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June 29, 2005
I'm Not Where I Need To Be

Something said in the comments started me brooding over this. The world o'blog. I started with the wingnuts and the cheap, easy scores, moved toward sites with a bit more depth, and now find myself starting to hunger for solutions.

I know there are voices speaking sense on the Left side of the 'net but I don't see the follow-up discussions. When Krugman or Marshall posts something insightful and useful about the economy or Social Security, where's the buzz? A lot of bloggers toss them a link, but I'm not seeing the in-depth discussion winding its way through the world o'blog. (What I think of as second- and third-tier discussion.)

Where are the discussions? (Sometimes I don't understand what I read, if it's Highly Financial, and I want the Eddicated Proffeshunals to 'splain it to me.)

Maybe there's a lot of discussion of serious issues, people actually debating what policies we should adopt, what strategies we should be using (not to win elections, but for the country in a larger sense) and I'm just reading the wrong blogs? **

Where should I be? (I don't necessarily want to talk myself, but I do want to 'listen' to knowlegable people debate things.)

I printed out 50 pages of stuff that I've been promising myself I'll read from Democracy Arsenal and 50 pages from Steve Clemons' posts for "airplane reading." By the time I get back, I'll need more.

(And, hey! Congratulations to Congress on their pay raise! It's always reassuring to see that our Dear Leaders aren't losing touch with their purchasing power, isn't it?)

_____________________

* Not for everyone, of course. Just some blogs. But some of the ones I read.

** Don't get me wrong. Some of the blogs on my list are non-negotiable. A day without Avedon Carol is unthinkable. Ditto for half a dozen other blogs over there.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:48 PM


Comments

I think it's a matter of time management; I see lots of blogs lately whose authors seem to feel that just linking to an article and saying a few words about it is easier than sitting down and thinking about what the person's said and then adding your own thoughts. I much prefer the latter, both in terms of writing and reading, but I also have to admit it's pretty time-consuming!

Posted by: Elayne Riggs at June 29, 2005 03:43 PM

I'm at the point where I want more than a few words, though. I first noticed it a while back,when I realized that I was looking forward to Josh Marshall's increasingly detailed posts on the whole Social Security thing.

For me, the internet is a free education. :) I'm looking for people willing to spend the time to write the kind of in-depth posts that I can really learn from. In addition to that, I'd like to see the Brainy People discussing things amongst themselves.

Posted by: Anne at June 29, 2005 04:10 PM

Hmmm. Looking at your blog list, I don't see Brad DeLong, Majikthise or Michael Berube. Those are among the more thoughtful blogs I read. But I don't read all of the blogs you list, so I don't know if they're comparatively better than the ones you do have (I'd have said Pandagon gets some pretty good discussions, and they are on your list).

Posted by: Protagoras at June 29, 2005 05:41 PM

Well, color me embarrassed. :) Majikthise_ was on my template but I poked around and realized I made a typo and accidentally "commented out" the link. DeLong...thank you for the nudge.

(Berube was on my blogroll but I took him off recently when he freaked out about the cost of his bandwidth. I always feel guilty about people who get so much traffic they can't afford to pay for their sites and I can't afford to contribute to everyone.)

Posted by: Anne at June 29, 2005 08:09 PM

Well, if you want long discourses (and extended comments) about contemporary issues by smart and liberal social scientists, try Crooked Timber. They don't light my fire, honestly, but they do what they do pretty well.

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at June 29, 2005 11:01 PM

The trouble is that there is so much to say. I keep thinking other people are more expert than me on some of these things, and people should be reading them.... But of course, that's not right. Sometimes I'm more insightful on some issues than the professionals, and aside from that, I know that a lot of people who read me don't read a lot of other blogs. But there's a lot of stuff out there and do want to preserve links to, and point others to, and if I only write essays that other stuff might get lost.

Posted by: Avedon at June 30, 2005 05:34 AM

I'll try Crooked Timber, thanks Jonathan.

I know what you mean, Avedon. There's always more going on than I have time (or should have time) to talk about. I get frustrated because my wingnut ranting about something like torturing prisoners is as good as anyone else's, but on broader issues (not to imply that not torturing people isn't an important principle) what I want is to read people who know that they're talking about. So I link to the kinds of things I find interesting around those topics and hope someone, somewhere, will provide me with some 'expert' analysis, but it doesn't often happen.

Happily, poking around on other blogs, I've discovered some of those cool tracking tools that tell me what people are talking about! I've bookmarked a couple of them and hope they'll help lead me to what I'm looking for.

(I always look forward to your blog, whether it's links or an essay. You write well, and collect interesting links.)

In the meantime, though, I have to go catch a plane.

Posted by: Anne at June 30, 2005 06:14 AM

The LAST thing I want to see on a blog is a 10,000- or 20,000-word essay or article when it can be said better in 50 or 100 words or less. Blogs do NOT lend themselves easily to such pretentious drivel, and unfortunately some bloggers whose names I won't mention are very prone to being pompous, wordy asses.

I won't even read their blogs or their posts, because 99 percent of the time their opinions are wrong anyway.

Often on my blog I will write something brief to a link which I find of interest, and much of what I post isn't mentioned on other blogs. There are of interest to ME, and, after all, my blog is a reflection of me and MY opinions.

But in the end, KISS is the rule with blogs and blogging.

Posted by: Susan Nunes at July 1, 2005 11:43 PM

"(And, hey! Congratulations to Congress on their pay raise! It's always reassuring to see that our Dear Leaders aren't losing touch with their purchasing power, isn't it?)"

There was an amendment, proposed in 1788, that almost made it into the Bill Of Rights (it would have been Amendment 11) that no pay raise could take effect till after the next election. There was a movement to revive it in the mid 1990s. The idea behind the amendment is that anytime politicians vote themselves a pay raise, they must then face their electors before the pay raise can take effect, and if the people feel the politicians don't deserve that pay raise, then the people can vote them out.

I'm against the amendment. It died in 1788 because at the time there was a feeling that politicians, as servants of the people, need to be well paid. High pay is a guard against corruption. Low pay invites bribery. Low pay would be especially hard, it was thought, on working class citizens when they get elected. And when you think of certain House Reps who come from poor black backgrounds and represent poor black districts, its clear that we do not pay our House Reps enough.

The pay of our politicians has eroded enormously since 1788. George Washington was paid $25,000 a year, which is almost a million dollars a year in todays money.

I'd rather see our politicians vote themselves less perks and more money. A salary without perks is honest, whereas perks with low pay is corruption. I'd rather see less free limosine rides and more salary.

Posted by: Lawrence Krubner at July 5, 2005 05:32 PM

Additionally, I think it is shameful that a prosperous democracy should denigrate the political process by not paying its politicians well. However, there is the argument to be made, and it is a good argument, that politicians shouldn't get pay raises when the people aren't also getting pay raises. But when is that? Median income in America rose in every decade of American history save for the 1970s and the 1980s. So politicians should have gotten a pay raise in every decade of American history, save for the 1970s and the 1980s. But they haven't.

Populist pressure limits pay raises for politicians, but sometimes blind populist pressure is as much a danger to democracy as the manipulations of the nations various elites.

Posted by: Lawrence Krubner at July 5, 2005 05:49 PM

As to your main point, about detailed discussion, I think if you want expert opinion then you have to read weblogs written by speci alists. For economics, professors like Brad Delong or Brad Sester can offer in depth treatment (also BattlePanda, though she is young and, I assume, a student). On legal matters, there are people like Mark Kleinman. Or Eugene Volkoh, though he is right-wing. On education, start with EduWonk.com. Also Kimberly Swygert, though she is right-wing. For international round-ups, there is the impressive effort from Harvard, called Global Voices Online, which sums up hundreds of weblogs a day, from all over the world. For a discussion of Indian pop culture and the ex-patriate experience, read Sepia Mutiny.

For any field, if you want really good in-depth stuff, I think you'd need to find a spec ialist who is fairly focused on one thing. Obviously no one can offer in-depth insight on all issues.

If you find a good in-depth blog focused on Indian politics and written in English, please let me know.

Posted by: Lawrence Krubner at July 5, 2005 06:02 PM

By the way, my last comment was initially rejected by your server because, supposedly, it contained the word "c i a l i s" (without the spaces). I didn't think it had that word in it, so I ran a search on the text. It turns out that "ciali s" is in the middle of the word "s p e c i alist", when that word is correctly spelled.

Posted by: Lawrence Krubner at July 5, 2005 06:07 PM

Susan -

"Blogs do NOT lend themselves easily to such pretentious drivel, and unfortunately some bloggers whose names I won't mention are very prone to being pompous, wordy asses."

You're talking about me. :)

Posted by: Anne at July 7, 2005 12:13 PM

Lawrence - The pay of a lot of people has eroded enormously in recent years, so I'm not going to spend a lot of time feeling pity for people making over $150,000 a year already.

I think the proposed raise-delay amendment would have been a good one. If a set of politicians is so poorly regarded by their constituents that a small pay-raise pushes voters over the edge and into voting for someone else, then that's probably good. (In prosperous times, few people would object to a reasonable raise.)

A look at the income disparity between politicians and the 'citizens' of the District might be an interesting analogy for the rich-poor gap in the country overall.

Right now the government is saying we can't afford a raise in the minimum wage, education, healthcare, social security, job training, environmental protections, and a lot of other things the majority of citizens believe are vital.

The fact that they find themselves able to afford a pay raise for themselves is disgusting. It's not the amount of money. It's the principle of the thing.

Posted by: Anne at July 7, 2005 12:23 PM

"The fact that they find themselves able to afford a pay raise for themselves is disgusting. It's not the amount of money. It's the principle of the thing."

I agree that, on principle, politicians should get raises only when the median wage is rising.

Posted by: Lawrence Krubner at July 7, 2005 09:36 PM