Archive for Philosophy and Logic

I have long been wary of the fetish among the business and political classes for efficiency. It’s a frequent rationale for bureaucratic decisions that seem to come at the expense of living, breathing people.

A Good Read

Thomas Frank (“What’s the Matter with Kansas?”) speaks with Barry Lynn at Salon on the reemergence of monopolies in America. Lynn describes how, rather than overturning laws on the books for decades, the Reagan administration changed the way the laws regulating monopolies were enforced.

Yes, that was what was so brilliant about what they did. The Department of Justice establishes guidelines that detail how regulators plan to interpret certain types of laws. So the Reagan people did not aim to change the antimonopoly laws themselves, because that would have sparked a real uproar. Instead they said they planned merely to change the guidelines that determine how the regulators and judiciary are supposed to interpret the law.

The Justice Dept. went from raising its eyebrows in the 1960s at mergers that concentrated a few percent of a market to waving though deals involving 80-90% of it.

Read More→

Mar
16

The Politics (And Theology) Of Who Suffers

Posted by: | Comments Comments Off
Last week was the funeral of North Carolina state senator, Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt. Big Baptist church. Two governors (one sitting, one ex), two former lieutenant governors, most of the North Carolina Council of State and more politicians of both parties than I have ever been in a room with at one time. After eulogies by senate colleagues, the preacher gave a sermon about salvation. I got the message. Just not the one he intended. But we’ll get back to that in a minute.

“When I hear Republicans in the United States say that taking away people’s food stamps will do them good I ask, what do you know that allows you to say this?” — Avner Offer

Avner Offer is Chichele Professor Emeritus of Economic History at Oxford and author of “The Challenge of Affluence: Self-Control and Well-Being in the United States and Britain Since 1950.” Chris Hedges shared Offer’s epistemological inquiry into what they know and how they know it at Truthdig. Offer studies neoclassical economics and “just-world theory.”

Read More→

Comments Comments Off
Feb
01

The Monetization Of Human Beings

Posted by: | Comments Comments Off

David Simon on America as a Horror Show


We’ve changed and we’ve become contemptuous of the idea that we are all in this together. This is about sharing and about, you know, when you say sharing there’s a percentage of the population (and it’s the moneyed percent of our population), that hears socialism or communism or any of the other -isms they want to put on it. But ultimately we are all part of the same society. And it’s either going to be a mediocre society that, you know, abuses people or it’s not…

And that once they’re in that situation, they’re not only marginalized, they’re abused. I mean, we are the country that jails more of our population than any other state on the globe. More than totalitarian states we put people in prison. We’ve managed to monetize these irrelevant people in a way that allows some of us to get rich.

Now, we’re all paying for it as taxpayers for having this level of incarceration in American society which is unheard of in the world. But we let some people, you know, get a profit off of it. The monetization of human beings like that, you know, anybody tells you that the markets will solve everything, the libertarian ideal.

I can’t get past just how juvenile the thought is that if you just let the markets be the markets, they’ll solve everything.

Comments Comments Off
Jan
29

SOTU Postmortem

Posted by: | Comments (2)

For those who did not see the State of the Union address last night, as you could guess there were some amazing moments of non-applause by the GOP for things like, you know, sick people being able to see a doctor and ending decade-long wars. All the while — with the exception of calling out “Congress” for trying over 40 times to repeal Obamacare — the president remains, for the most part, unwilling to call out his adversaries for their obstruction. That is his temperament. And that ain’t working. A friend points out that sometimes being nice is not leadership, especially when faced with adversaries with no compunction about not being nice. The liberal tendency to be vain about being highminded can be a mistake (below). Sometimes a little rhetorical Roadhouse is justified. 

So, I’m posting an old piece from Digby (largely excerpted from others) that addresses the partisan divide and how the left, like Obama, doesn’t seem to “get it.”

Read More→

Jan
13

Doing It Right

Posted by: | Comments (2)

I advise liberals that if you’re thinking of voters as (or calling them) stupid right before going out to ask them to vote with you, maybe they don’t because you’re doing it wrong. Sally Kohn nails why that is true. Just because you don’t work at Fox News is no reason to apply the lesson.

Comments (2)

Compassion for America’s poor and the long-term unemployed is audibly absent among many of the well-to-do, their on-air groupies, and politicians who once upon a news cycle tried to rebrand themselves as compassionate conservatives. A caller to a progressive radio show this week asked when heartlessness became fashionable in America.

Read More→

The cattle barons are nervous and getting reckless.

The United States has come to resemble those iconic westerns with a Wild West economy in which cattle barons rule, politicians and lawmen are on their payrolls, and struggling settlers are either compliant or prey.

But after the 2008 crash and bailout on Wall Street, one after another Occupy, the Consumer Protection Bureau, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Moral Mondays and now Pope Francis have put the cattle barons on notice that their grip on power is weakening.

Read More→

Nov
26

A Vicious Set of Assumptions

Posted by: | Comments (2)

“America’s descending into madness,” writes Henry Giroux in his latest book. The author appeared on Bill Moyer’s program Friday as the nation observed the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. Since the Reagan-Thatcher era, Kennedy’s calls to public service and national aspiration have been systematically supplanted with an ethos of radical self-interest and tawdry appeals to men’s basest instincts. It is a world, Giroux asserts, in which elites consider that “survival of the fittest is all that matters” and that “democracy is an excess.” Giroux is appalled.

… the notion that profit making is the essence of democracy, the notion that economics is divorced from ethics, the notion that the only obligation of citizenship is consumerism, the notion that the welfare state is a pathology, that any form of dependency basically is disreputable and needs to be attacked, I mean, this is a vicious set of assumptions.

Read More→

Oct
26

Russell Brand In His Fullness

Posted by: | Comments (8)

Damn. I mean, damn.

YouTube Preview Image

Gawker:

Throughout the interview, Brand repeatedly dodged Paxman’s efforts to trivialize his message — at one point Paxman literally called Brand a “very trivial man” — until finally, even the entrenched newsman appeared to relent against the rushing tide of Brand’s valid arguments.

Sep
30

Shutdown: Politics, Power and Money

Posted by: | Comments Comments Off

The poison pills are piling up in Washington. Now a “conscience clause” has been added to the Continuing Resolution:

To the laundry list of demands made by House Republicans fighting health care reform, with the shutdown of the government and default on the national debt in the balance, add this last-minute item: limiting contraceptive coverage.

Multiple sources are reporting that Republicans have added language to the budget bill before the House that would allow employers and insurers to opt out of preventative care for women if the employer or insurer finds that care objectionable on moral or religious grounds. Obamacare rules require all insurers and employers except for religious nonprofit organizations to offer contraceptive coverage. This language would remove the contraceptive coverage requirement.

On the surface, this appears to be just a bone thrown to the religious right among other ransom demands in a bill that will go nowhere. It is. But the impulse behind these sorts of rules isn’t just religion. It’s about power.

Read More→

Comments Comments Off