Volume 3.18 (April 28-May 4)

Pick of the Week

No Accounting Skills? No Moral Reckoning (Jacob Soll, NYT)– “The German economic thinker Max Weber believed that for capitalism to work, average people needed to know how to do double-entry bookkeeping. This is not simply because this type of accounting makes it possible to calculate profit and capital by balancing debits and credits in parallel columns; it is also because good books are “balanced” in a moral sense. They are the very source of accountability, a word that in fact derives its origin from the word “accounting.””




Sports, the Most Progressive Force in America (Timothy Egan, NYT)– “Baseball integrated its player ranks well before lunch counters in the South and many schools in the North ever did. And on Jackie Robinson Day, players throughout the country wear his number, prompting millions of kids to ask their parents what that is all about. Muhammad Ali, with a mouth as quick as his jab, forced a conversation about pride and prejudice that went far beyond the boxing ring. And football’s Richard Sherman, of the Seattle Seahawks, had his Ali moment last season, flushing out people who use “thug” as a code word for something more derisive, as the Stanford graduate noted.”

Why it’s so hard to study racial profiling by police (Emily Badger, Wonkblog)

This Town Needs a Better Class of Racist (Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic)– “Far better to implicate Donald Sterling and be done with the whole business. Far better to banish Cliven Bundy and table the uncomfortable reality of our political system. A racism that invites the bipartisan condemnation of Barack Obama and Mitch McConnell must necessarily be minor. A racism that invites the condemnation of Sean Hannity can’t be much of a threat. But a racism, condemnable by all civilized people, must make itself manifest now and again so that we may celebrate how far we have come. Meanwhile racism, elegant, lovely, monstrous, carries on.”

Donald Sterling is Only Part of the Problem (Keeanga-Yamahhta Taylor, In These Times)– “The anger directed at Bundy, Sterling, and the like is well warranted; in Sterling’s case, his relative pittance of a fine is nowhere near enough punishment. But their arrogant displays of animosity are not the exception in an otherwise harmonious society. Racism should not be reduced to the ignorant outbursts of social misfits. There should be as much rage directed at housing discrimination, school closures and the other, more tangible effects of racism in the United States today as there is toward those who allow their bigotry to be caught on tape. “

‘Race Matters,’ Sotomayor Reminds Fellow Justices (Steven Rosenfeld, In These Times)

Are White Republicans More Racist than White Democrats? (Nate Silver and Allison McCann, Five Thirty Eight)

Don’t be surprised that people still say racist things (Amanda Cox, The Upshot)

America’s real racism problem doesn’t look like Donald Sterling (Matthew Yglesias, Vox)– “And it’s so pervasive precisely because it’s not limited to the egregious monsters — the Donald Sterlings — of the world. A referee who went around talking like Sterling wouldn’t last a season in the NBA. Nor would an openly racist partner last long at a law firm. Biased decision-making is pervasive because perfectly normal people engage in it. “

The lesson of Bundy and Sterling – your racist friend isn’t okay anymore (Matthew Yglesias, Vox)


Framing the danger of guns as a public health risk will change the debate on gun control (Danny Franklin, WaPo)

The Big Picture

Inequality Has Been Going on Forever…but That Doesn’t Mean It’s Inevitable (David Leonhardt, NYT)

Changed Life of the Poor: Better off, but Far Behind (Annie Lowrey, NYT)– “Indeed, despite improved living standards, the poor have fallen further behind the middle class and the affluent in both income and consumption. The same global economic trends that have helped drive down the price of most goods also have limited the well-paying industrial jobs once available to a huge swath of working Americans. And the cost of many services crucial to escaping poverty — including education, health care and child care — has soared.

Why Low-Income Kids Are Thriving in Salt Lake City (Nancy Cook, The Atlantic)– “In their view, the study reflected Salt Lake City’s recent past, when the population was far more homogeneous and its economic challenges easier to address. The description no longer fits the city as neatly, given its increased diversity, burdened education system, and neighborhoods increasingly segregated by class. “From what I see every day, we are in a real crisis right now,” says Rosemarie Hunter, a social worker and the director of University Neighborhood Partners, a University of Utah outreach neighborhood program centered on low-income communities. “Not all, but of those some of the markers that gave us that great ranking have gone away.””

Apartheid, just less black and white (Simon Kuper, Financial Times)– “Inequality is the new apartheid. Your life path is largely determined before birth. The ruling classes pass on their status by sending their children to exclusive schools, much like in apartheid Johannesburg.”


4 ways to stop the US from becoming a Piketty-style oligarchy (Matt O’Brien, Wonkblog)– “So what is to be done? Well, there are four basic strategies: increase growth, decrease pre-tax returns, decrease post-tax returns, or help the 99 percent do better in a r>g world.”

Which groups do criminals target? Not who you might think. (Christopher Ingraham, Wonkblog)– “Conservative commentators are still trying to stir up resentment over “makers and takers,” preying on anxieties among the wealthy about class warfare and a “kristallnacht” targeting the rich. The sad reality, as the chart above shows, is that poorer Americans are much more likely to be at the receiving end of violence against persons and property than wealthier ones.”

It takes more than hard work to achieve the American dream (Danielle Kurtzleben, Vox)– “What authors Mark Robert Rank, Thomas Hirschl, and Kirk Foster, are saying is that achieving the American Dream (which they define as having the freedom to pursue one’s passions, economic security, and optimism that a person will see progress in her and her children’s lives) is a multi-step process, and that even getting from one step to the next is far easier for some people than others.”

The Rich, Still Different From You and Me (Paul Waldman, The American Prospect)

Why Poverty is Still Miserable, Even If Everybody Can Own an Awesome Television (Jordan Weissmann, Slate Moneybox)

Keeping unauthorized immigrants from driving hurts their kids (Dara Lind, Vox)– “However, it’s not clear that children of unauthorized immigrants are able to assimilate as much as their peers, and there isn’t much data on the subject. This report points to a few ways in which kids of unauthorized parents are accumulating disadvantages on a daily basis.”


Are Liberal Mega-Donors Just As Bad as Conservative Mega-Donors? (Paul Waldman, The American Prospect)– “Which shows that what really matters to us as observers is the policy outcomes that result, no matter how we feel about the motives of the players.”

The psychology behind Republicans’ Benghazi obsession (Zack Beauchamp, Vox)– “So Benghazi became a classic Sunstein-Vermeule conspiracy theory. Conservatives became convinced the administration was covering up the truth about Benghazi and anyone who argued otherwise began to look like part of the conspiracy, or at least an unwitting dupe. A wealth of psychological research on group polarization shows that, when a group of likeminded people discuss an issue together, everyone’s mind tends to shift towards the dominant view of that issue in the group. The more conservative legislators and media figures dug in on Benghazi, the more all conservatives were likely to believe in some kind of administration malfeasance.”

Foreign Affairs

How Many Have We Killed? (David Cole, NYRB)– “International law acknowledges that killing is not always illegal or wrong, and that a government has the authority to do so as a last resort in genuine self-defense. But if the US government’s targeted killings are lawful, we should have no hesitation in making them public. Surely the least we can do is to literally count and report the lives we’ve taken. Yet even that, for “the most transparent administration in history,” is apparently too much.”

John Kerry Tells the Truth…Therefore He Must Apologize (Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Dish)– “But what you cannot argue, it seems to me, is that continued American financial and military support for the maintenance of this mess makes any sense at all, and that continued American diplomatic engagement is in any way a rational policy. The US president simply does not have the power to force Israel to stop its illegal, immoral and foul settlement of the West Bank – because the Israel lobby controls this aspect of foreign policy through the Congress, whoever is in the White House; and so we are committed indefinitely to supporting a de facto apartheid regime in perpetuity. ”

Why the Russian sanctions don’t work (Anatole Kaletsky, Reuters)– “By trying to resolve an ethical problem with economics, Sandel’s school inadvertently transformed a moral relationship into a commercial one. Similarly, the Western economic sanctions against Russia are turning military-diplomatic issues, such as boundary disputes, into commercial calculations.”


Do Our Kids Get Off Too Easy? (Alfie Kohn, NYT)– “Interestingly, no research that I know of has ever shown that unconditionality is harmful in terms of future achievement, psychological health or anything else. In fact, studies generally show exactly the opposite. One of the most destructive ways to raise a child is with “conditional regard.””

Sarah Palin: Anti-Christian (Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Dish)– “She invokes torture in the context of a Christian sacrament. Not since the Nazis’ Deutsche Christen have we seen something so disgusting and blasphemous in the morphing of Christianity into its polar opposite. ”

Do Children Just Take Their Parents’ Political Beliefs? It’s Not That Simple (Te-Erika Patterson, The Atlantic)


Death Penalty

The Slow and Agonizing Death of Clayton Lockett (Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Dish)

Barbarians in Oklahoma (Charles Pierce, Esquire)– “I am saying this quite deliberately. The state of Oklahoma committed an act of fucking barbarism last night. It did so under the color of law, which makes every citizen of that benighted state complicit in the act of fucking barbarism. The governor of that state, a pink balloon named Mary Fallin, is a fucking barbarian. A state legislator named Mike Christian is a fucking barbarian, for reasons we will get to in a moment. Every politician in that benighted state belongs in a fucking cage this morning.”


Beyond net neutrality (Timothy B. Lee, Vox)


Mormons for a platitude-free Mother’s Day (Jana Riess, Flunking Sainthood)


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