Interesting reactions to Sudden Thought #2: one emailer said this thought had been thoroughly blogified within hours after Thompson’s death. If so, I missed it. Most have been appalled that I would compare the sainted Hunter with the devilish Coulter. Ideological (if not teleological) blinders, anyone? I grew up believing Nixon was Satan. But it’s undeniable that his domestic policy was to the left of Clinton’s. (Yes, I know, Reagan succeeded in moving the perceived center). Hunter’s work was better, these emailers suggest, because it was in the service of truth. Sounds like the right’s defense of Fox News. Anyway, if the “dog was too fucked up not to eat my homework” style of Gonzo has had any influence on journalism except to have encouraged people like Coulter to ramp up the nastiness, I missed it.
Now, at last, to Social Security (see, Josh, I haven’t totally trashed the place). An interesting juxtaposition of NYT op-eds this week, as, on the same page and the same day, Krugman and Brooks get to the heart of the matter. Not that I don’t respect the wonkiness of those who can deal with the numbers. But ever since it became common knowledge that the original costing of the new Medicare bill was based on a ten year period, during the first two years of which the bill would not yet have taken effect, I’ve felt justified in letting my eyes glaze over. Krugman and Brooks, on the other hand, start to address the basic question: risk. Social insurance was meant, in the first place, to insulate people from the effects of a previous regime which assumed that, like it or not, all folks should be risk-takers. Brooks suggests that the right’s real goal is a more dynamic society/economy, in which more people choose to be risk takers. Bush in his news conference this week, emphasizing (for the first time, to my ears) the voluntary nature of his plan/non-plan, seemed to be edging very tentatively toward this point. Still, the nagging sense (given the mendacious way the plan/nonplan is being sold) is that people will be compelled to choose to be risk takers. Although I have absolutely no inteest in polls and surveys, I would be interested in more open debate about the level of risk most people would actually like to assume.