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.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?
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.

Comments: Post a Comment