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?”

Can We Escape the Gridlock?

By Mike Koetting   May 10, 2017

Today’s post follows from last week’s discussion of how Democrats and the White Working Class were no longer getting along, as typified in the movie Hell or High Water.  (Like last week’s post, this essay was written before the actual election.)  It addresses the difficulties of a more inclusive Democratic Party. Continue reading “Can We Escape the Gridlock?”