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unrepentant progress

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Name: Wouldn\'t you love to know?
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Home country: USA
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Member since: Sun Mar 24, 2013, 02:10 PM
Number of posts: 611

Journal Archives

Mark Blyth: Austerity -- The History of a Dangerous Idea

If you watch one thing this week, then watch this lecture by political economist, and my favorite capitalist, Mark Blyth. The bits about the pre-WWII Japanese and German economies are particularly interesting.

Posted by unrepentant progress | Sun Jun 23, 2013, 03:22 PM (3 replies)

Let Them Eat Diversity

An excellent interview with Walter Benn Michaels, author of The Trouble With Diversity, from a couple of years ago. It's lengthy so I'll just post a couple of short clips. Full interview here: http://jacobinmag.com/2011/01/let-them-eat-diversity

The fact that most of our poverty is not produced by prejudice should suggest to us that if we are actually concerned about poverty, no matter how much anti-discrimination work we do we are not going to take care of the poverty problem, certainly not in our little test group, the 61 percent of the country who are poor and White. So there are two ways to deal with that; one you say “Okay maybe it’s true that we should focus a little less on discrimination and a little more on other forms of dealing with this inequality,” or, two, the state of the art thing which is to say, “No actually it’s false. White people have been the victim of discrimination, because the lower class is itself a victim of discrimination.”

I wrote a piece on this last year based on the Gates episode for the London Review of Books, a review of a book that had just come out in the U.K. about extending anti-discrimination to deal with the white working class, as if the problem with the white working class was that it was insufficiently respected and that if you could only get a few more White working class guys up at the top … basically just treating the white working class as if it were an identity. That’s cutting edge neoliberalism.

WBM: ... My argument is fairly straightforward. To be poor in America today, or to be anything but in the top 20 percent in America today, is to be victimized in important ways and in so far as we’re appreciating the characteristic products of victimization, we are not actually dealing with exploitation, but rather enshrining victimization, treating it as if it had value and therefore ought to be preserved. And that’s obviously reactionary.

BKS: Like the Richard Geres of the world viewing Tibetan poverty as a commendable stand against materialism.

WBM: Completely.
Posted by unrepentant progress | Mon Jun 10, 2013, 08:49 PM (0 replies)

Medicare Spending Variations Mostly Due To Health Differences, Study Concludes

The idea that uneven Medicare health care spending around the country is due to wasteful practices and overtreatment—a concept that influenced the federal health law -- takes another hit in a study published Tuesday. The paper concludes that health differences around the country explain between 75 percent and 85 percent of the cost variations.

“People really are sicker in some parts of the country,” said Dr. Patrick Romano, one of the authors.

That’s a sour assessment for those hoping to wring large savings out of the health care system by making it more efficient. Some, such as President Barack Obama’s former budget director, Peter Orszag, assert that geographic variations in spending could mean that nearly a third of Medicare spending may be unnecessary.

Their conclusions are based on the wide differences in spending, which in 2011 ranged from an average of $14,085 per Medicare beneficiary in Miami, to $5,563 per beneficiary in Honolulu, even after Medicare’s cost of living and other regional adjustments — but not health status — were taken into account.

The new study comes as advisors to the government consider whether regional differences are a useful tool to reduce health spending. An Institute of Medicine panel is preparing a report on whether Congress should pay less to hospitals and doctors in areas where there is heavy use of medical services, and more in regions where spending is lower. That report is due out this summer, but an interim version indicated that the panel was opposed to the idea.

More: http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2013/May/28/medicare-state-geographic-variation-costs.aspx
Posted by unrepentant progress | Fri Jun 7, 2013, 12:05 AM (1 replies)

Bring back the United States of Pork

If there’s one thing most Democrats and Republicans can agree on, it’s that the US Congress has become an ineffectual disaster, frozen in partisan conflict and seemingly unable to pass any meaningful legislation. One of the few instances of efficient lawmaking they’ve managed this year happened only after flight delays caused by budget sequestration began to threaten their own vacation plans. Meanwhile, the bipartisan gun control bill is dead, and the fate of immigration reform remains uncertain.

American politics, it seems, has become so polarized that lawmakers simply can’t find common ground on the most important issues of the day. But partisanship has always been with us, and as Congress approaches yet another potential showdown over the federal budget, a chorus of thinkers from the world of political science is making a surprising argument about how to overcome the gridlock. In order to help Congress get moving again, they say, America needs to restore something that has long been considered a symbol of all that is wrong with government: pork-barrel politics.

Pork, in this context, refers to federal money that has been earmarked by lawmakers in order to fund projects in their home districts: things like roads, bridges, and museums, which tend to make voters happy and which lawmakers have been funding with federal money since the country’s birth. The past two and a half years have been unusual in American history in that Congress has been operating almost entirely without such earmarks, thanks to a pork ban that passed in both the Senate and the House in late 2010 and early 2011. Though driven primarily by conservatives concerned with fiscal responsibility, the move was ultimately applauded on the left and the right, and hailed as a victory against wasteful government spending and corruption on Capitol Hill.

But people who have thought hard about earmarks,and researched their history, say that in demonizing pork Congress accidentally gave up something deeply valuable: a tool for reaching compromise. Earmarks, they point out, can be used by party leaders as bait to convince—or simply bribe—lawmakers to support legislation and join coalitions they might otherwise spurn. “If a member of Congress can bring something home that’s really valued in their district, that’s powerful,” said Diana Evans, a professor at Trinity College in Hartford and author of the book “Greasing the Wheels: Using Pork Barrel Projects to Build Majority Coalitions in Congress.” “It’s something they can claim credit for.”

More: http://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2013/05/11/bring-back-united-states-pork/gsa3RcmD4tXlQPs29ytsXJ/story.html
Posted by unrepentant progress | Wed Jun 5, 2013, 06:32 PM (0 replies)

How the U.S. Government Waged War Against the House of Tomorrow

Americans were promised one thing during World War II: life was going to be amazing in the "world of tomorrow." But when the war ended many companies, along with the U.S. government, turned back on that promise as quickly as they could.

Americans were told that as soon as the war was over, everyone would have so many shiny appliances and bubble-top cars and super-modern homes that they wouldn't even know what to do with them all. Sure, you may have to sacrifice now, with the wartime rationing of everything from gasoline to sugar, but once victory has been achieved the good life is ahead.


As Americans became more and more confident of victory in WWII during the war's later years of 1944 and 1945, cracks started to appear. People started to write articles (often unsigned or pseudonymously) in newspapers and magazines telling Americans to keep their shirts on.

That house we promised — that assurance that everything will be amazing after the war is done and peace has been secured? Now don't get your hopes up, Mr. Futurepants.

More: http://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/how-the-u-s-government-waged-war-against-the-house-of-509785059
Posted by unrepentant progress | Wed Jun 5, 2013, 04:23 PM (0 replies)
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