Better for the Economy?

It seems like there has suddenly been a proliferation of interviews with voters, especially undecided voter, in the media, especially NPR. One view that I’ve heard repeated with such regularity that it could almost be described as “conventional wisdom” is that a Romney Presidency is likely to be better for the economy than a second Obama term. The argument maintains that Romney has business and management experience of the sort that will help him turn the economy around. There’s only one problem with this bit of conventional wisdom, and that is that is that it doesn’t hold water.

The nature of Romney’s experience does not necessarily qualify him to manage the national economy any better than Obama’s. Romney worked at Bain Capital. Such organizations come in deal to with a company to the greatest profit for investors. The company may be dissolved, broken up, sold off, leveraged, or whatever. Employees, customers, suppliers and everyone else are secondary.

A nation is not a corporation and it is not a business. A nation should be managed for the good of the whole, which means the greatest good of all. Things a government does often will make terrible sense from a purely economic standpoint, but that’s not why we do them. Just saying!

Academic Freedom Media Review, February 18-24, 2012

The Scholars at Risk media review seeks to raise awareness about academic freedom issues in the news. Subscription information and archived media reviews are available here. The views and opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily those of Scholars at Risk.


Sociologists Back Scholars in Oral History Case /
Inside Higher Ed, 2/24

Bryn Mawr Will Host Artist Barred by Villanova
Inside Higher Ed, 2/24

Sudan’s University of Khartoum to re-open on 18 March
Sudan Tribune, 2/23

Urgent Action: Academic Detained in Sudan
Amnesty International, 2/23

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Putting the Call for Energy Independence in Context

Jon Stewart talks about Nixon and an energy-independent future

When it come to current events, the most informative hour on television is the slot occupied NewsHour on PBS. This is a full hour devoted to the news that is nearly commercial free. It is an excellent news broadcast, but for a generation used to infotainment, that can seem rather dry.

The second most informative hour is, arguably, the hour occupied by The Daily Show and The Colbert Report on Comedy Central. People shake their heads with a “tsk, tsk” when they are told that many in the younger generation get most of their news from The Daily Show, and it is a problem if this is the only source, but I daresay that an analysis of the content in the flagship news broadcasts on any network and that on The Daily Show would reveal that on many nights as much or more of the Daily Show is devoted to serious, important, timely topics than is the network news, particularly on those days when the guest is not an entertainer. Certainly the Daily show often provides more context, albeit through humor.
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Obama good enough for Nobel Peace Prize, but not Arizona State

The first paragraph of a short, four paragraph article.  I’ve nothing to add.

Barack Obama is apparently good enough for the Nobel Peace Prize, but it wasn’t too long ago that Arizona State University declined to give the president an honorary degree when he came out to deliver its commencement address last May.

via Obama good enough for Nobel Peace Prize, but not Arizona State |

A Historic Moment for Health Care Reform

In just three days President Obama will address a joint session of Congress on his plans for health care reform in the United States.

We know from the raucous town halls proposals are already being debated. But, we’ve had nothing really concrete, so supposition has run rampant. This has to change.

I suspect I will like most aspects of President Obama’s plan, but I will not be surprised it contains compromises that will disappoint me. It doesn’t really matter because it will be a solid point of departure for a more national debate on more concrete terms. Hopefully it will provide a chance to press the restart button.

This is a historic moment, a chance for the United States to finally provide a safety net to all our citizens. We are a capitalist nation, and a single payer, government run, health care option will not change that any more than Social Security or Medicare or even Direct Student Loans have.

It can work. Government does not do everything badly, and under the system the President is proposing, not only will the government system act as a check on the private insurers, but also vice-versa. Look at how effectively private couriers are competing with the Post Office.

But don’t take my work for any of this. Watch the speech. Listen to the opposition. Try and understand their arguments. Most importantly, however, check the facts. Because folks are being reckless with the facts.

Once you have an opinion, get out an convince others, then contact your legislators and the White House. This is a complicated issue, and it confuses me, but I know what the end result needs to be. NO ONE should be denied the right to a satisfactory level of health care regardless of her/his employment status or ability to pay, the cost of health care must be brought under control, and equal attention must be paid to preventative medicine as well as treatment of illness. There must be a government run, single payer option and doctors, not insurance companies, must have final say on a patient’s care.

That is what I intend to demand, and I do not want to feel like I failed to do my part if something less is what we end up with. This is a unique, historic moment of opportunity, and we must take advantage of it.

Prescription for Change

The site Prescription for Change summarizes what is at stake in the health care debate pretty well.

When Congress returns in September to work on health reform, let’s remind them what’s really at stake – your health, your financial peace of mind, and your freedom.

How’s that? Without real health reform, you could lose your health insurance because of a layoff, go bankrupt due to medical bills, or be forced to give up dreams of starting a business or a better education because you have no access to affordable health insurance.

This is America, the land of opportunity, and yet the lack of affordable insurance makes everything a very uneven playing field. That needs to be corrected.

Ruffles and Flourishes

A quick addendum to my post on schools refusing to carry Obama’s speech. Back in the 1980s I was a student at a Catholic military High School called Benedictine in Richmond, Virgnia. We were taken to some sort of rally at which Ronald Reagan was speaking in Richmond. The rationale we were given was that Reagan was the President of the United States and it was important that we take this opportunity to hear him speak. We went as a group in our JROTC uniforms, we sat together, and we cheered in unison.

Some people were critical, but our local newspaper, the Richmond Times-Dispatch praised us. I remember the last sentence to this day. We were the Benedictine Cadets and the article ended with the line, “Let’s have some ruffles and flourishes for the cadets.”

Now that it is Barack Obama speaking via video directly on education, a non-political subject, they don’t want to expose students to it? Go figure.

Some Parents Oppose Obama Speech to Students –

President Obama is planning to deliver a controversial speech next week and I don’t approve.  Like the Republican Party chairman in Florida, Jim Greer, I am “appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology.”  How dare he tell students to “work hard and stay in school.”  The administration tells us there is no need to worry.

“This isn’t a policy speech,” said Sandra Abrevaya, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education. “It’s designed to encourage kids to stay in school. The choice on whether to show the speech to students is entirely in the hands of each school. This is absolutely voluntary.”

Likely story.  I’m not fooled.  This Canadian guy I heard on the radio gave me the real scoop.

Mark Steyn, a Canadian author and political commentator, speaking on the Rush Limbaugh show on Wednesday, accused Mr. Obama of trying to create a cult of personality, comparing him to Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader.

Letting Obama speak to my kids via one way video feed is just like leaving them along with a creepy neighbor.  I heard that on the radio, too.  From Chris Stigall, a Kansas City talk show host who says, “I wouldn’t let my next-door neighbor talk to my kid alone; I’m sure as hell not letting Barack Obama talk to him alone.”

(via Some Parents Oppose Obama Speech to Students –

All kidding aside, I am saddened by the response of the school districts of my hometown and its environs.

The controversy over President Barack Obama’s plan to address the nation’s schoolchildren Tuesday — during a noon broadcast from an Arlington County high school — picked up steam yesterday.

Chesterfield County school officials joined those in neighboring Powhatan County in deciding not to broadcast the speech. A School Board member in Dinwiddie County also voiced opposition to showing the speech.

“Though Chesterfield County Public Schools embraces the president’s message on challenging students and is grateful for the support he has extended in the form of federal stimulus funding for public education, we do not wish to interfere with our staff’s ability to repeat past opening-day successes,” district officials said in a statement released yesterday.

In Powhatan, Superintendent Margaret S. Meara said the school system is “not fearful of the content” and will make the speech available later to give parents a chance to decide whether they want their children to watch it.

“We mean no disrespect to anyone but rather wish to extend our respect to parents, who we feel have the right to make choices for their children,” Meara said.

The debate has reached across the country. Schools in Columbia, Mo., and Rochester, Mich., won’t air the speech — in the former because they can’t afford the technology, officials say. Officials nationwide are grappling with how to appease parents who don’t want their children to watch Obama or have access to the post-speech study materials provided by the federal government. In the speech, Obama will talk about succeeding in school.

via Controversy spreads before Obama’s school speech – Richmond Times Dispatch

It makes me sad!  So very sad!

Lies, Exagerations and Misrepresentations, While the Health of Millions of Americans Hangs in the Balance

The propoganda war continues, with alarming virulence. continues to put it in perspective.  Here are two strories.

The Republican National Committee this week posted a “Health Care Bill of Rights for Seniors,” which RNC Chairman Michael Steele and others have taken to the airwaves to publicize. It contains a number of claims we’ve seen and criticized before, but also contains one new one that has some truth to it, and another fresh one that has very little.

For the full analysis, read the story, RNC’s “Bill of Rights” |

Another posting concerns a chain email circulating at the moment.  Our inbox has been overrun with messages asking us to weigh in on a mammoth list of claims about the House health care bill. The chain e-mail purports to give “a few highlights” from the first half of the bill, but the list of 48 assertions is filled with falsehoods, exaggerations and misinterpretations. We examined each of the e-mail’s claims, finding 26 of them to be false and 18 to be misleading, only partly true or half true. Only four are accurate. A few of our “highlights”:

  • The e-mail claims that page 30 of the bill says that “a government committee will decide what treatments … you get,” but that page refers to a “private-public advisory committee” that would “recommend” what minimum benefits would be included in basic, enhanced and premium insurance plans…
  • And it doesn’t stop there.  Read on!

    via Twenty-six Lies About H.R. 3200