I was furious that the Senate stimulus bill was weakened by Republicans who cut funding on education, science research, arts funding and all these worthy things that would be especially worthy in such times.
I was furious and I emailed my Senator and emailed my friends with my rage. But a funny thing happened. I looked around the blogosphere and find that everybody is outraged as well. (See this snl skit which pretty much summarizes it). See also Rachel Maddow:
"Cutting food-stamp funding to attract Republican support is proof-positive that the Republicans are not trying to come up with an effective stimulus here. If your house is on fire, and you call your fire department, and your fire department tells you to pour gasoline on the flames, they’re not actually making a good-faith effort to help you put out the fire. They’re not a good fire department.
"If you’re working up policy to fix an economic crisis, which is characterized by there being no spending in the economy, and someone in that debate says, ‘OK, but cut the spending out of the rescue plan,’ they’re bad at making policy.
"And you know what? It matters when you’re wrong. A whopping proportion of the Republican rhetoric about stimulus is wrong…. It’s just wrong. The time is now to take the radical step, as Americans — as civic-minded Americans concerned about our future — it’s time to take the radical step of privileging correct information over incorrect information….
"If you are wrong, from here on out, you should lose the argument and you should lose your political potency. Form a flat-earthers club or something, where you talk enthusiastically to each other about your made-up economic ideas that aren’t based in reality. But get out of the way of the people who are actually trying to save the country."
This so-called compromise will not stand, I guarantee it.
While we are talking about a new groupthink emerging, now is probably the time to add some conservative/libertarian bloggers to the regular visits. Arnold Kling’s Econoblog has always been a reliable read about the New Economy (he’s teamed up with two other economists I don’t know, but are probably good). Here’s his piece on the question of why don’t we yet have 1 universal remote control?
Tyler Cowen’s Marginal Revolution is also a good read, though for some reason I never got into it. Two reasons. First, it’s more a links blog than an analysis blog (in general terms, I mean). Second (and I’m almost embarrassed to admit it), I don’t like the wide text in the web design. It’s embarrassing because my own blog suffers from exactly the same problem. I really need to make this looking nicer, with the recession and all.
Actually though, Yglesias already covers Tyler Cowen pretty well, and some of the techie blogs cite Arnold Kling here and there.
A few years ago I changed dentists. From my teenage years I saw Craig Leever, and by some strange luck, he continued to be my dentist until about 2003 (that’s almost 20 years!). Craig was a great dentist and just a kind man and father, but it was really inconvenient to see him in the old neighborhood, so I changed to a dentist to a place near my work. The new dentist was different—in some ways better. But her approach to dentistry was radically different. Leever was aggressive about treatment (with my pocketbook definitely feeling the effects) while Dr. Kan was more of a wait-and-see kind of dentist. Leever had warned me about some major dental work I needed to be done; when the other dentist saw it, she said, no, it’s not urgent (although she understand where Leever was coming from). I realized that sometimes change is good for its own sake sometimes. Why did I automatically think Leever’s approach to dentistry was automatically better? Honestly, I had no idea. (Both dentists were in fact highly skilled). It’s a good idea to change providers on a regular basis—if only not to become too beholden to a single method of providing health care. If you go to the same barber shop all your life, chances are that your haircuts will start to be old-fashioned..and even laughable.
The same is true for reading sources. We rely on journalists and news sources, but every so often we need to realign—if only for a change of scenery. Several times I have bemoaned how America-centric my blogosphere seems to be. Ok, for programming topics I find blogs in South America and Europe, but for cultural stuff, I almost never venture beyond our borders. (Reading James Fallows is as adventurous as I get).
Postscript: After leaving to another dentist, I learned through a friend-of-a-friend that Craig Leever died unexpectedly. He was in his 50s and seemed relatively healthy when I saw him. I used to see him at the neighborhood swimming pool with his boys. The passing of a dentist is not supposed to mean much in this world, but a part of me knew that the world had lost someone special. I’m sure if I do this blog long enough (and there’s no sign I’ll be stopping—although maybe the Chinese php hacker who is trying to take over my webserver will probably terminate my blogging at some point—leaving remnants on the wayback machine). But I’ll probably have several more death posts to write; is it too soon to create a category for it?