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On the Road

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Name: Jack Neefus
Gender: Male
Hometown: Newark, NJ
Home country: US
Current location: Baltimore, MD
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 20,783

About Me

Email: jneefus@gmail.com

Journal Archives

Iceland Did it Right for Themselves,

but there is a reason that Krugman did not recommend this course for the US:

For the most part, Icelandís lesson is relevant to countries that experienced big capital inflows followed by a sudden stop ó that is, the European periphery, not the US or the UK.

What Iceland did allowed their own economy to avoid the worst of the recession, but with several caveats:

1) Unlike Greece and the other PIIGS, they had an independent currency which could be devalued. This was just as critical a part of their plan as repudiating the debt.

2) Unlike larger countries, the losses went predominantly overseas, meaning that to some extent they exported their problems. Otherwise, allowing banks to fail would have taken down business payroll accounts as well, and employees of those would have stopped receiving paychecks. That would have cause a crash worse than anything seen in the Europe or US.

3) This policy that can only be counted on once. Iceland can no longer rely on external financing.

4) They jury is still out -- almost literally -- on whether Iceland has permanently escaped the burden of its banks' foreign obligations. The EFTA has outstanding cases such as the one against Icebank that appear to reimpose some burdens on the Icelandic financial industry.

Krugman is not proposing that the entire financial industry of a country be allowed to collapse. Rather:

What it demonstrated was the usefulness of devaluation (and therefore of having your own currency), and the case for temporary capital controls in an emergency. Also the case for letting creditors of private banks gone wild eat the losses.

One Reason Some People Believe Global Warming Will Drive Humans to Extinction

is that like most groups involved in a contentious war of ideas, opinions that minimize or temper accepted wisdom tend to be frowned on. On the other hand, opinions that make more extreme projections or take accepted wisdom further tend to be welcomed, even when they are highly questionable.


It may appear that even if extreme opinions are incorrect, they may still help uninvolved members of the public "wake up," or create a sense of urgency that will help the larger goals be achieved. These inferences, while true in some cases, have to be balanced against repercussions such as:

1) Opinions that are not well supported by fact tend to be used by the opposing side in damaging ways. Look at the predictions from the 1970s about the state of the world over the coming decades. They are routinely used by global warming deniers to cast doubt on global warming as a whole.

2) Incorrect projections can lead to bad policy. If the optimal policy involves long-term measures, overly aggressive projections can lead to less effective crash programs on the theory that the horizon is too short. It can be argued that Jimmy Carter's $88B energy plan, which contained provisions for breeder reactors and coal gassification, was affected by alarmist views of the future of oil production.

3) It can lead to the rejection of proposals that are not considered "pure" or draw some measure of support from the opposition. In the case of global warming, this appears to be particularly true for solutions involving some type of geoengineering.

4) While the pattern is universal, it is fundamentally the same group dynamic that has led the GOP to become so extreme. This should be a warning.

I Agree,

and the reason there this distinction exists is that abortion is being argued separately from the question of when the developing fetus becomes a human being and should have legal standing. The current standard
(end of the second trimester) was chosen based on a different criterion -- survivability outside the womb (at least according to 1970s medicine).

Whether a one-day-old infant is the product of rape or incest has no bearing on whether that infant should survive. Nor should it be a factor in the ninth month, where abortion should be undertaken only in order to save the mother. Or the eight month. For that matter, should a premature baby born in the 32nd week be treated differently from a fetus of the same age if it's still in the womb? They both have developed equally.

The anti-abortion people are giving the wrong answer to the question "when does a human life begin?" Saying it is at conception, or before the brain is developed enough for basic electrical activity, is absurd. The way to counter it and maintain a consistent position is by giving a substantive answer to that question.
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