Rarely does a (at least once-) respectable pundit face-plant as badly as Michael Kinsley re-proving Krugman’s points about austerity mongers while attempting to refute them. While it’s impossible to summarize an argument this incoherent, the key point seems to be that if you can’t tell the difference between Barack Obama and David Cameron (a problem that, admittedly, does afflict a handful of people on the American left) it’s hard to know what opponents of short-term austerity want. But there are many more terrible arguments to be found, and hence I turn things over to DeLong and Drezner.
In addition, it’s worth noting that Kinsley is one of those people who’s been haunted by the specter of inflation for years, and the fact that he’s been consistently wrong doesn’t seem to have taught him anything. And why should it — as he essentially concedes himself, the case for austerity is about overclass morality, not about economics.
House Republicans are moving forward in their ultimate goal of entrenching poverty, passing a farm bill that slashes food stamps. Steve King talks of food stamps that “expand the dependency class,” words that could have come out of the mouth of any bog standard Gilded Age Republican in opposition to ending the 14 hour day, a minimum wage, or even private charity. But it is the new Gilded Age, so this is to be expected. Other fun things this farm bill does is shift crop insurance to the private sector and reduce conservation programs for farm land.
If most of the political agitation about “the deficit” was about the deficit, this would change the course of the political debate. Alas, a majority of political agitation about “the deficit” is produced by people solely interested in a pretext to dismantle the welfare state. So while the deficit may be shrinking, the danger posed decent pensions is still out there and we can’t let it turn into a mushroom cloud.
In a report that undercuts years of public health warnings, a prestigious group convened by the government says there is no good reason based on health outcomes for many Americans to drive their sodium consumption down to the very low levels recommended in national dietary guidelines.
Those levels, 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day, or a little more than half a teaspoon of salt, were supposed to prevent heart attacks and strokes in people at risk, including anyone older than 50, blacks and people with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease — groups that make up more than half of the American population.
Some influential organizations, including the American Heart Association, have said that everyone, not just those at risk, should aim for that very low sodium level. The heart association reaffirmed that position in an interview with its spokesman on Monday, even in light of the new report.
But the new expert committee, commissioned by the Institute of Medicine at the behest of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said there was no rationale for anyone to aim for sodium levels below 2,300 milligrams a day. The group examined new evidence that had emerged since the last such report was issued, in 2005.
This isn’t to say that salt should be consumed in more than moderation. It’s good to avoid consuming extremely high-sodium fast food and/or prepackaged food on a regular basis. But there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that for most people adding a little salt to food you make from scratch poses any kind of health risk.
This never really happened before 2009, but it is an increasingly common occurrence on industrial-scale hog farms.
The problem is menacing: As manure breaks down, it emits toxic gases like hydrogen sulfide and flammable ones like methane, and trapping these noxious fumes under a layer of foam can lead to sudden, disastrous releases and even explosions. According to a 2012 report from the University of Minnesota, by September 2011, the foam had “caused about a half-dozen explosions in the upper Midwest…one explosion destroyed a barn on a farm in northern Iowa, killing 1,500 pigs and severely burning the worker involved.”
This is highly understudied and of course nothing will stop the growth of ever larger and more dangerous agricultural concerns. However, it does seem that dumping a bunch of antibiotics into the manure pits may solve the problem. And I’m sure there will be no unintended consequences from that action.
Hoda Kotb is 48. Forty-eight. Now, I’m 4o. And, sure, I can attest to the fact that every woman over the age of 39 is a withered old crone. I’m hideous.
But, sheesh, Ben, do you really have to tell us what your boner thinks? Because I doubt anyone cares…and anyone who does is a straight-up freak.
Also, thanks, Maxim for the valuable service you do humanity. Sometimes I get all confused and wonder if some bikini-clad actress or model is 56 or 57 hot…but you–you’re there! You’re there with a number, with a ranking! And then I know that one chick on that one show is 56… and suddenly the world makes sense. Also, thanks for the no fatties.
On Monday, a West Virginia gas facility exploded, injuring two workers. Luckily, neither have life-threatening injuries. So this story will fade into oblivion even faster than a fatal coal mine or fertilizer plant explosion. However, it should rivet our attention because it seems that OSHA has never inspected this plant. There are 8 OSHA inspectors in the state of West Virginia. It would take them over 100 years to inspect every worksite in the state. Amazingly, that’s actually better than average.