In Defense of Deficits

"View in Wall Street from Corner of Broad...

James K. Galbraith in The Nation: ‘The Simpson-Bowles Commission, just established by the president, will no doubt deliver an attack on Social Security and Medicare dressed up in the sanctimonious rhetoric of deficit reduction. (Back in his salad days, former Senator Alan Simpson was a regular schemer to cut Social Security.) The Obama spending freeze is another symbolic sacrifice to the deficit gods. Most observers believe neither will amount to much, and one can hope that they are right. But what would be the economic consequences if they did? The answer is that a big deficit-reduction program would destroy the economy, or what remains of it, two years into the Great Crisis.

For this reason, the deficit phobia of Wall Street, the press, some economists and practically all politicians is one of the deepest dangers that we face. It’s not just the old and the sick who are threatened; we all are.’


R.I.P. Alice Miller

Psychoanalyst Who Laid Human Problems to Parental Actsis Dead at 87. “Dr. Miller caused a sensation with the English publication in 1981 of her first book, “The Drama of the Gifted Child.” Originally titled “Prisoners of Childhood,” it set forth, in three essays, a simple but harrowing proposition. All children, she wrote, suffer trauma and permanent psychic scarring at the hands of parents, who enforce codes of conduct through psychological pressure or corporal punishment: slaps, spankings or, in extreme cases, sustained physical abuse and even torture.

Unable to admit the rage they feel toward their tormenters, Dr. Miller contended, these damaged children limp along through life, weighed down by depression and insecurity, and pass the abuse along to the next generation, in an unending cycle. Some, in a pathetic effort to please their parents and serve their needs, distinguish themselves in the arts or professions. The Stalins and the Hitlers, Dr. Miller later wrote, inflict their childhood traumas on millions.” (New York Times obituary)

Miller stopped practicing psychoanalysis, convinced that the relationship between the analyst and patient replicates the oppressive and abusive parental relationship. Of course, Freudians would say that that is a product of the patient’s ‘transference’ to the analyst of their attitudes toward powerful figures from their formative years, and that working with the transference forms the basis of the analytic ‘cure’. But Miller felt it was a real and inescapable power relationship as well, or instead. Reading Miller, for many, connected them with notions of victimhood and oppression in their lives and irrevocably altered their attitudes toward rearing their own children.


The Top 13 Hidden Tracks

Cover of "Abbey Road (Remastered)"

‘The hidden track dates all the way back to The Beatles’ Abbey Road, which includes “Her Majesty,” a 23-second unlisted song at the end of the album’s second side. Since then, many bands have surprised their fans with secret songs, though many of them are merely discordant noise or otherwise eminently forgettable. Sometimes, though, these tracks are hidden gems that deserve to be heard. For that reason, we decided to put together a list of the very best hidden tracks, and listened to dozens of them to find the standouts.’ (The Top 13)


Stephen Hawking warns over making contact with aliens

Stephen Hawking

Aliens almost certainly exist but humans should avoid making contact, Professor Stephen Hawking has warned.

In a series for the Discovery Channel the renowned astrophysicist said it was “perfectly rational” to assume intelligent life exists elsewhere.

But he warned that aliens might simply raid Earth for resources, then move on.

“If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans,” he said.

Prof Hawking thinks that, rather than actively trying to communicate with extra-terrestrials, humans should do everything possible to avoid contact.

He explained: “We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.” (BBC)