Who Should Be in Congress

Who should be in Congress? Picking willing people at random would be an improvement over what we have now, but only because it would get around the legal bribery system. Short of eliminating that system, and even if we do eliminate it, there are changes that should be made to the Constitutional requirements for office holders and to the oath they affirm.

Currently representatives and senators must be at least 25 and 30 years old, respectively, U.S. citizens for 7 and 9 years, and inhabitants of read more

Game Theory Loses

Recent experiments in game theory, and specifically the finding that so many people do not behave in the way that game theory says that they “should,” shed light on the failures of economic theories, including the whole idea of the “market.”

In both academic game theory and the common idea of the economic market, people are imagined as motivated by only one goal, increasing their wealth. And they are imagined as viewing all others as competitors and rivals with the same read more

Cheverly Town Council Loses Four Spinal Cords

On the evening of February 13, the Town Council of Cheverly voted not to consider passing any resolutions on national or international issues. It did so in response to requests from citizens that it pass resolutions opposing the PATRIOT Act and the proposed war on Iraq, something that dozens of other localities have done.

Not only will the Town Council of Cheverly not take a position one way or another on either of those matters, but it has now barred itself from ever considering taking a position read more

Turning Up the Heat on Bush

Also printed at Democratic Underground at http://www.democraticunderground.com.

Yesterday afternoon three elderly women out of a group of 50 protesters were arrested in Illinois Republican Party headquarters in Chicago where they had settled in with blankets and declared that they were spending the night. These families, many without heat in their homes, were demanding that President Bush release money for energy assistance and not slash funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program read more

Where's the Harm in Fictional Political Supporters?

If you have a terrific idea for a change in public policy that you’re convinced will benefit millions of people, but you don’t personally know any of the people it will benefit, what would be the harm in inventing a fictional family and presenting them to the public as real potential beneficiaries? Wouldn’t you be promoting the idea of democracy and public citizenship, even though it was a lie? Wouldn’t real families make themselves known soon enough and your made-up one read more

Polarizing Plutocrats

Also published at Democratic Underground at http://www.democraticunderground.com and at Bartcop Reader at http://www.bartcopnation.com.

Jan. 19, 2002

I listened to Bill Gates’ Dad talk last week at a D.C. hotel at an event put together by United for a Fair Economy. He wanted to further limit the number of estates touched by the estate tax and to make sure we recognized the benefits to the country of allowing a small number of people to live in a world of tremendous comfort unlike anything read more

Bill Frist Owes Me

I helped kill an innocent family. I helped destroy people’s medicine. I helped support terrorism.

Sad to say, I did all this without buying any drugs. I did it by working, earning money, and paying taxes.

But I’m not worried, because we now have a majority leader in the U.S. Senate who understands my concern. I’m not happy about my work going to fund the Pentagon’s attacks and provocations around the world. I had been considering stopping working, since I don’t know read more

Let Them Eat Cheeseburgers

Doug Besharov’s tastefully illustrated column in the Dec. 8 Outlook section of the Washington Post suggested that our government is giving poor people too much food. They’re not hungry, and yet we’re stuffing their faces and making them fat, he says.

In reality, many Americans are hungry (3 percent of households and rising, according to the conservative calculations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture), and declining wages and insufficient government assistance can explain read more

Fear Is No Excuse

Are you scared of terrorism? Do color-coded days of danger make you anxious for your children? I’m not going to tell you that your concern is understandable but that attacking another country would be counterproductive.

No, I think it’s more important to tell you that your fear is shameful, that it is exactly what the terrorists want, and that acting out of fear is what can lead to acceptance of quick and comforting beliefs that prove counterproductive.

Let’s go to the root of read more

It's the War, Stupid!

The Washington Post on Sunday, Nov. 10, printed an article (not a column) by David Von Drehle “reporting” on the alleged fact that snobby liberal elites lost the recent elections because folksy dumb guys like George W. are much more likable.

Von Drehle didn’t discuss any particular election, didn’t name a single liberal elitist (except Adlai Stevenson, who apparently lost to Eisenhower for the same reason), and didn’t even name a single likable down-to-earth Republican, read more