon-fanciers, amateur carpenters, coupon-snippers, darts-players, crossword-puzzle fans. All the culture that is most truly native centres round things which even when they are communal are not official - the pub, the football match, the back garden, the fireside and the ‘nice cup of tea’. The liberty of the individual is still believed in, almost as in the nineteenth century. But this has nothing to do with economic liberty, the right to exploit others for profit. It is the liberty to have a home of your own, to do what you like in your spare time, to choose your own amusements instead of having them chosen for you from above. The most hateful of all names in an English ear is Nosey Parker. It is obvious, of course, that even this purely private liberty is a lost cause. Like all other modern people, the English are in process of being numbered, labelled, conscripted, ‘co-ordinated’. But the pull of their impulses is in the other direction, and the kind of regimentation that can be imposed on them will be modified in consequence. No party rallies, no Youth Movements, no coloured shirts, no Jew-baiting or ‘spontaneous’ demonstrations. No Gestapo either, in all probability. . .


A million dollars isn't cool! You know what's cool? A billion dollars! Things that are cool.