First Bank of the Living Dead

by John Q on August 24, 2010

That’s the title of Daniel Drezner’s review Zombie Economics along with several other post-crisis books. I’m glad he likes the title, but he offers what seems to me to be a rather unfair representation of my argument. As the author, I’m not exactly unbiased, so see what you think.
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by Henry Farrell on August 24, 2010

“Inside Higher Ed”: has a good article on the Washington Post‘s interesting editorial stance on colleges that make their money through hoovering up the proceeds of student loans rather than, like, actually trying to graduate students with useful degrees.

bq. On Sunday, policy makers, higher education watchers and ordinary readers opened their newspapers and Web browsers to an editorial endorsed by the Post’s staff board that took a stance that could’ve come right out of Kaplan’s playbook. After disclosing the corporate link — noting that the paper is owned by the same company that “owns Kaplan University and other for-profit schools of higher education that, according to company officials, could be harmed by the proposed regulations” — the editorial bashed the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed rules, voicing concerns about access for low-income and working students, and worrying more broadly about how the country could meet President Obama’s higher education goals without for-profit colleges. … The editorial’s disclosure and others like it in the Post’s news coverage of for-profit colleges — touted by the Post’s ombudsman in a column this weekend — don’t go far enough, Asher argued. It’s one thing to acknowledge that Kaplan is owned by the same company, “it’s another to acknowledge the financial dependencies that the Post has on Kaplan, which they don’t do.” Close to 60 percent of the company’s revenues in the most recent fiscal year came from Kaplan. .. Today’s Post features another op-ed denouncing the proposed rules on for-profit higher education. The author is the chairman and chief executive of Strayer Education Inc.

At least this time they are providing some kind of disclosure. I “used to wonder”: why the _Post_ regularly “trotted”: “out”: editorials against broadband regulation, basing arguments on flagrantly bullshit statistics about rural access to broadband. When I found out that the Washington Post Company is the owner of a “cable company”: specializing in service provision to small rural areas my wonderment evaporated. As news publishing becomes ever less profitable in its own right, we can expect ever more attention to the possible side benefits of owning a substantial share of the public debate. The _Washington Post_ has already been a “pioneer”: in exploiting these synergies, and can, I suspect, be relied upon to do more as time goes on.

The Last DJ

by Harry on August 24, 2010

Bob Harris’s 40th anniversary show, here for a few more days. Extraordinary story about David Jacobs and his mum.

Contretemps at Cato

by John Q on August 24, 2010

The intertubes and socialnets have been buzzing with news of big changes at the Cato Institute. First up, there was this piece in the New Yorker, about recent moves by the Koch brothers, who pay the bills, to push Cato more firmly into line with the Repubs and Tea Party, and against Obama. This piece marks the mainstreaming of the term “Kochtopus”, used by the Kochs’ opponents in intra-libertarian struggles to describe the network of organizations they fund.

More striking was the simultaneous departure of Brink Lindsey and Will Wilkinson. Lindsey has been the leading proponent of a rapprochement between libertarians and (US-style) liberals, under the unfortunate portmanteau of “liberaltarianism”, and Wilkinson was similarly seen as being on the left of Cato.

These departures presumably spell the end of any possibility that Cato will leave the Republican tent (or even maintain its tenuous claims to being non-partisan). And Cato was by far the best of the self-described libertarian organizations – the others range from shmibertarian fronts for big business to neo-Confederate loonies.

On the other hand, breaks of this kind often lead to interesting intellectual evolution. There is, I think, room for a version of liberalism/social democracy that is appreciative of the virtues of markets (and market-based policy instruments like emissions trading schemes) as social contrivances, and sceptical of top-down planning and regulation, without accepting normative claims about the income distribution generated by markets. Former libertarians like Jim Henley have had some interesting things to say along these lines, and it would be good to have some similar perspectives

(a bit more to come when i have time)