Environmental Risk—Squaring the Globe

By Mike Koetting         July 30, 2017 

Today’s post is on the environment, the middle of my trinity of critical issues—inequality, the environment, and the meaning of work.  This is the first of two on this topic.

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My thoughts about the environment are not to convince you that environmental degradation poses a serious threat to humanity.  It assumes you believe that.  If you don’t, you might as well stop reading here.

What I do want to convince you is:

  • Current policy is exponentially more foolish than you already believe
  • This interacts with issues around inequality in a bunch of messy ways

Today’s post concentrates on the first one.  I’ll address the second in the next post. Continue reading “Environmental Risk—Squaring the Globe”

Global Inequality

By Mike Koetting        July 21, 2017

This is the last of four posts on inequality, one of what I see as the top three problems facing society. In subsequent posts, I’ll turn to the issues of the environment and the meaning of work, my other two priority problems.
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Several months ago, I saw the movie Lion, the story of a very poor Indian five-year old who gets separated from his older brother in a busy train station. He cannot find his way home, winds up in an orphanage and eventually is adopted by an Australian family. The movie ends when he is finally reunited with his birth family in his old village. It’s based on a true story and is a good movie on its own merits. But I was profoundly distracted trying to get my head my head around the scope and depth of the poverty. And the huge numbers of people involved. All I could ask myself was: “Is there any realistic posture beyond benignly ignoring the issue?” Continue reading “Global Inequality”

Race and Inequality in America

By Mike Koetting            July 12,2017

Today’s post continues a series of posts on inequality, the environment, and the nature of work—my list of the most serious problems facing society.  This post looks at the issue of race and inequality in America.  It is most explicitly about economic inequality, but, of course, economic impacts radiate more broadly.

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It is very difficult to write about race in America without someone getting upset.  It is truly a between hell and high water issue.  But no survey of inequality in America would be complete without addressing this element.  It is a specific factor that influences all the other dynamics.  Whatever inequality there is in the country, it is hard to find a dimension on which African Americans, as a group, don’t do worse.  Continue reading “Race and Inequality in America”

Top-Down Inequality

By Mike Koetting            July 5, 2017

This is the second post in a series focusing on what I see as the top three issues facing society—inequality, the environment and the meaning of work.  Last week’s post addressed the fact that changes in the labor market are generating inequality—to some degree regardless of politics.  This post addresses the fact that some inequality is being caused, deliberately or accidentally, by the people on the fat side of inequality.  The next post will address the specific issue of race and inequality.

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Top-down Inequality is what happens when people with more assets use those assets to improve their positions at the expense of the rest of society.  Continue reading “Top-Down Inequality”

Inequality and the Changing Labor Market

By Mike Koetting                 June 28, 2017

This is the first of a series of posts on what I consider the three most pressing issues of our time—inequality, the environment, and the nature of work.  As I will argue, these are linked.  Today’s post looks at inequality through the lens of labor market changes.

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By now even Inspector Clouseau has figured out that there is an inequality problem.  Perhaps, however, the conversation could be helped by making a few distinctions about the nature of inequality.  Policy-making requires clear understanding of the sources of the problem.  There seems to be some blurring of issues in the current conversation.

I want to suggest there are two dynamics of inequality, labor market changes and top down inequality.  They are related, but, at the same time, they are distinct dynamics.   Continue reading “Inequality and the Changing Labor Market”

Muddying the Health Care Debate

By Mike Koetting                    June 21, 2017

Every once in a while, I run across an article that stuns me.  The below post is an extended comment on an article on the Forbes website that advocates for a market-oriented health care system.  While a number of the specifics in the article are interesting and worthy of consideration, what really struck me was that the article illustrates how we have made the political conversation on health care incredibly difficult. Continue reading “Muddying the Health Care Debate”

The Health of Truth

By Mike Koetting      June 14, 2017

Earlier this month in various cities around the country, there were protests against Trump under the banner of March for Truth. That got me thinking about some observations I wanted to make about the role of “truth” in a democracy, a role currently under obvious fire.

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A recent Time Magazine cover starkly asked “Is Truth Dead?” paralleling their “Is God Dead?” cover from 50 years ago. That story, however, focused only on Donald Trump’s troubled relationship with truth. Fair enough. It’s a big problem. But, it seems to me, the problem of the impending death of truth in our democracy goes much deeper than whether or not (really, the extent to which) Donald Trump is a liar.  Problems with truth seem to extend to almost all of our political discourse. Continue reading “The Health of Truth”

Getting Our Heads a Bit Straighter on Health Care

By Mike Koetting        May 31, 2017

Last week’s post described two fundamental problems with the Republicans’ concepts around the health enterprise.  Taking on these misconceptions directly, I believe, leads to two equally fundamental steps we must take if we are ever going to get this even close to right.

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Republicans make two fundamental mistakes about health care—they think it can be addressed by conventional market strategies, and they think poor health is at least partially a moral failing.  Standing each of these on its head, however, outlines two important ideas for fixing our health care system. Continue reading “Getting Our Heads a Bit Straighter on Health Care”

GOP Confusions on Paying for Health Care

By Mike Koetting    May 24, 2017

You knew I’d get to health care sooner or later.  Today’s post is the first of two on the Republicans’ approach to health care—and paying for it.  It is focused on core philosophical issues rather than specific legislation.

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The American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed the House and now sits in the Senate.  This post will not address the specific problems with that bill.  There are plenty of other analyses and the specifics are virtually certain to change.  Besides, this is a blog post, not a book.  Instead, this post addresses two fundamental Republican misunderstandings that keep them making the same mistakes over and over.  They understand neither the nature of health insurance nor the cause of disease.  There are other problems, including extreme partisanship and their reckless desire to cut taxes, but those are for another day. Continue reading “GOP Confusions on Paying for Health Care”

So, What Do We Do?

By Mike Koetting      May 17, 2017

This is the last of three posts that were in specific reaction to the movie Hell and High Water.  This one, written after the election, suggests some directions for turning these reactions into strategy. 

By the way, a reader of the last post observed that the movie had no partisan connection.  I absolutely agree.  I would doubt concepts like “Democrat” or “Republican” would ever appear in the minds of any of the movie’s characters.  I use these concepts because (a) they are useful labels for collections of ideas and values that differentiate, even if somewhat messily; and (b) while both parties are in profound disarray, I think it more likely rearrangement will happen within the construct of these parties—rather than the emergence of a new party, as just happened in France. Continue reading “So, What Do We Do?”