It would be hard to overestimate my lack of understanding of economics. So when I read an article like this, I'm totally baffled. Some graphs from the article
Takatoshi Ito, an economist at Columbia’s School of International & Public Affairs, argued at a panel discussion on Monday that unless the Japanese government can raise its sales tax to north of 15%, from its current 8%, Japan’s economy will suffer a fiscal crisis sometime between 2021 and 2023. That’s because as Japan’s population continues to age, its famously high savings rate will have to fall, and the Japanese public will no longer be able to absorb the large amount of debt the government is assuming.
Unlike Greece, the Japanese government can print as many yen as it wants to pay its debts—debts that are largely owned by the government, Japanese banks, and citizens. So there’s no reason Japan would have to default on its debt. But all that money printing, argued Ito, will lead to an inflation crisis and a serious decline in the Japanese standard of living.
Others are not so sure. It’s been clear for two decades that Japan faces demographic difficulties. Its low birthrate and cultural aversion to immigration means that its working age population is shrinking at an alarming rate while the population of non-working retirees (who demand expensive healthcare) is on the rise. This dynamic has lead countless traders to bet against Japanese debt, with disastrous results, even though the demographic predictions that led traders to bet against the nation have come true.
So why hasn’t there been a fiscal crisis in Japan, and should we believe prognosticators like Ito, who continue to say it’s imminent? For economists like Paul Krugman, worrying over a possible inflation crisis in Japan seven years from now is crazy when you have a very real problem of stagnant growth and deflation right now.
Japan's saving rate went negative for the first time on record in Dec and a lot of outlets were saying this is the beginning of the end. However, this is how I see things.
Japan has been at that zero bound for a decade now (or is it two?) and has been facing deflation all this time as well. Part and parcel of Abe’s economic policy is trying to shock the country out of this low output and low growth equilibrium and into a higher one (again, entirely standard Keynesian stuff, although he’s using rather more monetary policy than the standard Keynesian would suggest he should). Excellent: and people drawing down their savings to go out and spend them is an excellent example of the sort of thing that policy is trying to engender. Bring forward some of that future consumption into the present and thus provide that bounce to shift the economy into a higher growth equilibrium.
Curious if any of the more economically knowledgable folks here might take a stab at explaining this.
This is a bit dated, but Jack Goldsmith, whose claim to fame is being less insane than John Yoo and Jay Bybee, and Jane Harman, former Democratic congresswoman and now President of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (NOT the one at Princeton, it seems), had an Op-Ed in the WaPo entitled "What should America do with Guantanamo’s high-risk detainees?"
This is, apparently, a vexing question for the two of them. They begin with the hard question,
The easiest question is whether to release the 54 who the administration has determined aren't dangerous. Whoops! My bad. I guess that is the easy question. And, indeed, one would think that people that are not dangerous should be...released! But...
A tougher issue is where to send the remaining non-dangerous detainees. Aha! Now we're talking.
The administration has already persuaded third-party countries to take 100 or so of these detainees, including several dozen in the past few months. Wait, I thought there were 54? So, we have places for them and....we're golden?
Still, finding a place to send the remaining non-dangerous detainees will be hard; options have narrowed. But... you just said the administration had found a place for the 54/100 or so of them? So confused...But we have agreed that the non-dangerous people can go to where the administration has found places for them, yes?
The biggest problem is a group of up to 68 higher-risk detainees. Oh, you've moved on.
The men in this category, the president explained, “received extensive explosives training at al-Qaeda training camps, or commanded Taliban troops in battle, or expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden, or otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans.” Yes, sadly, such people do not seem to be in short supply, despite our continued efforts to short the supply. Strange that. The OMICTTWTKA category is a bit troubling, at least to me. Perhaps you've answered your own question?
Guantanamo cannot and should not be closed until there is a concrete plan to prosecute these men... Great! That works for me. Oh, you've not finished.
or, if necessary, detain them in a lawful way that ensures they can never inflict grievous harm again. But, isn't that what we call "convicting them and throwing them in jail"? So you're with me?
Federal courts have ruled that these detainees can be lawfully held until the end of the relevant conflict, whenever that might be. So they're POWs then? Yes? No? You're not going to say, I'll bet.
But many cannot be criminally prosecuted because of evidence tainted by abusive interrogations, limitations in federal criminal law and other problems of fitting the demanding standards of criminal justice to the messiness of the terrorist battlefield. You didn't say. Darn those pesky "limitations of federal criminal law" and the roadblocks they put in place for criminally prosecuting people at the federal level! Also, isn't the "Oh noes! We tortured them and now they're stuck in legal limbo, whatever can we do? Fiddlesticks." point kind of embarrassing to make? Don't answer that. And, oh, the messiness, yes that does seem insurmountable for most mere mortals, but not if you have scores of lawyers!
Scores of lawyers in two administrations have scoured the case files and case law and (reluctantly) agree. Sh1t. So, we have to let them go?
What to do? Hey that's my question, you're writing the Op-Ed!
Closing Guantanamo must not mean ending detention of these dangerous men, though the two are often confused. Well it's a confusing sentence, who can blame, uh, those who are doing the confusing who shall not be named in this Op-Ed (if that's even they're real name....)
The legislation needed to bring Guantanamo detainees to the United States could supplement the military rationale for holding non-prosecutable — but very dangerous — But how do we know if we don't prosecute? Seriously, I'm asking, how are-- you're going to skip right over that aren't you?
terrorists with a form of administrative detention akin to civil commitment, one that could apply after the end of the relevant hostilities. I knew it! But, crucifix- er, administrative detention/civil commitment for you then?
Such a statute could prescribe the definition of dangerousness that warrants detention, the processes for determining a continued threat to public safety over time and the standards for judicial review. Well very good. A definition of dangerousness that has constitutionally sound standards for judicial review that SCOTUS is willing uphold and police to ensure no abuse, that just might work! Or, maybe not. So, really, WTF then Jack and Jane?
This approach is, in our view, the least bad option for dealing with detainees. Keeping hardened terrorists incarcerated is essential; keeping them detained at Guantanamo Bay is untenable. The president and Congress must be partners in finding a secure solution. Ah, I should have seen this coming, let's endorse something monstrous like "administrative detention" (but for terrorists only!) as it must be okay because of...bipartisanship!
See Jack and Jane be bold and brave.
It's all rather cowardly and dispiriting. But not surprising.
Update! Via Mr. Cleek in the comments, we'll always have Chicago. But what do those damn Brits know about America anyway? They're still bitter about us kicking their arses (hah!) in the 18th Century.
There have been a number of wonderful pieces about David Carr, like this one by Jennifer Senior at NYMag that ends with this:
There came a moment after September 11 when I told David how sad and afraid I was to be single. This was a risky confession: David wasn’t much for whining; he believed in toughing it out, in stoically bearing life’s hard knocks. But I was lonely, scared, and horrified to discover — as so many unmarried people were back then — that if the world came to an end, no one would check in on me besides my parents, and that I myself would have no one to phone. A few minutes later, he shot me an email. It had all his phone numbers in it, and he demanded mine. You will not, he assured me, ever be alone if something like this happens again. I think of this a lot, 13-plus years later, now that I have a family of my own. The simple, straightforward kindness of it. That David was, for all of his swagger, a nurturing soul.
But as touching as that and other pieces have been, Ta Nehisi Coates on David Carr is on another plane. Constructed so taking out any part would be doing violence to the column, if you haven't read it, I urge you to do so.
I woke up this morning to Mister Doctor saying the pipes were frozen and he had to be leaving right now. Fortunately it wasn't a complete freeze -- the hot water was still running. Running hot water for a while got us to where we had some cold water running, but that didn't completely work. Eventually Mr Dr found the frozen bit and set the hairdryer up to point straight at it for a while. Victory! We are definitely going to leave a faucet running tonight.
On Tuesday we finally managed to close on the short sale for the new house. So around noon I went over there (fortunately it's only 5 minutes away) and discovered that the water was mostly working ... except in the kitchen, where an icicle was hanging from the faucet. And the heat wasn't working. It looked to me as though maybe we were out of heating oil -- it was certainly low, below 1/4 tank. Of course we were waiting on a delivery. Of course the guy got there at 5:30. Though I will say he was very nice and efficient, giving me plenty of warning to get over there before he arrived (I love cell phones). It turned out that we hadn't run out of oil, but it had maybe gelled up from the cold.
Anyway, he re-started the furnace and showed me how to do it, and I turned up the heat to the mid-60s even though no-one is living there right now. Here's hoping that the pipe will unfreeze in the warmth -- I can't really go over and check tonight, because Mr Dr had to take the Subaru out to teach classes (his car is almost out of gas), and only the Subaru can get up the steep, icy driveway at the new house right now. I love that car.
So I left a faucet running at the new house, and went home to have takeout Chinese for dinner. Hot & Sour Soup poured over rice or noodles makes a complete meal, I find, and I *really* needed something that would warm me all the way through. I feel somewhat better now (though very tired from being cold for so long), but I think I'll use the hair-dryer as what we call the Bed-O-Blaster: to warm the sheets before getting into bed. A brilliant invention by the Mister Doctor dating from his earliest encounters with my icy feet.
And so tomorrow we're looking at a 40-degree swing upward in temperature, plus precipitation of *every* kind. Joy. Poor Sprog the Younger goes back to her Boston-Area Liberal Arts College on Sunday to face yet more varieties of New England weather -- yet without any more opportunities to jump out of windows into giant snow piles (she says it was *great* -- and it's not as though my brother didn't do it when he went to Colby -- you just have to choose your snow pile carefully).
the bottom 10 performing PACs we researched spent $54,318,498 overall and only paid out $3,621,896 to candidates
-- less than 7%.
My theory about why American conservativism has more of a problem with scams than liberalism is two-fold:
"Demand Side": conservatives are more loyal, and are thus better marks for affinity scams of all kinds.
"Supply Side": Conservatives believe very strongly in capitalism and in making money, so conservative political operatives are much more likely than liberals to feel they deserve to make a lot of money for their political work.
On the "supply side": John Hawkins, owner of Right Wing News, says
I hired an experienced researcher, Jay Batman, to do an in-depth 170 page report on 21 big name conservative groups that we selected.
The article summarizes this report but doesn't link to it, and it includes a table of the results -- in the form of an image, so you can't easily copy/paste the data and play with it yourself.
I hope and even expect that there are people on the liberal side doing similar research on left-leaning PACs, to see how much of their money goes to its intended purpose. What I *don't* expect is that such a report would be 170 pages long and privately held (for paying customers, I guess). Even if the work was done by an "experienced researcher", it would be presented in a transparent way, so that even small donors could see what it's based on.
But Hawkins is working from an American conservative mindset, which values money and the things you get with money very highly. So he expects to get good research only by paying for it (instead of crowd-sourcing, which would be the usual approach at, say, dailykos.com) -- and then once he's paid for the research, he expects to own it, to share it only with people who pay him in turn.
Hawkins is thinking like a businessman, like an entrepreneur -- and these days American business is deeply grift-ridden. Just look at the securitized used car loans russell posted about. However far apart they are in theory, it turns out that in practice there is a *very* fine line between "grifting" and "capitalist individualism".
Unfortunately, I think its report also gets a lot wrong and one of the problems we are going to have moving forward is, like with the label RINO, labeling groups as scam PACs just because we don't like them. I find it very unfortunate that groups like FreedomWorks, Madison Project, Senate Conservatives Fund, and Club For Growth are lumped in with other clear scam PACs that have not, to date, gotten candidates elected.
... Now, in full disclosure, Madison Project; FreedomWorks; Tea Party Patriots; and Senate Conservatives Fund have, in the past sponsored the RedState Gathering. Several of the groups listed by Right Wing News are groups I have specifically refused to allow sponsorship of the RedState Gathering because I do not trust the groups. One of the groups listed has been a prior sponsor and I have ensured it will not happen again.
I also have great relations with and am a donor to Club For Growth, Madison Project and the Senate Conservatives Fund. In fact, in routine conversations I tell people regularly that there are very few groups on the right I give money to because I know it will get spent wisely. That list almost exclusively is the Senate Conservatives Fund [RWN report efficiency: 22%, though with a footnote], Madison Project [6%], Club for Growth [88%], FreedomWorks [42%], and Heritage Action for America (HAFA) [not studied] — the five groups that have put more points on the board for conservatives in the past few years than any others.
but the only way he can call this "spending money wisely" is by being reflexively loyal. Erickson has promoted them, he's bonded with them, he *trusts* them -- and he's not going to give up that trust easily, even in the face of such evidence.
This is what affinity fraud looks like. There are certainly affinity-fraudsters on the left, but there don't seem to be as many of them -- and I think it's because trust and loyalty aren't as central to liberals' moral sense as they are for conservatives.
But I think we're seeing that loyalty and capitalism are antithetical values, and trying to combine them is a game for suckers. Literally.
Bet You, by Lyman Kipp. "Named after an American town too small to appear on most maps, as small American towns often are." I don't know if he was thinking of You Bet, California or someplace else.
In my newsfeed, I saw the passing of Steve Montador, a hockey defenseman, at the age of 35. Googling a bit, it says he had a 13 season career, but a series of concussions basically ended his career. LGM has a much more informed post and I don't follow hockey at all, and no one knows if the concussions were causative, but this reminded me of something I wanted to write here.
Then, there was the blackout on the final snap of his career.
He doesn't want to call it a hit; rather, Favre says, Chicago's Corey Wootton "pushed" him onto this sheet of ice at the University of Minnesota. When trainer Eric Sugarman arrived, Favre was snoring. Sugarman shook him awake and told the quarterback he had suffered a concussion. He was out cold for 15 seconds.
Favre was confused. Why were Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs clapping? Why were the Chicago Bears here?
"But I could've kept playing," he says. "And in previous years I probably did that — I don't know how many times. What's the long-term effects? I don't know.
Last year, he made a bit of a stir when he talked about his memory loss issues, when the St. Louis Rams were trying to get him as a replacement. And thanks to the magic of Youtube, you can see that last snap.
I may have also written about this 2007 article about the '81 49ers and their current state, but limits itself to the physical. And this 'What I Saw as an N.F.L. Ball Boy' from the NYT is interesting, if painful reading.
This Newsday link details the survey of former NFL players.
Alan Page was a Minnesota Supreme Court Justice, Alex Karras, Merlin Olsen and Rosie Greer were actors. How did old-timers escape? Or are these guys just outliers? A wasted morning of Wikipedia bios suggests that the late 60's/early 70's are the time when things seemed to take a turn for the worse. There was also the film North Dallas Forty, based on a roman a clef by Peter Gent.
I return to this topic a lot, because it seems to highlight that border. Gent passed away in 2011 and a remembrance of him had these words by him:
I still remember vividly the struggle to nourish desperate desires to be alive as a man can be – to live each day as if it were the last – feeling life pumping through us with the hammering of our hearts. It was a great life. A lot of scary high wire work, too many injuries, and lots of pain. But I felt more in one Sunday afternoon than I did later on in whole years – writing is the only thing I have done that comes close to being as terrifying as being a football player.