One day, two good speeches

This was a very good speech. President Barack Obama, Osawatomie, Kan., Dec. 6, 2011 This is the defining issue of our time. This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class. Because what’s at stake is whether this will be a country [Read More…]

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November 14 — a fireside chat

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Nov. 14, 1937 Enforced idleness, embracing any considerable portion of our people, in a nation of such wealth and natural opportunity, is a paradox that challenges our ingenuity. Unemployment is one of the bitter and galling problems that now afflicts man-kind. It has been with us, in a measure, since the [Read More…]

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“The moral rights corresponding to this obligation”

For a less snarky, clearer, and more compelling discussion of the rights that correspond — necessarily — from the obligation to work, see John Paul II’s encyclical Laborem Exercens, or “On Human Labor.” Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a big fan of this encyclical, due mainly to the forceful logic of its [Read More…]

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Michele Bachmann calls for guaranteed employment for all

Rights come with responsibilities, my conservative friends are always saying. And they’re right about that. And because they’re right about that, then they must also agree with me that responsibilities come with rights. If, for example, I am responsible for keeping the sidewalk in front of my house clear of snow in the winter, then [Read More…]

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All others pay cash: The Shepherd-Balkin Amendment

In other church-state news yesterday, the House of Representatives voted 396-9 to reaffirm that America’s “national motto” is still our national motto. That motto, officially adopted in 1956, is “In God We Trust.” It replaced what had been up until then America’s unofficial motto of “E pluribus unum.” Replacing an affirmation of unity amidst diversity [Read More…]

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Smart people saying smart things

John Quiggin: “Keeping the state out of your bedroom” If you really want personal freedom, you can achieve it only by constraining property rights. Dahlia Lithwick: “Occupy the No-Spin Zone” I spent time this weekend at Occupy Wall Street and my husband spent much of last week adding his voice to the protesters there. I [Read More…]

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Unemployed in ‘The Affluent Society’

I read John Kenneth Galbraith’s The Affluent Society more than 15 years ago in an edition, the fourth, that was then already 10 years old. I don’t know how the argument of that book has held up over time or whether it is still well-regarded within the discipline of economics. But yesterday I found myself [Read More…]

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Idea of a debt Jubilee takes shape, gains a little steam

And you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you. … — Leviticus 25:10-11 E.D. Kain of Forbes (!) likes the idea of Jubilee to end or mitigate oppressive debt, noting that the principle has support not just from the Bible, but also from South Park. [Read More…]

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