Volume 3.17 (April 21-27)

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The Big Picture

Boys with incarcerated fathers are screwed before they even get to school (Dara Lind, Vox)– “This finding is coming out at a time when there’s a lot of interest in what’s called the “school to prison pipeline.” Tough school discipline policies tend to make affected students less likely to succeed in school — one study found getting suspended or expelled was a stronger predictor of dropping out than doing badly in classes — and more likely to run into trouble with the law. “

How Medicaid forces the disabled to be poor (Harold Pollack, Wonkblog)– “Medicaid does have one huge flaw, which hurts millions of people living with disabilities, injuries, or chronic illness. You have to live, officially at least, as a pauper. With important variations across the states, most recipients are forbidden from having more than two or three thousand dollars in the bank.”

To Reduce Inequality, Start with Families (Judith Warner, NYT)– “However it’s worded, the message is clear: If we want to strike at the roots of inequality in America, we’ve got to start at its source, in the family, at the very beginning of children’s lives. We have to make it possible for mothers — two-thirds of whom are now breadwinners or co-breadwinners for their families — to stay in the work force without the sort of family-related job interruptions that can greatly limit their lifetime earnings and even push some families into bankruptcy. We need to make it possible for all parents to give their kids the kind of head start that is increasingly becoming an exclusive birthright of the well-off.”

Thomas Piketty is Right (Robert Solow, The New Republic)

Inequality is Not the Problem (Jeff Madrick, NYRB)– “The main lesson is that a combination of social policies and growth policies are needed that aim at producing rising wages for all. They could include a higher minimum wage, child allowances, and educational programs for the young about the disadvantages of early pregnancies.  But they should also include serious stimulus measures by the federal government, including a recognition that deficits are now low enough and that further austerity is unnecessary. In particular, government spending programs should aim to sustain decent income levels through unemployment insurance, expanded earned income and child tax credits, and outright cash allowances. The government should also aim at foundational projects that facilitate long-term economic growth, including intelligent and aggressive expansion of transportation, and Internet infrastructure.”

The American Middle Class is No Longer the World’s Richest (David Leonhardt and Kevin Quealey, The Upshot)


Partisan Loyalty Begins at Age 18 (Dan Hopkins, Five Thirty Eight)

What’s the liberal equivalent of climate change denial? (Ezra Klein, Vox)– “His experiments don’t say anything about how political coalitions reason. It’s possible that liberals and conservatives have the same individual tendencies towards self deception but something in the composition of the liberal coalition provides a check that the conservative coalition currently lacks.”

Obamacare: The Hate Can’t Be Cured (Garry Wills, NYRB)– “I fear that the president declared a premature victory for the Affordable Care Act when he said that its initial goals were met, it was time to move on to other matters, and the idea of repealing it is no longer feasible. He made the mistake of thinking that facts matter when a cult is involved. Obamacare is now, for many, haloed with hate, to be fought against with all one’s life. Retaining certitude about its essential evil is a matter of self-respect, honor for one’s allies in the cause, and loathing for one’s opponents. It is a religious commitment.”

The Myth of Swing Voters in Midterm Elections (Lynn Vavreck, The Upshot)– “It may seem hard to believe that the shellacking was more about who turned up than about who changed their minds between 2008 and 2010, but it lines up with a lot of other evidence about voters’ behavior. Most identify with the same political party their entire adult lives, even if they do not formally register with it. They almost always vote for the presidential candidate from that party, and they rarely vote for one party for president and the other one for Congress. And most voters are also much less likely to vote in midterm elections than in presidential contests.”

Sonia Sotomayor is a National Treasure (David Fontana, The New Republic)– “Sotomayor’s dissent suggests that she can uniquely communicate with the regular public via her written opinions as well. “


The way we board airplanes makes absolutely no sense (Joseph Stromberg, Vox)– “Basically, window seat passengers from one whole side of the plane are sent in, followed by the window seat passengers from the other side. But the rows of passengers allowed in are staggered, so you never have multiple passengers using the same aisle space to sit down or put their bags into the overhead bins. (Example: you send in 36A, 34A, and 32A, then 35A, 33A, and 31A).  This eliminates waiting while someone in your row gets up to let you in (like the outside-in method), but also makes sure that at any given time, the passengers getting on are accessing completely different rows and overhead bins, further cutting down on congestion.”

Flight Delayed? Your Pilot Really Can Make Up the Time in the Air (Benjamin Montet, Five Thirty Eight)

Foreign Affairs

Let the Past Collapse on Time! (Vladimir Sorokin, NYRB)– “If you compare the post-Soviet bear to the Soviet one, the only thing they have in common is the imperial roar. However, the post-Soviet bear is teeming with corrupt parasites that infected it during the 1990s, and have multiplied exponentially in the last decade. They are consuming the bear from within. Some might mistake their fevered movement under the bear’s hide for the working of powerful muscles. But in truth, it’s an illusion. There are no muscles, the bear’s teeth have worn down, and its brain is buffeted by the random firing of contradictory neurological impulses: “Get rich!” “Modernize!” “Steal!” “Pray!” “Build Great Mother Russia!” “Resurrect the USSR!” “Beware of the West!” “Invest in Western real estate!” “Keep your savings in dollars and euros!” “Vacation in Courchevel!” “Be patriotic!” “Search and destroy the enemies within!””

Obama is giving up on Ukraine, but just getting started with Russia (Max Fisher, Vox)

Degrees of Influence Peddling in China and US (Neil Irwin, The Upshot)– “And the United States has institutions that at least pull the more egregious financial conflicts facing politicians into the open. There are mandatory disclosures for lobbyists and corporate donors to campaigns. We have a free press that receives Pulitzers for exposing official corruption, rather than censorship and arrests. And for American prosecutors, winning an official corruption case is a way toward career advancement rather than career purgatory.  Chinese leaders aren’t, it would seem, ready for most of those steps yet. But the prosecution of Mr. Zhou’s family is a sign that the country is heading toward a new definition of just what sort of soft corruption China’s government — and its people — will live with.”


A newspaper deal threatens Utah’s main non-Mormon owned daily, critics say (Dean Starkman, Columbia Journalism Review)


Building a Better Action Hero (Logan Hill, Men’s Journal)

Are Pro Wrestlers Dying at an Unusual Rate? (Benjamin Morris, Five Thirty Eight)

A house with a gun is not a home (Walter van Beek, Times and Seasons)– “Such an accident always depends on a string of improbable circumstances: the fact that the gun was within reach of toddlers, that it held still one bullet, that mother or father were just out of sight at that very moment, the improbable aim at the little brother, her finding the trigger at all, etc. Sure, each of the chains in this string can be broken if proper care is taken, but my point here is stating the obvious: there should have been no gun in the house, not in this house, nor in any home. A house with a gun is not a home.”

Why I Stopped Speaking Hebrew to my Daughter (Noam Scheiber, The New Republic)– “One night a few months ago, I finally switched languages. The effect was magical. I hear my daughter speak English all the time and still I was shocked by her verbiage. She would riff about what she’d done at the playground and what she’d concocted in art class. As is her wont, she would also tell me who’d bitten whom that day, and who’d broken down in tears. Part of it, surely, was that she is much more fluent in English. But that couldn’t have been the whole story. After all, she would answer me in English even when I spoke to her in Hebrew. It was hard to avoid the conclusion that, just as I felt more myself in English, I felt to my daughter more like her father.”


Two degrees: How the world failed on climate change (Brad Plumer, Vox)

How Can the Opinions of 1,000 People Possibly Represent the Entire County? (Megan Thee-Brenan, The Upshot)

Why Militaries Mess Up So Often (Megan McArdle, Bloomberg View)– “Military operations are, arguably, especially mistake-prone, because militaries aren’t like other organizations. A normal bureaucracy has a job, and it does that job all the time. Militaries, on the other hand, tend to spend most of their time not really engaged in their main purpose: fighting wars.”


Playing with privilege: the invisible benefits of gaming while male (Jonathan McIntosh, Polygon)

Pay Gap is Because of Gender, not Jobs (Claire Cain, The Upshot)– “But a majority of the pay gap between men and women actually comes from differences within occupations, not between them — and widens in the highest-paying ones like business, law and medicine, according to data from Claudia Goldin, a Harvard University labor economist and a leading scholar on women and the economy.  “There is a belief, which is just not true, that women are just in bad occupations and if we just put them in better occupations, we would solve the gender gap problem,” Dr. Goldin said.”

Just Say No (Naomi Cahn and June Carbone, Slate)– “The  women ready for marriage in this group have grown larger than the group of marriageable men who would be good partners. These men—the ones with better jobs and more stable lives—have become more reluctant, in turn, to settle for only one woman. Their marital prospects have improved, and they could marry a reliable partner. Yet, with a choice of committing to a woman who outearns them or keeping their independence, the men seem to prefer their freedom. “


The Privatization of Our Public Colleges, in two charts (Jordan Weissman, Slate Moneybox)– “Here’s what the privatization trend looks like nationally, as captured in the State Higher Education Executive Officers’ newest annual report on public college finances. In the 1980s, student tuition covered less than a quarter of so-called “educational revenue,” which is essentially the money colleges have available to spend on basic operating expenses, like teaching and administration. The rest came from government appropriations. Today, students cover almost half the cost of their own educations, on average.”

Getting Into The Ivies (David Leonhardt, The Upshot)– “Yet the way in which American colleges have globalized comes with costs, too. For one thing, the rise in foreign students has complicated the colleges’ stated efforts to make their classes more economically diverse. Foreign students often receive scant financial aid and tend to be from well-off families. For another thing, the country’s most selective colleges have effectively shrunk as far as American students are concerned, during the same span that many students and their parents are spending more time obsessing over getting into one.”


Why Economics Failed Us, in 297 Words (Josh Barro, The Upshot)– “Mr. Sargent isn’t wrong. In fact, most of what he said in 2007 is right. Incentives do matter. Debts do have to be repaid. Unintended consequences do arise. The problem is what he omitted. His speech did not explain that huge gaps in demand can emerge in recessions and make usually correct economic prescriptions all wrong.”


Catholics are a lot more liberal than Evangelicals (Brandon Ambrosino, Vox)

Cliven Bundy

Ranchers like Cliven Bundy are moochers (Matthew Yglesias, Vox)– “From day one, I’ve tried to imagine the reaction if a young black man living in my gentrifying neighborhood reacted to some adverse change in government policy — perhaps funding cuts led a bus line in the neighborhood to get shut down — by stealing a bus. Then when the cops come to take the bus back, he brings out fifty friends, some of them armed, and starts talking about putting the women out front so they’ll be shot first. My overwhelming presupposition is that he’d end up shot dead, along with his armed buddies, and that would about be the end of it. There would be no partisan political controversy about whether or not it is appropriate to react to changes in WMATA’s route planning with violence.”

With Cliven Bundy, the Right is Reaping What it Sows (Paul Waldman, The American Prospect)– “And the conservatives who embraced Bundy were doing so because of their own stereotypes about him. It wasn’t as though he had some kind of compelling case to make. It was clear from the outset that the guy was a nut (see the above comment about not recognizing the existence of the United States government). His only cause was that he shouldn’t have to pay fees to graze his cattle on land he doesn’t own. To most people he looked like a crazy old man with a sense of entitlement that would put any “welfare queen” to shame.”

Cliven Bundy Wants to Tell You All About ‘The Negro’ (Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic)– The first thing I thought when I saw Bundy’s now-infamous comments about blacks was “I can’t wait to see what Ta-Nehisi says about this”


How Big Data Could Undo Our Civil Rights Laws (Virginia Eubanks, The American Prospect)– “Financial institutions use metadata purchased from data brokers to split the real estate market into increasingly sophisticated micro-populations that are slapped with labels such as “Rural and Barely Making It,” “X-tra Needy,” and “Ethnic Second-City Strugglers”—categories that are clearly proxies for race and class—and then target these communities for subprime lending, payday loans, or other exploitative financial products. Reverse redlining is not seen as discriminatory by financial institutions, and is not currently illegal. In fact, it is often characterized as an inclusionary practice: a form of online marketing that provides access to financial products in “underbanked” neighborhoods.”

Race-Blind Admissions are Affirmative Action for Whites (Edmund Zagorin, The American Prospect)– “The attitude expressed by Gratz betrays a seemingly willful obliviousness to the fact that no group experiences more affirmative action than white people. Michigan’s formal pro-white affirmative action policy, colloquially known as “legacy preference,” puts the children of alumni ahead of other applicants. It unquestionably favors the white and the wealthy, at the expense of the poor and the black. Outside of the U.S., legacy admissions mostly went the way of feudalism. But at many U.S. universities, and especially at Michigan, legacy admissions amount to an eternal parade of white pride.”


Purple Flowers and Powerful Women (Sara Katherine Staheli Hanks, Feminist Mormon Housewives)

Is the new Sunday School curriculum a step forward? (Blair Hodges, By Common Consent)


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