Mar 18 2013

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

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New York Times Editorial: A Worsening Haitian Tragedy

The aid group Doctors Without Borders said last Tuesday that the cholera crisis in Haiti was getting worse, for the most unnecessary and appalling of reasons: a lack of money and basic medical supplies. [..]

The dreadful backdrop to this emergency is an abdication of responsibility by organizations that have pledged to help Haiti, particularly the United Nations. The U.N. said last month that it would not pay financial compensation for the epidemic’s victims, claiming immunity. This is despite overwhelming evidence that the U.N. introduced the disease, which was unknown in Haiti until it suddenly appeared near a base where U.N. peacekeepers had let sewage spill into a river.

Paul Krugman: Marches of Folly

Ten years ago, America invaded Iraq; somehow, our political class decided that we should respond to a terrorist attack by making war on a regime that, however vile, had nothing to do with that attack.

Some voices warned that we were making a terrible mistake – that the case for war was weak and possibly fraudulent, and that far from yielding the promised easy victory, the venture was all too likely to end in costly grief. And those warnings were, of course, right. [..]

So did our political elite and our news media learn from this experience? It sure doesn’t look like it.

Les Leopold: Too Big to Whale: Why JP Morgan Chase Should Be Shut Down

If you want more evidence that JP Morgan Chase is closer to a criminal enterprise than a economically useful bank, then read the report from the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, JP Morgan Chase Wale Trades: A Case History of Derivatives Risks and Abuses. It shows in high definition how this mega-bank, touted as the best managed bank on Wall Street, repeatedly lied and dissembled to regulators and investigators. [..]

The stench of Wall Street arrogance wafts through the report. Executives show utter contempt for regulators and for telling the truth. How dare those lowly public servants interfere with the banks primary mission, which is making as much money as possible, anyway possible, and damn the law!

Dean Baker: Capitalism, Steven Pearlstein, and Morality

The Washington Post had a major column by Steve Pearlstein on the front page of its Outlook section headlined, “Is Capitalism Moral?” The piece notes the sharp upward redistribution of income over the last three decades and asks whether we should just being willing to accept market outcomes.

Of course this question is absurd on its face. The upward redistribution of the last three decades was the result of deliberate government policies designed to redistribute income upward; it was not the natural workings of the market. [..]

The massive upward redistribution of the last three decades has been the result of these and other deliberate policies that had the goal of redistributing income upward. It was not the result of free market capitalism. [..] The real question is whether a system that is designed around policies that redistribute from the middle and the bottom to the top is moral.

Robert Kuttner: Talking ‘Bout My Generation

I will start drawing Social Security next month. I think I’ve earned it. On the other hand, I have to admit that society has been good to my generation.

I was able to graduate from a good private college with no debt. Four years at Oberlin cost $10,000 — tuition, room, board, books, fees. Not $10,000 a year — but for four years.My employers all provided good health insurance. Though I’ve had a somewhat unorthodox career, I did not hold multiple jobs because economic circumstances forced me to but because I enjoyed being at the cusp of journalism and academia. Yeah, I’ve worked hard, but the truth is, I’ve had a nice generational tailwind.

Why am I telling you this? Not because I expect to retire any time soon. But because, if you are under 40, your generation is getting utterly screwed compared to mine, and you should be in the streets.

Joe Romm: The Dangerous Myth That Climate Change Is Reversible

The CMO (Chief Misinformation Officer) of the climate ignorati, Joe Nocera, has a new piece, “A Real Carbon Solution.” The biggest of its many errors comes in this line:

   A reduction of carbon emissions from Chinese power plants would do far more to help reverse climate change than – dare I say it? – blocking the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Memo to Nocera: As a NOAA-led paper explained 4 years ago, climate change is “largely irreversible for 1000 years.” [..]

The fact is that, as RealClimate has explained, we would need “an immediate cut of around 60 to 70% globally and continued further cuts over time” merely to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of CO2 – and that would still leave us with a radiative imbalance that would lead to “an additional 0.3 to 0.8ºC warming over the 21st Century.” And that assumes no major carbon cycle feedbacks kick in, which seems highly unlikely.