Archive for March 5th, 2013

Daily Trawl

Yesterday was mostly music practices, but as a result wasn’t a day blogging. My reader feed throws up about 400 articles a day, so there will now be an epic link dump of things I thought looked interesting, before I try and write anything substantive.

1. Economic updates.
Wonkblog has numbers on austerity damage: in the process, Suzy Khimm coins the delightful phrase ‘deficit owls’ for those who oppose the austerian ‘deficit hawks’. Noted defecit owl Paul Krugman is squashing cockroaches in the NYT, and has a great op-ed on collective bargaining and healthcare costs. Richard Green has observations on inequality. Robert Reich says lefty things which will, as always, be ignored by VSPs. And Prof. Wren-Lewis has an excellent meditation on why politicians won’t listen to economists.

2. Why oh Why, continued…
Political science blogger Jonathan Berstein has two good piece, one at WaPo on the notorious Tom P. BaxterNewt Gingrich, and another at PlainBlog, where he calls out A. Scott Berg for talking rubbish about Woodrow Wilson.

3. Ta-Nehisi Coates: just read it.
TNC is one of the best writers around, and he says important things well. I discovered him during Confederate History Month a while back, and his series on why the South must not be permitted to rise again was quite remarkable. Today he’s on the significance of President Obama’s tenure 150 years after secession.

The history of black citizenship had, until now, been dominated by violence, terrorism, and legal maneuvering designed to strip African Americans of as many privileges—jury service, gun ownership, land ownership, voting—as possible. Obama’s reelection repudiates that history, and shows the power of a fully vested black citizenry. Martin Luther King Jr. did not create the civil-rights movement any more than Malcolm X created black pride. And the wave that brought Obama to power precedes him: the black-white voting gap narrowed substantially back in 1996, before he was even a state legislator. The narrowing gap is not the work of black messiahs, but of many black individuals.

4. The care of children.
Alan White is in the New Statesman, talking about the troubling and regularly lethal use of force in juvenile detention centres in the UK.

5. Thoughts on Thinking.
This TLS review of a new Latin-English scholarly edition of Hobbes’ Leviathan is very good, if you are interested in such things. Hobbes is many things to us, but what he mostly was to his contemporaries was very disturbing.

6. Reality has a strong…
… liberal bias but Anglo politics, apparently, has a measurable conservative one. Wonkblog has the breakdown on a Berkley working paper which, as far as I can tell, confirms clearly something I have suspected for a long time.

Politicians of all parties consistently and significantly over-estimate the ‘conservativeness’ of their constituencies. Liberal politicians underestimate the strength of support for liberal politicians, and conservatives, by a much larger margin, over-estimate the dominance of conservative support in their districts and in the polity at large. Key quote on that one from the original article:

[…] nearly half of conservative politicians appear to believe that they represent a district that is more conservative on these issues than is the most conservative district in the entire country.

“These issues” being healthcare and gay marriage.

Reality is more biased toward liberals than even the liberals imagine.

Dylan Matthews conclusion:

The research here is young and, as a general rule, reading too much into a single working paper is foolhardy. It’d be good, for one thing, to perform district-level surveys to confirm these findings. But the data holds against a battery of robustness checks the authors threw at it. The finding on conservative legislators in particular is so large that it’s hard to imagine any subsequent research would completely overturn it. But if the findings hold, they suggest both that epistemic closure on the right is real and affects state-level policymaking, and that there is a systematic bias against liberal policies at the state level.

That’s why it’s so damn hard to get liberal policies through our legislatures. Elected officials are permanently afraid of electoral punishment from a reactionary ‘majority’ of Edwardian moral vigilantes which simply does not exist.

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Per Argument Ad Astra

Politics, history, economics and rampant speculation from a victim of the Great Recession, currently at large in the West Midlands.

"When the regulation, therefore, is in favour of the workmen, it is always just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favour of the masters."
                -- Adam Smith