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    Maxine's Essays

    • 21st Century Regress
      Sometimes it seems like the world is going to hell and there's absolutely nothing a girl economist can do about it.
    • What Exactly Are We Crowding Out?
      The current economic downturn isn't a random draw of a black ball from an urn containing white balls and black balls. There's no sampling distribution. Very specific policies and actions landed us here. Now we must decide not only what policies need to be put in place to prevent it happening again, but also what policies would best drive us out of the ditch faster and sustainably.
    • I Wish It Were Only Butter
      We should be giving up some butter if we must. We should not give up education or health investment (or infrastructure or the environment (hello, BP). They may be the only legacies of any value that we pass on to our children and grandchildren.
    • Rational Health Investment?
      The obvious "market solution" is to improve the long run return on investments in health among the disadvantaged through meaningful and effective publicly funded education. The obvious short run "market solution" is to reduce the costs of investment and the shadow price of health for the disadvantaged by providing health insurance cover and reduced out-of-pocket costs.
    • The Socrates Parameter
      To the extent that our limbic systems respond to such engineering by over-riding the judgment of our frontal lobe and to the extent that our frontal lobe is deprived of the information it requires to make a rationally self-interested judgment, we are not only pigs and fools, we are slaves.
    • The Economic Rewards of Virtue
      If individual virtue tempers our "piggy" desires and conditions our choices to something that is both individually and socially better, then the economic rewards of virtue as embodied in and promoted by societal norms and institutions are far greater than we have ever suspected. As economists, we would do well to recognize this when we teach U max.
    • The Market for Morals
      Markets then are places where more is exchanged than goods and services, labor and product, credit, and interest. They are places where we also develop the personal virtues of temperance and prudence and the social virtues of benevolence and justice. When they function well, they produce trust, loyalty, and sympathy among those who trade there.
    • Post-Modern Applied Economics: It’s the Error Term, Stupid
      Maxine believes it’s time to refocus attention and discussion on the error term. It is often where much of the action is in our models. It is where unexpectedly catastrophic events dwell resulting in fat tails. It is where our animal spirits manifest and cause us to do the right thing or the wrong thing or the thing everyone else is doing rather than the self-interested, fully-informed rational thing. It is where God and miracles and chance dwell.
    • Intergenerational Win-Win: Health Insurance, Education, Environment, Infrastructure
      So when we’re talking about fiscal stimulus packages and we’re borrowing from our grandchildren to finance them, we should be thinking about how to use stimulus monies to create value for those grandchildren AND stimulate our economy.
    • Short-term Private Payoffs, Long-term Social Costs
      The real health reform discussion, the one we should be having, is “What must we do to create a health system that is both efficient and fair?” The answer will almost certainly include relegating the private sector to markets where market forces or regulation are effective at aligning short-term private incentives and goals with long-term societal interests. If such markets are scarce or non-existent in health, then the private health sector will be of limited value.
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    11/29/2010

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    Remember, Obama's always overly scared of looking too liberal. This should have been obvious from the start of the primaries, with what Obama said and with policies much less progressive than his main rivals, but too few people look past the superficial -- he gives me the heebie-jeebies when he talks and Hillary seems bitchy.

    Sadly, I don't find the thesis that Obama is deceived as plausible as the thesis that he intends to deceive. And, manipulate.

    Elizabeth Warren sets a standard and shines a light that exposes corruption in many forms. That Obama cannot and will not shine that light on his partisan political opponents shines a light on his own debased motives.

    Gazing on Warren's example of intelligent decency, and the light it sheds on the alternative, my admiration for her tends to be overwhelmed by my sorrow for my country.

    That said, it can be difficult to say what they will actually do -- what really helps or hurts hundreds of millions and billions worldwide, not the heebie-jeebies and looking like JFK. Obama with no individual mandate had nothing close to a universal healthcare plan in the primaries -- and constantly put down the individual mandate. Hillary and Edwards both had it.

    But Obama actually did push for and pass a true (even though highly flawed) universal health care plan with an individual mandate -- and passed it!

    Hilary it's unclear if she would have passed it, or if she would have really fought and taken down the filibuster. She did give in badly on the 2005 bankruptcy bill for which Warren severely criticized her in her book, The Two Income Trap, but that bill was passing with or without her Senators vote.

    Meanwhile, Edwards had the most progressive policies, but he was doomed because of his personal behavior.

    The comments to this entry are closed.

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