I am a huge fan of Netflix’s House of Cards, which stars Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood, a ruthless political anti-hero. Here’s the trailer, if you haven’t seen it. It’s really good:
I launched into the 3rd season yesterday and was fascinated by Underwood’s “America Works” proposal. Very minor spoilers here–Underwood plans to eliminate or restructure America’s entitlement programs, using the money saved to create 10 million jobs, which will apparently cost $500 billion. Now, this is a television show. There are no CBO reports to look at, no detailed policy analyses or public policy research, but I want to dig into this and take the opportunity to explore some of the issues with entitlement programs.
The movie Selma has achieved near universal critical acclaim. It has a score of 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 100% among top critics. It’s been nominated for 2 Academy Awards, and manypeoplethink it should have been nominated for even more. This is a problem, because Selma has a fatal flaw–it lies to us about how our political system works. Read the rest of this entry »
There’s a bit of a disconnect between international relations theory people and economic theory people. It is rare that a single person finds himself facile with both disciplines and this tends to introduce blind spots in thinking. One of the biggest blind spots concerns the future role of manufacturing in geopolitics. Many people believe that cheap wages in places like China will ensure a strong US-China trading relationship and reduce the chance of future security competition. They think China will rise peacefully. These people are missing an important economic trend–the decreasing relevancy of the US-China wage gap and the inevitability of “reshoring”, the relocation of manufacturing back into the rich countries from whence it came.
Congress has decided to let the extension in unemployment benefits it passed in the wake of the economic crisis in 2008 lapse. It’s estimated that 1.3 million Americas will lose their unemployment benefits completely, with 5 million seeing a reduction in benefit of some kind. This is a very bad idea. Here’s why.
I ran across an interesting hunk of data supplied by Paul Krugman that confirms what I have long suspected–American politics is no longer a contest between the progressive left and the conservative right; it is a mere feud between different conservatives. Let me show you what I mean.