Links to what I’ve been reading.
Larry Bartels points out that the common survey question “trust in government” isn’t really all that meaningful:
Political scientists have long recognized that Americans are much more enthusiastic about specific politicians and programs than they are about the government in general. They are much more likely to approve of their own member of Congress than of Congress as a whole. And even most conservatives oppose cutting spending on specific government programs, even while they strongly support overall cuts in government spending.
A similar divergence appears in citizens’ trust in government.[…]
Alyssa Rosenberg – who is a fantastic culture writer – reminds us that hipsterism doesn’t necessarily equal progressivism:
[…] In other words, it’s not really news that people who have tattoos, piercings, good haircuts and cool clothes believe that Christ is their savior and adopt hipster aesthetics to reach their target audiences. Thinking like this is one of the reasons I think progressives need not to get lazy about culture: it’s not enough to assume that our aesthetics and narrative power are just going to keep automatically bringing people over to support good policies and progressive world views. […]
John M. Broder and Dan Frosch predict the likelihood of a pipeline tapping into the western Canadian oil sands now that the Republicans have guaranteed the death of Keystone XL.
The Obama administration confirmed this week that a provision in the payroll tax bill requiring a quick decision on the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from western Canada to the Gulf Coast will probably lead to cancellation of the project.
But does that mean the $7 billion pipeline project is dead forever? Will its cancellation curb the inexorable global demand for the exploitation of Canada’s huge oil sands deposits? Will it affect the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide in beneficial ways and slow the pace of climate change?
The answer to all three questions, barring unexpected changes in the politics and economics of oil, appears to be no.
Daniel Kruger shines a flashlight towards the elephant in the room about our national debt – namely, it’s stupid cheap to borrow right:
The U.S. government received record demand for its bonds in 2011, pushing longer-maturity Treasuries to their best performance since 1995 in a sign that President Barack Obama may have little difficulty financing a fourth consecutive year of $1 trillion budget deficits.
The Treasury Department attracted $3.04 for each dollar of the $2.135 trillion in notes and bonds sold, the most since the government began releasing the data in 1992 during the George H. W. Bush administration. The U.S. drew an all-time high bid-to- cover ratio of 9.07 for $30 billion of four-week bills it auctioned on Dec. 20 even though they pay zero percent interest.