Richard Posner On The Decline Of The Conservative Movement

I briefly mentioned Richard Posner abandoning conservative economic dogma in a post a few days ago.  Posner is attracting more attention in the liberal blogosphere today with posts from Mathew Yglesias and Jonathan Singer. Posner, author of Capitalism in Crisis, has actually said plenty of things recently which liberal bloggers might find worthy of quoting. It is a recent post on the failings of the conservative movement which is attracting this attention today:

My theme is the intellectual decline of conservatism, and it is notable that the policies of the new conservatism are powered largely by emotion and religion and have for the most part weak intellectual groundings. That the policies are weak in conception, have largely failed in execution, and are political flops is therefore unsurprising. The major blows to conservatism, culminating in the election and programs of Obama, have been fourfold: the failure of military force to achieve U.S. foreign policy objectives; the inanity of trying to substitute will for intellect, as in the denial of global warming, the use of religious criteria in the selection of public officials, the neglect of management and expertise in government; a continued preoccupation with abortion; and fiscal incontinence in the form of massive budget deficits, the Medicare drug plan, excessive foreign borrowing, and asset-price inflation.

By the fall of 2008, the face of the Republican Party had become Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber. Conservative intellectuals had no party.

And then came the financial crash last September and the ensuing depression. These unanticipated and shocking events have exposed significant analytical weaknesses in core beliefs of conservative economists concerning the business cycle and the macroeconomy generally. Friedmanite monetarism and the efficient-market theory of finance have taken some sharp hits, and there is renewed respect for the macroeconomic thought of John Maynard Kenyes, a conservatives’ bête noire.

Carrie Prejean Keeps Title But Can’t Keep Her Shirt On


Carrie Prejean has created a considerable amount of controversy over two things which seem somewhat incongruous: opposing gay marriage based upon her religious beliefs and posing topless. Oh well, as an opponent of restrictive religious codes I’m certainly not going to complain about a religious perspective which permits pretty girls to pose nude. Hopefully she has come to be offended by those who tell her she should not pose topless, and will extend this to understand why homosexuals are offended when told by others than they cannot marry. Unfortunately the concept of individual liberty and freedom of choice in one’s personal life has been forgotten by far too many conservatives.

Prejean was threatened with losing her title over the controversy. While I disagree with her views on gay marriage, I did not agree with such action. Pageant owner Donald Trump has decided she can keep her title:

At a press conference addressing Carrie Prejean’s disputed title in the Miss USA competition, pageant owner Donald Trump compared Prejean’s stated views on gay marriage to Obama’s.

“It’s the same answer that the president of the United States gave,” Trump said. “She gave an honorable answer. She gave an answer from her heart.”

On one level I do have some respect for Prejean for saying what she believes, despite my disagreements with her views. Beauty contest contestants are expected to avoid saying anything controversial (sort of  making them the opposite of bloggers). Besides, if they don’t want a controversial answer the pageant shouldn’t ask the question.  If only she hadn’t gone from there to actively campaigning against gay marriage. There is no way to respect someone who devotes such effort to restricting the rights of others.

I agree that giving her opinion, as well as posing semi-nude, should not be a reason to deny Prejean her title. While I agree with Trump’s decision, he was being rather simplistic in his comparison to Obama’s views. While Prejean is now campaigning against gay marriage, Obama at least is supporting civil unions. Prejean’s view on gay marriage comes from religious conservatism. Obama’s opposition unfortunately comes from political pragmatism. While Prejean is wrong on the issue, I guess she did do better than Obama in at least sticking up for what she believes is right.

The initial topless picture of Prejean (top of post) was rather tame. TMZ found another set of topless pictures of Carrie Prejean which were taken last year:


Carrie blames the wind for unintentionally exposing her breasts during the photo shoot.  As conservative lies go, that’s hardly as serious as blaming Saddam for 9/11. Besides, if the pageant is willing to forgive Carrie for lying about having posed nude, who am I to complain? The pictures do raise one unanswered question: Why did the pageant think it was necessary to pay for breast-enhancement surgery for her?

Update (June 10): Prejean fired for breach of contract

Medicare Benficiaries More Satisfied Than Those In Employer-Based Insurance Plans

While conservatives resort to scare tactics about “government take over of health care,” it turns out that those in the major government plan are happier than those in employer-based private plans. The findings from The Commonwealth Fund also have a bearing on the question of whether a public plan based upon Medicare should be part of a health reform plan. Their findings:

  • Medicare beneficiaries are more satisfied with their insurance coverage. Only 8 percent of elderly Medicare beneficiaries rated their insurance “fair or poor,” in contrast with 18 percent of individuals with employer-based insurance. Thirty-two percent of Medicare beneficiaries had at least one negative insurance experience, compared with 44 percent of those covered by an employer plan.
  • Medicare beneficiaries report easier access to physicians. Ten percent of Medicare beneficiaries’ physicians did not accept their insurance, compared with 17 percent of respondents with employer-sponsored plans.
  • Medicare beneficiaries are less likely to report not getting needed services. Twelve percent of elderly Medicare beneficiaries reported going without care, such as prescribed medications or recommended tests, because of cost restraints. Of individuals with employer-based plans, 26 percent reported experiencing these cost/access issues.
  • Medicare beneficiaries are sicker and poorer but report fewer medical bill problems. Elderly Medicare beneficiaries were more likely to rate their health as fair or poor than the employer-coverage group (28% vs. 11%); more likely to have multiple chronic conditions (38% vs. 11%); and more likely to have incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level (51% vs. 27%). Yet, Medicare beneficiaries were less likely to report a medical bill problem than those covered by employer plans.