Further to our reader friend's comment on Reinhart-Rogoff:
The debate over budget austerity as the path to recovery from depression reminds me of a story told of Albert Einstein.
In the fall of 1919, Albert Einstein received an urgent telegram informing him that astronomers had observed evidence of the bending of light by the sun’s gravity, validating a key prediction of his general theory of relativity. He handed the cable to a student, who began congratulating him. “But I knew that the theory is correct,” he interrupted. And what, she asked, if the observations had disagreed with his calculations? “Then I would have been sorry for the dear Lord,” Einstein answered. “The theory is correct.”
Of course, the only reason we retell the story is precisely the data did corroborate Einstein's theory. If not, he might have continued believing himself a genius - but nobody else would have.
Speaking of perverse consequences: The Rubio/Gang of Eight immigration plan will unintentionally create a subsidy of up to $3,000 per year to employers who hire newly legalized workers over U.S. citizens, notes Jed Graham at Investors Business Daily.
In avoiding one controversy — the cost of providing millions of newly legalized immigrants with ObamaCare subsidies — the Senate "Gang of Eight" may have risked walking into another.
The bipartisan legislation released Wednesday dictates that those granted provisional legal immigrant status would be treated the same as those "not lawfully present" are treated under the 2010 health law.
That means they would neither be eligible for ObamaCare tax credits nor required to pay an individual tax penalty for failing to obtain qualifying health coverage. It also means some employers would face no penalty for failing to provide such workers affordable health coverage.
Some good news this morning. According to the New York Times, infant mortality rates, particularly for African-Americans, steadily decreased between 2005 and 2011:
The decline came after a period of stalled progress. Although the infant mortality rate dropped significantly over the 20th century, it remained static from 2000 to 2005, according to a report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
By 2011, however, the rate had dropped to 6.05 deaths of babies less than 1 year old per 1,000 births, down from 6.87 in 2000. Some of the most striking improvements were in Southern states, which still have higher infant mortality rates than most of the country.
The rate of infant deaths declined the most among black mothers — a drop of 16 percent from 2005 to 2011. Historically, infant mortality rates among black women have been more than twice those among white women.
A reader friend writes in with thoughts on the fallout from the discovery of major flaws in the research of Reinhart & Rogoff:
The Reinhart & Rogoff paper that has been ruthlessly critiqued in the past few days had long been cited as an example of how to make a “not crazy” argument about deficit reduction.
Their arguments made intuitive sense: it was not absurd to think that high debt could slow down growth, especially when you looked at countries like Japan and Italy. But now that Reinhart & Rogoff's standing in the fiscal debate is in doubt, we may soon discover that are very few "not crazy" deficit reduction advocates left to find.
The hacktivist group Anonymous wants to enter the world of journalism, in Anonymous fashion, of course.
While the news branch of the decentralized group has mainly existed on Twitter as @YourAnonNews, Anonymous wants to expand and have its own news site, which will focus on 'citizen journalists,' rather than relying on mainstream media, which it describes as 'constrained.'
Using the site Indiegogo, Anonymous has raised $54,698 (well above their $2000 goal), which it says will be used for the initial development and server fees.
Many things have changed since we began; from the rise of worldwide movements to the fall of oppressive regimes. All the while our goal was to disseminate information we viewed as vital, separating it from the political and celebrity gossip than inundates the mainstream.
Kevin Curtis, the man just arrested in Mississippi on suspicion of sending letters filled with ricin to Senator Roger Wicker, President Obama, and a local judge, is an Elvis impersonator on the side:
Some people know Curtis through his passion as an Elvis impersonator, including a snarl and long sideburns. He has dozens of YouTube recordings of his performances and even won second place in a song writing competition here in 2002. However, the divorced man was also known in many online communities and others locally for criticizing the North Mississippi Medical and state Rep. Steve Holland for alleged crimes.
As a janitor working in a cleaning service, he claimed to have insider information. Combing through his online postings including Facebook and message boards and interviews with people who have had altercations with him, Curtis sounds more and more conspiratorial.
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, in a broader piece debunking American stereotypes about the French daycare system, makes the case for Americans to be more like the French when it comes to bipartisan support for helping parents raise kids:
There is an overwhelming [French] commitment, from elites and the political class on down, to enacting policies that help families raise children. Along with healthcare and welfare transfers, the politique familiale is one of the pillars of the French welfare state.
This commitment is lacking in American politics. Oh sure, you can’t swing a cat in a Congress session without hitting a politician who has nice things to say about “family”, but there is a certain extent to which the socially liberal Left and the economically libertarian Right have a problem with the idea of helping families qua families, and being a parent qua being a parent (as opposed to simply, say, improving schools). It doesn’t help that the Left’s ideas on that are rooted in big government ideology.
Reform conservatives have proposed many ideas for a while now, from pro-family tax reform to credits for child care to more flexible labor markets to better monetary policy to more affordable housing and better infrastructure (spending that 3 hour commute with your kids instead should be a family value!) that seem to comport with the American framework much better than copying-and-pasting ideas that already don’t work well in Europe and would do even worse in the American context–ideas that, judging by the latest France-worshipping blog-fest, aren’t just ignored by Republican politicians but also by left-of-center wonks.
Israel's ambassador to Poland opened a 3D show of Warsaw ghetto photos on Wednesday as part of observances marking the 70th anniversary of the ghetto's ill-fated revolt against Nazi Germans.
The forty-eight pictures on show at Warsaw's Fotoplastikon are images of people walking or begging in the streets, street vendors, and the Jewish cemetery. Most of them were taken between 1940, when the ghetto was set up, and 1945, when almost nothing remained of Warsaw's Jewish district. Some of the images are very poignant, like the one of a boy searching for lice in his clothes. ... The 2D photos were supplied by the family of a Polish photographer and turned into stereoscopic images that, when viewed through binoculars, offer a 3D effect.
Luisa Estella Morales, the Supreme Tribunal chief in Venezuela, has issued arrest warrants against Henrique Cabriles, the loser of Sunday's presidential election, and members of Voluntad Popular for instigation to commit crimes.
In addition to Cabriles, Chief Morales has also issued arrest warrants for members of Cabriles' team, as well as Leopoldo López, the leader of Voluntad Popular.
All of this comes after the election results sparked massive protests accross the country with claims that the election was fixed. Since then, Chief Morales has stated that there will be a manual recount of the election results. The official results of Monday's election was 50.8% to 49%, in favor of Hugo Chavez protégé, Nicolas Maduro.
Matt Yglesias visits the world of Westeros to make a brilliant point about why tangible goods are so much more important than gold:
[I]n Westeros, the Lannisters have the cube of gold and the Tyrells with the rich farmland of the Reach have the real resources. You can’t eat gold. You can’t feed it to your horse either. Gold doesn’t keep you warm during those lengthy winters. Gold is useful primarily because it’s a convenient medium of exchange (who wants to carry all that wheat around) and a durable store of value (keeping a whole bunch of horses alive and healthy is itself a resource intensive process). So people with claims over valuable real resources will often end up accumulating gold. But though the Lannisters have more gold than anyone else, that’s not how they got their gold. They just own gold mines.
Now don’t get me wrong, you’d rather own gold mines than not own them. But the ability to pull shiny metal out of the ground is trivial compared to the power of a well-fed army. Imagine a scenario in which the Westerlands are out of food, and the Reach is out of gold. The Tyrells and their bannermen will need to curtail their consumption of luxury goods until they can manage to sell food for gold, but the austerity will be survivable if a bit unpleasant. The Lannisters, by contrast, are going to find that if they try to trade a whole big pile of gold for a whole big pile of food that the price of food will skyrocket. The illusion of Lannister wealthy is based on the idea that we can take the marginal price of an ounce of gold, then multiply that by the total quantity of the Lannister gold supply, and then conclude that the Lannisters are hyper-wealthy. In reality, any effort to mobilize all that metallic wealth will lead to inflation rather than the ability to mobilize vast quantities of real resources.
Same-sex marriage passed in New Zealand today. Watch what happened immediately after:
Since the Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed their ban on LGBT scouts and Scoutmasters, some parents have made the decision to pull their boys from the group and find an alternative program that does not have discriminative policies.
One such program, Navigators USA (a co-ed organization), has seen its membership double in the past year.
On their website, Navigators USA states:
It's amazing how a life spent buying and selling works of art tends to bring out the very worst in people. The Nahmad family are well known in the art world.
Over the years the family has amassed an estimated 300 Picassos worth $900 million, and about 4,500 other works by artists including Monet and Miró, many secreted in a duty-free warehouse near the Geneva airport. It is a treasure that Forbes estimated to be worth over $3 billion. Before this week, Hillel Nahmad’s gallery was a cynosure of refinement and wealth, with masters like Wassily Kandinsky and Francis Bacon on the walls.
But now this:
[O]n Tuesday, the family’s New York flagship gallery, the Helly Nahmad Gallery, at the opulent Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan, was filled with agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducting a raid.