New Orleans should not have kicked that forth quarter field goal. People need to read David Romer’s “Do Firms Maximize? Evidence from Professional Football”.
Kevin Drum on a hypothetical he recently discussed:
So how to get at the difference? Well, I figured one possible way is this: if you really were a fairly ordinary upper middle class wage earner making $100K per year, and you had a 50-50 chance of either joining the ranks of the elite or falling down to the bottom of the working class, which seems further away to you? The answer from comments was loud and clear: the bottom of the working class. I didn’t count, but I’d say only about 10% of commenters were willing to take the coin flip. The other 90% would stick with their $100K lifestyle.
So what does this mean? Probably not much. But it’s suggestive that in terms of lifestyle, if not political goals, a $100K wage earner actually feels somewhat closer to the zillionaires than to someone barely scraping by. We intuit, correctly I think, that life at the bottom of the working class is pretty damn tough, while life at the tippy top is more exciting, but perhaps not fundamentally different from life in the upper middle class.
The specific coin flip offered was this:
— Heads: You will be stripped of most of your assets and will earn $30,000 per year for the rest of your life. That’s all you get, and neither friends nor family can top it up for you.
— Tails: You will earn $1 million per year for the rest of your life.
I actually think Drum is pointing to something profoundly important here, namely that even though a dollar is a dollar the marginal utility associated with an additional dollar of consumption declines pretty sharply. This matters for politics in two important ways. One is that tippy-top inequality—the tendency of the top 0.01 percent to pull away from the rest of the 98th percentile—is perhaps important in political economy terms, but perhaps not so significant in terms of overall human welfare. The other point is that redistribution of consumption opportunities from the rich to the poor is an extremely effective means of enhancing overall human welfare.
Here’s Nick Gillespie’s view of the past few years’ worth of politics:
The GOP got kicked to the curb in 2006 because they were up-to-the-neck-complicit with the profligate and stupid spending (and bellicose) ways of George W. Bush. If after four years in the supposed wilderness you get power and the first thing you do is walk back the suggestion that you’re gonna cut $100 billion out of fiscal year 2011 (still without a budget!), and then your main guy bumbles the query above…well, you’re not winning any fans among the growing ranks of independents (read: crypto-libertarians) who want a smaller government that does less and costs less.
This is a commonly voiced view on the right. But if spending cuts—meaning actual, concrete cutting of specific programs as opposed to vague talk about “spending cuts”—are popular, then what’s the explanation for why they’re so rare?
Here’s a chance for you to post links to interesting weekend news or blog posts. Or opine on whatever’s on your mind.
Rick Unger reports:
The major health insurance companies around the country are reporting a significant increase in small businesses offering health care benefits to their employees.
Because the tax cut created in the new health care reform law providing small businesses with an incentive to give health benefits to employees is working.
Driving a stake through the heard of the health care repeal movement looks like it’ll be a somewhat lengthy process. But the road begins with little things like this. The people who own the businesses that are benefitting from these tax credits will get in touch with members of congress and ask them to please, no, not repeal that part of it. And so on.
[UPDATED] Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, 18 Others Shot At Event In Arizona; Judge, Child Among Dead
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot at a campaign event in Tucson this morning, according to multiple news sources. There are conflicting reports as to whether Giffords has died. Giffords was reportedly shot in the head after a man approached the event and began firing, also hitting 18 other people, including three Giffords staffers:
Giffords was talking to a couple when the suspect ran up and fired indiscriminately from about four feet away, [Peter Michaels, news director of Arizona Public Media] said.
The suspect ran off and was tackled by a bystander. He was taken into custody. Witnesses described him as in his late teens or early 20s.
Giffords recently won re-election in a close race. She entered Congress in 2007 and sits on the House Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Committee on Science and Technology. Today, she was hosting a “Congress on Your Corner” event at a Safeway in northwest Tucson, intended to allow constituents to present their concerns directly to her.
There have yet to be any indications that the shooting was political. Giffords was, however, a controversial figure in her district for her support of health care reform, immigration reform, and other issues. At a town hall event in 2009, also at a Safeway grocery store, her staffers had to call police after an angry constituent left a gun behind:
“Yelling and screaming is counterproductive,” [Giffords] told the Sierra Vista Herald at a Congress on Your Corner event last week. There, one visitor dropped a gun at the meet n’ greet held in a Douglas Safeway, her staff says.
That has aides, who called police to the event, concerned for her safety. “We have never felt the need before to notify law enforcement when we hold these events,” said spokesman C.J. Karamargin.
When healthcare reform passed in March, Giffords was one of 10 Democrats who “report[ed] death threats, incidents of harassment or vandalism at their district offices.” The front door to her district office was shattered.
Last year, Sarah Palin’s PAC posted a map with gun cross-hairs over the districts of several Democrats who voted for health care reform, including Giffords. Sarah PAC appears to have taken the page down today, but a screenshot is here:
On Facebook, Palin has offered her “sincere condolences“:
My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today’s tragic shooting in Arizona.
On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice.
,Giffords’ opponent in the recent election, Jesse Kelly, held a campaign event in June where participants were invited to shoot an automatic weapon with the candidate, which was advertised as a chance to “get on target for victory in November help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office”:
,House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has released a statement on the shooting:
“I am horrified by the senseless attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and members of her staff. An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society. Our prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords, her staff, all who were injured, and their families. This is a sad day for our country.”
,President Obama also released a statement:
This morning, in an unspeakable tragedy, a number of Americans were shot in Tucson, Arizona, at a constituent meeting with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. And while we are continuing to receive information, we know that some have passed away, and that Representative Giffords is gravely wounded.
We do not yet have all the answers. What we do know is that such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society. I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping Representative Giffords, the victims of this tragedy, and their families in our prayers.
,MSNBC is now reporting that Chief Judge John Roll, a George H.W. Bush appointee to the federal bench, was also killed in today’s tragic shooting. Judge Roll was the subject of death threats after he ruled in favor of undocumented immigrants in a major civil rights lawsuit in 2009. There is no word yet on whether today’s shooting is related to these threats.
,Giffords’ surgeon said during a press conference that Giffords is out of surgery. “At the current time period I’m very optimistic about recovery,” he said.
,”The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous, and unfortunately Arizona has become sort of the capital,” Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said. “We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry.” Watch it here.
It looks like Representative Gabrielle Giffords and several of her staffers were shot at an event this morning in Arizona. I think as of now we don’t know anything about the motives, if any, of the shooter but I hope people take something horrible like this as a reminder that we’ve seen a lot of overheated political rhetoric over the past couple of years.
Cut French kids are asked to identify various forms of obsolete technology:
Now sure why a couple of the remarks lack subtitles. It’s all funny.
By Tom Kenworthy, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.
The lords of yesterday have their knickers in a twist over Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s new policy that reinstates the department’s ability to provide interim protections for wilderness quality federal lands in the West until Congress determines whether they should remain pristine or can be developed.
Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), who is the new chair of a House Resources Committee panel on public lands, told E&E Daily he’s planning to hold a show trial to demonstrate Salazar didn’t have the legislative authority to bolster protections for Bureau of Land Management properties, charging that the new policy violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA):
I don’t know anywhere else where an administration has been brazen enough to think they can establish policy without the legislative authority to do so.
You would think that someone who spent 28 years teaching American history and government before he came to Washington to represent the oil and gas industry could actually read and understand the 1976 statute that governs how the BLM manages its nearly 250 million acres of publicly owned land. Or could remember as far back as 2003 – his first year in Congress – when Bush administration Interior Secretary Gale Norton really did abuse her authority and trample on FLPMA and the way it had been applied – even by the notorious James Watt – for more than a quarter of a century. No protest from Bishop about brazen administration actions on that occasion.
It’s not like Bishop would have to read all 78 pages of FLPMA. It’s right there on the first page, in the Declaration of Policy, where it says it is the policy of the United States that “ the public lands be managed in a manner that will protect the quality of scientific, scenic, historical, ecological, environmental, air and atmospheric, water resource, and archeological values; that, where appropriate, will preserve and protect certain public lands in their natural condition.”
A little later on, in section 201, FLPMA clearly states that the secretary of interior “shall prepare and maintain on a continuing basis an inventory of all public lands and their resource and other values (including, but not limited to, outdoor recreation and scenic values), giving priority to areas of critical environmental concern.”
That is the spirit and letter of FLPMA, utterly violated by Norton in 2003 when she and the state of Utah cut a deal as Congress recessed for its Easter break. That agreement, in response to a Utah lawsuit, said the BLM’s authority to create so-called wilderness study areas (WSAs) had expired in 1993, and that the agency would no longer provide interim protections to prevent impairment of areas that had wilderness qualities. That immediately put 2.6 million acres of public land in Utah at risk of development and being disqualified forever as wilderness.
As more than 50 law school faculty members with expertise in natural resource law said in a 2009 letter to Salazar urging him to reverse the Norton policy:
The 2003 agreement…is an unpublished and unenforceable out-of-court settlement, whose legal effect was nothing more than to terminate the litigation….
The Obama administration, the law professors, continued, “is free to adopt the same interpretation of FLPMA that was followed by all previous administrations from the passage of FLPMA in 1976 until 2003, namely, that the BLM has continuing authority…to designate WSAs and to manage them so as not to impair their suitability for preservation by Congress as wilderness.”
“Who Pays?” (PDF) from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy offers an interesting look at regressive state/local taxation:
— Questions about whether things should be done at the state or federal level aren’t just about abstract constitutional views; state revenue sources are regressive.
— There is no reason that consumption tax revenue needs to be raised as a regressive retail sales tax. You can instead do a income tax with a progressive rate structure in which taxable income is defined as “income minus savings.”
— Property taxes are regressive, but much less regressive than sales taxes. Consequently, measures to cap property taxes are a kind of fake assistance to the middle class that actually helps the top 20 percent.
— Conservative intellectuals like to complain about the federal deduction for state and local taxes, but conservative politicians will never eliminate it since this is a form of tax break for rich people.
That’s all I’ve got.