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Showing posts from January 12, 2003
Notes We have been researching our ever more Moby Dick like essay on James F. Stephen, which is the reason we could be seen, Thursday, in a down town coffee house reading the seemingly dry as toast political history of Great Britain, The British Revolution, 1880-1939, by Tory historian Robert Rhodes James . The book, published some time in the 70s, turns out to be quite unexpectedly readable. It is rather depressing that Rhodes, who from his author picture is the typical dried up prune of a nerdy Tory, has such ease as a writer -- it implies a whole background acquaintance with English prose that just isn't there anymore. It has disappeared in our lifetime. The environmental disaster of extinction has gotten prolonged and constant exposure in the news for the last thirty years; but the cultural disaster of the extinction of a prose capable of subtly incorporating the whole range of English literature, the repertoire, in its easy narrative of facts, is not exposed at all in the
Remora LI hopes the last post wasn't too obscure. We were simply speculating, in our dillantantish way, about what a cut in dividend taxes would mean in terms of changing the landscape of investment. The NYT carries a column on just that subject today, by Hal Varian . Varian starts out poorly, with the wrong set of figures: "First, we really have become a nation of shareholders. According to "The Rise of the Equity Culture," a paper by the M.I.T. economist James Poterba, the number of individuals owning corporate stock has increased by nearly 60 percent in a decade, with about half of American households now owning stock, either directly or indirectly." Well, if half of American households own some stock "directly or indirectly" -- indirect ownership, presumably, means that somebody bought it for them and is waiting until a major holiday to give it to them -- or maybe it means that the stock was bought whilst the homeowner was in a somnab
Remora Drumbeat of war (on the bottom 60 percentile of incomes) The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has a nice little skewering of the new Bush tax giveaway. Andrew Lee and Isaac Shapiro begin with Bush's defense of the giveback : In response to criticism that his tax cut plan is skewed towards upper-income taxpayers, President Bush noted in a speech on January 9 that, under his proposal, a family of four making $40,000 would see its taxes fall 96 percent in 2003, from $1,178 to $45. This represents a tax cut of $1,133 Lee and Shapiro point out that "the tax cuts that would benefit this family constitute less than one-quarter of the overall cost of the bill. In other words, more than three-quarters of the package could be jettisoned and the $40,000 family mentioned by President Bush � as well as most other middle-class families � would receive just as much help." We were reading Peter Bernstein's wonderful Against the Gods: The story
Remora Back in the bad old days of the last election, LI opposed Al Gore for a number of reasons. One of them was purely political. The line of descent from Clinton to Gore pointed to one thing: by electing a rightwing Democrat, the party would naturally go even more to the right, thus ensuring the nomination of an even more rightwing Democrat after Gore. Once the bridge starts falling in the river, you can't hold it up from one side -- to put it as enigmatically as possible. Well, Gore was elected -- although, as we know, the election was stolen from him. And, showing how much we know, the unelected Prez swung to the left. Gore's statements for the last year have been music to our ears. However, our fundamental claim still stands -- and Lieberman is proof of it. The editor of Tom Paine, Robert Bosage, takes an acidic look at the man he calls Bush-lite -- although Bush himself could more appropriately be labeled Bush-lite. Perhaps we should label Lieberman Bush-ult
Remora Envy and Greed Let's begin with a little Adam Smith, shall we? Upon this disposition of mankind, to go along with all the passions of the rich and the powerful, is founded the distinction of ranks, and the order of society. Our obsequiousness to our superiors more frequently arises from our admiration for the advantages of their situation, than from any private expectations of benefit from their good-will. Their benefits can extend but to a few, but their fortunes interest almost every body. We are eager to assist them in completing a system of happiness that approaches so near to perfection; and we desire to serve them for their own sake, without any other recompense but the vanity or the honour of obliging them. Neither is our deference to their inclinations founded chiefly, or altogether, upon a regard to the utility of such submission, and to the order of society, which is best supported by it. Even when the order of society seems to require that we should oppos