Monday, December 6, 2010

Krugman on Bush Tax Cuts: Don't Cut a Deal!

I have given and want to continue to give the Obama Administration every benefit of the doubt on most issues. I appreciate that to get things done with Congress or foreign nations (not to mention family!), you sometimes have to make deals that are less than ideal. However, sometimes you have to just say NO! So I see the need to stand firm on several upcoming issues: the Bush tax cuts for the uber-wealthy, DADT repeal, and ratification of the new START treaty. On the tax cuts, the subject of the post today, Democrats, led by the President himself, should make it clear: Republicans would rather raise taxes on everyone than let the very richest suffer a modest tax increase. Republicans would let unemployment benefits expire for those hardest hit by their recession. I agree with Krugman, and I learned from Bill Clinton. On this, it's time to draw the line in the sand. BTW, I sent the following message this morning to Senator Harkin (Grassley, of course, is hopeless).

Dear Senator Harkin,
I strongly urge you to work to repeal the Bush tax cuts for highest tax brackets. I understand that the Administration and the Republicans are looking at a deal, but the deal is a bum one for U.S. fiscal policy, for deficit reduction, for the health of programs supporting those most in need, and for the soul and spine of the Democratic Party. I urge you to resist such a deal. Of course, Congress should extend unemployment benefits, but not at the price of Republican blackmail.

Thanks for your attention to this and for your work on our behalf.

Steve Greenleaf

10 Questions with NNT

Nassim Taleb answers 10 questions from readers of Time magazine in this brief video. It's a good, brief introduction to his "Black Swan" idea and to his current consideration of "anti-fragility". Also, it lacks the bombast that sometimes marks his talks.

Deirdre McCloskey: Explaining the Birth of the Modern Economy

This is an interesting interview because, I think, McCloskey has an interesting project: understanding the incredible change since about 1600 that allowed the modern world to emerge. McCloskey, at one time a faculty member at Iowa, really seems to have a very wide-angle perspective and a humanist sense of economics; i.e., of economics that really looks at it's roots in Hume, Smith, Mill, and others. For a sense of her take on this immense change, which is the subject of the Ian Morris book that I'm reading, as well as a forthcoming book by Niall Ferguson, I recommend this relatively brief interview. I've got her first book in this projected series on my reading list, and I'm look forward to following her investigation into this topic.

Work Productivity

Jason Fried tells some plain truths about the workplace. On the whole, I agree with his take on things. When I really have to get something thoughtful done, I will work at home. At the office, my "Do no disturb" light on the my phone is often on, although my staff usually knows when I want to talk to certain persons. In larger workplaces, I can imagine that problems only multiple.