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Fri Oct 29, 2010 at 01:55 PM PDT

Dirty Tricks

by DrJohnB

Among my youthful indiscretions was time spent as a Young Republican.  Worse yet, I was a member of Youth for Nixon in 1968.  I know, but that's what Purgatory is for, isn't it?  The local Nixon campaign encouraged me to engage in a campaign dirty trick, follow me below the fold for more.

Poll

Have you ever done a campaign "dirty trick?"

11%3 votes
7%2 votes
42%11 votes
38%10 votes

| 26 votes | Vote | Results

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Fri Oct 15, 2010 at 01:25 PM PDT

George Orwell as a social theorist

by DrJohnB

Cross posted from Life, the Universe and Everything

George Orwell (pen name for Eric Blair 1903-1950) is recognized as one of the great English language prose stylists of the first half of the 20th Century.  His work incorporated linguistic precision with a passion for social justice.  He was equally passionate as an opponent of Stalinism and its pretensions to represent a socialist alternative to capitalism.

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In Die Welt,  a German newspaper there was a story about a new variety of concrete which is seeded with microorganisms that will actually remove organic waste from water.  Time to place an order?

 Below the fold is my (very rough) translation of the piece linked to above:

Poll

Worth a shot?

52%13 votes
16%4 votes
32%8 votes

| 25 votes | Vote | Results

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Cross posted from Life, The Universe and Everything

Andrew Bacevich has a post at the American Conservative magazine website (not at all my usual reading) decrying the failure of the United State's foreign policy elites to comprehend the limitations of military force as a tool of foreign policy.

Poll

Is

5%1 votes
0%0 votes
47%9 votes
47%9 votes

| 19 votes | Vote | Results

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Fri Jan 22, 2010 at 11:46 AM PST

Corporate Personhood and Slavery

by DrJohnB

Cross posted from, "Life, The Universe, and Everything"

The Supreme Courts latest atrocity against common sense and democracy has attracted a lot of attention by seemingly weakening the position of ordinary citizens vis-a-vis corporations.  However, something interesting happens if you push the logic of identity of corporate personhood with natural personhood.

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Thu Dec 17, 2009 at 07:44 AM PST

Obama's Accomplishments So Far

by DrJohnB

Like many in the Daily Kos community, I am extremely frustrated by the lack of progress on important Democratic priorities in the first year of the Obama presidency.  A friend sent me this, and I think it is worth looking over.  I'm just reproducing it without comment.

Poll

Does this substantial list make you feel even a little better about the Obama administration

28%45 votes
17%27 votes
3%6 votes
1%3 votes
28%44 votes
1%2 votes
1%3 votes
9%15 votes
3%6 votes
0%1 votes
2%4 votes

| 156 votes | Vote | Results

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Cross-post from Life, The Universe and Everything

There is a substantial discussion these days about the need to reform executive compensation in the financial industry. In particular, recently The Wall Street Journal headlined a story about the Federal Reserve Board's thinking on the subject. I tend to agree that there needs to be restrictions on the composition of executive pay. I don't think that it would be constructive to impose absolute caps on the levels of pay. Don't get me wrong, I feel as much envy and moral outrage at the centi-millionaires created by Wall Street as anyone. It inflames every fiber of my egalitarian soul. However, it is impossible to ignore the fact that incentives matter throughout the economy.

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Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 10:51 AM PDT

Rationality and Opportunity Cost

by DrJohnB

Cross-posted from Life, the Universe, and Everything

Paul Krugman has an article in this week's New York Times magazine about the disarray in macroeconomic theory. In simplest terms, neither the New Classical nor New Keynesian economic theories are able to explain how the American economy got into its current parlous condition. Krugman identifies, correctly, the root of these problems in the economics profession's insistence on grounding economic models in perfectly rational behavior.

As he points out, a brave band of the economics tribe has insisted for years that such approaches to behavioral modeling are deeply flawed. The basis for this assertion is (wait for it) observation of consumer and investor behavior that is (gasp) irrational. However, as a professor in my own economics doctoral program observed, "You can't bash a theory with facts, you bash a theory with another theory." The purpose of this post is to point out that the hyper-rationality in behavior which is the foundation of modern macroeconomic (and other economic) theories is based upon a profoundly uneconomic assumption.

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Cross-posted from Life, the Universe, & Everything

Brad Delong had a post on the political role of bi-partisanship and the role of think-tanks in a highly partisan political environment. Of course, the denizens of The Village regularly decry the erosion of the spirit of bi-partisanship in policy making. This got me thinking about what features of the American constitution lead to a bi-partite politics. It also lead me to consider the era of American politics where politics was monopartisan.

The "Era of Good Feeling" extended from the early 1800s when the Federalist party collapsed as a national political force to the mid-1830s when opposition to Andrew Jackson lead to the emergence of the Whig party. My speculation about this caused me to consider, could we end up with monopartisan politics again.

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Mon Aug 10, 2009 at 11:21 AM PDT

Misreading Economic History

by DrJohnB

Cross-posted at Life, the Universe, and Everything

Greg Clark had an essay, "Tax and Spend, or Face the Consequences," in yesterday's Washington Post. The point he makes will be agreeable to many progressives. His argument for that point is appalling. The brief argument is that technological progress will rendered low skill workers redundant. Since these individuals will no longer be capable of earning incomes through supplying labor, massive transfer programs will be needed to spread the fruits of technological advance and economic growth to the masses. This argument reflects discreditably on the excellent economic historian whom I know Dr. Clark to be.

He frankly labels his vision "dystopian"

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Sat May 23, 2009 at 06:31 AM PDT

Kubler-Ross and the Republican Party

by DrJohnB

In 1968, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross published On Death and Dying.  In this book, she outlined five stages that individuals facing a terminal diagnosis go through.  Although the idea remains scientifically controversial, it has been extended to other major life traumas.  Based upon some personal experiences lately, I think it provides a useful analytical framework for understanding individual response to traumatic but not fatal experiences. It occurred to me that Kubler-Ross ideas could usefully applied to the current behavior of the Republican Party.  Follow me below the fold for more.

Poll

What stage do you think the Republican Party is in?

14%15 votes
48%51 votes
14%15 votes
1%2 votes
0%0 votes
1%2 votes
4%5 votes
0%1 votes
13%14 votes

| 105 votes | Vote | Results

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Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 06:47 AM PDT

Global Warming and Permafrost melt

by DrJohnB

Climate change (a biologist friend insists this is a better usage than global warming) is the greatest challenge facing humanity today.  There has been recent discussion of strategies to abate warming involving more than just reducing carbon dioxide emissions.  One proposal has involved raising the Earth's albedo (reflectivity)so that more solar radiation is reflected back into space. (It was mentioned in the news last week but I can't find a cite.)  This idea has some merit, since the reduced cover of ice and snow in the Artic has the effect of lowering reflection of solar energy.

However, I have another idea.

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