All links possible

As I said last month, it’s perfectly reasonable to speak ill of the dead when they’re in politics. So let’s look at one of Maggie Thatcher’s more obscure legacies, the mass privatization of electric power. Among the problems this unleashed were that capping profits rather than capping rates made it easy for electric companies to make more money, then cut profits by paying the CEO more. Another is that instead of becoming privatized, most of Britain’s electricity is now owned by foreign government-backed companies such as France’s state electric utility.
Author James Meek argues that the bureaucrats pushing free markets ignored that the companies don’t want a thriving free market—it’s easier to buy up a company than make new power plants to compete with it. And that a grid that has just enough electricity to keep the lights on is ideal: “Then they can charge as much as they like, and people will have to pay. ‘People think insecurity of supply means will the lights go off or not – but that is not the issue,’ he said. ‘It is what happens just before the lights go off.’”
•Consumerist on why medical bills are so high.
•Before Enid Blyton, before Sweet Valley High, there was Angela Brazil.
•Here’s a really good article from Washington Monthly on how financial and other regulations get gutted by Congress and industry. As LGM points out, getting a bill passed is only the beginning of the fight, and getting liberal judges on the courts is a key section of the battle (Republicans are very, very good at getting judges appointed when they have the power and blocking appointments when they don’t).
The discussion of how little the media cover the finagling and massaging of regulation reminds me of an article some years ago in American Journalism Review, predicting just this problem: As more newspaper cut their Washington (or state capital staffs), regulation debates outside Congress get shorted on coverage.
•California has a bill that would give you the right to found out how companies use information they gather on you. Well, you’d have the right if you live in California.
•Here’s something of interest if you’re a vegetarian: A search engine for finding vegetarian or vegan restaurants where you live.
•Last year I wrote that the president having a mandate depends on whether you support him. Sure enough, Peggy Noonan insists that Obama didn’t really have a mandate so big deal whoop-te-doo. And she knows Americans don’t like him because he’s a “cold technocrat.”
•Last week Harvard professor Niall Ferguson announced that economist John Maynard Keynes (whose views on the importance of government stimuli are often invoked by people who criticize the current push for austerity and social-safety-net shredding) didn’t care about the deficit because he was gay! As he had no children, it didn’t matter to him if his policies burdened future generations with debt. A straight parent wouldn’t accept Keynesianism!
In response to the criticism, right-wing columnist Jonah Goldberg has pointed out this kind of bull is not a new argument. Which is true: Back in the 1990s, a book called Degenerate Moderns argued that Keynes rejected the gold standard because as a gay, he was biased against all fixed standards of morality. I think in general it draws on the same assumptions as criticism of Barack Obama because he might be biased against whites—a straight white figure can be assumed to be objective, but minorities?
As another LGM blogger notes, Goldberg’s defense is that Ferguson’s position on gays “was perfectly within the bounds of intellectual discourse not very long ago.” By which logic of course, there’s nothing objectionable in someone calling for segregation, or for that matter suggesting Jews and Catholics are enemies of Protestant America.
Brad Delong collects some past examples of the “Keynes was gay so he must be wrong” arguments here.

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One response to “All links possible

  1. Pingback: Back on line | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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