Monday, 17 January 2005

I want you to blog naked

Jacqueline Passey is bemused by the reaction garnered by a casual statement that she “often” blogs without any clothes on. If I thought that a similar revelation about my blogging habits would improve our traffic, I’d happily chime in, but I strongly suspect this would just lead to numerous readers gouging out their eyes in mortal terror.

I humbly apologize to those readers who now won’t be able to get this song out of their heads.

MLK day

There’s not much, if anything, I can add to Dr. King’s great I Have A Dream speech, so I’ll provide an excerpt, starting from my favorite section and going to the end:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. And this will be the day, this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning, “My country ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!” And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring—from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring—from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring—from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring—from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring—from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that.

Let freedom ring—from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring—from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring—from every hill and molehill of Mississippi, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual,

“Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”

Delivered roughly 100 years or so after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation went into effect.

Social security indexing again

This issue is now all the rage. It’s quite amazing how your understanding of an issue this big has to be pieced together. Take a look at the following:

The 1970s were a time of social turmoil, rampant inflation, and falling real wages. Gerald Ford was president in 1976 and Alan Greenspan was his chairman of economic advisors. To this day Mr. Greenspan no doubt has painful memories of those wacky “Whip Inflation Now” (WIN) buttons that came to symbolize economic policy disarray. Inflation in 1974 and 1975 had been running at about 10% per annum. Many voters were extremely distressed about the impact that inflation might have on the value of their Social Security and other pension benefits.

There was strong bipartisan support at that time for indexing initial benefits to inflation, but a great deal of confusion about how to do it. Should the government use indexes of wages or of consumer prices to adjust future initial benefits? If so, what specific index should be used? It was a given among economists then—and still is—that wages are likely to rise faster than consumer prices over the long run based on the long-term trend toward higher labor productivity.

Be sure to read that again and then consider: if Congress and President Ford had chosen to index Social Security to inflation in 1976, there would be no problem today. They chose wage indexing because real wages were falling at the time, so they saved some money in the short term and screwed us in the longer term, with little or no discussion at the time:
Whatever one’s opinion on that monumental policy shift may be, the remarkable thing is that it occurred with virtually no public discussion. A search on Lexis-Nexis of major U.S. newspapers during the 1975 to 1977 period turns up few editorials or news analysis of any substance dealing with the massive shift in policy. The mainstream media clearly seemed to be missing in action on the entire story. If there was a substantive debate on wage indexation in 1976 it seems to have been entirely an inside-the-beltway affair.
Read the whole thing, and weep.