Exceptional Exceptionalism

January 17, 2013 at 1:59 am | Posted in civil rights, Economy, Foreign Affairs, health, Historical | Leave a comment
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Some of the younger boys working in the Brazos Valley Cotton Mill at West. One, Charlie Lott was thirteen years old according to Family Record, another Norman Vaughn apparently twelve years old was under legal age according to one of the other boys there, Calvin Caughlin who did not appear to be fifteen years old himself. These and two girls that I proved to be under legal age were all working in this small mill. It was an exceptional case, but it it (i.e., is) likely that as the children become tired of school later in the year, there will be many more at work. Location: West, Texas. November 1913. Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine

What’s truly exceptional about America, it turns out, is the indifference we show to our compatriots, the absence of the kind of national solidarity more evident in the nations that surpass us on all these lists.

Harold Meyerson, Washington Post

Michele Bachmann declares Medicare “unconstitutional”

August 19, 2009 at 3:10 pm | Posted in House of Representatives | Leave a comment
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“It’s interesting, a lot of members of Congress may have forgotten what their Constitution says,” said Bachmann. “But again, it is not within our power as members of Congress, it’s not within the enumerated powers of the Constitution for us to design and create a national takeover of health care. Nor is it within our ability to be able to delegate that responsibility to the executive.”

Fortunately for Bachmann, as a member of Congress, she has “government-run health care.” I recommend that she make an appointment to see her doctor about the burning sensation she must be experiencing as a result of being congenitally stupid.

The funniest part of all this? Republicans are running around shrieking that the evil Democrats want to cut your grandma’s Medicare. I hate to spoil their fun but anyone with two brain cells to rub together knows that the Republicans have had it in for Medicare since before its inception in 1965 — by Democrats. In fact, Republicans had spent the previous 20 years fighting the creation of universal health coverage as proposed by President Truman in 1945. What was the terrible catastrophe they warned us of? “Socialism.” Ironically, it was during the administration of the great fearmonger Ronald Reagan that Medicare was expanded to include coverage for President, members of Congress (yes, Michele Bachmann, that unfortunately includes you) and the federal judiciary.

While Republican arguments against universal healthcare have been and continue to be stupid and predictable, Michele Bachmann brings a whole new level of stupid to the debate.

MediaMatters has done the heavy-lifting, documenting in summary the “socialized medicine” smears of the last 75 years.

Coolest President Ever

June 11, 2009 at 5:19 pm | Posted in health, Obama! | Leave a comment
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The Nation needs coolness more than clarion calls; intelligence more than charisma; a sense of history more than a sense of histrionics.   (No, folks, irony is not dead -- the man in the poster is Richard Nixon)  c. 1972 (Yanker poster collection, Library of Congress)

"The Nation needs coolness more than clarion calls; intelligence more than charisma; a sense of history more than a sense of histrionics." (No, folks, irony is not dead -- the man in the poster is Richard Nixon) c. 1972 (Yanker poster collection, Library of Congress)

Given the recent acts of domestic terrorism, no one would question President Obama canceling today’s town hall meeting in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Not only did the president go but he helped out a school kid who had skipped school to attend by writing a note to show her teacher:

“To Kennedy’s teacher–Please excuse Kennedy’s absence… She’s with me.”

Give This Guy A Cigar.

May 5, 2009 at 10:09 am | Posted in Economy, health | Leave a comment
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Detroit, Michigan. Chrysler girls shopping for pocketbooks following a style show presented by the Chrysler Girls Club of the Chrysler Corporation at Saks Fifth Avenue store.  Fall 1942

Detroit, Michigan. Chrysler girls shopping for pocketbooks following a style show presented by the Chrysler Girls' Club of the Chrysler Corporation at Saks Fifth Avenue store. Fall 1942

The media coverage of the auto bailouts has focused on the need for union autoworkers to take big pay cuts, causing them to once again miss the real story. The Fiat-Chrysler deal shows that the pay problem is at the top, not the bottom. At the end of the day, the new Chrysler is still likely to be producing most of its cars in the United States. What the new company will be getting from abroad is technology and top management.

This big story was so easily missed because it runs against one of the main myths that our elites have cultivated about the US economy: that the country has a “comparative advantage” in highly skilled labor. In this story, the United States will continue to lose manufacturing and other “less-skilled” jobs as its economy becomes more concentrated in highly skilled sectors. This story was convenient for our elites because it meant that the decline of manufacturing was a necessary, if sometimes painful, part of a natural economic progression.

It also justified the growing inequality in US society that benefited not just Wall Street bankers and CEOs, but also millions of doctors, lawyers, economists, and other highly educated workers. These people took their six-figure salaries as a birthright, even as the pay of less educated workers stagnated or declined.

Not only is the current way of operating unfair but, lest we forget, “workers” are “consumers” and “consumers drive the economy.”

Go read the whole thing here. It’s not long.

And while you are at it, take a look at this brief paper by David E. Bloom and David Canning of the Harvard School of Public Health:

Group of federal employees waiting for treatment at the Public Health Service Dispensary #32, which has recently been opened for the exclusive benefit of government workers (between 1909 and 1932)

Group of federal employees waiting for treatment at the Public Health Service Dispensary #32, which has recently been opened for the exclusive benefit of government workers (between 1909 and 1932)

A great deal of the literature on economic growth has been devoted to studying the impact of education on aggregate economic performance and comparing the results with the rate
of return to education identified by the Mincer (1974) log wage equation. We believe that ours is the first study to compare the estimates of the macroeconomic effect of health on output with the
microeconomic estimates of the effect of health on wages now available.

We estimate that a one percentage point increase in adult survival rates increases labor productivity by about 2.8 percent, with a 95 percent confidence interval of 1.2 to 4.3 percent.

All emphasis mine.

(Cross-posted at FromLaurelStreet)

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