Skip to main content

Bloomberg is reporting that Larry Summers is on a very short list for nomination as Secretary of the Treasury.  One doesn't need to look at the global financial meltdown to recognize that this is a truly critical post but the impact and import of this post cannot be underestimated.  With the need to move toward a more sensible energy policy and the myriad of issues of Global Warming, hopefully, a (if not, the) top agenda item for the coming Administration, it is important to place an environmental/energy/global warming lens against every potential cabinet appointee. And, in this vein, Larry has provided very serious reasons to question his candidacy ... if not torpedo it.  

For example, when at the World Bank, Summers signed a memo advocating exporting polluting industry and toxic pollutants to Lesser Developed Countries (LDCs), a concept which is fundamentally at odds with any concept of environmental justice and blindly ignorant of the potential and imperative for 'clean' developmental prospects.  If Summers still holds to any of the concepts he put forth in that memo, he simply should not be considered for a Cabinet position.

As Max Blumenthal reminds us, Summers wrote (signed?) a memowhile working at the World Bank that promoted pursuit of increasing pollution in the developing world as a path toward leading, eventually, to a cleaner development path. [Note that this memo has a long and controversial history.] This is very much in line, in many ways, with the development path that the World Bank has been following, with a very serious over-emphasis on traditional fossil-fuel energy and the promotion of high-energy intensity, high-pollution development in many parts of the world under the thesis that a society requires income from development, even if high polluted, before it will have the societal pressure and resources to clean up the environment.  

Sadly, as per Summers' 1991 argument, this is a fundamentally flawed argument on many levels.  For example, as we are seeing in the conundrum of China's development, it ignores the very real and very heavy drag that high pollution can have on development rates. It also, in essence, ignores the global impact of pollution shifting, a shifting of the chairs of pollution that is not affordable when we consider global challenges (e.g., Global Warming).  It is also, at its core, an ethically troubled, if not bankrupt approach, asserting a fiscally-driven basis for arguing why 'poor' people are more appropriate to poison than the wealthy.  Finally, as per the last item, it indicates a weltanschauung driven by financial models when, even heading the Treasury Department, looking at the world solely through a green-eye shade is no longer justified in seeking to develop sensible policy moving into the future.

Let us look at the extracts of memo in question:

DATE: December 12, 1991
TO: Distribution
FR: Lawrence H. Summers
Subject: GEP

'Dirty' Industries: Just between you and me,

Someone writing "just between you and me" should always be wary that the "you" is quite likely to expand in numbers.

shouldn't the World Bank be encouraging MORE migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [Less Developed Countries]?


I can think of three reasons:

  1. The measurements of the costs of health impairing pollution depends on the foregone earnings from increased morbidity and mortality. From this point of view a given amount of health impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wages. I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.

The moral element that is clearly absent: poor people earn less therefore it is appropriate to shift to poisoning them since that will have a lower economic cost.  We must wonder whether Summers greets events such as the 2006 poisoning of 40,000 or so in Cote d'Ivoire via an illegal dumping and other pollution dumping in Africa with approval as smart economic policy.

Environmental Justice is, evidently, something that a Larry Summers of December 1991 was unaware of and certainly unconcerned with promoting.  Prior to any appointment, we should hope that Summers is questioned about environmental justice issues (in the United States and globally) and left out of the nomination process if his answers do not substantively reject the philosophy implied and stated in this paragraph.

  1. The costs of pollution are likely to be non-linear as the initial increments of pollution probably have very low cost. I've always though that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly UNDER-polluted, their air quality is probably vastly inefficiently low compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City. Only the lamentable facts that so much pollution is generated by non-tradable industries (transport, electrical generation) and that the unit transport costs of solid waste are so high prevent world welfare enhancing trade in air pollution and waste.

The challenge and importance is not lowering "air pollution and waste" but ensuring that the burden of that waste is fairly shared?  

  1. The demand for a clean environment for aesthetic and health reasons is likely to have very high income elasticity. The concern over an agent that causes a one in a million change in the odds of prostrate cancer is obviously going to be much higher in a country where people survive to get prostrate cancer than in a country where under 5 mortality is is 200 per thousand. Also, much of the concern over industrial atmosphere discharge is about visibility impairing particulates. These discharges may have very little direct health impact. Clearly trade in goods that embody aesthetic pollution concerns could be welfare enhancing. While production is mobile the consumption of pretty air is a non-tradable.

Let us develop in a dirty manner so as to develop social awareness and concern about cleaning up the environment?

The problem with the arguments against all of these proposals for more pollution in LDCs (intrinsic rights to certain goods, moral reasons, social concerns, lack of adequate markets, etc.) could be turned around and used more or less effectively against every Bank proposal for liberalization.

A ha, the real issue is that morality and other things will foster opposition to the World Bank's drive for liberalization which, of course, must be pursued at full speed, damn the torpedoes (damn the risks).  

There are many things striking in these paragraphs, none of which reflect well on the author. In part, what is most striking is what is absent: no discussion of any concept of alternative, cleaner development paths.  Those paths clearly exist now and we must, as an imperative for our own interests (Global Warming, stability, wealth creation globally), be making those paths central not only to our own internal economic progress but to any and all aid programs internationally.  Considering the imperatives to deal with Global Warming and pursue better development paths, anyone holding the views of this memo should not be in a senior government position. If, on these issues, the Lawrence Summers of 2008 remains the same "Lawrence H. Summers" who wrote this memo, then Larry Summers should not be in the Administration.

Oh, yes, this memo leaked into the public a long time ago.

International Reaction

With an Administration that will be striving to rebuild America's stature in the world, perhaps it is worthwhile to remember the international reaction to the leaking of Summers' memo.  

After the memo became public in February 1992, Brazil's then-Secretary of the Environment Jose Lutzenburger wrote back to Summers: "Your reasoning is perfectly logical but totally insane... Your thoughts [provide] a concrete example of the unbelievable alienation, reductionist thinking, social ruthlessness and the arrogant ignorance of many conventional 'economists' concerning the nature of the world we live in... If the World Bank keeps you as vice president it will lose all credibility. To me it would confirm what I often said... the best thing that could happen would be for the Bank to disappear." Sadly, Mr. Lutzenburger was fired shortly after writing this letter.

Mr. Summers, on the other hand, was appointed the U.S. Treasury Secretary on July 2nd, 1999, and served through the remainder of the Clinton Admistration.

UPDATED:  This memo has, over time, received discussion.  From the wikipedia discussion:

excerpt was leaked to the media with the implication that it was a serious, standalone memo ...

Lawrence Summers initially accepted responsibility for the memo, but claimed that this argument was satirical and not meant to be taken seriously. An aide, Lant Pritchett, later stated that he had written the memo and Summers had only signed it. Critics have argued that even if it was meant as satire, the memo is in fact an accurate reflection of existing World Bank policy.

But, as to its being a satirical memo and a misconstrued partial publication, here is how Summers reacted to this:

"I think the best that can be said is to quote La Guardia and say, "When I make a mistake, it's a whopper.'"

Thus, perhaps this was simply a mistake and the fact that the concepts within this fit perfectly with the Bank's actual operating patterns is irrelevant ...

Not just one memo ...

There are many other troubling items to remember from Summers' past such as his questioning women's ability to do science (more traditional media story from Boston Globe) and, relevant to the Treasury Department, how he seems to have been fundamentally wrong about (or blindsided by) the financial travails of the stock bubble, deregulating the financial markets, and the $8 trillion or so housing bubble.  This memo, and the philosophy behind, are highly troubling. The appointment could signal something significant about Barack Obama's governing philosophy.

As Blumenthal comments,

If Obama nominates Summers, he will send a dispiriting message to governments of developing countries -- especially in Africa -- just as they have begun to look at the United States as a beacon of hope.

It is too early to take steps to dash those hopes.

A final word ...

To be clear, this "memo" is not enough grounds for fighting Summers, but it is something that does merit discussion. And, if it was satire, that discussion should help foster a discussion of smart policy moving forward.

NOTE: Evidently, it is time for a change ... post-election environment somewhat different?  It has been several months since one of my diaries has been on the recommended list (thanks Rescue Rangers for the number of callouts).  On election day, I wrote Heed Barack's call:  The morning after and beyond ... discussing a path to turn the massively effective and quality election effort into paths for achieving continuing change in society, using energy efficiency as a starting example. It had relatively low readership ... and I would welcome thoughts/comments/suggestions/reactions if you're interested.

Finally, one poster thought this worthy of a Digg, if you wish: Digg.

UPDATE 2: This diary was a quick shot at highlighting a controversial Larry Summers memo and to raise questions that merited discussion/asking.  It was (is) not an effort to examine the totality of Summers' views on environmental/global warming issues.  That would be a separate piece.  You might, however, be interested in Summers' 2007 OPED Practical steps to climate control:

If global warming is the ultimate inconvenient truth, the most important inconvenient truth about global warming policy, argued in last month’s column, is what happens in the developing world. These countries will deliver three-quarters of the increase in global greenhouse gas emissions over the next generation, on current forecasts. ... Whatever targets are negotiated or set, emphasis should also be placed on concrete measures that will have meaningful impact.  ... the major industrial countries should commit to a very large increase in funding for research in technologies that offer the prospect of reducing the concentration of greenhouse gases, such as renewable energy, carbon sequestration and energy efficient engines. They should also learn a lesson from the pharmaceutical experience and commit to making intellectual property relating to clean energy available to developing countries on preferential terms. It may be that ambitious emissions- reduction targets can be achieved with existing technology, yet new technologies could help. ... the World Bank ... should ... take on as a major mission the provision of subsidised capital for projects that have environmental benefits that go beyond national borders. There is much that can be done to encourage energy efficiency in almost every sector within developing countries, yet national governments have inadequate incentives to take account of global impacts.

While not agreeing with everything that Summers writes in this OPED, there is grounds for more positive discussion than what is the case with the 1991 memo. Again, this diary was not and did not pretend to be about covering the totality of Summers' career and views on sustainable development. That is a work for another day and perhaps another author.

NOTE / ACTION: For those not supportive of Summers (for reasons other than this diary), you will want to check out the No Summers petition at Open Left.

Originally posted to A Siegel on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 04:55 AM PST.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tips / Mojo: 6 Nov 2008 (358+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kimberley, Marshall, clb, M Aurelius, Doug in SF, BrooklynBoy, vicki, Terri, northsylvania, Sean Robertson, Mogolori, homunq, Peace JD, Odysseus, nu, hester, melo, copymark, kate mckinnon, Cathy Willey, pHunbalanced, ScientistMom in NY, mattman, bread, Shockwave, Pescadero Bill, formernadervoter, meg, rhubarb, eeff, dkistner, Sandy on Signal, Cambridgemac, acuppajo, sobermom, SallyCat, shpilk, dlcox1958, MarkInSanFran, Pd, mataliandy, Heart of the Rockies, Plan9, geordie, roxtar, opinionated, Blue Patriot Woman, bronte17, chenico, BlackGriffen, understandinglife, MD patriot, srkp23, Xapulin, Pithy Cherub, wanderindiana, cosmic debris, Porfiry, roses, JuliaAnn, javelina, kanuk, Bronxist, juslikagrzly, sngmama, andreww, enough already, wader, worldwideellen, emmasnacker, American Zapatista, Urizen, Tracker, f furney, brainwave, cosette, pdl ithaca, homo neurotic, Penny Century, betson08, renaissance grrrl, rockhound, alizard, fritzrth, inclusiveheart, help, One bite at a time, side pocket, parryander, JayDean, jcrit, Albanius, The Gryffin, pontechango, BDA in VA, davidkc, Big Tex, luvmovies2000, rapala, nailbender, greenskeeper, joanneleon, marina, radarlady, olpotosi, Tinfoil Hat, salmo, NoMoreLies, keila, baccaruda, seesdifferent, PBen, PsychoSavannah, Philoguy, JohnB47, jhutson, panicbean, truong son traveler, dbsf, ChemBob, Brooke In Seattle, chidmf, devadatta, Mr X, GreyHawk, Phil S 33, docstymie, antiapollon, noemie maxwell, LithiumCola, distraught, politicslovr, Flippant, Indiana Bob, murasaki, noladq, dancewater, viscerality, skywriter, Mother Mags, light typing, surferal, esquimaux, trashablanca, BalanceSeeker, emperor nobody, Do Tell, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, Pinko Elephant, mjfgates, ej25, RustyBrown, alefnot, tung sol, BlueInARedState, Naranjadia, Still Thinking, Ellicatt, borkitekt, victoria2dc, Prognosticator, Junior Bug, akasha, EthrDemon, play jurist, Silent Lurker, NBBooks, triv33, MJ via Chicago, nonnie9999, Barry Leonardini, nilocjin, imabluemerkin, plf515, CTLiberal, PJHood, dirtfarmer, bendyguy, Dianna, means are the ends, RantNRaven, bstotts, Picot verde, coolsub, Temmoku, sasher, Quicklund, AmericanRiverCanyon, One Pissed Off Liberal, catadromous, cgiselle12, Cronesense, jessical, Old Gardener, Cat Whisperer, Bob Guyer, blue armadillo, FWIW, Stwriley, ChakraTease, 0wn, yoduuuh do or do not, FishOutofWater, DvCM, LillithMc, SJLeonidas, Jimdotz, terabytes, DWG, joyful, Uncle Moji, gatorbot, BlueInKansas, cyncynical, netguyct, TheCorkBoard, beemerr, jnhobbs, uciguy30, JohnnyRook, vet, Terra Mystica, TomP, Theghostofkarlafayetucker, VA Breeze, Light Emitting Pickle, kafkananda, leslieb310, alkalinesky, wondering if, tdub, condorcet, ynp junkie, Tchrldy, Mr Stagger Lee, limpidglass, SmedleyButlerUSMC, IdahoDem, binkaroni, mind unseen, lineatus, Calamity Jean, Lujane, CenFlaDem, TokenLiberal, Quicksilver2723, mofembot, Gemina13, petulans, KimD, bob zimway, James Kresnik, mary13L, Goodbye Kitty, msdrown, dont think, magicsister, In her own Voice, dmhlt 66, squarewheel, 1BQ, tabby, multilee, Florene, Texanomaly, aufklaerer, litoralis, Discipline28, banjolele, Carol in San Antonio, slaney black, history geek, Yalin, mkor7, another cascadian, Mercuriousss, prgsvmama26, mama hearts obama, AvoMonster, dawnt, MooseHB, OffHerRocker, notquitedelilah, blueocean, Losty, common green, CityLightsLover, audiored, 57andFemale, jfromga, FundaMental Transformation, etara, TenthMuse, Leftcandid, Colorado Billy, Words In Action, capasb, greenmt, gingerbeets, Julia C, Lazar, BigVegan, jwcisneros, TruthandTrust, sovery, patrickz, Obamican08, Pebbles, LaughingPlanet, stunzeed, Crabby Abbey, polar bear, melpomene1, scpato, creamer, dissonantharmony, sullivanst, ItsSimpleSimon, kratos, DrFitz, Earth Ling, sluggahjells, alethea, Fulcrum21, pistolwink, kissmygrits, Floande, bottles, Rnedewa, m2a0y1a2n, andycon, aussiefan, betty brown, bicycle Hussein paladin, imaginese, Moment, Onomastic, watershed, bria, fredlonsdale, the dogs sockpuppet, GreenSpear, Colorado is the Shiznit, RepTracker, Birchwood, BlueState Michigan, Olon, AuroraDawn, freesia, jbplum, buffalogal55, Freeman Bevan, Moe Gamble, sunshineflorida, BldrJanet, boyfromoz, greatlyconcerned, denison

    While this memo almost certainly does not represent the totality of Summers' views when it comes to environmental issues and development, it is a highly troubling (to say the least) discussion that President-Elect Obama should seek clarification about before appointing Summers to any cabinet position.

    •  Thanks for this. (133+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vicki, Terri, northsylvania, Peace JD, Odysseus, hester, copymark, pHunbalanced, mattman, formernadervoter, meg, rhubarb, Cambridgemac, sobermom, lzachary, SallyCat, shpilk, Pd, mataliandy, Heart of the Rockies, roxtar, opinionated, bronte17, understandinglife, JuliaAnn, Bronxist, sngmama, enough already, CitizenOfEarth, Urizen, Tracker, f furney, commonscribe, houyhnhnm, betson08, grrr, alizard, fritzrth, The Gryffin, pontechango, BDA in VA, luvmovies2000, joanneleon, marina, olpotosi, Tinfoil Hat, salmo, NoMoreLies, keila, seesdifferent, PsychoSavannah, Philoguy, jhutson, truong son traveler, ChemBob, EeDan, Flippant, berning, Mother Mags, light typing, esquimaux, trashablanca, Do Tell, tung sol, Ellicatt, victoria2dc, fromer, Junior Bug, A Siegel, gatorcog, imabluemerkin, means are the ends, RantNRaven, Picot verde, subav8r, JohnnySacks, Old Gardener, Stwriley, ChakraTease, 0wn, yoduuuh do or do not, FishOutofWater, gustynpip, Jimdotz, DWG, Uncle Moji, cyncynical, i like bbq, wondering if, cruz, Mr Stagger Lee, Lujane, CenFlaDem, mofembot, James Kresnik, xysea, msdrown, magicsister, Dems 2008, FudgeFighter, aufklaerer, litoralis, Discipline28, mkor7, AvoMonster, dawnt, MooseHB, paintitblue, OffHerRocker, notquitedelilah, blueocean, Losty, audiored, jfromga, Lazar, TruthandTrust, Crabby Abbey, sullivanst, kratos, Surly Cracker, Earth Ling, Floande, rwilly777, aussiefan, bicycle Hussein paladin, imaginese, Onomastic, the dogs sockpuppet, atoilune, Hopeful Skeptic, Olon, AuroraDawn, BldrJanet

      REC THIS UP, PEOPLE.  When I heard he was on the short list, I almost shat.  I have not worked my ass off for Obama to have a Sec of Treasury who thinks I'm an idiot b/c I'm a girl.

    •  But who else is will be better. I think Summers (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kujack, Cat Whisperer, jfromga, Floande

      has seen, just like Greenspan, that deregulation has failed. And just like with Biden, I think Obama wanting to tell the narrative of "They think this way now because their past views didn't turn out to be true, and now they see the light."

    •  I wouldn't mind.... (5+ / 0-) Paul O'Neill another drive around the block. He in fact DOES care about economic and environmental justice, even though he was CEO of Alcoa! He understands the scam that is the World Bank and would likely try to institute some ethics there too.

      Every good Christian should line up and kick Jerry Falwell's ass. - Barry Goldwater, 1981

      by Doug in SF on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:00:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Let's not have a tin ear for satire (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel, ravedave

      Summers and the memo's actual author, Lant Pritchett (far from a free market fundamentalist), have "clarified" their position many times over.  It was a satire.

      See this Harvard Magazine article for a fairly succinct summary.

      The key graf:

      In a recent interview, [Pritchett] explained that at Summers's request, he reviewed a draft of the bank's annual Global Economic Prospects report, focusing on trade liberalization. In a seven-page memo to Summers, he critiqued several aspects of the argument, including a claim that free trade would necessarily produce environmental benefits in developing nations. He questioned the data supporting that claim, and in criticism wrote as an "ironic aside" suggestions that if (in conventional economic terms) dumping pollutants on poor countries would be "welfare-enhancing" for the world as a whole, the bank ought to endorse that policy.

      "If we believe that all humans are human, than how are we going to prove it? It can only be proven through our actions." Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire

      by djs on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:16:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Larry Summers - always the idiot asshole (11+ / 0-)

      Racist, sexist, arrogant, inhumane exploiter and waster of resources - and shameless liar when caught out. He belongs in the GOP, not on our side of the aisle.

      "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

      by bellatrys on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:20:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is a foolish and misleading post (7+ / 0-)

      and the kind of willful caricaturization of person's life and work that I'd expect from the Rovian idiots just defeated rather than from open minded progressives.

      Larry Summers is all about putting ALL ideas on the table, sometimes only to reject them.  Of course, those of us more interested in political orthodoxy and conformity choose to selectively isolate small portions of those proposals to demonize him.

      You are making a big mistake.

      •  Or (11+ / 0-)

        We just don't want a misogynistic, Third-World exploiter anywhere near the White House.

        •  This is equally ignorant of his work and his (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jforman, Adam H, Maggie22, ravedave

          efforts.  When you want to solve problems, open-minded intellectuals sometimes introduce hypothetical solutions that may offend some . . . or even many.

          That they suggest them does not mean that they ADVOCATE them.  But due diligence demands that they be considered, even if only summarily, before being dismissed.

          Evangelicals dismiss the POSSILITY of benefits from stem cell research because it offends their MORALITY.

          Creating markets for pollution is an IDEA, one that would result in the exportation of pollutants to less well off nations.  Is suggesting such a solution a disqualification for Summers?

          Is suggesting, IF ONLY TO EXAMINE AND THEN REJECT, the idea of intrinsic aptitudes for science and math, a disqualification?  I think not.

          •  Upmodded (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            A Siegel

            I'm appalled at the mob mentality taking this place over.

            Summers made an egregious mistake with his women in science comment.  Is that mistake totally disqualifying, forever?  I'm not one of those people who ostracizes a person from public life after they make one serious mistake that they apologize for.

            As for this memo, the OP's tone was the correct one -- we need a clarification.  Something that will convince us that Summers doesn't advocate what he wrote then.

            We don't need mobs tarring and feathering people.  Summers may have made a bad, overly intellectual argument justifying sexism, but does that mean he should be branded as a misogynist for the rest of his life?

            I suggest people take a look at the plank in their own eyes here...

            •  He wasn't justifying anything . . he was merely (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              offering a path of inquiry.

              It is regularly argued that their are intrinsic, nuanced differences in cognitive function between men and women.  Carol Gilligan has argued that girls and boys resolve dispute differently.  Some linguists have argued that girls and boys exhibit differences in how they cognitively process the emotional content of language etc.  

              Of course we must all be vigilant to avoid essentializing any group, but that does not make PROPOSING a line of a inquiry a hanging offense.

              •  And that (4+ / 0-)

                path of inquiry was poorly grounded and justified sexism.  It was a stupid, inappropriate thing for somebody with a soapbox like him to say.

                Random people across the country listened to his hypothesis and assumed, reasonably, that it had some form of reasonable support.  And they felt justified being sexist.

                Summers' "line of inquiry" was to say that women's lower variance in SAT scores might mean that women are inherently less variant in aptitude, and therefore naturally less likely to hold Professorships.

                Unfortunately, there is no basis for suggesting an inherent difference.  Whatsoever.

              •  He was not a Professor of Women's Studies, (6+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                melo, democat, alizard, A Siegel, j1j2j3j4, kratos

                or a tenured Professor of Economics making an intellectual argument.  This is where he has a tin ear.  He was an administrator, the President of Harvard University, pushing for a re-centering of Harvard's academic focus onto Math & Science, an area of academia with a disproportionate dominance of men.  When personally championing a change, it's not necessarily the best (or most successful) route to do so by using arguments outside your area of expertise that can easily be construed as insulting and sexist.  This is Summer's personal sexism and his political hubris, he didn't have red flags going off before he opened his mouth.  

                As a former Harvard faculty, himself, Summers was keenly aware of the power of the faculty to take down a President.  I think he thought he was immune because he had taken down Cornell West earlier, and because he had the support of the Corporation & the professional schools.  This is sheer stupidity.  Everyone in academia knows that without the support of faculty, administrators (of all stripe) are toast.  Summers does not have the political capacity or managerial ability to be Secretary of the Treasury.  Of all times, we need a Secretary of the Treasury who will need to be able to persuade and convince, not rule by dictat.

                Listen, I think Summers is a bright guy.  He won a NSF award, I believe the first social scientist to do so.  Obama is clearly aware of the shit storm at Harvard, he & Michelle get the Harvard alum news.  I sincerely doubt that Obama, who has other options, will appoint Summers.  I think he will listen to him, as he does and should to a wide range of views, but Obama does what he thinks right.  Obama is President No Drama, Larry Summers is Drama.

                I'm a member of the Steve Obama Nation. You can call me Uncle "Steve" Moji.........and as ever, For droogie!

                by Uncle Moji on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 08:29:23 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  It's not about "one mistake" (4+ / 0-)

              It's about what it reveals about his mindset. Both of these examples were spoken in a moment of candor, and he only disclaimed the remarks in the face of outcry. Given that, I'm not about to be moved by apologist arguments for sexism and environmental racism.

            •  One thing, that overly intellectual argument (5+ / 0-)

              took a lot of thought and work. That should say something of his character and how he interacts professionally with women coworkers.

              And as for the memo, has it become common practice for American companies and sanctioned by our government? If so, what was his roll in helping to develop such policy and practice.

              So far, sounds pretty condemning.

              We have the opportunity to become a better nation. We have to vet those that will be in positions of power who can be counted on to push such an agenda.

              Why look backwards to someone like Summers at all?

              McCain, Republican Party, Palin = Captain, Sinking Ship, Anchor.

              by Pescadero Bill on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 08:29:02 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Creating markets for pollution is an idea (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            alizard, j1j2j3j4, i like bbq

            It just happens to be an incredibly abhorrent and sickening one.

            And the idea that men have an "innate preference" for math and science is an old sexist trope and the basis for men barring women from higher education for centuries. We can thank Summers for his terribly diligent work, but the idea has already been examined and rejected.

            •  Carbon trading (0+ / 0-)

              is an idea that might actually help reduce the amount of the pollution in the world, and is exactly the sort of incremental step we need to consider if we want to climb out of the hole we've dug ourselves into.

              Listen, if you don't like Summers because of the remark he made about women in science, fine.  I completely agree that it's inappropriate for the president of a university to make a comment like that, whether he actually believes it or not.

              But before you decide to hate him thoroughly and forever, perhaps you should find out what his actions regarding gender discrimination and diversity have been.  Also, has he ever said anything else about it?  If those reinforce your prejudices, you may justifiably keep them.  Until that, you are just as bad as the folks telling me they don't trust Barack Obama because -- well, you know, that socialist stuff he said.  It's demagoguery.

              •  If you want to defend Summers (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Odysseus, alizard, dotdot, i like bbq

                against accusations of sexism, that burden of proof is on you. If you have evidence that he's actively worked against gender discrimination, let's hear it. But don't accuse me of demagoguery for judging him on his own words.

                •  No, (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  if you want to attack somebody over charges of sexism or anything else, the burden of proof is on you.  Anything else makes you a demagogue.

                  •  Seeing as the proof (5+ / 0-)

                    Is a matter of public record, the work has already been done for me. Now do you want to make your case or do you want to continue throwing around epithets?

                    •  You're the one (0+ / 0-)

                      throwing epithets.  Do you mean to say that his public comments at this forum, the ones he said he didn't necessarily believe, and that he delivered in order to provide some controversy (which he was asked to do -- boy did he succeed with that) into the proceedings, that he hadn't repeated before and hasn't since, you mean those comments are your proof?

                      If the man had written books with the same upshot, or there were some other evidence to suggest he really believed this, then I think your charges of sexism would have some merit.  As it stands, there's another, better argument against him for what he said that day, which is that it was stupid of him, as the president of a university with female researchers and (much more importantly) students in the sciences to suggest these things in any context.  He certainly deserves some censure for such bad judgment, and I think he received that.  

                      But what you are saying is something different -- on both this and the other issue, you are saying that these one-time statements define him totally.  At least for the OP, this means any consideration he might receive for a job in the government is an open-and-shut case.

                      There is no difference between your position and that of the wingnut I talked with recently, who was convinced that Obama was going to move the country toward a radical form of socialism, with no proof whatsoever other than the couple of soundbites bandied about by Fox News.  My rebuttals to him were exactly the same.

                      Maybe Summers is sexist and amoral -- I don't actually know.  But a single statement on each question, for which there are plausible counter-explanations, is terrible evidence to support that.

                      •  Please stop this insulting and misleading analogy (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        alizard, j1j2j3j4, i like bbq

                        The idea that I'm basing my opinion of Summers on third-party reporting is insulting and inaccurate. You consistently draw this comparison despite the fact that I'm reacting to Summers' own words. And I'm sure the authors of The Bell Curve thought they were being wildly provocative as well; that in no way justifies their apologia for discrimination. And I think the fact that, in both cases, he got caught being candid by people when he didn't expect to be, and came up with a flimsy rationale to cover his ignorance, is as plausible an explanation as any.

                        •  Plausible, (0+ / 0-)

                          but doesn't justify the accusation.  You need something more than that.  It sounds like you aren't interested in finding out anything more.

                          I don't mean to insult you, but this discussion insults my idea of what's right.  Democrats aren't supposed to traffic in this sort of thing.  Republicans made a profession out of it, and look where it got them.

                          •  I don't understand (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            alizard, i like bbq, James Kresnik

                            why it's suddenly wrong to take people's words at face value, or how that makes me anything like a Republican. As I've said before, if you have evidence that his actions vis-a-vis gender discrimination differ from his remarks, then let's hear it. But up until now, all you've done is engage in accusations, smearing, and circular discussion.

                          •  Bullshit. (0+ / 0-)

                            Who's smearing who?  You're the one trafficking in innuendo. I am just pointing out the fallacy of your argument.  I haven't accused you of anything aside from making a bad argument.

                            It's hypocritical to ask people to believe that Obama's not a radical socialist, because he said we have to "spread the wealth around," then try to disqualify Larry Summers because you just know, in your heart, that these things he said which you don't like were "moments of candor."

                            It's a fallacious argument, and yes, it is exactly what the wingnuts tried to use against Obama.  According to them, when he said "spread the wealth around" and other similar things at other times, he was actually being honest, and all of the explanation about context and his record and proposals and anything else was just a lie to cover up what he really thought.  As a cut-down, it has some power.  As a real argument, worthless.  These people have made up their mind and they will use anything convenient to damage their target.

                            Having said all that, in the interest of doing your work for you, why don't you read the Boston Globe's take on this controversy at the time.  For the record, I agree with Hopkins, who didn't necessarily disagree on the subject of innate differences, but who thinks that social influences are more important and who also agrees that the worst part is the impact such words could have on students.  I hope you also note, however, the mitigating factors in the article, including the part where Summers, in the same talk, outlined his plans to increase the numbers of female faculty at Harvard.

                            You have hyperventilated so much against this guy, I don't have much hope of changing your mind.  But please, you have got to stop with going off half-cocked against somebody with the "I just know he's a bastard in my heart-of-hearts" bullshit.  Take a cue from Hopkins.  

          •  Oh puleeze (0+ / 0-)

            So here's an idea, let's just kill all the people responsible for causing pollution? Hey i'm just putting all ideas on the table here folks.

            "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." Mark Twain

            by dotdot on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 09:46:28 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  So educate me (5+ / 0-)

        What has Summers put on the table that was worthwhile? I'm asking, genuinely. All I really know about Summers is how badly he handled things at Harvard. If he's done some good, let's hear about it.

        •  Summers is about PROCESS, about inquiry and (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kujack, Maggie22

          about clear and comprehensive analysis.

          He understands that solutions to problems might require the asking of questions that offend; that do not conform to convention.  

          Suggesting questions that need to be asked does not imply that they are the eventual path to a solution.

          •  I don't think he fits the profile of the kind of (6+ / 0-)

            person we need in the Sec Tres position at this point in history.  I think we need to stay away from academics here because they are often too removed from the human impact of their ideological and philosophical acrobatics.

            I think the kind of economist who won the Nobel Prize for that micro loans program in 2006 would be the type of person we would want to look at.  Corporations and the financial industry are in trouble because they preyed upon each other and their consumer base.  If they are going to come back, they need the middle class, working class and impoverished folks to be revived.  We've handed out however many billions of dollars to big banks and insurance companies and yet everyday I see the financial commentators say "But everyone believes that the real problem is with foreclosures.  If we don't stop or slow the current rate we will continue to be in trouble."  If that really is the case, we need someone who is consumer oriented in their thinking.  We need someone who does not believe that throwing more money exclusively at the top will solve our problems because it will not.

            Life long free marketers have no clue what will work because they've spent their lives arguing and believing that everything having to do with regulation and consumer protection is bad.  What we need is someone who does not think government is bad and we need someone who is genuinely interested in main street folks.  That person will do more to up the sales at WalMart assuming they implement policies that fuel growth and stability for everyone not in that 2% of the wealthiest than any of their wacky free market ideas ever will.

          •  Actually ... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            alizard, marina

            I am far from expert on Summers' totality of career and otherwise, and haven't claimed to be expert.  But, excuse me, does "clear and comprehensive analysis" describe how he approached discussion of women in science. Even if he was honestly trying to spark a discussion of what barriers inhibited women from occupying a larger share of the 'prominent' scientific space, did his approach to raising that issue fit within this description of him?  

          •  I ask again (0+ / 0-)

            and this time more clearly, I hope:

            What concrete, positive changes has he brought about or set in motion?

            No dancing around with abstractions. What has he achieved? What has he done?

      •  Is that what he was doing when he said (5+ / 0-)

        women were less intrinsically capable of doing science than men?  Just floating ideas?  For what purpose?  To be an ass?  

        I think you don't understand that Summers is clearly fairly backwards, and not nearly brilliant and forward-thinking enough for these times.

        •  He did not DECLARE that women had an intrinsic (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          noema, Adam H, Maggie22

          disaptitude, he merely suggested that it was a question that could be examined, IF ONLY TO RULE IT OUT!.

          Surprisingly, the Faculty could not wrap their heads around this subtle distinction.

          My son was a Harvard student then and good, openminded liberal that he was (and remains), he was appalled at the shrill and small minded outcry from the faculty which forced Summers to resign.

          •  Agreed (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            A Siegel, j1j2j3j4, dotdot, kratos

            Summers got crucified for floating a hypothesis. I'm not totally convinced it was only in the spirit of ruling it out, though,  since, IIRC, he went on to offer some prima facie supporting evidence for believing that innate differences might be involved. That evidence was extremely shaky-- but its bizarre to throw someone out for what was, at the time, idle speculation.

            The bigger problem was that Summers was talking about this, and proposing an innate difference hypothesis, when he himself had the worst track record of promoting faculty diversity of any Harvard president in a very long time (again, this was years ago... a really big IIRC is necessary here).

            In any case, I strongly doubt that it was his comments on women and the sciences alone that prompted his vote-of-no-confidence. My understanding was that there were quite a number of reasons the faculty were pissed at him.

            •  Harvard is a shitty place to be an (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              undergraduate student.  

              Summers was devoted to correcting this but it would require the FAS (Faculty of arts and sciences) to return to their roots and actively TEACH rather than leaving that to Teaching Fellows.

              This pissed off alot of careerists more interested in research than teaching.  Not that they shouldn't both be emphasized but all those famous faculty at Harvard are essentially removed from the undergraduate experience.  Students are often taught and their work evaluated by TF's.

          •  I was also a Harvard student (6+ / 0-)

            then, and I don't agree with your son (no offense).

            Summers' argument was poorly grounded.  It's like saying "there is data to suggest that black people are less exceptional.  I'm just throwing a crazy hypothesis out there, and I'd like to be proven wrong!"

            People with soap boxes like Summers shouldn't be bandying about poorly supported hypotheses that justify sexism.

              •  Because they're fully unsupported (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                alizard, zett, i like bbq

                And people who hear about his comments will assume otherwise, and feel justified in their sexism.

                (just because a hypothesis is based on data doesn't mean the data support the hypothesis.  they didn't)

                •  So the inference made from the data should (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  be refuted, further data gathered, alternate hypotheses proposed and evaluated.

                  This is the essence of intellectual inquiry.  Ruling certain questions and conclusions out of bounds is, in fact, anti-intellectual and unscientific.

                  •  Nope (5+ / 0-)

                    There is no need to refute an unfounded inference.

                    It is unfounded.

                    The question is not out of bounds, I fully agree with you on that.  The lines of inquiry are also not out of bounds.

                    But it was irresponsible to make such an unfounded inference.  He is a public figure and people assumed that what he said was not unfounded.

                    •  His inference is founded on data. (0+ / 0-)

                      Read his actual words.  Perhaps you think his data is shite . . .. fair enough. Perhaps you think his sample size is statistically insignificant or badly drawn or flawed.  Also fair.  But if you think so . . then state clearly your criteria for ruling his inference unfounded and thus .. out of bounds.

                      •  Sure thing (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        inclusiveheart, i like bbq

                        The data showed a higher variance in SAT score for women than for men.

                        Summers hypothesized that this variance can be explained by differences in intrinsic aptitude.

                        ...but there is absolutely no evidence to support his claim.  His conclusion is possible, but is not founded.  That's a subtle distinction, but one that I think is accurate.

                        If you still doubt me, read up on how correlation does not imply causation.  There's plenty written about it, and it might help you understand why I'm making the conclusions I'm making.

                        In my opinion, the difference in variance is far, far more likely to be due to differences in brain development caused by socially-driven differences in how we treat boys and girls.

                        My belief is more founded than Summers', since there is literature to suggest that girls and boys are treated differently, and that these differences in treatment affect their development.  If you want those references I'd have to dig them up...they're from a Harvard professor whose name I can't remember right now.

                        •  Seven Sisters grad here and the de riguer of (5+ / 0-)

                          casual conversation whilst drinking at the campus bar trained me not to throw out wild hypotheses without all the data and memorized citations down to page numbers to back it up right there on the spot.

                          Admittedly, I had my own little parlour game for I got bored where I would throw out something crazy just to wind people up.  But that was just because it was so easy to freak people out in such a highly charged academic environment.  It was a small school and I had to have something to make things interesting beyond the usual gossip and shots.

                          But it was funny when I heard about Summers' comments because I knew he'd be in trouble and I thought he was kind of an idiot for not anticipating the backlash that would come from his statement.  The short hand image I had of him was that he was a guy who was probably better suited to sitting in the stacks writing papers than he was to talking to actual people who would respond to his ideas directly.

            •  For the record, my kid loved Harvard (0+ / 0-)

              My critique of the undergrad experience is my own, when compared to my other son who is graduating from a small liberal arts university and is getting a GRADE A education from professors who love . . who live . . to teach.  He has been directly engaged with them since his first month on campus and has never been in class with more than 20 people and has never had his work evaluated by anyone other than the professor who is teaching the class.

              Can you say that about your undergrad exp at Harvard?

              I know . . . it's Heresy to call into question the Holy value of the degree with a H on it . . ..we must all be so careful to never drop an H-bomb outside our community and revel in our collective advantage . . .

              Pardon the snark . ..

              •  Heh (0+ / 0-)

                I was not a very big fan of Harvard.  The Professors really couldn't have cared less about you.

                I'd do it again, though, because it opens a lot of doors.  Which makes me part of the problem, but what can you do.

                So don't worry that I take what Harvard Professors say as gospel.  I certainly didn't when it came to Summers and Pinker (among Summers' biggest defenders)  :)

          •  Bullshit (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            alizard, i like bbq, kissmygrits

            The full transcript, including the Q&A session afterward is here.

            There's no misreading it as something he wanted to posit so that it could be ruled out.

            And if you don't feel like going to another site, there's an extensive excerpt, including the follow-up Q&A where he specifically defended his position right in this diary.

            He did, indeed, say and MEAN that fewer women excel in the hard sciences because there are fewer women with the highest aptitudes (3 - 4 standard deviations above the norm). By his calculations, there's a 5 - 1 ratio of men vs women at the highest aptitude levels.

            Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze

            by mataliandy on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 09:54:54 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  I suggest (5+ / 0-)

          you take a look at what he actually said.  He was very wrong, but I wouldn't classify him as "clearly backwards."

          Here, I'll save you some time.  Summers commented on an article in Science magazine that showed that women and men have an equal mean score, but women have a lower variance in score than men.  This means that there are more men at the extreme highs and the extreme lows, whereas womens' scores stick closer to the mean and aren't as frequently extremely high or low.

          Summers suggested that this could be why there are fewer women Professors -- because while they're just as smart on average, there are fewer extremely smart women.

          ...his conclusions were very wrong.  He somehow forgot that correlation does not equal causation, and it's baseless to conclude biological differences without ruling out societal ones (which the paper tried to do, but can never do fully).

          But while it was a very wrong comment that supported sexism, it was proffered as a controversial hypothesis, and it did at least have a real idea behind it, wrong idea or not.

          I personally think he's an arrogant idiot, but not a misogynist at heart.

          •  OK, rather than paraphrasing, this IS what he (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            andrewj54, Maggie22


            "Because if my reading of the data is right-it's something people can argue about-that there are some systematic differences in variability in different populations, then whatever the set of attributes are that are precisely defined to correlate with being an aeronautical engineer at MIT or being a chemist at Berkeley, those are probably different in their standard deviations as well. So my sense is that the unfortunate truth-I would far prefer to believe something else, because it would be easier to address what is surely a serious social problem if something else were true-is that the combination of the high-powered job hypothesis and the differing variances probably explains a fair amount of this problem."

            So he is saying that the DATA, when examined dispassionately, implies something that he'd prefer not to believe but does precisely because it is data.  And he clearly acknowledges that IT IS SOMETHING PEOPLE CAN ARGUE ABOUT.

            So he is guilty of what?  Drawing a political incorrect conclusion?  If so . . .not even a fully committed one . . . sheesh.

            •  Yeah, but the point is (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mataliandy, i like bbq

              that the data do not imply this when examined dispassionately.  Differences in variance in an SAT score do not in any way imply biological differences, and he should know that.

              He was wrong, and it was a stupid thing for a President of Harvard to say.  But you're totally right to point out that he doesn't necessarily believe it, and he clearly isn't some backwards misogynist.

              •  Who says they don't imply this? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                You?  Me?  The Committee for Guarding the One True Path of Inquiry?

                One can make the case (even a badly reasoned one) that they do INDEED imply this.  

                So then, then refute the conclusion with a scientific, data driven argument that is testable.

                •  That (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mataliandy, i like bbq

                  correlation does not imply causation is a universally agreed upon statistical fact.

                  And just like correlation, difference in variance also does not imply causation.

                  Full stop.

                  Is biological difference a possible explanation?  Yes, of course.

                  But a difference in variance is zero direct support for that conclusion.

                  •  Correlation not implying causation is a facile (0+ / 0-)

                    undergraduate parlor trick for dismissing another's data driven argument but one not up to the task of this discussion.

                    We all know that correlation does not imply causation.  Duh.  So explain, with other data, other correlation which refute Summers' inference.  The Corr/causation reflexive dismissal is similar to those who dismiss evolution because it cannot be 'proven'.  Much scientific 'fact' is merely inference which is drawn from the statistically correlative penumbra of data.  No?

                    •  Ugh (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      i like bbq, James Kresnik

                      "Facile undergraduate parlor trick"?

                      Please, there's no need to descend into bloviation here.

                      You are entirely wrong to say that the correlation/causation dismissal is anything akin to the dismissal of evolution.

                      Evolution is ridiculously supported.

                      The correlation/causation dismissal, quite to the contrary of your suggestion, is just like evolution in that it is universally agreed upon by statisticians.

                      Mathematics does not always need data to prove it.  It can be inherently true.  And, in this case, it is.  Causation can imply correlation, but correlation does not imply causation.

                      If you want to try to argue against it, you have a very massive battle to undertake.

                      •  Most car accidents occur close to home (5+ / 0-)

                        That does not mean that being near your home causes you to get into car accidents.

                        Car accidents still have some cause that has nothing to do with the fact that you're near your home (someone runs a stop sign, you hit a patch of ice ...).

                        The only reason for the correlation is that your car must travel near your home to get to and from your home.

                        This is one simple demonstration of the principle that correlation (being nearby) does not imply causation (ice on the road).

                        As a rule, correlation implies the need for further study to determine the cause. Sometimes a correlate IS the cause, sometimes it is not.

                        A recent interesting example is the rapid decline in frog populations due to atrazine. It was believed that the atrazine itself was killing the frogs, because of the strong correlation between the level of atrazine in a water body and the decline in populations. However, studies of the effects of atrazine on frogs showed that it didn't harm them in any statistically significant way. The correlation was very strong, but the causation was non-existent. Research into atrazine and frog mortality thus stalled for years.

                        A recent study took a different approach: to determine why atrazine correlated so well, even though it was not the cause. This study found that a parasite is the cause of the frog mortality. The reason for the correlation is that it just so happens that the parasite flourishes in waters containing certain snails, which in turn flourish in waters with high atrazine levels.

                        If the correlation had been treated as a flag requiring more study to find out why the correlation was there, instead of as prima facie evidence of causation, the latter study might have been made years earlier, and could have led to the banning of atrazine before the severe die-offs occurred.

                        Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze

                        by mataliandy on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 10:24:41 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

              •  The brains of men and women are not equal (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                A Siegel

                There are small, but distinct structural diffences that are sex-linked in that the hormones that drive the overt anatomical differentiation in the fetus also induce subtle anatomical differences in the brain.

                Now, it is a bit foolish to argue how exactly these differences manifest themselves in an adult human. However it would be far more foolish to arugue that there are no functional differences between men and women. Aptitude, personality, behavior, socialization, mood. intelligence are manifestations of the physical layout of a massive network of neurons. It is all anatomy. Learning is a process of altering the structure of the brain. It's just cells.

                Sommers approach to this subject may have been unwise, but it is a valid area of study. We have to be able to examine ideas, even if those ideas conflict with our worldview.

                •  Reasonable ... (0+ / 0-)

                  "Sommers approach to this subject may have been unwise ..."  Actually, I would suggest "was unwise" is clearly justified, even if just in retrospect.

                •  There are far more differences (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  between individuals in each gender than between the two genders.

                  There are plenty of studies confirming this. However, in the corporate media, the ones that get attention are the ones that can be parlayed into, "This is why women are better at housework and raising kids, and why men are naturally polygamous slobs who can't help but commit rape and sexual harassment."

                  I'd buy the "examining ideas" argument if the ideas examined weren't always the ones that bolstered the status quo. In fact, I'd be happy if the other ones got any attention at all.

          •  He was also assuming that "extreme smartness" (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            is the sole criteria for becoming a professor--big mistake! This may have been the case at one time but in the modern University it's (sadly, IMHO) ever-harder for a brilliant-but-socially-clueless type to climb the greasy pole. You have admin duties and teaching duties when you're on your way up, and everything is team-based these days. Right pain in the arse for crusty brilliant iconoclast types.
            Here in the UK we have the added pain of being constantly performing for outside Quality Assurance, the Research Assessment Exercise, and various student surveys--I've no idea if there's a US equivalent to this pernicious nonsense, but I do know that the people who handle it best are those with highly developed social skills as well as awesome IQs.
            In maths and science this is a real issue as the two do not seem to correlate--and those "outliers" at the very top are not all that likely to get a professorship, unless they solve some incredible problem very early in their career, they are more likely to stay on the researcher track. The professorial candidates are more likely, I suspect, to be the "1 or 2 or 3 standard deviations above" types who have adequate ability to play those complex people games as well as doing the math.

            Strictly observational data here, not peer-reviewed research ;-)

            Political Compass says: -8.88, -8.67
            "We never sold out cos no one would buy."--J Neo Marvin

            by expatyank on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 02:46:23 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  And this assertion is based upon . . . (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          your impression?  Opinion?

          I've been in the room with him.  Spoken with him.  Heard him ask questions, answer questions, make fun of himself for his wonkish insenstivity.

          He's smart.  Brilliant.  Razor sharp and self aware.  

      •  You see the likes of environmental (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        alizard, esquimaux, A Siegel, i like bbq

        justice and American exploitation of LDCs as mere political orthodoxy and conformity? And are you saying progressives should be open minded about such things?

        If you want to defend him, defend him. Don't attack people who are basing their opinions on having observed him in the public eye for years. If they are making a mistake, prove it.

        McCain, Republican Party, Palin = Captain, Sinking Ship, Anchor.

        by Pescadero Bill on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 08:20:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Developing countries, often at great economic (0+ / 0-)

          disadvantage and struggling to industrialize, often make a Faustian bargain to develop at the cost of environmental damage.

          Creating markets, where they are compensated for this in ways that are less exploitative than the current free-for-all, might be beneficial, in the long run.

          Is proposing that the exportation of highly pollutive industries to industrializing countries really that radical.  It's happening as I type this.  The keyboard at my fingertips and the flat screen you read this on were likely built in a country with lower environmental standards than the US.  WE export our waste already.  Let's create a market so that other countries can be fairly compensated for their compromise.

      •  Thank you (0+ / 0-)

        Radmod, you are exactly right. Give some credit to our new president that we love so much. Give some discredit to internet rumors.

        •  when Internet rumors are as easy (0+ / 0-)

          to verify and falsify as they are, the right move is to check them.

          If you'd been paying attention, you'd know that they've been checked and are by and large, true.

          If you want a forum for the purpose of worshipping Obama as the Messiah and to tell us why We Must All Support Him All The Time, get an LJ of your own ... and I promise to ignore it.

          Unless you post something worthy of mass public laughter, of course.

          Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

          by alizard on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:09:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Did you read the memo? Larry Summers is a scumbag (0+ / 0-)

        on par with Rove and Tom Delay.  

        Do the dems have a backbone?

        by AnthonyMason2k6 on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 11:00:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Personally ... (0+ / 0-)

          I don't think it goes that far. While I don't like (at all) the wording/elements of the three paragraphs, they are not Rove/DeLay.  Second, Summers/allies have made claims that this misrepresents the totality of the memo (thus release the whole thing).  Third, has Summers learned/evolved and changed changed his views.  That last might be the critical point.

          I am ready for someone to change, to learn and do not call for tar and feathering if they are able to show that change.

      •  Yeah, right... (0+ / 0-)

        It's so daring to "put forth ideas" that validate the status quo by reifying old prejudices. Edgy, even.

        I guess that Summers' remark about how the irrational vagina-creatures weren't meant to do science because his then-toddler daughter played like a truck as if it were a doll is an example of his brilliant, edgy thinking.

        Can't say I'm too surprised to see some people in this thread sticking up for him, however.

    •  Summer and A**holes Like Him... (10+ / 0-)

      ...are why I left the Democratic Party in the mid-1990s and why I doubt I'll be returning anytime soon.

      I wish I could tell you that this makes me surprised, but it really doesn't.  This is kind of what I expected from an Obama administration: more competent, lest kleptocratic free market ideologues.

      It is better than the Bush cronies, which is why I supported Obama with my time, money, and vote.  But it's not the change America needs (if you'll pardon the expression).

      This nicely summarizes what's wrong with American political life today. (Source)

      by GreenSooner on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:31:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  1991?! for christ sake thats an eternity ago (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      i certainly hope your aren't holding someone to account for something THAT long ago. I have to admit I would hardly recognize MYSELF from 1991 to today.

      •  I agree (3+ / 0-)

        what has he done SINCE then? Is there anything that demonstrates he's changed his views? What has he been working on, what has he accomplished since 1991?

        Things have changed a lot since then. Besides, while Treasury is a very important post, part of what makes it important is how the financial markets react to you, and whether they have confidence that you'll do the right thing - for THEM. They don't care about US, they never have and never will.

        Frankly, I'd like to see Robert Reich or Paul Krugman at Treasury, but that's not going to happen.

        Though Krugman would be awesome... how great would it be to have a Nobel Prize winning economist running the economy?

      •  True. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pd, A Siegel, i like bbq, kratos

        I can ONLY IMAGINE what he thought about womens' abilities back then, considering how crappy his views were in 2005.  

    •  You're wrong (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mataliandy, ceti, esquimaux, i like bbq, kratos

      it IS grounds for fighting the appointment of Summers. If not now, when? This is our first opportunity to hold the President-elect accountable, our first opportunity to make sure he lives up to the values and ideals of his campaign. If he goes through with this appointment, the message is clear: Obama is about "business as usual."

      Sorry, but this is a no-brainer.

      Rise like lions after slumber in unvanquishable number. Shake your chains to earth like dew, which in sleep had fallen on you. Ye are many - they are few.

      by cruz on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:53:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Picot verde

        the challenge is that there is some lack of clarity as to full context. Summers/allies claim that this extracted from a 7-page piece, with extracts out of context.  Provide the context and it might be clear that, to put words in their mouths, that these words were written to fight against excess in putting economic analysis ahead of a full understanding of development implications.  And, that discussion of the full context could provide a good basis for taking about the interrelationship of fiscal policy (domestic and international) with a path toward sustainability.

        •  what's really needed here (0+ / 0-)

          is a diary that provides a full summary of his record... is what's mentioned here an aberration?

          Though it may well be that ... since there are better people available without the kind of bizarre past incidents discussed here, why shouldn't Obama find someone clearly better suited?

          When even I can come up with 3 better suited people for this:

          • Roubini
          • Stiglitz
          • Krugman

          without doing research, there are probably dozens of better people available. And the best talent America can get is what we're going to need to get out of trouble. (as far as this is possible)

          Nobody's managed to make any argument as to why Summers is the best person available for this job.

          Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

          by alizard on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 10:26:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  His anti-regulation record (0+ / 0-)

          and his support in general for these kinds of policies, makes me think otherwise.

          Rise like lions after slumber in unvanquishable number. Shake your chains to earth like dew, which in sleep had fallen on you. Ye are many - they are few.

          by cruz on Fri Nov 07, 2008 at 05:34:21 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Our fight with the DLC moles begins. (5+ / 0-)

      Thanks for taking the first swing, AS.  It is on the chin.

      "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

      by nailbender on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:56:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  ...and Rahm? (0+ / 0-)

        I understand the need for a consiglieri, and Rahm fits the bill, but he is a consummate triangulator and, given too much latitude, will recreate a Clinton WH (i.e., meet pressure, move right), which is NOT the change we need.

        If your actions speak louder than your words, you're not yelling loud enough. - Stephen Colbert

        by Words In Action on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:51:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Summers won't get chosen because of his (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      askew, i like bbq

      Harvard comments on women's incapacities in math and science.   Nor does he deserve to be chosen.

    •  Did you send this to Obama? (0+ / 0-)

      Anyone perfect must be lying. Anything easy has its cost. Anyone plain can be lovely. Anyone loved can be lost.

      by PhantomFly on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 08:02:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Summers awful; Sheila Bair interesting? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Picot verde, j1j2j3j4, i like bbq

      I have a diary up about am alternative for Treasury - Sheila Bair.  She a seemingly "good" Republican, which may be necessary but careful thing to have in an Obama cabinet, endorsed by Dean Baker among others.

      As TPM says about Summers:

      Just at the level of optics, since the economy is issue number one right now (and not just the real economy of jobs and living standards but the financial architecture itself) and you're trying to look forward not back, why would you pick someone for Treasury who was not only in the Clinton administration but was actually Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration. Not understanding that.

      Next, management shortcomings and controversial statements about women's brains that got him canned as President of Harvard.

      And on top of that, the new Treasury Secretary will be charged with instituting a beefed up framework of financial sector regulation. But Summers was a key player in the 1990s deregulatory consensus that laid the groundwork for a lot of these problems. Not that that makes him verboten -- a lot of other people did too. But it does create an element of of cognitive dissonance going into the job.

      I refuse to believe that Summers will get it, and am curious who is behind pushing his name.

    •  Obama shouldn't even be considering Summers (6+ / 0-)

      Harvard hated him for, among other things like bad management style, incredible sexism.

      I am very disappointed Obama would even consider someone with such low ethical standards (the diarist's excellent point about environmental record comes into play here) for Sec of Treasury, let alone put him on a short list.

    •  On policy... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mataliandy, NoMoreLies, i like bbq

      We must wonder whether Summers greets events such as the 2006 poisoning of 40,000 or so in Cote d'Ivoire via an illegal dumping and other pollution dumping in Africa with approval as smart economic policy.

      Of course it's smart economic policy, exactly as Summers has outlined.

      This is why economic policy CANNOT be allowed to drive all other policy.  It virtually guarantees runaway pollution, social injustice, increased income disparity, poor working conditions, race-to-the-bottom wages, etc.

      I'll say it again: Fair Trade over "Free Trade" and tariffs against countries lacking environmental and worker protections.

      Bring the WAR home

      Starve the corporate beast, buy local!

      by EthrDemon on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 08:44:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No to Summers and no to RFK Jr. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      askew, i like bbq

      Summers should be disqualified for this, for his support of keeping credit default swaps unregulated, and for his ridiculous comments about women in the sciences.

      RFK Jr.  should be disqualified at EPA because of his overzealous take on vaccines (I am sympathetic but that over exposed him) his hypocritical stand on offshore wind farms (don't want them near hyannisport), and pushing the stolen election meme too hard.  I like the guy personally and greatly respect his work on River Keepers, which he is effective at and should continue.  Putting him at EPA is not an obviously good idea and could serve as a polarizing choice.  I am not sure where the next Carol Browner is, but someone along those lines would be very good.

      What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed. Harold Pinter

      by dlcox1958 on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 09:12:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Summers reminds me of Baron Harkonnen (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mataliandy, j1j2j3j4, i like bbq

      The flying fatman of Dune. He was a neoliberal at the World Bank and Treasury, and a dud at Harvard, driving out two eminent professors and generally speaking out of his ass.

      Stiglitz would send a strong message of real change.

      Gentlemen, you can't fight in here, this is the war room!

      by ceti on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 09:36:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No one who has worked at the World Bank (3+ / 0-)

      should be appointed Secretary of the Treasury.

      Life isn't a battle between good and evil, it's a battle between signal and noise.

      by ChemBob on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 11:18:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There needs to be a coherent progressive philo- (16+ / 0-)

    global understanding, that exporting OUR historical problems, for profit, rather than our technological a non-starter.

    I trust you kos experts on this micro/macro econstuff, but --->

    Hey entrepreneurs- Obama's image on those re-usable grocerybags would become instant best-sellers !!

    Stop Congressional Gerrymandering- Zero Costs = Infinite Benefits

    by Theghostofkarlafayetucker on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 05:02:21 AM PST

  •  we need to voice our choices (19+ / 0-)

    Thom Hartmann was discussing it yesterday; its on Bill Press now.

    Who should be in the Cabinet?

    For Treasury, we need to get behind a Keynesian economist right now.  Thom said Robert Reich.  Thoughts?  Alternatives?  We don't want Rubin or Summers, but a positive is so much mroe resonant than a negative.

    Our Moment is... (ding!) Now.

    by Leftcandid on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 05:07:49 AM PST

  •  Q: Is OUR interest best served by Dodd/Franks (4+ / 0-)

    still in the chairs?

    It would seem that with the Demorevolution, those hot seats would have ejection capabilities.

    New blood, fresh outlooks, better communications.

    Stop Congressional Gerrymandering- Zero Costs = Infinite Benefits

    by Theghostofkarlafayetucker on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 05:07:55 AM PST

  •  I hope this is just Wall Street hype. But the (29+ / 0-)

    appointment of Emanuel is not exactly promising.

    If this appointment signals a return of the Wall Street/DLC vultures who teed off the deregulation of Wall Street during the Clinton administration, then we are looking at More of the Same.

    I realize President Obama - schwing! -  has to thread a needle in order to govern. I get it, and I'm trying to remember the precarious situation he inherits.

    But I voted, and worked my ass off, and gave a lot of money I couldn't easily afford, going back to early in the primary - for change. And now I damned well expect to see some.

    Clinton's DLC thieves represent the continuation of corporate ownership and control of our government. Giving it back to the corporations, right out of the gate, would be a horrifying betrayal of the millions of people who thought we were getting our government back.

  •  More than a few heads shaking (12+ / 0-)

    Josh ticks off a list of why Summers might not be a first choice.


  •  Here's to keeping memory as a policy option (20+ / 0-)

    Here here.  I'm glad that Summer's begun speaking a bit more sanely, but those of us who have been politically active for the past couple of decades learn that abandoning the memory of historic events -- i.e, the vicious "austerity" and "structural adjustment" programs that the international lenders like the IMF, WB, and other U.S.-dominated institutions imposed on the 3rd world.

    His cheerful joking / advocacy of shifting pollution to the 3rd world was a symptom of the U.S. power economists' preference to visit pain upon the suffering of the 3rd world to benefit mainly foreign investors, and not the cause.

    •  Yes-it was "A Modest Proposal" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      djs, blueocean

      Summers was writing a satirical account, not endorsing the issue!

      Maybe he'd be wrong for Treasury Secretary, but let's be sure it's for the right reasons.

      •  Was he? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Heart of the Rockies, blueocean

        If there is evidence to that, other than your read of this memo, I (and others) would be interested. (FYI -- that is not satirical ... that my search didn't show it absolutely does not mean that it doesn't exist.)

        •  see this article (link in text) (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          brittain33, A Siegel, blueocean

          From Harvard Magazine.

          Key sentences:

          In a recent interview, [Lant Pritchett, the memo's actual author] explained that at Summers's request, he reviewed a draft of the bank's annual Global Economic Prospects report, focusing on trade liberalization. In a seven-page memo to Summers, he critiqued several aspects of the argument, including a claim that free trade would necessarily produce environmental benefits in developing nations. He questioned the data supporting that claim, and in criticism wrote as an "ironic aside" suggestions that if (in conventional economic terms) dumping pollutants on poor countries would be "welfare-enhancing" for the world as a whole, the bank ought to endorse that policy.

          "If we believe that all humans are human, than how are we going to prove it? It can only be proven through our actions." Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire

          by djs on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:25:12 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Should we slam Leiber, too? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        brittain33, A Siegel

        I mean, there is this kossack advocating a return to 1820's religion today!  And he is one of us!.

        There may be other reasons to oppose Summers, but the memo should not be one of them.

        "If we believe that all humans are human, than how are we going to prove it? It can only be proven through our actions." Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire

        by djs on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:23:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually ... (4+ / 0-)

          This memo should be part of a serious discussion, whether in nomination hearings or otherwise, about Summers' views about the relationship(s) between financial policy and environmentally sound development, about how environmental justice fits into how he would act as a Cabinet member.

        •  Sorry (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mataliandy, el cid

          but I think the whole "satire" line is a load of crap. I think he got caught being too candid for the public and then just tried to fluff it off as a joke.

          •  quote (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            ""I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that."

            The sarcasm is clear to me. You'd have to be truly immoral to the point of sociopathy to write that sentence sincerely. I'm no defender of Larry Summers on other issues, but I am NOT willing to grant that he is as evil as he'd have to be to be so callous and not be making a point about what "impeccable economic logic" is and what, exactly, we should be facing up to.

            •  "You'd have to be truly immoral to the point (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              sociopathy to write that sentence sincerely."

              Your point being?

              •  Well (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                You've made up your mind about Summers, then.

                I don't like the guy and much of what he's done--I found his statement about women appalling--but I don't think he's inhuman. He has some bad instincts and shoots from the hip. This is not one of those times.  

                •  Honestly (0+ / 0-)

                  I think the stakes are a little high to just be going with "Oh he's a really great guy when you get to know him."

                  •  Now you're being dishonest. (0+ / 0-)

                    That's absolutely not what I said, and would say about him. Obviously you've got an axe to grind here so I'll leave it be.

                    •  Your argument has consistently been (0+ / 0-)

                      That despite his statements about women and pollution in Africa, that you think he's "clearly" not sincere on these issues despite no evidence to the contrary. Asking me to trust him on your word alone is not a compelling argument. And don't patronize me by saying I have "an axe to grind" when I'm only going by your own argument.

                      •  No, I didn't. (0+ / 0-)

                        I said the statement about Africa was satire. I criticized his statements about women then and now and did not claim he was insincere or lying about that. You elide my comment about his satire piece to cover all of his bad statements and moves. You take a statement where I say he isn't pure evil and turn that into thinking he's a good guy. That's what is wrong.

                        •  You're still defending (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          mataliandy, James Kresnik

                          an egregious expression of his philosophy and claiming it to be satire when there's no evidence to suggest it. I honestly don't care where he falls on the evil scale, but until I see some proof that he didn't mean exactly what he said in that memo, I'm taking it at face value.

            •  I wonder why a guy with other serious duties (0+ / 0-)

              is taking time to write satires...and was this ever published in a forum where satire could reasonably be expected to be seen?

              Was it kept in private?

              Floccinaucinihilipilification makes antidisestablishmentarianism look like a piker.

              by zett on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 10:44:20 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Yep, and these (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      el cid, Picot verde

      policies of "austerity" and "structural adjustment" are directly responsible for much of the terrorism and atrocities such as human trafficking we see throughout the world.

      •  I beg to differ (0+ / 0-)

        structural adjustment has caused a lot of misery, and even led to state collapse in a couple of places -- but it is hard to tie it to terrorism.

        On the other hand, I'd love to hear a hypothesis, and give it a spin.

        "If we believe that all humans are human, than how are we going to prove it? It can only be proven through our actions." Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire

        by djs on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:28:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I see the root (4+ / 0-)

          of terrorism as economic in character.  Privatization and deregulation have the effect of causing unemployment, inflation, and a decline in wages that destroys the middle and lower classes.  When this occurs, ethnic and religious fundamentalisms flair up, groups are radicalized, and they begin to seek out targets.  This is exactly what happened in Indonesia, for example.  I think one of the major problems with the mainstream American left is that it all too often sees these issues abstractly, as merely about ideology and beliefs, ignoring the economic background that renders these sorts of radicalized ideologies attractive to people.  

          •  good (0+ / 0-)

            Indonesia is a good case.  But:

            what about Saudi Arabia?  (the source of the 9-11 hijackers).

            what about Pakistan?  (where pursuit of economic liberalization has been staunched by a desire for political stability)

            what about most of the poor countries in Africa and Latin America? (where structural adjustment had its largest impact, and from where there has been little supply of terror)

            "If we believe that all humans are human, than how are we going to prove it? It can only be proven through our actions." Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire

            by djs on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:47:20 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  We would have to look (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              djs, mataliandy, A Siegel, James Kresnik

              at the economic conditions under which the vast majority of people are living in those regions.  I don't think it's a mistake that the hijackers targeted the World Trade Center.  In Latin America, by contrast, it seems that there has been so much terror visited on the citizens by their governments that citizens have been able to do little more than survive.  And, of course, the emergence of guerilla groups is common in these regions.  Likewise, Africa has been wracked by all sorts of ethnic conflict and war.  The point isn't that where economic disparity produced through free markets exist there will be terrorism.  Rather, terrorism is one way populations respond to these sorts of conditions.  As for Middle Eastern terrorism, it has been appalling that economic conditions went almost entirely undiscussed following 2001.  Rather, the administration and the Republican Congress presented Middle Eastern terrorism as being purely an ideological affair pertaining to beliefs.  Yet what makes such practices attractive to people?  Why do people become radically religious?  Responsible policy would ask these sorts of questions.  Sadly, the same processes of total deregulation and firesales are unfolding currently in Iraq and Afghanistan which does not bode well for the future.

  •  We're going to have to work like hell to keep (21+ / 0-)

    them honest.  I know you'll do your part A Siegel...and thank you for it.

    "The truth shall set you free - but first it'll piss you off." Gloria Steinem

    Iraq Moratorium

    by One Pissed Off Liberal on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 05:23:01 AM PST

  •  This memo was an exercise in economics (6+ / 0-)

    Not morality. It was not a recommendation or suggestion. There are a lot of ideas that are morally repugnant that nevertheless make sense within the internal logic of economics. Discussing them does not mean supporting them.

      •  could you expand on that? Are you (0+ / 0-)

        suggesting that anything to make 'the economy' healthier is morally positive in the long run?

        Yes We Can / Give Oil Wars A Chance

        by newusername on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 05:50:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  that's not what the commenter said (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Philoguy, newusername

          obviously, moral thinking requires looking at the big picture, of which economics is part.

        •  I mean (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mataliandy, A Siegel, haris

          economic decisions necessarily have a moral dimension.  To argue that "this memo was an exercise in economics, not morality" as ggrzw did misses that point.

          In your comment, this is revealed by the world "healthier."  There is no morally neutral way to judge if an economy is healthy.  There are different metrics, which all have moral implications.

          For example, one could make that judgment solely on GDP, or on the value of the DJIA.  But if the stock market goes up while income inequality skyrockets, is that "healthy"?  It's a moral question.  It's a question of values.

          Barack Obama laid out his view during his speech at the Democratic Convention:

          We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job -- an economy that honors the dignity of work.

          The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great -- a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight.


          What is that promise?

          It’s a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect.

          It’s a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road.

          That's a moral judgment.

          •  Economic policy, absolutely. The discipline? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            A Siegel

            I wholeheartedly agree with you economic policy making must be grounded in morality. But within the admittedly bounded analysis of formal economics morality does not factor. The reason for that is that the only things that factor are things that are assigned as variables, and economics is ill-equipped to come up with number values for right and wrong.

            Pure economic rationalism leads to a lot of conclusions that no economist would actually support. But that is because they then consider the moral implications--the questions that philosophy and theology seek to answer--of what the econometric regressions would be. So long as morality is unquantifiable, it cannot be part of economics. The point is not that economics is flawed, but rather that (over)reliance on economics without considering morality is flawed.

            •  That's not always true (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              berning, A Siegel


              A couple of points:

              1. Many fundementally economic principles DO incorporate social welfare. They do incorporate and quantify concepts like inequality. What you call "pure economic rationalism" is a very wide net indeed. there are certainly some economic models that fail to consider outcomes like equity. The basic premise of maximizing utility while minimizing cost doesn't consider equity per se.  but there are entire, vibrant and growing fields of economics that successfully incorporate "moral" choices into economic prinicples of utilitarianism. Entire sections of environmental economics are built around separating social cost from private cost, and social benefit from private benefit.  If a social cost of an activity is higher than the private cost (global warming is an excellent example), then rational environmental economic principles call for taxing the activity, or otherwise making it more expensive, so that the private party reduces it to the point where the social cost is sustainable.

              This is just one example.  Poverty economics, trade economics, development economics, CEO wages and stock options, all of these have theoretical, rational economic models to deal with the fundementally moral question of "market failures" such as inequality or free rider problems.

              Indeed, Economics is a social science. It's raison d'etre is to study economic incentives in society. Morality can't be separated from its theories all that easily. Some theories do. But others don't, and they're still rationalist economic theories.

              1. The World Bank is all about morality. Its whole reason for existence is moral in nature. The moral implications of its theoretical products can't be explained away just by claiming, oh, its just an economic paper. It is legitimate to question the paper on economic grounds, not just on moral grounds.
              •  Granted (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                A Siegel

                I majored in economics, with a focus in Public Policy and Developing Economies, so I am familiar with the concepts that you're talking about. Even then though, you still aren't morality per se, rather you are saying that morality demands the inclusion of other factors. I wouldn't even say environmental economics is an appeal to morality over "classical economics"--"the tragedy of the commons" tends to be addressed in Microeconomics 101, as an example of market failure. But market failures aren't "moral problems," they are systemic problems that result in the non-optimal distribution of resources. About the closet you might get to morality is deciding between Utility Maximization and Praeto Efficiency to define "optimal" in most of those cases.
                Fundamentally, economics asks whether a process is operating at its most efficient, sometimes the answer is no, because the costs haven't been calculated correctly--in the case of pollution controls, for example, that polluters don't bear the full cost in the short term, for one thing, and overemphasize the short term vs. the long term, for another. Other times--say should someone be able to sell their organs?--it's very difficult to come up with a negative answer, based on efficiency grounds, without stretching the definitions of efficiency and utility beyond the point they have any use as economic concepts. In that case, the answer has to be, "No, because we do not always care about efficiency maximization."

                •  I disagree (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  A Siegel

                  I disagree with you. Economics is not only about efficiency, but equity as well. When polluters don't bear the full societal cost of their pollution, economic theories deem it a suboptimal outcome because it fails the equity test, even though the polluters may well be producing at the highest efficiency.

                  You agree that the "suboptimal distribution of resources" is a part of economic thought.  My whole point is that suboptimal distribution of resources coindices with moral questions in many of the theories we discuss.  I am arguing that economics is not devoid of moral questions, just the opposite. Many economic theories explain moral questions in economic terms.

                  In my line of work, which is providing economic expert witness testimony, all we do is use economic theories to discuss what constitutes the equitable distribution of resources.  We don't just take clincal economic theories and then add our own dose of "morality" to make our argument. Many of the moral questions we debate come directly from the economic theories we look at, like environmental controls.

                  •  I don't agree with analysis of polution controls (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    A Siegel

                    When you are looking at whether polluters are producing at the highest efficiency, you are looking at the wrong figure. In a village of 20 people, if one persons activities cause a +20 for him, but a -2 for everyone else it is inefficient because the net is minus 18, not because of equity concerns.

                    I don't think that economics is wholly divorced from morality, indeed as I said the definition of efficiency is often a moral question--i.e. Praeto Optimality v. Utility Maximization. But there is no economic theory that can decide whether the one person from the hypothetical village should build a factory if it only causes everyone else a -1. That is a choice between Utility Maximization or Praeto Efficiency; about the initial distribution of rights. Whenever one has to make a choice that will result in one party being better off as a result of another being worse off, the appeal must be to something beyond the discipline.

                    Economics can tell me the level of production that maximizes wealth and the level that maximizes equity. It says that production should be at some point along the line connecting those two points. It has no opinion as to which end is optimal any more than physics has an opinion as to whether we should be splitting the atom to generate electricity or splitting the atom to level cities.

                    •  Well, we certainly disagree here. (0+ / 0-)

                      ggrzw I completely disagree with this: "When you are looking at whether polluters are producing at the highest efficiency, you are looking at the wrong figure. In a village of 20 people, if one persons activities cause a +20 for him, but a -2 for everyone else it is inefficient because the net is minus 18, not because of equity concerns."

                      When a person's actions are causing them to benefit, but others to be harmed, that is inequitable. Realigning incentives so that the party causing the harm also bears the burden of that harm is the very definition of increasing fairness and equity.  That is the whole point of demarcating social costs/benefits from private costs/benefits. The demarcation holds that private utility maximization is suboptimal if the larger society is being harmed by it.  That is an economic argument, but it also coincides with a moral argument.  You can call it "inefficient" and I'll call it "inequitable", either way, the answer is certainly coming from economic theory.  I don't have to impose my own moral values to figure that one out.

                      •  To be clear (0+ / 0-)

                        I am not saying economics is a moral code, or the answer to all moral questions. I am merely disputing your original assertion that morality does not factor into the "bounded analysis of economics".  For many theories, it certainly does.  We can call bad outcomes inefficienct, inequitable, or whatever else, but economists have certainly developed theories to determine outcomes that can maximize social welfare and minimize private cost, without having to appeal to any other moral code.

                      •  I'm not sure (0+ / 0-)

                        My example with the village was one where equity and efficiency overlap. Economics does not say that incentives must cause everyone to internalize their costs; it only says people won't make socially inefficient decisions if they are aligned. If polluters have to pay for the right to pollute, than the system will tend toward making everyone better off (i.e. +100 for the guy, but he gives everyone 3, so they all ends up better off). But whether +100 for him, -2 for everyone else, is better than +43, +1 depends on how optimal is defined, and I think that is where morality enters.

                        The sciences, hard and soft, are studies of how systems work. I think a lot of dangerous ideas, from Social Darwinism to the worship of laissez-faire capitalism, come when people begin to ascribe morality to value-neutral sciences.

                        •  My point is merely that morality plays a part (0+ / 0-)

                          Environmental economics does say an outcome is inefficient if people don't internalize the societal harms of their activities. That is an economic answer to a moral question.

                          Economics is a social science.  It is fundementally different from a natural science like phsyics. That is why I think your atom analogy is inapt. Economics, like sociology, and unlike physics, is concerned with developing frameworks to analyze optimial outcomes for individual and societies. There are competing claims about what those outcomes are. But economists do very much concern themselves with attempting to use economics to determine optimal outcomes.  Many of them concern themselves with determining exactly what constitutes fairness, socially efficiency, optimality etc.

                          My point is that you cannot exonerate an economist of his immoral claims simply by saying, he's an economist, and economics doesn't have anything to do with fairness. It very much does.

      •  Larry Summers Wouldn't Know Moral Thinking (4+ / 0-)

        If it crawled up his fat ass and died.

        Indeed, both the visual and text evidence give some support to the suggestion that something along those lines may have been precisely what happened.....

    •  Several things ... (6+ / 0-)
      1.  There are economic flaws, as suggested in my comments.
      1.  There is no comment in this memo to suggest that, in anyway, that he had problems with the suggestion ... This suggests, does it not, that these are his beliefs?
      1.  If you read what I wrote, I leave the door open for Summers to explain this, to provide a fuller context that might not be visible to me (us) at this time.  
    •  I get your general point. (7+ / 0-)

      But the problem is that if you think of economics has boundaries, on the other side of which is morality, as many free-marketeers do, then where you put those boundaries is of especial importance.

      And Summer here is saying life-expectancy falls within the boundary of global-economic logic.

      Now, some people would say that living a long time has its own value, whether or not it goes along with earning a high wage.  The value is not apparent in the sort of economic calculation Summer is engaging in, since, to state the obvious, life is not a commodity.

      Free-marketeers would consider "wages" to be such a measure of the value of longevity, but assuming so is illegitimate, since that is exactly the point under dispute.

      Summer himself acknowledges as much when he writes this:

      The problem with the arguments against all of these proposals for more pollution in LDCs (intrinsic rights to certain goods, moral reasons, social concerns, lack of adequate markets, etc.) could be turned around and used more or less effectively against every Bank proposal for liberalization.

      So the added problem is that Summer takes "liberalization" to be precisely the commodification of intrinsic moral goods.  This is not a question of internal economic logic but rather a question about the scope of that logic, and Summer is implying that the scope should be total.  

      And Obama has at least stated that he disagrees with this assessment of the moral scope of the free market:

      What is that promise?

      It's a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect.

      It's a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road.

      Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves - protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.

      Our government should work for us, not against us.  It should help us, not hurt us.  It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who's willing to work.

      That's the promise of America - the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.

    •  Absolutely ... (5+ / 0-)

      Chemistry is not "moral" either, but I'd have a problem with a scientist that passed around a study on the relative efficacy of different poisonous gases in killing humans -- without any comment on its morality.

      "We will learn an enormous amount in a very short time, quite a bit in the medium term and absolutely nothing in the long term." Grantham on 2008 Crisis

      by Bronxist on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 05:54:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ah, the problem is that (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mataliandy, luvmovies2000, A Siegel

      economists that have advocated these theories have put them into practice again and again, premised on the idea that markets are self-regulating and will somehow magically benefit everyone if we just abolish all forms of governmental intervention and privatize everything.  They have supported these ideas.

      •  Certainly not all (most?) economists, (0+ / 0-)

        just ones who take the basic principles of the discipline too seriously and too literally. It's as if a physicist thought he/she could empirically discover (or disprove) the existence of God. Real physicists don't bother with things like that, hacks and Dr Faustus do.

        •  I'm not sure (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mataliandy, James Kresnik

          what you didn't understand in my statement that "the economists that have advocated these theories"...  Perhaps you're unclear on the use of definite articles?  At any rate, the fact remains that Friedmannian economics have been the dominant economic model for decades and have functioned as the blueprint for the functioning of the World Bank and the IMF in their various nation building efforts throughout the world.  A vast amount of the world's woes and human suffering can be traced directly to the implementation of these policies.

    •  Sorry, but (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      When someone writes about causing suffering for millions of people and then turns around and says "It was just an idea!" when they get caught, I tend to take a skeptical view of them.

  •  For the life of me... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    luvmovies2000, tdub

    ...I don't understand why he's not got Paul Volcker on his shortlist. The guy rocked when he was the Fed chairman. He knows what he's doing.

    Which one of John McCain's 10 houses is the nicest?

    by Devin on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 05:26:21 AM PST

  •  here's to the return of normal times again. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    askew, rainmanjr, Rustbelt Dem

    We know we've defeated the Bush fascism and returned to normal times, when we can start complaining loudly about the person we just voted into office.  

    But let's not forget: cool heads win, hot heads lose.  Just like in the election itself.  

    •  Also, we have to walk a fine line... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mataliandy, G2geek, James Kresnik

      and find a way to push Obama with out giving support to his enemies. This will be crucial to his, and our, succuss.

      "The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time." - Terry Tempest Williams

      by your neighbor on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:08:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  learn from his own methods. (6+ / 0-)

        I agree, we can't let ourselves be manipulated by righties to become their wedge, as has happened so many times in the past.  

        A large and strong organization that keeps a cool head and sticks to its message, wins.

        We're on the inside of  the system now.  That's real power.  And the way to use it is quietly, because we know we'll be heard.

        And I say this as a gay Californian, who had to face the (temporary but none the less) loss of a fundamental civil right within hours of Obama saying the words "gay and straight" in his acceptance speech.  You have no idea how much that hurts.  

        And yet, if we keep cool heads and stay on-message, we shall overcome.  

        •  Thank you. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mataliandy, G2geek, Rustbelt Dem

          And I'm with you on the Prop. Hate outrage. That can not stand. I'm so sorry for all of us, gay and straight who believe in justice, that it had to mar what should be a time of hope.


          "The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond our own time." - Terry Tempest Williams

          by your neighbor on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 08:01:40 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Summers hasn't shown he has learned much (21+ / 0-)

    since he wrote that idiocy about "underpollution".

    His stint at Harvard showed he is stuck in the past. His ability to interpret data was shown to be very weak by his idiotic assessment of the problems of women at Harvard.

    If economists like Summers ruled the world, I'm afraid it would be turned into a fetid soup of blue green algae. Pollution is not an economic virtue. It is a measure of process inefficiency.

    Economists like Summers have greatly undervalued the economic value of the environment and greatly discounted the costs of externalities. Perhaps someone can show me that Summers has learned from his mistakes and changed his philosophy, but I haven't seen evidence that he has changed.

    Summers should be put out to pasture IMO. His best days are behind him.

    "It's the planet, stupid."

    by FishOutofWater on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 05:28:19 AM PST

  •  This needs public scrutiny (9+ / 0-)

    I am not going to adopt some sort of hold-at-all-costs opposition to Mr Summers based upon a single diary, but, a single diary is enough for me to agree this man's record must be scrutinized well before he is offered any job.

    Mr Summers has some 'splainin' to do.

  •  Josh Marshall has also been perplexed about this: (17+ / 0-)

    But Summers was a key player in the 1990s deregulatory consensus that laid the groundwork for a lot of these problems. Not that that makes him verboten -- a lot of other people did too. But it does create an element of of cognitive dissonance going into the job.

    I'm not sure any of these strikes against would be determinative in themselves. Perhaps each taken together would not be if the crisis of the moment demanded Summers. But is he really the only one available?

    I don't mean that in a snarky or denigrating sense. Clearly, Summers is an extremely bright and accomplished guy and a highly respected economist. But really, he's the only person with the economist chops and political instincts to manage this arduous task?

    •  Josh is a good buddy of Theda Skocpol, hack (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The most egregious academic-politician / hack I ever encountered when I was in academia was Theda Skocpol (maybe the person most responsible for killing the now almost defunct discipline of "Sociology"), whom Marshall considers to be a buddy for some reason.

      When Summers (who made a lot of positive changes at Harvard) tried to surface the issue that research in areas like sociology was laughably weak - that academic standards did not seem to apply to all the poobahs in these fields, particularly those wondering around Harvard - she formed a very personal vendetta against him. Go figure.

      It was my impression that Skocpol led the faculty organizing against Summers, including blowing the remarks about women in science way out of context.  

      Read his talk and see how offended you are.

      I agree with Stephen Pinker:

      FAS faculty were not unanimous in their comments on Summers. Influential psychologist Steven Pinker defended the legitimacy of Summers' January remarks. When asked if Summers' remarks were "within the pale of legitimate academic discourse," Pinker responded "Good grief, shouldn’t everything be within the pale of legitimate academic discourse, as long as it is presented with some degree of rigor? That’s the difference between a university and a madrassa. [...] There is certainly enough evidence for the hypothesis to be taken seriously."[20]

      I don't know if there are better candidates than Summers for Treasury, but I know from meeting him a few times in Washington that he is as energetic, smart and informed a guy as you are going to find on the planet, that he has a global outlook and sense of social justice (witness his expansion of overseas enrollment at Harvard, his push to invest more in the sciences, to make understanding of science a bigger part of the core curriculum, and - most importantly - his efforts to provide free tuition for low-income admittees).

      I do believe that he is not a patsy who will be in the tank for Wall Street from the git go (which might be argued about someone like Rubin).

      If we don't want brains, independence and chutzpah in a Treasury Secretary, just what qualities do we want to emphasize?

      The McCain-Palin Campaign: a transitional medium through which Monty Python skits are transformed into SNL skits

      by Minerva on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:16:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for the post of his talk (5+ / 0-)

        I read it, and I was less offended than I was astounded at his intellectual carelessness. He builds his argument about the different aptitudes of women on a rickety structure of half-baked data (data he admits is unsound), assumptions (assumptions he admits should be explored), and poorly supported critiques of the sociological bases of academic success.

        In other words, what he says about women faculty is egregiously sexist and unsupportable. That he couches what he's saying in all kinds of caveats doesn't excuse or justify it.

        He's basically saying, "I don't really have enough to support this conjecture, and I hate to say it, but women just don't have the aptitude for math and science that men do."

        The obvious question, then, is with all those caveats, why say it?

        It seems to me that although Larry Summers is a smart guy, he's got a habit of having his foot for lunch.

      •  She has done some good work on Social Security (0+ / 0-)

        I think that's one reason for Josh's alliance with Skocpol.  I always thought of her as more of a historian, myself, based on her work on Civil War pensions and 19th century origins of social work/societies.  I don't know her personally, though, so your experience might be more accurate as to her overall career and influence.

        I nonetheless can't stand Larry Summers, with whom I do have a bit of personal experience - and I think he would be a bad appointment for Treasury.

      •  I worry about Summers' hostility toward ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Siegel

        ...things like debt relief and foreign aid.  I think the "pollution memo" argument against him is bunk, but that doesn't mean I trust him to be a good Treasruy Secretary -- particulary on banking regulation, and on restoring America's image abroad.

        "If we believe that all humans are human, than how are we going to prove it? It can only be proven through our actions." Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire

        by djs on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 08:07:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  this is hideous (8+ / 0-)

    The costs of pollution are likely to be non-linear as the initial increments of pollution probably have very low cost. I've always though that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly UNDER-polluted, their air quality is probably vastly inefficiently low compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City. Only the lamentable facts that so much pollution is generated by non-tradable industries (transport, electrical generation) and that the unit transport costs of solid waste are so high prevent world welfare enhancing trade in air pollution and waste.

    "I've been in an underdog position quite often in my life (niiiccce) " - Sarah Palin

    by tetsuko on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 05:30:01 AM PST

    •  It's satire (0+ / 0-)

      It's successful because it is so hideous. Jonathan Swift didn't seriously believe Londoners should develop a taste for Irish babies in "A Modest Proposal," he was making a point about the thought processes underlying human tragedies.

      •  You assert satire ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mataliandy, James Kresnik

        is there any evidence to that other than your read of the memo?

        •  Is there any evidence to your reading? (0+ / 0-)

          And if not, you probably shouldn't have brought this up.

          •  Actually ... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            brittain33, djs
            1.  It merits discussion, even if 100% satire, to foster a discussion of sane policy forward.
            1.  Updated the diary/discussion.
            •  A minor quibble. (0+ / 0-)

              Although down here in comments you seem to be accepting that it is a satire, your update to the original post seems largely to dismiss the possibility.  

              "If we believe that all humans are human, than how are we going to prove it? It can only be proven through our actions." Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire

              by djs on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 08:10:20 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  But this is not a policy discussion, (0+ / 0-)

              this is character assassination.  Your update doesn't change that.

              •  We disagree ... (0+ / 0-)

                obviously. I don't see "provided very serious reasons to question his candidacy" as character assassination.  Nor " indicates a weltanschauung driven by financial models when, even heading the Treasury Department, looking at the world solely through a green-eye shade is no longer justified in seeking to develop sensible policy moving into the future." Nor, necessarily, "Environmental Justice is, evidently, something that a Larry Summers of December 1991 was unaware of and certainly unconcerned with promoting.  Prior to any appointment, we should hope that Summers is questioned about environmental justice issues (in the United States and globally) and left out of the nomination process if his answers do not substantively reject the philosophy implied and stated in this paragraph." [Words here change if Summers can substantively show that these paragraphs don't represent his views at that time.]  Etc ...

                Raising issues meriting serious questioning and serious discussion and doing so in a strong tone, yes.  Character assassination?  Well, I think Larry survives my words far better than what he brought on himself re women in science, for example.  

                Finally, I believe that my "final word" moves this away from any asserted "assassination":

                To be clear, this "memo" is not enough grounds for fighting Summers, but it is something that does merit discussion. And, if it was satire, that discussion should help foster a discussion of smart policy moving forward.

            •  Very nice second update (0+ / 0-)

              credit to you where credit is due

              "If we believe that all humans are human, than how are we going to prove it? It can only be proven through our actions." Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire

              by djs on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 09:54:50 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  This overall post ... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                began with an 'oh s..t' about that memo and the need for discussion of the serious issues that it both states and implies. There is uncertainty about the real status of the memo/intent (why wasn't full memo released) and, even if satire, this merits discussion if for no other reason than to lay a marker about what is/isn't acceptable moving forward.

                RE Summers' record, I am aware of some elements, such as those that I highlighted. The larger 'where is Summers on GW now' is not something that I had looked at before writing it, because I think point above matters no matter what.  But, with this readership of a (highly) recommended diary, valuable to put in something tangible to show that this memo (no matter its status in terms of satire/not) is not the totality of record.  

      •  No it is not. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Siegel, Picot verde

        This is a fairly standard way of looking at pollution in environmental economics. Pollution is viewed as a good, like any other good in a society that can be graphed in terms of supply and demand. In the parlance of economics, pollution can be under- or over-supplied in an economy leading to economic inefficiencies. Too much pollution and people are dropping dead like flies; too little pollution and your economy grids to a halt.

        It's a fairly jaw dropping concept, but it is the basis for much of the modern environmental regulatory framework (cost benefit analysis, marketable pollution permits, value of a statistical life, etc.) I ain't saying its right, but it is pretty standard.

      •  It's not satire, that is the kind of thing some (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mataliandy, acb15

        economists actually do say.

        And actually, it is totally reasonable in a lot of situations. Leaving aside for a second the fact that he's talking about people's lives, saying developing countries are under-polluted is like saying somebody is over-protected, or a property is over-insured. Insurance is good, but it's also costly, so you can be over-insured (or under-exposed to risks, sort of the same thing). For example the point was made (I don't know if it's true or not) that airbags in cars are bad policy because they save fewer lives than the same amount of money spent on cancer research or other car safety features. So in that situation you could say we're overprotected from head-on collisions.

        But the logic he's using here about under-polluting is just ridiculous, there are a lot of things wrong with it as the diarist pointed out.

  •  Thanks ASiegel for getting the word out (5+ / 0-)

    After all the Obama election has done to create goodwill around the world, the last thing we need to do is send an FU to less affluent countries by nominating Summers, who wants to dump our pollution on them.

  •  i can see his point #1 in a different way (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Peace JD, rainmanjr

    although I think he's still wrong.

    Still, I think what he was possibly saying was that if your industries that cause health care issues are located in countries where healthcare is cheaper, then the associated costs are lower.

    In America, health care is equally expensive no matter where you are, and delivers less for the cost.  If you relocated said industries to countries with better healthcare at lower cost, then you get rid of some of your costs, while providing the same overall healthcare.

    I just think he's got it backwards - you don't offshore the industries, you improve healthcare and lower the cost of it locally, which not only achieves the same effect, but keeps jobs local and improves everyone's healthcare along with it.

    Got a problem with my posts? Quit reading them. They're usually opinions, and I don't come here to get in arguments.

    by drbloodaxe on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 05:34:02 AM PST

    •  He didn't mention healthcare though, (0+ / 0-)

      he talked about the economic value of life expectancy. His points #2 and 3 do make sense though. If a country has very low polution, it makes sense to move more polluting industries there rather than to polluted places, because it won't make a lot of difference to the air quality, compared to if we moved the same industry to, say, Mexico City or Cairo or LA.

      And as for #3, yes, if more polluting industry means a higher incidence of prostate cancer, but the improved income means people can afford food, insulin for diabetics, and other basic drugs that save a lot more lives than are lost to prostate cancer, that is definitely an improvement, strictly in terms of human lives saved or lost. Unless we are realistically looking at the possibility of making insulin, antibiotics, &c., free to large numbers of people in developed countries--something I think would be great to do, but not a politically realistic goal right now--then you actually can talk about countries being "under-polluting". But this is not license to totally ignore the issue of polution in developing countries.

  •  Good Lord! (5+ / 0-)

    I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.

    I think that should go on his gravestone. The distinct lack of morality is impeccable and he should face up to that.

    Abe Simpson/Tonya Harding 08

    by Tyrannocaster on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 05:41:36 AM PST

  •  Summers is morally bankrupt (4+ / 0-)

    He would have to step forward and condemn his previous support for poisoning less developed countries. Sheesh.

    I am a community organizer. We feed the homeless, not build hockey arenas.

    by DWG on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 05:46:22 AM PST

  •  There's Also The Small Problem (3+ / 0-)

    Of Larry Summers statement that the Israel Divestment Movement has anti-Semitic overtones.

    My hope is that this is another Obama head fake intended to make the ultimate nominee seem much more palatable than might immediately be the case.

  •  Summers strikes me as a shallow (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bellatrys, A Siegel

    man, who grabs onto theoretical ideas and flings them about for his own amusement, with little care for how it affects the job he is doing. Seems like the worst possible person for treasury.  Or any position.

  •  I thought an appointee principal was no retreads (3+ / 0-)

    Summers is sooo retread.

    Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

    by Bob Guyer on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 05:49:34 AM PST

    •  Rahm from past too (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Guyer

      You're right.  I am leaning toward trusting Obama to do the right thing but:

      He said he would not choose from the past and both are from Clinton admin.  and   he said he would never lie to us.

      One of the reasons I supported Obama over Hillary is that I was afraid she would recreate the Clinton administration.

      •  I trust his balance and intelligence (0+ / 0-)

        I don't mind a few retreads, particularly in operational roles like chief of staff, but in the key conceptual spots that effect policy I'd like to see a shift away from the corporate centric Clinton style thinking. I hope he puts some conceptual meat on the bone of bottom up economics and a green energy revolution.

        Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

        by Bob Guyer on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:29:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  If he can get the job done and get us out of the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kujack, Jagger, NuttyProf

    hole we are in I'm all for him. Obama's handling of the economy will be judged by results.

    McCain/(Hagee+Parsley) '08 "We Hunt Jews and Muslims So You Dont Have To. Straight Talk"

    by DFutureIsNow on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 05:51:37 AM PST

  •  Larry Summers Is a Serious Person (5+ / 0-)

    From the center-right of America ... what could be the problem?

    Dean Baker of the CEPR comments about Wall St. Dems under consideration by the Obama campaign:

    You can call me "Lord Bink Forester de Rothschild."

    by bink on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 05:52:04 AM PST

  •  Summers would be a terrible choice (5+ / 0-)

    an insufferable ass, a privatizer, a male CP, and a polluter. Really a very very bad idea.


    What a disaster.

    fouls, excesses and immoderate behavior are scored ZERO at Over the Line, Smokey!

    by seesdifferent on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 05:53:27 AM PST

  •  If you want the 411 (8+ / 0-)

    on the World Bank, IMF, and WTO, there is one book that is a must read:  Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine.  These Friedmannian economists have been a blight on humanity and are responsible for tremendous human suffering and lots of blood.  Summers is just touting one aspect of this economic philosophy of deregulation.  These organizations must be substantially reformed.

  •  Why the hell (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tgs1952, catjo, betson08, Philoguy

    must every economist be a student of Friedman, surely there is a Keynesian somewhere in the bunch.

    I dunno what Obama is thinking by even floating all these asshole names out there, but can't we get one person in this country with a different point of view. I'd love to see Krugman, but I doubt he'd ever consider it.

    In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. - George Orwell

    by Alise on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 05:55:06 AM PST

  •  OK, this diary is hyperbole. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Larry Summers is not advocating poisoning poor people against their will.  He is, however, advocating compensating poor people for the pollution that new production brings.

    If the benefits of the new production do not outweigh the costs of new production, the hypothetical poor people will not be forced to house new factories.  What about this is controversial?

    Note that this is not an argument about carbon-type pollution, rather, he is talking about localized pollution/smog.

    Regardless, Summers would probably be a bad choice and I'd like to see Obama pick someone new.

  •  Summers is poison (10+ / 0-)

    I have no problem with Emmanuel as Chief of Staff or bringing in Republicans even conservative ones but Summers as Treasury head is a big no.

    Aside from his idiotic remarks as Harvard president being a major distraction, an even bigger issue is that he is part of the problem not the solution. He was instrumental in the Clinton administration's role in supporting Republican deregulation of Wall Street.

    That would be looking backward in the worst possible way. With choices like Jon Corzine or Fed NY president Timothy Geithner available, to name a few, Summers would be shooting yourself in the foot before the race even begins.

  •  This is part of the process (6+ / 0-)

    Names will get floated early in the transition while the team gauges reaction, basically letting the press and public participate in the vetting.

    That's what makes research like this diary an important contribution. Hopefully, it will help the Obama team make the right decision.

    "It has been suggested in some quarters that this is not enough..." -- J. Strummer

    by BobzCat on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 05:59:27 AM PST

  •  Is this conversation really about purity? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Minerva, kujack, Jagger

    I suppose we are second guessing Obama's choices and decisions again.

    The guy has skilz. I'm going to trust him.

    Here's to transparency, though.

    ...there's a rose in the fisted glove and the eagle flies with the dove - Stephen Stills

    by NuttyProf on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:00:31 AM PST

  •  "Centrism" means the center of hegemony (4+ / 0-)

    Neoliberalism, the mantra that markets can and should rule over all other things, lead inevitably to this:

    I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.

    Yet isn't the belief that markets are superior to all other forms of human organization part of the defining creed of American "centrism"?  Isn't Larry Summers the very epitome of American centrism, and won't his inevitable nomination to a high post in the Obama administration be hailed far and wide as reflecting the new administration's "pragmatism" and "non-ideological" approach?  That, in a nutshell, is hegemony in action.

    Democracy is not just about Election Day. The day after Election Day, you have to demand that the next President stand up for you, not Exxon Mobil ~B. Sanders

    by ActivistGuy on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:02:32 AM PST

  •  Short lists are kinda fun... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Blue Patriot Woman, A Siegel

    Hillary was on short lists too...
    How's Joe Biden by the way. Is he doing well? One hopes he remains healthy as the new V-P elect.
    I'm more willing to believe this is a distraction while the team vets through the real pick they want. Summers is just a plug-in.

    We win. Now about the change...

    by RElland on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:04:10 AM PST

  •  very important (4+ / 0-)

    I help in Haiti - one of those countries that get poisoned...what do you say? I remember the issue around his thoughts on women.

    "Junkies find veins in their toes when the ones in their arms and legs collapse." - Al Gore

    by parryander on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:04:53 AM PST

  •  so? He may be Secretary of Treasury....not of (0+ / 0-)

    Energy or Commerce. As Sec of Tres. he won't be making decisions that have anythong to do with the issues raised by the diarist.

     I think Obama's earned the right to make the selections he is comfortable with.

    "The fundamentals of my economy are strong" ...John McCain

    by polticoscott on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:05:01 AM PST

    •  Excuse me ... (17+ / 0-)

      the reality is that every single post in an Obama Administration should have energy/climate as a core part of charter. These are not stove-piped issues. And, which part of the government interacts with World Bank and IMF governance?  

      And, I guess, fiscal policy and governance has no relationship to pollution/development/energy choices/global warming?

      •  well..... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        the reality is that every single post in an Obama Administration should have energy/climate as a core part of charter.

         certainly Obama has indicated energy will be very large concern of his admin but to say it must be the "core" of every single post is unrealistic. How can energy policy be at the "core" of the Department of Justice for example?

         Even if your premise that it must be the "core" your "ideological purity" test to selection is too limiting, and runs counter to everything we know about Obama and his strenghts.

         Also I do not see a connection between fiscal policy and global warming policy....could you give me an example so I can better understand what you are driving at.

        "The fundamentals of my economy are strong" ...John McCain

        by polticoscott on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:33:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  How about .... (6+ / 0-)

          tax policy:  Right now, infrastructure improvements like putting in a high albedo roof are depreciated over a 42.5 year (or 37.5 year?) period while the costs of the energy that those investments would save can be deducted every year. For a business, this creates a financial incentive structure that favors using energy over making investments that will lower energy requirements.

          The list is quite ... quite long.

          "Core" means that decisions, throughout governance, should consider GW/energy impacts. Okay, we perhaps are talking about DOJ procurement policies as to how energy efficient buildings should/can be (yes, this can be outside DOJ), etc ...  Fuel efficiency, for example, shouldn't be "the" criteria for deciding which vehicles the DOJ should buy for FBI agents, but it should be a more important one than it has been in the past.

          •  you make a good point (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            overturned turtle, A Siegel

            and when I said no connection between fiscal and global warming that was a mistake....I was thinking primarily about trying to see a conection between monetary policy and global warming. Clearly the tax code does offer many opportunities as you correctly point out.

             I agree with energy effeciency ideas for all departments but still don't see that as "core" for some departments but I'm probably just being picky there.

            I still think imposing "energy ideological purity" is limiting for most cabinet positions but you have got me thinking in different terms re Treasury.

            "The fundamentals of my economy are strong" ...John McCain

            by polticoscott on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:06:16 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  How about ... (0+ / 0-)

              that we need appointees, for all posts, realizing that there are elements of their job that relate to energy/global warming? It might not be 24/7, but that every member of the Administration (just as with every citizen) has a role in moving the nation forward toward a more sensible energy future.

            •  RE fiscal policy ... (0+ / 0-)

              Aren't "stimulus packages" "fiscal / financial policy"?  And, thus there are many questions as to how to proceed.

              Re bailout, the Sec Treasury has a major role. Should energy be linked into bailouts? For example, if you gain mortgage assistance, a mandate for an energy audit and appropriate/recommended efforts to improve energy efficiency. (Note that energy efficiency homes have foreclosure/default rates about half national norm.)

              Etc ...

      •  Summers on climate/energy (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pd, mataliandy, A Siegel, j1j2j3j4

        "First, the US must engage in an energy efficiency programme that takes effect without delay and has meaningful bite. As long as developing countries can point to the US as a free rider there will not be serious dialogue about what they are willing to do. I prefer carbon and/or gasoline tax measures to permit systems or heavy regulatory approaches because the latter are more likely to be economically inefficient and to be regressive. The key point is that after Kyoto, where there was US vision in setting goals but no on-the-ground action, there must be real policy commitments."

        So...a gasoline tax is going to drive the "energy efficiency programme"....has Summers even thought this through at all?  Where have I seen this kind of thing recently, stringing words together, words that have to do with the subject but don't convey a coherent message? What's that called? Word confetti? Help me out.

        Nothing about government creating markets and launching a massive deployment and diffusion program. Nothing about decoupling for utilities. Nothing about renewable energy (except funding for research)? Critical of regulatory approach? You mean like Bush/McCain/Holtz-Eakin?

        Wait a minute...a Secretary of the Treasury....critical of a heavy regulatory approach?

        OK, I'm done.

  •  "Sigh" First Rahm now Summers, (3+ / 0-)

    This is not shaping up happily for me.
    I am quite disturbed actually.


    poor people earn more

    I think you mean less.

    The Shape Of Things "Beware the terrible simplifiers" Jacob Burckhardt, Historian

    by notquitedelilah on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:05:34 AM PST

    •  If you don't like Rahm (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      You either know little about him or aren't much of a Democrat. He is perfect for the job.

      •  He's a classic DLC move to the right triangulator (0+ / 0-)


        (That's not change we can believe in.)

        A consiglieri, yes. But the Chief of Staff does have to make a lot of choices on behalf of the

        Rahm was also the anti-Dean anti-50 state strategy guy.... i.e., WRONG!

        The only thing I can see is that he's best friends with Axelrod and close friends with Obama.

        I will give them both the benefit of the doubt, but I am, for good reason, on alert.

        If your actions speak louder than your words, you're not yelling loud enough. - Stephen Colbert

        by Words In Action on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:13:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  You know that the repugs will be ALL OVER this (2+ / 0-)

    If he is chosen.  We don't need this

    Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Give a man religion and he will starve to death praying for a fish.

    by Goodbye Kitty on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:06:35 AM PST

  •  Don't get all PC on us now (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TX Unmuzzled, Minerva, PzinkPanther

    Larry Summers has some kooky ideas for pollution and gender achievement.

    But he might be able to get us out of this situation.

    Get ready hard-left. Obama doesn't give a sh*t about ideological whims. Summers crappy ideas will get struck down and modified by someone else in the administration.

  •  Obama should be getting teared apart on this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    musicalhair, Words In Action
    I'd imagine he knows very well that if people wanted the 90's they would have put the Clinton's back in the White House so it's hard to take this 100% seriously, but either way - His decision will be a good indicator he really does believe in accountability from the people and bottom up change if it gets the kind of push back it should from the grass/netroots.
  •  Sounds like Jose Lutzenburger deserves a post (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in the Obama administration. Can he get a security clearance? Seriously, Summers sounds like a very dangerous man seduced by his own "logic". I particularly like the part about putting pollution into countries where low life expectancy means people will die soon anyway. It's this very same logic that drives my desire to turn every Sperfund site into a nursing home. Or not.

    Maybe our Treasury Secretary can instead be a man of actual logic and intelligence? Maybe someone with a Nobel Prize in economics? Maybe someone who writes for the New York Times?

    Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

    by bigtimecynic on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:09:15 AM PST

  •  Summers memo was satire (5+ / 0-)

    First, the memo was not meant to be a serious policy proposal.  It was more of a "modest" proposal in the vein of Swift , and, dare I add, Leiber.

    Second, the point of the satire was to put the brakes on free market fundamentalism before it reached its absurdist extreme.  Most of us would have like the brakes applied well before then (or perhaps, Sound of Music-style, to have the spark plugs removed before it gets going), but believe it or not Summers was not pushing to be the heir of Hayek.

    Finally, Summers did not actually write the memo.  One of his aides did.  Summers thought it was funny and signed off on it, but he didn't write it.

    "If we believe that all humans are human, than how are we going to prove it? It can only be proven through our actions." Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire

    by djs on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:09:53 AM PST

  •  Obama does not want drama hounds (8+ / 0-)

    and Summers is definitely a drama hound.

    Tim Geithner at the New York Federal Reserve has been mentioned as much as Summers, and he strikes me as a much better candidate for the circumstances.

    My own view is that Summers has a high-up Beltway fan club that has the connections to get his name out to the media as "being considered", but not necessarily the ability to get Summers appointed.

  •  Thanks for this post; I too (5+ / 0-)

    was stunned that Summers' name was floated. But many of Obama's advisers share his views. For progressives, I am convinced--that is for critics of the malign form of neoliberal capitalism that has been forced on much of the world these last 30 years--Obama's win really MUST be seen as only the beginnings of a repudiation of and change to something better. We will not obtain it if we now sit back and wait for Obama to enact it--he will be too much the prisoner of the system which he has pacted with to obtain his power. It's only if we see ourselves as participants in a movement that he himself (at least) glimpsed was waiting to be wakened. We must push, push, push. There are strong parallels to people like Brazil's Lula here. . .

  •  Presidential Appointments (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raatz, cotterperson, Veritas78

    The people talking don't know.  The people who know aren't talking.

  •  A couple things to be keep in mind (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sarac, kujack, A Siegel, NuttyProf, ravedave

    1991 was a long time ago. My ideas have evolved signficantly over the last 17 years. Is that not true of anyone who lives and thinks? Let's not forget Barack's ability to share a vision and lead. I suggest we give him a chance to do so and to choose his team without too much second guessing. The last thing he needs at this point is hyper-criticism from those who support him.

  •  Summers is most likely leaking his own name... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slinkerwink, cotterperson

    ...because he's that kinda guy. Same with Kerry.

    This is the tightest, non-leaky ship ever. I have no doubt that real Obamanauts aren't saying a thing. But Summers and Kerry? They would self-promote in a heartbeat.

  •  The Perfect Description of This Memo (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, mataliandy

    Your reasoning is perfectly logical but totally insane.

    For a moment, nothing happened.Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen.

    by klk on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:22:18 AM PST

  •  Summers Opposition to Fiscal Austerity (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Minerva, A Siegel, j1j2j3j4

    In the FT
    Summers wrote a column explaining how the financial bailout is no excuse to scale back Obama's programs. He has argued against allowing the Republicans to use the bailout to oppose healthcare reform and other needed things.

    A time when confidence is lagging in the household, financial and business sectors is not a time for government to step back. Well-designed policies are essential to support the economy and given the seriousness of healthcare, energy, education and inequality issues, can make a longer-term contribution as well.

  •  Thank you, ASiegel. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shpilk, mataliandy, Scubaval

    Very disheartening to know that Summers is on a very short list.

    Wouldn't it be great to have someone like Jeffrey Sachs?

    •  hey, there's another good name .. but (0+ / 0-)

      his area of expertise is more international. Might be good in the State Dept as an Undersecretary.

      2008, the Year the Republican Party dissolved into a little pond of goo

      by shpilk on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:46:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why not Krugman? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jab, Words In Action

    I am neither a economist or a banker, but Mr Krugman seems to make sense when he speaks. Does his lack of direct ties to the banking industry eliminate him from consideration?
    Or make him a stromger pick?

    It seems picking somone from the recent past who doesn't have some responsibility to the current debacle is impossible. Wich would lead me to think we need to look elsewere.

  •  This guy is very arrogant (6+ / 0-)

    As an African, i found this memo insulting, the memo represent quintessential elite arrogance. If there is one thing that scares me about this crazy economist, it is using the less privilege as samples for experimentation. What an idiot?

    The only way for the new President elect to lose credibility is by allowing people like Larry Summer near the administration. He is a whack job.

    We’ve seen the devastation of IMF and World Bank policy on the developing countries. I don’t think this is the time to start forcing our policy on these countries if we were to win their trust.

  •  Demagoguery (0+ / 0-)

    Can we leave it to the Republicans, please?

    I am no particular fan of Lawrence Summers, but if this memo is not satire (which he claims it is) but rather a true reflection of his moral shortcomings, shouldn't there be something from his actual record we can discuss?

  •  I think this kind of research and opinion is (0+ / 0-)

    important. But I've read Timothy Geithner's name more than this guys as a possible appointee.

    Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes. Go do some politics. - Barack Obama

    by 28th Democrat on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:41:30 AM PST

  •  This is similar to ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, James Kresnik

    cigarrett reducing health care cost since it kills people.

    Summers logic is impeccable.

    But he has sold his soul to Cheney.

    Thats the only explanation for such writing.

  •  I do not want Summers. I do not find him (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pd, sclminc

    appropriate, nor updated in his thinking.  There are many, many other choices out there.

    However, I'd like to point out that just because a name is floated doesn't mean it will happen.  Chuck Hagel is a prime example of that.

    At this juncture, I expect many names will be tossed around and I don't plan on getting freaked out by everyone, because I am guaranteed to not like all the appointments in all probability.

    That said, this is a very good diary with many salient points I hope to revisit in the future.


    Vote like your life depended on it.

    by xysea on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:46:54 AM PST

  •  How About This? (5+ / 0-)

    From The Automatic Earth yesterday:

    Rubin under Clinton was one of the main architects of what has gone so awfully wrong today. Throw him out. Larry Summers is a doofus. Out with the bathwater. Paul Volcker’s primary claim to fame is that Alan Greenspan was far worse than him, but that doesn’t make him a valuable source of information.

    If you, and the nation that so courageously elected you to be their leader, are to have a fighting chance at eventually beating the depression that can not be avoided, you will have to turn to people for advice who are not part of the banking in-crowd. Picking Jamie Dimon as Treasury Secretary, for example, is about the worst thing you could do. These are people who will always seek solutions in shifting things a little bit to the left or right, inside the existing paradigm.

    It won't work, Mr President. Remember Einstein. Rubin and Summers are the kind of people who feel, like the whole Wall Street cabal, that they are indispensable, that the economy will grind to a halt if they are no longer allowed to do what they do. And what they do is betting, and has nothing to do with not solid finance.

    You will have to call a stop to Wall Street, and all of the nation's finance policies, being a casino. That is as succinct as I can put it, and I can but hope that you understand how bitter and grave it all has become. You will need to throw out everybody who has had any dealings with it, while at the same time they will tell you that they are the only ones who know what goes on.

    One reason why you need to distance yourself from them is that you’ll have to prosecute many of them. Bob Rubin will not drag his buddies before a court of law. Still, if that is not done, the economy will not regain the sense of decency and confidence that your election has brought to the country. There's no two ways about it. Crime either pays, or it does not.

    "Live right. Think left." Gregory Peck

    by bookwoman on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:48:20 AM PST

  •  so what is the action item? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    who can we call/email/bludgeon to convince them this is a bad idea?

    The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants - Thomas Jefferson

    by TheGryphon on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:48:59 AM PST

  •  Rubin & Summers: No they can't (4+ / 0-)

    They have too much baggage, they are too entangled with Wall Street.  Let's get some new blood in the new administration at this most critical time.  

    •  Put these guys in some post other than T secy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel

      I think the issue here is that a Treasury secretary should really be almost as much of a symbolic figure as the president is.

      In my opinion, for example, even though Bush has screwed everything else up and mostly ignored the advice of his Treasury secretaries, he has appointed decent, middle of the road Treasury secretaries. Paulson, for example, might be screwing up, but I think that he sincerely means well, and that he's screwing up in a way that Robert Reich or Paul Krugman could have screwed up.

      I think Obama has to appoint a Treasury secretary who's a good, smart, temperamentally bipartisan kind of individual who would be as comfortable talking to Paulson as s/he would be talking to Krugman, or the chief economist for a progressive labor union.

      The Treasury secretary ought to be someone who's inclined to be progressive, but it also ought to be someone who really listens to everyone and understands where everyone is coming from, not someone who "Hates The Man" in a dumb, unthinking way.

      The Man certainly can be my enemy. But if The Man is going bankrupt and won't be able to give me a paycheck, then I want someone to nurse The Man back to health, not to let The Man die on the sidewalk just because We Want To Stick It To The Man.

      •  'The Man' is exporting our wealth, jobs, (0+ / 0-)

        raw materials and toxins while importing cheap labor, manufactured goods, astronomical debt, and well, toxins. The have done so and Is propping up and feeding this fetid status quo a good idea? Not particularly.

        The sea will be there/and all the small things will drown/Inevitable

        by James Kresnik on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 04:12:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •   'The Man' is exporting our wealth, jobs, (0+ / 0-)

        raw materials and toxins while importing cheap labor, manufactured goods, astronomical debt, and well, toxins. 'The Man' asks for the middle class to give them money, yet shows no signs of changing the formulation for upward wealth redistribution anytime soon. Is propping up and feeding this fetid status quo a good idea? Not particularly.

        The sea will be there/and all the small things will drown/Inevitable

        by James Kresnik on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 04:14:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Welcome back (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, James Kresnik, Scubaval

    to the rec list. Folks seem to have been distracted by that election thingy.

    Hopefully, the vetting process will take care of this issue. He is on the list, but no more than that.

    What I am hoping for, is all new faces. RFK Jr. at EPA would be a good start.

    Common Sense is not Common

    by RustyBrown on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:52:34 AM PST

  •  DIGG DIGG DIGG it! (Add link to diary?) (0+ / 0-)

    See also this overview of other reasons to wonder about Larry, from TPM:

    Let's win this first policy battle!

    "Rove's job, and by extension McCain's job, is to basically nuke reality and leave everything open to question." - dday

    by itswhatson on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:53:49 AM PST

  •  Thank you for your well reasoned (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    diary and for being involved in the [mostly] intelligent discussion.

    Floating names for various posts is the "fun" part of post-election game playing, but one with serious side effects.

    I think -- okay, make that, I hope -- that Obama continues to make the kinds of shrewd decisions that marked his campaign's organization. While I don't like the idea of Emanuel in the White House again, it is a shrewd choice none the less. Emanuel would bring experience, a contrasting energy level and style from Obama's. Whether or not he would have too strong an influence over policy decisions is something that remains to be seen.

    The primary distressing thing about his selection is that it has placed Emanuel in the driver's seat and would be a down arrow on Obama's cred sheet if Rahm doesn't take the job. I would have thought that there would have been quiet discussions before these public pronouncements. We all remember how the press pounced on Clinton (shrinking president anyone?) when his picks packed it in.

    God created a spectrum of human beings, not superior and inferior forms of humanity. yoduuuh do or do not

    by Blue Patriot Woman on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:54:07 AM PST

  •  What about Sheila Bair? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    James Kresnik

    Chairwoman of FDIC.

    I've seen her name floated - is she a worthy contender?

  •  Who would be acceptable (0+ / 0-)

    who are the people that are at least somewhat progressive,  are not Greenspan bubble accolytes, have some government experience so they are prepared to do the job and could do it well?

    If we're going to be heard, we need a focused voice.

    You have made good arguments why Summers needs to prove a sincere change of mind about several issues before he would be acceptable, if that is even enough.  Its not enough to say no, we have to be able to say, yes.

    •  Krugman; Larry Meyers; Volcker; Corzine; Geithner (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pd, betson08

      I know that some of those people might not really be any more on the median Daily Kos wavelength than Summers is, but at least they aren't famous for saying that women can't do math.

      I think that Obama should figure out some good way to make use of Summers' economic expertise, but I don't think that someone famous for saying that women are worse at math than men should get a cabinet position in a Democratic administration.

      I am middle of the road myself and understand that Summers' argument was a lot more nuanced than I'm making it out to be, but I just don't think our Treasury secretary should be someone who's already surrounded by firestorms.

  •  Chill the fuck out people. This is a legit view. (4+ / 0-)

    Look I am NO fan of Summers, having some very limited personal knowledge and experience with him, and he is really really creepy.

    But he is also wicked smart. That is an astoundingly high-horsepower brain in that guy. So that's just who you'd want to hear from for well-rounded advice.


    Summers won't be making any decisions. Obama will be making decisions. Obama will be setting policy. And hasn't he earned ANY confidence around here?

    This is an amazing adjustment we're having to go through around here.

    Meanwhile, you're missing all the fantastic McCain campaign dirt that's coming out!

    Texas: Our Permanent Lock on the Presidency. Key: 5 points in 4 years.

    by TX Unmuzzled on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:56:48 AM PST

    •  Pardon me if I disagree (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel, i like bbq, James Kresnik

      If he has a high-horsepower brain, it is running on low-test fuel, and the knocking and pinging is getting woefully annoying.

      I find his "intellectual rigor" sorely lacking when it comes to drawing accurate conclusions from data - especially that part where he pretends to acknowledge entire bodies of data, then summarily dismisses them outright based on no criterion other than the fact that they don't support his "best guess."

      He's "respected" only because he's rich and famous.

      Take away those two veneers, and he's the guy you run into in line at the convenience store who loudly spouts racist bullshit, then says "I was just joking!" when you call him on it.

      We don't need any more of his ilk running things.

      We've had decades of the "best" narrow minds ruining our economy and our planet. What we need are people who can see the forest, the trees, and both the short- and long-term impacts of messing with both in many different dimensions and on a wide variety of axes.

      Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze

      by mataliandy on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 11:31:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I can't believe I'm doing this. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Siegel

        Larry Summers is creepy creepy slimy creepy. That is true.

        But it is not true that he is necessarily racist or mysogynist. There are many women faculty at Harvard that support him and took his comments to be more nuanced than they were received.

        It is however grossly "inaccurate" to suggest he does not think well. This guy is still the youngest person EVER (in what, 400 years?) to receive a tenured professorship at Harvard University, basically as soon as he received his PhD there. Now Harvard almost never tenures professors who aren't already tenured somewhere else. This guy is smart on a generational scale. He is not some fatcat heartless racist in a grocery line or anywhere else. HE IS A BIG FAT FUCKING CREEPY PERSON. But I think he's a lot more brains than heart, and that's partly what makes him a master in "the dismal science" of economics.

        Texas: Our Permanent Lock on the Presidency. Key: 5 points in 4 years.

        by TX Unmuzzled on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 05:49:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  No change coming... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Remember that Hillary and Obama are very similar from a policy perspective.  Pelosi is talking about "governing from the middle" since apparently a HUGE win for the left doesn't actually equal a mandate for the left.

    The Obama administration will be better than Bush, and may even be better than Clinton's, but it's a long way from progressive and always was.

    Like communism and fascism before it, fundamentlism will not rest until it is thoroughly discredited or the entire world is under its yoke.

    by Guinho on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:59:11 AM PST

  •  This diary reminds me of Republicans' talk (4+ / 0-)

    Haven't we had enough of ideology and faith driving policy and trumping facts and reasoning? We need to improve people's lives, not indulge in self-righteous moralizing and create wedge issues.

    Larry Summers is an extremely smart man with phenomenal problem-solving instinct. He has some serious faults, too, but those are not the ones for which he gets maligned on this site.

    I trust Obama's judgment. If he appoints Summers, it will be because he has carefully considered the candidates and concluded Summers is the best person for the job. If he decides against choosing Summers, it is more likely to be because of Summers' history of bending the rules to help his friends than to his purportedly insufficient liberalism or the preposterous accusations of misogyny.

    •  Which people's lives? At which people's ... (7+ / 0-)


      I am long since sick of hearing people characterize legitimate criticism - like Summers's obvious disdain for Third World people - as "self-righteous moralizing." That kind of slur could be applied to much of the criticism progressives have directed at the Cheney-Bush administration, after all. We've been self-righteous about torture, a war built on lies, cronyism, ultra-partisanship.

      And already I am sick of hearing that we should just trust Obama to do the right thing, coupled with the notion that everything he does will be OK because he's doing it. But, hey, put the blinders on if that's what makes you happy.

      I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land. -- Mark Twain

      by Meteor Blades on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:44:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Obvious" raises some flags (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Siegel

        Most policies involve trade-offs. Summers was exploring ways to connect two problems (waste in country A and poverty in country B) in a way that would, on balance, improve the welfare of both countries. It's a reasonable goal, and you are free to argue whether it would actually lead to improvement and whether those are the best methods to achieve the goal.

        But to call it "obvious disdain for Third World people" does not strike me as a well thought-out argument.

        In third world countries there are cities where children spend all day scavenging landfills. Perhaps there is unpolluted nature 20 miles away, but that does not help to make the lives of those children any safer, healthier, or more hopeful. Some more wealth in the country might, though - provided we can make sure it is actually spent on developing the country's economy and not on the leaders' luxury.

        Trading waste may well be a bad idea - as I think many of its erstwhile proponents eventually concluded - but it is not indicative of "obvious disdain" for anybody.

        As of trusting Obama's judgment, I would never abandon skepticism, but judgment is one of the key things I look for in a candidate, and the purpose of electing anyone to any office is to entrust them with making decisions that require judgment. Choosing his cabinet, staff, and advisers is what he is now doing 24/7. Now I have a lot of trust in my own intellect and judgment, but if I thought I could do a better job from the sidelines than he can do in his position, I would have to question whether I was sane to vote for him.

        I know it's hard to get used to thinking that the President is not an idiot, but this guy is good.

    •  We need a de-regulating Sec of Treas.? nt (0+ / 0-)

      If your actions speak louder than your words, you're not yelling loud enough. - Stephen Colbert

      by Words In Action on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:18:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yes -- potentially pollut'g plants belong HERE (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Picot verde, James Kresnik, physic

    One thing we really have to do is to end the idea that it's acceptable to export cancer to children in China.

    If a plant is too dirty to be anywhere near our children, it's too dirty to be in China.

    Of course, the reality is that accidents happen, and some kinds of plants have to be located out in the middle of nowhere, to help contain the damage if something goes wrong.

    But, if we get the benefits of the products of a plant, then we ought to accept the risk that whatever will go wrong will go wrong in the "middle of our nowhere."

    Wherever a plant like that is located, it ought to be built with the possible pollution control and safety systems. If a plant can't be built in a way that is safe and contains pollution, then we ought to figure out a way to do without the product that the plant would produce, or come up with a different type of plant.

  •  This is alarming...we did not elect Obama to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    reinstall the Clinton Administration. Emanuel is a bad pick for COS and so would Summers for SOT.

    We can do better. There are many good, new, qualified candidates out there.

    And YES, we have the right, nay the duty, to speak up and press for our views to be represented in the cabinet.

    •  The Clinton Administration was the most competent (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Administration of the last 30 years.  We won this election with the support of Clinton Dems and Clinton era officials.  As far as treasury is concerned, in my view it shouldn't be anyone but Summers or Corzine.  Summers especially would send the right message to the markets that there is someone smart, flexible, competent and has a track record to manage the financial markets well.

      Alternative rock with something to say:

      by khyber900 on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:05:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The choice for Treas Sec is obvious: (6+ / 0-)

    Nobel winner Krugman.

    Is there any question?

    "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

    by nailbender on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:02:18 AM PST

    •  what's his experience (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      running an entire agency, though?
      I like Krugman, although his books are insufferably pompous.

      •  So is he. So is Summers. But the question (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        betson08, nailbender, j1j2j3j4

        is about their ability to grasp the complexity of international finance today. That's a limited group of people. And quite frankly, considering the types of policy reform that needs to be implemented as of yesterday and the people who have been running the government and the finance industry for the duration of our adult lives, no right choice will be experienced.

        That's right. No one.

        That's why we need Stiglitz or Krugman, regardless of their lack of a policymaking resume (though Stiglitz, as former chief economist for the World Bank, is stronger in this respect).

        "It's like we weren't made for this world, But I wouldn't really want to meet someone who was." --Of Montreal

        by andydoubtless on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 08:19:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  "How Harvard Lost Russia" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, marina, James Kresnik

    In a cover story in Institutional Investor, January 2006 (can anyone link?), David McClintock documents "The inside story of what happened when the enormous power and resources of the United States government were put in the wrong hands"

    In the article, Summers and others, and Harvard are forced to settle for $31,000,000 a lawsuit brought by... the United States Government.

    He is a bad choice for Obama, to say the least.

    Do you have a child? Will you send her to the war?... anon

    by andreww on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:02:56 AM PST

  •  Two words: Brad Delong. (0+ / 0-)
    Should he be Tresury Sec.


    Should he be considered to be a smart choice for an Under Secretary position...

    oh boy, that's right.

    Tres Sec:  Pull out the big guns.

    Summers?  Not so much.

    "Yes dear. Conspiracy theories really do come true." (tuck, tuck)

    by tribalecho on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:07:22 AM PST

  •  Kossacks: Don't smear or trash Larry Summers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kujack, rfahey22

    He was the last competent treasury secretary we had in this country (due respect to Paul O'Neill, but you were part of the worst administration in history).

    His appointment would be particularly reassuring to the world markets and world leaders that someone who actually knows something about global finance will be running treasury.

    I want the best people for the job.  Summers is clearly in that group.

    Alternative rock with something to say:

    by khyber900 on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:07:52 AM PST

  •  Not a Solid Story (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrblifil, kujack, A Siegel

    As you pointed out twice in your links and quotes, Summers reacted to the backlash against that (now 17 year old) memo by saying

    The basic obviously all wrong

    And that was over a decade and a half ago. Indeed, in the late Bush admin (1991, when he sent the memo), the environment wasn't just higher in people's consciousness - it was less abused. At the time, lots of people who wanted more opportunity and power for people in developing countries thought that the developing countries' environments could afford some short-term stress in exchange for the money and power to take control of their environment (physical and political), for longterm relief of all kinds of stress there. After all, that's how the developed countries got their money and power to dictate terms to the less developed ones.

    Maybe - probably - they were wrong. Summers immediately admitted he was wrong. The pushback alone proved that the "pollution for power" tradeoff was neither acceptable nor necessary, as the pollution targets had the power to push back against the president of the World Bank (who would become Clinton's Treasury Secretary - a very powerful person).

    The other criticisms of Summers' leadership have deep flaws, too. Most especially that they're irrelevant to proving that Summers didn't truly change his pollution policy (or that he ever held them more deeply than he claimed after claiming to change them). Specifically the kerfuffle over his remarks about women in science while presiding at Harvard are irrelevant to this discussion, except in the broadest political sense which is not related to policy, but to overall politics. And this diary doesn't make a strong, or even a substantial, argument that Summers was wrong there (in fact, I do not think he was wrong, nor did he say what his political opponents over that event said he said).

    Without those other arguments, there's little to condemn Summers as "calling for poisoning Developing World", even if he did once, 17 years ago. That was a long time ago.

    Now, Summers might be wrong for Treasury. He isn't really "change", since he ran it so hard in the 1990s. But "change back to good" is worthwhile change. I think that a lot of what Summers and Clinton did with the economy was worth doing for a while, but needed to be wound down as the economy changed, which of course Bush failed to do. The eventual problems in keeping a policy that was no longer correct are not at all necessarily Summers' fault.

    But that is a very different argument. This diary doesn't make it. It makes a very weak argument about a very different policy, a long time ago. It's not influencing my position on a return by Summers to head the Treasury.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:09:33 AM PST

    •  actually ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mataliandy, j1j2j3j4

      Read the last paragraph. I do think this is worthwhile for discussion (not just here).  If he is being 'vetted', the questions should be asked about his views of 'sustainable development' vs what the WB has been doing; of what his views are of Treasury's role in fostering better energy policy/sustainable development in US and globally as we seek to dig ourselves out of the deep hole we're in.  And, if Summers flies through those discussions, great ... he'll fly through any raising of them in nomination hearings ... and he will have stated a philosophy that he can bring into the Cabinet.  

      •  Discussions vs Foregone Conclusions (0+ / 0-)

        I'm happy to discuss anyone who's considered for the Cabinet - that's what we're doing in this discussion.

        But this diary makes much more of that old memo than can be substantially backed up. And brings in other "kitchen sink" issues to throw at Summers that are irrelevant - and glosses them against Summers without even discussing their actual merit.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 09:51:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I am SO against Summers in any post. (9+ / 0-)

    He's an idiot and he doesn't understand the country in which Obama was elected. He demeans women and people of color-- even those on the Harvard faculty who should have been living, breathing examples to him of how much smarter they were compared to him.

  •  Well (0+ / 0-)

    Considering our current projected population levels, some controls are going to have to be put in place.

    Resources of our planet are finite, growth can't go on forever.

    It's a sad truth that anyone with sense has to realize.

  •  give me a break (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kujack, rfahey22

    larry summers is exactly the kind of brilliant economist that we should want in that job.  a job which, by the way, pays like shit compared to the vast other opportunities available to him, and which exposes himself and his family to public scrutiny on a daily basis.

    the points in this memo are economic fact.  they're not politically correct.  much like there aren't as many women interested in science and math as there are men.  the OP seems to not even understand the economic arguments.  perhaps that's willful, but it's intellectually pretty pathetic.  

    do you advocate for tradable carbon credits?  if so, who do you think is going to be more willing to be paid to take pollution, nigeria or switzerland?  what are the ramifications of that?  WAIT STOP I CAN'T TALK ABOUT THIS ANYMORE, SOMEONE MIGHT GET OFFENDED.  EVERY LIFE IS INFINITELY PRECIOUS SO I CANNOT DISCUSS THESE ISSUES RATIONALLY OR WITHOUT CONSTANT CAVEATING.

    Seriously, am I going to have to stop reading this site now that we've won?

    •  Seeing as you're (4+ / 0-)

      Interested in apologizing for environmental racism, throwing around conservative buzzwords like "politically correct" and using the statement "Every life is infinitely precious" in a mocking tone, I don't think you'll have to worry about not offending people.

      Having a degree in economism is no defense against advocating an inhuman and monstrous policy. Or sexism.

      •  environmental racism? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        leberquesgue, rfahey22

        now you're just making up words.

        if you hire someone with a ph.d in economics to talk about pollution in the context of international development, and she'll tell you the exact same thing.  your argument reminds me of people who think tradable pollution credits are immoral, because pollution is just wrong.  morality doesn't exist for the purpose of shutting down your mind.  if you want to know the moral ramifications of pollution, hire amatai etzioni or peter singer, but don't be surprised when your answers are economically insane.

        • (5+ / 0-)

          Try again.

          I've read Etzioni and I've found him to be just as disgustingly amoral as Summers' memo. As I wrote above, having an economists' degree does not exempt you from the human race.

          •  Control for income? (0+ / 0-)

            None of these studies control for income.  Minorities tend to be poorer, and poorer people live in less nice neighborhoods.

            An economist would call that a confounding variable.

            And then you could rag on him for not having explored the moral ramifications of the ideas behind well-meaning but misspecified regressions.

            •  Oh please (3+ / 0-)

              Are you really trying to tell me that corporations don't target more economically vulnerable neighborhoods to dump pollution in? Or is that just another "well-meaning regression?"

              Being an apologist for corporate-inflicted suffering is so 1996.

              •  so racism has nothing to do with race? (0+ / 0-)

                i see.

                •  Strawman (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  i like bbq

                  Unless you're genuinely trying to argue that minorities aren't more economically vulnerable.

                  •  targeting the poor is not racism (0+ / 0-)

                    even if some of them are minorities
                    targeting minorities because they are minorities is racism

                    •  And the reason minorities are poor has (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Picot verde, i like bbq

                      nothing to do with racism?

                      If you are benefiting by racism, particularly at the expense of minorities' suffering, you are engaging in de facto racism behavior.

                      But, you know, by all means continue defending the exploitation of the poor.

                      •  environmental homophobe (0+ / 0-)

                        i can't believe how intolerant you are of my ecoqueer ideology.  

                        gay people live in cities.  cities have worse air than the countryside because of pollution.  ergo polluters are homophobic.

                        i'm so glad that i have this big brush of homophobia that i can paint any argument i don't like with.  after all, homophobia exists, people suffered from it.  hell, some people lost their jobs over it.

                        are you employed?  are you gay?  if you said yes to the first but no to the second, you're engaging in de facto homophobia behavior.

                        •  Intolerance and small-mindedness (0+ / 0-)

                          Has definitely driven many gay people out of rural areas into urban ones. You make an interesting point, and it's worthy of study.

                          Unless, of course, you were just setting up another strawman to get out of admitting that your initial assertion was wrong.

                          •  semiotics (0+ / 0-)

                            frankly, i don't think it would be interesting to study, although i might be able to get some grant money out of it and finagle it into an excuse to meet some nice boys at a conference or something.  but ultimately, any responsible econometric analysis would have to account for differences in where people live, and that would almost surely explain the obvious impact.  i'd rather not spend months on a paper entitled "Gays Like Cities, Air Not So Good There".  it would attract more headlines, and maybe get me invited to conferences to say "Industry Poisoning LGBT Population" but it would be intellectually dishonest and facile.

                            i think a responsible study could probably be done called "Polluters Target Poor Communities; Such Communities Often Minority", though, again, it wouldn't be very headline-grabbing.  But to say "Industry Poisoning Blacks" by not including income as a variable and to call it racism is academically dishonest and cheapens the suffering of minorities past, present, and future who suffer because of the color of their skin, and not because of things that correlate with it.

                            and i don't think discriminating against the poor is good, as you argue.  i just don't think it's racist, any more than it's homophobic or anti-semitic.

                          •  Well, it's your strawman (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            James Kresnik

                            So you are certainly free to tear it apart as you see fit. But again, you continue to dodge the point that you were wrong in your initial assertion. Here, I'll help you:

                            "I was wrong. You didn't make up the term 'environmental racism'."

                            See? Easy.

                          •  so sorry (0+ / 0-)

                            Indeed, you did not literally fabricate the combination of two words in the english language all by yourself.  I was being rhetorical.

                            What I meant to say is: you're referring to a bunch of poorly researched, sensationalist pseudoscience that is so wholly unworthy of the level of discourse to which sentient beings usually aspire that it makes me wonder whether we're even speaking the same language.

                          •  That's a different argument (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            James Kresnik

                            And, leaving aside your disingenuous claim that you were also being "rhetorical" when you asked twice for proof that the term had been previously used, I still am not clear on how it is "pseudoscience" unless you have proof that corporations don't deliberately target minority neighborhoods.

        •  Trading credits is wrong (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jxg, Silverbird, A Siegel, j1j2j3j4

          not just morally but because most economists that really understand global warming understand that they don't work. In order for us to simply survive pollution has to be halted. The whole cap and trade scheme is not fast enough, they have not proven to actually work, look at Europe for proof. They are yet one more false market that business is throwing to avoid making the urgently needed changes that might decrease their short-term profits. Business' are not understanding the very threat to their long term viability.

    •  I'll give you a break right across my knee... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, shpilk, mataliandy

      Summers didn't say there aren't that many women in science, proportionally-speaking, which is a fact and which few would contest, he said men have more "intrinsic aptitude" for science than women...  That is ridiculous and sexist and exposes him as too foolish for these times and for his mission.
      This is bell curve stuff, and is completely unfounded, and certainly was not supported in any scientific way by Summers who you apparently consider to be the only MAN for the job...

    •  Larry Summers Never Has to Worry About Money (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, shpilk, mataliandy

      Ever again.

      There will always be another high-six figure job waiting for him somewhere.  At a bank, at a think-tank, at a university.

      You got to laugh ...

      When you are operating at the level where Mr. Summers is, you don't have to worry about cash flow anymore.  You are taken care of by the system.

      You can call me "Lord Bink Forester de Rothschild."

      by bink on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:17:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  that's true (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Loudocracy, kyeo

        He's a managing director at DE Shaw, one of the largest hedge funds in the world.  If he chooses to return to public service, it's out of a sense of obligation to the greater good.  We should be grateful that people of his caliber would consider such a thing, because frankly if I have to get raked over the coals for every off-color thing I ever said, I never would, and I doubt you would either.

        And if you have to be less controversial than tapioca pudding to get a job in the Obama administration, we're gonna have some pretty bland solutions.

        •  Oh, Jesus Christ (5+ / 0-)

          He's a director at a hedge fund?


          NO NO NO NO NO!


          You can call me "Lord Bink Forester de Rothschild."

          by bink on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:48:18 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Hedge Fund Manager = Automatic Disqualifier (5+ / 0-)

          We can ignore everything about Summers' past - including his corruption, racism and mysogyny.

          All we need to know is that he's a director of a ponzi scheme right now (all emphasis mine).

          From an article on DE Shaw's expansion into India last year:

          "First, while it is largely sector-agnostic, it will likely broadly focus on companies that exploit India’s cost arbitrage advantage (think auto ancillaries, animation); opportunities that arise from deregulation (think media companies) and public-private partnerships (think infrastructure and real estate businesses),"


          The changes, in fact, follow global trends. Hedge funds are increasingly stepping on PE [private equity] turf in the US and Europe. As PE firms, which usually take longer to close deals due to stringent pre-deal due diligence and generally stick to equity-capital led investments, come up against hedge funds in their traditional spaces, it may be a matter of time before the two converge.

          And putting the long-term obligations part of the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) in D.E. Shaw's hands may not have been the best move:

          But as the equity roller-coaster plunges, we're reminded that while VRS's earnings trend may be up overall, there are stomach-wrenching and balance-sheet-wrecking patches in its track. The latest dip ripped $11 billion off the $55 billion balance sheet — $5 billion in the last two weeks, a horrified state Senate Finance Committee learned last week.


          But what about its long-term obligations? Especially since, before the plunge, VRS had only 80 percent of the funding actuaries said it should have.

          Unless the economy rights itself quickly, the General Assembly is going to have to make sure VRS is shored up

          Gotta wonder what percentage of Lehman's demise was contributed by this:

          George Walker, Lehman’s global head of investment management, is quoted by Bloomberg, saying that the D.E. Shaw stake "offers a broad array of alternative and long-only products". The article notes that Wall Street is eyeing up hedge funds to offer clients greater access to alternative investments and take a larger share of the fees the funds generate.

          Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze

          by mataliandy on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 12:07:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Which disqualifies him? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        good lord, like someone who DOES have to worry about money will be appointed?

    •  do you know what a tradable carbon credit is? (3+ / 0-)

      Hint: they are not about "being paid to take pollution"...pretty much the opposite...

      You'd be more credible if you knew what you were talking about.

      •  who issues them? where does the money go? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mataliandy, rfahey22

        hint: i have a master's degree in economics.

        if they're going to be implemented on an international scale, as they are in europe presently, some countries will be net importers of pollution, and some countries will be net exporters.  this already happens, of course, but clearly its institutionalization has ramifications.

        some of these consequences involve the health of people in LDCs.  should we bury our head in the sand to the consequences?  or make up new words to exclude people who realize this from the discourse (like "environmental racism")?

        •  I like how you are insisting (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          i like bbq

          that environmental racism is a "made-up word" despite already being shown proof to the contrary. You've obviously learned your debating skills from McCain campaign spokesmen.

          •  proof... (0+ / 0-)

            consisting of a wikipedia article, showing that someone made it up in 1987

            boy, egg on my face

            and you're right, i'm totally a republican.  only a hard-right reactionary would disagree with the OP.  i'd call you a name back, but i don't care to engage with you on that level.  if there's an insult you'd like me to use, please let me know.

            •  More proof? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:





              Two seconds on google. There's much more. But please, continue to make yourself look uninformed.

              I didn't insult you. I was describing your debating tactics. But again, please feel free to take false offense so as to dodge the issues.

              •  what about ecofeminism? (0+ / 0-)

                totally legitimate field of academic study, or way-left-wing academic buzzword that doesn't really mean anything?

                how about environmental homophobia?  do you deny that gay people are affected by pollution?  also, urban areas often have worse air quality than rural ones.  it wouldn't be hard to put together a study showing that polluters were targeting gay people if you don't control for where they live.

                meanwhile, show me a study which controls for income and shows evidence of this phenomenon.  to me, if a corporation pollutes in a poor neighborhood, that makes them bad citizens and possibly illegal (the laws do allow some pollution).  it doesn't make them racist unless they do it because they relish the thought of poisoning the air around black people.  i honestly don't believe that most corporations are run by americans who rub their hands together and cackle at the thought of building another factory near black people, but perhaps you and I have different views of the world.

                also, this is a democratic site, and you should know that comparing someone to john mccain is an insult.

                •  More strawmen (4+ / 0-)

                  I certainly don't see why the questions of whether women or gay people are more adversely affected by pollution shouldn’t be discussed. But that's not what you were saying. You were asserting that I "made up" the term "environmental racism." Now that you've clearly been proven wrong, you're attempting to distort your position and change the focus of the argument.

                  And you're still wrong. Racism is defined as "discrimination based on race." Which is very clearly what happens when polluters decide to target poor populations who have suffered economically from discrimination. Not that that was your original argument whatsoever, but you know.

                  If you don't want your debating skills to be compared to McCain, don't debate like him. Simple.

        •  let's stick with the credits for now (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cotterperson, kyeo

          we're talking about whether tradable carbon credits have anything to do with being paid to take pollution.

          you started out attacking the diarist using claims re tradable carbon credits. your claims made no sense.

          if you want to have a conversation, deal with the credits issue: how exactly are poor nations paid to take pollution via the credits?

          we can move on once we're done with that topic

          •  if you like (0+ / 0-)

            well, an international system for trading carbon credits only exists in europe, and even there it's kind of a soft market because compliance isn't legally required for quite some time yet.

            country A and country B each issue credits for 100 tons of CO2.  they're both sold on the open market.

            there, now both countries have been paid to take pollution.  depending on the mechanism of enforcement, the purchaser of A's credits and B's credits may do all of it's polluting in country B.  that's how CO2 credits for power plants in the northeast work, creating a net transfer of pollution from A to B.

            how do we decide how much pollution each country is allowed to sell?  what if some countries were willing to suffer more pollution if they got paid for it? do we tell them they may not?  how might a stringent regime affect nations' willingness to join?  

            and how do we answer these questions if we call people racists for talking frankly about these issues?

            •  um, no. that's not how the system works (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Picot verde

              the relevant governments set national limits for emissions (think of the sum of these limits as the BIG CAP).

              in order to meet these targets more cost-effectively, a bunch of entities (for example power plants) throughout the EU are covered by a so-called trading "cap" (this cap is lower than the BIG CAP because the BIG CAP includes emissions not covered by the trading scheme).

              the cap determines the number of carbon credits that will be  doled out to the entities. they're either handed out, auctioned out, or some mix. but the total amount allocated is determined beforehand.

              now, suppose one power plant in nation A wants to burn, baby, burn but only has enough permits through the allocation process to cover 11 months worth of burning coal. assuming the power plant doesn't want to try efficiency or anything else, the power plant needs to buy permits. either from another entity in the same nation or from some entity in another nation that's part of the trading system. so the polluter pays someone else (and then that one has to pollute less) in order that the power plant be able to pollute.

              how do you get from that to someone being paid to pollute (let alone to "take pollution," since all the carbon is going into the atmosphere anyway)?

              •  depends (0+ / 0-)

                we don't (yet?) have a global system for such things, and there are many ways it could be implemented.

                in the 10 states in the northeast, under your example, the power plant in state A could buy credits from state B.

                at some level, you have to allow for transfer within boundaries.  i'd be surprised if the world adopted a scheme based on europe that didn't allow transfer of credits across national borders.  the only way it would work would be with large direct payments to developing nations, and most economists agree that the payments would have to be unaffordably massive to make it worth their while to not industrialize.

                but it still doesn't address the initial allocation question: where does it come from?  who gets to set it? CO2 (and particulate, nox, sox, etc) do go into the atmosphere, of course, but they also have point-of-release impacts.  if cote d'ivoire is willing to host a big polluting factory in the desert because people there live on $1.50 a day and have a 45 year life expectancy, are we to tell them they can't? what would be the impact of that?

                the economic questions bear investigating, but you can't do that if you're afraid of being called a racist.

    •  Couple things .. (4+ / 0-)
      1.  "economic fact" has happily not counted/discussed externalities in much discussion.  Perhaps the "economic fact" should be put into that larger context.
      1.  You're confusing carbon credits / such. They are an ability for Switzerland to have more pollution while giving funds for reducing pollution in Nigeria in an "economic fact" argument that it is less expensive to reduce pollution loads in higher polluting/less developed ('cheaper') areas.  
      1.  I have some serious issues about 'carbon credits' but to the extent that they can help foster cleaner development / clean up pollution in areas which have great difficulty doing so, then they merit attention.
      1.  This is not about 'politically correct' but as to recognizing that we cannot afford this type of thinking and have any hopes of tackling global warming.
      1.  Diary's call is for discussing this (and 500+ comments are a start) and exploring implications.
      •  okay but (0+ / 0-)

        5 is fine

        2 is a green-friendly argument for carbon credits, and i (for the record) think they're good, but I also think that they're fundamentally a net transfer of pollution.  the direction of the transfer will depend in part upon the structure of the trading system.

        I'm not entirely sure that it's cheaper to reduce pollution in LDCs.  Of course, the first 10 or 20% of cuts will be very easy, and that'll be good, but beyond that, the transfer options are

        A) rich countries pay poor countries not to industrialize

        B) poor countries pay rich countries to pollute so they can industrialize

        A would be nice, but I suspect will rapidly become prohibitively expensive -- how much would we have had to pay China to forego the 10% of the last 10 years of development?  And B would induce countries to leave the system entirely, or cheat.

        Gonna be tough to strike a balance.  I'd sure like someone who won the Clark prize in Economics to tell me what he thinks.  He's gonna have to take a huge pay cut to do it, and lots of people will give him crap about all sorts of things, but maybe he'll be willing to make that sacrifice for his country.

  •  This is sooooo disappointing to hear (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, Words In Action

    I had really hoped Obama would be very creative and outside the box in his appts.  So far I am not seeing anything like that.  Summers would be a horrible choice on many levels.  Paul Krugman for Treasury!

  •  What's more important? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Clean air/water or electricity?

    Tough call...

    What do we need more?

    Access to information?  Or pristine countryside?

    Justice, mercy, tolerance, hope, love, grace, and redemption are all Judeo-Christian values.

    by Benintn on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:13:25 AM PST

  •  Wrong (0+ / 0-)

    Summers's position is completely logical - let's say that you have a 45-year life expectancy because of the conditions in your country.  There is an opportunity to bring an industry to your country that pollutes and thereby gives you an increased risk of cancer at age 70, 25 years after you are likely to be dead.  Let's further assume that a job in that industry would give you the wages to make it past 45, and maybe even to 70.  In other words, the wages from that job increased your life expectancy.

    Now, we can debate whether that hypothetical is realistic, but the premise of this diary is completely off - he's not saying that we should "poison poor people," or some other bullshit.  The question is, in a world of shitty options, which option is least shitty for the people affected?    Until environmental cleanliness actually provides jobs that can sustain people in poorer countries, it will remain merely a rich nation's concern.

    The pleasure of hating...eats into the heart of religion...[and] makes patriotism an excuse for carrying fire, pestilence, and famine into other lands. - W. Haz

    by rfahey22 on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:15:25 AM PST

    •  False choice (6+ / 0-)

      There is no reason why the question of pollution has to be an "us or them" one. And even less why we can arrogantly think we have the right to play God with other people's lives.

      •  No one's playing God (0+ / 0-)

        Ok, drop the sloganeering for a minute.  What is your plan for developing poor countries so that their people can live longer and better lives?  In this thread I have seen very few policy proposals or engagement with the arguments presented.  And, frankly, I have no idea where you get the belief that this is an "us or them" debate.  

        False nobility such as that on display in this diary has the effect of killing people.  Maybe you don't like to think about that, but that doesn't change things.

        The pleasure of hating...eats into the heart of religion...[and] makes patriotism an excuse for carrying fire, pestilence, and famine into other lands. - W. Haz

        by rfahey22 on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 08:19:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  How about (6+ / 0-)

          Reducing pollution, reducing energy use, stopping the spread of disease, dropping debt, increased funding of renewable energy sources? I mean, do you really need these very obvious strategies pointed out to you? More to the point, are you really prepared to stand here and tell me that "Fuck it, they're going to die anyway so we might as well poison them" is somehow as valid a policy as any of the above?

          Nice work holding me responsible for people's deaths without a shred of evidence, by the way. Especially ironic when you're defending Summers for advocating the same thing.

    •  given your position (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      i like bbq

      I have no objection to doing this if all the pollution that is created by Third World nations and winds up carried to the US is dumped into your living room. There's no practical way to do that, regardless of the entertainment value.

      Unfortunately, we only have ONE atmosphere and what gets dumped into it is everybody's problem.

      Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:50:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Alan Blinder, former FED Governor would make (4+ / 0-)

    a great SOT. Check him out. He is not a Friedman monetarist.

    Dr. Blinder served as Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from June 1994 until January 1996. In this position, he represented the Fed at various international meetings, and was a member of the Board's committees on Bank Supervision and Regulation, Consumer and Community Affairs, and Derivative Instruments. He also chaired the Board in the Chairman's absence. He speaks frequently to financial audiences.

  •  We're not nominating him for EPA, nor even (0+ / 0-)

    Sec. of State.  Not Sec. of Energy (Spencer Abraham...) either.  Summers would have control solely of US Monetary Policy.  NOT anything related to foreign gov't. or foreign environment.

    This is an important issue to highlight, but I don't see that Summers is disqualified b/c of these positions.  I only think that we need to make sure that we have strong people to offset Summers on environmental justice, etc.

    Obama himself values environmental justice, but also understands the need for sustainable development.

    Would you say that the TVA was a mistake?  Just wondering.

    Justice, mercy, tolerance, hope, love, grace, and redemption are all Judeo-Christian values.

    by Benintn on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:16:16 AM PST

  •  Repub senators wh cld b rep'd by Dems? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, j1j2j3j4

    One problem we have is that it seems as if we have only 56 Democratic votes in the Senate. (Maybe 57 if you count Lieberman.)

    We may need 60 votes to get genuinely progressive bills through the Senate, and we may really need some insurance votes to move bills that are a little too progressive for some moderate Democrats.

    Are there any moderate Republican senators who are in states set up in such a way that they'd probably be replaced by Democratic senators?

    If so: I think Obama should consider trying to get a couple of those senators to take cabinet positions.

    If, say, Olympia Snowe moved to Obama's cabinet and were replaced by a Democrat, Obama would build his bipartisan street cred and the Democrats would have an easier time getting bills through Congress.

    •  Give Lieberman a Post. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mataliandy, sclminc, abrauer

      New Cabinet position: Whiner.

      2008, the Year the Republican Party dissolved into a little pond of goo

      by shpilk on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:31:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Seriously: ambassador to Sudan or to Palestine (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mataliandy, James Kresnik

        Sudan - Lieberman has really be great on Darfur. On this issue, Lieberman has taken the high road.

        Palestine -- Maybe the United States could recognize the West Bank Palestine as a real country and send Lieberman there as the first ambassador. Palestine would could some serious recognition; Lieberman would get to live in the historic Eretz Yisrael; and Lieberman could be a vigorous advocate for Israeli interests in Palestine.

        Or, make Lieberman ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Force that country to confront how officially anti-Semitic (and anti-Christian) it is.

      •  Ambassador to Tuvalu. nt (0+ / 0-)

        If your actions speak louder than your words, you're not yelling loud enough. - Stephen Colbert

        by Words In Action on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:35:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Not really (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mataliandy, James Kresnik

      Republicans have been weakened by this election even if they haven't lost ALL power - I doubt they'll be obstructionist or be able to drop the filibuster dime on a popular new President's program except for very controversial proposals.  They're not going to throw down the gauntlet on appointments - this is a different time from when Clinton became President.  For one thing, he didn't have the popular vote that Obama has gotten, nor did he have a rising Democratic Party in power - Newt Gingrich was still around and combative from the start.  I don't think Obama has to do much appeasement at this point - I think the Republican Senators up in 2010 will be particularly inclined to be cooperative, at least for a while.  Including one John McCain, for starters.

      •  If you are correct, this flies in the face (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mataliandy, wrights

        of the arrogance Republicans have shown for well over 50 years, starting with Nixon and Goldwater.

        Expecting the Republicans to eat humble pie is logical, but I doubt they'll do it willingly.

        Can the leadership hold the hard line?

        Will Snowe, Collins and Specter break away?

        That's the real question. I think under certain circumstances, they might. Specter is nearing the end, he's not well. Snowe may simply retire in 2012.
        Collins .. feh. Whatever.

        Those are the three remaining in the Northeast .. and Gregg, who will be gone in 2010. He might break away from the Republican leadership to try to avoid the freight train headed right at him, called Paul Hodes.

        But as for the rest of the Thugs, I expect them to continue to be the thugs that they've been.

        2008, the Year the Republican Party dissolved into a little pond of goo

        by shpilk on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:38:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  America is desperately (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          A Siegel, i like bbq

          anxious for relief from our financial problems. If the GOP manages to stop it, 2010 is going to be about a "Do-Nothing Congress" and Obama is going to be on the road again, attacking Republicans and DINOS... blaming them for ALL of our problems, even the ones that cooperation wouldn't have solved.

          Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

          by alizard on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:46:38 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Great job (0+ / 0-)

    I'm sure Obama has no idea about any of these aspects of Summers' record...

    •  Something tells me Obama does know. (0+ / 0-)

      This isn't Bush or McCain - Obama is cautious to a fault, and studies information before he chooses.

      This is why consideration of Summers is sort of scary.

      2008, the Year the Republican Party dissolved into a little pond of goo

      by shpilk on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:30:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  We have no idea (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mataliandy, alizard, A Siegel

        who has generated this speculation about Summers. What interest would it serve Obama to drop names? This sounds like an attempt to gin up support for a same ol' same ol' free marketeer. Maybe I'll be proven wrong, but it would shock me if Obama were to nominate anyone who would then go on to uphold any kind of anti-regulatory posture. If it is Summers, look for him to make a lot of statements at the outset that the Federal government needs to reign in bad apples, and the like...

        Reducing regulation in the nineties was not necessarily evil. Dismantling the regulatory framework entirely, and instituting what amounted to a sit-down strike among the regulatory entities that remained, all that was the fault of the Bush administration, and the fact is that almost anyone put forward is going to be an improvement, and given the awesome display of political power that Obama projected on Tuesday, that person is basically going to do whatever Obama tells him/her to do.

        What needs to be exposed is the widespread application of Enron techniques throughout the financial industry over the last 8 years, a situation with which Summers had very little to do. I marvel that so many Obama supporters of long standing (not speaking about any one in particular, mind) are quailing over his financial acumen now that he's won.

  •  Loose cannon Larry is well known in the (7+ / 0-)

    Boston papers as the gift that keeps giving [horrible headlines] - Summers tarnished the reputation of Harvard with his ridiculous comments.  

    While some of your story is apocryphal, I don't doubt that Summers would have said and penned all of it.  

    He's totally unsuitable: and here's why .. the post is more than simply working on setting policy. The tone and believability of the person in that post is crucial. If we have a loudmouth like Summers in there, it could be a disaster.

    To bring the perception of stability back, we need a cool headed player, not a jerk who is prone to shooting his mouth off.

    While I like Reich and Krugman, I think that they might not be the best choice at this time. The best choice might be a Galbraith or a Binder type, as noted by others. Stability first .. then, as time progresses maybe change to a Reich or Krugman worldview.

    2008, the Year the Republican Party dissolved into a little pond of goo

    by shpilk on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:24:21 AM PST

    •  He's a rich, well-educated, male (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      i like bbq

      Sarah Palin.

      Their primary difference seems to be that he has some narrow intelligence and doesn't seem to care much about witches or the need for causing armageddon in order to bring the rapture.

      Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze

      by mataliandy on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 12:14:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just sent to a friend who works at the WB (0+ / 0-)

    I think he may have been there when Summers was there, but left and then recently returned.  As I said to him, "It seems to me like it's awfully hard to find good scandal-free people in the US these days.  :-("

  •  Rigorous Economic Analysis (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rfahey22, andydoubtless, A Siegel

    Unfortunately what most of you are not understanding is that Larry Summers is an economist through and through.  His biggest fault is that he has applied economic analysis to highly politicized issues, which should NOT be decided by economics alone.  But in fact, Summers never insists that economics should be the lone tool for making decisions.  Instead, he merely points out that one should apply economic analysis, among other things, in order to understand what that analysis tells us.

    It is better to have an economist as Treasurer, than another hack from Goldman.  The Goldman boys have totally killed this economy.  I say, get another economist in there!

  •  Obama says energy is key. Summers should be out. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, alizard, A Siegel, Picot verde

    Obama has stated that energy policy is key to getting the US on the right track in every area from economic development to national security to environment.

    Obama is absolutely correct.

    EVERY cabinet position has to reflect that position for it to work.  The litmus test for cabinet appointees has to be how does their understanding of the energy issue fit with the policy.  How are they going to promote energy efficiency in housing, defense, treasury, state, agriculture so US adds 5 million alternative energy jobs, cuts US oil use by 50%, cuts greenhouse pollution by 50%, eliminates oil imports (national security)?

  •  It's simple: this is why economists (4+ / 0-)
    should not blindly nor solely apply their profession's measures to public policy, especially not public health policy.  Earnings are not the only measure of total social good, obviously.  This is simply the Homo Economicus view of the world taken to its illogical extreme.
  •  Excellent diary Adam... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, alizard, A Siegel, polar bear

    I don't have much to add except that I hope (damn that word!/snark) that the punditocracy floating names for various positions are as wrong as they have been for a very long time.

  •  Girls and Math (5+ / 0-)

    For his comments about girls and math alone, Summers would be a politically inexpedient decision.  Obama would risk alienating a large percentage of the academics who just supported him (including myself).  If Obama chooses to appoint him, despite the Summers' scandal at Harvard/MIT, I suspect he'll learn to regret it in fairly short order.  For many, "Lawrence Summers" comment has become a case study in modern sexism.

  •  He sure is a magnet for controversy (6+ / 0-)

    Summers is an ardent proponent of free trade and globalization, and frequently takes positions on a number of politically-charged subjects. This, along with his direct style of management, made him controversial as President of Harvard, particularly among his colleagues in the humanities and social sciences.

    More: The Larry Summers List

    •  IOW (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Positronicus, i like bbq

      he's an advocate for the economic public policy Bush's GOP used to get us into the current mess America is in today.

      He sounds like a good candidate for Chairman of the Heritage Foundation, not someone who should be in any policymaking position under Obama.

      Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:41:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Larry Summers really shined a light on ... (6+ / 0-)

    ... a dark place in his soul with that memo.  I highly doubt he meant it satirically.

    But either way, I saw an interview last night with a diplomat discussing what it's gonna mean to have a new face representing  America.  What he basically said (I can't remember the name of the person) was that if Obama re-appoints Clinton appointees, the counterparts around the world will consider Obama a new face on all the same old policies.

    If we want a new reaction from the world, we need to have new people in the places of power, new ways of thinking, new ways of relating, new ways of approaching.  If we put the same guys in, the interviewer basically said, the counterparts will basically say:

    I know this person, I know what they think, this doesn't represent change.

    I certainly hope Obama is wise enough to avoid that preventable problem.  Larry Summers may have some good qualities, (although at this point, it seems dubious), but we don't need old wine in new wine skins.

  •  This is not a worthy diary. (4+ / 0-)

    It is a time in our nation for objective, rational approaches to problem solving.  Using loaded language to advance positions in not helpful in that regard.

    To say that Summers "promoted pursuit of increasing pollution in developing nations" is the kind of dishonest language we have been experiencing from the other side for the past eight years.  President Obama is not going to adopt demagoguery, and neither should you.

    Promoting projects he believes to be essential to economic develop, and which you view as merely polluting, may offend you but it is neither an unworthy position nor a disqualifying disagreement.

    Please keep up the advocacy for your positions, but please stop the dishonest misrepresentations of the motives and intentions of good people.

  •  Larry Summers is a Fine, Outstanding (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    James Kresnik

    CAPTIALIST! We live in a capitalistic society. The role of a capitalist is to increase profits. By.Any.Means.Necessary! The environment, well-being of the working class, etc., etc., are secondary and tertiary considerations. So then, whats the complaint against Summers? That he is in the finest tradition of being a capitalist? Damn, next thing you know people are gonna start sounding like socialists or somethin. Wake-up people. This aint Sweden!

    ... and Obama has a speech he gave in 2002

    by OnlyWords on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:46:21 AM PST

  •  The man is obviously a sociopath. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, i like bbq

    The world has been run by them now and again, and each time they eventually cause a lot of misery. We've had our dose of them the last few years and enough is enough.

  •  At Harvard.... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pd, mataliandy, alizard, j1j2j3j4, i like bbq

    Summers reigned over an unprecedented drop in the number of women hired at all levels.

    Summers called in the Dean of the Kennedy School of Government and asked him why the school was even needed and why it should not be subsumed by the B-School.

    Summers was notoriously uncivil. It is extremely unusual for Harvard to admit a mistake, but a month after he was appointed everyone was wondering how he would be eased out.

    GO for a great economist:
    Krugman to reassure the consumer;
    Brad DeLong to please the base;
    or pretty much anyone at the Kennedy School.

  •  I disagree! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    How can we ever expect the developing world to grow and develop if we do not allow those countries to take the same path as the developed world? Why is it okay for the US and Europe to be huge polluters on their way to "developed" status, but its not okay for others? We need to give developing countries a break and start worrying about how much the so called "developed" world is polluting.

    •  agreed, but (0+ / 0-)

      it is one thing to call for ;ess stringent new environmental standards in developing regions, and another to advocate importing toxic waste there (setting aside that the memo wasn't actually advocating as much).

      "If we believe that all humans are human, than how are we going to prove it? It can only be proven through our actions." Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire

      by djs on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 08:18:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually ... (6+ / 0-)

      something which I have often written about, at DKos and otherwise, is the profitability and economic value of leap frogging past polluting development to something more profitable and sustainable.  A well-integrated, energy-efficient and renewable energy development will pay off far better for "LDC" nations than one based on developing on a polluting basis for then cleaning up later.  

      This is about helping these countries with a real break and helping them learn from our own mistakes.  

      Basic point: pollution is waste; waste is wasteful.  Wasteful both in terms of potentially lost resources and also wasteful in terms of the costs waste creates (cost of waste handling, health impacts, etc ...).  If we can help countries / societies develop along less wasteful paths, then we are 'giving them a break'.

      And, to be clear, this is not in a "how dare they pollute" argument, but a recognition that real, better alternatives exist and that we should be using WB/IMF/foreign aid/otherwise to help foster those better paths.

    •  if the LDCs take the same road (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel

      as we did towards the First World, they'll be the first to get hammered by the results of global warming and be least prepared to handle the consequences.

      Are you a global warming denialist?

      Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:31:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is a great diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BmoreMD, robertacker13

    Informative, and good information.

    The title is horrible. Inflammatory, and incredibly misleading.

    I still root for the dreamer. I thank God for the dreamer ~ Mos Def, Lifetime

    by alkalinesky on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:56:29 AM PST

  •  Obama better have staff reading DK (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, alizard

    We are not going to tolerate bullshit appointments like this.  

    It would be very nice for Obama's staff to get that message before they fuck up and appoint someone like Larry Summers.

  •  Time and his appointments will tell (5+ / 0-)

    if Obama is the real thing. If his appointments disappoint so will he. Then what? Will DailyKos, and other progressively minded forces roll over and play dead, or will they coalesce to try to push the Obama Administration in the direction of real change? There is no viable mass movement on the horizon to hold the Obama Administration's feet to the fire. There is no mass labor, civil rights, or anti-war movement to speak of to force the issues as in the past. It seems that only the netroots are well-organized to apply the necessary pressure to keep Obama and his team on track for implementing a progressive agenda.

    Let the pastors, rabbis and mullahs mutter their mumbo-jumbo in private and leave the rest of us alone.

    by detler on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:58:39 AM PST

    •  I'm not the only one who's said (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel, i like bbq, Words In Action

      that getting Obama elected is only the start.

      We now need to make sure that we're at the table when Obama's public policy positions are being put together.

      IMO, we need our own full-time lobbyist. That we get to tell what to do, not Fortune 1000 CEOs or DLCers trying to ooze their way back into the corridors of power.

      What people aren't getting is in order to take a seat at physical tables at the real world where deals are being made, we need somebody to sit at them.

      Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:29:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I say this as someone supporting Stiglitz... (4+ / 0-)

    but very likely one could if he or she looked closely enough find similar statements that Stiglitz has written, or Krugman, or any professional economist.

    This document shouldn't be the basis for anyone to oppose Summers. If you drunkenly run down an investment banker or bond trader and have to make compensation to their family for the lost income, you will pay more than you would if you did the same thing to someone on their way to work a shift at Burger King. For me to say this is not for me to advocate running down the latter person (which is analogous to what the diary title says Summers is doing) or even for me to say in an absolute or moral sense that the value of the two lives is unequal.

    I don't think Summers should get the job, but that's because I don't agree with some of his baseline policy preferences, both in general and with respect to the current economic crisis in particular (Summers has said that stimulus should be limited and temporary, and I disagree with that).

    But here I thought silly season ended Tuesday.

    "It's like we weren't made for this world, But I wouldn't really want to meet someone who was." --Of Montreal

    by andydoubtless on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 08:04:14 AM PST

  •  My feeling is that if Larry Summers (0+ / 0-)

    is the best person to get us out of this economic mess than so be it.

    I just want a good economy.  

    In terms of this oppo research, Obama had some skeletons in his closet yet I voted for him so I just can't get excited about a 1991 memo.  That was almost 20 years ago.

    Obama: "Because We Won... We Have to Win." 6/6/08

    by Drdemocrat on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 08:13:30 AM PST

  •  Thanks for bringing the memo (0+ / 0-)

    to our attention.  

  •  summers is also clearly (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pd, mataliandy, salmo, i like bbq

    just about the most gauche man alive

    throwing himself on any third-rail gaffe, blundering with lust for the potential of offending people, while president of harvard

    reading cornel west's encounter with him in his book "Democracy Matters" is also great material for understanding what a vindictive bastard the guy is

    he'd be a truly disappointing choice - harkening back to the worst of the clinton days

    It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there. --William Carlos Williams

    by Richard Platypus on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 08:16:05 AM PST

  •  I'm so glad you've... (6+ / 0-)

    ...written this piece.  I remember clearly the furore that Summers caused when he made those comments about women and science (I thought it was specifically about maths?).

    I thought at the time that it was outrageous that the president of Harvard should make such a comment about half the world's population, especially when there wasn't (and still isn't) definitive evidence to back the claim.

    The thing about my making this remark of course, is that I am Australian and living in Australia.  That's how much impact this man's ignorant remark had on me.  Now that I know so much more about him and his attitude towards the developing world, I think this man should be kept as far away as possible from the White House.

    •  His logic about girls & math is about as sound as (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Silverbird, i like bbq, James Kresnik

      his logic for dumping toxic pollution in 3rd world countries.

      Summers is a racist sexist piece of shit, and Obama shouldn't have anything to do with the man.

      Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.

      by Futuristic Dreamer on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 08:39:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  waht about Sheila Bair for treasury? (5+ / 0-)

    I have a diary up about am alternative for Treasury - Sheila Bair.  She a seemingly "good" Republican, which may be necessary but careful thing to have in an Obama cabinet, endorsed by Dean Baker among others.

    As TPM says about Summers:

    Just at the level of optics, since the economy is issue number one right now (and not just the real economy of jobs and living standards but the financial architecture itself) and you're trying to look forward not back, why would you pick someone for Treasury who was not only in the Clinton administration but was actually Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration. Not understanding that.

    Next, management shortcomings and controversial statements about women's brains that got him canned as President of Harvard.

    And on top of that, the new Treasury Secretary will be charged with instituting a beefed up framework of financial sector regulation. But Summers was a key player in the 1990s deregulatory consensus that laid the groundwork for a lot of these problems. Not that that makes him verboten -- a lot of other people did too. But it does create an element of of cognitive dissonance going into the job.

    I refuse to believe that Summers will get it, and am curious who is behind pushing his name.

  •  Oh and wasn't Summers involved in a dispute... (4+ / 0-)

    ...with a black academic from Princeton at the time he was president of Harvard?  I remember reading an article in Vanity Fair magazine about it.

    Apparently it caused a bit of a stir in the academic world (of Ivy League universities) at the time.

    Maybe someone can correct me if I'm wrong.

    •  Cornel West (7+ / 0-)

      Left Harvard and went to Princeton because of criticism from Summers.

      "Rosa sat so Martin could walk. Martin walked so Obama could run. Obama runs won so our children can fly."

      by Catte Nappe on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 08:31:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Effect of West's Leaving (7+ / 0-)

        Henry Louis "Skip" Gates had spent years building a stellar team at Harvard of Afro-American scholars of which Brother Cornell was a member.  Just before Summers took over, he had his dream team and was ready to step out with the work he had planned, or so it looked to this outside observer.

        Summers' specious battle with West stopped that all in its tracks.  With West's move to Princeton, in the midst of his treatment for prostate cancer, Gates' project was pretty much over.  Others have left and the momentum has stopped.  

        Under Drew Gilpin Faust and with the election of Obama, that may change but Cornell ain't coming back.  As someone who met and enjoyed my brief encounters with West, I dislike Summers because he drove away someone I had looked forward to further street conversations with.

        Summers is an arrogant asshole.  He always thinks he's the smartest guy in the room and is not very nice about it.

        Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at

        by gmoke on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 09:09:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah, a man by the name of Cornel West. You (0+ / 0-)

      seriously dont fuck with Cornel West. I'd put West in charge of the verbal ass kicking department in any Obama administration.

  •  Summers also (5+ / 0-)

    led the charge to keep credit swaps unregulated...

    To think is easy. To act is difficult. To act as one thinks is the most difficult of all -Goethe

    by commonscribe on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 08:33:33 AM PST

  •  Double negative. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    the impact and import of this post cannot be underestimated.  

    This says that it is unimportant.

    I think you mean that it is important, that it "cannot be overestimated."

    "I'm not opposed to all wars; I'm opposed to dumb wars." -- Obama in 2002

    by Frank Palmer on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 08:43:49 AM PST

  •  Yep, sounds like Summers alright. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, alizard, i like bbq, kyeo

    Technically correct, economically insightful and completely insensitive.  

    Economists who don't realize that what's profitable isn't always what's moral are only capable of using their skills for profit, not for good.  

  •  Summers also said women can't do math... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pd, freespeech, i like bbq

    so HE is on a short list for the Obama cabinet?

    I cannot believe this is so.   Why do these same old 'screw the poor people' guys keep getting into key cabinet positions?  

    At Harvard, he was a total disaster.

    On the other hand, let Summers live with his family right next to an open dump in Nigeria if he thinks moving garbage to "LDC's" is such a fine idea.

    Summers is FAIL!

    I voted for this?  

    •  Er (0+ / 0-)

      he is not in the cabinet yet. Let's make sure he is not going to be.

      You can't call yourself a maverick when all you've ever been is a sidekick

      by freespeech on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 09:11:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No, that is incorrect (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Mr. Summers' comments were far more nuanced than your representation. There is little logical difference between your claim that Mr. Summers said that women can't do math and the claim that Mr. Obama would surrender to terrorists because he's willing to negotiate with Iran. It's a grossly biased simplification.

    •  Discrediting what you say (0+ / 0-)

      Summers said he was only putting forward hypotheses based on the scholarly work assembled for the conference, not expressing his own judgments -- in fact, he said, more research needs to be done on these issues. The organizer of the conference at the National Bureau of Economic Research said Summers was asked to be provocative, and that he was invited as a top economist, not as a Harvard official.

      •  That's what he claimed, but (5+ / 0-)

        That's not what the transcript shows. Full transcript is here.

        He refused to release the recording of the event for a month, and did so only after intense pressure. Once it was released, it turned out to be as bad as the critics had claimed. Not only was it's main argument the inaccurate and specious argument that there are more men at the high end of the aptitude scale (proved wrong - there are more men at the high end tail of ONLY the SAT-M test), but he defends the position by telling the very people who did the studies that documented the effects gender bias and social effects that they're wrong and his guess is right, an assertion which he backed up by the oh-so "scientific" "evidence" that his twin daughters called the big truck "daddy truck" and the little truck "baby truck" when they were given toy trucks.

        The most telling bit comes from the Q&A after his talk:

        Q: You know, in the spirit of speaking truth to power, I'm not an expert in this area but a lot of people in the room are, and they've written a lot of papers in here that address ....

        LHS: I've read a lot of them.

        Q: And, you know, a lot of us would disagree with your hypotheses and your premises...

        LHS: Fair enough.

        Q: So it's not so clear.

        LHS: It's not clear at all. I think I said it wasn't clear. I was giving you my best guess but I hope we could argue on the basis of as much evidence as we can marshal.

        Q: It's here.

        LHS: No, no, no. Let me say. I have actually read that and I'm not saying there aren't rooms to debate this in, but if somebody, but with the greatest respect-I think there's an enormous amount one can learn from the papers in this conference and from those two books-but if somebody thinks that there is proof in these two books, that these phenomenon are caused by something else, I guess I would very respectfully have to disagree very very strongly with that. I don't presume to have proved any view that I expressed here, but if you think there is proof for an alternative theory, I'd want you to be hesitant about that.

        The only seeming nuance was afforded by the fact that, for most of the speech, he was borderline incoherent, like Sarah Palin trying to wax eloquent on ... well, anything; or like a typical racist couching his racist claims in "some say" or "it could be argued" to avoid having to take full ownership of his opinions.

        Beware the everyday brutality of the averted gaze

        by mataliandy on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 03:40:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Can someone explain what "under polluted" means? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    freespeech, alizard, polar bear

    What did Summers mean when he said this ? :

    "I've always though that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly UNDER-polluted, their air quality is probably vastly inefficiently low compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City. "

    Does anyone need more pollution?

    •  yeah, i almost copied that, too. Monty Python (5+ / 0-)

      could probably do wonders with that.

      Excuse me, sir, I'm from the Dept. of Corporations, i mean Treasury, and i present you with this study we commissioned, which states that the air in your village is 90% free from contaminants.

      Do you realize how inefficient that is?  I'm telling you, contaminants are all the rage in the U.S.  We know you developing communities want to copy us, so we are willing to export our contaminants to your village.  On top of that, we offer you this high-interest loan to build the contaminating industries!  What's a little cancer among friends?  Economics = efficiency, and we are here to help you join the modern world.  Better living through efficient polluting your old-fashioned clean air!

      Sign right here, and you, too, can have new and improved dirty air.  If you prefer, we can let our oil sludge seep into your water table.  Just ask for more options on this.  No payments for 6 months, too.

  •  Thanks for this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, alizard

    very informative diary. He should not be in the cabinet regardless of whether he has changed his views or not. This is the kind of insane, narrow minded "analysis" that eventually leads to more problems than  it solves. Death by spread sheet - we had enough of that nonsense over the past 16 years.

    You can't call yourself a maverick when all you've ever been is a sidekick

    by freespeech on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 09:10:48 AM PST

  •  Obama said he can't do this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, alizard

    without our help.  If this is the wrong guy, then let him know!  He has said numerous times he won't forget who put him in the position he is now in.

    Time to mobilize to help the President know that World Bank shills and Clinton era holdovers are not the new dirction we seek.

    Love the guy, and I have a growing faith in his judgement, but he needs help on this one.

    •  Absolutely (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      This is a first test for him and Summers sounds like the wrong guy.  If he is serious about listening to we the people, we should give him a shout out and say, "Don't do it, Barack!"  His every move is going to be scrutinized so he needs to have solid picks the first time.  Do not give Palin and the con's an opening.

      Could there be a dumber thought than, "I feel completely comfortable with Sarah Palin having a 1 in 6 actuarial chance of being the president."?

      by themusicteacher on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 09:29:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Richardson (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Memo to BO:

    Please remove me from the list for consideration for secretary of state, ambassador to the UN or, well, any other cabinet post.  I am an incompetent fool and will only make you look bad.

    Yours in idiocy,

    Bill Richardson
    Wasteful Governor of New Mexico

    Could there be a dumber thought than, "I feel completely comfortable with Sarah Palin having a 1 in 6 actuarial chance of being the president."?

    by themusicteacher on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 09:22:15 AM PST

  •  Corzine (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pd, alizard, j1j2j3j4

    Corzine is best suite for the Treasury Secy. Summers, smart as he may be, is out of bounds for numerous reasons including this memo debacle and his sexist beliefs.

    there are many smart guys around, why choose this asshole?

  •  OK, I'm once again going to be the bad guy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kujack, rfahey22

    and argue that Mr. Summers' basic logic is indeed correct. In fact, I will go so far as to claim that many of the views expressed here are ignorant and patronizing in their imposition of rich-country values onto poor-country workers.

    Yes, pollution is bad. But poverty is worse. If you give a poor-country laborer a choice between a job paying a dollar an hour, with some pollution, and no job, he'll take the pollution every time. More important, that should be his choice to make, not yours to impose upon him.

    •  But if we can get rid of (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Picot verde, i like bbq

      the presumption that "free trade" is always good, then we can impose tariffs and penalties that will penalize imports coming from countries that have lax environmental and safety regulation and enforcement. That's why the real fundamental fight is dumping "neo-liberal" economics.

      A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

      by NBBooks on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 09:36:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Free trade (0+ / 0-)

        I disagree with your condemnation of free trade. I will not claim that free trade is always good, but I think it more productive to talk about specific cases where it might be bad. I don't believe that this is such a case. I believe that poverty and starvation are a gigantic problem that deserves our best efforts. I see this issue as a trade-off. How many people will die due to the consequences of poverty? How many will die due to the consequences of environmental damage? It is my belief that poverty causes more human suffering in the Third World than environmental damage.

        But more important, I don't think it right for us to impose our values on the people in the Third World. They're the ones facing poverty, they're the ones who should be allowed to make the choice here -- not us. If they choose to accept more environmental degradation in return for greater economic growth, we should respect their decision.

    •  It's Environmental Imperialism (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mataliandy, Picot verde

      If people are going to start coining phrases, then I might as well throw that one out there.  The jobs that people need to escape poverty are often nasty, but that is an unfortunate truth that few here wish to accept.

      The pleasure of hating...eats into the heart of religion...[and] makes patriotism an excuse for carrying fire, pestilence, and famine into other lands. - W. Haz

      by rfahey22 on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 09:41:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  As suggested/discussed in diary ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the logic is not flawless, since the material we have does not seem to address/discuss the total impact costs, and thus only has a limited cost/benefit frame.  Is it better/more productive to develop dirty and then have to invest real resources in later cleanup?  Is it better to develop "cheap" and have a longer-term handicap of inefficiency?  Is it ...?

      Now, I am unsure that we know the totality of the context but I do not agree that the three paragraphs represent basically correct logic.

      •  Good point (0+ / 0-)

        Yes, what we have of the memo in question is insufficient to make a final judgement on Mr. Summers' wisdom. The basic case that he refers to (but doesn't make in toto) is sound, but we don't get to see that case in its entirety. Moreover, we really have to consider this question on a case-by-case basis. Exporting CO2 emissions does us no good; there are a number of similar environmental insults whose export serves only to make the damage less visible, not less damaging to the world as a whole. And there are questions about the extent to which we can support one generation of people screwing a future generation by polluting their land. Still, there remain plenty of cases in which the importing of environmental insult by poor nations should be left to them to decide.

  •  This is, imho, the most important test (10+ / 0-)

    Who Obama picks as a Treasury Secretary is going to tell us just about all we need to know about how far Obama is willing to break with the unfortunately named "neo-liberal" economic policies of free markets and free trade that have dominated U.S. economic policy since Ronald Reagan – even under Bill Clinton. Unfortunately, scanning through this thread, not too many people understand that the most important fight Obama can undertake -- with the financial system in ruins and the real economy sinking into depression ( reportedly now calculates the real U.S. unemployment to be approaching fifteen percent, with GDP shrinking at over two percent on an annual basis) – is to replace the reigning paradigm of "neo-liberal" economic policies with something more akin to Europe’s social democratic policies.

    If the short list reported by Bloomberg is accurate, then we are in for a huge disappointment, as Obama will have crippled his administration at the very beginning, and will be unable to respond effectively because he is simply unwilling to think outside the box of "neo-liberalism."

    Let’s run down the list name by name.

    Larry Summers is pretty well critiqued in the original diary above, though failing to completelt and adequately outline the fundamental details of "neo-liberalism."

    Timothy Geithner is president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank and is a career bureaucrat. As noted in comments here, he also worked for Kissinger & Associates – the shady but powerful influence-peddling frim run by Henry Kissinger. Geithner has been one of the three most important people, besides Paulson and Bernanke, in shaping the response to the financial crisis so far. If you therefore don’t see immediately that the naming of Geithner would be a disaster, then you don’t understand the true dynamics of the mess we are in. What Paulson, Bernanke, and Geithner have been trying to do is save the financial system as it existed before the crises began. In other words, they are trying to preserve the bubble economics that "neo-liberal" economic policies inevitably creates.

    Robert Rubin, Clinton’s Treasury Secretary you should know by now, is one of the key people who steered the deregulation of the 1980s and 1990s, which is what created the mess. (if you don’t you need to read the New York Times and Washington Post articles from about two weeks ago that recounted some the history, which also discuss the role of Summers). Before serving under Clinton, he was co-chairman of Goldman Sachs. He now serves as chairman of Citibank. Unfortunately, Jared Bernstein, an economist at the EPI, recently co-authored a New York Times editorial with Rubin. My reading of it was that it was almost entirely Rubin, with very little of Bernstein in it. Why Bernstein agreed to it is beyond my understanding at this time.

    Stirling Newberry summarized the editorial thus:

    We need stimulus now, real wages need to rise in line with productivity, the benefits of trade must be used to offset the costs of trade - particularly to workers. But most importantly, and something that should have been obvious earlier: that the Wall Street and Main Street wings of the Democratic Party have the same interests. Wall Street provides liquidity and scale to Main Street, but ultimately Wall Street exists only if Main Street is better off with it than without it.

    Newberry, I believe, has made a nice living working on or for Wall Street, so I think he is a good bit softer than I am. But then, Newberry is "successful," and I am not (i.e., I am constantly worrying about paying my bills and where the next dollar is going to come from; I suspect that Newberry is mostly free of these concerns). Personally, I would  Let Wall Street Burn.

    On the other hand, my own recommendation for Treasury Secretary would be -- Stirling Newberry.

    Paul Volcker has emerged as a wise old man, and has gotten good mention in many of Bonddad’s diaries – all of which I vehemently disagree with as I quite unpopularly explained here:

    By the late 1970s, the U.S. economy was beset with stagflation, a condition which mainstream economics had never thought possible. Probably because mainstream economics was still thinking in terms of a functioning industrial economy. So, when Volcker became Fed chairman in August 1979, a number of basic U.S. industries were in bad shape, particularly the bedrock industries: automobiles, steel, and machine tools. One of the Big Three car makers, Chrysler, was near  bankruptcy. At the same time, the Hunt brothers had attempt to corner the market for silver, but had failed and were failing to meet margin calls. What Grieder details in his book [The Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country] is how Volcker confirmed the fundamental shift in Federal Reserve policy of Burns, by choosing to help the Hunt brothers, while letting Chrysler twist slowly in the wind.  (Congress soon afterwards arranged an emergency loan for Chrysler). . . Volcker had fundamentally altered the rules of the game: it was now "What's good for Wall Street is good for the country." And the real, physical economy could go to hell -- and it has, taking millions of decent paying jobs and much of American prosperity with it.

    So, again, I don’t think Volcker is a person that will help lead us to an alternative to "neo-liberal" economics.

    The situation as I see it is that Obama has that all-important first year to get real change enacted and signed into law. But if he names as Treasury Secretary someone who truly rejects "neo-liberal" economics, the financial markets are going to react extremely negatively, hundreds of millions of dollars will flood into conservative think tanks like American Enterprise Institute, and all sorts of lying and misleading crap about "socialism" and "communism" is going to be created and flung by the wrong-wing screech monkeys – all in the service of preventing a move from "neo-liberal" economics, which will severely limit the freedom, influence, power, and more importantly, the profits, of Wall Street and the financial markets.

    On the other hand, I believe that the wrong-wing campaign of lying and misleading crap about "socialism" and "communism" is going to occur no matter what Obama does, so I think he should just make the break with  "neo-liberal" economics from the beginning, and incur the wrath and fury of Wall Street immediately by naming someone who clearly is not part of or sympathetic to Wall Street.

    A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

    by NBBooks on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 09:33:39 AM PST

  •  Wonderful (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Obama is reneging on his campaign themes and is exhibiting a desire to not aggressively address the key issues facing this nation.

    Get ready for four more years of Clintonesque do-nothingism: paying lipservice to progressive issues and solutions which would effectively combat the problems plaguing this country while forging a centrist path of governance which fails to adequately, if at all, address the challenges of the nation.

    •  My husband said the same thing yesterday. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Obama may by the President-Elect now, and I am glad he is, but the corporations and Wall Street still call the tune.  My husband added that we are a war-mongering country (and he approves of that) and that won't change with the election of one man.

      This is the America I want to see end and I am always shocked to see it spoken out loud so clearly as this statement regarding economic logic:

      I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.

      Why are encouraging anyone to go to college and learn these destructive attitudes?  All the smart people in charge in the west have brought us to our fiscal knees.  I wait for change. the elites...actually believe that society can be destroyed by anyone except those who lead them? - John Ralston Saul -

      by Silverbird on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 09:52:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  if this happens (0+ / 0-)

      Obama will be a one-term President and America's progress towards third world status will continue.

      Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 06:16:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ok, Summers is BAD (0+ / 0-)

    plus Rahm E. is also bad. This is already making me sick. What's next? Joe Liebermann in the cabinet? CHANGE. CHANGE. CHANGE.

    •  What makes Rahm bad? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      misreal, BrighidG

      He is PERFECT for the job. A committed Dem, working relationship with Congress, and great at playing hard ball. You guys are as crazy as wingers on the other side.

      •  Rahm does not have a working relationship with (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        many in Congress. He is a first-rate asshole who puts down people and plays dirty politics. Far too partisan of a pick for COS.  Talk about drama, Rahm Em. is the drama queen's queen.

        •  That isn't true (0+ / 0-)

          Lindsay Graham just put out a statement praising the pick and saying he had worked with Rahm in Congress and in the debate negotiations and thought of him as first rate. A senior staffer on the DCCC said that he is a first rate man who always had his back, who is intensely loyal to his friends and family. Besides that, the whole point of the COS is to be the guy who plays hardball. Ever watch West Wing? The COS does the dirty work insulating the President.

      •  Classic DLC move to the right triangulator. I (0+ / 0-)

        will give Obama the benefit of the doubt to get the best out of him, but it really is a disconcerting choice. He may as well have picked Pelosi.

        If your actions speak louder than your words, you're not yelling loud enough. - Stephen Colbert

        by Words In Action on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 07:38:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Obama is a muslim? (0+ / 0-)

    this sounds just the same for me. I don't for a minute believe it and won't until confirmed by someone outside of Huff Post. They have some great stuff, but the memo hasn't been confirmed and is so outrageous it deserves to be eyed suspicously. The false Obama emails got our (deserved) anger and suspicion, and so should this.

    •  Well ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alizard, j1j2j3j4

      hold it. Summers has never stated that these words were not signed off and distributed by him. What is said is that it was satire and part of a larger memo, misrepresenting the entirety. The entirety has not been, as far as I am aware, been released for understanding that context.

      And, the key point is that this is worth discussion, due to how it will illuminate policy.

      •  But you aren't discussing (0+ / 0-)

        You are trashing.

        •  I am "trashing" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          the views expressed in these paragraphs, calling attention to serious issues in what they say and they don't say. I also provide material re that these paragraphs might not represent Summers' views even of Dec 1991.  And, I call on these to be discussed / explored / questioned as part of the nomination process.  And, that if these 1991 words represent Summers' views today, that is basis for not giving him the Cabinet position. I also point to / question other issues very lightly, to highlight that there are legitimate concerns (whether political aptitude or otherwise) to consider with a Summers' appointment.  That is, to me, discussing.  

  •  From Boston Globe article on Summers comments (0+ / 0-)

    Summers said he was only putting forward hypotheses based on the scholarly work assembled for the conference, not expressing his own judgments -- in fact, he said, more research needs to be done on these issues. The organizer of the conference at the National Bureau of Economic Research said Summers was asked to be provocative, and that he was invited as a top economist, not as a Harvard official.

  •  excuse me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    audiored, polar bear


    McCain insisted [no union member] would [pick lettuce for $50/hour] for a complete season. "You can't do it, my friends."

    by grrr on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 10:47:29 AM PST

  •  Cap and trade (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This post is the sum total of what I know about Summers.  And this line of reasoning does not pass the sniff test.  

    There are many people who support a cap and trade.  What is being described here is another variation on the concept, allowing developing companies to get up to speed on dirty power.  

    Perahps this bad, perhaps not.  But look at your time frame for the memo.  That would make Summers a fairly progressive guy.  Perhaps your own argument defeats itself.  

  •  This reminds me of how sickened I was by b-school (8+ / 0-)

    I was a sociology undergraduate who decided to go to business school, and the kind of reasoning I heard there -- why it's profitable to sell alcohol to poor communities with high rates of alcoholism, why it's okay to put waste sites in poor communities because they can't fight back and might actually profit from managing such sites -- made me absolutely sick.  

    My classmates would claim that it was because I was a sociology major, and that if I had been in economics, I would see things differently.  They said I had been "indoctrinated" and that there is no right or wrong, only opinions.  The only thing I could see was that I had learned to put people first and they had learned to put profits first.  That was all.

    About 70% of the class would agree with these people, while only about 30% would be as disgusted as I was. I still shudder to think how smart people could be like this.

  •  There are plenty of GREAT, NEW and (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Silverbird, kindofblue

    QUALIFIED people. Let's move forward, Barack, not back. Rahm Em. and Summers is not what we worked so hard to change. Crap, Clinton probably would have picked these two.

  •  Re crying. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alizard, Picot verde, polar bear

    I have had tears of joy off and on since Tuesday evening sharing the great emotions of these past 48 yours.  But now that the details start to be discussed, I could cry over thinking of all the old Clintonesque or globalization re-treads being considered for positions in the Obama administration.  That scares me.  I spent the eight years of Clinton's presidence wondering what he was doint to become so popular when all I saw was that he passed the wish list of the Republicans. And blew the promised healthcare reform.  (Even remembering it makes me feel creepy, like knowing that Cheney and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz worked in DC since Nixon's presidence and have been lurking about ever since.)

    I hope Obama does not repeat that kind of administration with similar kinds of people.  Aren't there any fresh, intelligent people available? the elites...actually believe that society can be destroyed by anyone except those who lead them? - John Ralston Saul -

    by Silverbird on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 11:40:17 AM PST

  •  Obama knows best (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pd, A Siegel, i like bbq, audiored

    If he wants Summers, you and I should not be criticizing it.  I didn't support Obama so I could second-guess his each and every decision - I supported him because I trust him to govern in a way that allows me to suppress critical thinking.


  •  It's not just inhuman, it's stupid. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alizard, A Siegel, Picot verde

    Developing nations should be leapfrogging, not getting stuck with our incompetent technologies.

    The global climate crisis is just that... GLOBAL.

    You can't pollute South America, Africa, etc. and not expect the pollution to affect us.

    We're already seeing the mercury from China making our children mentally retarded. This bullshit has GOT to stop.

    If this is truly how he thinks, Larry Summers has proven he doesn't get it and isn't fit to serve.

  •  power to the defenseless! (0+ / 0-)

    Outta here!

    See how they run!

    by jcrit on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 12:23:01 PM PST

  •  Community is key. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alizard, A Siegel, j1j2j3j4, polar bear

    Thanks so much for your incisive presentation.  One aspect of "environmental justice" that often simply disappears from discussions about it is the concept of community control, capacitation, and voice that all too often underlies the rapine and plunder which typify the injustice that occurs.  Public health declines, morbidity and mortality increases, disease vectors, and the other indicia of disparity all flow from the original condition of communities without power or the representation that accompanies their stake in the situation.

    As someone who has organized "citizen councils" in the South and advocated for the grassroots development of Community Based Participatory Research, I am well aware that 'best practices,' including at such agencies as the World Bank, insist on a nod to CBPR.  However, that this 'inclination' is ephemeral and PC, instead of deeply rooted and conscious, becomes obvious in the light of what you have demonstrated here.

    One might powerfully argue that the point of this recognition must include an 'alternative appointment process' or something similar.  The very fact of Summers' de rigeur expectation of a 'place at the table' means that we have failed to do our job.  Our task must involve making sure that other stakeholders than the rich and their experts have more than just a right of protest.  Otherwise, Barack Obama's Presidency will end up another version of 'business as usual,' a tragedy of the most profound proportions.  

    I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

    by SERMCAP on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 12:42:43 PM PST

  •  This stinks... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.

    This is the current reality and the current problem.

    Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a Republican. But I repeat myself. - President Harry Truman

    by notrouble on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 12:43:13 PM PST

  •  Have others upthread already noted Summers' (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alizard, A Siegel, j1j2j3j4

    exchange with Ken Lay promising friendly deregulation?  It's total Old Boys Network stuff, and it's charming: Ken Lay/ Larry Summers Note

  •  summers = total fuck. see: living wage movement, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    j1j2j3j4, Words In Action


  •  we need to seriously keep him out of that office (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action
  •  If you had a poll (0+ / 0-)

    I'd vote "man the torpedoes."

    "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." --Samuel Johnson

    by joanneleon on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 02:26:57 PM PST

  •  i tried to sign the petition, but it will not (0+ / 0-)

    accept my e-mail address as valid.  darn.

  •  Monstrous, a cold math (0+ / 0-)

    I want this man to be no way involved in high-level decision making.

    The Best finally have conviction.

    by bob zimway on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 03:52:29 PM PST

  •  buffet or krugman. nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action, BrighidG
  •  I'm already signed petitions? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    Yes, indeed, we'll be signing a lot of them with Obama in the White House.

    Obama used to be for single payer before he came out against it.

    by formernadervoter on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 05:19:46 PM PST

  •  the only ex-employee of the World Bank (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    I know of who has any business involved in future with America's finances is Joseph Stiglitz, former VP of the World Bank (IIRC, fired for criticizing World Bank LDC policy) and Nobel laureate in Economics.

    Summers helped make the mess the world is in, let him go on wingnut welfare, not the government payroll.

    Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

    by alizard on Thu Nov 06, 2008 at 05:40:42 PM PST

  •  I find the argument satirical. However, it is (0+ / 0-)

    logical.  It is an interesting concept.  Now, let's turn it on its head a little bit.  What if the world bank exported world class technologies to the LDC to manage and control the waste.

    Would the technological leapfrogging that occurs be worth the price of some environmental instability - nuclear waste site in a remote area of a remote nation.  

    Having access to that technology, how would that change the concept of education?  How would that change conditions in sanitation and health care for the LDC?

    Consequently, would the improvements in education, health care et al have a net postive effect?

    Isn't this better than nations killing each other over diamonds, copper, etc.

    Isn't every Faustian bargain compelling at some level?

  •  krugman, buffet, stiglitz or galbraith. :O). nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action
Meteor Blades, skybluewater, beedee, Leslie in CA, Devin, Deep Dark, Kimberley, Marshall, Frederick, RedDan, racerx, claude, Narched, clb, Ed in Montana, M Aurelius, Doug in SF, Austin in PA, BrooklynBoy, Joe Buck, vicki, MS, Terri, catsmith, tgs1952, Sean Robertson, Peace JD, mbc, Odysseus, eugene, nu, hester, raatz, decembersue, copymark, teacherken, kate mckinnon, Franklin, Trendar, Subterranean, glitterscale, noabsolutes, tikkun, abarefootboy, GreenSooner, lrhoke, Pen, pHunbalanced, nihilix, Robert Ullmann, Powered Grace, mem from somerville, ScientistMom in NY, BigOkie, theboz, mattman, TocqueDeville, tnichlsn, bosdcla14, bread, Sprinkles, Stoy, musicalhair, KumarP, Shockwave, wu ming, Pescadero Bill, byoungbl, meg, bellatrys, LEP, nemoplanetia, rhubarb, westsyde, eeff, willyr, dkistner, xynz, bubbles, gecko, route66, Sandy on Signal, Page van der Linden, Cambridgemac, djs, acuppajo, TampaProgressive, caliberal, marjo, sobermom, Meandering Fox, lilorphant, lzachary, SallyCat, shpilk, BenGoshi, dlcox1958, MarkInSanFran, Pd, mataliandy, freespeech, Poika, Thelesis, Night Runner, GreekGirl, dnamj, silence, goObama, youpsy, Heart of the Rockies, sclminc, Plan9, roxtar, Scott in NAZ, bara, eyeswideopen, Blue Patriot Woman, hoodooguru, Justina, bronte17, chenico, powerplay40, BlackGriffen, wonkydonkey, Susan1138, nyceve, understandinglife, Juan Pablo, MD patriot, srkp23, sean oliver, Agathena, ask, biscobosco, Xapulin, Pithy Cherub, boadicea, wanderindiana, Cool Blue Reason, stevej, cosmic debris, Scoopster, Porfiry, repeat, mkfarkus, rickpickett, calistan, roses, chechecule, Frederick Clarkson, JuliaAnn, javelina, ivote2004, Ignacio Magaloni, amanuensis, L0kI, oceanspray, cubensis, nargel, Bronxist, juslikagrzly, CodeTalker, Dem in Knoxville, sagra, sngmama, ornerydad, ryder92111, gossamer, chrisfreel, Nate Roberts, wonmug, Random Excess, ctsteve, andreww, enough already, dmsilev, jted, dweebo, nitetalker, dksbook, wader, worldwideellen, JimDev, Braindead, Matthew Detroit, scorpiorising, Getreal1246, psnyder, Alizaryn, emmasnacker, oldjohnbrown, fightorleave, American Zapatista, by foot, Urizen, pat bunny,