Indiana University

The conservative meme of the moment on income inequality is that the middle class isn't getting screwed at all; it's doing just fine. “Don’t Believe Obama On Income Inequality,” writes Clark Judge, chairman of the conservative Pacific Research Institute, for U.S. News & World Report. “Obama’s Inequality Argument Just Utterly Collapsed,” writes James Pethokoukos in The American, a magazine produced by the American Enterprise Institute.

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Think Cranks

Paul Krugman has a nice shoutout to my "Crankocracy" TRB on his blog and points out that crankocrats long ago seized control of conservative think tanks. This is an important point I wish I'd included. "[W]hat the money of rich cranks does," Krugman observes, "is ensure that bad ideas never go away—indeed, they can gain strength even as they fail in practice again and again." Quite so. Krugman writes that even the cranks themselves end up suffering from the bad ideas they promote, but that they're too cussedly ideological to recognize this. That's true.

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Not from the Onion: The language of Ayapaneco has been spoken in the land now known as Mexico for centuries. It has survived the Spanish conquest, seen off wars, revolutions, famines and floods. But now, like so many other indigenous languages, it's at risk of extinction. There are just two people left who can speak it fluently – but they refuse to talk to each other. Manuel Segovia, 75, and Isidro Velazquez, 69, live 500 metres apart in the village of Ayapa in the tropical lowlands of the southern state of Tabasco.

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Ben Bernanke's “unusually uncertain” may be for our times what Alan Greenspan’s “irrational exuberance” was to the late 1990s—a phrase that captures the dominant mood without providing much policy guidance. As dissent continued to rise in the ranks of the usually united Federal Reserve Board, unusual uncertainty reigned supreme at the annual Jackson Hole meeting.

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Allan Sloan, in a column criticizing the proposed tax on expensive health insurance plans, says that most of the revenue from this tax wouldn't come from the high-cost plans: [I]f you look at the actual workings of the plan, you come away far less impressed.

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One afternoon in October, a blue and white jumbo jet flew high above the Pacific Ocean, approaching the international dateline. On board was the secretary of defense, Robert Gates, who was on an around-the-world trip that would end with a summit of NATO defense ministers, where the topic of the day would be Afghanistan. Gates was flying on what is often called “the Doomsday Plane,” a specially outfitted 747 that looks like a bulkier Air Force One and was built to wage retaliatory nuclear war from the skies.

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MBA Frayed

Back in October, not long after Lehman Brothers collapsed and triggered a meltdown on Wall Street, one of the hottest e-mail forwards making the rounds among finance types was a letter by Andrew Lahde, a hedge-fund manager who had posted eye-popping 866 percent returns in 2008 by betting on increases in U.S. subprime mortgage defaults.

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The Language of Forms: Lectures on Insular Manuscript Art By Meyer Schapiro (Pierpont Morgan Library) Romanesque Architectural Sculpture By Meyer Schapiro (University of Chicago Press) I. When Meyer Schapiro died ten years ago, at the age of ninety-one, he had a place in American intellectual life that was extraordinarily large and also rather mysterious. Quite a few of the people who mentioned his name with a quickening excitement, a catch in their voices, had probably not read a single one of the exacting essays about medieval art on which his scholarly reputation rested.

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