Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Second Inaugural

It was with much warmth and no small amount of pride that I watched the ceremonial swearing in and second inaugural address of Barack Obama. The tradition of the inaugural address is typically more poetry than prose. "With malice toward none", "all we have to fear, "Ask not what your country can do". But there are few addresses that have transformed national discussion and remain in our political lexicon for generations.

There are some great passages from President Obama's speech. But the overwhelming virtue of the speech is his placing the struggle for equality within the context of the nature of America. For progressives of my era, our lifelong struggle has been to get that recognition from our government. That equality is the goal that can bind us together in a great national experience where all are included and none marginalized. We have a long way to go but this paragraph from President Obama yesterday gives me hope...

"For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class. We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American; she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own."

Monday, January 7, 2013

Interim Senator for Mass

Strange positioning occurring in Mass regarding the temporary appointment of a Senator to replace John Kerry once he is confirmed as Secretary of State. Congressman Barney Frank has indicated in recent days that he is available for the appointment which would bridge the period from Kerry's resignation (which hash't happened yet) and the special election which would be a few months later. Sources tell me that the front runner for the Governor's nod (its his appointment) is former Admin and Finance chief Jay Gonzalez. I am hearing from fellow Mass progressives that there is some momentum for Barney Frank and that the Globe will endorse the idea in the morning edition. Personally I think Barney Frank would be among the best qualified people in the country to fill the role (let alone Massachusetts). I can't imagine what political consultant Doug Rubin was thinking when he dissed the idea of a Frank appointment, but Rubin isn't  Congressional scholar so who cares.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Early thoughts on ASSA 2013

Having been absent from the ASSA/AEA conference for a year I am concerned about the dying of the critical retrospection following the financial crisis of 2007. While there was significant discussion of the rupture of conventional wisdom during the Great Recession there is little continued examination in that vein. Too much of the discussion is about the deficit and debt and very little about unemployment. Some panels mention inequality but few solutions challenging the limits of narrow range of policy solutions.

Currently listening to the discussion at a panel on Media and Economics and the takeaway is that the important Econ journalism is through the scholar/bloggers like Paul Krugman, Brad deLong and Justin Wolfers. Christia Freeland accepts that idea ... Econ journalism needs to challenge the conventional.

More thoughts tomorrow from the plane.