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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 43,631

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Environmental Scientist

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The Pious Attacks on Bernie Sanders’s “Fuzzy” Economics

Let he who has never made an incorrect economic forecast cast the first stone.
February 19, 2016

Far too much of the Democratic primary has been consumed with determining the boundaries of what is and is not serious. Four former chairs of the Council of Economic Advisers under Presidents Clinton and Obama provided the latest example this week, writing an open letter to castigate a fellow economist, Gerald Friedman of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Friedman conducted a study of how the economy would react over the next ten years if Bernie Sanders’s entire program—free college, universal health care, new infrastructure spending, an expanded Social Security, the works—were adopted. And it included some very optimistic numbers: the creation of 26 million jobs over the next ten years, annual economic growth of 5.3 percent, and a return of the labor force participation rate back to 1999 levels. The Sanders campaign didn’t appear to solicit the Friedman study, but it has been citing it to the media.

The Democratic CEA chairs—Laura D’Andrea Tyson, Christina Romer, Austan Goolsbee, and Alan Krueger—believe these numbers undermine their efforts “to make the Democratic Party the party of evidence-based economic policy.” They add: “These claims undermine the credibility of the progressive economic agenda and make it that much more difficult to challenge the unrealistic claims made by Republican candidates.”

I don’t feel it necessary to defend Friedman, though it’s worth pointing out that his economic growth numbers would simply eliminate the GDP gap that was created by the Great Recession and was never filled in the subsequent years of slow growth—which should be the goal of public policy, however “extreme” it sounds. What I do want to challenge is the idea that there’s one serious, evidence-based way to perform economic forecasting.



Krugman is wrong: Why his case against Bernie Sanders misses the point

The New York Times columnist's defenses of wonkery are well-intentioned. But politics and policy are not the same

For the first time since his strident defenses of globalization ruffled some fair trade feathers in the 1990s, Paul Krugman is in a protracted debate with the American left.

On the surface, they’re fighting about whether it matters that many centrist and center-left economists are uncomfortable with some of the promises Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign has made about how his policies will improve the economy. On a deeper level, however, they’re fighting about what it means to be a Democrat, and whether the party should behave more like a left-wing version of the GOP.

This is an important conversation, and the fact that it’s even happening should make lefties smile. They’re already on Nicholas Klein’s third step! For my part, I think both the “wonks” and their leftist critics are making vital points (annoying of me, I know). But they’re talking past one another, too. Leftists believe what’s important right now is politics, not policy. Krugman believes there should be no distinction.

With all due respect to the New York Times columnist, who has been an invaluable ally for the liberal movement for much of the past 16 years, there is a distinction. Good policy does not always make for good politics. There are positive lessons to be learned from the conservative movement’s example. And, right now, it’s politics — not policy — that matters the most.



In defense of grave dancing

It’s true that Scalia was a human being, but I still refuse to mourn a-holes like him politely
When a public figure we loathe dies, we're expected to observe a certain level of decorum. Here's why that's wrong

Like many people, I found out about the death of Antonin Scalia through social media, a Facebook chat to be specific. “DUDE! Scalia may be dead,” my friend messaged me.” After a few minutes of silence, my friend returned, in all caps, once again, to proclaim, “HE’S DEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

While Scalia’s unexpected death provoked a pseudo-constitutional crisis among the right wing, it provoked an existential crisis in me. I felt simultaneously happy, relieved, hopeful and guilty. He’s someone’s father! Someone’s husband! RBG’s bestie and opera partner! Even worse than what I felt was what I wanted to do! “OMG!” I typed to my friend. “Would a listicle of Scalia’s Worst Quotes be the worst?” Ironically enough, my friend’s verdict was Scalian; swift, punishing and punctuated with hyperbole and exclamation points: “NO! YOU MUST DO IT!” F&*( DECORUM!”

A woman of checks and balances, I sought counsel from other sources via other means of communication. I skyped an editor to ask for her ruling on the issue. Her judgment was Kennedyian and moderate: She urged me to wait 24 hours, reminding me that “dancing on people’s grave not a good look.” When I texted another friend, a journalist, he concurred with the editor, writing, “I wouldn’t celebrate it.”

The majority, it seemed, had ruled. It would be in poor taste and bad judgment, an ethical breach, to openly rejoice about Scalia’s death.

I had no grounds for appeal. The decision was final… or so it seemed.

much more


Friday TOON Roundup 5 - The Rest




Middle East

Friday TOON Roundup 4 - Apple v FBI

Friday TOON Roundup 3 - GOP v. Constitution

Friday TOON Roundup 2 - Trump v GOP

Friday TOON Roundup 1 - Trump v Pope

Toon: I'm going with the Jewish Guy

Toon: Trouble outside the Castle Gate

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