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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Sunday links.

* If you're still reading about health care, don't miss the New York Times's hundred-year history of health care reform in America and (via the indomitable Steve Benen) a few links on what the bill actually accomplishes. It's also worth checking in with Steve Benen's reading of John Boehner's December 2008 declaration "The Future is Cao," which looks a whole lot different now.

* I've been thinking about the Paul Begala editorial from the summer, "Progress Over Perfection," and I think some nay-saying progressives could use the reminder.

No self-respecting liberal today would support Franklin Roosevelt's original Social Security Act. It excluded agricultural workers -- a huge part of the economy in 1935, and one in which Latinos have traditionally worked. It excluded domestic workers, which included countless African Americans and immigrants. It did not cover the self-employed, or state and local government employees, or railroad employees, or federal employees or employees of nonprofits. It didn't even cover the clergy. FDR's Social Security Act did not have benefits for dependents or survivors. It did not have a cost-of-living increase. If you became disabled and couldn't work, you got nothing from Social Security.

If that version of Social Security were introduced today, progressives like me would call it cramped, parsimonious, mean-spirited and even racist. Perhaps it was all those things. But it was also a start. And for 74 years we have built on that start. We added more people to the winner's circle: farmworkers and domestic workers and government workers. We extended benefits to the children of working men and women who died. We granted benefits to the disabled. We mandated annual cost-of-living adjustments. And today Social Security is the bedrock of our progressive vision of the common good.
* Meanwhile, Ryan's Twitter feed has this on the attention economy as "post-capitalism."
The views I challenge include the notion that attention flows through the Internet chiefly to corporations, that attention only has significance if somehow monetized, that it is ultimately capitalists who exploit attention, and that money remains far more basic than attention.
Don't worry, fellow citizens; capitalism is alive and well.