Video of the day

So, this is kind of awesome.  2 professional Japanese soccer players try and score on 55 kids.  Via Kottke.

Kansas and supply side

Great Krugman column this week about what happens when a state, in this case Kansas, embraces supply-side economics despite all the evidence it doesn’t actually work.  So, why?

Two years ago Kansas embarked on a remarkable fiscal experiment: It sharply slashed income taxes without any clear idea of what would replace the lost revenue. Sam Brownback, the governor, proposed the legislation — in percentage terms, the largest tax cut in one year any state has ever enacted — in close consultation with the economist Arthur Laffer. And Mr. Brownback predicted that the cuts would jump-start an economic boom — “Look out, Texas,” he proclaimed.

But Kansas isn’t booming — in fact, its economy is lagging both neighboring states and America as a whole. Meanwhile, the state’s budget has plunged deep into deficit, provoking a Moody’s downgrade of its debt.

There’s an important lesson here — but it’s not what you think. Yes, the Kansas debacle shows that tax cuts don’t have magical powers, but we already knew that. The real lesson from Kansas is the enduring power of bad ideas, as long as those ideas serve the interests of the right people [emphasis mine]…

Why, after all, should anyone believe at this late date in supply-side economics, which claims that tax cuts boost the economy so much that they largely if not entirely pay for themselves? The doctrine crashed and burned two decades ago…

And it’s not as if supply-siders later redeemed themselves. On the contrary, they’ve been as ludicrously wrong in recent years as they were in the 1990s. For example, five years have passed since Mr. Laffer warnedAmericans that “we can expect rapidly rising prices and much, much higher interest rates over the next four or five years.” Just about everyone in his camp agreed. But what we got instead was low inflation and record-low interest rates.

So how did the charlatans and cranks end up dictating policy in Kansas, and to a more limited extent in other states? Follow the money…

And what is ALEC? It’s a secretive group, financed by major corporations, that drafts model legislation for conservative state-level politicians. Ed Pilkington of The Guardian, who acquired a number of leaked ALEC documents, describes it as “almost a dating service between politicians at the state level, local elected politicians, and many of America’s biggest companies.” And most of ALEC’s efforts are directed, not surprisingly, at privatization, deregulation, and tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy…

But how can you justify enriching the already wealthy while making life harder for those struggling to get by? The answer is, you need an economic theory claiming that such a policy is the key to prosperity for all. So supply-side economics fills a need backed by lots of money, and the fact that it keeps failing doesn’t matter.

And the Kansas debacle won’t matter either. Oh, it will briefly give states considering similar policies pause. But the effect won’t last long, because faith in tax-cut magic isn’t about evidence; it’s about finding reasons to give powerful interests what they want.  [emphasis mine]

Yep.  I think Krugman really does nail it.  Simply saying– more money for rich people; less money for non-rich people, is not a winning political strategy.  Rather, we get “more money for rich people means more money for everybody!” despite massive amounts of evidence that it is simply not true.

More birth control –> less abortion

It’s not actually a hard concept at all, but so many on the right seem to propose easy access to contraception.  Here’s the latest study:

What would happen if women at risk for unintended pregnancies received the birth control of their choice — especially the more effective kinds — at no cost?

The national abortion rate would plummet, according to a study conducted by researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology on Thursday.

The researchers enrolled 9,256 women from the St. Louis region into the Contraceptive Choice Project between August 2007 and September 2011. The women were aged 14 to 45, with an average age of 25, and many were poor and uninsured with low education. Nearly two-thirds had had an unintended pregnancy previously. Participants were either not using a reversible contraception method or willing to switch to a new one.

Researchers provided free, FDA-approved birth control to the women for three years. The women were given their choice of contraception, including oral birth control pills and long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods like implants and IUDs…

Over the course of the study, which lasted from 2008 to 2010, women experienced far fewer unintended pregnancies than expected: there were 4.4 to 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women in the study, after adjusting for age and race — much fewer than the national rate of 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women and lower also than the rate in the St. Louis area of 13.4 to 17 abortions per 1,000 women.

The effect of free contraception on the teen birth rate was remarkable: there were 6.3 births per 1,000 girls aged 15 to 19 in the study, compared with the national rate of 34.3 births per 1,000 teen girls…

Yet American women use LARC methods at far lower rates than in other countries. In large part, that’s because of cost: upfront costs to implant an IUD, which requires a doctor visit, can total $500 to $1,000, for example. Over a decade, however, birth control pills can cost just as much. American doctors also tend not to recommend long-acting birth control to women as often as they do the pill or patch, though IUDs and implants may be up to 20 times more effective.

Ugh!  This is great that you can have such an impact through a public policy choice (that is, if you choose to fund LARC through public policy), but so frustrating that so many on the right are opposed.  As I’ve said before, if you really want fewer abortions (and teen pregnancies, etc.) you should want an IUD in any woman who possibly wants one.  Pro-life people should be fighting for that, not against it.  So, what’s up?  Honestly, I think the answer is explained to a considerable degree by Erik Erickson’s response to the Hobby Lobby decision:

My religion trumps your “right” to employer subsidized consequence free sex.

Yep.  When you get right down to is, a huge amount of the opposition is simply based on medieval notions of female sexuality.  It’s pathetic, but sadly, something that is causing more unwanted pregnancies (which are bad for mothers and babies) and more abortions.

Photo of the day

For this day off of World Cup viewing, here’s a World Cup photo of the day from a Big Picture gallery of World Cup goals. Love the facial expressions on both players here:

England’s goalkeeper Joe Hart can’t stop Uruguay’s Luis Suarez’s header to score his side’s first goal during the group D World Cup soccer match between Uruguay and England at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on June 19. (Felipe Dana/Associated Press)


More Hobby Lobby

1) A new post from Kevin Drum that explains that the decision really isn’t about abortion, but actually birth control:

That was then, this is now:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday confirmed that its decision a day earlier extending religious rights to closely held corporations applies broadly to the contraceptive coverage requirement in the new health care law, not just the handful of methods the justices considered in their ruling….Tuesday’s orders apply to companies owned by Catholics who oppose all contraception. Cases involving Colorado-based Hercules Industries Inc., Illinois-based Korte & Luitjohan Contractors Inc. and Indiana-based Grote Industries Inc. were awaiting action pending resolution of the Hobby Lobby case.

Nonetheless, the court has now ruled that a religious objection to contraceptives is indeed at the same level as a religious objection to abortion. In other words, just about anything Catholics consider a sinfor Catholics is justification for opting out of federal regulations. I wonder if the court plans to apply this to things that other religions consider sinful?

Uhhh, yeah.  I suspect not.  A coincidence that all five members of the majority are practicing Catholics?  I think not.

Politically, this is good news for Democrats.  There may be some confusion as to whether IUD’s etc. are actually abortifacients (they are not), but to allow a company to say all forms of birth control are immoral and fight for that as your political value?  That’s a loser.  Americans– Catholics just as much as anybody else when it comes to actual practice– love their birth control.  Of course, the losers are women who need affordable, high quality birth control.

2) Five myths of the case debunked (I linked it about the abortifacient issue).

3) I love Yglesias for giving some pushback on the corporations are people angle.  In some important ways, we really do need to treat corporations like people:

The basic functions of a corporation — including contracts and property ownership — would be useless unless corporations enjoyed basic constitutional protections. If corporations didn’t hold the same due process rights as human beings, the idea of firms holding property and entering into contracts would be worthless.

By the same token, the idea that corporations have a right to free speech is essential to preserving the values of the First Amendment. It’s imperative that not only do Fox News’ anchors have the right to criticize the Obama administration, but that Fox News as a corporate entity has that right. Otherwise, censors could effectively silence critics by heavily fining hostile broadcasters and publishers even while leaving the human critics unmolested. Similarly, NARAL Pro Choice America and the National Organization for Women are themselves corporations. It’s critical to the democratic process that they are able to criticize Supreme Court decisions, lobby congress, and otherwise act as constitutional persons.

4) That said, even if John Oliver isn’t quite 100% right on the law here, he’s dead right on the satire.

He also did a heck of a job as Vanity Smurf in Smurfs 2, which I saw yesterday (“hey, what the heck, that’s John Oliver”, I thought to myself).

5) And from the pure rant department, this is kinda awesome:

Your boss doesn’t get to dictate what you do with your paycheck, whether it’s buying groceries, donating it all to orphans, or splurging it on hookers and blow.

Your boss might take issue with you buying pork because he’s Jewish, donating it to orphans because she thinks they’re godless, or on the hookers and blow because that’s not very Christian of you. However, your bosses would be ridiculed for thinking they have the right to tail you to make sure you’re spending YOUR money in accordance with their faith, right? There’s not much difference here. Set aside that the insurance is not directly offered by Hobby Lobby, or that they could pay taxes/penalties instead of lawyers and legal fees by kicking everyone onto the exchange, thereby taking away their supposed moral conundrum. Spoiler alert: HEALTH BENEFITS ARE COMPENSATION FOR YOUR LABOR. Why would you think for one second that your boss gets to dictate what you do with your compensation?

6) And never hurts to mention that this asinine system of health insurance is an historical quick that makes no sense.  And if it was up to Democrats, we would surely do away with it.

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