Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Max Planck and the Macro Wars



Paul Krugman mentioned the Max Planck quote (see below) in a recent column. Matthew Yglesias makes generally the same point here:

Richard Tsukamasa Green rightly notes that Thomas Kuhn would not be surprised by the fact that the Great Recession has barely changed anyone's minds about anything. Instead, as Scott Sumner (at the end) and Paul Krugman both in different ways imply if the intellectual climate changes for the better it will be because it changes what subjects and methods young people think are interesting.

"Truth never triumphs—its opponents just die out," said Max Planck, "science advances one funeral at a time."

That's one of those quotes where I'm not sure the famous guy to whom it's attributed ever actually said it. But it correctly captures the contours of change. Ideas that are at the margins in one cohort may become mainstream in the next because they seem more appealing or fruitful or relevant. But already established figures very rarely change their views about anything that's important to them. Instead they apply their intelligence to rationalizing their own desire to not switch views. And since we're normally not interested in the opinions of stupid people, we find that smart people are very good at applying reason to the task of rationalization.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Thom Hartmann Explains Why US Public Debt Is Inconsequential


Thom Hartmann Expalins Why US Public Debt is Inconsequential

Monday, February 18, 2013

Are the Republicans Beyond Saving?



From the site:

The spectacle of the Republicans, like teenagers longing to be invited to the prom, floundering about in search of more popularity with American voters, would be comical if it didn’t present the sad picture of a once great and proud party—the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower—working its way into near irrelevance. The Republican Party is having its own form of PTSD. According to one of the most respected party elders the Republicans firmly believed that the voters would reject Barack Obama for a second term and deliver the Senate back into their hands. Wishful thinking combined with erroneous polling assumptions left them totally unprepared for the thumping loss they sustained and they are still in something of a state of shock. “They’re still close in time to that event,” the party elder said. “You need to keep that in mind. Right now they’re groping around in a dark room.”

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Full text: Obama's 2013 State of the Union address



From the site:

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, fellow citizens:

Fifty-one years ago, John F. Kennedy declared to this Chamber that "the Constitution makes us not rivals for power but partners for progress...It is my task," he said, "to report the State of the Union - to improve it is the task of us all."

America's Misguided Approach to Social Welfare



From the site:

Debates about the proper role and size of government dominated the 2012 U.S. presidential election. President Barack Obama; his Republican rival, Mitt Romney; and their surrogates relentlessly sparred over who should pay what taxes, who should get what benefits, and how Washington should manage major sectors of life, such as health care and education. What neither side made clear was how the United States stacks up against other developed countries. As other countries embraced big government and generous social policies in the middle of the twentieth century, the common wisdom goes, the United States sought a relatively small welfare state. And for partisans on both sides of the aisle, one of the key issues up for grabs on November 6 was whether such American exceptionalism would persist or fade away.

Original Sin Why the GOP is and will continue to be the party of white people

Original Sin  New Republic - Mozilla Firefox_2013-02-14_14-27-30


From the site:

With Barack Obama sworn in for a second term—the first president in either party since Ronald Reagan to be elected twice with popular majorities—the GOP is in jeopardy, the gravest since 1964, of ceasing to be a national party. The civil rights pageantry of the inauguration—Abraham Lincoln's Bible and Martin Luther King's, Justice Sonia Sotomayor's swearing in of Joe Biden, BeyoncĂ©'s slinky glamor, the verses read by the gay Cuban poet Richard Blanco—seemed not just an assertion of Democratic solidarity, but also a reminder of the GOP's ever-narrowing identity and of how long it has been in the making.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Campaign dinner address of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (the Fala speech)



Audio file of FDR’s ‘Fala’ speech – some things never change – here’s a quote:

The opposition in this year has already imported into this campaign a very interesting thing, because it is foreign. They have imported the propaganda technique invented by the dictators abroad. Remember, a number of years ago, there was a book, Mein Kampf, written by Hitler himself. The technique was all set out in Hitler's book - and it was copied by the aggressors of Italy and Japan. According to that technique, you should never use a small falsehood; always a big one, for its very fantastic nature would make it more credible - if only you keep repeating it over and over and over again.

Well, let us take some simple illustrations that come to mind. For example, although I rubbed my eyes when I read it, we have been told that it was not a Republican depression, but a Democratic depression from which this Nation was saved in 1933 - that this Administration this one today - is responsible for all the suffering and misery that the history books and the American people have always thought had been brought about during the twelve ill-fated years when the Republican party was in power.

The world is spending more time mired in banking crises



From the site:

That’s good news, but it’s not enough to get us back to full employment any time soon. Even if we add an average of 208,000 jobs per month, we won’t get back to pre-recession levels of employment until August 2020, according to The Hamilton Project. That finding depends in part on estimates of how many new people will enter the workforce, but it’s largely consistent with the findings of a new paper from the Bank of England that investigates the long-run effects of banking crises.

As the authors of that paper found, banking crises are fundamentally different from other kinds of economic crises, like debt crises and currency crises. Banking crises tend to produce both a short-term drag on productivity and, also, a long-term drag on growth. As Peter Orszag, the former director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote this week:

For each year of a financial crisis, the level of gross domestic product per capita is reduced in the long term by 1.5 percentage points. In other words, a crisis lasting five years permanently lowers GDP per capita by a whopping 7.5 percentage points.

So banking crises are incredibly destructive for the economy broadly, as well as for human capital and even for our political institutions, as economist Joseph Stiglitz has noted. And not only do banking crises restrain growth in the long term, they also produce vastly inequitable distributional effects. In the first year of the recovery, for example, the top 1% of earners recovered 90% of the income gains. Corporate profits have soared to a high of 10% of GDP, while employee compensation has fallen to a low of 43.5%.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

How Republicans Plan To Rig The Next Presidential Election, In Six Pictures



From the site:

Yesterday, Virginia Republicans took the first step to move a GOP plan to rig the Electoral College forward in that state. Similar plans are under consideration in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

The Republican election rigging plan targets blue states that President Obama won in 2008 and 2012, and changes the way they allocate electoral votes to give many of these votes away for free to the Republican candidate for president. Under the Republican Plan, most electoral votes will be allocated to the winner of individual Congressional districts, rather than to the winner of the state as a whole. Because the Republican Plan would be implemented in states that are heavily gerrymandered to favor Republicans, the resulting maps would all but guarantee that the Republican would win a majority of each state’s electoral votes, even if the Democratic candidate wins the state as a whole.