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Category Archives: Agrarianism

Obama’s courage not in doubt. His judgment sucks.

President Obama, defending his tax-cut deal: This is the public option debate all over again. So I pass a signature piece of legislation where we finally get health care for all Americans, something that Democrats have been fighting for for a hundred years, but because there was a provision in there that they didn’t get [...]

Atul Gawande at Stanford: the medical-industrial complex cometh**

Atul Gawande, the surgeon and writer of much-deserved acclaim, reveals his spectacularly technocratic vision of the future world of medicine, a vision of a true medico-industrial complex.  This is from Gawande’s address to the Stanford medical school graduating class, and the emphases are mine: Why does anyone receive suboptimal care? After all, society could not [...]


Mark T. Mitchell says: Gratitude is a way of inhabiting the world. It is a disposition toward the world that reminds us that we are not alone. We are not solitary creatures owing nothing to no one. Rather, gratitude points to our dependence. It is a fitting attitude in the face of our creatureliness. When [...]

Saving agrarianism from petty local tyrants and yahoos

Eating local, buying local, thinking local all are now in-usually among people who are in no sense “locals.” – Jeremy Beer Beer’s fantastic essay against meritocracy raises again the thorniest problem we face, a problem that on my optimistic days I think we’ll solve, and on my pessimistic days think will send us to our [...]

The fatal blow

“So many different elements of the modern economy are on the brink of failing that it is worth pondering which one might end up dealing a fatal blow.”  ~ Rick Saenz Will it be state and local government default?  Or will it be the collapse of commercial real-estate? Both of these seem possible, but the [...]


The failed attempt to blow up an airplane on Christmas is rekindling a fear of terrorism in the U.S., at least if you believe a lot of the media coverage of the reaction to the incident.  This is, I think, unfortunate.  Our fear of terrorism has been excessive, unreasonable, and irrational since 9-11, and it [...]

The dying middle class

In which I deploy vivid metaphors involving wild dogs, before speculating about whether we should string up Lloyd Blankfein by his toenails. The American middle class is dying as we watch.  It has been since the 1970s at least, when the post-WWII manufacturing base started to disappear because of cheap transportation and cheaper overseas labor.   [...]

Shirking responsibility, pt 2

(In which I continue to grope toward a description of agrarianism as an ideology built around the best understanding of responsibility. Go here for the first post in this series.) A few days back I objected to this paragraph from John Holbo, which responds to Richard Posner’s comments on a podcast that regulators, and not [...]

Shirking responsibility

Responsibility — everyone claims to be in favor of it.  But we possess ingenious abilities to rationalize ourselves out of taking responsibility for our actions.  These rationalizations are a major reason we can’t seem to fix so many of the problems we face, like global warming, poverty, and financial bubbles, etc. I’m not talking about [...]