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« Liberal Outrage: March 2012 | Main | Liberal Outrage: May 2012 »

Liberal Outrage

Tide rising, all boats not floating

Larry Mishel via Paul Krugman.

Wages vs. Productivity

This is outside the context of our current economic crisis, but it's important to remember that when we say "real wages have been flat or in decline since the 1970s", it's not because the country isn't generating wealth. It's just a question of where that wealth is going. 90% tax rates on marginal income* used to ensure that our government was properly funded and also that there wasn't an incentive to pay CEOs 300+ times the average worker's compensation.

*Everyone knows what this means, right? It doesn't mean you pay 90% of your income in taxes. Here's an example.

By fnord12 | April 30, 2012, 3:16 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Wasteful government spending

From Ezra Klein's Wonkblog:

Federally-funded research of dog urine ultimately gave scientists and understanding of the effect of hormones on the human kidney, which in turn has been helpful for diabetes patients. A study called "Acoustic Trauma in the Guinea Pig" resulted in treatment of early hearing loss in infants. And that randy screwworm study? It helped researchers control the population of a deadly parasite that targets cattle--costing the government $250,000 but ultimately saving the cattle industry more than $20 billion, according to Cooper's office.

By fnord12 | April 27, 2012, 1:41 PM | Liberal Outrage & Science | Link

Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times

Via Balloon Juice:

In 2005, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) heaped praise on Ayn Rand, a 20th-century libertarian novelist best known for her philosophy that centered on the idea that selfishness is "virtue". The New Republic wrote:

"The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand," Ryan said at a D.C. gathering four years ago honoring the author of "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead."

Ryan also noted in a 2003 interview with the Weekly Standard, "I give out 'Atlas Shrugged' as Christmas presents, and I make all my interns read it. Well... I try to make my interns read it."


"I reject her philosophy," Ryan says firmly. "It's an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person's view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas," who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. "Don't give me Ayn Rand," he says.

I guess someone's getting ready to run for President in 2016.

By fnord12 | April 26, 2012, 5:02 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Because i am a Social(Security)-ist

I'm sure i don't count as one of Kevin Drum's fellow lefties, but i want to disagree with this:

On a related note, I'm going to annoy a few of my fellow lefties and say that we should stop getting bent out of shape when people respond to the Trustees report by saying that Social Security is "going bankrupt" or "running dry" or some similar formulation. There's a hyperlegalistic sense in which this isn't accurate, but honestly, it would be a helluva dramatic event if the trust fund ran out of money and Social Security suddenly had to slash benefits by 25% in 2033 (see chart above). Referring to this as "bankruptcy" isn't all that big a rhetorical stretch, and everyone on both left and right should put away their fainting couches, ditch all the tired excuses, and get to work on a fix that would involve -- say it in unison, folks! -- a very modest and phased-in cut in benefits combined with a very modest and phased-in increase in taxes. This isn't a hard problem.

The key point here is that if we do nothing we'll be seeing a reduction in benefits by 2033. Kevin Drum thinks we should solve that problem in part by... reducing benefits. Presumably less than would happen automatically, but nonetheless, i see no reason to codify it. It fact, i actually favor less modest tax increase coupled with an increase in benefits. A lot of old people really rely on this money and it's not really enough now. Reducing the amount social security pays out would not be a joke, and we can afford to increase it.

By fnord12 | April 24, 2012, 1:27 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

In which i discount the political opinions of everyone over the age of 65 and also make broad, unfounded assumptions

Via TPM, we have the latest FAIR report on the Sunday political talk shows:

Seventy percent of one-on-one interviews on the shows featured Republicans, according to the study. That's 166 Republican guests to 70 Democrats. For the roundtable discussions, Republicans and/or conservatives made 282 appearances to 164 by Democrats and progressives.

Obviously the study comes in the middle of a fierce Republican presidential election fight, with the only Democratic candidate currently occupying the White House. Michele Bachmann appeared on the shows 18 times, Rick Santorum appeared 16 times and Newt Gingrich appeared 13 times, according to the study. But tilt to the right isn't exclusive to a GOP primary. According to the study, the shows skewed right even during the 2004 election.

Partisanship aside, women made up just 29 percent of the shows' roundtable guests. Eighty-five percent of the guests were white, 11 percent were African American and 3 percent were Latino.

FAIR has been putting out stuff like this for years, and i'm glad that the more mainstream (!) TPM is focusing on it for once (it's also interesting that FAIR used to note the lack of representation of ideas outside the narrow Dem-Republican confines, e.g. no Ralph Nader or Noam Chomsky or Ron Paul or Gary Johnson; now it's even narrower, apparently). I'm also sure in a day or two the Daily Howler will write a post telling us why these numbers are wrong (the fact that the study took place during the Republican primaries was certainly bad timing).

But my initial reaction on reading this was... who cares anymore? Does anyone under the age of 65 still watch these shows, and if so, are they at all convinceable? I don't think these shows are driving political opinions anymore. That's all happening right here on this blog the internet.

Maybe i'm wrong. And i know that one group that actually watches these shows (and cable news) a lot is the politicians themselves. But right now i say it's not a battle worth fighting anymore.

By fnord12 | April 19, 2012, 4:44 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

When will it be enough?

John Cole looks at the data on Florida's law requiring that welfare recipients pass a drug test. So far, the program has detected very few drug users and cost more money than it saved by knocking abusers out of the system.

Cole says that the point was never about saving money, but addressing the "somewhere, somehow, someone is unfairly getting government money" that seems to keep a lot of people up at night.

What if we could, at no taxpayer expense, have someone follow around every welfare recipient 24 hours a day and confirm that they were spending 8-10 hours per day looking for a job, and the rest of the time feeling sad about not having a job and never for a minute enjoying themselves? Would that be enough? Would we still have to fight every time we want to extend unemployment benefits while the unemployment rate is over 8%? Could we increase the benefit amount to something liveable? Or would we still want to punish these people for having the poor sense of living in a post-industrial economy that is in the middle of a prolonged depression?

By fnord12 | April 18, 2012, 5:28 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

And that's not even getting into his writing "style"

Atrios has been celebrating ten years of blogging by writing up the Wankers of the Decade. He's gone through all the runner-ups, and now here's the #1 wanker: Thomas Friedman.

By fnord12 | April 18, 2012, 11:00 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Joss Whedon passes on making Captain America political

I understand why he might want to avoid doing so, but this is a little disappointing:

Apparently Joss Whedon was going to have Captain America give a speech in The Avengers that would have been partially about the loss of the social safety net, but he decided to cut the scene:

One of the best scenes that I wrote was the beautiful and poignant scene between Steve and Peggy [Carter] that takes place in the present. And I was the one who was like, 'Guys, we need to lose this.' It was killing the rhythm of the thing. And we did have a lot of Cap, because he really was the in for me. I really do feel a sense of loss about what's happening in our culture, loss of the idea of community, loss of health care and welfare and all sorts of things. I was spending a lot of time having him say it, and then I cut that.

As a product of the New Deal, Cap's speech would have flow entirely in character. I can believe that the soapbox speech might have killed the flow of the movie and i'm sure Marvel/Disney didn't need the PR headache. But it would have been cool. Maybe for the DVD.

By fnord12 | April 16, 2012, 5:02 PM | Comics & Liberal Outrage | Link

"All Obama did was sign it"

Even if that were true (it's not), wouldn't that be enough to share in the praise and/or blame? In this case, it's blame.

By fnord12 | April 13, 2012, 8:58 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

A good problem to have

Spammers recently brought this post on Medicare vs Private Insurance to my attention. Reading it again, (and at the risk of turning this into an all Yglesias-summary blog) i also want to add a point that Matthew Yglesias often makes, which is that rising healthcare costs are due in a large part to the fact that we've figured out how to help people live longer. We can extend life for cancer patients, etc., to a greater degree than we ever could before. But those procedures cost money. And so healthcare costs rise. It's true of both public and private insurance, but people with an anti-agenda focus on the government spending that comes out of Medicare costs (which are the primary cause of increased government spending). But these same people denounce "death panels" and no one is advocating for halting treatment on older sick people. So if we were being honest with ourselves we'd celebrate the fact that people are living longer and adjust to the new reality accordingly.

To recap:

The primary reason for long term Federal deficits is rising Medicare costs.
Rising Medicare costs are due to the fact that we have more expensive procedures to offer older sick people.
Medicare does a better job than private insurance at bending the costs curve.

Therefore, Obama is ruining the economy.

By fnord12 | April 13, 2012, 7:21 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Sometimes i think you *want* to fail


A fund to support homeowners in the communities hit hardest by the collapse of the housing bubble has disbursed just 3 percent of its budget and aided only 30,640 homeowners in the two years since its creation, according to a report released on Thursday by a federal watchdog office.

Via Atrios, who says:

There are elements of the administration fail on housing that I chalk to the usual reasons (too cozy with the big banks, etc). But sometimes I look at what's happening and wonder if the people working on this stuff are just incompetent.

My post title is from a Simpsons episode that i can't find a clip of on YouTube.

By fnord12 | April 12, 2012, 12:25 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Retroactive Obama Blame


Apparently the ridiculous political attack line we're supposed to talk about today is Mitt Romney's claim that 92.3 percent of jobs lost since Barack Obama took office belonged to women. This turns out to be true if you decide to assume that Obama is fully responsible for labor market events in January, even though two-thirds of January occurred before his inauguration.

The story within the story is that recessions hit male-dominated highly cyclical sectors like construction and manufacturing first. Women tend to disproportionately work in sectors like health care and education that show slow and steady job growth. But those male-dominated cyclical sectors also bounce back relatively quickly. So since the recession started more than a year before Obama's inauguration, male job losses were close to bottoming out by the time Obama took office and he's presided over a lot of rebound growth in male employment. Women, by contrast, have been devastated by cascading waves of teacher layoffs...

Not only have these layoffs primarily been implemented at the behest of Republican Party governors and state legislators, but the Obama administration twice--once in the Spring of 2010 and a second time in the fall of 2012--pushed hard for legislation to prevent layoffs of teachers. These efforts were roundly denounced by conservatives as wasteful and costly "bailouts" and so they didn't happen.

More on this topic from Kevin Drum.

As we get closer to general election season, i'm going to be trying really hard to not turn this into a pro-Obama blog, but with these kinds of attacks from the Romney camp it's going to be difficult. For this post i'll turn it around and point out that if the Obama administration had taken the advice of economists like Paul Krugman and been more aggressive about seeking a stronger stimulus that would have resulted in a faster recovery, he's be a lot less open to these kinds of attacks which, despite their obvious desperation, consume a lot of oxygen amongst the political chatterers. And, more importantly, a lot less people, male and female, would be out of work.

By fnord12 | April 12, 2012, 9:08 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Can you relate? We're living in a police state.

First, you've probably heard and been appropriately outraged over the Supreme Court's recent 5-4 decision to allow strip searches for any arrest. But what you may not have known is that it was the ruling that Obama's Department of Justice wanted:

What virtually none of this anti-Florence commentary mentioned, though, was that the Obama DOJ formally urged the Court to reach the conclusion it reached. While the Obama administration and court conservatives have been at odds in a handful of high-profile cases (most notably Citizens United and the health care law), this is yet another case, in a long line, where the Obama administration was able to have its preferred policies judicially endorsed by getting right-wing judges to embrace them...

And then there's this article about asset forfeiture.

Last December, filmmaker Terrance Huff and his friend Jon Seaton were returning to Ohio after attending a "Star Trek" convention in St. Louis. As they passed through a small town in Illinois, a police officer, Michael Reichert, pulled Huff's red PT Cruiser over to the side of the road, allegedly for an unsafe lane change. Over the next hour, Reichert interrogated the two men, employing a variety of police tactics civil rights attorneys say were aimed at tricking them into giving up their Fourth Amendment rights.
Asset forfeiture is the process by which law enforcement agencies can take possession of property suspected of being tied to illegal activity. Under these laws, the property itself is presumed to be guilty of criminal activity. Once the property has been seized, it's up to the owner to prove he obtained the property legitimately.

In about 80 percent of civil asset forfeiture cases, the property owner is never charged with a crime.

Critics say it's because police can target out-of-state drivers, who are more likely than local residents to accept a police officer's baseless accusations and turn over their property, rather than refuse and face arrest, multiple returns to the state for court dates and thousands of dollars in legal expenses. Sometimes winning the property back can exceed the actual value of the property.

This is all via Balloon Juice.

By fnord12 | April 6, 2012, 10:52 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Judges vs. Obama

Better get your bunker ready because it seems the government is about to fall apart.

By fnord12 | April 4, 2012, 12:49 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Fear of Fox gives young women cancer

To avoid criticism from Fox, Obama's FDA has been afraid to announce anything:

In the midst of the bitter 2009 battle to pass a law to provide health care to tens of millions of uninsured Americans, the United States Preventive Services Task Force announced in November that most women should not get routine mammograms until age 50 because the risks of the X-ray screens and surgical biopsies that often follow outweighed the benefits in younger women.

Although the task force did not consider cost in its analysis, Republicans charged that its recommendation was the start of health care rationing, an accusation given prominent play on Fox News. "That scared the bejesus out of everybody," a top F.D.A. official said.

By fnord12 | April 3, 2012, 2:44 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2)| Link

Why i like to read Matthew Yglesias

It's because of posts like this.

By fnord12 | April 2, 2012, 5:01 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

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