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May 27 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 Board: Silence on This Day

If you listen carefully, you can almost hear the silence at the heart of Memorial Day – the inward turn that thoughts take on a day set aside to honor the men and women who have died in the service of this country.

It is the silence of soldiers who have not yet been, and may never be, able to talk about what they learned in war, the silence of grief so familiar that it feels like a second heartbeat. This is a day for acknowledging, publicly, the private memorial days that lie scattered throughout the year, a day when all the military graves are tended to, even the ones that someone tends to regularly as a way of remembering. It is the silence of soldiers who have not yet been, and may never be, able to talk about what they learned in war, the silence of grief so familiar that it feels like a second heartbeat. This is a day for acknowledging, publicly, the private memorial days that lie scattered throughout the year, a day when all the military graves are tended to, even the ones that someone tends to regularly as a way of remembering.

Paul Krugman: The Obamacare Shock

The Affordable Care Act, a k a Obamacare, goes fully into effect at the beginning of next year, and predictions of disaster are being heard far and wide. There will be an administrative “train wreck,” we’re told; consumers will face a terrible shock. Republicans, one hears, are already counting on the law’s troubles to give them a big electoral advantage.

No doubt there will be problems, as there are with any large new government initiative, and in this case, we have the added complication that many Republican governors and legislators are doing all they can to sabotage reform. Yet important new evidence – especially from California, the law’s most important test case – suggests that the real Obamacare shock will be one of unexpected success.

Robert Kuttner: Higher Education: The Coming Shakeout

Just as markets over-built housing, mispriced mortgages and bid up prices beyond the real financial capacity of homebuyers, America’s colleges and universities have over-expanded and over-priced their product. We are getting an education bubble with dynamics similar to the late housing bubble.

As more and more students find themselves with debts that exceed the salaries offered by the current job market, colleges have expanded beyond the capacity of their markets. Some kind of shakeout is coming. The question is: what kind.

Chris Hayes: London Terror

Terror does something particularly horrible to a populace. It is designed to incite a reaction, one in which people are put in their worst places as citizens. It’s a place where they are acting out of fear. Psychologists have found that: “When people feel safe and secure, they become more liberal; when they feel threatened, they become more conservative.” [..]

And what it seeks to snuff out is empathy and reason and fidelity to principles of liberty, and calmness. But what made this crazy story so remarkable was a woman, Ingrid Loyau-Kennet, who confronted one of the alleged attackers. She was staring this man in the face and engaged him in a conversation before police arrived. She didn’t cower and she didn’t run and she didn’t even succumb to rage. She just looked terror in the eyes and essentially said, calmly, you will lose. That is how we should respond to terrorism.

Jim Hightower: The New Crime of Eating While Homeless

By outlawing dumpster diving, Houston is making life impossible for the most vulnerable.

Whenever one of our cities gets a star turn as host of some super-sparkly event, such as a national political gathering or the Super Bowl, its first move is to tidy up – by having the police sweep homeless people into jail, out of town, or under some rug.

But Houston’s tidy-uppers aren’t waiting for a world-class event to rationalize going after homeless down-and-outers. They’ve preemptively outlawed the “crime” of dumpster diving in the Texan city. [..]

Such laws are part of an effort throughout the country to criminalize what some call “homeless behavior.” And, sure enough, when hungry, the behavioral tendency of a homeless human is to seek a bite of nourishment, often in such dining spots as dumpsters. The homeless behavior that Houston has outlawed, then, is eating.

John Miller: The Chained CPI Is Bad for Seniors and for Accuracy

That AARP television ad sure raised the hackles of the Washington Post editors back in 2011. The editors called AARP’s threat-to vote out any politician who supported a reduction in the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security benefits-“thuggish,” “self-centered,” in denial about the crisis of Social Security, and as “wrongheaded” as conservative power-broker Grover Norquist. That last one had to hurt.

Back then, the proposal to reduce the Social Security COLA by switching to the “chained” Consumer Price Index (CPI) didn’t come to pass. But now it’s back, this time as part of the 2014 Obama budget proposal and going by its technical economic name-the “superlative CPI.” Make no mistake, though. It’s the same idea now as then, and would reduce the COLAs for Social Security and veterans’ benefits, as well as the inflation adjustment for income-tax brackets.