Friday, August 29, 2008

Book Recommendation. For those of you with time to read, I would love to recommend this book to you. I've studied my share of economics over the years, but I have yet to read as well-written account of the differences between supply-side and demand-side economics as that presented by Norton Garfinkle in his The American Dream vs. the Gospel of Wealth: The Fight for a Productive Middle-Class Economy. The book is part of Yale University Press' The Future of American Democracy Series.

I am not going to pretend that this book is a simple history without a considerable slant in the material. Garfinkle, a very prominent member of the communitarian movement, has strong negative opinions regarding the supply-side tax cuts of the Gilded Age and the Reagan and Bush eras, but he is also critical of Presidents and other policy makers of different stripes and the decisions made in many different eras. It also gives a very good history of the depression and some of the tax and policy changes that worked along with some that did not.

And, at base level, this is a very readable book with concrete examples of how and why many of the great tax decisions have been made over the past 150 years of history in the United States and the results of those decisions. I cannot recommend this book highly enough for either the professional policy maker or the lay person. It is truly a remarkable little (200 very readable pages) book.

Amazon Link:

We Know Where the Monty Python Vote will go. Oh, wait! That was Michael Palin, not John McCain's somewhat surprising choice as running-mate Alaska Governoor Sarah Palin. As a long-time political junkie, I find the pick a bit intriguing, but stepping back, there is more than a bit of logic to the choice.

Clearly, the fact that she's hasn't served a full-term as Alaska's governor is going to raise more than one eyebrow as she faces scrutiny, but all indications are she shares Senator McCain's maverick bent and is solid, perhaps even more solid than McCain, with the conservative base on a number of issues. Further, this choice will resonate with a number of women who either feel left out of the process due to Senator Hillary Clinton's failure to capture the Democratic nomination for President (and remain disaffected because Senator Obama did not put her on the tickiet) or the fact that the power structure in both parties often ignores bread-and-butter issues that are important to women (remember the Year of the Soccer Mom).
Further, when you consider that she hails from Alaska and served as Ethics Commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Commission and has a working knowledge of the energy industry, she brings a background and perspective on a hot-button issue in the campaign on which the McCain camp is trying to take a very aggressive stance on more drilling for oil on American soil. In other words, be prepared to hear a lot about the Alaska Nature and Wildlife Reserve in the next few months.
Whether or not the calculus works for McCain, we'll never quite know, but those whose jaws initially dropped (Mine included. I was thinking it was going to be either Mitt Romney or Ohio Congressman Rob Portman) probably need to step back and see that, at least at some level, the choice makes sense. Further, it shows once again that McCain, at least at a surface level, is not afraid to do it his way.

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