- Matthew Yglesias criticizes conservative readings of the Commerce clause. More specifically, he puzzles over why conservatives would think their position is so self-evident. He hits a lot of the points that I often make with respect to the enumerated powers of Congress, but I would differ from him somewhat. I would agree that you have have to do some pretty exhausting mental gymnastics to come out with anything but a broad reading of (1.) the General Welfare clause (the first power granted to Congress), and (2.) the necessary and proper clause. Both of these are deliberately phrased in just about the broadest, most discretionary language you could come up with - the idea that they should be construed narrowly is hard to defend, particularly because they made liberal use of these powers in the early republic, in Congresses and during administrations lead by the founders themselves. However, I would depart from Yglesias on the Commerce clause, and I do agree that the default on this one should be a narrower reading. There's no reason it needs to be impotent, but I think the language of the Constitution makes fairly clear that it is only commerce that has substantial ramifications across states - commerce that would need to be made "regular" - that they have authority over.
- Evan has an interesting post up on how he views working on seemingly irrelevant, antiquarian problems in theology. I liked this insight the best:
"Narratives are things that you live into and out of- they provide conventionsHistory of thought and history in general is always important and illuminating - it shows us how we got where we are. If we're lucky, we can learn lessons from history, but that's not always necessary.
for thought. They are the huge mass under the tip of the iceberg. There is no
urgency to exposing the details of a narrative; no apologetic goals are going to
be directly achieved by it. But the formative effect of forgettable events and
unimportant details is what colors our perception of the world with which we
engage, and in this sense the useless antiquarianisms are essential to the "real
work" of constructive discourse."
- ThinkMarkets has a great post on the economics of the Twilight series. This also seems like it might be a decent explanation for some wage stickiness, although I'd have to think about it a little more.
- The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has a budget simulator online (HT - Cobb Dug Less). It's a neat exercise. As usual, I have to over-analyze. First, let me say that I stabilized the debt at 60% of GDP by 2024. But that was my first concern - why are we stabilizing the debt at this level? I suppose you have to pick something to make this a game. I reversed some, but not all of the tax cuts (reversed all of the high-income cuts and half of the rest). I did a lot of adjustments to Social Security and Medicare, but didn't really change the health reform too much (the changes I would have made weren't an option except for an all out repeal choice). I chose the VAT which helped me score a lot - you could tell they were pushing that. One question I had was whether your choices affected the denominator (GDP) as well as the debt. After all, I made a lot of my choices precisely because I thought they would improve GDP - a few of the tax cuts and credits, my choices on the stimulus, etc.. I'm not sure if I got "credit" for that or not.
- Sam at Lector et Auditor on the importance of conversation in a liberal education. I think it's a good point. I've realized that I'm not nearly as good expressing myself speaking as I am writing. I think this is probably fairly common, but when you spend so much of your time writing, it can be shocking to get up to speak or present and have such a struggle.