Friday Reads: A little bit of This and a little bit of ThatPosted: May 30, 2014
French Economist Thomas Piketty has responded to the FT attack on his data published in Capital in the 21st Century. Basically, he considers it all very nit picky and doesn’t think it changes his overall thesis and results.
In response to a request from The New York Times to further address the criticisms, which The Financial Times published on Friday, Mr. Piketty, a professor at the Paris School of Economics, wrote that his data were correct, and his conclusions stood: Wealth inequality in Europe and the United States was high in the years before World War I, fell for much of the 20th century, and has been rising sharply again in the past three decades.
He argued that many of the things that The Financial Times identified as sloppy or arbitrary were in fact considered choices, which he explained in footnotes. Reasonable people might disagree with some of his choices of how to handle the data, he says. But even where there’s room for debate, any reasonable changes to his methodology would be small and not alter the broad conclusions, he suggested.
The part of the newspaper’s critique that throws the most doubt on his overall conclusions is its argument that wealth inequality in Britain has risen much less than Mr. Piketty contends. For that, he has sharp words. He says the newspaper’s analysis rests on apples-to-oranges comparisons of past data from tax returns mixed with current data from surveys, which makes the conclusions they reach deeply flawed, and contrary to what a wide range of other studies have found.
“My problem with the FT criticisms is twofold,” he wrote, in a 4,400-word response on his website. “The FT suggests that I made mistakes and errors in my computations, which is simply wrong, as I show below. The corrections proposed by The FT to my series (and with which I disagree) are for the most part relatively minor, and do not affect the long run evolutions and my overall analysis, contrarily to what The FT suggests.”
And those arguments by the newspaper that are not so minor and do undermine his findings, he writes, “are based upon methodological choices that are quite debatable (to say the least).”
Whacko Republican “Conservative Scholar” Ken Blackwell thinks that marriage equality is the cause of the recent mass shootings in Santa Barbara. Yea, I can’t figure it out either. Ignore the war on women and basic misogyny it’s kicked up and blame “Teh GAY!!!!”
Family Research Council senior fellow Ken Blackwell yesterday linked the Isla Vista mass killings to marriage equality laws, which he claimed are destroying the culture. Speaking with FRC president Tony Perkins on “Washington Watch,” Blackwell blamed the shooting on “the crumbling of the moral foundation of the country” and “the attack on natural marriage and the family.”
“When these fundamental institutions are attacked and destroyed and weakened and abandoned, you get what we are now seeing,” Blackwell said, arguing that people who are “blaming the Second Amendment” are “avoiding talking about what is at the root cause of the problem.”
Blackwell has previously described marriage equality advocates as “opponents of natural marriage.”
You remember Joe the Plumber? It wasn’t sufficient he told a grieving father that father’s dead son meant less that Joe’s right to carry whatever weapon of death he chose, he topped it with a threat to all politicians.
Samuel Wurzelbacher — better known as Joe the Plumber — likes guns. And he wants everyone to know why.
“Guns are mostly for hunting down politicians who would actively seek to take your freedoms and liberty away from you,” Wurzelbacher wrote on Thursday in a blog post on his website. “Google ‘Hitler, Mao, Kim Jung Il, Castro, Stalin’ just for starters.”
The post was a kind of follow-up to the “open letter” Wurzelbacher published Tuesdayaddressing the parents of the victims of last week’s mass shooting near the University of California, Santa Barbara. Following the shooting, Richard Martinez, whose son Chris was among the victims, blamed “craven, irresponsible politicians” and the National Rifle Association for his son’s death. Wurzelbacher responded by writing that “[a]s harsh as this sounds – your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights.”
In his latest post, Wurzelbacher said his pro-gun arguments also had something to do with Memorial Day.
“I wrote my ‘open letter’ on the eve of Memorial day – a day we honor the fallen heroes that defend and protect our rights,” he wrote. “These men and women that served and paid the ultimate price for our way of life were someone’s dad, mom, brother, sister, or daughter. They made that sacrifice, which guarantees our freedoms because they believe in America. So I’m asking the question: Why are the lives of these brave Americans less important than the victims of Elliot Rodger?”
Wurzelbacher again warned that “left-leaning” politicians and “Marxists” would use Friday’s shooting to “further chip away our rights.
The Oil Industry is doing a job on Louisiana again. I’m afraid there’s no hope for the important ecosystem here.
BP Plc on Wednesday asked Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to allow the company to avoid making payments to businesses demanding compensation for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill while litigation continues.
The company acted after the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted an injunction earlier in the day that had prevented payments being made. Last week, the court had decided not to revisit a decision rejecting BP’s bid to block payments to businesses that could not trace their economic losses to the disaster.
Scalia, who has responsibility for emergency applications arising from the 5th Circuit, can either act on BP’s request himself or refer the matter to the nine-member court as a whole. There is no specific deadline by which the court must act.
In the new court filing, BP’s lawyers say that if the payments are not blocked, “countless awards totaling potentially hundreds of millions of dollars will be irreparably scattered to claimants that suffered no injury traceable to BP’s conduct.”
The appeals court in March voted 2-1 to authorize payments on so-called business economic loss claims, and said the injunction preventing payments should be lifted. BP already had said it would seek Supreme Court review of the ruling.
BP is trying to limit payments over the April 20, 2010, explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and rupture of BP’s Macondo oil well. The disaster killed 11
That’s not all. Our legislature just voted to nullify our popular vote of changes to the composition of Levee Boards because Jindal wants it and the Oil Industry wants it. Again, it’s over the ability of the state to sue these companies for the damage they’ve done and will do down here.
The Louisiana House voted with the oil and gas industry Thursday, supporting a bill that seeks to void a lawsuit filed by a New Orleans area levee board against 97 oil and gas companies.
With the 59-39 House vote, the proposal is one step from passage. The Senate-backed billmust return to the Senate for consideration of changes that solidify the bill’s intent to kill the lawsuit. Gov. Bobby Jindal supports the measure.
The Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East filed a lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies, alleging their drilling activities damaged Louisiana’s coast and vulnerable wetlands.
Lawsuit supporters say the industry hasn’t sufficiently been held accountable for the damage done by dredging for canals and pipelines. Critics call it an attack on a valuable state industry, a boon for trial lawyers and a lawsuit that the levee board had no authority to file.
The bill by Sen. Bret Allain, R-Franklin, would define which governmental entities can bring legal claims about management of Louisiana’s coastal zones to entities designated in the Coastal Zone Management Act. Levee boards aren’t on the list.
That would offer a legal argument to have the levee board’s lawsuit thrown out. The bill specifies that its provisions “shall be applicable to all claims existing or actions pending.”
Rep. Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette, who handled the proposal in the House, said it protects industry from “rogue agencies” that file lawsuits without standing to do so.
“They shouldn’t have even gone down this path,” Robideaux said of the levee board.
Rep. Eddie Lambert, R-Gonzales, said a court should decide whether the board had the legal authority to file a lawsuit. Robideaux replied that he wanted to give the courts more information.
“This isn’t about clarifying existing law,” said Rep. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, who voted against the measure. “The courts know how to read a law and apply it.”
Edwards said if the lawsuit was frivolous and improperly filed, the oil and gas industry wouldn’t be fighting so hard to pass Allain’s bill. He and other opponents of the bill said it sought to immunize the industry from paying for damages they caused.
You can read General Russell Honore’s op ed on this in the NYT here. He was on Maddow last night too. He’s been a tireless advocate of the enviornment down here since he found out how so much damage done by hurricanes recently is due to what the oil and gas industry has done to us. That’s just the side issues compared to what they’ve done directly.
“A final effort to restrict the authority’s power to sue these industries is expected to come Thursday (May 29) before the State House of Representatives, where it has the support of the Republican governor, Bobby Jindal, and legislative allies of oil and gas. The bill has already passed the Senate. The House needs to defeat the bill,” he wrote.
“That won’t assure us that the oil and gas industries will fix the damage they’ve caused to our coast over decades. But it will give the citizens of Louisiana their day in court to stand up and say, ‘We’ve had enough.’ “
The president may be poised to do something about carbon emissions from coal burning plants without congress. It’s about time we take global warming seriously and the damage done to our planet by the extraction and burning of all these fossil fuels.
President Obama will use his executive authority to cut carbon emissions from the nation’s coal-fired power plants by up to 20 percent, according to people familiar with his plans, which will spur the creation of a state cap-and-trade program forcing industry to pay for the carbon pollution it creates.
Mr. Obama will unveil his plans in a new regulation, written by the Environmental Protection Agency, at the White House on Monday. It would be the strongest action ever taken by an American president to tackle climate change and could become one of the defining elements of Mr. Obama’s legacy.
Cutting carbon emissions by 20 percent — a substantial amount — would be the most important step in the administration’s pledged goal to reduce pollution over the next six years and could eventually shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants across the country. The regulation would have far more impact on the environment than the Keystone pipeline, which many administration officials consider a political sideshow, and is certain to be met with opposition from Republicans who say that Mr. Obama will be using his executive authority as a back door to force through an inflammatory cap-and-trade policy he could not get through Congress.
People familiar with the rule say that it will set a national limit on carbon pollution from coal plants, but that it will allow each state to come up with its own plan to cut emissions based on a menu of options that include adding wind and solar power, energy-efficiency technology and creating or joining state cap-and-trade programs. Cap-and-trade programs are effectively carbon taxes that place a limit on carbon pollution and create markets for buying and selling government-issued pollution permits.
Coal plants are the nation’s largest source of the greenhouse gases that scientists say are the chief cause of global warming.
So that’s it for me today! What’s on your reading and blogging list today?