Steve Kelman on Politics, Culture, and Life

I am Steve Kelman, Harvard Kennedy School professor. I do research on improving government performance and am interested in China. This blog will reprint many of my Facebook posts in these areas.

10.13.2021

Very proud of post by former student

When I left a lucrative private-sector job to do strategic planning for a troubled transit agency, most questioned my sanity. Half the pay, triple the work, quadruple the stress. What's not to love? But every minute has been worthwhile and I'm truly amazed by the capacity, professionalism, and dedication of the WMATA team. It's an honor to work alongside so many amazing colleagues and be a part of this turnaround story.

Thanks Steven Kelman for inspiring so many dedicated public servants.

Paul Krugman on the social safety net

Sometimes I think Paul Krugman is too ideological. But I actually liked his op-ed today on the Nobel Prize winners in economics. One did a natural experiment on the effect of minimum wage increases in Pennsylvania in New Jersey, finding the job-killing effects predicted by traditional studies of the minimum wage did not happen.. Krugman also notes that studies on the impact of increasing food stamps and Medicaid availability in the 70's and 80's produced positive health and productivity effects. Studies such as this may show more mixed results, but think Krugman is right that accounts of the woeful effects of social safety net programs are at best exaggerated.

Saving the Republican party from Trump

Christie Todd Whitman and another Republican former senior official have an op-ed in the Times today saying "rational Republicans are losing the party civil war" and "the only near-term way to battle Trump extremists is for all of us to team up on key races...with our longtime political opponents: the Democrats." Courageous, and thank you.

Information about bank accounts to be reported to IRS?

The administration has proposed that banks be required to provide more information about bank accounts to the IRS. I like this.

Unvaccinated now mostly vaccine refusers

An article in The Times today says that the majority of those who are still unvaccinated are hardcore vaccine refusers.

Not letting one’s novel be translated into Hebrew

The Irish writer Sally Rooney has refused to allow her latest novel to be translated into Hebrew. This seems particularly weird and destructive.

Tiananmen statue removed from Hong Kong University

Hong-Kong University has removed a statue commemorating the victims of the Tiananmen square massacre from the campus. This has nothing to do with support of Hong-Kong independence, only support for human rights in China. Their phrase, "patriots rule Hong-Kong" really means "Communist party supporters rule Hong-Kong."

Biden’s new anti-semitism advisor

Nice to see the president appointing Deborah Lipstadt as his adviser/representative on anti-Semitism. She wrote a very important book on the topic.

Taiwan embraces multiculturalism after democratization

The national day celebration in Taiwan featured a Taiwanese aboriginal singing a song in an aboriginal language. Since Taiwan has become democratic, it has also recognized its multiculturalism. Taiwan is also the strongest champion of gay rights in Asia by far.

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