Let's hope your costumes came out better than these:
Ezra Klein of the Washington Post has written an excellent treatise on how the American economy collapsed, what the government did about it, and what the government might have done differently that would have actually fixed it.
At the beginning of the article, Klein publishes what might be described as the chart that will get President Obama fired.
The chart (below) shows three lines:
The actual unemployment rate in the chart, you will note, is higher than the "nightmare scenario" initially envisioned by the Obama Administration (The unemployment rate with no stimulus).
- The incoming Obama Administration's projections for what the unemployment rate would be if no stimulus was enacted in the depths of the financial crisis.
- The Obama Administration's projections for what the unemployment rate would be with the President's stimulus plan.
- The actual unemployment rate.
I'm no economist, so I'm not sure what effect an even larger stimulus would have had but regardless of size, I do think stimulus funds could have been better allocated to maximize impact.
As the chart makes instantly crystal clear, the Obama administration drastically underestimated how bad the economy was and drastically overestimated its ability to do something about it.
As a result of this, President Obama over-promised and under-delivered on the single most important challenge of his Presidency (so far).
Also as a result, President Obama gave the Republicans ammunition to argue that his stimulus "failed," when, in fact, it helped matters considerably (just not enough to fix everything).
(Obviously it's not this chart that will get Obama fired--it's what the chart shows: Unemployment well above the level at which any President since Roosevelt has been re-elected, and the "failure" of Obama's stimulus to bring it down to a level that he said it would.)
Could the Obama Administration have fixed the economy in four years had they had done something different?
In my opinion, no.
Given the extent of the damage—and the kind of damage—that Obama inherited, this was always going to be a long slog. As a quick glance at debt-to-GDP charts show, this recession was not a run-of-the-mill cyclical recession. It was a debt-fueled balance sheet recession. And if there's one thing history shows about those, they take years if not decades to fix. (See Japan and the Great Depression).
But Obama certainly could have given himself a better chance to get re-elected despite the horrible economy. If Obama had recognized how bad things were, asked for a much bigger stimulus than he ended up asking for, and, importantly, set the appropriate expectations, he'd probably have been able to pin the blame for the mess where it belongs: On the three decades of decisions that facilitated the debt build-up that eventually culminated in the financial crisis.
Instead, however, Obama over-promised and under-delivered. And this will make it that much harder for him to get re-elected.
"National treasure Stephen Fry joined provocateur extraordinaire Christopher Hitchens to debate against Ann Widdicome and the Archbishop of Abuja, John Onaiyekan. The topic was 'Is Catholicism a force for good in the world?'. Needless to say, Hitchens & Fry didn't think so. Also needless to say, they provided the most convincing arguments of the evening.(thanks to Bizarro)
Mr Fry's passionate and emotional speech is presented here in its entirety, along with his closing remarks.
You can watch the entire debate, which runs about fifty minutes, by going to:
I have some very sad news to share with all of you. Steve passed away earlier today.
Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.
We are planning a celebration of Steve's extraordinary life for Apple employees that will take place soon. If you would like to share your thoughts, memories and condolences in the interim, you can simply email firstname.lastname@example.org.
No words can adequately express our sadness at Steve's death or our gratitude for the opportunity to work with him. We will honor his memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work he loved so much.
"We are coming very close to having a finished script. That’s been the most difficult thing. You have to remember that we have 24 hours to explain the stories in 24 and so trying to condense that into a two-hour film version has been a real shift in gear for us. We were originally trying to make it too big and put too much into it – but once we relaxed, we found out how to tell that story. So yes we definitely do plan on making the film."(via /Film)