And boys of all ages mourn.
The dread creaking-bronze colossus Talos, from my favorite Harryhausen-driven movie, Jason and the Argonauts, and his many other unforgettable creations will of course live on in the image file. In addition to being one of those charming American inventor types, from the times when our science-worship often sang in a distinctively boy-ish key, special effects pioneer Harryhausen was also a class act–you can begin to learn about his accomplishments here–(more parts to this if you look). His long friendship with Ray Bradbury, who passed away just last summer, should be particularly noted.
Yuval Levin has some eminently sensible suggestions for how to improve the Gang Of Eight’s immigration bill. Levin’s suggestions include mandating the near-term adoption of E-Verify for all employees, eliminating the guest worker program and shifting future immigration toward high-skill immigrants for the sake of current low-wage American residents (to include many such residents who would be getting amnesty.) That is an immigration program that I can enthusiastically get behind.
Levin frames his proposals as a suggestion for fixing the Gang of Six Deal. William Kristol wonders if it is at all likely that the current Congress would adopt Yuval Levin-style immigration reform. I doubt it. The Senate bill is basically amnesty, plus some gestures toward border enforcement that are and insult to the intelligence, plus increased legal low-skill/low-wage immigration, plus internal enforcement that will at best be delayed and most likely be abandoned altogether when the heat is off. The complex of interest groups and politicians who produced the Gang of Eight deal got what they wanted. They don’t want Yuval Levin-style immigration reform. John McCain doesn’t want it. Charles Schumer doesn’t want it. Barack Obama doesn’t want it. The left-wing activist groups don’t want it. The Chamber of Commerce doesn’t want it. I suspect that most of the above would prefer to stick with the status quo and hope to win immigration reform on their terms later on than support Yuval Levin-style reform now. Sufficient public pressure could push some elected officials to supporting better immigration reform, but public opinion would have to strongly favor better reform and probably make itself felt in elections.
Opponents of the Gang of Eight deal are drawing from deep wells of public opposition to increased low-skill immigration and amnesty that is not combined with effective enforcement. The problem is that the opposition to the Gang of Eight deal often just sound too negative. They often sound like Mitt Romney opposing amnesty until some indefinite time when the border is secure and that illegal immigrants will self-deport. This strategy is self-defeating in the end. It means that the best that opponents of the Gang of Eight deal can hope for is the maintenance of the broken status quo. It means that Chuck Schumer and his allies only have to win once while the best their opponents can hope for it to not lose even more than they already are.
A better option would be to contrast the Gang of Eight-style immigration reform with Yuval Levin’s far superior immigration proposals. I think it is very likely that Levin’s proposals would have substantial public appeal. Levin’s set of policies could form the basis for a humane, pro-growth, pro-working-class immigration reform program. They key is to create the political incentives for Republican office holders and candidates who want to position themselves as conservatives to adopt Yuval Levin-style immigration reform. It means establishing Yuval Levin-style immigration reform as the authentic and realistic alternative to the Gang of Eight deal. One thing e could do is hope that some brave politician or politicians would adopt Levin-style immigration reform and assemble a coalition around it. That would be great, but it would be more likely that politicians would adopt this agenda if there was already a movement in favor of such a set of policies.
My tentative suggestion is to start a petition (along with major newspaper ads) with as many conservative journalists, activists and office holders as can be found who favor Yuval Levin-style immigration reform. If we can shift opinions among conservative activists, then it becomes more likely that even the John McCains of the Republican party will go along and we might even get enough support from Democrats from competitive constituencies to actually pass a good immigration reform bill. Such a path would be slower than I would like, but it seems like the best option we have given the current balance of political forces.
!. So, as you can see on the thread below about PHILOSOPHICAL SECTARIANISM, the blog is pretty good way of learning about philosophy. The conversation is enhanced by the fact that you can read (or not just hear) what others have to say and take your sweet time before responding. Please join in. The upside is that there’s no charge (although voluntary donations are welcome) for being educated. The downside is we offer no credit.
2. I’m still thinking about the MOOC. Here’s my initial reaction to the stand taken by the San Jose State philosophy department. Again, your comments are more than welcome, because I want to make this better quickly.
Ross Douthat is on a roll lately. He points out that the recent Oregon study indicates that expanding health care coverage isn’t the most cost effective way to improve the well being of the poor and lower middle-class. I would agree, but I would put the emphasis in different places, not because Douthat is wrong, but because Republican politicians might hear him wrongly.
The Oregon study’s finding that expanding Medicaid had a statistically insignificant impact on the health of beneficiaries could be used by many Republican politicians as an excuse to ignore health care policy beyond making some gestures in the direction of repealing Obamacare. That would be a mistake because the Oregon study indicates that policies developed by conservative wonks might be the way to go, and that adopting those policies could expand the appeal of the Republicans.
The Oregon study found that expanded health insurance coverage was good for several things. It protected beneficiaries from financial shocks from catastrophic health costs and it increased their peace of mind. All of this is to say that health insurance is more valuable as insurance than as health. It is nice to see that the political culture is catching up with David Goldhill. That doesn’t mean that health insurance is not important to families and that it is not an important political issue. If you were to somehow abolish the health insurance of most middle-class American families, the response of those families would probably be a slow and quiet panic even if the health of the families stayed the same month in and month out. Republicans are only injuring themselves if they seem indifferent to public’s desire to have coverage or to people’s frustration with premium increases that eat into their disposable income.
What Republicans can do is use the findings of the Oregon study and the work of conservative wonks to address people’s health care and earnings concerns. Republicans could take on the Obamacare model of comprehensive health care prepayment as eating into people’s wages and imposing unnecessary burdens on taxpayers. Republicans could argue for moving health care financing to a model of catastrophic health insurance coverage, plus coverage for routine preventive care, plus health savings accounts to pay for non-catastrophic health care costs. James Capretta has been working on this. Republicans would be able to plausibly argue that their plans would maintain the health care security of middle-class families while reducing health care premiums and expand health insurance coverage for low-earners at lower cost to taxpayers than Obamacare. Republicans can be the party of health care security and more take home pay and lower spending. C’mon people. You can do this.
1. So H.T., in the Ivan the K thread below, says that the writings of Leo Strauss are “utterly trivial.” And he so certain he’s right that he says that the burden is on others to prove him wrong. But “we Straussians” (even we lapsed Straussians) shouldn’t be offended, because guys like us tend to have the same opinion of analytic philosophy. I have to admit that when I’ve been stuck with leading some seminar that included some “analytics,” I often think “who the heck cares about this?” (intention, linguistic idealism, or whatever). But eventually I figure out I’m put off by the mode of expression rather than the actual subject. What language is, after all, is really important. But overall, I still tend to be with Richard Rorty who departs from the analytics because of their inability to speak publicly and convincingly about “the real problems of men.” Rorty, of course, goes from one extreme to the other when it comes to language and stuff like that, coming to believe that words are nothing but weapons to make life less cruel.
2. So “we Straussians” think that the analytics are somewhat obtuse on Plato because they miss “the dramatic context” or the rhetorical intention of much of what Socrates says. And “we Straussians” think that Rorty is wrong to reduce Plato to the “effectual truth” of his thought or Platonism. But we have to admit that we Straussians are sometimes inferior to the analytics in missing the genuinely technical core of much of classical philosophy, and so not caring enough, for example, that Aristotle might have been surpassed on stuff like logic. And we Straussians might even be inferior to Rorty in being so heck-bound in recovering the true Plato that we forget that Plato might have meant his effect to be Platonism. So there might be something quixotic in attempting to overcome Nietzsche’s “Platonism for the people” by a return to the original intention of Plato. There is something true, we lapsed Straussian semi-Thomists think, in the idea that all persons really do have souls, and the Greek idea was transformed in a very credible way by the early church fathers in the direction of the person being the indispensable source of logos. Christianity isn’t really Platonism for the people, and even Locke saw that’s what true about Christianity entails a rejection of the classical idea of philosophical serenity and especially the classical idea of civil theology.
3. I kind of agree with H.T. that Straussians often do seem trivial in the “who cares?” sense. The point of life couldn’t possibly be defending the way of life of the philosopher from the challenge of revelation. Once you done that once, what do you do after lunch? It is also trivial to suggest that all philosophers are and say the same thing, once you get past the rhetoric. It’s trivial to say that Locke is simply Aristotle facing the challenge of Christianity. So it trivializes philosophy to dismiss the possibility that Locke (and Kant) actually give us a technically innovative and better understanding of language, personal identity, and so forth. Most of all, as Tom H. says in the thread, it’s trivial to dismiss the possibility that Thomas is superior to Maimonides (who, in turn, is more-or-less Plato) on human particularity or irreducible personal identity.
4. I’m not saying that Strauss himself or all Straussians say that stuff. I’m not at all sure on Strauss’s “bottom line.” His pursuits are far from trivial though.
5. Other random points for discussion: I don’t think analytical Thomism works out, though (see “the new natural law,” the problem is, to begin with, that it’s not really “natural” or “law”). The more I think about Nietzsche the less impressed I am. MacIntyre’s utopianism or lack of political prudence may have something to do with his analytic foundation (does he share that with Rorty?). It’s Rawls who discredits analytical philosophy for lots of Straussians. He’s in some ways technically formidable but the bottom line is liberal conventionalism. The preference of non-analytic philosophy might be a preference for poetry over analysis, and so a kind of rigor is inevitably sacrificed. Sheldon Cooper knows and respects the analytics, but he lumps Heidegger, I would guess, with the squishy humanities.
All this is very ill-considered, of course. Or just for fun–the right kind of fun.
The 36 million in a sense murdered by Mao and the Chinese communist leadership. Here’s my original post which attempted to visualize the number using our Vietnam War memorial as a prop, a post most important for its links to the must-see documentary China: The Mao Years. That post was on the occasion of the English publication of the important book: Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine by Yang Jisheng.
This week, I notice there is a fine new article on the book by professor Arthur Waldron in The New Criterion. (H/T Powerline)
36 million. It’s a number to remember.
Here is Megan McArdle on the new Oregon Medicaid study. One implication is that a comprehensive prepayment model of health insurance might not be the most cost effective way to get people health care services. There is no statistically significant evidence that Medicaid improved the health outcomes for those enrolled, but it did increase their financial security and it does seem to have decreased incidence of depression. Avik Roy suggest you can get the same outcome for a lot less money by the government converting Medicaid into a two-part concierge medicine/catastrophic care plan.
My totally non-expert read is that we should try to shift Medicaid (and health insurance generally) in the direction of Health Savings Accounts (maybe with vouchers for preventive care) and catastrophic health insurance. Ross Douthat rightly complained on twitter that the Oregon study showed that the Republicans are wasting an opportunity on health care and that while there are conservative alternatives to Obamacare, there are no Republican alternatives.
That is fair enough, but I would point out that at least one Republican implemented programs that included HSAs and catastrophic coverage for both those with employer-provided and Medicaid-provided health care. That guy was Mitch Daniels. C’mon Republicans. You can do this. Just take a break from trying to pass guest worker programs and middle-class tax increases. There might be some votes in good policy.