blueollie

30 August 09 (am)

Politics
Yeah, there are always people who either talk about leaving the country .

Yes, this was at Daily Kos. Some of us took exception.

Then there are those who want to “secede” .

Here is what I have to say: I love my country; there are times when I am very disappointed in it (November 2004 comes to mind) and, well, our country has lots of morons living in it (example). But I am going to stay and try to change what I think needs changing. To those who think that things will be better elsewhere: what will you do when things get tough in your new home?

So, to the quitters and the secessionists: don’t let the door hit you on the butt on the way out. We’re better off without you.

Education Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub points us to an interesting post on teaching:

When I spent a high school year abroad in Japan in 1986, I found myself to be nothing but a minor leaguer trying to play in the big leagues when it came to math and science — a real blow to my pride since I’d always been a first-team all-star back home in the United States. On the other hand, not a single teacher in that highly competitive school left any impression on me in terms of his or her teaching skills.

I was equally underwhelmed last summer when I was among 50 teachers from around the world who were invited to Japan to visit Japanese schools and learn about their educational system. The shocking truth is, on the basis of pure teaching talent, American teachers are superior to those in Japan. Whereas Japanese teachers are by and large more knowledgeable and stronger generalists than American teachers, they do not possess key qualities that are essential for succeeding in the American classroom such as creativity, resourcefulness and compassion.

Japanese teachers primarily deliver instruction with comparatively little interaction with the students themselves. American teachers not only deliver instruction, but must also differentiate their instruction, which is to say they must successfully contend with a far more diverse array of needs, skills and backgrounds. The point is, though Japanese schools are often assumed to be superior to American schools, if we could wave a magic wand and teleport Japanese teachers into American schools, you would see no improvement whatsoever in student outcomes. For better and worse, both the American and Japanese models of education produce results according to what their respective citizenries value.

You are correct…to a point. The problem is that we have some teachers that are just plain incompetent (e. g., teaching that the way to add fractions is to add numerators and denominators).
But once you have teachers that actually know the material that they are supposed to be teaching, well, the dirty secret that, on the whole, we really don’t make much of a difference. The smart students learn and the dumb ones don’t.

We do make a difference with perhaps 1-2 students out of every 30 or so.

What we are up against The sad fact that many of the parents are morons:

A band at Smith-Cotton High School in Sedalia, Missouri had the cute idea of wearing tee shirts showing a sequence of human evolution that culminated in a trumpet player. We’re all familiar with these ape-to-human diagrams; Steve Gould even wrote an article about them. They’re somewhat misleading, implying as they do that evolution is progressive […]

some irate parents forced the band to abandon its shirts,

[Assistant Superintendant] Pollitt said the district is required by law to remain neutral where religion is concerned.

“If the shirts had said ‘Brass Resurrections’ and had a picture of Jesus on the cross, we would have done the same thing,” he said.

Band parent Sherry Melby, who is a teacher in the district, stands behind Pollitt’s decision. Melby said she associated the image on the T-shirt with Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

“I was disappointed with the image on the shirt.” Melby said. “I don’t think evolution should be associated with our school.

I really try not to hate such people….

Science Do you want to see a single molecule?

On a sad note: the Wyoming toad is in danger due to a fungus.
toad

August 30, 2009 Posted by | education, frogs, mathematics, nature, politics, politics/social, ranting, science | 1 Comment

50’th Birthday Run

I turned 50 today. So to celebrate my new age group I went to the Woodruff HS. track and attempted a 5K (after 2 miles of warm up).

It was very cool but somewhat windy. How it went: 7:36, 7:41 (15:17) but I was really starting to hurt; in fact I couldn’t finish the 9’th lap and had to walk. I manage to recover and get going again but by then I had lost too much time; mile 3 came at 24:07 (8:50 3’rd mile) and I finished in 25:04.

I cooled down a bit.

What was more unusual was that there was a large flock of geese around the track; I imagined them to be a cheering section. 🙂

I looked at my old journals and it turns out that I was almost always 30-60 seconds on a solo time trial than I was in a race, even 10-11 years ago. That was the case here. I suppose that is why I like races; I use others to pull me along, and I suppose that I do the same for them.

August 30, 2009 Posted by | running, time trial/ race, training | 2 Comments

Why Talking To Conservatives is Difficult

I’ve been thinking about this topic for a long time; part of what got me started was seeing Senator Orrin Hatch speak at Senator Ted Kennedy’s Memorial Service. Clearly, these two men were ideological opponents, but equally clearly is that they really seemed to like each other.

Then a “facebook friend” posted this on youtube:

And yeah, my reaction was very negative; the words “stupid”, “ignorant”, “caveman” and even “retard” went off in my head.

It is no secret that I simply do not like the non-intellectual conservatives (yes, I like David Frumm, David Brooks, Fareed Zakaria and Kathleen Parker, and yes, I like Orrin Hatch and John McCain too, but these people are well above average in intelligence).

I note that conservative psychosis is nothing new:

Beyond that, Republicans have become embarrassing to watch. And it doesn’t feel right to make fun of crazy people. Better, perhaps, to focus on the real policy debates, which are all among Democrats.

But here’s the thing: the G.O.P. looked as crazy 10 or 15 years ago as it does now. That didn’t stop Republicans from taking control of both Congress and the White House. And they could return to power if the Democrats stumble. So it behooves us to look closely at the state of what is, after all, one of our nation’s two great political parties.

One way to get a good sense of the current state of the G.O.P., and also to see how little has really changed, is to look at the “tea parties” that have been held in a number of places already, and will be held across the country on Wednesday. These parties — antitaxation demonstrations that are supposed to evoke the memory of the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution — have been the subject of considerable mockery, and rightly so.

But everything that critics mock about these parties has long been standard practice within the Republican Party.

Thus, President Obama is being called a “socialist” who seeks to destroy capitalism. Why? Because he wants to raise the tax rate on the highest-income Americans back to, um, about 10 percentage points less than it was for most of the Reagan administration. Bizarre.

So I wondered: what good are these people? It is all but impossible to negotiate with them.

Wouldn’t we be better off without them?

Well, not so fast.
I was reminded of this:

Arthur Brooks, the author of “Who Really Cares,” says that “when you look at the data, it turns out the conservatives give about 30 percent more.” He adds, “And incidentally, conservative-headed families make slightly less money.”

And he says the differences in giving goes beyond money, pointing out that conservatives are 18 percent more likely to donate blood. He says this difference is not about politics, but about the different way conservatives and liberals view government.

“You find that people who believe it’s the government’s job to make incomes more equal, are far less likely to give their money away,” Brooks says. In fact, people who disagree with the statement, “The government has a basic responsibility to take care of the people who can’t take care of themselves,” are 27 percent more likely to give to charity.

Now yes, I know that there are some quibbles with the data; for example 60,000 dollars a year might be a good income in some rural areas and, well, not so good in high expense areas such as New York City. Hence any data on charity on a “by income” basis should also factor in “cost of living“.

But conservatives ARE better than us at some things.

Business people tend to be conservative as are military people.

You often see them taking time to coach Little League, volunteering (e. g., my wife’s Rotary Club is heavily conservative) or leading scouting troops.

They put together running races, ultras and swim meets.

In academia, when someone tries to hold academic standards (saying “passing this class means that you have mastered certain areas or developed certain skills) the conservatives are the ones that have your back.

So what gives? This video (19 minutes long) by Jonathan Haidt seems to make some sense of it:

In short:
1. Moving away from established rules too quickly can be bad.
2. Enforcers have their place.

The down side:
well, let’s face it, conservatives were against many of the things that are now taken for granted, such as civil rights. Let’s remind ourselves of what Bill Buckley said so long ago, as recalled by a commenter:

We should probably not praise Buckley too fulsomely before remembering some of the charming things he said in National Review back in the late 50s. Like this editorial from August 24, 1957, titled “Why the South Must Prevail.”

The central question that emerges . . . is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not prevail numerically? The sobering answer is Yes — the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists

The wingnut bloggers never cease to point out that, some 13 years before Buckley’s editorial, Sen. Robert Byrd was in the Klan. There is, however, one significant difference. Byrd renounced his Klan membership; Buckley never renounced the racist crap he wrote.

Conservatives were often on the wrong side of many necessary social changes and some of their expressed fears about, say, the passage of Medicare just didn’t happen (6 minutes into the video):

This is how it appears to me It appears to me that conservatives tend to judge the potential worth of a program of how closely it adheres to an accepted, established ideology. For example, if you look at, say, sex education programs, you can show a social conservative reams of data that show that “abstinence only” don’t work (in terms of preventing pregnancy) and yet, because that philosophy is in line with their morals, they stick with it.

What about a government program? If “free market” is the way that they see it; it is an axiom for them, regardless of outcome. Religious conservatives are especially bad about this:

I know, you can’t use reason to talk someone out of a position they didn’t use reason to arrive at, anyway. But this result at least tells us the depth of the problem.

When asked what they would do if scientists were to disprove a particular religious belief, nearly two-thirds (64%) of people say they would continue to hold to what their religion teaches rather than accept the contrary scientific finding, according to the results of an October 2006 Time magazine poll.

I’ve talked to a lot of people who think that way, and the really mind-boggling part of this is that they consider this attitude to be a virtue. That’s where early education in critical thinking is important: children shouldn’t grow up believing that stubbornly clinging to an idea despite all the evidence against it makes them look heroic. It makes them look stupid.

Liberals tend to look more at outcomes (“does it work”?). Perhaps that is why scientists tend to be liberal?

A new study by the Pew Research Center finds that the GOP is alienating scientists to a startling degree.

Only six percent of America’s scientists identify themselves as Republicans; fifty-five percent call themselves Democrats. By comparison, 23 percent of the overall public considers itself Republican, while 35 percent say they’re Democrats.

The ideological discrepancies were similar. Nine percent of scientists said they were “conservative” while 52 percent described themselves as “liberal,” and 14 percent “very liberal.” The corresponding figures for the general public were 37, 20 and 5 percent.

Among the general public, moderates and independents ranked higher than any party or ideology. But among scientists, there were considerably more Democrats (55%) than independents (32%) and Republicans (6%) put together. There were also more liberals (52%) than moderates (35%) and conservatives (9%) combined.

“These results were not a complete surprise,” said Scott Keeter, Director of Survey Research at Pew, in an interview with the Huffington Post. He said they can be mostly attributed to “the difference between Democratic and Republican parties with respect to issues.”

The wide ideological and partisan gap among scientists may have been exacerbated by the Bush administration, which often disputed broad scientific consensus on topics such as evolution and climate change.

In short, there is some truth that liberals look at “outcome” whereas conservatives look at “fair opportunity”.

On one hand, conservatives might miss a non-level playing field; after all it is all so easy to see one’s own success as being deserved and to ignore that others might not have had the same opportunities.

On the other hand, it is not good to water down the definition of success so as to attempt to make outcomes equal across every “group”.

There is truth here:

Oh, Kay. Greg Mankiw looks at a graph showing that children of high-income families do better on tests, and suggests that it’s largely about inherited talent: smart people make lots of money, and also have smart kids.

But, you know, there’s lots of evidence that there’s more to it than that. For example: students with low test scores from high-income families are slightly more likely to finish college than students with high test scores from low-income families.

It’s comforting to think that we live in a meritocracy. But we don’t.

There is truth here as well:

In general, the GOP is the party of liberty; the Democrats are, more or less, the party of equality. Freedom is our alpha value, fairness is theirs. It is the conservative movement’s deep commitment to human freedom and the conditions that preserve it that animates and binds Republicans. Thus, we wholeheartedly endorse the idea of equality of opportunity as strongly as we oppose forced equality of outcome.

So what to do?

Personally, I just avoid political discussion outside of the internet except among certain carefully selected friends. Even on the internet, I tend to hand out in certain “friendly” places and am somewhat selective on facebook, though I do get noisy on my wall at times.

August 29, 2009 Posted by | 2008 Election, Barack Obama, morons, politics, politics/social, ranting, religion, republicans | 2 Comments

I’ve Changed my Mind about Something

For the longest time, I thought that ignorant people were happy people.

Evidently not. 🙂

(psst: veteran’s disability is a socialist program)

August 29, 2009 Posted by | health care, morons, politics, politics/social, republicans | Leave a comment

29 August 2009 (am)

Workout notes 6 mile walk on the East Peoria trail; cool, dry day. 13:30 first mile, then 2-1. 39 minutes at the turn-around, 32:31 back for 1:12:31 total. Yeah, I went after a slow runner and got him; walkers are that way sometimes. I had some mild pain in the left “behind the knee” area during the faster segment.

Health care

Here is part of liberal angst on the subject:

During the primaries, you inspired me early. I called, on my dime, on my phone, on my time, over 30 states to speak to Primary Voters for you. The number on MyBO never fell below 10.

I set and met my fundraising goal for you. I hosted a fundraising dinner for you, in my home, with my money. We made calls to locate out of state volunteers to travel to where they were needed. I spoke with a professor who, while on the phone with me, arranged for a bus to transport a load of student volunteers for you. […]

Mr. President, please, I am dying to be inspired on this issue. I am a volunteer-aholic. I want to help. But I have to have a clear picture of what I’m fighting for.

I WILL NOT fight for a reform that ends up being a co-op.

I WILL NOT spend time away from my kids for a watered-down ‘bi-partisan’ healthcare bill in the hopes that sometime in the future we can add on a public option.

I WILL NOT spend gas money, cash for long distance calls, take time off of work for you if you will not CLEARLY OUTLINE what you want me to fight for.

So please, Mr. President, in honor of Teddy, can we please have a come to Jesus meeting on this thing. You, Pelosi (leave Hoyer at home) and Reid. Tell us what the minimum you will accept is. Outline clearly what you will not accept; what you will not sign, what it MUST contain. Have a joint Press conference and for crying out loud show the country what the party is made of on this issue .. SHOW US THE WAY.

Many of us fear that we will be sold out to the interests of big business. Ok, we will be sold out, but to what degree?
I can appreciate some of President Obama’s problems too: he doesn’t want to tie the hands of Congress and he doesn’t want to tip his hand as to how “low he will go”.

So, I do some things (visited my Representative, gave money for ads) but doing this required some “trust” on my part. And yes, I’ve hedged my bets by working with MoveOn as I know where they stand.

Republican lies about health care

WASHINGTON — The national Republican Party has mailed a fundraising appeal suggesting Democrats might use an overhaul of the health care system to deny medical treatment to Republicans.

A questionnaire accompanying the appeal says the government could check voting registration records, “prompting fears that GOP voters might be discriminated against for medical treatment in a Democrat-imposed health care rationing system.”

It asks, “Does this possibility concern you?”

Katie Wright, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said the question was “inartfully worded.”

But she said people should worry because government officials would have access to personal financial and medical data.

“The RNC doesn’t try to scare people,” said Wright. “We’re just trying to get the facts out on health care. And that’s what we do every day.”

Jon Vogel, executive director of the Democratic House campaign organization, called the GOP letter “shameless fear-mongering.”

In a fundraising e-mail of his own seeking to raise $100,000 by Aug. 31, Vogel wrote the Republican accusation was “just a preview of the falsehoods, fabrications and outright lies Republicans will be pushing when Congress returns in September.”

The allegation is the latest instance in which some critics of the health care effort have made inflammatory unfounded claims — such as conservatives who claimed the legislation would create “death panels” that they said could lead to euthanizing elderly people.

Of course, the Republicans are good at sending hate mail. But let’s face it: those sending hate mail to Krugman are in way over their heads. They can’t argue on the facts and so they resort to all they have left: childish name calling. I see such people as being mentally ill.

August 29, 2009 Posted by | Barack Obama, Democrats, health care, obama, politics, politics/social, racewalking, republicans, Spineless Democrats, training, walking | Leave a comment

Falsely Blamed for Butt Grabbing

These two videos reminded me of an incident back in 1999.

I was at a small, winter 5K to volunteer for the finish line. It was cold outside so most of us were waiting indoors. I was sitting down on a bench and someone with a dog was sitting next to me.

As luck would have it a female runner in shiny green spandex tights stood in front of me and then bended over to stretch (wide legged forward bend). Well the dog moved up and put its cold nose….well, use your imagination.

The woman turned around and gave me a very stern glare…fortunately those around me told her that it was the dog and not me. 🙂

August 29, 2009 Posted by | humor, running | Leave a comment

28 August 09 (pm)

Beware of people bearing gifts, if they are laptops. Why? How about software that might steal data?

Do we live in a meritocracy? Sort of...

For example: students with low test scores from high-income families are slightly more likely to finish college than students with high test scores from low-income families.

Science

Hubble Deep Field…via Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:

So, will this video cause an concern on the Texas School board, as Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub suggests?
Probably not:

I know, you can’t use reason to talk someone out of a position they didn’t use reason to arrive at, anyway. But this result at least tells us the depth of the problem.

When asked what they would do if scientists were to disprove a particular religious belief, nearly two-thirds (64%) of people say they would continue to hold to what their religion teaches rather than accept the contrary scientific finding, according to the results of an October 2006 Time magazine poll.

I’ve talked to a lot of people who think that way, and the really mind-boggling part of this is that they consider this attitude to be a virtue.

That is why so many very religious people are conservative: conservatives tend to see the adherence to an ideology as a good thing in and of itself; liberals tend to be a bit more outcome based.

Of course, some conservatives love to play the oppressed victim, even when this oppression is imaginary.

Health Care

Conservatives at a town hall: person said that he doesn’t want to “give up his social security” for “socialism”. 🙂

If you think that liberals are all with President Obama: think again:

It is the same with health industry reform. Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone argues persuasively that Obama was, from the beginning, in the tank with the health insurance/drug/physician/hospital industries and was never serious about making the kinds of far-ranging changes that would improve health care, if those measures went against the interests of those industries. Jonathan Cohn already had pointed out that Obama cut a deal with the drug industry not to seek lower prices. But he did want to create an image of himself as a serious reformer and use fixing the health care system, which is obviously broken, as a vote getter. So he played his Kabuki role.

Obama started out on the campaign trail talking about the virtues of the single-payer system and then falsely asserting, without any argument, that because the employer-based system was already in place, single payer cannot be implemented now in the US, despite evidence to the contrary. This enables him to rule out, right at the beginning, single payer systems as one among the mix of options to be discussed in his health care reform panels.

Then later he says that what is most important to him is not getting good health care reform passed but that it must be bipartisan. Why on earth should bipartisan acceptance be more important than good policy? [….]

Then Obama starts signaling that he is willing to abandon even the limited public option. All this is to lead up to the final scene of the Kabuki theater in which he finally agrees to a system that the health industry would love, such as mandating that everyone buy insurance from the private, profit-seeking health insurance industry with the government paying the premiums of those who can’t afford it, while the insurance companies are given the freedom to continue the treatment-denying policies that is at the heart of their business model.

Harsh, but I don’t agree with it. We’ll see who is right.

August 29, 2009 Posted by | 2008 Election, Barack Obama, creationism, economy, health care, nature, obama, politics, politics/social, religion, republicans, science, superstition | Leave a comment

Glenn Beck Fail…

Now will his followers even catch the mistake? 🙂

August 28, 2009 Posted by | morons, political humor, politics, politics/social, republicans | 4 Comments

28 August 09 (am)

Workout notes Swimming only today; I’ve developed this ache in my right calf (outside, up near the knee) that comes on at night and clears up almost as soon as I wake up. I’d like to do a couple of easy weeks so I can take part in that clinic on September 12-13.

Update 500 in 9:23 to warm up; 10 x (25 drill/25 swim), 10 x 100 on 2 (1:40, 41, 40, rest in 1:37-38), 5 x (25 back, 25 free..fins), 5 x 25 fly, 25 free, 150 side. On the side I felt it “behind the knees”; I have to be careful with these tendons.

I shared a lane with a tri-babe.
Life could be worse. 🙂

Political statement

I’ve heard that this hasn’t been printed so I’ll give it some air time here:

525horseysmallpenis

(hat tip: Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub)

August 28, 2009 Posted by | injury, political humor, politics, politics/social, republicans | 1 Comment

27 August 09 (pm)

Religion: Here is an excellent Bar Mitzvah Speech (2 minutes) via Tiny Frog:

Mano Singham (an atheist) sometimes gets mail of this variety:

Dear Sir, from your comments about the religious beliefs of scientists, I gather that you contend that, for the scientist, the greater the learning, the lesser the belief in God; and, conversely, the greater the belief in God, the lesser the knowledge of science. It never ceases to fascinate me, the adoring eyes of a child for the elderly, yet the grown up has little need for them, and, so, they confine them to a home and out of their way. By far, what the child has is greater than what the grown up has.

[…]

It amazes me that people think that ignorance is a good thing. When people sing the praises of childlike faith, I don’t think they quite realize how insulting that is to their religion. It is saying that faith in god is on a par with faith in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, things that only a child would believe in. I agree with that last sentence too but am surprised that religious people advocate it as a virtue.

But the letter writer then promptly contradicts that position by implying that scientists know so little now and presumably that when we get to know more, evidence for god will emerge. So in order to perceive god should we be like children unburdened by knowledge or should we seek more knowledge? Religious people want to have it both ways, on the one hand saying that we see god only by faith and not by knowledge, and on the other hand that we are ignorant now and that more knowledge will provide the necessary evidence for what now must be accepted only on faith. What is interesting is that this contradiction never strikes them, providing another illustration of how religion undermines the ability to think rationally.

Senator Ted Kennedy I admit that many of the top Republicans are being respectful and gracious; I admire that. It is also true that some of the “rank and file” haven’t been and that public opinion of Senator Kennedy (who did have faults and did some bad things) is mixed.

But my opinion is more in line with this one or this one and I am happy to “hang out” with this crowd. 🙂

Health care

Be wary of what the polls say: many of the pollsters don’t know what they are talking about:

A new survey by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates for the AARP reveals widespread uncertainty about the nature of the “public option” — a government-run health insurance policy that would be offered along with private policies in the newly-created health insurance exchanges. Just 37 percent of the poll’s respondents correctly identified the public option from a list of three choices provided to them: […]

It is tempting to attribute these results to attempts by conservatives to blur the distinctions of the health care debate. And surely that is part of the story. But it may not be all that much of it. Democrats were more likely than Republicans to correctly identify the public option in this poll, but not by all that wide a margin — 41 percent versus 34 percent. Meanwhile, 35 percent of Republicans thought the public option refers to “creating a national healthcare system like they have in Great Britain” — but so did 23 percent of Democrats. […]

Unfortunately, some liberal interest groups may be contributing to the confusion as well, with this poll being a prime example. When Penn, Schoen and Berland ask people to identify the public option, they describe it — correctly — as offering health insurance at “market rates”. However, when they ask people how they feel about the public option, a different concept is introduced:

“Starting a new federal health insurance plan that individuals could purchase if they can’t afford private plans offered to them.”

Seventy-nine percent of the poll’s respondents — including 61 percent of Republicans — say they’d support this proposal. But it seems to be a very different proposal from the “public option” that Penn, Schoen and Berland took so much care to define, or the one that is actually being debated before Congress. Rather than offering health insurance at “market rates”, the public option has been transformed in this question into a sort of fallback policy for people who are priced out of the market. Moreover, the term “government” has been replaced by the softer but more ambiguous term “federal”. […]

More generally, there seems to be a sort of arm’s-race on both sides of the debate to conduct crappy, manipulative polls on health care reform, and the public option in particular. This poll belongs in the ‘crap’ pile, as do most of the others. Defenders of the public option, however, should have little to fret about: the most neutrally and accurately-worded polls on the public option — these are the ones from Quinnipiac and Time/SRBI — suggest that their position is in the majority, with 56-62 percent of the public supporting the public option and 33-36 percent opposed.

Glen Beck: is still shedding advertisers. Some who have media experience see this segment as a bad sign for him:

Personally, I almost DON’T want to see him go; the louder he (and Limbaugh, Savage, Coulter, etc.) get, the better it is for us politically.

Education: what should colleges teach? Here is a discussion:

A few years ago, when I was grading papers for a graduate literature course, I became alarmed at the inability of my students to write a clean English sentence. They could manage for about six words and then, almost invariably, the syntax (and everything else) fell apart. I became even more alarmed when I remembered that these same students were instructors in the college’s composition program. What, I wondered, could possibly be going on in their courses?

Continue reading at the link; it is interesting.

Economy Paul Krugman talks about the debt, deficit and yes, President Bush’s role in landing us where we are right now:

o I see that commenters on this piece want to know why I’m blaming Obama’s deficits on Bush, and why I think Obama deficits are good, while Bush deficits weren’t.

So, in order:

First of all, I wasn’t blaming Bush for future deficits: I was blaming him for debt — debt that was incurred on Bush’s watch. If you don’t think that’s fair, let me echo Barney Frank and ask on what planet you spend most of your time.

Second, now that you mention it, surely much of the current deficit can be attributed to the previous administration’s policies. I mean, we’re all of seven months into the Obama administration; nearly all federal spending, all federal taxes, are dictated by laws that were in effect before Obama took office. Both Bush and before him Reagan spent years blaming all their problems on the failures of their predecessors; I think we can give Obama a few months.

Finally, about the stimulative effects of deficits: as I’ve explained a number of times, it’s the zero bound that makes all the difference. There was a case for temporary fiscal stimulus in 2002, when the economy was close to the zero bound, but most of the Bush tax cuts took effect during a period in which interest rates were well above zero, in fact during which the Fed was raising rates to keep the economy from overheating. This means that fiscal expansion wasn’t needed. Now, by contrast, we’re hard up against zero and have run out of monetary ammunition.

I don’t know if this helps, or whether I’m just (Barney Frank) arguing with a dining room table (/Barney Frank). But anyway, that’s the underlying logic.

August 28, 2009 Posted by | 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Democrats, economy, education, health care, morons, obama, politics, politics/social, religion, republicans, science | Leave a comment