Volume 3.19 (May 5-11)

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Economics

Everyone Wants to be a Homeowner, Why Not a Foodowner? (Josh Barro, The Upshot)– “That would all be pretty stupid. But it would all seem perfectly normal, as it very closely mirrors the way we approach housing. Housing exists so people can use it. But because housing consumers tend to take long-range equity interests in housing, they come to view housing as an investment, which distorts the housing market in the directions of restricted supply, inflated prices and speculation.”

What Drives Credit Card Debt? (Amy Traub, The American Prospect)– “One clear finding is that credit card debt is closely correlated with the absence of health coverage: households in which a member has gone without health insurance at some point in the last three years are 20 percent more likely to be carrying credit card debt than households in which no one has been uninsured. This suggests a potential benefit of the Affordable Care Act that is seldom discussed—by increasing the number of Americans with health coverage, Obamacare may cut our credit card debt.”

Piketty’s Argument Still Holds Up, After Taxes (Jared Bernstein, The Upshot)

Healthcare: the final reckoning (Tim Harford, The Undercover Economist)– “Yet deep beneath the scaremongering is a kernel of truth: if you want to keep costs under control, somebody, somewhere has to be able to say, “That’s great – but it just costs too much.””

Thomas Piketty is Pulling Your Leg (John B. Judis, The New Republic)– “Perhaps, Piketty was on the defensive because of the pathetic review onNational Review’s blog by James Pethokoukis from the American Enterprise Institute that was titled “The New Marxism.” Piketty is not a Marxist, but, like other European economists and some older American economists (the late Lawrence Klein, among others), he appears to have been engaged and influenced by Marx’s theories. “

Immigration helps American workers: the definitive argument (Lydia DePillis, Wonkblog)– “With a few outliers, results support the admittedly counter-intuitive notion that — as long as labor markets remain flexible — immigration actually creates more jobs and can push up wages for native-born workers.”

Science

On Climate, Republicans and Democrats are from Different Continents (David Leonhardt, The Upshot)

U.S. Climate Has Already Changed, Study Finds, Citing Heat and Floods (Justin Gillis, NYT)

Vaccine Opponents Can Be Immune to Education (Brendan Nyhan, The Upshot)– “Surprising as this may seem, our finding is consistent with a great deal of research on how people react to their beliefs being challenged. People frequently resist information that contradicts their views, such as corrective information— for example, by bringing to mind reasons to maintain their belief — and in some cases actually end up believing it more strongly as a result.”

Politics

Secret Money (Dylan Mathews, Vox)– “the authors’ key insight: for a quid pro quo to work, the paid-off party doesn’t just have to receive a kickback. They have to know they’ve received a kickback. In the current system, where you donate to campaigns by giving them your name and credit card number, or sending them a check with your name and signature, that’s trivially easy to figure out. It only takes a few keystrokes for Barack Obama to find out that Hollywood producer and Democratic super-donor Jeffrey Katzenberg maxed out to him in the 2012 primary and general elections.  But if we were to make donations secret, that link would be broken. Katzenberg could tell Obama that he donated, but there’d be no way he could prove it. ”

Supreme Court

The Polarized Court (Adam Liptak, The Upshot)– “That 5-to-4 split along partisan lines was by contemporary standards unremarkable. But by historical standards it was extraordinary. For the first time, the Supreme Court is closely divided along party lines.”

The Difference Between Conservative Justices and Liberal Justices (Paul Waldman, The American Prospect)– “What jumps out is how different the conservative justices are from the liberal justices. While all the liberal justices ruled more often for liberal plaintiffs than conservative ones, the differences tended to be pretty small. But for the conservative justices, the differences ranged from large to enormous. While the headline on the times story reads, “In Justices’ Votes, Free Speech Often Means ‘Speech I Agree With,'” they could have titled it, “In Conservative Justices’ Votes, Free Speech Usually Means ‘Speech I Agree With,'” and it would have been more accurate.”

Race

Only Minorities Need Apply (John D. Skrentny, NYT)– “Nevertheless, racial realism is too slippery, and too widely used, to stamp out completely. And so rather than trying to end racial realism, we need to make sure that it doesn’t block opportunities for minorities. For one thing, we could require more transparency and verification. If employers think race is a legitimate qualification for a job, they must rely on evidence, not stereotypes.”

Culture

Star Wars’ Original, Scum-Caked Brilliance (Noah Berlatsky, The Atlantic)– “The visual scruffiness reflects the movies’ unique status as an advanced technological space opera set “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” Lucas’s famous opening line positions the series as a kind of fairy tale, but it also scrambles past and future in a way that serves as a blueprint for the visual style. “

Are Sundays Dying? (Ryan Jacobs, Pacific Standard)

Religion

Even as U.S. Hispanics Lift Catholicism, Many are Leaving the Church Behind (Michael Paulson, NYT)

Foreign Affairs

Captivity (Teju Cole, The New Yorker)– “They are perhaps thinking only that night is falling again, and that the men will come to each of them again, an unending horror.”

The battle in Ukraine means everything (Timothy Snyder, The New Republic)

The aid-industrial complex (Anonymous, Socialist Worker)– “So let us not fool ourselves. The aid-industrial complex will always prioritize the best interests of the U.S. government and economy. Whether the money comes directly from USAID or a corporate foundation, whether it goes through a professional aid organization or directly to a local group or through a U.S. company, the goal of the money is to promote the economic and geopolitical interests of the U.S. government.”

Gender

A Possible Path to Closing the Pay Gap (Sendhil Mullainathan, The Upshot)– “Maybe we shouldn’t be asking when women will catch up. Maybe they’ve already caught up, and we should instead ask whether society is holding them back.”

The Language of Dude Feminism (John McCarroll, sherights)– “In these campaigns, the masculine mystique is still very present, albeit a kinder, gentler version. By flattering men’s strength and asking them to use it to protect women, we once again place men in the driver’s seat of culture, asking for them to renounce violence and be less vile guardians.”

Most teachers spend hundreds to pay for supplies, special projects (even field trips) (German Lopez, Vox)

Every Day, Your Mom Wasted 90 Minutes of Her Life on You, So Get Her a Present (Mona Chalabi, Five Thirty Eight)

Mormonism

What Do Millennials Want from the Church? (Katie L., Feminist Mormon Housewives)

What is scripture, for reals? (TT, Faith-Promoting Rumor)

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