July 16, 2010

The old, the new

Whatever my political leanings may be, I have a really strong conservative streak--in the old sense of the word conservative, as in respecting the traditions of the past. I tend to value old things that have withstood the tests of time to new innovations.

I suspect more wisdom can be found in places like Greek tragedy, myths and old philosophies than in just about anything on the bestseller list. Science would be the major exception.

I think that's one reason why I like Confucius, whose approach to philosophy has been called (by whom I can't recall) "innovation through transmission."

A saying of his from the Analects that has influenced me is this one:

One who studies the old so as to find the new is worthy to teach others.

This doesn't imply a mindless repetition of old traditions but rather a critical evaluation of them in search of insights that apply to the current situation, a kind of dialogue between past and present. I've always suspected that the best innovators are not people who make up things out of new cloth but rather those who piece together old insights in new ways.

IF ALL GOES ACCORDING TO PLAN, WV Governor Joe Manchin will name the person who will fill the late Robert Byrd's US Senate seat (if not his shoes) today. As soon as that person is sworn in, we can probably expect yet another vote on extending unemployment benefits to the approximately 2 million people who have lost them. Lots of us hope that WV's vote will be the tipping point.

Here are three related items:

FOX NEWS TRASHES UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS. I know that's a shock, but read more about it, including debunking, here.

A DOUBLE IMPACT. To clear the palate, this issue brief from the Economic Policy Institute shows that UI benefits don't just keep jobless workers going but also help create and preserve jobs:

The reasoning is simple. Those who are unemployed are experiencing a major challenge to maintain anything close to their regular standard of living, so any assistance they receive will be spent on necessities, not saved. The spending that results as the unemployed pay their rent, buy groceries, and so on saves and creates jobs throughout the economy.

ASSESSING ARRA. Here's congressional testimony on the Recovery Act and what remains to be done to deal with the impact of the Great Recession.

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE CORPORATE SUITES, the Washington Post notes that:

Corporate America is hoarding a massive pile of cash. It just doesn't want to spend it hiring anyone.

Read more here.

CHICKEN HAWKS. The loudest voices on the deficit are opposed to allowing Bush-era tax cuts to expire.

ONE FOR THE ROAD. Here's the Washington Post on the passage of landmark financial reform legislation.


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