Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Keynes Stimulus

Keynes was a dissolute bigot who hated Americans. Therefore, we can't actually adopt his economic ideas. Right?

"He also, by the way, didn't like Jews, the French, the working class."
This American Life profiled John Maynard Keynes today, an actively gay member of the Bloomsbury Group, which included the Wolffs and many others who were experimenting with not only new ideas, but new sexual practices. Keynes was "too dirty" for them, according to correpondence among the group.

For some reason, economist Tyler Cowan is a primary source. In my view, this goes to the issue of the false journalistic standard of "balance," offering up counter arguments by people whose credibility is probably highly suspicious but are strictly "furniture" to achieve a false position of objectivity. They also quoted somebody from Cato. They referenced Krugman, but no other "left", pro-Keynesian that I noticed.
The show will be available for free for a week beginning Monday. Judge for yourself.
Cowan, economist (blog Marginal Revolution) says he's rereading Keynes and denies that Keynesianism during WWII got us out of the Depression. In fact, he maintains, the Depression continued throughout the war.

QUOTE O' TEH DAY: "Prescribing Keynesianism to some politicians is like prescribing crack to a coke addict."

Transfer of Wealth Dept., Cont'd

The reason Ag subsidies just aren't worth counting.
The income of the 400 wealthiest Americans swelled in 2006, soaring nearly 23 percent from the previous year, to an average of $263 million, according to data released Thursday by the Internal Revenue Service. Since 1996, this group has nearly doubled its share of all income earned in the United States.
The top 400 paid just more than $18 billion in federal income taxes in 2006, or an average of $45 million, on a record $105 billion in total income — the lowest effective tax rate in the 15 years since the agency began releasing such data.“Until recently, we had a financial system that rewarded investors, and we have a tax system that does as well,” said Robert S. McIntyre, the director of Citizens for Tax Justice.
Now wealthy people, he said, pay income tax rates well below those of working-class citizens because of a myriad of tax breaks. A lower capital gains tax, now at 15 percent, down from 28 percent in 1997, benefits investors with big portfolios.
The average adjusted gross income in 2006 of more than $263 million for the top 400 taxpayers compared with an average of $214 million in 2005. It was three and a half times what they earned in 1996, which was $74 million.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Charles-Edward: 9 Months


Out of Rehab

The woman who called Hillary a "monster" during the primaries comes back to the fold. It should be mentioned that Samantha Power has since married Cass Sunstein, a fellow law prof at Chicago with Obama who got appointed something or other also.

Samantha Power, the Harvard University professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who earned notoriety for calling Hillary Rodham Clinton a "monster" while working to elect Barack Obama president, will take a senior foreign policy job at the White House, The Associated Press has learned.

Officials familiar with the decision say Obama has tapped Power to be senior director for multilateral affairs at the National Security Council, a job that will require close contact and potential travel with Clinton, who is now secretary of state. NSC staffers often accompany the secretary of state on foreign trips.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Stimulus Bill

EE sends along a whole bunch of stuff from the Speaker's site that I don't feel like reading right now.
Maybe you do.
But this little reminder of how things used to be is worth the time. After all, it's only three paragraphs.
2003 Bush Tax Cuts: The House Ways and Means Committee acted on President Bush's tax cuts on May 6th.  Two days later, the Rules Committee met in emergency session at 9:00 p.m. and reported a closed rule, waiving all points of order against the bill.  There were no offsets included to pay for this bill, estimated to cost taxpayers $550 billion over three years.  The bill was quickly rammed through the House, with only 1 hour of debate and no amendments permitted -- even though 15 Democratic amendments were submitted, including more at the committee level. 

2003 Pension Bill: The Democratic Minority protested the lack of advance notice of a markup of a bipartisan pension bill that was dramatically rewritten the night before by calling for the reading of the bill, and leaving the committee en masse to the committee library nearby.  In response, Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) called the Capitol Police to evict the Democrats from the library and took away the minority's ability to delay by dispensing with the reading of the bill -- gaveling down the hearing before Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) could speak.

2004 Corporate Tax Bill: The Ways and Means Committee reported H.R. 4520, FSC/ETI Tax bill, and the Rules Committee met at 7 a.m. the next morning so the bill could be considered by the full Congress less than 24 hours after committee action.  The bill was sped through the House, with only 1 hour of debate and no amendments permitted to be offered (except for a manager's amendment).  Twenty-one amendments had been requested by the Democratic minority, and even more at the committee level.

Obama's Score So Far

From Politifact:
President Obama got off to a fast start in his first week in office. In our Obameter ratings, he earned six Promises Kept, plus 17 In the Works.

But he just earned his first Promise Broken -- for his  "sunlight before signing" pledge to allow a five-day waiting period for comments before signing a  bill. The full story is on their home page.

Link at top right on this page.

Not To Worry, He's On It

Women's health advocates were dismayed this week to see the removal of family-planning aid from Congress' economic recovery bill after a push by Republicans to politicize a generally cut-and-dry issue of Medicaid waivers. (Time has some good background here.)

TPM explains.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Those Pesky Ag Subsidies

This nugget is about all you need to know unless you are a wonk. I knew the cotton part, probably from some TV doc on Link TV or Bill Moyers or something, the rest was just sort of assumed. This skewed system is the fault of both parties for decades of corrupt response to lobbying and horse trading in the cloakrooms of Congress. Let's see how things work out now, if they do.
Okay, they probably won't but then, I wouldn't put them at the top of the list either.
Consider these facts. Ninety percent of all subsidies go to just five crops: corn, rice, cotton, wheat, and soybeans. Two thirds of all farm products—including perishable fruits and vegetables—receive almost no subsidies. And just 10 percent of recipients receive 75 percent of all subsidies. A program intended to be a “temporary solution” has become one of our government’s most glaring examples of corporate welfare.
U.S. taxpayers aren’t the only ones who pay the price. Cotton subsidies, for example, encourage overproduction which lowers the world price of cotton. That’s great for people who buy cotton, but it’s disastrous for already impoverished cotton farmers in places such as West Africa.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


It is all so corrupt. Who doesn't despair when you learn how blatantly they are using our money to screw us?
Maybe the Obama administration will act on this Challenge Congress story on Huffpo today about B of A hosting a conference call that included other bailout beneficiaries being urged and presumably pledging to oppose a piece of labor legislation. We're propping them up and they're spitting in our faces.
I was actually surprised when the administration made Citibank renege on the corporate jet buy. My jaw literally dropped.
We are not used to such quick action to bring the banks under close control. Maybe they believe they owe it to us to live up to the campaign promises.

Biz/Journo Conundrum

Warning: May be misuse of word conundrum, which I am too lazy to look up.
Felix Salmon at The Politico notes that the Wall Street Journal is apparently in the habit of re-writing Web stories and deleting the old story as if had never existed.
Troubling to those of us who learned to use newspaper accounts of events and activities as reliable historical resources. Not to mention the veritable elimination of the historical record of both events and profession observers (presumably the journalists writing the stories and editing them.)
UPDATE: Oops, Contrarienne stands corrected. Portfolio. Thanks, arps.

I Loves Me Some Mac

Thanks to Taplin, who recalls that Jobs ignored his own board's demand for a less revolutionary ad during the Superbowl.
Oh, yeah, Ridley Scott directed.

Balls, Brains, Rock 'N Roll

Cognitive psychologists examined intelligence tests and semen samples taken by and from 425 American men and found that intelligence had a significant impact on the count, concentration, and motility of sperm. The smarter men were also “fitter”.

Taplin picked it up from The Economist.

Lesbian Gets Second Worst Job In World

that's Andrew Sullivan's headline for the announcement of a possible new leader for Iceland.
It's so good, I wouldn't want to change it.
(Actually, I did change it a little so it would fit. If you're wondering, it's a takeoff on The Onion's "Black Man Gets Worst Job in World.")
If Sigurdardóttir does become prime minister, she will be the first woman to serve as prime minister in the country’s history and also the first openly gay prime minister in the world.

Who could have predicted only a few years ago that we might be reading the Iceland Review. Thank you, intertubes.

Because We Won Dept.

House Democrats win by 10.53%: The final popular vote percentages were 53.08%--42.55%, giving Democrats a 10.53% victory. This is the largest popular vote percentage victory for either party in either a Presidential or Congressional election since 1984 (the next largest victory was Bill Clinton with 8.51% in 1996). It is the first double-digit victory for any party in a national election in 24 years.

FYI, in case you get distracted by all the talking heads offering "balanced" news by featuring loser spokespeople as if it was a 50/50 situation.
h/t Andrew Sullivan for even reading Open Left.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Who To Blame

The Guardian puts out its list of the top 25 people responsible for the economic meltdown (and the six who saw it coming and warned us).
Granted, it's a little Brit-specific, but not very much. Most of it is American. Guess who's at the top? Hint: His initials are A.G.
Oh, you're on there, too. But you already knew that.

An Inaugral Photo

You may have missed. Thanks to NASA technology, a lot can be done from space. Someone over at Gigapan captured it all, including Justice Thomas snoozing during Obama's speech. Heh. Forever.
h/t Andrew Sullivan.


is the headline TPM gave this NYT story yesterday. I agree.
President Obama on Monday will direct federal regulators to move swiftly to grant California and 13 other states the right to set strict automobile emissions and fuel efficiency standards, two administration officials said Sunday evening.
The directive makes good on an Obama campaign pledge and marks a sharp reversal from Bush administration policy. Granting California and the other states the right to regulate tailpipe emissions is one of the most dramatic actions Mr. Obama can take to quickly put his stamp on environmental policy.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Highly Rec'd TV: From The Brits, Of Course

My local PBS station started airing Doc Martin this week and I must admit I was highly impressed. Anyone who is an Anglophile softie will love it.
It's about a surgeon who suddenly finds himself unable to tolerate the smell of blood or the singeing of blood vessels, so becomes a GP in a small village instead.
He both disappoints and enrages most of the residents his first day, partly because he's cold, blunt, irrascible and tartly witty. In other words, a Brit.
Unlike House, the show is extremely well-written, plotted and acted. (I loved Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster, though. He had such good lines, written by a master.)
It's not listed by PBS as one of its regular offerings, so I don't know how many stations are playing it.
To check out your local station schedule, go here.