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, January 07, 2012
Andrew Sullivan (Daily Dish) - Today In Syria: Another Bombing

ADAM NOSSITER (NYT) - For Congo Children, Food Today Means None Tomorrow

Arthur Silber - Still Here, Very Sick
I'm in very bad shape at the moment. Kind of scary times here. I'm sorry to say that's about all I'm capable of saying right now. The articles I'm working on and want to publish next are complicated. When I run through the arguments my subjects require, I heave a deep sigh and think: "Dear lord, I can't possibly explain all that when I feel this terrible.". . .

. . .So I'm stuck in this remarkably unfriendly and barren territory. I hope a path out of here will reveal itself soon. For the duration, I ask for your understanding and indulgence.

UPDATE: Lots of talk about Iran these days. A reader reminded me of this article of mine, from almost five years ago: "So Iran Gets Nukes. So What?" Change just a few specifics, and it could have been written this morning. As for what is likely to happen in the wake of an attack on Iran, and concerning the meaning and significance of such a monstrous act, see: "Morality, Humanity and Civilization: 'Nothing remains ... but memories.'"

Those articles are good. . .

It is important to remember that we've been told for well over 5 years that Iran's nuclear program was, not "undesirable", or "scary", but "unacceptable", "inconceivable", "unimaginable", red-alert urgent urgent urgent, requiring large amounts of war and near-war ASAP. I wonder if those whose claims on Iran's nuclear program have turned out to be false are willing to go back and examine why?

Violet Socks - Life

Gary Farber - Tenth Blogiversary

Susie Madrak - ADD nightmare
Seriously, how frustrating (and silly) is this, that the DEA is keeping people from getting needed medication?
Medicines to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are in such short supply that hundreds of patients complain daily to the Food and Drug Administration that they are unable to find a pharmacy with enough pills to fill their prescriptions.

The shortages are a result of a troubled partnership between drug manufacturers and the Drug Enforcement Administration . . .

letsgetitdone (corrente) - The Job Guarantee and the MMT Core: Part Three, A Reply to John Carney

Why leaks are essential, and why too much secrecy and reverence for top-secret, classified information can damage national security:
ADAM ENTOUS and JULIAN E. BARNES in Washington and MARGARET COKER in Abu Dhabi (WSJ) - U.S. Doubts Intelligence That Led to Yemen Strike
Top U.S. military leaders who oversaw missile strikes last year against al Qaeda targets in Yemen suspect they were fed misleading intelligence by the country's government and were duped into killing a local political leader whose relationship with the president's family had soured. . .

making a similar point, a very good Bill James article in Slate, published in 2010, which I just read:
Bill James - Life, Liberty, and Breaking the Rules: In defense of Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, jaywalkers, and all the other scofflaws that make America great.
There is no real difference between sending Babe Ruth to jail and sending Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens to jail. The only relevant difference is the difference between America in 2010 and America in 1940 . . .

. . .The answer is. . .tolerance and vigilance, and it is a sense of perspective. The people who sent Martha Stewart to jail were the people who were supposed to be watching Wall Street. They went after Martha Stewart because she was an easy target. . .

. . .So now it is Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds in the cross hairs of the prosecutors, and the question I would urge you to think about is not only "Are these people guilty?" It is also, "Is this prosecution necessary and appropriate?"

Who is it that these people are not watching? We know now, in retrospect, who the people who sent Martha to jail should have been watching. In 10 years, we will know who is robbing the candy store while the feds are chasing Roger. . .

Question: What do Saez and other public finance economists think of wealth taxes versus income taxes, and treatment of capital income versus wage income?

Julian Pecquet (The Hill) - Health care execs top list of highest-paid CEOs
. . .John Hammergen, CEO of the pharmaceutical distributor and technology firm McKesson, made $145 million, according to GMI. Joel Gemunder, CEO of Omnicare — the nation's leading provider of medicines for seniors — made a reported $98 million. . .

Nasty, low, suspicious mind that I have, can't help wondering whether the hospitals being so extraordinarily generous to Hammergen & Gemunder are being bribed to be so.

Markets work very well for long, repeated games, not so much for one-shot and limited shot games. And the higher executive pay becomes, the more the CEO's relationship with their company, and with the broader economy, becomes one-shot or limited-shot, instead of repeated. i.e. "make your pile by hook or crook, and then after that they can't touch you". A nation dreaming of accumulating their fuck-you money, instead of defeating the desire to say fuck-you.

Water-Cooler Wisdom: "These CEOs man, they have no sense of ownership, no sense of loyalty, they swoop in, make drastic changes, swoop out with a big severance, leave a big mess to clean up. I think they take their inspiration from George W. Bush".

Dean Baker - Hiding Upward Redistribution Policies as Market Outcomes

Congrats to Romney. The first Mormon 2-party nominee is a milestone worth celebrating. But did Santorum win Iowa?

Next blog post: Jan. 20

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