Monday, November 10, 2008

Three economists and a hoyden

Another cross-post for Voices without Votes. Please write Your One Thing at Hoyden about Town:

Bloggers in Australia have been looking at what Barack Obama might actually be going to do as President.

Harry Clarke’s ‘commentary on economics, politics & other things’ discovered an Obama policy that is already under challenge. He seemed attracted to the idea of community service though his source didn’t:

Gregory Mankiw points out that Barack Obama supports the conscription of youth into community service. I wonder how many aged lefties will now dump on Obama on the basis of past Vietnam Moratorium ideals. Well of course its not this aged lot who now face the prospect of being conscripted so that a certain amount of soundly-justified hypocrisy is plausible.

Maybe spending the last week in China has dented my democratic ideals but I think the Obama suggestion makes a lot of sense.
Obama supports conscription
Nicholas Gruen, CEO of Lateral Economics who posts at Club Troppo focused on the one big thing which Obama has done since Tuesday:
Paul Krugman was always critical of Obama for not being more partisan. We’ll see what happens. In my ignorance I’m expecting Obama to be like Clinton - a pro when it comes to policy who hires the best advice he can get unlike Republicans who haven’t done that since - well perhaps someone can remind me. But I don’t expect him to be particularly bold. But who knows. The thing that always struck me as ridiculous about Krugman’s critique is that being all post-partisan was a good way to build a coalatition and get into power. You find out how people are going to govern after they get into power - or hasn’t Krugman noticed. FDR was elected on a platform of balancing the budget.

And now we get to see how Obama governs. And his first decision is to go for a hard man as a chief of staff - Obama plays the good cop and everyone is telling us that Rahm Emanuel gets to play the bad cop. I’ll be interested to see if Krugman has anything to say on this - I’ve not seen it yet. But it’s a first sign that Obama is under no illusions about how lovely the Republicans will be towards him.
Rahm Emanuel - the enforcer
Another economist, John Quiggin, whose blog presents itself as a ‘Commentary on Australian & world events from a social-democratic perspective’ looked forward to:
a revival of the progressive politics of the New Deal, in retreat ever since the 1970s. If Obama can combine an economic recovery with a new commitment to social equity, his election victory could prove more significant than any since that of Roosevelt in 1932.
He mentioned several policy areas, one of which is global warming:
… looming over all of this is climate change. Obama has promised a cap-and-trade scheme, and a return to world leadership at Copenhagen. But, as in Australia, there will be powerful voices calling for a continuation of the Bush policy of delay and denial, and putting the financial crisis forward as a pretext. Neither the world nor the position of the US as a world leader can afford this.
A tough road ahead
I feel a ‘three economists in a boat’ joke coming on. So let’s give Tigtog at Hoyden About Town the punch line. She speculated about what Obama’s priorities should be:
Just like a gazillion others, I’ve been thinking about what Obama could/should do, in his first 100 days in office, that would be small in terms of the effort required (falling within executive powers entirely, no Congressional courting/approval required) but that would make an immediate, huge, difference to many people.

I ended up deciding that there were so many things that needed fixing, that I would be better off focussing on what I would be horrendously disappointed to find that he was not going to do. So here’s my One Thing that I will be broken-hearted if he does not do it:

1. negate the Global Gag Rule (aka Mexico City Policy)

Our continuing research shows the gag rule is eroding family planning and reproductive health services in developing countries. There is no evidence that it has reduced the incidence of abortion globally. On the contrary, it impedes the very services that help women avoid unwanted pregnancy from the start.

What's Your One Thing?

Just one thing
According to the blog, a hoyden (hoid’n) is a woman of saucy, boisterous or carefree behavior. A match for 3 economists anyday.

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