Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Pragmatic Vision for a Social Democratic Future in the U.S.

Lane Kenworthy, a professor of sociology and political science in Arizona, has written a long and intriguing essay about USA's social democratic future in the upcoming January 2014 issue of Foreign Affairs. For most people, and this includes academic and political observers, the Nordic model with extensive social security and high taxes are written off as somehow un-American, but Kenworthy challenges this prejudice and he does it in Foreign Affairs, claiming that America will change and that the Republican party too, will embrace an expanded welfare state. Intriguing indeed! But the essay is well argued and not an ideological riff. It lays out the way ahead and offers a new vision that could replace the impotent blur that has led the Democrats since Clinton's days in office.

America's Social Democratic Future - The Arc of Policy Is Long But Bends Toward Justice

Here is a long quote of his setup:

"As pioneered by the Nordic countries, modern social democracy means a commitment to the extensive use of government policy to promote economic security, expand opportunity, and ensure rising living standards for all. But it aims to do so while also safeguarding economic freedom, economic flexibility, and market dynamism, all of which have long been hallmarks of the U.S. economy. The Nordic countries’ experience demonstrates that a government can successfully combine economic flexibility with economic security and foster social justice without stymieing competition. Modern social democracy offers the best of both worlds.

Still, the notion that the United States is likely to further increase the size and scope of its welfare state might seem blind to the reality of contemporary American politics. But step back and consider the long run. The lesson of the past hundred years is that as the United States grows wealthier, Americans become more willing to spend more to insure against risk and enhance fairness. Advances in social policy come only intermittently, but they do come. And when they come, they usually last.

That trend is likely to continue. U.S. policymakers will recognize the benefits of a larger government role in pursuing economic security, equal opportunity, and rising living standards and will attempt to move the country in that direction. Often, they will fail. But sometimes, they will succeed. Progress will be incremental, coming in fits and starts, as it has in the past. New programs and expansions of existing ones will tend to persist, because programs that work well become popular and because the U.S. policymaking process makes it difficult for opponents of social programs to remove them. Small steps and the occasional big leap, coupled with limited backsliding, will have the cumulative effect of significantly increasing the breadth and generosity of government social programs.

This is not a prediction about the timing or conditions under which specific policy advances will occur. It’s a hypothesis about a probabilistic process. Over the long run, new programs will occasionally be created and existing ones will occasionally be expanded, and these additions and expansions are unlikely to be reversed."
It's radical, but it is also pragmatic, and it is a much needed evolution.



Also check out Kenworthy's three Youtube lectures on the same theme:

America's Big Government Future: A lecture by Dr. Lane Kenworthy, Professor of Sociology and Political Science at the University of Arizona, December 15, 2011. Presented by the Democrats of the Red Rocks, Sedona, AZ

Friday, December 13, 2013

Execution in North Korea: Remember Lin Biao, and the Gang of Four

Kim Jong-un had his uncle shot by a firing squad using a machine gun. It is bizarre, but probably something Machiavelli would have recommended as quartering doesn't seem to be an option in North Korea. The strange (it actually makes Game of Thrones seem normal) but interesting thing about the way Jang Song-thaek was ousted is that it was made public, and that publicity will undermine the legitimacy not only of young Kim's rule, but of the entire system, not unlike how the official revelations about the fall of Mao's designated successor Lin Biao, and then the "Gang of Four's" palace intrigues broke the spell of infallibility surrounding the Communist Party leadership. New York Times reports:

“Although high-ranking leaders, including members of the Kim family, have been deposed before, we haven’t seen anything this public or dramatic since Kim Jong-un’s grandfather Kim Il-sung purged his last major rivals in the late 1950s,” said Prof. Charles K. Armstrong, a North Korea expert at Columbia University in New York and the author of “Tyranny of the Weak: North Korea and the World, 1950–1992.”
Some of the analysts quoted in the New York Times piece see this as an end of their dreams of economic reforms. I rather think this is the beginning. Either Kim Jong-un will introduce reforms as a way to buy back some of the legitimacy he has squandered, or he will be the next guy executed, and then the new leaders will have to push reforms to mark a break with the miserable tyranny.


Execution Raises Doubts About Kim’s Grip on North Korea (December 13, 2013)

North Korea Releases List of Accusations Against Purged Official (December 8, 2013)

North Korea’s Leader Is Said to Oust Uncle in Power Play (December 3, 2013)

CNN on the execution of Kim's uncle

Monday, October 28, 2013

Living Fully in an Age of Intrusive Devises


Sherry Turkle on Being Alone Together from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Bill de Blasio on "Up Late With Alec Baldwin"

Bill de Blasio a couple of years back when he was running
for Public Advocate. Photo: Hans Sandberg
MSNBC launched Alec Baldwin's new show, which featured Bill de Blasio. Both men impressed. Alec for doing an extremely smart interview, which is part Charlie Rose and part Oprah Winfrey. Brain and emotion intertwined in a relaxed and charming embrace. And Bill de Blasio is a master communicator. He comes out as an extremely sensitive, intelligent and honest man, radical, but not extreme. I only met de Blasio once, but he made a very strong impression. He is a truly good person. And he is about to become mayor of the Big Apple. A good thought in these dark days when morons like Ted Cruz has been allowed to bring the world to the brink of economic collapse.

More on New York's Next Mayor

Bill de Blasio Rules .... Soon.

Elites Shiver, But Progressives Are Elated at Bill de Blasio's Primary Win

New Yorker columnist on Bill de Blasio: “Let’s give him a shot.”

Nervous Elites Await the Arrival of the Anti-Bloomberg

Does Bill de Blasio's Rise Foreshadow a Progressive Turn in U.S. Politics?

Before Bill de Blasio Was the Hottest Democrat in New York - At a 2009 Fund Raiser






Monday, October 7, 2013

More on New York's Next Mayor

Bill Keller, formerly executive editor at the New York Times, and currently an op-ed columnist, wrote a sensible piece about Bill de Blasio in the Sunday paper.

De Blasio was more surprising. As a candidate, he can come across as an outsider, this season’s insurgent, with a résumé that is long on community organizing and news conferences. So it was interesting to discover that he is also an astute student of how government works. Although he has had little executive experience, he has clearly paid attention during his time in the trenches of David Dinkins’s City Hall, the Clinton administration’s Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the public advocate’s office. Whether he can turn this education into practice is impossible to predict, but it is reassuring to know that he would arrive at City Hall with a sophisticated sense of the dynamics. (Being Mayor)

      

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Bill de Blasio Rules .... Soon.

The Mayor who came in from nowhere... this story is getting better and better!

"Mr. de Blasio, whose last remaining rival for the Democratic nomination conceded this week, enjoys support from 65 percent of likely voters, compared with 22 percent who back Mr. Lhota, according to a WNBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll released on Tuesday." 
De Blasio Has Huge Lead Over Lhota, Poll Finds  (New York Times

Friday, September 13, 2013

Elites Shiver, But Progressives Are Elated at Bill de Blasio's Primary Win

With Obama's hope wilting like last weeks roses, progressives are seeking solace in Bill de Blasio's victory in the New York City's democratic primary. Paul Krugman writes in today's New York Times:

Take, for example, the proposal by Bill de Blasio, who finished in first place in Tuesday’s Democratic primary and is the probable next mayor of New York, to provide universal prekindergarten education, paid for with a small tax surcharge on those with incomes over $500,000. The usual suspects are, of course, screaming and talking about their hurt feelings; they’ve been doing a lot of that these past few years, even while making out like bandits. But surely this is exactly the sort of thing we should be doing: Taxing the ever-richer rich, at least a bit, to expand opportunity for the children of the less fortunate. Some pundits are already suggesting that Mr. de Blasio’s unexpected rise is the leading edge of a new economic populism that will shake up our whole political system. That seems premature, but I hope they’re right. For extreme inequality is still on the rise — and it’s poisoning our society.
Peter Beinhardt sees the victory as the expression of a new generational shift to the left in The Rise of the New New Left, a long and very interesting essay for the Daily Beast.
The deeper you look, the stronger the evidence that de Blasio’s victory is an omen of what may become the defining story of America’s next political era: the challenge, to both parties, from the left.


The deeper you look, the stronger the evidence that de Blasio’s victory is an omen of what may become the defining story of America’s next political era: the challenge, to both parties, from the left. - See more at: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/09/12/the-rise-of-the-new-new-left.html#sthash.8AhRQzJP.dpuf
The deeper you look, the stronger the evidence that de Blasio’s victory is an omen of what may become the defining story of America’s next political era: the challenge, to both parties, from the left. - See more at: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/09/12/the-rise-of-the-new-new-left.html#sthash.8AhRQzJP.dpuf

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

New Yorker columnist on Bill de Blasio: “Let’s give him a shot.”

The New Yorkers' John Cassidy on why he voted for Bill de Blasio.


Bill de Blasio back in 2009. Copyright: Hans Sandberg
There’s no doubt that electing de Blasio, who doesn’t have much executive experience, would be a progressive experiment based upon optimism and, to some extent, suspension of disbelief. As a recovering realist, that’s the mindset I’m adopting. New Yorkers, after years of watching their city being transformed by aggressive policing, changes in migration patterns, and corporate-friendly development policies, can afford to push back a bit. De Blasio is hardly another LaGuardia, but he has presented a vision of the city as a vibrant, multi-racial place, with progressive values and a bit less inequality. Pulling the lever today, I said to myself, “Let’s give him a shot.” If it doesn’t work out, we can always switch to Thompson or Quinn or somebody else in four years, or even call Bloomberg out of retirement.

Nervous Elites Await the Arrival of the Anti-Bloomberg

Bill de Blasio is in many ways the opposite of New York's billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has done a lot of good for New York, but has been aloof when it comes to social issues and the rising inequality.
Mr. de Blasio, a white Brooklynite who frequently showcased his biracial family, built a broad coalition of support among nearly every category of Democratic primary voters on Tuesday, according to the exit poll by Edison Research. His critique of a city divided between rich and poor — tried in the past by other candidates in New York and nationally with little success — resonated.
“I love his message about the tale of two cities, the big inequality gap,” said Jelani Wheeler, 19, a politics student at St. John’s University in Queens.
“We can start correcting many important issues the city is facing, issues often ignored by the Bloomberg administration,” he added. (De Blasio First in Mayoral Primary; Unclear if He Avoids a Runoff)
New York's financial, political and media elite seems very uncomfortable with Bill de Blasio, who in many ways is the anti-Bloomberg, the anti-establishment candidate. Here is another clip from today's NYT: 
They are startled and unsure how to react. “Terrifying,” is how one banker put it.
Many in New York’s business and financial elite, stung by the abrupt ascent of Bill de Blasio, an unapologetic tax-the-rich liberal, are fixated on a single question: What are we going to do?
The angst, emanating from charity galas and Park Avenue dinner tables, has created an unexpected political opening for Joseph J. Lhota, the Republican nominee, whose once-sleepy candidacy is now viewed by players in both parties as their last, best hope for salvaging the business-friendly government of the Bloomberg era.
Even before his victory speech on Tuesday night, Mr. Lhota was moving quickly to exploit his newfound role. He planned to speak on primary night with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, whose blessing could confer credibility with the Manhattan establishment. (Lhota Hopes to Capitalize on Elite Dismay Over a Liberal Tilt)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Does Bill de Blasio's Rise Foreshadow a Progressive Turn in U.S. Politics?

Bill de Blasio has upstaged the democratic primary in New York City, and it now looks like he will be the democratic candidate.

What six months ago looked like the longest of long shots suddenly looks plausible. Can a Progressive Make It to Gracie Mansion? Matt Taylor, a Brooklyn-based writer asks in the latest issue The American Prospect:


Bill de Blasio running for New York City
Public Advocate in 2009. Photo: Hans Sandberg
"A self-styled movement progressive with a biracial family from Park Slope, Brooklyn, de Blasio has seized the mantle of change in a city where many residents appear to crave it after a decade under billionaire incumbent Michael Bloomberg’s cold vision of financial capitalist technocracy. With just a few days left before the September 10 Democratic primary, de Blasio is way out in front of his rivals; in the latest Quinnipiac poll, he crossed the 40 percent threshold needed to avoid a run-off and advance directly to the November general election."
Mayor Bloomberg has been a strong leader and pushed Health and Green issues, but he has not touched the Power and wealth he shares with his fellow plutocrats.
"His signature campaign pledge is to raise taxes on those earning more than $500,000 annually to fund universal pre-K and expanded after-school programs for middle schoolers, which the latest research suggests is one of the best ways to reduce income stratification."
What happens if de Blasio wins the primary and then really becomes the mayor of New York City? If he fails in that job, he will be seen as an anomaly, a nice guy who couldn't deliver. But if he succeeds?
"De Blasio, then, represents the inevitable turn leftward in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans six to one—and where the new candidate of hope and change is charged with the task of making up for the shortcomings of the old one," Taylor concludes.

Also read: Eric Alterman's take on de Blasio in The Nation magazine:

Bill de Blasio and the Rebirth of Economic Liberalism

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Before Bill de Blasio Was the Hottest Democrat in New York - At a 2009 Fund Raiser

Bill de Blasio is currently the hottest name in the Democratic primary in New York. Will he take over after Mayor Blomberg? Lisa and I met with Bill at a fundraiser when he was running for the office of the Public Advocate back in 2009. The event was held at the home of our friend, the PR Consultant Deborah Darrell. Below are snapshots from the event. He is a really nice and genuine guy. Smart and progressive too. Maureen Dowd wrote about him today in her column Bill’s Turn at Bat.



 



 
 

 

 
Copyright: Hans Sandberg
 
 

Timeline of Harald Sandberg's Life

I have created a dynamic timeline that covers my father's life, actually starting with his parents birth in the late 19th Century. Click below to open the timeline application.

Harald Sandberg (1912-1983)

I have also written a biography that is available both as a print book through Lulu.com and as an ebook for Kindle (and iPad or Android tablets with the Kindle app).


Sunday, July 14, 2013

My Dad, Dempsey, Willard and Firpo

Funny how you run into things, how you discover things. It was Friday night and we were laying in bed trying to find something to watch. For all the thousands of channels and video-on-demand, there was nothing but garbage and junk. I took the control and flipped over to PBS, where there was a show about the American painter George Bellows, narrated by Ethan Hawke, who we both like from the Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight movies. As we were watching the film about Bellow's life and his interest in boxing, I suddenly found myself staring at a painting depicting a Jack Dempsey falling out of the ring and just about to land among the reporters. Standing in the ring is the challenger, Luis Ángel Firpo.

The thing is that my dad told me about the match when Dempsey got knocked out of the ring in an interview I did with him in 1983, 60 years after the match in New York 1923. I used it in my book about dad -- I’m Adding Sunshine to My Paint -- Harald Sandberg’s Path to the Arts. (Also available on Amazon.com as a Kindle ebook.)

George Bellow's 1924 painting of the Dempsey-Firpo Match.

Jack Dempsey temporarily out of the ring.

Boxing was big when my dad was a little kid in Söderhamn, a coastal town in Northern Sweden, and his hero was Jack Dempsey. He wrote a school essay about Dempsey that was much talked about, and he retold the essay when I interviewed him, but at one point he switched the story around. He had been talking about how Dempsey was fighting Jess Willard, and had hit him so that he landed among the journalists, but then my dad corrected himself and said that it was Dempsey who had been knocked out of the ring. I googled the Dempsey-Willard match and found a video on Youtube, but nobody fell out of the ring. I assumed that dad's memory had failed him, or that his imagination had played a trick on him.

Dad was right about the event, but had mixed up the Willard and Firpo. Three minutes into the Youtube video of the Dempsey-Firpo match -- which took place on September 14 at the Polo Grounds in New York in front of 80,000 spectators -- Dempsey really does go through the ropes. And one of the spectators was Bellows, who soon after painted Dempsey and Firpo, which hangs at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

If I hadn't flipped channels that Friday night, I may never have found out that dad was right about Dempsey's fall, but wrong about the challenger. So it is with much of our knowledge. It just comes to us as an epiphenomenon.

Read more:
'Dempsey and Firpo': The Greatest American Sports Painting
Allen Barra in The Atlantic Montly, April 24, 2012.
Below is an excerpt from my book about my dad, the part where he tells the story Jack Dempsey. Click on the images to read them full size!





Thursday, June 13, 2013

What Do We Do Once the Autonomous Lethal Robots Have Arrived?

A brilliant speech about horrible prospects right around the corner. It's so scary, but fortunately, there might be a solution if we chose to use it. 
 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Veteran Cyborg in Scuffle at Champs Elysees McDonalds

Cyborg pioneer Steve Mann claims to have been attacked in Paris. Blogger John Biggs writes:

"Upon ordering, McDonald’s employees at 140, Avenue Champs Elysees, Paris accosted Mann and tried to tear the glasses out of his head."  
"In short, these McDonald’s employees harassed, intimidated, and damaged Mann nearly irrevocably. Ray Kurzweil, a well known futurist, calls this the first attack on a cyborg in history and Mann’s importances to the field of human-computer interaction can’t be measured. That a pioneer like Mann would be accosted – in Paris, of all places – is a travesty," Biggs continues. (Augmented Reality Explorer Steve Mann Assaulted At Parisian McDonald’s)
To me the whole things seems rather silly, and it is not the first time Steve Mann has been in similar situations.  He is a prophet, and prophets need attention.

Here is a link to a story I wrote about him back in 2001.

Half Mann, Half Computer

For those of you who read Swedish, please read this blog post about Steve Mann's scuffle at an airport back in 2002. You can find an English news report about the event here! The event is in many ways so similar to the one at McDonalds that you wonder if it has been scripted.
"On that day, Feb. 16, he said, he followed the routine he has used on previous flights. He told the security guards in Toronto that he had already notified the airline about his equipment. He showed them documentation, some of it signed by his doctor, that described the wires and glasses, which he wears every waking minute as part of his internationally renowned research on wearable computers.
On his return flight, he did however run into trouble as Airport security wanted to run his wearable computer through the X-ray machine. He refused and spent two days arguing his Cyborg rights.

“When he was finally allowed to go home, some pieces of equipment were not returned to him, he said, and his glasses were put in the plane's baggage compartment although he warned that cold temperatures there could ruin them.

Without a fully functional system, he said, he found it difficult to navigate normally. He said he fell at least twice in the airport, once passing out after hitting his head on what he described as a pile of fire extinguishers in his way. He boarded the plane in a wheelchair.

‘I felt dizzy and disoriented and went downhill from there,’ he said.” 
(....) 
“Since losing the use of his vision system and computer memory several weeks ago, he said, he cannot concentrate and is behaving differently. He is now undergoing tests to determine whether his brain has been affected by the sudden detachment from the technology.” At Airport Gate, a Cyborg Unplugged, Lisa Guersney, New York Times, March 14, 2002.)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Robert Kuttner on A. O. Hirschman

Robert Kuttner reviews Worldly Philosopher, Jeremy Adelman’s biography of A. O. Hirschman, in Rediscovering Albert Hirschman.

Monday, May 20, 2013

What Austerity Does To the Sum of Our Minds

The origin of totalitarianism is right here and now. Fear and loathing is always easier than brave and caring.

Robert Reich: Global Capital and the Nation State

 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

How Dad Cheated Death and Became An Artist

Finally, the English version of my book about my father's struggle to become an artist, is ready. I have published a print edition on Lulu.com and an electronic edition through Amazon.com's Kindle Direct Publishing program. Click here to see a preview of the print edition! The Kindle edition, which you also can read on your iPad and Android if you download the Kindle app, can be found here.




Saturday, April 27, 2013

Markets Fill Vacuum Left by Hollow Power in North Korea

Like in China after Mao, economic and political reforms will come to North Korea not because of external pressure or political insights among the elites, but because once the political legitimacy of the regime has evaporated, there are only two alternatives to reintegrate the society: War or markets. The former solutions is still possible, but looks rather suicidal. The other solution offers a way forward, but the risk to the elite is immense.

Deng Xiaoping realized that only by decentralizing economic power could the party preserve enough centralized political power to control the country's political future. Young Kim Jong-un probably knows that, but he lacks real stature in the political elite, which is why he is fighting so desperately and erratically to raise his military profile. If he fails, I would expect a military intervention led by a general that can muster enough charisma to control the situation while beginning to adapt the political and economic system to the reality on the ground, which seems to be a more or less market driven society.

Jang Jin-sung, a former North Korean state official and poet laureate, gives a very interesting analysis of the current state of the North Korean society in today's New York Times.

The Market Shall Set North Korea Free

"All North Koreans depended for their very survival on a state rationing system until it collapsed in the mid-1990s. Its demise was due in part to the regime’s concentrated investment of funds in a “party economy” that maintained the cult of the Kims and lavished luxuries on an elite instead of developing a normal economy based on domestic production and trade. Desperate people began to barter household goods for rice on the streets — and the underground economy was born. With thousands of people starving to death, the authorities had no option but to turn a blind eye to all the illegal markets that began to pop up.
Around this time, the nation’s workplaces were made responsible for feeding their employees. The only way they could do so was by setting up “trading companies,” which sold raw materials to China in exchange for rice. These businesses became part of the foundation of the underground economy, acting as import-export hubs that in time began to import from China consumer goods like refrigerators and radios."

Monday, March 25, 2013

Facebook Is Playing Peek-A-Boo With Me

It's there and then it's gone, and then it's there again, and then it's gone again.... this new virtual game is brought to you courtesy of Facebook.

I was relieved on Friday when my News Feed suddenly reappeared in its normal state, but on Saturday it stopped displaying more than 4 posts, and ending the page with the sentence I have now come to hate:
"There are no more posts to show right now."

What's going on here?

I can post from other applications, and these posts show up, like the one I did from Dagens Nyheter this morning, but trying to enter something directly through Facebook doesn't result in anything, at least not on my News Feed/TimeLine.

Friday, March 22, 2013

And the Afternoon When It Came Back

I had almost resigned myself to a life without Facebook, which was not such a terrible thing after all, when I met our resident techie and told him about my vanishing News Feed. I turned around and followed me back to my office explaining potential solutions on the way. I logged in to my system and started Facebook to show what had happened, but quickly realized that something had changed. There was a new post at the top of my feed, and when I scrolled down, there was no annoying message at the bottom telling me that there  were no more posts to show. The problem had solved it self.

Don't worry! Procrastinate! Sometimes that all you need to do....

The Day When Facebook Stopped

I cannot see any of my new Facebook posts or any other than the four items that currently sit on my News Feed. At the bottom of the page, FB states that there are no more posts to display, which is obviously not true. Some people call it the "vanishing News Feed" others google desperately for a solution, and FB tells me that it will read my mail but not answer it. I never thought I would have FB withdrawal, but here I am, having just that.


And here is a popup I got when I tried to post a link to this blog post.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

First Biography of Albert O. Hirschman

Princeton historian Jeremy Adelman talks about Albert O. Hirschman and his life. Adelman's biography over Hirschman will be published in April 2013.



Albert O. Hirschman (1915-2012) (Institute of Advanced Studies)

Albert Hirschman, Optimistic Economist, Dies at 97 (New York Times)

Albert O. Hirschman, 1915-2012, by Francis Fukuyama (The American Interest)

Wikipedia on Albert O. Hirschman

Albert O. Hirschman, influential social scientist, dies at 97 (Washington Post)

Albert O. Hirschman (Town Topics, Princeton, NJ)

Albert O. Hirschman: Life and Work (Marginal Revolution blog)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Paul Krugman Gives the Swedish Model Thumbs Up

Henry Blodget interviews Paul Krugman for Business Insider, February 13, 2013.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

How the Rich and the Powerful Took It All and Left the Rest Of Us Behind

Bill Moyers interviews Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson on Engineered Inequality in his weekly show Moyers & Company. (From March 1, 2012).

 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Friday, February 15, 2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Republican Confederacy of Dunces Has Spoken

G.O.P. Senators Block Vote on Defense Post for Hagel

"WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked a vote to confirm former Senator Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, arguing that Democrats were trying to rush a choice that they needed more time to consider."
(..)
Mr. Reid took to the floor on Thursday to denounce Republicans for trying to use the confirmation process for political gain and accused them of undermining the nation’s national security.
“This isn’t a high school getting ready for a football game,” Mr. Reid said. “We’re trying to confirm somebody to run the defenses of our country, the military of our country.”
He added: “For the sake of our national security, we need to put aside this political theater, and that’s what it is. People are worried about primary elections. We know how the Tea Party goes after Republicans when they aren’t conservative enough. Is that something they need to have on their résumé? I filibustered one of the president’s nominees? Is that what they want?”

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Albert O. Hirschman (1915-2012)

Albert O. Hirschman had a big impact on my thinking about economics and society. He passed away here in Princeton this past December. Reading the press release from the Institute of Advance Study, I realize that he was not only a brilliant scholar, but a very brave man. 

Most of my blogs about Hirschman have been in Swedish, but here is a link to an English language comment:

The Social Impact of the Great Recession


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Does the Republican implosion leave big business out in the cold?

Thomas B. Edsall has an interesting blog post in the New York Times.


He writes: 

"The slow implosion of the Republican Party — along with the growing strength of a Democratic coalition dominated by low-to-middle-income voters — threatens the power of the corporate establishment and will force big business to find new ways to reassert control of the policy-making process."
 (...)
“Economists on both the right and left, from Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard University to the Times columnist Paul Krugman, are increasingly talking about the detrimental consequences of high concentrations of economic and political power – concentrations that threaten the innovation that is supposed to be what makes unequal outcomes worth the price.
Daron Acemoglu of M.I.T., who wrote the highly regarded book “Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty” with James A. Robinson of Harvard, argues that concentrations of wealth and market power allow “the already well off and already well organized” to exercise excessive leverage through “lobbying, campaign contributions and otherwise” that distort market processes."



Hubble Telescope Images