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Jonathan Korman
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US GDP: $14,700,000,000,000 In your family metaphor, what is GDP? Maybe how much the family's employers' revenues from their labors? Cut off the zeroes and you get $147,000. Sounds like Mom & Dad could ask for a raise; the boss could afford to pay $38,200.
Toggle Commented Aug 30, 2011 on It Bears Repeating at Cobb
1 reply
I have no doubt that had Clinton been elected President, I'd wonder about the Obama Presidency that might have been. But having experienced that Obama Presidency that has actually happened, I cannot help but think about what I said in early 2008.The case for Senator Clinton is that she's a street fighter who can win the election in November and win legislative victories as President. .... Clinton is the candidate of winning the game, Obama is the candidate of changing the game. .... Clinton is the safe bet, and Obama is rolling the dice and hoping for greatness. .... It's easy to imagine the Clinton presidency: smart, pragmatic, moderately liberal, politically crafty, winning many small battles in Congress. It's very hard to imagine what the Obama presidency would really be like. Bold, effective new coalitions winning big victories that Americans want like ending the war in Iraq and fixing American healthcare? Or mired in political clumsiness in which very little actually gets done? I endorsed Obama because I thought it was worth a try. (And I figured that Clinton was the one Democrat who had no chance at enacting health care reform, given her particular history.) But the gamble failed, as in retrospect seems inevitable. Even then, I knew who I wanted in the White House if it turned out there was no getting away from the knife fight.
You've touched on something that I frusta noticed watching The Sopranos: a big part of why we can get behind the monstrous Tony Soprano is that we respect him being good at his job.
Though I'm more sanguine about at least the theoretical possibility of effective regulation of things like financial markets, I agree that the creation of decentralized institutions is also a very good idea. (The two are far from mutually exclusive, obviously.) But of course, as I hinted at first, it's difficult to conceive a real politics that will bring us to either good regulation or decentralization. I wouldn't say that we lack a fundamental appetite for crushing non-state actors. The Bush administration was able to rev up strong public support for some pretty stupid policy in pursuit of that aim, and while the policy has been discredited I don't think the aim has been. I'd say it's characteristic of Obama that he's hesitant to undertake that project ... though I think he regards Afghanistan as a limited experiment in seeing if it can be done artfully. Sharing your fear that we don't have a good alternative to the nation state on offer, I hope that the Afghanistan adventure points toward an effective response to non-state actors, and that it convinces skeptics like Obama and yours truly. But my expectation is that this hope will be dashed, and we're facing decades of erosion of the post-Westphalian world which the American political sphere will feel, but be too disoriented to name.
Toggle Commented Apr 10, 2010 on The Failure Nobody Wants To Talk About at Cobb
1 reply
It certainly does seem to be politically impossible to reform our financial and economic institutions at the scale that is necessary to prevent systemic breakdown. I'm more concerned about, say, Great Depression-ish sustained high structural unemployment than tax revolt, but the point remains the same. Like you, I'm surprised that 9/11 and the events in its wake haven't made more folks aware of the breakdown of the forces which created the modern nation-state. Have you read Martin van Creveld? He concluded that the combination of nuclear weapons at one and and very effective small arms at the other meant that the nation-state as a war-fighting entity is doomed, and that with that the enterprise of nation-states as a whole.
Toggle Commented Apr 9, 2010 on The Failure Nobody Wants To Talk About at Cobb
1 reply
I vote Yes on Popeye. Sure the movie is a mess. But. Elias Koteas delivered the Vaughn from Crash that I pictured when I read the novel. God gave us Marty Feldman so he could play Eye-gor in Young Frankenstein. Christopher Reeve is the real Superman. And Shelly Duvall was born to be Olive Oyl. How can you skip that?
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Dec 17, 2009