Volume 3.15 (April 7-13)

Pick of the Week– When Youth Violence Spurred ‘Superpredator’ Fear (Clyde Haberman, NYT)– “But a funny thing happened on the way to the apocalypse. Instead of exploding, violence by children sharply declined. Murders committed by those ages 10 to 17 fell by roughly two-thirds from 1994 to 2011, according to statistics kept by the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Mugged by reality, a chastened Mr. DiIulio has offered a mea culpa. “Demography,” he says, “is not fate.” The trouble with his superpredator forecast, he told Retro Report, is that “once it was out there, there was no reeling it in.””

The Big Picture

The safety net catches the middle class more than the poor (Catherine Rampell, WaPo)

The Doom Loop of Oligarchy (Ezra Klein, Vox)– “[C]apitalism, left unchecked, subverts democracy by always and everywhere concentrating wealth at the tippy-top. That creates a class with so much economic power that they begin wielding tremendous political power, too. And then they use that political power to further increase their wealth, and then they use that wealth to further increase their political power, and so on.  You might call this the Doom Loop of Oligarchy: wealth buys power, which buys more wealth. You can see it playing out over the last two weeks in American politics.”

Why hasn’t democracy saved us from inequality (Kenneth Scheve and David Stasavage, WaPo)

The skeptics are wrong– the gender pay gap is very very real (Mathew Yglesias, Vox)– “Life is complicated. Any summary statistic is, by definition, going to be an effort to simplify that reality. And it is absolutely true to say that pay discrimination on the part of employers between the women they employ and the men they employ only accounts for a minority of the gap. But the statistical controls that reveal that don’t make the problem of the wage gap go away. They help us identify where it exists. Some of it exists inside the companies where women work. Some of it exists inside household dynamics and broad social expectations of how family life should work. And some of it exists at the level of occupations, where women’s job opportunities are structured in an economically unhelpful way.”

Yes, Being a Woman Makes You Poorer (Monica Potts, The American Prospect)

Gender Pay Gap Tracks Number of Women in State Legislatures (Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight)

Inflation May Hit Poor the Hardest (Ben Casselman, FiveThirtyEight)

Why We’re In a New Gilded Age (Paul Krugman, NYRB)


U.S. policy has gone liberals’ way for 70 years (Matt Grossmann, WaPo)– “The arc of the policy universe is long, but it bends toward liberalism. Conservatives can slow the growth of government but an enduring shift in policy direction would be unprecedented. History shows that a do-nothing Congress is a conservative’s best-case scenario.”

Is There a Wonk Bubble? (Felix Salmon, Politico)– “The same thing is likely to happen with the wonks. As the Wonk Bubble continues to grow, and online news organizations become more comfortable with this new form of journalism, you’ll increasingly find that the wonks’ journalistic techniques—the explainers, the charts, the accessible-yet-informed voice—will appear all over the news file. Eventually, a separate wonk site will feel as quaint as a separate blog site feels today. This is how journalism evolves nowadays.


Raising a Moral Child (Adam Grant, NYT)– “Praising their character helped them internalize it as part of their identities. The children learned who they were from observing their own actions”

Kids Are Having Sex Before Sex Ed (Andrew Sullivan, The Dish)

Teens are shockingly great at using birth control (Sarah Kliff, Vox)


Want to see how problematic Medicare pricing is? Look to ophthalmology. (Max Ehrenfreund, Wonkblog)– “A dose of Avastin costs only $50. A dose of Lucentis costs $2,000. Both Avastin and Lucentis are made by the same company, and they’re remarkably effective in treating a form of macular degeneration that was long the leading cause of blindness among the elderly, The Post reported. They are very similar on a molecular level and probably cost about the same amount to manufacture.  Nonetheless, doctors prescribe Lucentis almost as often as Avastin. They also make more money doing so. Medicare is legally obliged to pay for any drug a doctor prescribes, and doctors also receive commissions of 6 percent to cover their own expenses. The commission a doctor collects on each dose of Avastin would be only about $3, as opposed to $120 on each dose of Lucentis. Congress and the courts have refusedto allow Medicare to save money by scrutinizing doctors’ decisions.”

Forget Obamacare: Vermont wants to bring single payer to America (Sarah Kliff, Vox)

Culture War

When whites are told they’re becoming a minority, they become more conservative (Andrew Prokop, Vox)

The Color of His Presidency (Jonathan Chait, New York)– “But if you instead set out to write a social history of the Obama years, one that captured the day-to-day experience of political life, you would find that race has saturated everything as perhaps never before. Hardly a day goes by without a volley and counter-volley of accusations of racial insensitivity and racial hypersensitivity. And even when the red and blue tribes are not waging their endless war of mutual victimization, the subject of race courses through everything else: debt, health care, unemployment. Whereas the great themes of the Bush years revolved around foreign policy and a cultural divide over what or who constituted “real” America, the Obama years have been defined by a bitter disagreement over the size of government, which quickly reduces to an argument over whether the recipients of big-government largesse deserve it. There is no separating this discussion from one’s sympathies or prejudices toward, and identification with, black America.”

The gay marriage bigots strike again (Damon Linker, The Week)– Not posted for agreement.

Simply talking to people about same-sex marriage makes them more tolerant (Dylan Mathews, Vox)

The most important fact we rarely admit in talking about segregation and poverty (Emily Badger, Wonkblog)– “The geography that we have today — where poverty clusters alongside poverty, while the better-off live in entirely different school districts — is in large part a product of deliberate policies and government investments. The creation of the Interstate highway system enabled white flight. The federal mortgage interest deduction subsidized middle-income families buying homes there. For three decades, the Federal Housing Administration had separate underwriting standards for mortgages in all-white neighborhoods and all-black ones, institutionalizing the practice of “redlining.” That policy ended in the 1960s, but the patterns it reinforced didn’t end with it.”


Six things colleges don’t want you to know about financial aid (Libby Nelson, Vox)

Foreign Affairs

The oil curse– how black gold makes countries more authoritarian, corrupt and violent (Zack Beauchamp, Vox)

The worse you are at finding Ukraine on a map, the likelier you are to want to bomb it (Ezra Klein, Vox)


UConn basketball’s dirty secret (Libby Nelson, Vox)– It graduates only 8 percent of its players.


A Very, Very Serious Response to Ordain Women (Casey, Experts Textperts)– Poe’s law strikes again.  “My only real wish is that OW had behaved differently at every point. Less confrontationally. Less publicly. Had they done so I still wouldn’t support them, but I would feel much less uncomfortable about seeing the whole thing unfold. Frankly, as one who theoretically supports the hypothetical idea of women being ordained at some unspecified future time, it’s tremendously difficult to be a moderate in times like this.”

Hook of Mormon: Inside the Church’s Online-Only Missionary Army (Bianca Bosker, Huffington Post)

The Movement to Ordain Mormon Women (Natalie Dicou, The Atlantic)

Why More Missionaries ≠More Converts (Christopher Smith, Worlds without End)– “The problem seems to be market saturation. More missionaries means more converts only if there’s pent-up “demand” or demand increases in proportion to the missionary “supply”. Since the Church has largely discontinued the practice of random, door-to-door “tracting,” the demand being met by proselytizing missionaries consists almost entirely of prospective converts whose names have been submitted by current LDS members. There are only so many member referrals to go around, and the missionary force was already large enough to handle them before the missionary age was lowered. Adding 22,000 new missionaries doesn’t increase the number of member referrals; it just means the referrals are spread across a larger number of missionaries and each of them has less to do.”

LDS Church PR and Ordain Women: Amputating the Body of Christ (Katie L., Feminist Mormon Housewives)– “This depiction of the action is disingenuous at best and dishonest at worst…I repeat, the depiction from church PR in no way reflects the scene I observed.But perhaps even more disappointing than the flexibility with the facts is the overall message the statement conveys to the membership. From their initial request asking OW to stand in the “free speech zones” to last night’s heartbreaking spin, I am becoming increasingly concerned that their strategy is designed to give cues to the membership how to view us—as rabble rousers, outsiders, haters, disobedient apostates; people to be ignored or even ridiculed.”

A Warning About Alonzo Gaskill’s New Book (Taylor Petrey, By Common Consent)– “The idea that a notable professor invokes the Spirit to testify in favor of a 19th century forgery should trouble us precisely because it reinforces the critiques about the gullibility and overeagerness of Latter-day Saints to accept factual historical errors based on our desires rather than critical investigation. The sort of paradigm exhibited in this book shows that a professor is not capable of distinguishing between an obvious 19th century forgery and the sacred scriptures of Mormonism, and chooses supposed parallels between modern prophets and a modern forgery as evidence of what Jesus would have said in the first century.”

Mormons and the problem of selective obedience (Jana Riess, Flunking Sainthood)– “The problem with any all-or-nothing view of prophetic authority is that it removes our greatest gift, agency. In the Mormon cosmogony, our God cared so deeply about human freedom that a full third of the host of heaven was sacrificed in order to preserve it. How tragic that those on the far right are so anxious to surrender that agency and allow someone else to do their thinking for them. It is equally tragic, however, when those on the far left conclude that there is no such thing as prophetic or inspired leadership, or that God has long since stopped speaking through human mouths.”

Female Ordination and the “Second Shift” (Christopher Smith, Worlds Without End)– “More importantly, the Church could easily help avert the “double burden” problem if its introduction of female ordination were coupled with an effort to redress the balance of domestic duties. This is one of the advantages of a change in LDS Church policy over the change in US government policy that allowed women to enter the workforce: the LDS Church can exercise much more social control over men’s responses to the change. As with rape, the solution is not to impose constraints on women to prevent their victimization; the solution is to teach men to be fairer, more aware, and more ethical in their treatment of women.”


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