Weekend Update 03-17-2012

What Greece Means. It doesn’t seem particularly hard to understand to me. Nor is it just theory. The “austerity model” predicted a particular result if followed. It was followed and produced a dramatically different result instead. In science, we would say the hypothesis has been proven wrong, yet many economists still cling to their failed and discredited model. Go figure.

It’s another attempt to show how the analogy comparing slashing government during an economic downturn to a “family tightening its belt” is so wrong. Unless, of course, you think the members of that family should quit their jobs and slash their household income in order to make things better.

Romney in trouble with “conservatives” for having been rational both morally and pragmatically in an op-ed written in 2009. Another one for the “reality is stranger than fiction” bin.

The Myth of the Non-Paying 47 Percent. This is one of the GOP attempts to incite class warfare in order to distract Americans from the modern robber barons looting our country. I thought this one was so transparent it wouldn’t fool anyone, but I guess I was wrong. (I seem to continually overestimate people.) The “non-paying” 47% actually pay a significant percentage of their income in taxes when you factor all the taxes into the mix. And since some of those taxes, especially at the state and local levels, are pretty regressive, they can actually end up paying a larger percentage of their income in taxes than the super wealthy like Romney. What we actually have and what Republicans are desperately trying to protect, is a wealthy class at the very top who leech profit from our society while paying very little back.

Comparing the North Dakota boom with the Pennsylvania boom. It’s a good comparison because the increase in employment in Pennsylvania from fracking is similar to the boom in North Dakota now that it is finally profitable for oil companies to drill the extremely deep oil in that state. (We’ve known about the pool for decades. At $23 a barrel, it wasn’t profitable to extract.) Actually, although the employment curves are similar, it’s really only a “boom” in North Dakota. Why? Pennsylvania has 20 times the population. So the impact of a single industry is diluted. It’s only a “boom” in North Dakota because North Dakota’s population is tiny.

The Difference Between Private and Public Morality. Robert Reich states it eloquently. Republicans have indeed staked out the moral low ground when it comes to public morality. Unfortunately, I don’t really see anyone on the Democratic side claiming the moral high ground. I wish someone would step up and do it. We desperately need a Teddy Roosevelt.

Why gas prices are really rising. I’ve actually seen a number of economists describe the easily regulated speculation Robert Reich describes. We’re going to keep having these little bubbles and spikes all over the place (and lots more of the big, illegal ones for which nobody meaningful is ever prosecuted) until we finally regulate the financial and banking industries again. How bad does it have to get before people make the connection? Of course, those facts run counter to the GOP story. That’s probably why they are the all fantasy, all the time party now.

Here’s a graph illustrating the annualized growth in real per capita spending under all the administrations over the administrations of the past forty years. Of course, it’s well-established that the current crop of right-wing ideologues are completely inured to anything resembling facts or reality, but hopefully it’s helpful to some.

In an ironic twist, the plaintiff in a suit against the individual mandate who didn’t feel she needed or should be required to purchase health insurance has filed bankruptcy. About a tenth of the debt that will be discharged consists of unpaid medical bills. The hospital calls the non-payment normal for the uninsured and provides the immense cost — a cost that is then passed on to all the rest of us.

Here’s an interesting bit of photojournalism. A reporter asked Southern voters why they believed President Obama won in the first place. The slide show gives us pictures with their explanations to the right. I’m Southern born and bred, so I can’t really say the answers surprise me. Appall me? Sure. But shock me? No. Not at all.

Indeed, too much of what I hear reduces the great mysteries of Christianity to something easy to grasp. And an overly individualized Christianity misses its cosmic aspect. Fr. Stephen on the third Sunday in Lent, set aside to honor the Venerable and Life-Giving Cross.

Rob Reid: The $8 Billion iPod. It’s a comedic look at copyright math. We do need to reform the law. We need to restore copyright expiration to a “limited period” (and I’m in favor of the period when our country started) instead of indefinitely extending it to protect Mickey Mouse. We need to reform patents (and eliminate software “patents”). And basically inject some sanity back into the whole process.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted March 17, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    I love your weekend updates. You read so many places I don’t but I always like your links. They make me think. Sometimes I agree, sometimes not. But I like to think. Thanks.

  2. Posted March 17, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    Thanks! I realized that I was reading a number of things I found interesting during the week, but which didn’t warrant a post of their own. (Well, some people — including some of the ones I follow — take that approach, but it’s not really my style.) I noticed that others were doing weekly collections of such tidbits and decided to follow suit myself. I’m glad you like them. I try to cull just the ones I find particularly interesting.

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