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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Tuesday, August 11, 2015




note: mostly postponing this scheduled blog post to 12/22/2015. My thoughts seem to me to divide into 2 streams, big talk (politics) and little talk (personal).

In terms of big talk, my opinions are basically 1. Don't kill people (unless absolutely necessary, etc. etc.) 2) Don't jail people (unless absolutely necessary, etc. etc.) 3) Less fear (fear of homelessness, healthcarelessness, long-term unemployment, bankruptcy, being killed, being jailed, etc. etc.) 4) More freedom (economic, social, etc. etc.)

It seems to me the economics profession is confused about whether more economic freedom is good or bad. On the one hand, more economic freedom seems like it should be the point of the economics profession. On the other hand, more freedom makes people less responsive to incentives. In practice, the economics profession gets around this by dividing humanity into 2 classes, investment and labor. For the investor class, more freedom is an unalloyed good. For the labor class, more economic freedom is at best ambiguous, at worst downright bad.

In terms of little talk, my opinion is basically "Do your best, and let God do the rest". That phrase actually comes from an old Ben Carson interview, note that I think Carson is not actually following his advice when it comes to his political campaign. I think Carson doing his best would involve, among other things: 1) Having a detailed replacement for Obamacare, rather than sketchy HSA hand-waving. Carson in one of his books is quite informative about how low Blue Shield reimbursement rates threatened his practice. It seems to me a complicated problem, which would require complicated regulations. Yet Carson plays to the crowd by mocking Obamacare for its complexity. 2) Willingness to meet and talk with LGBT Christian groups such as SDA Kinship.

The Marco Rubio statement on living paycheck to paycheck and having student loan debt is inspiring, until you realize what it took to solve his financial problems:


To paraphrase the old Zell Miller line, "Not everyone can be rich. Not everyone can be handsome. Not everyone can have a billionaire patron. That's why we have a Democratic party."

next post: 12/22/2015