Monday, June 21, 2010

Ross Douthat on Liberals & Obama

Courtesy of Tyler Cowen @ Marginal Revolution once again, this Ross Douthat column from NYT seems to track with one of my posts yesterday about Obama alternatives. Obama can't act by fiat. Perhaps, as Garry Wills has argued, he's been somewhat self-limiting out of excessive caution, but he can only do so much so fast. The other issue Douthat raises (citing Cowen) about what will and won't work deserves the healthy skepticism that Cowen & Douthat accord it. I've been intrigued by the stimulus vs. debt reduction debate going on between some very smart and capable people; however, in the end, we don't know which course of action will bring us the promised land. We should, I suggest, try to avoid obvious harm. Finally, liberals (a term I hate to have to use, so indefinite and at times pejorative) don't appreciate what Obama has done. If nothing else, some health care reform that brings us within reach of universal coverage is a tremendous accomplishment, as Douthat notes.

Steven Johnson on the Effects of Media

This post from Steven Johnson, a fine author, includes a link to his article in the NYT today. It's a point I wonder about: what effect does the bombardment of media, now especially web-based media have upon us? I think it's good, but I've spent a good deal of today writing blogs and catching up on blogs, as well as having read the NYT last night. I haven't yet turned to a couple of fine books that I'm reading. Good or bad? I think good, overall. I think that the faster movement of ideas, especially in bite-sized chunks on the web, is constructive with positive intellectual benefits. I do think that longer, considered works are important, perhaps more important than these smaller pieces, but we just have to balance our diet. I worry that there's a lot of books that I'm not reading because I'm spending more time with on-line reading, which I consider more current, more cutting-edge, so I do try to balance the current with the proven. Johnson & Nicholas Carr, whose work he reviews, discuss some important issues very thoughtfully.

David Brooks on Stimulus vs. Debt Reduction

I found this at Tyler Cowen's Marginal Revolution: David Brooks in the 6.10.10 NYT on "Prune & Grow". I think that Krugman addressed these arguments somewhere in one of his blog posts. So where does that leave laypersons? I think that in this book review by Herbert Gintis, also courtesy of Marginal Revolution, lays the best answer: faulty economic modeling, models based on equilibrium that don't tell us about dynamic states in disequilibrium.