The Decisionist

Sovereign is he that decides...

Sep 6

Sep 1

In case you forgot…

He really does not mind compromising.

— Anti-Cato

Aug 31

Maybe begins with “j”?

Matt Yglesias points out—almost gleefully, really—that organized labor has opposed the government’s antitrust action against AT&T and T-mobile. It’s a dilemma for the left! Our friends and our enemies are on the same side! So hard.

But what if there were some other principle that really mattered to us? Something that couldn’t be reduced to the distinction between friend and enemy?

Unfortunately, I have no idea what that is.

— Anti-Cato

Aug 30

Ron Paul

has this bumper sticker on his desk:

When I first read this, I was like — Steal what? The sign? But then I was like, oh, it’s a joke, because the government likes to steal. (Signs?) And then I was like, wait, if this is a joke, does that mean stealing is okay?

— Anti-Cato

Aug 25

Matt Damon and Arne Duncan and Jonathan Chait

Chait is smart — he has a degree from the University of Michigan! — but he is also way into “ed reform”. So naturally he finds Matt Damon annoying. But here is today’s reason why.

According to two people familiar with the efforts, the administration tried to arrange a meeting with Damon and government officials, including Education Secretary Arne Duncan, before the July 30 march. The sources declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

In fact, Duncan was willing to meet Damon at the airport when he flew into the Washington region and talk to him on the drive into the city, according to the sources. Damon declined all of the requests.

Chait is mad because Damon (supposedly) did not want to meet with Duncan about something. We don’t know if the story is true, and we don’t know why Duncan wanted to meet with Damon, and we don’t know why Damon didn’t want to meet with Duncan (if he didn’t), but — whatever — Damon is against “ed reform”, he was going to speak at a rally against it, so he had an obligation to meet with the Secretary of Education.

I don’t know that this follows, but here is what Chait says:

If Damon knows enough about education policy to speak at a rally, then he knows enough to take a meeting with Arne Duncan and debate it. Getting a chance to make your case to policy makers is what political activists are supposed to want. That’s the goal. If Damon feels he doesn’t know enough about the issue to survive a meeting with Duncan with his convictions intact, then he has no business speaking at a rally.

Here’s where I’m thinking maybe Chait hasn’t been to so many rallies. A rally is not like a policy summit. Larry Summers isn’t there, they don’t circulate white papers, it’s not in Jackson Hole. Anyone can speak at a rally (though it helps if you are good at speaking in public). More generally: you don’t need to be able to “survive a meeting” with a policymaker to be entitled to an opinion about this kind of thing. “Ed reform” isn’t an engineering problem: there are principles at stake. For example: the principle of academic freedom. Or the principle that a decent education is not one thing for rich people and another thing for poor people. It’s like: did you even see Good Will Hunting?

— Anti-Cato

Aug 8

From Reuters

Obama says he inherited economic problems

Sure, but look what’s he’s done with them!


Aug 7

How the Bush tax cuts play out

Jonathan Chait has been saying hopeful things.

[T]he Bush tax cuts expire after 2012 barring action by Congress. What’s more, Republicans have signaled that they will not extend the tax cuts on income below $250,000 a year unless the tax cuts on income over that level are extended as well. As I’ve argued endlessly, this provides a huge opportunity to the Obama administration. It can simply refuse to extend the tax cuts for the rich, demand a clean tax cut bill for income under that level, and when Republicans refuse, blame them for hiking middle class taxes while taking quiet satisfaction as projected revenue increases by $4.6 trillion, solving the medium-term deficit problem. I can’t be sure by any means that this will happen.

Agreed — it is a huge opportunity. But not for this administration.

Obama’s already shown that he is committed to retaining Bush’s “middle-class” tax cut. (More like “upper-middle-class”, but whatever.)  This commitment isn’t particularly ideological; it is basically political. His political advisers are telling him that the words “middle-class tax cut” poll well. Also: the words “middle-class tax hike” do not poll well. And recent events have shown that his policy priorities are not important even to him.

So this is how it plays out. Obama initially says he wants to prolong the “middle-class” tax cuts, and not the tax cuts for the wealthy. Republicans say they want to make all the cuts permanent or no deal. Obama then agrees. (He also agrees to further cuts in Medicaid or whatever.)

I can’t wait for the second term!

— Anti-Cato

Jul 10

Chicago School: somehow not dead

No doubt Paul Ryan was inquiring about the “value neutral” research of the AQR Capital Management Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago when he met him for dinner this week. (Also, why oh why was Clifford Asness’s name not incorporated into Cochrane’s title?)

— Felix Holt

Jul 1

Political science

Archon Fung writes,

Political science may displace economics as the dismal science at just the time when we need new visions of political possibilities.

AlI I can say is, I think he selected on the dependent variable.

— Felix Holt

Jun 25

Wisconsin: More fucked up than Arizona?

Physical assault of supreme court justices by other supreme court justices may now be part of the state’s union-busting strategy.

— Felix Holt

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