Governor Beshear: 413,000 sign up for health care in Kentucky: Live from The Roasterie CXLIII: April 29, 2014
Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for April 29, 2014

Things to Read on the Morning of April 29, 2014


  1. Eric Monnet: A Monetarist History of the Fed: "The monetarist prism through which [Allan] Meltzer sees the history of monetary policy is also the cause of certain errors and oversights.... The history of ideas and... political relations... supplants administrative history.... His analyses of decision-making and administrative processes are nowhere near as extensive as his history of monetary theory. For instance, he never mentions the number of people employed by the Fed; little detail is offered about the operation of the twelve regional federal banks; and there is no discussion of the relation between these banks and regional economies. The... primacy accorded to the monetary prism... prevent[s] the author from considering Fed decisions in any framework other than one of simple... price stability.... It is hard to deny that in a democracy the representatives of the people are entitled to make the law, which cannot be set aside in the name of economic efficiency defined in a highly theoretical manner. This of course raises the question of the political legitimacy of Fed policy, which Meltzer dismisses with the assertion that the Fed must be credibly committed to price stability.... In the end, it is difficult to overlook a certain gap between the history that Meltzer recounts and the conclusions he draws.... Even if the decisions of the Fed draw on a framework of economic theory, that framework cannot fully determine the outcome because it is never comprehensive enough to yield unambiguous solutions to problems as they arise in real time.... Despite this cognitive complexity, Meltzer simply reiterates his belief in the need for price stability as a long-term goal, along with a credible rule for anchoring expectations, and he regards any deviation from such a rule as a failure of monetary policy.... His interpretation... does not really do justice to the complexity of the phenomena.... He shares... the old monetarist dream of an 'automatic monetary policy'.... Despite Meltzer’s own position on the issue, his absorbing history of more than seventy years of Fed activity will convince many readers that such a rule is absolutely impossible to define..."

  2. Duncan Black: Whatever Pisses Off Liberals: "The reverse isn't true. I really don't see liberals supporting or opposing things because they imagine it'll piss off conservatives.... 'Increased MPG standards will sure piss off Limbaugh! Let's vote for that!' It's somewhat unrelated, but I'm reminded of when the Last Honest Man In Washington, Joe Lieberman, briefly floated Medicare buy-in at 55 as a kind of compromise for the public option in the ACA. I pleaded with everyone I knew to STFU about it, because of course liberals would have taken that deal. I knew that the instant the greatest man who ever lived got wind of the fact that liberals would actually love that deal he'd back off supporting it, because liberals. And he did..."

Should Be Aware of:

  1. Arthur Goldhammer: Poulos Gets Piketty—and Tocqueville—Wrong: "Other commentators have preferred to ride their own personal hobby horses rather than engage with the challenge of Piketty.... When I read [James] Poulos’s... I was startled to come upon.... 'Even an undergraduate level of engagement with Democracy in America would reveal, in virtually every chapter, that Piketty is not only wrong but glibly and perilously so.'... I am the translator not only of Piketty but also of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. Somehow it had escaped my notice that Tocqueville refuted Piketty, even though I think it is safe to say that my engagement with Tocqueville is a bit beyond the undergraduate level. In addition to translating his book about America, I have also translated The Ancien Régime and the Revolution as well as a hefty volume of letters, diaries, and other material from Tocqueville’s travels in the United States. Next year I will translate his Souvenirs.... So what did Poulos see that I didn’t? Actually, it’s difficult to say. His column is such a mishmash of assertion and non-sequitur that it’s hard to fasten on an argument..."

  2. Patrick Nielsen Hayden: On the science-fiction world's topic du jour: "To reiterate.... I read and enjoy all kinds of stuff by people whose politics differ from mine. I'm the editor on David Weber's Safehold books, for cry eye, and I enjoy the crap out of them. I grew up reading Robert A. Heinlein and Poul Anderson right alongside my Samuel R. Delany and Joanna Russ, and I'll argue with anyone who wants to dismiss the value of Heinlein and Anderson. But this whole whinge... about how Political Correctness Is Ruining SF--because a bunch of people are grossed out by an out-and-out white supremacist, or because another (overlapping but not identical) bunch of people are no longer willing to put up with the old double standard of how women get treated at SF's social gatherings--is a load of whiny crap. The people putting it forth seem to like stories about tough, self-reliant dudes, but in the way they react to even the mildest challenge to their assumptions, they're a bunch of sniffling crybabies, wailing away about how some vast conspiracy of 'liberals' or 'social-justice warriors' is Keeping Them Down, Man. I want to ask them, didn't you read Heinlein? Is this sort of endless self-pity the way you think a Heinlein protagonist (or a Heinlein Wise Old Man) would deal with challenge and social change? Really?..."


Already-Noted Must-Reads:

  1. Michael Bird: A revue of reviews - everything you could ever want to read about Piketty's Capital: "You may not have read French Economist Thomas Piketty's near-700 page long Capital in the Twenty-First Century, but there's no need to worry - neither have some of the people who've reviewed it. Below are some of the biggest reviews.... If I've missed one or several that you think should be included, please leave a comment..."

  2. Kathy Geier: What Piketty’s Conservative Critics Get WrongThe Baffler: "A conservative backlash to Piketty was inevitable, the only surprise is that it’s taken so long to develop.... Send in the clowns! Reihan Salam... doesn’t appear to have read a word of the book, but took it upon himself to write about it anyway...cribbing from one of the few less-than-glowing reviews of Piketty on the left, by economist Dean Baker, Salam decides he didn’t like the book because of its 'pessimism.' But he disagrees with Baker’s ideas about policies to fix inequality.... Earlier this week, the economist Branko Milanovic tweeted, “And the award for the stupidest review of Piketty’s book so far goes to... (no surprise there) @WSJ”... Daniel Shuchman..."

  3. Tim Noah: The Dead Are Wealthier Than the Living: Capital in the 21st Century: "Patrimonial capitalism—and the landed or urban gentry living off of inherited wealth ...was dealt a mortal blow by the Great Depression and World Wars. But it’s making a comeback, and the only way to stop it might be a worldwide tax on capital.... To belong to the landed or urban gentry of the 18th and 19th centuries—that is, to possess “books or musical instruments or jewelry or ball gowns”—you needed at least 20 to 30 times the income of the average person, and the most lucrative professions paid only half that. You needed capital, typically in the form of land. And you needed a lot of it.... Consequently, 'society' (i.e., the rich) consisted almost entirely of rentiers living off inherited wealth.... Like most public-policy books, Capital is more satisfying in its diagnoses than in its prescriptions.... It’s always dangerous to project current trends into the future, but here’s one extrapolation I’ll subscribe to: predictions about the future will usually prove wrong.... We lack sufficient data to determine how, or whether, capital accumulation goes haywire in the coming years..."

  4. Ezra Klein: The Republican replacement for Obamacare is Fauxbamacare: "Scott Brown... called Obamacare a 'disaster'. Then he was asked what he's for  — and he went on to describe Obamacare. 'I've always felt that people should either get some type of health care options, or pay for it with a nice competitive fee. That's all great. I believe it in my heart. In terms of preexisting conditions, catastrophic coverages, covering kids, whatever we want to do... [it could] include the Medicaid expansion [for] folks who need that care and coverage...' Oh, he also promises his plan won't raise taxes, cut spending on Medicare, or make people drive very far to go to the hospital. So his plan will have more generous insurance options and no way to pay for them. In other words, his plan will be like Obamacare, but even better! Call it Fauxbamacare.... The polls around Obamacare... [suggest] a huge opening for an unprincipled opponent — someone who opposes 'Obamacare', but supports virtually all of the policies in Obamacare. Someone who supports Fauxbamacare..."