Sunday, January 31, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
It is important, I think, to ask whether there are other completely differentways to write constitutional history. The question arises from whatseems to me the essential complacency of American constitutional history:constitutional history assumes the Constitution. Hence one is always withinthe sphere of its possibility. From within, the Constitution appears as aprotean, amoeba-like phenomenon, really an ideology, constitutionalism,not a text “in the National Archives” (for the text is usually an afterthought—interpretation is what counts). So here we encounter no argumentover the Constitution, such as “wheather it is good or not,” butrather over how the assumed promise of the Constitution is properly to berealized, or extended. Noticeably, exit is not an option. So here the questionis whether realization should occur through one ideology (popular constitutionalism)as opposed to another (call it elite juridical constitutionalism).The trope invoked is that of a “world we have lost” that can be ours again.The people have surrendered their constitution to juridical supremacy.They/we must take it back. History legitimates the quest.The genre or mode of constitutional history is romance. In fact,Kramer’s is an interesting variation on the genre, for although the implicationis that a resurgence of popular constitutionalism will make things better,Kramer actually professes no blithe confidence in a positive outcome. Itis up to “us.” This verges on what my colleague Bonnie Honig has dubbed“gothic” romance. One might add that in full gothic mode Kramershould also demonstrate a certain ambivalence, even fear, toward that towhich he is attached. After all, what are “we” going to do with the Constitutiononce we have recovered it? Might we not abuse it? Aren’t “we” infact deeply crosscut by all those persisting socioeconomic antagonisms andcleavages that fragment the possibility that there indeed exists somethingthat we can call “the people” at all? Class, gender, and race are not simplyconveniently imagined categories of scholarly analysis; they are real socialphenomena. How do you construct a “we” out of us and them? How canone know that popular constitutionalism, once it has taken back the Constitution,will not devour its professors? Kramer does not think that thought,or if he does it is only to deny its possibility. His romance of “the people”is almost pre-political in its faith.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Sunday, January 17, 2010
While the consumption spike may look like the result of an accounting convention, it’s also reflecting a sad reality: an enormous, and ever-increasing share of our national income is going to health care. Of course, some unquantifiable share of that spending makes people healthier, happier, and more productive. But much of it doesn’t. In economic jargon, it’s a deadweight loss. As the graph above shows, the U.S. devotes a far larger share of its national income to health care than any other country: 37% more than the second-biggest spender, France; 49% more than Canada; 68% more than Sweden; 87% more than the UK. Yet U.S. health indicators are consistently among the worst in the OECD, with terrible ratings on life expectancy, infant mortality, obesity, and mental health. U.S. readings on all these are worse than countries spending far less on health care.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
-The interviewer does not take the time to discuss what they might mean by a credit bubble -- they stick to terms thrown around in the popular media, such as "bubble", and completely ignore Fama's challenge to them of defining and discussing what a credit bubble is.
Back to the efficient markets hypothesis. You said earlier that it comes out of this episode pretty well. Others say the market may be good at pricing in a relative sense—one stock versus another—but it is very bad at setting absolute prices, the level of the market as a whole. What do you say to that?
When all this (the financial crisis) started, I joined the debate. Then I stepped back and said, I’m really not comfortable with my insights into what the best way of proceeding is. Let me sit back and listen to people. So I listened to all the experts, local and otherwise. After a while, I came to the conclusion that I don’t know what the best thing to do it, and I don’t think they do either. (Laughs) I don’t think there is a good prescription. So I went back and started doing my own research.
Monday, January 11, 2010
The provision by public and private institutions of benefits to, and financial contributions targeted at, households and individuals in order to provide support during circumstances which adversely affect their welfare, provided that the provision of the benefits and financial contributions constitutes neither a direct payment for a particular good or service nor an individual contract or transfer.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Edmund Burke – who in his Reflections on the Revolution in France contrasted the sweet reasonableness of 1688 with the violent chaos of 1789 – helped establish the template by which the Glorious Revolution would be judged: a peaceable affair, even by English standards. Later historians buttressed Burke’s contention that what really happened in 1688 was really no revolution at all. The locus classicus of a Glorious Unrevolution was put forth by Thomas Babington Macaulay: “To us who have lived in the year 1848,” he wrote in his History of England, “it may seem almost an abuse of terms to call a proceeding, conducted with so much deliberation, with so much sobriety, and with such minute attention to prescriptive etiquette, by the terrible name of revolution.”
Yet this apparently uneventful transfer of power concealed profound alterations in the relationship between the English crown and its subjects....
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
As I suspect is true of many who write for a living, as I write I think about all sorts of things. I don't necessarily write down what I'm thinking; it's just that as I write I think about things. As I write, I arrange my thoughts. And rewriting and revising takes my thinking down even deeper paths. No matter how much I write, though, I never reach a conclusion. And no matter how much I rewrite, I never reach the destination. Even after decades of writing, the same still holds true. All I do is present a few hypotheses or paraphrase the issue. Or find an analogy between the structure of the problem and something else. (120)
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Friday, January 1, 2010
The historical and contemporary existence (both of which need to be proved) of moral economies -- more specifically, institutions of democratic governance of the economic sphere-- work against capitalist institutions that have aimed, since day 1, to separate the spheres of politics and economy.