Archive - 2014

April 9th

Let Them Eat Rice

    A recent Scientific American blog post blamed environmentalists for costing poor, malnourished people an estimated 1,424,000 life years in India alone. Why? Because they presumably kept Golden Rice off the market for over a decade when it could have been helping the world’s poor during that time.

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Pity the Plutocrats

    "Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H.L. Hunt ... a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

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Where The GOP Gets It Right

    Republicans may seem like ultimate Scrooges. Many want to slash food stamps, unemployment benefits and just about any program that helps the needy.

    So they know nothing about poverty, right?

    Wrong. Actually, conservatives have been proved right about three big ideas of social policy. Liberals may grimace, but hear me out on these points:

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LBJ's way

    History offers a rough kind of justice.

    As the nation's current president and three of his predecessors gathered this week at the University of Texas for an LBJ Library conference celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, they confirmed what has been building for many years now: a thoroughly justified revival of Lyndon B. Johnson's standing.

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Let There Be Light on Health Spending

LBJ's way

 

E.J. Dionne Jr.

 

    History offers a rough kind of justice.

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Oligarchs and Money

    Econonerds eagerly await each new edition of the International Monetary Fund's World Economic Outlook. Never mind the forecasts, what we're waiting for are the analytical chapters, which are always interesting and even provocative. This latest report is no exception. In particular, Chapter 3 - although billed as an analysis of trends in real (inflation-adjusted) interest rates - in effect makes a compelling case for raising inflation targets above 2 percent, the current norm in advanced countries.

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April 6th

Jobs and Skills and Zombies

    A few months ago, Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, and Marlene Seltzer, the chief executive of Jobs for the Future, published an article in Politico titled "Closing the Skills Gap." They began portentously: "Today, nearly 11 million Americans are unemployed. Yet, at the same time, 4 million jobs sit unfilled" - supposedly demonstrating "the gulf between the skills job seekers currently have and the skills employers need."

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Our Crazy College Crossroads

    Over recent days the notices have gone out, an annual ritual of dashed hopes.

    Brown University offered admission to the lowest fraction ever of the applicants it received: fewer than 1 in 10. The arithmetic was even more brutal at Stanford, Columbia, Yale. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill had a record number of students vying for its next freshman class - 31,321 - and accepted about 1 in 6 who applied from outside the state. Notre Dame took about 1 in 5 of all comers.

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The value of advocacy journalism

    Hope is the latest trend in journalism. Even hardened pessimists can't help noticing when serious investment money and donations flows into startups and new initiatives from traditional media companies, as the Pew Research Center's Journalism Project documented last week in its latest annual "State of the News Media" report.

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A Step Toward Justice in College Sports?

    If you were going to hold up a school as being exemplary in the way it puts athletics in, as they say, "the proper perspective," Northwestern University would certainly be one you'd point to. For instance, although it lacks the kind of winning tradition - at least in the big-time sports - that other schools in the Big Ten can boast of, it proudly points to the 97 percent graduation rate of its athletes.

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