Yesterday’s News: Enlightened Entitlement

In the spirit of Internet immediacy, here is a review of what I read online yesterday.

I am halfway through David M. Kennedy’s “Freedom from Fear,” an insightful and engaging history of the New Deal and World War II — though of only those things — and it obviously adds a lot of context to current political debates. Particularly revealing is that President Roosevelt, at least in part, imagined the New Deal as a hammer he could use to reshape the Democratic Party, drumming its Southern, conservative wing into meek, or irrelevant, submission.

The irony is, it will perhaps require a similar manipulation of the political spectrum to save the New Deal’s legacy, namely its most famous still-existing program, Social Security, and the groundbreaking appendages, Medicare and Medicaid.

“But while reports of a crisis are overblown, and conservative proposals to solve it are draconian, progressives do need to think about how best to reform the entitlement programs.” via Henry J. Aaron for Democracy Journal: Progressives and the Safety Net.

In the meantime, why shouldn’t we be spending again?

“The reason is that although the government is borrowing a lot of money, it is doing so very cheaply because interest rates are low both over all and on government debt specifically.” via What Is Driving Growth in Government Spending? – NYTimes.com.

Thence, some interesting pairings. For the first, start with a filmmaker who actually said “I’ve seen ‘The Master’ six or seven times, and I can’t wait to see it an eighth.” The quote is from an article about a movie made at Disney World without Disney’s permission. It’s notable because the critic seems to think that is the most interesting thing about the movie. via Sundance 2013: How did a newbie make an unapproved film in Disney parks? – latimes.com.

Finish with an author who makes a bold and possibly revealing attack on Charles Darwin, but does so in a poorly written book: “‘Mind and Cosmos’ is certainly provocative and it reflects the efforts of a fiercely independent mind. In important places, however, I believe that it is wrong.” via Awaiting a New Darwin by H. Allen Orr | The New York Review of Books.

Pairing 2 begins with a rift in the abortion rights movement. Apparently, the do-nothing 20-somethings are tired of being seen that way. “They are the generation that gave us legalized abortions, but they also screwed up,” via Why Abortion-Rights Activists Have Been Losing Ever Since Roe v. Wade — Printout — TIME.

Finish with a distressing look at the rights women were/are fighting for. “For most of history, abortion has been a dangerous procedure a woman attempted to perform on herself. In private. Without painkillers.” via Leeches, Lye and Spanish Fly – NYTimes.com.

Finally, three sentences to meditate on.

  1. “Why does it matter for our moral appraisal of pedophiles whether pedophilia is innate or acquired?” via Pedophilia, Preemptive Imprisonment, and the Ethics of Predisposition | Practical Ethics.
  2. “What are athletes doing when they play sports, and what are we watching when we watch?” via The New Atlantis » How to Think About Our Steroid Supermen.
  3. Ursus arctos horribilis, with an emphasis on the horribilis.” via Hey, Bear – The Morning News.
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