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June 2010 Archives

June 15, 2010

David Brooks on Goverment-Corporate Relations--Skeel

Inspired by the Obama Administration’s awkward dance with BP over the oil spill, David Brooks divides the nations of the world into two categories in this column today: those that treat oil companies and other large corporations as private corporations (“democratic capitalism”), and those that directly own and control the companies (“state capitalism”).

Brooks’ columns are always interesting, but this time his love for the number two—for dividing everything into two camps—leads him astray. The category he calls democratic capitalism merges very two different approaches, corporatist governance in which the state regulates and collaborates with large corporations; and a more decentralized approach (smaller corporations and industry competition). The U.S. has traditionally tended to favor the decentralized approach, whereas many European countries favor corporatism.
One of the most remarkable developments in the two years has been the extent to which we’ve moved in a corporatist direction. With a few small exceptions—such as the so-called Volcker rule limiting banks’ propriety trading—the entire financial reform package has a corporatist cast. The Obama administration’s new plan to pressure BP to set aside a fund for those injured by the oil spill has the same corporatist quality. It’s more evidence of the shift toward European-style governance.

June 16, 2010

The Spirit of the Law--Skeel

This short review offers a few thoughts on The Spirit of the Law, a new book on the church-state battles over the past century.  The book is a fascinating, in depth historical study of six of the sometimes quirky groups behind the cases.

Technical Difficulties Fixed-- Skeel

Hopefuly not too many of you tried to post comments during our month or so of silence.  The comment function wasn't working for the last week or so.  My apologies for the problem, which is now fixed.

June 28, 2010

Another Chemo Day--Stuntz

The most recent set of films showed that my cancer was growing again, so I went back on chemo today after an eight-week break. Not exactly fun, but not the worst thing in the world either. I was reminded of that earlier in the day, and reminded again how hard it is to feel sorry for oneself at a cancer center: I saw a child (she looked to be about 12-13 years old) who is here for treatment, and is obviously in worse shape than I’m in. It broke my heart to see her that way, and to think of the grief her parents must be going through. It also impressed me to see how kindly the doctors and nurses treated her. Cancer is a supremely ugly disease, but when skilled and good-hearted people work with cancer patients, sometimes the disease’s treatment takes on a kind of beauty. Heartbreaking beauty—it’s a strange concept, isn’t it?