Baby is here

blogging may be a little slow for a while…

Sarah Marie Greene

Born 7:01pm on November 22, 2010

6 pounds,13 ounces; 20 inches

Labor

No, not a post on the AFL-CIO.  Just felt a need to blog from the labor and delivery room at WakeMed Cary.  Been here since 6:30am.  Hopefully, within another hour or two, this will wrap up nicely with a bouncing baby girl.  As I frequently comment on gender issues here, I might as well mention that never is the gender difference in a marriage (even a very modern one) more apparent than childbirth.  Here I sit happily taking advantage of the Wifi at the hospital, while my wife sits suffering and miserable.  Not much I can do to help.  (Though, I did just grab the nurse).  More later.

Tax cut incoherence

I don’t get why I haven’t seen anybody make this point before, but count on Chait.  Basically, to argue that you cannot raise taxes in a recession is an implicit acceptance of Keynesian economics.  Of course, Keynesian economics also says you should spend to get out of the recession, but Republicans won’t go for that:

Basically, if you believe that recessions are bad times to raise taxes, then you should also believe they’re a bad time to cut spending. Alternatively, if you reject the Keynesian model, then you might think raising taxes is bad, but there’s no particular reason to think raising taxes during a recession is especially problematic.

The conservative rhetoric about raising taxing during a recession amounts to an ideologically incoherent pastiche of mutually exclusive theories. It literally makes no sense at all.

Time and time again, the evidence shows that Republicans’ primary ideological driver is less taxes for rich people.  Full stop.  That’s it.  Everything else is just window dressing on this politically unpalatable idea.

 

Inequality and the real world

Via Dan Ariely (author of the terrific Predictably Irrational) and friend, there’s an interesting Op-Ed in the LA Times about their latest research.  Apparently, most Americans dramatically underestimate the amount of inequality in our society:

According to an analysis this year by Edward Wolff of New York University, the top 20% of wealthy individuals own about 85% of the wealth, while the bottom 40% own very near 0%. Many in that bottom 40% not only have no assets, they have negative net wealth….

We recently asked a representative sample of more than 5,000 Americans (young and old, men and women, rich and poor, liberal and conservative) to answer two questions. They first were asked to estimate the current level of wealth inequality in the United States, and then they were asked about what they saw as an ideal level of wealth inequality.

In our survey, Americans drastically underestimated the current gap between the very rich and the poor. The typical respondent believed that the top 20% of Americans owned 60% of the wealth, and the bottom 40% owned 10%. They knew, in other words, that wealth in the United States was not distributed equally, but were unaware of just how unequal that distribution was.

When we asked respondents to tell us what their ideal distribution of wealth was, things got even more interesting: Americans wanted the top 20% to own just over 30% of the wealth, and the bottom 40% to own about 25%. They still wanted the rich to be richer than the poor, but they wanted the disparity to be much less extreme.

Like so much of the dysfunctional nature of American politics, I think a key fact is not what Americans don’t know, but rather what they think they know (hello, cutting waste, fraud, abuse and foreign aid to save the budget), but is simply wrong.  Presumably, if Americans realized the incredibly disproportionate (and growing) nature of American inequality, they’d be more open to Democrat’s efforts at redistribution, aka, “socialism.”

Gender and praise

I attended a live recording of one of my favorite podcasts– Slate’s sports’ podcast, “Hang Up and Listen”— at NC State last week.  Being in the area, they included special guest Anson Dorrance, the coach of the incredibly successful UNC Women’s soccer team.  I had not known to fascinating facts about Dorrance… First, he actually was offered the coaching job while still a law student.  Second, he coached the women and the men for about 10 years.

Apparently, he has all sorts of insights into how women and men are different.  What I (and the folks at the Slate Political Gabfest) found most interesting was the idea that women and men (at least team athletes) respond dramatically differently to praise.  Men, love to be praised in front of their teammates.  Doesn’t everybody?  Apparently, Dorrance’s female players do not like to be singled out for praise as this actually leads to resentment from teammates– and thus the player herself.  Dorrance saves strong praise for his players for my private situations.  I’m sure there’s got to  be some psychology research on this somewhere, but regardless, I do find it quite intriguing.

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