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Waiting for Paul

Has anyone noticed that Paul Krugman has been strangely silent on the scandal at the VA, in which there seems to be a massive fraud in the failure to accurately report the real time that veterans have to wait for needed health care.

Perhaps this has something to do with this column, in which he said:

The system in question is our very own Veterans Health Administration, whose success story is one of the best-kept secrets in the American policy debate.


For the lesson of the V.H.A.’s success story — that a government agency can deliver better care at lower cost than the private sector — runs completely counter to the pro-privatization, anti-government conventional wisdom that dominates today’s Washington.


Cries of ”socialized medicine” didn’t, in the end, succeed in blocking the creation of Medicare. And farsighted thinkers are already suggesting that the Veterans Health Administration, not President Bush’s unrealistic vision of a system in which people go ”comparative shopping” for medical care the way they do when buying tile (his example, not mine), represents the true future of American health care.

Paul, I’m sure, has been holed up in his office trying desperately to show how the scandal is the result of right-wing extremists who are blindly ignorant to the facts and bludgeon reality with their ignorant, ideological hammers at every opportunity.

Of course that is the basic argument of every Krugman column, whether the “scandal” at issue is climate science, banking reform, austerity policies in Europe, income inequality, etc. etc.  He cycles through his pet lists of topics, but the argument is the same–cut and pasted from one article to the next.  Even if you think that the other Times columnists are whacky, too, at least the others come up with different whack from time to time and don’t expect to get paid for writing the same column every day.

So, Paul, we’re waiting.  Should be a doozy.


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The European Elections

There’s been a lot of commentary in the press about last weekend’s elections to the European Parliament. Most noted has been the rise of euroskeptic and far right parties in several countries. The far left also made advances, with a Marxist party coming first in Greece and a surprisingly strong performance from a new far left party in Spain. Yet we should also keep some things in perspective:

  • As the image to the right shows, the far right and far left combined will have just over 10% of the seats in the European parliament. Other euroskeptical parties will add another 8-9% to that total. The center-left and center-right blocs are the largest, as ever.
  • European Parliament

  • The European Parliament has little power to roll back European integration in any case. The irony of the United Kingdom Independence Party’s success in European elections in Britain is that they can do very little to withdraw Britain from the EU from their seats in Brussels. Until euroskeptic parties start forming national governments, we aren’t going to see any countries seriously reconsidering European Union membership.
  • There is not a positive correlation between the level of unemployment and the percentage of the vote for the far right. Some of the high-unemployment countries, like Greece and Spain, had very strong performances from the far left, but it still seems that national economic performance did not drive far-right voting. Still, the Eurozone crisis has damaged the legitimacy of EU institutions and markets more generally. Economic decline, even when caused by government or central bank mismanagement, always seems to undermine public support for free enterprise and international openness.
  • Even in the UK, public opinion on European integration already seems to have turned the corner. In no EU member state does a majority favor withdrawal.

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Quite a few libertarians have yet to sign up for the Free State Project. Why not? One reason is that libertarians take their commitments seriously and are therefore reluctant to enter into them lightly. Yet I argue that the FSP’s Statement of Intent isn’t a commitment or a promise of any kind. It’s just a statement of what you think you will be able to do. So leave your inhibitions behind, and sign up now to help us “trigger the move” next year! Check out the whole post on freestateproject.org.

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Happy Earth Day (unless you are a Republican in Congress, then it is Happy Tuesday)

The courts may force the most transparent administration in history to become transparent. How is that possible?

Beauty and the Beast (of inequality). Can we infer that libertarians think they are more attractive? Regardless of levels of attractiveness, it may be the case that many were introduced to libertarianism as fans of the band Rush

Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, is number one on Amazon (my latest book is number 2,554,705, alas). I am certain this is good for Piketty. But one wonders if this means that Capital is destined to become one of those books that almost everyone owns but few have read. Although Clive Crook is not overly impressed with Capital (despite the “erotic intensity” it has aroused), he notes that “the rapturous reception proves that the book, one way or another, meets a need.” I am not certain precisely what that need is, other than to signal to the like-minded that you are concerned about inequality.

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Montreal talk

Tomorrow (Friday) at 5 PM, I will be at McGill University in Montreal to give a talk on “The Ethics and Economics of Secession.” All are welcome. Here are additional details:

Jason Sorens PhD, the founder of the Free State Project will be in Montreal for a guest lecture at McGill.

The event is an initiative of the Youth for Liberty (Jeunes pour la Liberté) group, the local chapter of Students for Liberty.

The event is co-sponsored by McGill’s Research Group in Constitutional Studies (RGCS).

The topic for this guest lecture will be:
“The Ethics and Economics of Secession”

McGill University: Ferrier Building
840 Dr Penfield Avenue
Montréal, QC H3A 1A4

Ferrier 456

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Time Sink

The Sunlight Foundation has released a wonderful program (Capitol Words) that allows one to chart the number of times that members of the House and Senate have used specific words on the floor. You can chart the number of occurrences by party (try “debt” and see that both parties are concerned about the debt, albeit only when the president is from the other party). You can also compare different words (try “Koch” and “Benghazi” for example). I only wish that one could save the charts. H/t  Shane Goldmacher.




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Too Early?

Charlie Cook (National Journal) has some initial thoughts on the 2016 GOP candidate (his “Republican Bracket”). I always find Cook interesting. One particularly odd observation:

“Sometimes after losing two consecutive presidential contests, parties become more pragmatic and move toward the center. Other times, they double down on ideology. Logic would argue for a GOP move toward a center-right nominee for 2016.”

Question to contemplate: How can one move from McCain and Romney to the center right?

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