Elsewhere

Jonathan Chait: "The Facts Are In and Paul Ryan Is Wrong":

Changes in the way we think about the world are not news in the classic sense they occur gradually, without discrete events to signal them. But they matter. Two such developments have come together recently, both reported in the New York Times. The first is the collapse of intellectual support for the notion that immediate austerity can boost economic growth. The second is a growing consensus that health-care-cost inflation is slowing for deep structural reasons, rather than having undergone a mere temporary dip from the recession. These trends have something in common: They blow to smithereens the intellectual foundations of the Obama-era Republican policy agenda.

Peter J. Leithart: "What's Wrong with 'Family Values'":

The most penetrating conservative analysts of family life have always recognized the cultural contradictions of capitalism and of technological society. They have always recognized the costs (as well as the gains) of separating work and home; of geographic, vocational, and social mobility; of the indisputable wealth-generating power of capitalism. On the ground, though, conservatives look the other way when told that our economic system or our technological progress might inhibit the formation of what [Wendell] Berry describes as an economy that exists for the protection of gifts, beginning with the giving in marriage.

The editors of n+1: "Cultural Revolution":

Local symptoms of the unfolding global crisis arent just the further destitution of the American poor, the culling of the middle class, and the somehow uninterrupted concentration of wealth among parasitic financiers. Inside the general disaster, a crisis in the principal institutions of intellectual lifeacademia and publishinghas been deepening. One tenure-track opening exists for every four new PhDs; the figure is worse for the social sciences, and still worse for humanities. Hundreds of applicants vie for jobs at third-tier colleges paying barely middle-class salaries; the losers end up as adjuncts or course managers, tossed two or three grand per semester-long class. Many a promising young person goes to graduate school in flight from a brutal labor marketonly to encounter the same beast, grown more ferocious during the interval, a few years down the line. Now youre well qualified to teach Insecure: The Cultural Politics of Neoliberalism (a course offered by the CUNY English Department in the spring of 2011), if only they would let you. Tenure-track professors meanwhile fear that cost-free MOOCs massive open online courseswill before long administer the coup de grace to the professoriate that a thousand right-wing screeds against tenured radicals could never quite accomplish.

 

Matthew Boudway is senior editor of Commonweal.

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