The Federal Reserve, Henry Gates, Popular Policies, Health Care, Krugman on Cap and Trade, and High TimesFriday, July 24th, 2009
1. Down with the Fed! William Greider suggests we “dismantle the temple” that is the Federal Reserve in a piece this week. Greider is not only one of my favorite authors and one of the best writers on economics, he is also one of the foremost experts on the Federal Reserve. They key problem for Greider is that the Federal Reserve is an essentially anti-democratic institution:
The Federal Reserve is the black hole of our democracy – the crucial contradiction that keeps the people and their representatives from having any voice in these most important public policies.
Ezra Klein gives the piece a symapthetic audience, but then explains his reservations:
[F]or a period of time, Ben Bernanke ran our economy under a monetarist’s version of martial law. And the really problematic thing is that it probably worked. It may be all that saved us. You could argue that in the absence of the Federal Reserve, Congress would have been a whole lot more aggressive and responsible because Bernanke wouldn’t have been there to backstop them. But would you really want to bet the U.S. economy on it?
2. Sanity on the Henry Gates Controversy. Jacob Sullum in Reason‘s Hit ‘n’ Run blog gives what I think to be the essential take-away from the Gates fiasco:
[E]ven if we accept the facts as presented by Crowley, it’s clear he abused his authority, whether or not the color of Gates’ skin had anything to do with it.
Let’s say Gates did initially refuse to show his ID (an unsurprising response from an innocent man confronted by police in his own home). Let’s say he immediately accused Crowley of racism, raised his voice, and behaved in a “tumultuous” fashion. Let’s say he overreacted. So what? By Crowley’s own account, he arrested Gates for dissing him.
3. The Appearance of Bipartisanship Creates Popularity. Matt Yglesias has an interesting piece exploring the difference between how the media treats the relationship between public opinon, Congress, and policy issues and how that relationship actually works.
4. Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery. Ezra Klein points out that one passage from Obama’s speech Wednesday night seemed to be taking arguments directly from articles by Steven Pearlstein and David Leonhardt this week that got a lot of traction in the blogosphere. Both columns are worth reading even independent of their apparent influence on the Obama administration’s tactics.
5. Krugman on Cap and Trade Speculation. Paul Krugman takes on doubters encouraged by Matt Taibbi’s piece describing cap-and-trade as a giant scheme:
The solution to climate change must rely to an important extent on market mechanisms — it’s too complex an issue to deal with using command-and-control. That means accepting that some people will make money out of trading — and that yes, sometimes trading will go bad. So? We’ve got a planet at stake; it’s crazy to cut off our future to spite Goldman Sachs’s face.
6. A Laid-back Beat. Lastly, I came across this song in an episode of the British series Skins this week:
[Photo by me.]