Political Animal

Flooding the Zone

FLOODING THE ZONE?….I guess the New York Times deserves the abuse it’s been getting, but at the same time some of the criticism is just starting to get childish: today they got the name of the ambassador to Romania wrong.

Come on, folks, this is just a routine error, and the Times publishes a dozen corrections of this kind of stuff daily. You really need to find something a little more substantive if you want to keep complaining.

O’Reilly vs. Franken

O’REILLY VS. FRANKEN….Thanks to a comment from Linkmeister below, I just caught some CSPAN-2 coverage of a luncheon at the LA BookExpo featuring Bill O’Reilly, Al Franken, and Molly Ivins. Ivins and O’Reilly gave a presentation on their upcoming books, and then Franken got up and just tore into O’Reilly, telling a long story about how O’Reilly misrepresented an award he won and never corrected himself. O’Reilly just sat there fuming, and when Franken was done they started snarling at each other like a pair of wolves. Well worth the price of admission!

Franken sure is pissed these days. He’s still funny, of course, but he sounded dead serious most of the time, and he’s really, really tired of right wing demonizing of liberals. Plus he’s one of the few people who can hold his own against O’Reilly.

The comments to this post have sort of a real time commentary on the show if you want to read more. And if CSPAN repeats it (and they usually do), it’s well worth tuning into. Plenty of fireworks.

UPDATE: Right now (2 pm Pacific) they’re doing an interview and phone-in with Franken and Ivins. Tune in if you’re interested.

Income Inequality

INCOME INEQUALITY….David Adesnik pulls this quote out of a Business Week article:

From the ages of 18 to 65, the average male college grad earns $2.5 million over his lifetime, 90% more than his high school counterpart. That’s up from 40% more in 1979, the peak year for U.S. manufacturing.

This goes to the heart of whether you think increasing income inequality is a problem. I think it’s quite true that as our economy has become increasingly reliant on brainpower it has naturally rewarded smart college graduates far more than any other group. There are two basic reactions to this:

  • This is just the free market at work. People are paid what they’re worth, and smart people are worth a lot these days. That’s the way it goes.

  • This trend is likely to continue, and since not everyone can go to college we will eventually end up with an enormous class of ill-paid (or unemployed) workers who are going to be pretty pissed off about things.

The free market does indeed reward certain classes of people far more than others, and it’s not just the risk-taking entrepreneurs. The question is, do you think this trend toward increasing inequality should be allowed to play itself out naturally? Or do you think it’s going to lead to some pretty serious problems?

UPDATE: Dan Drezner’s take on income inequality is here. He gets the “income mobility” argument right, I think, but is much too sanguine about the health of the middle class. Sure, more kids are going to college, but that’s never going to be more than a minority of the population. And while resentment toward the rich may indeed be muted in America, will it stay that way if current trends continue? I have my doubts.

A Statistical Analysis of Bill O’Reilly

A STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF BILL O’REILLY….Here’s a peculiar coincidence: last night I happened to be thinking about Bill O’Reilly (yeah, yeah), and what I was thinking was that he was a fraud and a bully who barely lets his guests get a word in edgewise.

Now, this morning, via Virginia Postrel, I find that The Progressive Review has mathematical proof of this! Check it out.