Lunch Links

Monday, July 11th, 2011

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39 Responses to “Lunch Links”

  1. #1 |  celticdragonchick | 

    President Obama, ignoring his own calls to leave rhetoric at the door, has relied on populist demagoguery throughout the debt-ceiling negotiations.

    Why shouldn’t he, given the populist idiocy used by the gop about “death panels” and “illegal Kenyan usurper”?

  2. #2 |  Danny | 

    Regarding “Hooverism”: if Keynes doesn’t work, and maybe it doesn’t, then nothing works — if “works” means:”return to full employment within 24-30 months of a catastrophic global financial meltdown,” which is what the Republicans seem to be arguing as the standard Obama had to meet.

    The Obama-haters have made a prima facie case for their claim against Keynes (so they should at least get a jury instruction). They have not made any kind of a case for ‘unilateral’ austerity — massive spending cuts, complete with massive public-sector layoffs and consequent unemployment, sans tax increases. (Europe has been engaged in ‘bilateral’ austerity — tax increases plus spending cuts — which spreads the pain more widely and results in less of an unemployment shock.)

    Unilateral austerity (like bilateral austerity) might ‘fix’ the economy in fifteen or twenty years, after enormous human suffering in the interval, but it won’t show any benefits in the shorter term, and would be political suicide for the current president.

  3. #3 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Was actually recruited for a RIM job.

    Pro-Keynes? Just place your bets. I dare you.

  4. #4 |  Jesse | 

    I suspect the real reasons for failing to reclassify marijuana are not truly ideology. As if admitted toker Obama really believes it’s that harmful? I doubt it.

    I think it has much more to do with the fact that marijuana prohibition is the source of billions of dollars in government expenditures and thousands of jobs, and it would turn the US law enforcement community on its head were marijuana no longer a reason for heavy-handed enforcement. No politician, Democrat or Republican, is going to risk the backlash that would ensue if they alienate all those government employees.

  5. #5 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    So John Lennon said the FBI was following him…and was right…
    And a photographer in MLK’s inner circle turned out to be an informant…
    and now Hemingway’s fears abut the Feds following him turn out to be true.
    Moral of the story: there’s a lot of former hallway-monitors from
    high school turned FBI weenies who have nothing better to do than follow you around and wiretap your phone calls if you are lucky enough to be sociologically relevant…so what’s the use of trying?

  6. #6 |  albatross | 


    I think any formula for tweaking the economy to get to full employment inherently assumes that conditions support full employment and prosperity (the nation living at the standard to which we’ve become accustomed, more or less). Now, I’m not sure about any particular formula for getting to attainable prosperity. But it’s also possible that what we think of as prosperity isn’t attainable from where we are now. Our population is aging, nearing retirement and preparing to start drawing down on every kind of savings (including the “savings” of putting the Social Security surplus into treasury securities), we’ve run deficits almost every year of my adult lifetime, we’ve spent trillions of dollars on several pointless exercises in butchery and brutality overseas, we’ve built up a massive, expensive security infrastructure that will be nearly impossible to dismantle, and much of the apparent prosperity of middle-class homeowners between 2000 and 2008 was based on a house price bubble that has popped. At the same time, energy and commodities are becoming more expensive as an ever-richer China and India and Brazil compete with us to buy them, global warming probably requires us to spend a fair bit of money both on decreasing CO2 emissions and on mitigating effects of climate change, and we have no politically-tenable way to stop the cost-spiral feedback loop in medical care–even if it’s visibly threatening to bankrupt the country, it’s still got so many interest groups and lobbyists behind it that serious cuts or reform is almost impossible.

    So one possibility is we’re just poorer than we thought we were. In that case, there’s not some tweaking of interest rates, tax rates, government spending (to “prime the pump”), or regulation that’s going to get us back where we want to be. Instead, we’re like a highly-paid steelworker after all the steel mills have shut down–the high standard of living we were counting on is just not available to us anymore.

  7. #7 |  albatross | 


    But of course none of that is happening now. Only a paranoid would suspect that that massive, retroactively legalized and immunized electronic surveillance is being used for political gain or to spy on important people.

  8. #8 |  Danny | 

    albatross: I tend to agree.

  9. #9 |  miroker | 

    Not sure where the author of the story at the “this will never happen” link got his information (Obama delivered the game-winning RBI for the Wall Street bailout in 2008, and rewarded the bailout’s authors, Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner, with renomination and a promotion, respectively.) from, but Obama was not president in 2008.

  10. #10 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “Only a paranoid would suspect that that massive, retroactively legalized and immunized electronic surveillance is being used for political gain or to spy on important people.”

    Nor the tabloids…

  11. #11 |  Rick H. | 

    That police blotter link goes to a story about a drunk driver hitting a car that crashed into a library. Not sure if it’s what you meant.

  12. #12 |  Rick H. | 

    D’oh… I get it.

  13. #13 |  Achtung Coma Baby | 


    Obama voted for the bailouts in 2008 when he was in the senate and helped to implement them in as president in 2009.

  14. #14 |  Achtung Coma Baby | 


    In addition to that, Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner are members of the Obama administration.

  15. #15 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Miroker, ACB explains how Obama is tied to the bailouts and to Timmay and Ben. Can I persuade you to state your position on Obama’s role?

  16. #16 |  gersan | 

    Of course you’re against Net Neutrality, Mr. Balko. The internet is publicly owned, and libertarians are dead set against public ownership of anything. Getting rid of Net Neutrality will set the internet up for private ownership, which is the real goal of libertarianism–to make everything privately owned.

    I for one second do not believe libertarianism is about being able to smoke pot or such. It’s about turning everything that is public into private ownership, and nothing more.

  17. #17 |  Achtung Coma Baby | 


    Fine, I just hope you’re comfortable with an FCC-regulated internet.

  18. #18 |  Achtung Coma Baby | 

    The history of cable and satellite television provides evidence that the delivery and quality of content improves when the government gets the fuck out of the way.

  19. #19 |  Chuchundra | 

    I’m a lot happier with an FCC-regulated internet than with one owned by Verizon or Comcast.

  20. #20 |  Johnny Clamboat | 


    I for one second do not believe libertarianism is about being able to smoke pot or such. It’s about turning everything that is public into private ownership, and nothing more.

    You say that like it’s a bad thing.

    May I suggest reading up on libertarians before pigeonholing them?

  21. #21 |  Johnny Clamboat | 

    #19: I’ll never understand the slaver’s mentality.

  22. #22 |  Marty | 

    #5 Yizmo- my favorite rant of the day! well said.

  23. #23 |  Achtung Coma Baby | 

    It’s starts with net neutrality, but it will inevitably end with government censorship.

    Nanny state, how does it work?

  24. #24 |  R | 

    Can someone please explain the link to RIM Careers?

  25. #25 |  boomshanka | 

    Do you know why it will never happen? Because Republicans simply won’t support those populist positions, and because Democratic voters won’t go to the mat to protect corporate handouts in the way that Republicans will go to protect things like “carried interest” tax rates for hedge fund managers. Its amazing how many middle class Republican voters really want to subsidize the uber rich.

  26. #26 |  Leon Wolfeson | 


    The problem with ignoring the case for net neutrality in America is severalfold;

    One, the markets are FAR from free. Having more than two options for high-speed broadband is limited to certain cities.

    Two, generally there are long contracts, and companies refuse to let people out of them even when they make massive changes to them.

    Three, the sorts of abuse NN works against are already being deployed by various ISP’s across the world.

    NN is a self-limiting regulation: It mandates companies do NOT do certain things, rather than DO certain things. Given it looks like that media companies are being allowed to infest every ISP in the country with “six strike” rules, which will certainly be deployed by businesses against competitors, among other things…

  27. #27 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    On Keynes;

    The UK was the first country to switch to “austerity”. In the last nine months, our economy has flat-lined. There has been, perhaps, 0.1% growth, and potentially a drop of -0.2%.

    Inflation has risen, and borrowing is UP, not down, as a direct result of this.

  28. #28 |  JS | 

    gersan “Of course you’re against Net Neutrality, Mr. Balko. The internet is publicly owned, and libertarians are dead set against public ownership of anything.”

    Just calling it public ownership doesn’t mean the public actually owns it. Call it what it is-government ownership. My grandfather tells about how when he was a kid he and his family would go driving all around the country for a month at a time, camping out. Where did they camp? Anywhere along the side of the road where they pulled over. Because that was ll public property and back then that meant the public could use it. Try that now. You’d be run off by the police if not arrested or at least ticketed. Because public ownership nowdays really means the government owns it and you the public aren’t allowed to use it except in places and ways specifically designated by the government.

  29. #29 |  Pete | 

    I consider myself a ‘small l’ libertarian, and here is my take on net neutrality.

    Let’s say I make a phone call to someone who has cellular or landline service from a competitor, and that competitor and my provider don’t have a peerage agreement. The quality will be shitty, two out of three words might be garbled and unintelligible, and in general the call will just be bad. Now let’s say there is some sort of equality enforcment, ensuring that little Tommy’s calls to his grandmother 9 states away are treated the same as all other calls, or at least held to a minimum standard of service that makes those calls worthwhile.

    That’s the difference between no net neutrality and net neutrality. If providers and backbones are free to hold bandwidth hostage, sites *like this one* will suffer.

    At least, that is my take on it.

  30. #30 |  Irving Washington | 

    Thanks, albatross. I wasn’t completely paralyzed with fear until I read your comment.

  31. #31 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    Free market populism is an oxymoron. Populism is the belief that society is deliberately constructed to subjugate “the people” to “the elite”. It’s inherently collectivist and invariably becomes anti-capitalist once given power. You can already see the growing strains of anti-capitalism in the Republican party in terms of the spread of nativism and the constant obsessing about “urban elites” who’s primary fault is being wealthier than society at large.

  32. #32 |  random_guy | 

    Why is the alternative between an FCC regulated internet and a corporate regulated one? I consider myself pretty libertarian, but this is a false dichotomy. Neither is necessary, the internet can stay just as it is and I personally don’t think it could be improved with either private ownership OR government regulation and will resist both attempts to control it.

    Honestly are there any libertarians left that see a real difference between corporate interests and government interests? Both institutions are revolving doors of assholes looking to slice the pie of money and power in favor of themselves. They work in tandem and neither is an alternative to the other. Remember warrant-less wiretapping? Government orders the telecoms to do a bunch of illegal things, they happily comply, and when its all found out absolute immunity is given to all concerned parties. One hand washes the other and the public is stuck in the drain.

    I just think anyone suspicious of the FCC is delusional for turning around and trusting the telecommunication industry. Keep the internet public property and fuck the regulators and robber barons.

  33. #33 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    random_guy – Except it’s the ISP’s pushing non-neutral agendas to bleed more cash out of users. The defence is network neutrality, which ALSO blocks most forms of other government regulation of the internet.

  34. #34 |  Doc Merlin | 

    “This will never, ever happen, and I really don’t have any preference for donkeys or elephants. But it would be a brilliant strategical move by the GOP. And it would be amusing to watch Obama and Obama supporters explain why, of the two major parties, they’re on the corporate side of corporate welfare. Truth is, both parties love corporate welfare. So it won’t change anytime soon.”

    Pfft, since when have Dems actually paid attention to the corporate policies of actual Democratic politicians as opposed to just their rhetoric? Dems have been very pro-corporate (for their corps) for years, while hiding behind the rhetoric of being anti-corporate.

  35. #35 |  NAME REDACTED | 

    @Leon Wolfeson:
    It also means that the ISPs can’t say throttle down spam, because spam is perfectly legal.

  36. #36 |  TGGP | 

    Moynihan was right about a lot of things (Glenn Loury’s calls his report “the prognostication of prognostications” for a reason), but he was wrong in tracing the roots of modern family patterns to slavery. There hadn’t been as much study back then. The pledgers have the advantage over him of writing much later when there was more historical investigation of the issue. But really the slavery bit is a red herring intended to associate the current president (though I believe the relevant rate has been fairly stable for a while) with something bad.

  37. #37 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    NAME REDACTED – Er…quite apart from the fact that 99%+ of spam isn’t legal (99.999% in the EU, due to our laws on unsolicited email), you’re making up a completely untrue straw man to try and justify corporate profit-raking.

    Spam filtering does not require the sort of measures typically deployed for non-neutral filtering (in good part because it’s limited to port 80), and is considered a routine part of network management and is excluded from every proposed net neutrality bill I’ve read, except purely as an informational measure.

    (Yes, “we filter spam” will need to be included in the data EU ISP’s give to customers on their web management process before they sign up. Ohnoes!)

    Italy (limited), Chilie and the Netherlands have Net Neutrality laws, and none of the three have outlawed spam filtering.

  38. #38 |  central texas | 

    RE: “Libertarian Response”

    Someone needs to tell Adam that beginning his “friendly debate” response with an extended whine about ‘liberals are mean to me”, does not encourage one to read on expecting substance.

  39. #39 |  albatross | 

    Just as an aside, the internet is overwhelmingly privately owned now, and the bulk traffic is mostly carried by communications companies that are, right now, regulated by the FCC. The question w.r.t. net neutrality is about the specific regulations–should network providers be forbidden from some kinds of management of their customers’ traffic, in order to keep them from either breaking competitors’ sites, blocking access to servives that compete with their own offerings, etc.

    There are good arguments to be had on both sides of this issue, IMO. But none of them start by mapping the world into a simple private property/public ownership model, because neither of those is quite right here.