link love

America’s looming burial crisis.

Wandering Scientist with a plea for bipartisanship, among many other insightful things.

Scalzi had a lot of great commentary this week (read all of it!), but this one was my favorite.  Also:  I love the way he’s able to see the world from many viewpoints, and not just through his own eyes.  Not everybody can do that.  (As he notes in a comment earlier this week, I believe, that’s also what helps makes his novels be so awesome.)

A pair of related posts:  Miser-mom talks about why she saves money–so she can give more.  We do that too, and I would argue it’s a good reason to make more money, not just save it.  Though right now we’re having difficulties giving money to DC1’s school (I understand why my father said we had to deal with the large donation process).  On the other side, poor to rich one day at a time wonders if she should be satisfied with bringing in only 14K/year.  What would she need more money for?  Me, I want that safety net, even above and beyond my cheese cravings.

Money magazine is looking for people to give financial makeovers to.

We were in this week’s carnival of personal finance.

43 Responses to “link love”

  1. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    Wandering Scientist with a plea for bipartisanship, among many other insightful things.

    That post is far from insightful. Among other gross errors is this one:

    But I also explained to her that Mitt Romney is a good man, a lot of good people voted for him, and they, for the most part, had respectable reasons for doing so.

    Mitt Romney is not a “good man”, and no “good people” voted for him, and anyone who did vote for him does not have any “respectable reasons for doing so”. Romney is a greedy vicious amoral plutocrat, and the only people who voted for him are either greedy vicious amoral plutocrats themselves (obviously a very small number of voters), the greedy vicious amoral wealthy servants of the plutocrats, or non-wealthy ignorant slobs who will believe anything as long as it is packaged with racism, misogyny, and theocracy.

    The problem with current political alignments isn’t a lack of “bipartisanship”. There is actually too much bipartisanship, with Democrats “reaching across the aisle” and moving way too far in the direction of Republican policy goals.

    The real problem is that one of the two political parties is home to all of the racist, misogynist, hateful, ignorant, greedy, selfish, delusional pigges of the former Confederacy.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I agree that the lack of bipartisanship is currently one-sided. Democrats are more than happy right now to come to a centrist solution, especially if they can get Republicans to take credit for the necessary cuts to entitlement programs (particularly the necessary cuts to Medicare and Social Security). But any solution that is not going to cause huge amounts of pain *does* need a combination of tax hikes and entitlement cuts. Doing just one is going too far in that direction. There are a number of plausible plans going forward as well. A possible tactical mistake was having the Democrats show the menu of plausible plans rather than showing a completely implausible plan and then negotiating down to one of the plausibles. But they didn’t realize how strong the tea party was in the Republican party at the time.

      As for Mitt Romney himself, I don’t know him personally, so I will refrain from casting judgment on his personality. There are some media stories that tend to agree with your assessment (the dog, the bullying incident), but the media are not always accurate. I do agree that his words show he is out of touch with say, 47-99% of Americans, not to mention math. But he does seem to love his family, even if not its canine members.

      And I’m sure some good people voted for him. Lots of Mormons are good people, despite the history of the Mormon church in terms of racism and misogyny. The foot soldiers tend to be nice folks who care about people (and their pets).

      p.s. Check out her link love today for a great clip from Rachel Maddow. (Then hit up comedy central for Colbert’s interview with Maddow in which they discuss the clip and why reality has such a well known liberal bias.)

      • Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

        [T]he necessary cuts to entitlement programs (particularly the necessary cuts to Medicare and Social Security).

        There is no evidence that I consider credible that cuts to either of these programs are “necessary”.

        In the case of the former, the issue isn’t that Medicare needs to be cut to ensure long-term fiscal solvency: the issue is that the growth in the cost of medical care in general needs to be slowed. If this is achieved, then Medicare is absolutely fine. If you cut Medicare without slowing the growth in cost of medical care in general, then you are allowing people to die in the streets because they can’t pay for necessary medical care.

        In the case of the latter, Social Security is already absolutely fine for at least several decades, and can be made solvent for as long as we want simply by raising the income cap on which Social Security taxes are levied.

        Fiscal deficit hysteria is a fake crisis engineered by greedy superrich people who don’t want to pay taxes, and who have been doing everything they can since the 1930s when Social Security was created to destroy it.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I know far more about this than you do. Without getting into any details, you are 100% wrong. You’re succumbing to the same sort of magical thinking that the Fox News people are when they think that tax cuts are going to somehow magically grow the economy. There are unpleasant truths that we are just going to make worse the longer we ignore them.

        I assume you know more about medical research or whatever it is you do than I do, but you do very obviously do not know the least bit about this aspect of public policy. *Especially* since the alarm bells for these upcoming problems were first sounded by liberal democrats such as Peter Diamond and Peter Orszag. If we had made small cuts and raised taxes a little then, we wouldn’t be having to make bigger cuts or raise more taxes more now, and the longer we wait, the worse it is going to get. If democrats believe this is just a fake crisis (which they don’t, at least not the ones in the policy community), and republicans continue to refuse to even talk about solutions, then it is going to turn into a real crisis.

        Like Maddow says, there are real problems, and no amount of magical thinking is going to make them go away.

        I’ve seen (liberal hottie) Peter Orzag give a talk on the problems and menus of potential solutions twice (and things got worse in the intervening 4 years between talks). I assume that there are videos somewhere online that you could watch. They contain numbers and math, but no magical thinking. (And yes, that includes numbers on how much we can realistically bring health spending down using optimistic estimates from the Dartmouth group and work by David Cutler.)

      • Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

        That’s great that you know far more about this than I do. Why don’t you want to explain how I am 100% wrong?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Because you’re not paying me and to do a proper job of it I would need more charts than just the one I linked to below. If you want I can google search Peter Orzag videos for you, http://bit.ly/W05uWz

      • Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

        If you write a blogge poste explaining your understanding of these matters in detail, I will give a $100 donation to the 501(c)(3) charity of your choice. You are a good explainer of fiscal/financial shitte, and I have learned a lot from your postes on such topics.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        $100 isn’t enough, and one blog post isn’t enough. You’re asking for Atul Gawande level information. And Peter Diamond and Peter Orszag wrote a book on the Social Security crisis alone a decade or two ago, and that isn’t even as bad as the Medicare crisis, although it is easier to explain.

        If you look down at that link from our earlier post on Medicare and Social Security, you can see the main chart that has gotten everybody in policy circles in a tizzy for the past few years and was a main impetus for the affordable care act.

        Additionally I was serious about Peter Orszag. He has this lecture where he lays out the problem, the confidence intervals of the problem, and a bunch of possible solutions. He puts price tags on every potential solution that has been suggested and shows that you need a combination. It’s got great graphs and charts and is really clear. The only downside is that he doesn’t look like a hottie in video like he does in person. When I get some time later this evening maybe I’ll see if my google skills can find a recent version of it. Like I said, I’ve seen various versions twice in the past few years.

      • becca Says:

        Orszag, along with Larry Summers, is why people like me have a hard time respecting economists*. Fawning over him is solid proof that people like you are under a reality-defying illusion about what “liberal” is, (and a quirky idea of “hottie”, though I shouldn’t talk. No judgement on that one.).

        *Conventional ones. Behavioral economists have got it going on. Orszag wishes he were a behavioral economist, truestory.

        That said, I’m happy to take the CBO at their word as far as the chart. I’m on the same page with the “deficits are real, and we should do something about them” crowd (though whether “crisis” is accurate probably depends whether you’ve just dealt with something like Hurricane Sandy- a bit more tangible and on a different scale of urgency).
        Personally, I like plans that both raise revenues and cut spending (in a ~50/50 mix; or at least I did while we were still in Iraq/Afghanistan. I suppose now, I favor raising taxes more. The NYT did a FABULOUS little “Budget Puzzle” web thingy in 2010… I really think they should update it, and everyone opining on deficits should be required to post their plan first; it’s probably way simplistic for the professionals, but it’s really handy for an educated layman).

        I think I’m respectably, albeit imperfectly, “reality based”. But the reality is that Orszag is not liberal, but is instead middle of the road to conservative, like most of Obama’s people. Also, pithiness and pretty charts do not always correlate with being correct (unless you’re Nate Silver, though he can be reassuringly geekishly detailed instead of pithy). Whether healthcare costs can continue to rise like they have, or whether it would eventually plateau is hard to say. As an industry, healthcare has certain alarming parallels with higher education, which would suggest it can get more expensive quicker and for a longer period of time than anyone will predict. On the other hand, there’s only so much time you can spend at the doctors.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        @becca

        Come back when you have an informed opinion that you can deliver politely.

        In the mean time, I will ponder why some scientists think they know everything about every other discipline. Perhaps it is the same sort of disdain I have when half of the articles that my students bring in for their “misuse of statistics” assignment are from biological sciences.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        This looks like it might be a recent version of Orszag’s talk: http://youtu.be/7sclmZUTTsE I haven’t checked to see if it has everything, so let me know if it is missing the health stuff and I can look for another.

        And yes, I have seen almost all of the original research that he generally cites and I approve of it. I choose him because he does an excellent job of putting it all together as a coherent whole in words that lay people can understand. (Or rather, the amazing woman at the CBO who drafted the original version of this talk, did many of the simulations, and made most of the charts did an excellent job of putting it all together as a coherent whole. His version has more color though.)

      • becca Says:

        FYI: The Orszag video you linked is missing the health stuff.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        a bit old, but the research base hasn’t changed much– we still mostly believe the results of the dartmouth group, and still mostly don’t know how to apply them

    • Cloud Says:

      Screw you, Comrade PhysioProffe. I’m not going to teach my 5 year old to hate Republicans. Nor am I going to start hating the Republicans I know, as much as I disagree with some of their opinions. They did have respectable reasons for voting for him. I just disagree with those reasons. And I think Mitt Romney is probably a decent man who has led a very sheltered life and has no idea of what reality is like for people who have not led such a sheltered life. There was no way in Hell I’d vote for him, but that doesn’t mean I have to teach my daughter to call him names.

      Now, Newt Gingrich? I think he’s vile and if he’d been the defeated Republican I would have struggled to come up with the right thing to say to my 5 year old.

      Thanks for the link, Nicoleandmaggie.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I dunno, Newt has a really mixed record in my mind. I don’t like the current version of Newt at all, but the previous version was not 100% bad in terms of policy decisions. Pushed through some good stuff and pushed through some bad stuff. The thing is, he was part of democracy working and compromise happening back in the day. I want that back.

        On a related note, Johnson was apparently a vile person (according to recent biographers), but he got some of the best legislation out there passed. I don’t know if he cared about poor people or if that was just his political power agenda, but his legislation had very real and positive effects on our country. Actually, the same could be said for Nixon. I didn’t really appreciate what a great president Nixon was in some respects (but obviously not in others!) until I got to graduate school and found out what he did for civil rights.

      • Cloud Says:

        I dislike Gingrich for the cynicism of his current incarnation and the way he seems willing to do (not just say) really obnoxious things in the interest of getting his way.

        Gingrich of his days as speaker I disagreed with but didn’t think of as vile.

      • Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

        Mitt Romney is a greedy vicious destructive asshole, and if I had kids, I would definitely teach them to despise scum like him. The idea that he is any better than Gingrich is f*cken delusional. They represent the exact same political interests, and the only difference between them is the details of their message targeting.

      • Cloud Says:

        Frankly, CPP, I think people like you are part of the problem, even though I suspect we agree on most substantive policy issues. I’m going to raise my daughter to respect people with different political views and figure out how to work with them. I think you have cats, right? You can teach them to hiss at Mitt Romney’s image on TV if you want.

      • Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

        “Centrist” fools who give cover for the worst excesses of right-wing depravity by explaining them as “good faith differences of opinion” are a much worse problem than angry liberals.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Nobody here is giving cover for the worst excesses of the republican party. In case you didn’t notice, Romney didn’t win the election and thus all said excesses went for naught. He was a pretty reasonable governor of MA, because he is essentially a chameleon and MA is a pretty reasonable state. I don’t think he would have been a terribly good president, but if he managed to chameleon to the middle he wouldn’t have been as much of a disaster as W. (I don’t think he’s qualified for foreign policy at all, and I do think he’s seriously out of touch.) If he chameleoned to the same folks as W or to the tea party movement, then yes, lots more recession. A big problem was that there’s no way of knowing which Romney was going to be in charge. (I LOVED the way the Daily Show latched on to that.)

        There are very real trade-offs with most public programs, and for what used to be called conservatives (but now is called independent or centrist or central-leaning democrat), the weights of these trade-offs are different, or the degree of the trade-off isn’t yet agreed upon empirically. It doesn’t help anyone when people refuse to recognize that there are trade-offs, which is what I see in my polarized students on either end. When there aren’t any trade-offs, there generally isn’t any controversy and the program is implemented. But we don’t talk about those programs as much as we do the ones where there are costs. If we do not recognize trade-offs then we cannot do anything to try to limit them, and that is a serious policy failure.

      • Cloud Says:

        CPP, I wouldn’t call myself a centrist. More like a realist who believes in evidence-based policy making. The reason I lean left on some economic issues and right on others and am a “centrist” on others is that those are the positions the evidence seems to support. If the evidence changes, I’ll change my position.

        I don’t give cover to positions I disagree with by waving them away as good faith disagreements. When it is appropriate, I will argue my positions, based on facts and the available economic models, as I understand them. But I will not call people who disagree with me names, not just because doing so is small-minded and mean, but because it is counterproductive. I don’t know about you, but if someone calls me a name and is mean and rude, I am not very likely to listen to them and change my mind. I am not interested in scoring points against the other side. If I am going to bother talking politics, I do it because I want to change people’s minds. Of course, none of this is relevant to how I would explain the election to my 5 year old, which is what the sentences that offended you were about.

        As for the larger issue of who is doing damage- you can have the moral high ground and feel superior and tell yourself that you are helping people who have fewer advantages by remaining pure to your beliefs and not listening to the concerns of people on the other side. But in the end, it will be the people who hold their noses and actually discuss the problems and possible solutions with the people on the other side of the issues that will actually find a way to get something done. Or, I suppose, we could wait 20 years and hope that demographics changes the landscape enough that we don’t have to argue. But in that time, a generation will have grown up with schools that struggle to secure adequate funding. People will have died for lack of medical insurance. Children will fail to reach their full potential because their parents couldn’t buy them enough food. Personally, I’d rather try to find a way to make some progress now.

        But this is a pointless discussion to continue, because I have seen enough of your online behavior to know that you are absolutely convinced you are right, and engage in these arguments not to learn or explain, but to score points and vent your anger. Which I guess makes your political stance consistent, but it makes discussing things with you a waste of time.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I dunno, Cloud. It looks like Rumpus is suggesting that CPP take his arguments over to your blog!

      • Cloud Says:

        I have ZERO desire to either write the sort of post Rumpus is suggesting or argue with CPP on my blog. Blogging is my hobby and I only do things I enjoy for a hobby!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        SRSLY

        I think we even have a post way back in our archives explaining why we don’t talk more about our work stuff, especially not during the school year. I get PAID for this stuff in my day job, and people both respect and appreciate my output to boot. Disagreements are made either from a trying to understand point or from a legitimate concern viewpoint, not an “I’m an internet crack-pot who just wants to troll” viewpoint. Definitely something that keeps us from monetizing.

  2. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    As a reminder, this is the upcoming crisis… only it looks even worse now than when this CBO graph was made three years ago. https://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2011/08/12/a-much-requested-picture-about-the-future-of-the-economy/

    • Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

      According to this graph, SS spending is going to be essentially flat for the foreseeable future. How is SS part of the supposed “fiscal crisis”? And the reason that Medicare and Medicaid spending are projected to go up so steeply is because the cost of medical care itself is projected to increase so steeply.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        It isn’t flat. It just *looks* flat compared to Medicare (and, fortunately, predicted GDP growth). That’s the crisis.

      • Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

        SS is about 5% of GDP now, and looks like it is slated to go up to about 6.5% of GDP in 2082. Are you saying that as a society, we cannot possibly afford to spend 1.5% more of our total wealth on taking care of old and disabled people in 70 years than we do now? This is a “crisis”?

        As far as Medicare and Medicaid, the crisis is the rapid growth in the costs of providing medical care. If you don’t slow down this growth, but you do cut Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, then you are throwing poor and old people into the street and telling them to die if they don’t have enough personal wealth to pay for the medical care that would save their lives.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Ugh, I don’t want to get into this, especially not today. But there is room for cutting Medicare without decreasing quality of care (huge respected literature on this– it is called “Flat of the curve”), especially since private insurance companies all take their prices from Medicare (Cutler talks about this price following in his video). Medicaid, otoh, does not reimburse enough as it is. We would save lives if we spent more on Medicaid.

        Plus the cuts that are being made aren’t about throwing people onto the street. Little cuts now to encourage people to work longer, that provide less for rich people, etc. etc. etc. will keep us from having to do things like throw people on the street in the future, especially when combined with little tax increases like lifting the caps on SS and Medicare taxes and so on. There is always an eye out for the most vulnerable. Even if we increase Social Security normal retirement age, we will still keep the early retirement age at 62. We have an eye out to the effect of increasing disability programs if the regular programs are cut back.

        And yes, we can put more of our income tax money to go towards these programs, and that is a potential partial solution that means different trade-offs. Where we get the additional tax money is also important (hint: not from poor people). And yes, taxes on the wealthiest will have to be raised in any complete solution.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Yes, that is right about the cost of medicare being projected to increase steeply. Getting those costs down is covered in Orszag’s talk and he puts bounds on those numbers. Also what part is due to baby boomers. There’s also some good articles that the lay person can read put out as CBO reports and in the journal Health Affairs. (And lots of other people have given talks on the impending crisis and solutions, but I do think Orszag does the best job, though that may just be my hormones speaking.)

        But we are not going to get medical costs to drop. At best we’re going to slow their growth. My colleague just had surgery for breast cancer last week and was teaching the next day. 10 years ago my sister had an appendectomy and although she was not back in class the next day, she was ok for cheerleading two weeks later. My mom was in misery for two months after her breast cancer surgery when I was in college, but she’s still alive and kicking today, which wouldn’t have been true 30 or 40 years ago. Minimally invasive surgery improvements are wonderful but they’re expensive. There are very few medical discoveries that lower costs compared to those that increase cost. (Yay for checklists and SSRIs… but other than that?) David Cutler has a video, I think on CSpan that has a great discussion of health care costs, cost growth, where we can cut, how much we can cut, and what innovations he thinks are necessary to truly bring cost growth down.

      • Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

        Putting medical costs aside for the moment and focusing on SS, can you explain to me how spending 1.5% more of our total wealth on taking care of old and disabled people in 70 years than we do now is a crisis?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        How are you going to collect 1.5% of GDP? That isn’t equivalent to an income tax increase of 1.5ppt. (I’m not a macroeconomist though so I can’t tell you what it does translate to, just something bigger.) The entire health care sector is 15% of GDP for comparison, with the private part being something like 7%.

        The point is that SS can be fixed with minor fixes as long as it isn’t put off too long (and eventually will be an even smaller problem once the boomers start dying off). Medicare can’t. That is the crisis. The fact that Medicare increases make SS increases look flat.

      • Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

        The point is that SS can be fixed with minor fixes as long as it isn’t put off too long (and eventually will be an even smaller problem once the boomers start dying off).

        So you are agreeing that there is no SS crisis at all, unless you are defining the term “crisis” in some idiosyncratic way. Like when you drive down the street, it is a crisis when you approach a stop light because if you don’t stop you might crash into someone in the intersection.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        You may have missed the big media extravaganza back at the turn of the century about the Social Security Crisis. Compared to the Medicare Crisis, no there isn’t one. However, if we don’t do anything to Social Security, it will run out of money and something will have to be done to fix it, which is a crisis for the program itself. (And a crisis for the elderly who depend on the checks that will not be sent if the government cannot come to a solution.) Many European and Latin American countries have already hit that point and yes, are taking it out of general revenues.

      • Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

        Now that we are in agreement that there is no SS crisis–for generally accepted meanings of the term “crisis” that exclude things that are trivially avoidable with incremental changes in current practices–let’s talk about the supposed Medicare/Medicaid crisis.

        The reason the cost of these programs is on an unsustainable upward trajectory is because the overall cost of medical care itself is on an unsustainable upward trajectory. The cost of medical care in the United States as a fraction of GDP is much greater than other industrialized democracies (without significantly better care, although that is not what we are discussing), and it is increasing faster.

        My understanding is that there are two main economic differences between the US and other countries that drive this difference in cost: (1) Physicians and surgeons in the US have a reasonable expectation of becoming wealthy, while physicians and surgeons in other countries are almost all in the upper end of the middle-class, but not rich. (2) Private health insurance companies in the US suck up a huge amount of the money that goes into the health care system, in administrative overhead (vast quantities of paperwork generated that do not exist in single-payer systems), salaries for huge numbers of people to handle all that administrative stuff, and huge corporate profits.

        If you cut Medicare and Medicaid enough to make a useful difference to the future US federal budget outlook *without* addressing the magnitude and growth rate of medical costs per se, then you are throwing those costs back onto individuals to bear. If you address the magnitude and growth rate of medical costs per se, then there is no Medicare/Medicaid crisis.

        Since you apparently disagree with my understanding of this Medicare/Medicaid issue, can you please explain how it is wrong?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I have stuff to do. If you want to learn more, please watch the videos I’ve linked to, do your own research, or get yourself a degree in economics or public policy. I’m a very expensive tutor and you’ve run out of your free trial period.

      • Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

        I did my own research over the past few years, reading the work of well-respected economists such as Mark Thoma, Brad Delong, Simon Johnson, and Paul Krugman, and that has led me to the understanding I currently have of health-care economics in the US. It is certainly your choice whether you want to explain to me how that understanding is faulty.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Paul Krugman knows about some areas of economics. Unfortunately, this is one are at which he is at odds with the people who actually, you know, do research and policy. He is, in fact, somewhat dangerous in the way he spouts off about things about which he knows nothing. Simon Johnson, also not a health economist (he is most famous for development). I’ve never heard of Mark Thoma, and I believe Brad Delong is famous for Macroeconomics, not Public Finance.

        I’ve told you where you can find information from actual experts. People of note: Jon Skinner (and the rest of the Dartmouth group), Peter Diamond, David Cutler, Jon Gruber, Amitabh Chandra, Joyce Manchester, Alicia Munnell, Jim Poterba, and many others. Most of whom are flaming democrats (Poterba being the exception). But no, not the people you have mentioned, who are primarily macroeconomists. I’m happy to hear them expound about their theories on interest rates and economic growth, but they know nothing about social security or healthcare. I suspect that Krugman actually refuses to pay attention to what the policy community says about Social Security and Medicare because it makes better copy for his readers and leads to political gain against those evil Republicans. He can’t really be as ignorant and stupid as he sounds when he talks about the subjects. But apparently he fires up his base, even as he hurts the possibility for real solutions.

        So basically… you’re listening to physicists with political agendas who think they know about genetic engineering, but really, they don’t.

        And now I am going to swap tomorrow’s economics based post for one on allowances because I have used up my non-work based economics discussing.

      • Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

        Allowances are economics. Maybe you should write a post about those soccer players whose plane crashed in the Andes and had to eat each others dead bodies to survive?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Allowances are personal finance.

      • Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

        Allowances add uppe over time and are economics.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        whatever

        I note that you are beginning to sound a bit like those fox news junkies who comment on CNN and *must be right* even though they obviously aren’t. You go ahead and get that last word in though, as I have better things to do than argue with people who are wrong on the internet.

  3. Rumpus Says:

    I would like to say that I liked the bit on the burial crisis, and Scalzi’s post was pretty entertaining.

    As for all this economics stuff, these are bigger issues than can be reasonably addressed in the comment section of a blog post pointing out “interesting things I saw on the web this week”. Clearly there’s interest in the material from the community, and there must be people who spend all their time worrying about these issues…so why not have a separate post at some later date with a few links to videos/charts/whatever and a paragraph or two to set the stage? Jumping into a complex issue like this ad-hoc just ends up being about what one has heard through the grapevine and how much one trusts an expert. For my part I mostly trust experts…specifically those experts whose efforts are subjected to scrutiny by other experts.

    As for Orszag: [He was widely praised for his time at CBO for preparing the agency for the debates to come. When he stepped down, National Journal noted that “Orszag, who will turn 40 on Dec. 16, has been praised by lawmakers from both parties as an objective analyst with deep knowledge of the most pressing fiscal issues of the day, including health care policy, Social Security, pensions, and global climate change. He is the unusual economist who blends an understanding of politics, policy and communications in ways that wrap zesty quotes around complex ideas.”]
    http://www.govexec.com/oversight/2008/11/obama-expected-to-name-peter-orszag-omb-director/28071/


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