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November 2013

Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for November 11, 2013

  1. Sabrina Tavernise: Cuts in Hospital Subsidies Threaten Safety-Net Care - "The uninsured pour into Memorial Health hospital here: the waitress with cancer in her voice box who for two years assumed she just had a sore throat. The unemployed diabetic with a wound stretching the length of her shin. The construction worker who could no longer breathe on his own after weeks of untreated asthma attacks and had to be put on a respirator.... Many of these patients were expected to gain health coverage under the Affordable Care Act through a major expansion of Medicaid.... But after the Supreme Court in 2012 gave states the right to opt out, Georgia... Republican-led, refused to broaden the program. Now... the poor people who rely on safety-net hospitals like Memorial will be doubly unlucky. A government subsidy, little known outside health policy circles but critical to the hospitals’ survival, is being sharply reduced under the new health law..."
  2. Diane Sweet: Publisher Pulling Benghazi Book: "The Simon & Schuster subsidiary Threshold Editions announced Friday that it was pulling the controversial Benghazi source’s account of the 2012 terror attack, titled The Embassy House, and requesting that stores return their copies to the publisher.... The account of the night of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that Davies shared in the book, as well as on CBS’s 60 Minutes, has been called into question after a conflicting FBI report on Davies’s experience that night was leaked to the press.... I previously wrote that CBS had failed to disclose that the CBS owned Simon & Schuster was publishing a book by Davies about his Benghazi experience. Both Jeff Fager, the chairman of CBS News and executive producer of '60 Minutes', and correspondent Lara Logan have said they regretted not including a disclosure."
  3. Igor Volsky: It's Official: When It Comes To Immigration, House GOP Can Only Agree On Deporting DREAMers: "House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told immigration advocates that lawmakers will not take-up immigration reform this year. As a result, an amendment to deport DREAM-eligible immigrants — which passed with overwhelming GOP support in June — will be the only immigration measure to have received a vote on the floor of the House in 2013..."
  4. Paul Krugman: A Note On Hysteresis And Monetary Policy: "Suppose that sustained economic weakness really does do a lot of damage, but that it hasn’t done as much so far as [Reifschneider] et al estimate. In that case, the worst possible thing you could do would be to slam on the brakes because you imagine that the economy is at capacity.... [thus] turning downbeat estimates of economic capacity into a self-fulfilling prophecy. The lesson you should be taking here is, don’t tighten, don’t taper, don’t exit, until you see the whites of inflation’s eyes..."

Continue reading "Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for November 11, 2013" »

Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for November 10, 2013

  1. Rose Woodhouse: Thoughts on Double Down: "With a rare exception here and there, I would rather vote for a well-trained macaque than just about any Republican. Let us, however, rewind 10-15 years. I coulda been a Republican. Way back in the early aughts, I was concerned Democrats were scatty and impractical. Convinced by Kenneth Pollack/Thomas Friedman/The New Republic types, I was in favor of the war in Iraq (I know, I know… I’m not saying I was right, just saying where I was). I am also fairly moderate to conservative on some issues (and remain thus). I thought seriously about being a Republican. In the end, I never changed my party registration, not even to 'independent'. And now the very idea that 'I thought seriously about becoming a Republican' seems absolutely incomprehensible, akin to 'I thought seriously about becoming a JFK assassination conspiracy theorist'..."
  2. Dana Stevens: Ender’s Game, adapted from Orson Scott Card’s novel: "In a column from last spring that falls at the exact midpoint between sci-fi thought experiment and paranoid screed, Card compares President Obama to Hitler and envisions him amassing an army of 'Brown Shirts—thugs who will do his bidding without any reference to law'. Where will this paramilitary force be recruited? Among 'young out-of-work urban men', of course..."
  3. Ed Kilgore: More on VA and the African-American Vote That Saved Terry McAuliffe by Ed Kilgore: "On Wednesday I did a little exit poll exercise that seemed to indicate that an unexpectedly high turnout among African-Americans was the key to Terry McAuliffe’s victory. A fair number of other folks earlier or later noted that the racial voting patterns seemed to look more like a presidential than an off-year race... the black vote appeared to be the only major departure from the 2009 composition.... The Hispanic/Asian percentage of the vote came in this year at 2009 (5%), not 2012 (8%) levels. And the age composition of the electorate was very much like that of 2009, not 2012.... So what we are looking at is not some sudden change in the overall size or configuration of the off-year vote, but a pretty isolated but very significant surge in African-American turnout. Ruy has no particular explanation for this phenomenon; nor have I. I’ve heard a few random folk cite the pre-election voter purge executed by Virginia... as a provocation..."
  4. Eclectablog: The economic impacts of climate change aren’t something for the future, they’re here NOW: "We don’t need to rely on scientists’ forecasts about how global climate change will affect our economic climate. Those impacts have already begun. And no amount of head-in-the-sand denialism will change what is right in front of our eyes."

Continue reading "Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for November 10, 2013" »

Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for November 9, 2013

  1. Mitch McConnell: Tea Party Groups Mislead for Profit: "They’ve been told the reason we can’t get to better outcomes than we’ve gotten is not because the Democrats control the Senate and the White House but because Republicans have been insufficiently feisty. Well, that’s just not true, and I think that the folks that I have difficulty with are the leaders of some of these groups who basically mislead them for profit..."
  2. Sarah Kliff: "The big problem for these people... is that the place where they're supposed to buy health insurance coverage--the new insurance marketplace--isn't really working.... 38 days have gone by since launched, and it's still experiencing lots of problems, running slowly and sending users error messages. Six people managed to enroll on Oct. 1. That number hit 248 by the end of day two. That's a long way from the 7 million people the Congressional Budget Office estimates will sign up in year one.... 143 days are still left in open enrollment.... Only 123 people signed up for Massachusetts's coverage expansion in its first month, about 0.3 percent of the first year's enrollment..."
  3. Prairie Weather: Just the facts, please, ma'am: "Every time I see hard numbers like the ones Sarah Kliff has posted, I have to wonder what all the hullabaloo is about.  Some of us still have scars and personality disorders after weathering Bush's Medicare D.  Others among us have permanent traumatic stress disorder from dealing with billing errors at Verizon or with an online merchant... or United Healthcare..."
  4. David Weigel: Delaware Obamacare signups: Weigel family represents one-quarter of them.: "The AP broke the news yesterday: In a month and change, my home state of Delaware saw four signups for Obamacare. What went unreported, because nobody cared: My younger brother appears to have been one of the four. I asked him about the experience and got a more press-release-esque response than one typically expects from a family member: 'I am a 26 year old healthy male who was able to get a gold Blue Cross Blue Shield policy and a dental policy from Delta Dental through the online exchange at a savings of over $210 per month, without subsidies. I currently have policies from the same sources through COBRA that were going to expire at the end of February next year. I am a consultant and my company does not offer health insurance, so without Obamacare I would have been faced with finding an individual health policy the old way. Now I will have one with no annual or lifetime maximums and with no doubts about acceptance or future cancelation. Obamacare works for me.' Left unsaid in this spin job: Phil was born premature and had some surgery on his intestines early in his life. The sort of thing I'd assume could have been used in the old health care regime. Also, his/my father works for a company that got a waiver, exempting it from that whole 'kids on your insurance until age 26' thing."

Continue reading "Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for November 9, 2013" »

If Only Medicaid Expansion Were a $30 Billion Defense Program...: The View from the Roasterie XXIX: November 8, 2013

It is indeed amazing. If the federal government wanted to spend $30 billion/year in red states for any other purpose (save registering eligible voters) the Republican governors and the legislatures of those states would be straining every nerve to get their share and more than their share.

But it it is to provide health insurance to poor people? To let the doctors and hospitals stop the game of three-card-monte by which they cross-subsidize to gain the resources to (inadequately) treat the uninsured?

Nope. No way.

Let me turn the microphone over to Dylan Scott of TalKing Points Memo:

The 5 Million People The GOP Cut Out Of Obamacare: The Medicaid expansion field is tentatively set for 2014, and the nation is split down the middle: 25 states (plus D.C.) are expanding, and 25 states are not, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Continue reading "If Only Medicaid Expansion Were a $30 Billion Defense Program...: The View from the Roasterie XXIX: November 8, 2013" »

Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for November 8, 2013

Over at the Equitablog:


  1. Eric Loomis: Black Lung Follow Up: "Great news. I recently linked to the Center on Public Integrity’s excellent series on how coal miners are denied black lung benefits by Johns Hopkins doctors who always rule in favor of industry. Johns Hopkins has now suspended its black lung program and is investigating what has happened. This is excellent news for coal miners who hopefully will begin to receive their rightful compensation in the future. It’s also an example of the positive impact journalists can make in society."
  2. Ed Glaeser A happy tale of two cities: "New York is a magnet for people on a fast-track to be rich, and for very low-income people. What's wrong with that?"
  3. Elon James White: “The Dog Ate My Homework” and Other Rand Paul Excuses: "Sen. Rand Paul has a plagiarism problem... [and] went on the defensive: 'We write something every week for The Washington Times, and I literally am riding around in a car in between things trying to figure out if I can approve it.... We need to get stuff earlier, but it’s hard, we probably take on more than we should be doing.' Being a politician is hard? Citing sources is hard? Buying food when your SNAP benefits have been cut is hard? Oh wait, one of these things is actually hard. Douche."
  4. Kevin Drum: Ron Paul Basically Called for Armed Revolution This Week: "Huh. I don't remember him being willing to deliver harangues quite like this during last year's debates. I guess he was holding back after all, just another mealy-mouthed politician unwilling to buck the polls and tell the people the raw truth.... The most remarkable part of all this is that the rest of us—centrists, liberals, non-insane Republicans, the press, etc.—are expected to shrug off this kind of thing as nothing more than a sort of boys-will-be-boys stemwinder, not to be taken seriously. Remarkable indeed."

Continue reading "Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for November 8, 2013" »

Prologue to a Framework for Thinking About "Equitable Growth"...

Let me for one set out how I, at least, see this "equitable growth" business--how I see the conversation we should be having. There are four sequential questions:

  1. What should we be doing to boost the productive potential of the American economy, And also the world economy? how do we best boost our resources--labor, skills, capital, infrastructure, ideas, and others?

  2. What should we be doing to ensure that that productive potential was turned into actual useful goods and services produced?

  3. what should we be doing in order to distribute those useful goods and services to the people who ought to have in some sense--who need them the most, who would enjoy them the most, and who deserve them the most?

Call these: "accumulation", "production", and "distribution". Or, if you want to give them economists' names: Smith-Solow, North-Keynes, Ricardo-Galbraith.

And then there is (4): what are the interactions and linkages? How does (1) constrain (2) and (3)? How does (2) constrain (3)? How does what we choose to do in (3) feedback onto (1) and (2)? And how does what we choose to do in (2) feedback onto (1)? That these linkages and interactions are key is obvious: you cannot produce where the productive potential is not there; you cannot distribute what is not produced. Moreover, if you are getting the distribution wrong it is very unlikely that you are providing people with the right incentives to make stuff and to build productive potential; it if you are not producing you are giving people no incentive to build productive potential at all.

When you take this as an organizing framework, America's big economic problems jump out at you.

For accumulation, we need to deal with the facts that America is no longer making the best-in-class investment in education; that our national savings rate is distressingly low; and that we are moving into a world in which our system of property--especially intellectual property--looks less and less likely to provide appropriate signals and rewards for activities that boost our productive capabilities

For production, we need to deal with the facts that there is an enormous gap between our productive potential and actual output with huge amounts of slack of both labor and capital; that a great deal of our output is actually value-subtracting in the long run--cooking the planet, convincing people to bear financial risks they do not understand, and playing hot-potato with health insurance claims are none of them likely to be activities that add true value, yet these may be a tenth of what our measured output is; and that we should at least think about whether we are on a path that properly allocates burdens to present and future generations.

For distribution, we need to deal with the facts that our income and wealth distributions have taken extraordinary upward leaps in the past generation that greatly diminish the utilitarian welfare generated by a unit of GDP; that our economy is shifting more of its relative effort into sectors and categories--pensions, education, health care, non-rival and non-excludible non-commodities, and other sectors in which externalities are rife--in which we do not expect the market to do well, but have little confidence that government will do better, and hence seek new modes of organization.

The way I put it back in 1993 when I came to Washington for the first time as a grownup to work for Alicia Munnell in Lloyd Bentsen's Treasury, we then saw America as having six big problems requiring immediate action:

  1. Rebalancing the federal budget so that the debt-to-GDP ratio was no longer on an upward, explosive trajectory;
  2. Beginning to deal with global warming via the slow ramp-up of a carbon tax;
  3. Beginning the reform of our extraordinarily inefficient and extraordinary expensive national health financing system;
  4. Updating our pension system to deal with the aging of America, the decline of defined-benefit pensions, and the disappointing performance of defined-contribution options;
  5. Improving our education system so that more of the people who should be going to college would feel that they could risk doing so; and
  6. Reversing the erosion of America as a middle-class society with at least some equality of opportunity.

Since then we have added:

(7) Properly reregulating finance so it doesn't do to us what it did to us in 2008; and (8) Restoring aggregate demand to its proper level.

None of these seemed to us in the Clinton administration to be partisan Democratic issues. Indeed, none of these are partisan Democratic issues.

So why have we made so little progress in the past two decades? The long-run fiscal situation remains discouraging, if not as dire as we two decades ago feared it would be right now--and we Clintonites remember that George W. Bush and his cronies took our hard work at (1) and casually and gleefully smashed most of it with a baseball bat. But health-care financing remains a mess, even if some of us have hope that ObamaCare will do for the country what RomneyCare did for Massachusetts and start us going forward at last. But global warming? Middle-class society with equality of opportunity? A system in which more of those who should get more education do so? Pensions? We are nowheresville relative to twenty years ago. Thus insights and ideas are desperately needed.

Soonergrunt on Chuck Hagel vs. Republican Governors Update: Live from the Roasterie XXVIII: November 7, 2013: Noted

Soonergrunt: Chuck Hagel vs. Republican Governors Update:

From the Tulsa World....

The Fallin administration said Wednesday that Oklahoma-owned National Guard facilities will continue to deny military identification to same-sex spouses despite an order to the contrary from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel…. Four federally owned National Guard bases… will comply with the directive issued by Hagel last week… the Air National Guard bases in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, the Regional Training Institute in Oklahoma City and Camp Gruber…

Continue reading "Soonergrunt on Chuck Hagel vs. Republican Governors Update: Live from the Roasterie XXVIII: November 7, 2013: Noted" »

Google's Hal Varian on Economic Value of Google to US Advertisers and Customers: Noted

Watch live streaming video from web20tv at

Google's Hal Varian on Economic Value of Google to US Advertisers and Customers:

Marijana: MARCH 30, 2011: Yesterday at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco, Google’s Chief Economist Hal Varian dedicated his keynote speech to explaining the economic value of Google advertising and search... more than $119 billion[/year]...

In Which Niall Ferguson Puzzles Matthew Yglesias: Thursday Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot-Bang-Query Weblogging

Niall Ferguson emailed me, asking me to please note on my weblog his "Krugtron" posts.

I'm going to use the magic of globalization and the internet to outsource this task to the low-wage laborers of Logan Circle, as they frantically try to keep the hamster wheels of their weblogging efforts spinning fast enough to keep from triggering the electric shock:

Matthew Yglesias: Niall Ferguson names and shames me:

The historian Niall Ferguson has decided for some reason to drag your humble blogger into his feud with Paul Krugman:

Continue reading "In Which Niall Ferguson Puzzles Matthew Yglesias: Thursday Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot-Bang-Query Weblogging" »

Liveblogging World War II: November 7, 1943

Boris Gorbachevsky near Orsha:

After regrouping and a short rest, the division again entered the front lines east of Orsha. Here the Germans were resisting fanatically, trying at whatever the cost to stop the Red Army’s offensive.

On 7 November, in honor of the national holiday, the adversary decided to surprise us with a gift of his own: he undertook a counterattack on the regiment’s position. The situation at the front became fluid, and enemy self- propelled guns with submachine gunners managed to penetrate the lines and advance into the depth of the regiment’s defenses.

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: November 7, 1943" »

Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for November 7, 2013

Over at The Equitablog:


  1. Jason Kottke: The lukewarm response to global climate change: "I wonder... what it's gonna take for the world's governments to lurch into action on this? Or will they ever? Years of iron-clad scientific consensus isn't doing it. Sandy didn't do it. Heat waves, wildfires, and floods seem to have little effect. The melting Arctic, ha! The risk to food and water supplies? Not really..."
  2. Brian Buetler: How the media is blowing the Obamacare rollout: "Dylan [Scott's] piece is essentially about how insurance companies (some, not all) are... fleecing their existing customers.... Cancellations are inevitable. And some recipients will indeed find themselves required to pay more for equivalent or inferior coverage.... But these insurers are neither trying to find comparable price points for their existing beneficiaries nor alerting them to the market expansion the ACA creates. They’re defaulting their customers on to much more expensive plans, which they describe as comparable... and hoping those customers don’t notice..."
  3. Sherrod Brown: Here’s A Bargain: "There are two fundamental numbers that make this a moral case for Democrats to make. One is that a third of seniors rely on Social Security for virtually their entire income. The other is that more than half of seniors rely on Social Security for significantly more than half their income..."
  4. Dahlia Lithwick: Lawyers, Guns & Money: "But don’t let that distract from what really happened in Virginia today: An official who consistently used his elected office to promote policies that shamed, marginalized, and patronized women and other minorities was met with a 'no'. This wasn’t just about money, or the shutdown, or Star Scientific, or Terry McAuliffe’s fancy Clinton-era friends. It was about voters and what they know to be true.... Virginians, especially women, showed that they simply don’t believe that the commonwealth of Virginia should be in the business of discriminating against homosexuals, legislating an extreme anti-sodomy agenda, shuttering Planned Parenthood clinics, pressing an invasive trans-vaginal ultrasound law, and supporting a draconian illegal immigration law.... Virginia women who were mostly affronted by talk of trans-vaginal ultrasounds and clinic closures and constraints on birth control, know a whole lot about what they need to be protected from and when. And today they voted to “protect” themselves from Ken Cuccinelli..."

Continue reading "Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for November 7, 2013" »

Things to Read on the Evening of Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Must Reads:

  • Brian Buetler: How the media is blowing the Obamacare rollout <-How insurance companies are unreliable narrators on health-insurance "rate shock", and how the ObamaCare rollout badly needs some truth-in-insurance-advertising to make health insurance companies act like the public utilities they always should have been...

  • Christina Romer: Monetary Policy in the Post-Crisis World <- "I remember vividly being at a meeting of central bankers... in September 2009. All of the talk was: 'We have stopped the crisis. Now what we need to do is go back to [being] prudent... [and] worrying about inflation'. Yet unemployment was still risin--it would hit 10% in October 0f 2009. Every inch of my body wanted to scream... 'Oh no, you are not done!' Monetary policymakers, unfortunately, did take a break from aggressive action in 2010 and 2011..."

Should Reads:

Should Know Exists:

David Leonhardt: Podesta Starting a Think Tank on Inequality <-- Our First Piece of Press for WCEG

And here is our first piece of press for WCEG:

David Leonhardt: Podesta Starting a Think Tank on Inequality:

John Podesta, a longtime adviser to Bill and Hillary Clinton and President Obama, is starting a research center in Washington to investigate the causes and effects of growing economic inequality.... The center will be called the Washington Center for Equitable Growth and be housed at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning advocacy and research group that Mr. Podesta founded 10 years ago. Heather Boushey, an economist at the Center for American Progress, will become executive director.... The center will write grants to support academic research focusing on three broad questions: What is causing the rise in inequality over the last few decades in the United States and in other rich countries? What are the societal effects of higher inequality? And what policies might reduce inequality? Inequality has soared over the last three decades, with the share of annual income flowing to the top 1 percent of earners having risen to 22.5 percent, from 9.2 percent in 1973....

Mr. Podesta, who will be the center’s chairman, said he wanted to set it up as a separate group so that its findings could remain separate from the policies advocated by the Center for American Progress. To have credibility, the new group will need to follow the data wherever it leads.... Ms. Boushey noted that some of the apparent causes of rising inequality, such as the decline in marriage rates, were more frequent subjects of discussion on the political right than left.... By funding research on inequality, as well as social mobility, Ms. Boushey said she hoped that the center would encourage more of the country’s top young economists to make the subject a focus of their research....

The center ultimately plans to award a few million dollars in research grants a year, Mr. Podesta said. Initial funding will come from the Sandler Foundation. The center will also seek to become a clearinghouse that connects policy makers with the most rigorous research on inequality and economic growth. “There’s very little communication between the academic world and the policy-making world,” added Mr. Podesta....

Mr. DeLong['s]... blog for the new group will be called Equitablog: The Conversation About Economic Growth With Equity That Washington Should Be Having.

Things You Should Read This Wednesday at Lunchtime

Only two things that struck me as should-reads this morning:

Michael Stillman, M.D., and Monalisa Tailor, M.D, of the University of Louisville Medical Center, on the blockages to health-care access that are killing one of their patients with colon cancer--and thus on how inadequate our health-care safety net truly is right now.

Carmen Reinhart making the case that we should be really worried about debt accumulation--and, in my view at least, demonstrating that that case is quite weak as long as interest rates remain low.

What Are We Doing Here?

Let me try to bring four things together...

  1. The coming of the internet has created at least the potential for a much better public-sphere conversation on economic policy than we had a generation ago. Go back to William Greider's The Education of David Stockman, and reflect that the ignorance about budgetary issues in which they maneuver and about which they lament would not be possible in the internet age of today.

  2. We, as of yet, do not have such a public-sphere conversation. At best, the conversation resembles a soccer game of seven-year-olds--twenty people in a huddle kicking the ball in random directions, with few people playing their positions and focusing on what is truly important.

  3. Over the past generation our politics and policy making has arguably degenerated. It is now clearly inadequate. We no longer (if we ever did) have a bipartisan technocratic center with serious votes committed to economic growth, equal opportunity, and an efficient well-functioning government that can tack left or right as necessary to assemble legislative coalitions to support good governance.

  4. Where the conversation has been guided, it has been directed in directions that I, at least, think are unhelpful. We are moving forward into a world in which a longer-living population and technological advances create opportunities to promote the general welfare via larger expenditures on pensions and health care. But Peter Peterson and company have driven the budgetary conversation to focus on entitlement cuts rather than entitlement right-sizing, right-funding, and right-managing. Similarly, the John M. Olin Foundation--with really very little money--has driven the legal conversation to focus on restoring a classical-liberal order that, in my view at least, never really existed in the first place and that could not have functioned past 1870 if it had.

Taking these things together, it seems to me that it would be a good idea if I signed on to this Washington Center for Equitable Growth, and tried to drive the conversation to what is important.

My promise to you: If you share our interest in public policy that leads to growth-with-equity—and would like to see a 21st century that is an American Century in a these-are-people-to-emulate rather than we-fear-their-drones-and-their-blackmail sense—then:

  1. We are going to be disciplined: we will not publish so much under this heading that you either drown or fob us off to an aggregator.
  2. Everything we publish will be important for you to read if you are interested in equitable growth (and you really should be).
  3. We won't try to get you to read what we write when somebody else has written it better—we will link instead.
  4. We will try to make sure that we always do our homework.
  5. We will try to bring to your attention people who think differently than we do and who have done their homework, are not engaged in intellectual three-card-monte, and are being smart.

Let us try to focus our conversation on what is truly important, for all of our sakes.

Health-Care Access Blogging

Let me turn the microphone over to Michael Stillman, M.D., and Monalisa Tailor, M.D., from the University of Louisville School of Medicine:

Dead Man Walking — NEJM: “Shocked” wouldn't be accurate, since we were accustomed to our uninsured patients' receiving inadequate medical care. “Saddened” wasn't right, either, only pecking at the edge of our response. And “disheartened” just smacked of victimhood. After hearing this story, we were neither shocked nor saddened nor disheartened. We were simply appalled.

We met Tommy Davis in our hospital's clinic for indigent persons in March 2013 (the name and date have been changed to protect the patient's privacy). He and his wife had been chronically uninsured despite working full-time jobs and were now facing disastrous consequences.... Mr. Davis had come to our emergency department with abdominal pain and obstipation. His examination, laboratory tests, and CT scan had cost him $10,000 (his entire life savings), and at evening's end he'd been sent home with a diagnosis of metastatic colon cancer.

The year before, he'd had similar symptoms and visited a primary care physician, who had taken a cursory history, told Mr. Davis he'd need insurance to be adequately evaluated, and billed him $200 for the appointment. Since Mr. Davis was poor and ineligible for Kentucky Medicaid, however, he'd simply used enemas until he was unable to defecate. By the time of his emergency department evaluation, he had a fully obstructed colon and widespread disease and chose to forgo treatment.

Mr. Davis had had an inkling that something was awry, but he'd been unable to pay for an evaluation. As his wife sobbed next to him in our examination room, he recounted his months of weight loss, the unbearable pain of his bowel movements, and his gnawing suspicion that he had cancer. “If we'd found it sooner,” he contended, “it would have made a difference. But now I'm just a dead man walking.”

For many of our patients, poverty alone limits access to care. We recently saw a man with AIDS and a full-body rash who couldn't afford bus fare to a dermatology appointment. We sometimes pay for our patients' medications because they are unable to cover even a $4 copayment. But a fair number of our patients — the medical “have-nots”--are denied basic services simply because they lack insurance, and our country's response to this problem has, at times, seemed toothless.

In our clinic, uninsured patients frequently find necessary care unobtainable. An obese 60-year-old woman with symptoms and signs of congestive heart failure was recently evaluated in the clinic. She couldn't afford the echocardiogram and evaluation for ischemic heart disease that most internists would have ordered, so furosemide treatment was initiated and adjusted to relieve her symptoms. This past spring, our colleagues saw a woman with a newly discovered lung nodule that was highly suspicious for cancer. She was referred to a thoracic surgeon, but he insisted that she first have a PET scan — a test for which she couldn't possibly pay.

However unconscionable we may find the story of Mr. Davis, a U.S. citizen who will die because he was uninsured, the literature suggests that it's a common tale. A 2009 study revealed a direct correlation between lack of insurance and increased mortality and suggested that nearly 45,000 American adults die each year because they have no medical coverage.1 And although we can't confidently argue that Mr. Davis would have survived had he been insured, research suggests that possibility; formerly uninsured adults given access to Oregon Medicaid were more likely than those who remained uninsured to have a usual place of care and a personal physician, to attend outpatient medical visits, and to receive recommended preventive care.2 Had Mr. Davis been insured, he might well have been offered timely and appropriate screening for colorectal cancer, and his abdominal pain and obstipation would surely have been urgently evaluated.

Elected officials bear a great deal of blame for the appalling vulnerability of the 22% of American adults who currently lack insurance. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) — the only legitimate legislative attempt to provide near-universal health coverage — remains under attack from some members of Congress, and our own two senators argue that enhancing marketplace competition and enacting tort reform will provide security enough for our nation's poor.

In discussing (and grieving over) what has happened to Mr. Davis and our many clinic patients whose health suffers for lack of insurance, we have considered our own obligations. As some congresspeople attempt to defund Obamacare, and as some states' governors and attorneys general deliberate over whether to implement health insurance exchanges and expand Medicaid eligibility, how can we as physicians ensure that the needs of patients like Mr. Davis are met?

  1. We can honor our fundamental professional duty to help. Some have argued that the onus for providing access to health care rests on society at large rather than on individual physicians,3 yet the Hippocratic Oath compels us to treat the sick according to our ability and judgment and to keep them from harm and injustice. Even as we continue to hope for and work toward a future in which all Americans have health insurance, we believe it's our individual professional responsibility to treat people in need.

  2. We can familiarize ourselves with legislative details and educate our patients about proposed health care reforms. During our appointment with Mr. Davis, he worried aloud that under the ACA, “the government would tax him for not having insurance.” He was unaware (as many of our poor and uninsured patients may be) that under that law's final rule, he and his family would meet the eligibility criteria for Medicaid and hence have access to comprehensive and affordable care.

  3. We can pressure our professional organizations to demand health care for all. The American College of Physicians, the American Medical Association, and the Society of General Internal Medicine have endorsed the principle of universal health care coverage yet have generally remained silent during years of political debate. Lack of insurance can be lethal, and we believe our professional community should treat inaccessible coverage as a public health catastrophe and stand behind people who are at risk.

Seventy percent of our clinic patients have no health insurance, and they are all frighteningly vulnerable; their care is erratic, they are disqualified from receiving certain preventive and screening measures, and their lack of resources prevents them from participating in the medical system. And this is not a community- or state-specific problem. A recent study showed that underinsured patients have higher mortality rates after myocardial infarction,4 and it is well documented that our country's uninsured present with later-stage cancers and more poorly controlled chronic diseases than do patients with insurance.5 We find it terribly and tragically inhumane that Mr. Davis and tens of thousands of other citizens of this wealthy country will die this year for lack of insurance.

Why Most of the Current Partisan Health-Care Discussion Is Silly: Remember: In Its Bones, ObamaCare Is Romneycare

As I understand it, back in 2009 Obama picked the road that leads to universal comprehensive health coverage that was as far right as possible--that paid as much attention and respect to Republican concerns (or, rather, to the expressed concerns of those Republicans who claimed to see universal comprehensive health coverage as a worthy goal). Thus the live questions should be:

  • Is universal comprehensive health coverage a worthwhile goal?
  • If not, what mechanism should pay for health care for the uninsured--or should they simply die in the gutter?
  • Should we move our universal comprehensive health coverage system more to the left--i.e., shrink the role of insurance companies in it?
  • How is that implementation going?

That is the conversation Washington should be having about health care financing and insurance. That is not the conversation that Washington is having.

Can we try to change that, please?


Jonathan Gruber, Economist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, discusses the Affordable Care Act and delves into criticisms to the law. He speaks on Bloomberg Television's Bloomberg Surveillance.

Jon Gruber: Romneycare, Obamacare Basically The Same:

Pat Kline and Enrico Moretti: People, Places and Public Policy: Noted

Pat Kline and Enrico Moretti: People, Places and Public Policy: Some Simple Welfare Economics of Local Economic Development Programs:

Subsidizing poor or unproductive places is an imperfect way of transferring resources to poor people.... Mobility responses may lead the local cost of living to change, which in turn can lead landlords, some of whom may not live in the community, to capture some of the benefits associated with a policy. This is more likely when the housing market is already tight or when there are sharp restrictions on building. For this reason, it may be advisable to target areas with depressed housing markets and high vacancy rates that have enough slack to absorb a demand increase without a large increase in the cost of living.... A potentially compelling case for place based policies can be made based upon the remediation of localized market imperfections. When private and social returns diverge, local governments may be able to raise the welfare of their residents by re-aligning private incentives through taxes or subsidies or the provision of local public goods.... The presence of agglomeration economies does not imply that every state or country should attempt to generate a Silicon Valley equivalent from scratch...

Jon Cohn: So you ended up XY instead of XX. Get over yourself: Noted

Jon Cohn: So you ended up XY instead of XX. Get over yourself:

So you ended up XY instead of XX. Get over yourself. Even conservatives generally stipulate that insurance should protect people from the financial consequences of random events. But they seem not to recognize that being born a woman is a random event. Sorry, dudes, you had no control over that. Allowing insurers to discriminate based on gender means penalizing half the population, just because those folks ended up with one type of chromosome instead of another.

Of course, if you acknowledge [this point] it has some implications for the rest of the health care debate. If we’re not going to make people pay higher premiums because of genes that determined their gender, then what about people born with genetic abnormalities? Or predisposition to diabetes, heart attack, or cancer? Pretty soon you end up arguing that it’s wrong to charge higher premiums to people who, through no fault of their own, happen to need more medical care—-thereby conceding one of Obamacare’s core principles.

Paul Krugman: Free-Floating Inflation Hysteria: Noted

Paul Krugman: Free-Floating Inflation Hysteria:

What remains notable, however, is just what all Republicans are obliged to say: Ron Paul monetary theory has become obligatory:

Vice Chair Yellen will continue the destructive and inflationary policy of pouring billions of newly printed money every month into our economy, and artificially holding interest rates to near zero. This policy has been in place far too long.

So, the Fed began rapidly expanding its balance sheet when Lehman fell — more than five years ago. [What's been] the result of that “destructive and inflationary” policy so far[?] It’s not often that you see an economic theory fail so utterly and completely. Yet that theory’s grip on the GOP has only strengthened as its failure becomes ever more undeniable....

I can, in a way, understand refusing to believe in global warming--that’s a noisy process, with lots of local variation, and the overall measures are devised by pointy-headed intellectuals who probably vote Democratic. I can even more easily understand refusing to believe in evolution. But the failure of predicted inflation to materialize is happening in real time, right in front of our eyes; people who kept believing in inflation just around the corner lost a lot of money. Yet the denial remains total.

I guess it’s a matter of who you’re gonna believe — Ayn Rand or your own lying eyes.

Dead Man Walking: Live from the Roasterie XXVII: November 6, 2013

Let me turn the microphone over to Michael Stillman, M.D., and Monalisa Tailor, M.D., from the University of Louisville School of Medicine:

Dead Man Walking — NEJM: “Shocked” wouldn't be accurate, since we were accustomed to our uninsured patients' receiving inadequate medical care. “Saddened” wasn't right, either, only pecking at the edge of our response. And “disheartened” just smacked of victimhood. After hearing this story, we were neither shocked nor saddened nor disheartened. We were simply appalled.

Continue reading "Dead Man Walking: Live from the Roasterie XXVII: November 6, 2013" »

Marc Labonte: The FY2014 Government Shutdown: Economic Effects: Noted

Marc Labonte: The FY2014 Government Shutdown: Economic Effects:

The federal government experienced a funding gap beginning on October 1, 2013, which ended... on October 17, 2013.... This report discusses the effects of the FY2014 government shutdown... reviews third-party estimates... which predicted a reduction in gross domestic product (GDP) growth of at least 0.1 percentage points for each week of the shutdown, with a cumulative effect of up to 0.6 percentage points in the fourth quarter of 2013.... Where detail was provided, most forecasters did not factor in any multiplier or indirect effects of the shutdown. In that sense, the estimates reviewed can be thought of as a lower bound on the overall effects on economic activity.

Brian Buetler: How the media is blowing the Obamacare rollout: Noted

Brian Buetler: How the media is blowing the Obamacare rollout:

The Obamacare model effectively enlists for-profit insurers to fulfill the function of state-based single-payer systems. It pools risk in the individual market across states, but allows several carriers to compete for enrollees. For a system like this to work, though, the companies themselves need to operate like public utilities. The Affordable Care Act takes important steps in this direction, but doesn't eliminate all of the private insurance market's worst incentives. This automatic retention strategy is just one manifestation. Let this be a reminder to the Democrats on Capitol Hill and in the White House who killed the public option. It could've been designed as a default plan for cancelees...

Aristotle's Politics, Selections on the Economy: Wednesday Hoisted from Other People's Archives from 340 BC

Aristotle's Politics, selections:  

…that which can foresee by the exercise of mind is by nature intended to be lord and master, and that which can with its body give effect to such foresight is a subject, and by nature a slave; hence master and slave have the same interest. Now nature has distinguished between the female and the slave. For she is not niggardly, like the smith who fashions the Delphian knife for many uses; she makes each thing for a single use, and every instrument is best made when intended for one and not for many uses. But among barbarians no distinction is made between women and slaves, because there is no natural ruler among them: they are a community of slaves, male and female. Wherefore the poets say: "It is meet that Hellenes should rule over barbarians"; as if they thought that the barbarian and the slave were by nature one. Out of these two relationships between man and woman, master and slave, the first thing to arise is the family, and Hesiod is right when he says: "First house and wife and an ox for the plough"; for the ox is the poor man's slave....

Continue reading "Aristotle's Politics, Selections on the Economy: Wednesday Hoisted from Other People's Archives from 340 BC" »

Shorter Ken Cuccinelli: Virginia Voters Disliked Me so Much That Not Even Their Loathing for ObamaCare Could Put Me Over the Top


I must say, one of the most bizarre I-lost-but-my-cause-is-invincible! pieces of political spin I have ever heard...

Kudos to Virginians for making the right (or at least less-wrong) choice in their off-year election...

Josh Israel:

Why Most of the Current Partisan Discussion Is Silly: Remember: In Its Bones, ObamaCare Is Romneycare

As I understand it, back in 2009 Obama picked the road that leads to universal comprehensive health coverage that was as far right as possible--that paid as much attention and respect to Republican concerns (or, rather, to the expressed concerns of those Republicans who claimed to see universal comprehensive health coverage as a worthy goal). Thus the live questions should be:

  • Is universal comprehensive health coverage a worthwhile goal?
  • If not, what mechanism should pay for health care for the uninsured--or should they simply die in the gutter?
  • Should we move our universal comprehensive health coverage system more to the left--i.e., shrink the role of insurance companies in it?
  • How is that implementation going?

Continue reading "Why Most of the Current Partisan Discussion Is Silly: Remember: In Its Bones, ObamaCare Is Romneycare" »

Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for November 6, 2013


  1. Dahlia Lithwick: Landslide Terry: "But don’t let that distract from what really happened.... An official [Ken Cuccinelli] who consistently used his elected office to promote policies that shamed, marginalized, and patronized women and other minorities was met with a 'no'. This... was about voters and what they know to be true.... Virginians, especially women, showed that they simply don’t believe that the commonwealth of Virginia should be in the business of discriminating against homosexuals, legislating an extreme anti-sodomy agenda, shuttering Planned Parenthood clinics, pressing an invasive trans-vaginal ultrasound law, and supporting a draconian illegal immigration law.... Virginia women... know a whole lot about what they need to be protected from and when. And today they voted to “protect” themselves from Ken Cuccinelli."
  2. National Security Professional: Another Perspective on the NSA Leaks: "Either you change the law openly, publicly, or if that is impossible and you consider violating the law imperative, then you make a claim of 'exceptional illegality'... a tough case.... But the thing about the NSA revelations is that this isn’t exceptional illegality. It is routine, somehow justified by legal opinions written by John Yoo-style hacks. And worse, it is so routine that 29 y/o contractors have access to it."
  3. Jim Hansen et al.: More Nukes Now: "Renewables like wind and solar and biomass will certainly play roles in a future energy economy, but those energy sources cannot scale up fast enough to deliver cheap and reliable power at the scale the global economy requires. While it may be theoretically possible to stabilize the climate without nuclear power, in the real world there is no credible path to climate stabilization that does not include a substantial role for nuclear power..."
  4. Lisa Pollack: The siren call of Microsoft Excel: "Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet software... seemed to be the right tool for every job, every time, according to almost everyone.... Excel has enabled much.... However, the easy access it grants to significant computational power will continue to leave room for expensive errors.... 'Excel is a crutch for analysts who can’t write code'..."

Plus: Long:

Claudia Goldin: Anna Schwartz on Anna Schwartz | Janet Yellen (2009): A Minsky Moment: Lessons for Central Bankers | Scott Lemieux: A Very Bad, No-Good Week in the Circuit Courts |

Continue reading "Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for November 6, 2013" »

Paul Krugman: Europe's Inflation Problem: It's Too Low: Noted

Paul Krugman: Europe's Inflation Problem :

There are two reasons moderate inflation is actually a good thing for modern economies — one involving demand, one involving supply. On the demand side, inflation reduces the problem of the zero lower bound: nominal interest rates can’t go negative, but real rates can to the extent that modest inflation is embedded in expectations. On the supply side, inflation reduces the problem of downward nominal wage rigidity: people are very reluctant to demand or accept actual wage cuts, which becomes a serious constraint if the relative wages of large groups of workers “need” to fall.

Both problems are very much present in the United States, but they’re even worse in the euro area...

Tim F.: The "Moderate" Republicans' Dilemma

Tim F.: Bears Repeating:

Treating brown folks like humans pissed off the base plenty, but losing the presidency twice to a black guy has driven them to an incoherent frothing rage. Business cons do not love ego service and low taxes so much that they’ll strap on a suicide vest for it.... We have thus moved to the inevitable phase two, where local CoC’s piss away an election cycle or two on futile primaries against the worst offenders. The tea party already made up half of GOP primary voters before the shutdown. Having scared off a few more layers of moderate voter I am sure these milquetoasts will win handily lecturing the frothy horde to tuck their shirts in (or wear one) and eat the damn broccoli. Speaking of which, I bet that a long line of Wall Street friends begged Peter King to run for President and help bring the crazies to heel[:]

No one is about to put King in the top tier of GOP 2016 hopefuls.... His main motivation is unmistakable: pushing back against what he sees as a 'dangerous' strain of isolationism that’s gaining strength in the GOP. Trips to early states like New Hampshire make him not just a 'Republican congressman' in the media but also a 'potential 2016 candidate' — giving him a bigger megaphone to drive his message.

Settle down you wogs, and eat your damn broccoli. After all this time someone will finally test whether you can win a national election without any volunteers.

Sam Ro: Robert Shiller Explains How To Use CAPE: Noted

Robert Shiller Explains How To Use CAPE Business Insider

Sam Ro: Robert Shiller Explains How To Use CAPE:

Lately, every stock market watcher has been keeping a close eye on the Robert Shiller's cyclically-adjusted price-earnings (CAPE) ratio. CAPE is calculated by taking the S&P 500 and dividing it by the average of ten years worth of earnings. If the ratio is above the long-term average of around 16x, the stock market is considered expensive. Currently, the CAPE is at 24.42x, which has some people freaked out that the stock market is about to crash.... However, Shiller cautions against using CAPE to time crashes and make short-term trades. Rather, he stresses that CAPE is more useful in predicting longer-term returns...

Dave Reifschneider, William Wascher, and David Wilcox: Aggregate Supply in the United States: Recent Developments and Implications for the Conduct of Monetary Policy: Noted

Dave Reifschneider, William Wascher, and David Wilcox: Aggregate Supply in the United States: Recent Developments and Implications for the Conduct of Monetary Policy:

The recent financial crisis and ensuing recession appear to have put the productive capacity of the economy on a lower and shallower trajectory than the one that seemed to be in place prior to 2007. Using a version of an unobserved components model introduced by Fleischman and Roberts (2011), we estimate that potential GDP is currently about 7 percent below the trajectory it appeared to be on prior to 2007.

We also examine the recent performance of the labor market. While the available indicators are still inconclusive, some indicators suggest that hysteresis should be a more present concern now than it has been during previous periods of economic recovery in the United States. We go on to argue that a significant portion of the recent damage to the supply side of the economy plausibly was endogenous to the weakness in aggregate demand—contrary to the conventional view that policymakers must simply accommodate themselves to aggregate supply conditions.

Endogeneity of supply with respect to demand provides a strong motivation for a vigorous policy response to a weakening in aggregate demand, and we present optimal-control simulations showing how monetary policy might respond to such endogeneity in the absence of other considerations. We then discuss how other considerations— such as increased risks of financial instability or inflation instability—could cause policymakers to exercise restraint in their response to cyclical weakness.

Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for November 5, 2013


  1. "An entire section of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s 2013 book Government Bullies was copied wholesale from a 2003 case study by the Heritage Foundation... 1,318 words.... The new cut-and-paste job follows reports by BuzzFeed, Politico, and MSNBC that Paul had plagiarized speeches either from Wikipedia or news reports.... Paul included a link to the Heritage case study in the book’s footnotes, though he made no effort to indicate that not just the source, but the words themselves, had been taken from Heritage. A Paul aide defended the senator.... “In the book Government Bullies... in no case has the Senator used information without attribution,” said Doug Stafford, an advisor to Sen. Paul who co-wrote the book": Andrew Kaczynski: Three Pages Of Rand Paul's Book Were Plagiarized From Think Tanks
  2. "My son is a native of uncertain times. In the land of stop and frisk, history stalks him. But his president is black. And institutions that once defined themselves by his exclusion have thrown open their doors. But as the options for kids like my son have grown in unimaginable ways, the fortunes of black schools have declined. Howard, which nurtured civil rights warriors like Andrew Young, Thurgood Marshall and Charles Hamilton Houston, has played a special role in the work of integration. But an unspeakable conclusion has followed from that work--that the job of Howard University is to pave the way for its own obsolescence. That terrible tension was on vivid display last weekend at Howard": Ta-Nehisi Coates: Homecoming at Howard
  3. "There are three snippets from Marc Fisher and Laura Vozzella’s pre-post-mortem of the Ken Cuccinelli gubernatorial campaign.... 'Four years ago, McDonnell’s largest single donor other than Republican Party organizations was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which spent $973,000 on his campaign. This year, the chamber gave Cuccinelli nothing.'... 'Of the 43 donors who contributed $50,000 or more to McDonnell four years ago, 27 made no major gifts to Cuccinelli this year.... The 27 missing donors gave a total of $2.3 million in 2009.'... 'Mark Kington, an Alexandria venture capitalist who gave $83,000 to McDonnell in 2009, said he steered clear of Cuccinelli because “his position on climate change to me was a real non-starter, and I told him as much.”' Kington... donated $1.5 million with his wife to endow a professorship in climate change research. Cuccinelli... spent two years as attorney general investigating whether a U.Va. professor had manipulated data to show rising temperatures on Earth. The university fought back, and the Virginia Supreme Court ruled for the school....' Ken Cuccinelli couldn’t raise enough money to compete in this race. It’s true in Virginia. It’s true in Georgia. It’s true in California. It’s true basically everywhere. The world has changed almost overnight. Something different is coming": Martin Longman: As I Was Saying…
  4. "We are not, however, helpless. To keep up with the pathogens, we need to slow the rate of evolution of antimicrobial resistance through responsible use of antibiotics.... We also need to speed up the rate at which we develop new antibiotics.... In short, we urgently need policy action and we need science. But in the face of this problem, the US is cutting its scientific research budget": Bill Gardner: The antibiotic era is over. And we are cutting health research funding?

Plus: Long:

**Suzy Khimm:88 Austerity deals harsh blow to already stricken land |

Continue reading "Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for November 5, 2013" »

Jonathan Chait: Keystone Fight a Huge Environmentalist Mistake: Noted

Jonathan Chait: Keystone Fight a Huge Environmentalist Mistake:

What do we want? An extremely tiny reduction in Canadian fossil fuel emissions! When do we want it? Eventually!... Keystone is at best marginally relevant to the cause of stopping global warming. The whole crusade increasingly looks like a bizarre misallocation of political attention. My view, which I laid out in a long feature story last spring, is that the central environmental issue of Obama’s presidency is not Keystone at all but using the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate existing power plants. That’s a tool Obama has that can bring American greenhouse gas emissions in line with international standards, and thus open the door to lead an international climate treaty in 2015. The amount of carbon emissions at stake in the EPA fight dwarf the stakes of the Keystone decision.

Sebastian on Chris Bertram's... Rather Odd View of the World: Tuesday Hoisted from Other People's Comments from Four Years Ago


Consequentialism and communism: You call Western attention to individual rights ‘lip service’, but the record suggests that it was more than lip service. Western German citizens really did have more individual rights than East Germans. And my mention of ‘citizen’ is not particularly instructive. We can argue about how much nations ought to value non-citizens, but at the very minimum they ought to value their own citizens. Communist nations pretty much didn’t. I don’t see how you can dismiss that as: you’re clearly a prostitute now we’re just haggling over the price. The point of Halliday’s argument is that Communism doesn’t even try to restrain itself by what we see as traditional tensions between government and individual. And that ends up really being awful for individuals...

John Amato: Republican Voter ID Laws Disenfranchise Former Speaker Of The House Jim Wright: Noted

John Amato: Republican Voter ID Laws Disenfranchise Former Speaker Of The House Jim Wright:

Republicans who have been changing the voter ID laws to disenfranchise American voters have always responded by saying they just want to root out voter fraud. They haven't found any voter fraud, but that's beside the point.... Wright and his assistant, Norma Ritchson, went to the DPS office on Woodway Drive to get a State of Texas Election Identification Certificate. Wright said he realized earlier in the week that the photo identifications he had--a Texas driver’s license that expired in 2010 and a TCU faculty ID--do not satisfy requirements of the voter ID law, enacted in 2011 by the Legislature. DPS officials concurred.... Texas officials are saying all a person has to do if they have an issue is cast a provisional ballot and then get it verified within six days. Six-whole-days.

Tarrant County Elections Administrator Steve Raborn said Saturday that people who might find themselves in a similar situation should cast a provisional ballot and obtain identification needed to “cure” it within six days. That must be very easy to do if you're the elderly who have trouble getting around, the Poors or minorities? What could be the problem? I'm sure Republicans tested out their system thoroughly before launching it. All voter ID laws are un-American and a disgrace to the US constitution.

Michael Yarvitz: Rand Paul and the disappearing transcripts: Noted

**Michael Yarvitz:88 Senator Paul and the disappearing transcripts:

As examples of his plagiarizing... pile up, Rand Paul’s Senate office now appears to have started scrubbing his Senate website to make it harder to get the text of his speeches.... If you went to his website to watch his “State of the Union” response.... You could follow along with the transcript of the speech.... You can see the page says, “Below is a video and transcript of his speech.” That full transcript was still up as of October 14, according to Google’s cache of the page. Now it’s gone. “Below is a video  of his speech,” the page reads. So, yes, you could transcribe the video yourself if you want to search for whether the words he used came from someone else, but Rand Paul’s office won’t make it so easy for you anymore.

Carmen M. Reinhart and Takeshi Tashiro: Crowding Out Redefined: The Role of Reserve Accumulation: Noted

Carmen M. Reinhart and Takeshi Tashiro: Crowding Out Redefined: The Role of Reserve Accumulation

It is well understood that investment serves as a shock absorber at the time of crisis. The duration of the drag on investment, however, is perplexing. For the nine Asian economies we focus on in this study, average investment/GDP is about 6 percentage points lower during 1998-2012 than its average level in the decade before the crisis; if China and India are excluded, the estimated decline exceeds 9 percent. We document how in the wake of crisis home bias in finance usually increases markedly as public and private sectors look inward when external financing becomes prohibitively costly, altogether impossible, or just plain undesirable from a financial stability perspective. Also, previous studies have not made a connection between the sustained reserve accumulation and the persistent and significantly lower levels of investment in the region. Put differently, reserve accumulation involves an official institution (i.e., the central bank) funneling domestic saving abroad and thus competing with domestic borrowers in the market for loanable funds. We suggest a broader definition of crowding out, driven importantly by increased home bias in finance and by official capital outflows. We present evidence from Asia to support this interpretation.

You Got Me Feelin Hella Good So I'm Gonna Keep on Dancing: Alan Blinder: "After the Music Stopped": Tuesday Book Reviews Extended Version Weblogging

Screenshot 5 4 13 7 19 AM

Alan Blinder is the latest economist out of the gate with an analytical account of the recent economic downturn. His 2013 After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead (New York: Penguin) is, I think, the best of accounts--at least the best for those without the substantial background and experience in finance needed to successfully crack the works of Gary Gorton. It is the best for four reasons:

Continue reading "You Got Me Feelin Hella Good So I'm Gonna Keep on Dancing: Alan Blinder: "After the Music Stopped": Tuesday Book Reviews Extended Version Weblogging" »

Adolf Hitler Liveblogs World War II: November 5, 1943

Adolf Hitler:

Führer-Directive 51: For the last two and one-half years the bitter and costly struggle against Bolshevism has made the utmost demands upon the bulk of our military resources and energies. This commitment was in keeping with the seriousness of the danger, and the over-all situation. The situation has since changed. The threat from the East remains, but an even greater danger looms in the West: the Anglo-American landing! In the East, the vastness of the space will, as a last resort, permit a loss of territory even on a major scale, without suffering a mortal blow to Germany's chance for survival. Not so in the West! If the enemy here succeeds in penetrating our defenses on a wide front, consequences of staggering proportions will follow within a short time. All signs point to an offensive against the Western Front of Europe no later than spring, and perhaps earlier.

Continue reading "Adolf Hitler Liveblogs World War II: November 5, 1943" »

Why Does Kansas Elect Weathervanes as Politicians?: The View from the Roasterie XXV: November 4, 2013

Kansas Senator Pat Roberts on Janet Yellen in August:

[Janet Yellen] is very solid in how she approaches fiscal matters, the economy and the Fed, but you need a very strong leader and I'm not sure she has that capability.

And October:

I am opposed to the President’s nomination of Janet Yellen to Chair the Federal Reserve Board of Governors…. Vice Chair Yellen will continue the destructive and inflationary policy of pouring billions of newly printed money every month into our economy, and artificially holding interest rates to near zero. This policy has been in place far too long.`

Continue reading "Why Does Kansas Elect Weathervanes as Politicians?: The View from the Roasterie XXV: November 4, 2013" »

Liveblogging World War II: November 4, 2013

World War II: Raids on Rabaul in November 1943:

On November 1, 1943, U.S. Marines landed in Empress Augusta Bay on the island of Bougainville, bringing American forces to the upper region of the Solomons. The Japanese reacted by sending a force of cruisers and destroyers to annihilate the beachhead, but it was intercepted by an American cruiser-destroyer force on the early morning of November 2 and repulsed with the loss of the light cruiser Sendai and the destroyer Hatsukaze.

Later that day, 78 Fifth Air Force planes–North American B-25s of the 3rd, 38th and 345th bombardment groups, escorted by Lockheed P-38s from the 39th and 80th fighter squadrons and the 475th Fighter Group–attacked Rabaul and were intercepted by 112 Zeros. Rabaul's air defenses, under the overall command of Rear Adm. Jinichi Kusaka, included three carrier groups that had been dispatched there just the day before, while their ships underwent refit in Japan. The caliber of the pilots was reflected in their performance. Warrant Officer Kazuo Sugino from the carrier Zuikaku's air group was credited with shooting down three enemy planes. Shokaku's carrier group included Warrant Officer Kenji Okabe, famed for scoring seven victories in one day during the Battle of the Coral Sea, but its star in the November 2 air battle was Petty Officer 1st Class (PO1C) Takeo Tanimizu, who scored his first of an eventual 32 victories by downing two P-38s. From light carrier Zuiho, Ensign Yoshio Fukui downed a B-25 but was then himself shot down, possibly by Captain Marion Kirby of the 475th Group's 431st Squadron. Fukui survived with a burned right foot and insisted on returning to action. The loss of nine B-25s and nine P-38s earned the November 2 raid a place in Fifth Air Force annals as 'Bloody Tuesday,' but the Japanese recorded 18 Zeros destroyed or damaged in addition to bomb damage to Rabaul's ground installations.

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: November 4, 2013" »

Noted for Your Morning Proctastination for November 4, 2013


  1. "Horse racing faces a strange demographic paradox. In a sport tied up with fashion, alcohol, tobacco, and gambling—pursuits that scream out for youth—the young are hard to come by, and the die-hard fans are, literally, dying. Racing people are pondering this problem and contriving various proposed solutions, and this is how I found myself in Miami behind a tiny formica dining table, hemmed in by an infectiously positive blonde and a fashion model in a horse mask, on thoroughbred racing's version of the Madden Cruiser": Jeb Lund: Can Dirtbags, Pretty Ladies, And Twitter Save Horse Racing?
  2. "As was said of the Sokal hoax, there is simply no way to do justice to the cringe-inducing nature of this text without quoting it in its entirety. But, in a nutshell, Basic Structures of Reality is an impressively inept contribution to philosophy of physics, and one exemplifying everything that can possibly go wrong with metaphysics: it is mind-numbingly repetitive, toe-curlingly pretentious, and amateurish in the extreme regarding the incorporation of physical fact. With work this grim, the only interesting questions one can raise concern not the content directly but the conditions that made it possible; and in this connection, one might be tempted to present the book as further evidence of the lack of engagement of metaphysicians with real science — something that has lately been subject to lively discussion (and I myself have slung some of the mud). But I would insist that to use this work to make a general point about the discipline would in fact be entirely unfair. For one thing, while contemporary metaphysicians are often tokenistic in their treatments, I think most would appreciate that looking at the pictures in a book is of limited value qua research into unobservable entities, even if it is the auspicious ‘1700-page textbook University Physics’ (p. 129) that informs McGinn’s critique. Furthermore, McGinn has scant interest in getting to grips not only with the relevant science, but also the work of fellow philosophers wrestling with questions similar to those he himself is concerned with": Kerry McKenzie: Basic Structures of Reality: Essays in Meta-Physics, by Colin McGinn
  3. "Virtually all the new academic publishing I’ve done in these six years began as a couple of posts on Understanding Society. You might say I’ve become an “open-source” philosopher--as I get new ideas about a topic I develop them through the blog. This means that readers can observe ideas in motion. A good example is the efforts I’ve made in the past year to clarify my thinking about microfoundations and meso-level causation. Another example is the topic of 'character', which I started thinking about after receiving an invitation to contribute to a volume on character and morality; through a handful of posts I arrived at a few new ideas I felt I could offer on the topic.  This 'design and build' strategy means that there is the possibility of a degree of inconsistency over time, as earlier formulations are challenged by newer versions of the idea. But I think it makes the process of writing a more dynamic one, with lots of room for self-correction and feedback from others": Daniel Little: Blogs as Catalysts
  4. "I must admit that I don’t find this at all surprising: 'Caitlin C. Rosenthal didn’t intend to write a book about slavery. She set out to tackle something much more mundane: the history of business practices. But when she started researching account books from the mid-1800s, a period of major economic development during the rise of industrialization in the United States, Rosenthal stumbled across an unexpected source of innovation. Rosenthal, a Harvard-Newcomen Fellow in business history at Harvard Business School, found that southern plantation owners kept complex and meticulous records, measuring the productivity of their slaves and carefully monitoring their profits—often using even more sophisticated methods than manufacturers in the North. Several of the slave owners’ practices, such as incentivizing workers (in this case, to get them to pick more cotton) and depreciating their worth through the years, are widely used in business management today.' Though it appears this is all news to historians of business, historians of slavery have been pointing this out more or less since the 1970s. In an oft-cited 1973 article in the Journal of Economic History, R. Keith Aufhauser pointed out that the task system... enabled plantation overseers to calibrate particular jobs to the capabilities of particular slaves.... Historians since the 1970s pretty well demolished Eugene Genovese’s assertion slavery was a feudal anomaly within an emerging bourgeois capitalist economy, and I can’t think of any recent work on slavery that hasn’t emphasized slavery’s ruthless capitalist aspects. Then again, classic business histories like Alfred Chandler’s Visible Hand and Daniel Wren’s Evolution of Management Thought had utterly nothing to say about the genealogical relationship between slavery and scientific management": Dave Noon: Treason in Defense of Scientific Management

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