Corey Robin: Rimbaud Conservatism
Tim Noah: Why Is Ben Bernanke The Only Man In Washington Who Care About Jobs?: "Why is it, [Jared] Bernstein asked… that the only part of the government acting with any urgency to ease joblessness—the economic problem affecting the greatest number of Americans—is the unelected Federal Reserve?… [A]s top earners’ shares of the nation’s income grew, so did their shares of politicians’ attention. And since involuntary unemployment is not something wealthy people typically fear, Congress gave the issue scant attention…. In 1978, Congress formalized the Fed’s new role as macroeconomic poobah by giving it a dual mandate to curb inflation and maximize employment…. The bland official reason Bernanke gave for adopting the so-called “Evans Rule” was transparency…. In a small but significant way, Bernanke is refocusing some attention on the Forgotten Man (and Woman). It’s long past time somebody did."
Uwe Reinhardt: Medicare Spending Isn't Out of Control: "It’s the season of holiday cocktail parties, demanding intelligent chit-chat over Chardonnay. In such data-free environments it is always safe to say, “Medicare spending is out of control!” Wise heads will nod, because it is a credo with wide currency…. [T]raditional Medicare, which still attracts about 75 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries, affords its enrollees free choice of providers and therapy. In the jargon of health-policy wonks, it is “unmanaged.” Thus, it would not be surprising if unmanaged Medicare spending were, indeed, out of control…. [But i]n most periods Medicare spending per Medicare beneficiary has risen more slowly than per-capita spending under private health insurance. The exceptions are the period 1993-97, when private managed-care plans appeared to be able to hold down their outlays on health care better than did Medicare, and 2002-7, because there was a jump in spending as Medicare began, in 2006, to cover prescription drugs under the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003."* Narayana Kocherlakota (2009): Some Thoughts on the State of Macro
J. Zevin: MOOCs as capital-biased technological change: "What has happened in one industry after another is that it has become standard practice to tell people who create anything of aesthetic or intellectual value that they are going to have to be cool with getting paid little or nothing for their work while the people who develop the closed platforms used to “share” what they produce burn through a few rounds of VC money figuring out how to monetize their users…. I just can’t imagine this playing out too differently in academia. We are such easy marks…. [I]t seems hard to explain the alarming shift toward dependence on precarious labor over the last decade, with non-tenure track faculty positions added at approximately three times the rate of tenure-track or tenured positions (raw data are here) without assuming at least a weak [administrative] bias in favor of budgetary concerns over the ideal of academic freedom. It seems unimaginable that this same cadre of managers would mount a spirited defense of academic freedom in the face of promised reductions in cost, increases in revenue and overall brand enhancement held out by MOOC advocates, even if these promises are mostly hot air from “technolibertarians who believe that a fusion of business and technology will solve all ills.” But just because one’s decisions over time reveal a toward bias fiscal concerns does not mean that one is necessarily making good choices…"
Adam Gopnik: The Simple Truth About Gun Control: "Gun control works on gun violence as surely as antibiotics do on bacterial infections. In Scotland, after Dunblane, in Australia, after Tasmania, in Canada, after the Montreal massacre—in each case the necessary laws were passed to make gun-owning hard, and in each case… well, you will note the absence of massacre-condolence speeches made by the Prime Ministers of Canada and Australia, in comparison with our own President…. The central insight of the modern study of criminal violence is that all crime—even the horrific violent crimes of assault and rape—is at some level opportunistic. Building a low annoying wall against them is almost as effective as building a high impenetrable one. This is the key concept of Franklin Zimring’s amazing work on crime in New York; everyone said that, given the social pressures, the slum pathologies, the profits to be made in drug dealing, the ascending levels of despair, that there was no hope of changing the ever-growing cycle of violence. The right wing insisted that this generation of predators would give way to a new generation of super-predators. What the New York Police Department found out, through empirical experience and better organization, was that making crime even a little bit harder made it much, much rarer…. Even madmen need opportunities to display their madness, and behave in different ways depending on the possibilities at hand. Demand an extraordinary degree of determination and organization from someone intent on committing a violent act, and the odds that the violent act will take place are radically reduced, in many cases to zero…. Look at the Harvard social scientist David Hemenway… what is usually presented as a case of self-defense with guns is, in the real world, almost invariably a story about an escalating quarrel…. So don’t listen to those who, seeing twenty dead six- and seven-year-olds in ten minutes, their bodies riddled with bullets designed to rip apart bone and organ, say that this is impossibly hard, or even particularly complex, problem. It’s a very easy one."