Weekend reading recommendations

Some reading material for your weekend pleasure!  New material and updates to previous posts.

New material

My top recommendation to read:  Fabius Maximus on Restoring the Republic — posted by Tor at “Dunedain” website, 16 October 2009 — An interview with me.

Other recommended readings:

  1. Refusing to Admit the Problem“, William K. Black (Prof, former Fed bank regulator), blog at the NY Times, 11 September 2009 — bout the failure of financial sector regulation that caused the crisis, and will cause the next one too.
  2. The Ongoing Cover Up of the Truth Behind the Financial Crisis May Lead to Another Crash“, George Washington’s blog, 15 September 2009 — Hat tip to Naked Capitalism.  Expanded analysis from the above article.
  3. Count Off – The Army says it exceeded its 2009 recruiting goals. But the numbers are very fishy“, Fred Kaplan, Slate, 16 October 2009

Updates to past posts

I strongly recommend reading (a.2) below!

(a)  Update: about the swine flu epidemic:

  1. US, Other Nations Stop Counting Pandemic Flu Cases“, AP, 9 October 2009
  2. Does the Vaccine Matter?“, Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer, The Atlantic, November 2009 — I strongly recommend reading this!
  3. Facts About Swine Flu“, Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer, The Atlantic, 14 October 2009

(b) Economists discuss the impact of the stimulus on our recession

  1. Boon or Boondoggle“, Mark Zandi (a Chief Economist of Moody’s, former McCain economic advisor), op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer, 11 October 2009 — “Critics are wrong: The stimulus is working. If anything, it wasn’t big enough, as job losses show.”
  2. A note on Automatic Stabilizers“, Felipe Rezende, Economic Perspectives from Kansas City (faculty of the U of Missouri-KC), 16 Jule 2009

(c) Stratfor debunks myths about nuclear weapons and terrorism


Please share your comments by posting below.  Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 word max), civil and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

Weekend updates are more open threads, unlike the usual posts on the FM site.

6 thoughts on “Weekend reading recommendations”

  1. FM: “We all know what to do. We just lack the will.

    I would have said the opposite, Americans have the will they just don’t know what to do.
    Fabius Maximus replies: You might be correct. We can only guess at these things.

    As evidence I cite our unwillingness to engage in the actual and obvious work of running our political machinery — walking precincts, donating to candidates (except as bribery) — and our eagerness to believe lies (e.g., Campaign Obama).

    What is yours? It’s a valuable line of inquiry!

  2. I’d say that Oblat has a more accurate view, FM. Think about the Tea Parties and the G-20 protests. Look at 2008’s surge of interest in the political process. The political discourse on the health care debate has been loud and highly visible.

    There’s a lot of willpower being expended from all sides but most of it is to ensure that nobody else wins. That, of course, ensures that we all lose. Which, unfortunately, is my expectation for the future.

    On the other hand, I really liked nearly everything else you had to say in the interview.
    Fabius Maximus replies: What do you mean by “most of it is to ensure that nobody else wins.” Almost all political conflict results from attempts to prevent the other side winning.

  3. FM: “What do you mean by “most of it is to ensure that nobody else wins.” Almost all political conflict results from attempts to prevent the other side winning.

    Why are the Republicans are working so very hard to defeat Democratic healthcare plans? Not because they believe in the current system, even they admit that it is broken. Not because they have a better suggestion, they have nothing to offer. It is solely because they don’t want the Democrats to achieve anything.

    The Democrats did the same thing for Bush’s plan to privatize the Social Security system. Bush’s plan was terrible but at least Bush admitted that the Social Security system desperately needed to be changed and offered some sort of a vision. The Democrats squashed it, not so much because it was a bad idea but because they didn’t want the Republicans to be seen as achieving any sort of success.

    The Legislative branch was specifically designed to slow down change and encourage compromise decisions. What we’ve currently got is a legislative branch that incapable of doing anything more than getting re-elected and very occasionally rubber-stamping policy changes created by the Executive branch.

    I once attended a Cub Scout parent meeting and was quite impressed by the high level of participation until I realized that every single participant was there solely to gain the maximum benefit for their child while avoiding being assigned any tasks. The organization failed less than three months later for that reason. Congress seems to be in the same mode these days although I expect the collapse will take longer.
    Fabius Maximus replies: All conflcit consists of parry and thrust. You see the parties parrying, but not the thrusts. There is a balance at this point, preventing major change. That’s a commonplace in history, but major changes happen nonetheless.

    The key to running a Scout Pack or Troop is to state at the start that this is a co-op. Every family must help in some way. Many hands, light loads. In effect you recruit active parents, not boys.

  4. Let’s point to the most telling inability: not being able to put a new mass political movement together. Not even one a là Berlusconi or a là Ariel Sharon. But on the present path Greece is much more advanced, not only are the parties the same, the leader persons are also of the same two families. So, the choice for the future is clear, a new party with new leaders or two families as the permanent Dem and Rep leaders. Well the Bush family is already near the target.
    Fabius Maximus replies: That we have not followed someone like Berlusconi is IMO good news. More generally:

    (1) Creating new political parties seems like buying a new home rather than remodeling a fine old home. In my experience people often move as a alternative to self-reflection and change. As the great Buckaroo Banzai said, “Whereever you go, there you are.”

    (2) New political movements reflect a late development in the process of change. Problem identification and analysis come first, then search for solutions. I believe we’re still in the early stages.

    (3) More evidence for #2:

    All truth passes through three stages.
    First it is ridiculed.
    Second it is violently opposed.
    And third it is accepted as self-evident.

    — Arthur Schopenhauer, (I have no citation)

  5. Re #2, Pluto is not quite right: “[the Republicans] have nothing to offer.”

    Prior to 2006, I would agree that the Republicans had little interest in health care reform because the Bush big government wing ran the party and they were in the pockets of the insurance companies. But there is nothing like a big loss to spur reform (ask the Army, when the late 70s and 80s saw an intellectual renaissance). The establishment still runs the party but there is a big internecine fight on.

    Now there is a Republican alternative (“The GOP’s Health-Care Alternative,” WSJ, May 20, 2009 but it’s irrelevant because Democrats have large majorities in both houses of Congress. (Too bad, because the alternative approach attacks a main reason for of out-of-control-costs, the fact that when employers pay, beneficiaries have little interest in controlling costs).

    It’s ironic that the fight over health care in Congress is between Democrats who are ideologically committed to a government-run system and Democrats who fear their reelection prospects if they vote for the Baucus budget-buster/government-expander.

    What we’ve currently got is a legislative branch that incapable of doing anything more than getting re-elected and very occasionally rubber-stamping policy changes created by the Executive branch.

    It’s the other way around. Obama rubber-stamped the first Porkulus bill that Congress came up with, largely payoffs to campaign donors. Now the White House is letting Congress write the Health Care bill instead of coming up with his own proposal. Of course it will look like sausage.

  6. Great article about the vaccinations, Fabius, thanks for posting. I will never view the flu vaccine, at least, the same way! Odd that they mention the Sinclair Lewis novel Arrowsmith while recommending placebo-controlled trials. I seem to remember Arrowsmith quitting work on such a placebo-controlled trial in the novel, as he considers it immoral. I wonder if it would be possible to do a placebo-controlled trial, as they suggest in the article, but limit the study to people who are unlikely to die? This might give useful data, and would put no-one in possible danger. Of course, however, it would give no data about the case which is probably most necessary to know: whether the flu vaccine or Tamiflu have any effect on the weakest populations such as the very old. Hrmmmmm…..

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