Do Republicans think Milton Friedman was a big government liberal?
How much can you get wrong in just three sentences? A whole lot, it turns out.
Consider Mitt Romney's most recent fundraising email titled "Another Bailout?!?" -- not exactly a policy document, but still -- about the Fed's latest round of quantitative easing. See if you can spot anything that might correctly be called "correct".
Barack Obama is at it again -- spending your tax dollars to bail out his failed economic plan. It's more of the same from an out-of-touch president with no plan to fix our economy and put Americans back to work.
This past week, the Federal Reserve announced it would print $40 billion every month to prop up this administration's jobless recovery -- that's money we can't afford for jobs we will never see.
Okay, the Fed did announce that it would buy $40 billion of mortgage bonds a month until unemployment starts coming down -- which is, more or less, "printing" money -- but the rest is nonsense.
First, Barack Obama had nothing to do with the Fed's decision to do QE3. Only the Fed had anything to do with the Fed's decision to do QE3. It's independent.
Second, the Fed isn't spending tax dollars. As Team Romney acknowledges two sentences later, the Fed is printing money to buy bonds.
Third, this isn't a bailout. It's not even clear who is supposedly getting "bailed out". Is it the government? We can already borrow for basically nothing for 20 years. Is it the banks? The Fed is just swapping one interest-bearing asset for another when it buys long-term bonds and gives the banks more reserves.
Fourth, QE3 isn't more of the same, because it's a new kind of open-ended commitment from the Fed. That's why markets are excited.
Fifth, President Obama actually does have a plan to get the economy moving again. It was called the American Jobs Act -- remember it, from last year? -- and it died where all good ideas go to die: Congress. More specifically, Republicans on Capitol Hill killed it, and then they turned around and blamed Obama for the weak economy. It was a neat political trick, but it meant we didn't get the 2.1 million additional jobs that Macroeconomic Advisers estimated the bill would create.
Sixth, there's no way we can't afford printing money, because ... we're printing it. Taxes aren't going up. Neither are deficits -- the opposite, actually. As Ben Bernanke pointed out in his press conference, the Fed expects to make money from its bond-buying, which it is then legally required to remit to the Treasury. In other words, Fed policy is reducing the deficit -- by $76.9 billion in 2012 and $78.4 billion in 2011.
That's a lot of errors crammed into 73 words. But there's a bigger error here. That's Romney's approach to monetary policy. He's repudiating a generation of conservative economic thought. It used to be that conservatives championed monetary demand management as the superior alternative to fiscal demand management. It was an intellectual battle between Milton Friedman and John Maynard Keynes -- and Friedman very much seemed to carry the day. Economists from both sides of the aisle agreed that the Fed rather than Congress should manage the business cycle, unless short-term interest rates were stuck at zero, like they are now. As Paul Krugman has pointed out, this was the mainstream Republican position as recently as 2004 -- current Romney adviser and former Bush adviser Greg Mankiw wrote then that "aggressive monetary policy can reduce the depth of a recession". (To his credit, Mankiw has been a voice of reason on the right about the Fed in recent years). But that is an idea non grata among conservatives nowadays. Paul Ryan's hard money views have won the day instead. Inflation is always just around the corner -- never mind that it isn't -- jobs be damned.
Don't believe me? Here's something to remember: Bernanke himself is a Republican. He's become such a political punching bag for the right that it's easy to forget, but he hasn't done anything that Milton Friedman wouldn't have approved of.
The question is if Mitt Romney does too, or if he means what he says. A magic eight-ball might be a better guide there than an Etch A Sketch.
“Don’t underestimate me,” declared newly announced presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to George Stephanopoulos on Sunday. That may be good advice.
By conventional standards, Sanders’s candidacy is absurd: He’s not well known, he doesn’t have big money donors, he’s not charismatic, and by Beltway standards, he’s ideologically extreme. But candidates with these liabilities have caught fire before. Think of Jerry Brown, who despite little funding and an oddball reputation outlasted a series of more conventional candidates to emerge as Bill Clinton’s most serious challenger in 1992. Or Pat Buchanan, who struck terror in the GOP establishment by winning the New Hampshire primary in 1996. Or Howard Dean, who began 2003 in obscurity and ended it as the Democratic frontrunner (before collapsing in the run-up to the Iowa Caucuses). Or Ron Paul, who in 2012 finished second in New Hampshire and came within three points of winning Iowa.
The Nobel Prize winner and author of The Grapes of Wrath on the importance of waiting for love
Nobel laureate John Steinbeck (1902-1968) might be best-known as the author of East of Eden, The Grapes of Wrath, and Of Mice and Men, but he was also a prolific letter-writer. Steinbeck: A Life in Letters constructs an alternative biography of the iconic author through some 850 of his most thoughtful, witty, honest, opinionated, vulnerable, and revealing letters to family, friends, his editor, and a circle of equally well-known and influential public figures.
Among his correspondence is this beautiful response to his eldest son Thom's 1958 letter, in which the teenage boy confesses to have fallen desperately in love with a girl named Susan while at boarding school. Steinbeck's words of wisdom—tender, optimistic, timeless, infinitely sagacious—should be etched onto the heart and mind of every living, breathing human being.
After viewing news photographs from China for years, one of my favorite visual themes is "large crowd formations." Whether the subject is military parades or world-record attempts, mass exercises or enormous performances, the images are frequently remarkable. The masses of people can look beautiful or intimidating, projecting a sense of strength and abundance. Individuals can become pixels in a huge painting, or points on a grid, or echoes of each other in identical uniforms or costumes. I've gathered some of these images below, taken around China over the past several years. (Note: a few of these images can create a dizzying effect when viewed while scrolling, which is fun, but could be surprising.)
What is the appropriate penalty for having sex on the beach? This is a story about how that offense, like so many others, allows a penalty far longer than is just.
Were I a cop who stumbled on a couple hooking up beneath a blanket at night I'd look away. Confronted with people going at it during daylight hours in view of passersby, I'd think, "The abrasiveness of sand dissuades most people from doing this and the best outcome would be for Fark.com to mock their breach of community standards, but I suppose I'm obligated to make them stop and issue a ticket."As a prosecutor, I'd seek a sentence of community service plus one weekend of house arrest with the Jimmy Buffett song "Who's the Blond Stranger?" played on repeat over and over and over. A person never forgets that.
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
Two years ago, a Dutch creative agency opened a concept restaurant in Amsterdam that would be, in the words of its founder, “the perfect place to dine in pleasant solitude.” The restaurant is called Eenmaal—this name has been translated into English as “dinner for one”—and was launched in an attempt to start dissolving the stigma attached to going out alone. Apparently picking up on the same cultural drift, a new fast-casual restaurant in Washington, D.C., has tiered, bench-like seating with individual trays, an arrangement that caters to solo diners.
As antisocial as those ideas may sound, it’s surprising that the world hasn’t seen more of them. Today, more than a quarter of American households are home to just one person—a figure that has tripled since 1970. Also, the median age at which Americans get married has recently reached a record high. Given these demographic shifts, one would think that by now, going out to the movies or to dinner alone wouldn’t be the radical acts they still are.
Last week, Atlantic coverage was dominated by the dramatic events in Baltimore. Ta-Nehisi Coates lit up the Internet with his controversial take on the rioting in his hometown, followed by a forum at Johns Hopkins University about the broader meaning of the unrest. Conor Friedersdorf frowned at conservatives' response to Baltimore and police brutality in general—though he didn't fail to condemn the rioting as well. Conor also recognized the role that cameras played in the Freddie Gray story, as did Rob Meyer, who offered sound advice on recording cops. David Graham, who has been all over the Gray story, examined how the rioting arose and explored the impact of Twitter. Adam Chandler chased the breaking news while Alan Taylor illustrated the drama with imagery.
The simplest way to reduce the number of Americans who are abused by police officers is not to retrain cops or to reform their subculture. It is to significantly reduce the number of adversarial interactions people have with police.
Questions about how frequently Americans ought to interact with law enforcement are often associated with the debate over Broken Windows theory. Its proponents champion a model of policing where foot patrolmen are a regular presence in high-crime neighborhoods, vigilantly guarding against the sorts of low-level disorder that ostensibly leads to more serious crime if left unchecked.
For now, let's defer debate about Broken Windows theory.
Even if it is correct, there are still a number of reforms that would reduce adversarial contacts with police officers without increasing disorder on the streets.
Marilyn Mosby's press conference Friday shocked residents of Baltimore and everyone else watching protests over Freddie Gray's death. Barely 24 hours after police had completed their investigation into the death of the 25-year-old black man in police custody, the Baltimore City state's attorney announced a strong slate of charges against the six officers involved. It wasn't just the speed (Mosby said her office had begun investigations the day after Gray's arrest, and six days before his death) but the charges: second-degree depraved-heart murder against one officer, with the others facing a mix of manslaughter, assault, misconduct, and false imprisonment.
The decision was met with jubilation in West Baltimore, where protestors had rioted just four nights before. But almost immediately, critics began to second-guess Mosby, who's been on the job for just a few months. Were her charges politically motivated, or perhaps calculated to calm protests? Had she overcharged the officers, picking unfair charges, or ones she couldn't win? Did she move too fast to charge the officers?
The recent Bridal Fashion Week in New York, which previewed wedding gowns for the Spring 2016 season, featured all the things you'd expect: lace, crystals, tulle. (So much tulle!) It also featured, however, something you wouldn't, necessarily, expect: skin. (So much skin!) Skin not just of traditionally exposed bridal body parts—arms and shoulders and calves—but also of stomachs and sides and backs.
There was the Marchesa gown that leaves its wearer's back bare save for a line of covered buttons. There was Theia's pants-based ensemble, the focal point of which is a bra worn under an iridescent blouse. There was the spate of dresses that, taking their cue from ready-to-wear trends, featured cutouts—at the waist (Reem Acra), in the back (Monique Lhuillier), between the breasts (Angel Sanchez). There were the many two-piece affairs, with fits both boxy and snug, showing flirty flashes of midriff. There were the nearly invisible nettings—draped, wantonly, over shoulders and backs and necklines—that offered, in everything but the most up-close of views, the illusion of bareness. There were the many dresses that took their plunging necklines to their logical conclusions: their wearers' waists.