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Monday Hoisted from Comments: On Gene Steuerle's 2005 Social Security Reform Plan

Noted for February 18, 2013

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  • Paul Krugman: The Kids Are Alright: "Traditional families are indeed in decline; so is traditional organized religion. From these declines Eberstadt concludes that we are in danger of social collapse. But what he somehow misses is that the notion that traditional families and religion are essential to social order is a theory, not a fact — and it’s a theory that is overwhelmingly refuted by recent experience…. Weren’t we supposed to me in Escape From New York territory right now? Instead, New York in particular is a nicer, cleaner, safer place than anyone imagined possible a couple of decades ago. And yes, I’m aware that this also means that inequality can’t be quite as corrosive as some liberals, myself included, sometimes imagine. But back to Eberstadt: his whole argument is based on the presumption that society is doomed if the traditional — and, I think it’s fair to say, patriarchal — structure isn’t maintained without change. Let people cohabit, maybe even marry others of the same sex, choose their faith or choose not to have any faith, and we will degenerate in a Hobbesian nightmare. We used to point to Scandinavia as a counter-example, but the reply would be that their homogeneous societies (not really, but that was the legend) were nothing like ours. But now we’re a cohabiting, free-love, free-religion dystopia too — and it’s OK. Why do they hate America?"

  • O. Hai and I. B. Hakkenshita: Journal of Apocryphal Chemistry | Feb. 2012: A Simple and Convenient Synthesis of Pseudoephedrine From N-Methylamphetamine: Pseudoephedrine, active ingredient of Sudafed®, has long been the most popular nasal decongestant in the United States due to its effectiveness and relatively mild side effects. In recent years it has become increasingly difficult to obtain psuedoephedine… with the medicine kept behind the counter… pharmacies require signatures and examination of government issued ID…. [I]t would be of great interest to have a simple synthesis of pseudoephedrine from reagents which can be more readily procured. A quick search of several neighborhoods of the United States revealed that while pseudoephedrine is difficult to obtain, N-methylamphetamine can be procured at almost any time on short notice and in quantities sufficient… the availability of N- methylmphetamine has remained high while prices have dropped and purity has increased…. We present here a convenient series of transformations using reagents which can be found in most well stocked organic chemistry laboratories to produce psuedoephedrine from N-methylamphetamine. While N-methylamphetamine itself is a powerful decongestant, it is less desirable in a medical setting because of its severe side effects and addictive properties. Such side effects may include insomnia, agitation, irritability, dry mouth, sweating, and heart palpitations. Other side effects may include violent urges or, similarly, the urge to be successful in business or finance."

  • Arindrajit Dube, T. William Lester, and Michael Reich: State Regression Discontinuity Estimates of the Effects of the Minimum Wage

  • Rebecca Brackman: "Dwarves are not heroes": antisemitism and the Dwarves in J.R.R. Tolkien's writing

  • Michael Fletcher: "For the first time… a majority of Americans are headed toward a retirement in which they will be financially worse off than their parents, jeopardizing a long era of improved living standards for the nation’s elderly…"

  • Ian Millhiser on Teapartying Virginia Republican Ken Cuccinelli: "1) Medicare Is ‘Despicable, Dishonest, and Worthy of Condemnation’…. 2) Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and Food Stamps Are Deliberate Attacks On Americans’ Freedom…. 3) If We Don’t Tax People, They’ll Just Give All Their Money Away To Charity…. 4) All Welfare Is Unconstitutional…. 5) Antitrust Law Is Unconstitutional…. 6) George Washington Did Not Understand The Constitution…. 7) Pregnant Women And Women With Breast Cancer Should Lose Health Care…. 8) Global Warming Is A Conspiracy Among Climate Researchers To Trick People Into Giving Them Money…. 9) Net Neutrality Is Like Stealing Someone’s Land…. 10) Liberty Is Just Like Pie"

On February 17, 2013: