Matt Yglesias has a pleasant fantasy about investment
Inspired by Mitt Romney’s low tax rate, Matt Yglesias defends the principle of taxing investment income more indulgently than labor income. To make the argument, Yglesias spins a morality tale about two well-paid doctors, one a profligates who eats fancily and travels the globe, the other a prudent sort who builds buildings and hires people to work in them. It’s only fair, concludes our Slate pseudo-contrarian, that the prudent doc deserves a break from the tax code, since he’s doing so many other people favors. Leaving aside the fact that the profligate supports an army… Read More
Dylan Matthews has a rethink on teacher strikes
Last week, Dylan Matthews made some strong claims about how damaging teacher strikes were to student achievement—claims that I spent some time challenging (here and here). He has softened his line now. Today, writing up Rahm Emanuel’s suit to have the strike declared illegal, Matthews says: So the “clear and present danger” argument seems a more promising avenue for Rahm than the strikable issues claim. But still, the empirical burden of proof there is weighty. While there exist studies suggesting that strikes, insofar as they reduce instruction, reduce student achievement, CTU could try to poke holes in those or dispute… Read More
Fresh audio product, lots of it
Freshly posted to my radio archives. Sorry, don’t know why it took so long. Very often the podcasts are up for subscribers well ahead of the web page update, though. September 13, 2012 Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute on the State of Working America • Melissa Gira Grant, author of this fine piece, on sex workers and their self-appointed saviors September 6, 2012 Christian Parenti talks about the politics of climate change on the occasion of the publication of the paperback version of Tropic of Chaos August 30, 2012 Joel Schalit on a militarized, post-democratic Israel • David Cay Johnston on Romney’s taxes August 23,… Read More
Why wait a year for it to show up in the NYT?
I have uncanny experiences reading the bigtime press sometimes. I’ve complained before about how Paul Krugman brings up the rear, sometimes years after I’d written about them. See here for some examples. Or here. The newspaper of record—do we still call it that in the post-print days?—has done it again. Catherine Rampell the other day (“Does It Pay to Become a Teacher?): The United States spends a lot of money on education; including both public and private spending, America spends 7.3 percent of its gross domestic product on all levels of education combined. That’s above… Read More
Teacher strike miscellany
Word is that the Chicago teachers’ strike is on the verge of settlement. That probably means that school reform will fade as a political issue, but it shouldn’t. But before it does, a few odds & ends to address. Dylan Matthews, revisited In my critique of Dylan Matthews’ awful bit of apologetics for Rahm Emanuel (“How much do teacher strikes hurt kids?”), I spent a lot of time on his use of Michael Baker’s NBER working paper (“Industrial Actions in Schools: Strikes and Student Achievement”) that allegedly showed damage to student test… Read More
From the vault: Class
I wrote this for The Baffler back in 1998. A little old, but still full of truth. This is what I submitted; the published version was edited modestly. On the first page of his awful book, One Nation, After All, Alan Wolfe writes, “According to the General Social Survey, at no time between 1972 and 1994 did more than 10 percent of the American population classify themselves as either lower class or upper class.” He says this to prove that the rest, 90%, are middle class. But they’re not. Wolfe forgot to say that… Read More
Matt Yglesias is not one of those union-hating liberals, he swears!
Matt Yglesias does not like my analysis of why liberals hate teachers unions (“Why teachers unions are different”). It’s all about the taxpayers, he says—and the folks who work in charter schools. If CTU members get what they want, that’s not coming out of the pocket of “the bosses” it’s coming out of the pocket of the people who work at charter schools or the people who pay taxes in Chicago. But the CTU strike isn’t mainly about wages—it’s about education policy. The city of Chicago is spending buckets of money on… Read More
Why do so many liberals hate teachers’ unions?
A lot of otherwise liberal people really hate teachers’ unions. I’ve been wondering why they’re so singled out for contempt. It struck me last night that perhaps the thinking is that it’s ok for autoworkers or janitors to unionize because they’re pretty much interchangeable from an educated upper-middle-class perspective. Teachers, though, are supposed to be “professionals,” and any kind of solidarity among them offends an individualistic, meritocratic sensibility that believes in (often “objective”) measures of evaluation. But even “professionals” can be pushed around by bosses and need solidarity to prevent being exploited… Read More
Several people have written me to say that all the good stuff I described, via the OECD, about Ontario’s progressive education reform in my previous post is all over. The Liberals have gone American. Sad news. But it does make you wonder: if American-style ed reform were really about “the kids,” why abandon an experiment that was a model for the world? The suspicion that the U.S. reform agenda is about social discipline and saving money seems more justified than ever.
How much do teacher strikes hurt kids?
A Washington Post blogger named Dylan Matthews posted an attempted heart-tugging piece yesterday arguing that teacher strikes do serious academic damage to young students. This is, of course, part of the elite strategy of discrediting the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) strike against that city’s public schools: it’s a war declared by callous union bosses against schoolkids and their parents to protect their (thoroughly unearned and undeserved) job security and fat paychecks. Their paychecks are anything but fat, and the CTU is anything but a selfish, insular union. For proof of the latter, check out their… Read More
Presidential economics, 2004 vintage
Mike Tomasky writes with some surprise in The Daily Beast (“The 24 and the 42 million, and Basic Competence”) that both the job market and the stock market have done better under Democratic presidents than under Republican. He comments: “ And yet, no one in America knows. No one.” That’s not true. Subscribers to Left Business Observer knew that years ago. I first reviewed the post-World War II record of the two parties in 1996, and updated the study in 2004. The results: Dems are better for growth in both jobs and GDP, and for… Read More
From the vault: the gold fetish
With the Republicans indulging their gold fetish, I thought this would be a good time to reprint the “currencies” section of the first chapter of my book Wall Street (Verso, 1997). The book is available for free download here. Numbers and institutional details are, of course, out of date, but the conceptual frame is as fresh as a daisy. For a psychoanalysis of money, credit, and gold, see From the vault: money and the mind, a psychoanalysis. currencies Trading in currencies is the largest and probably the oldest market of all. It used to be that the… Read More