"It would be a terrible mistake to go through life thinking that people are the sum total of what you see."
— Jonathan Tropper
I think public policy is fascinating. I write about it here.
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You can also reach me at ilyagerner [at] gmail [dot] com.Political Language
"It would be a terrible mistake to go through life thinking that people are the sum total of what you see."
— Jonathan Tropper
From John Sides’ The Gamble: Choice and Chance in the 2012 Presidential Election, via Dave Weigel.
Confirms what normal humans, as opposed to political reporters, already knew: the long Summer of the Gaffes didn’t move the polls.
Tim Murphy, Mother Jones.
Later in his post, Murphy writes, “Keeping anti-sodomy statutes on the books serves no real function, since the crimes are impossible to prosecute. Mostly, the laws’ supporters just don’t want their states to legally acknowledge that there’s something OK about homosexuality.”
That’s being much too kind to laws against ”unnatural carnal copulation" as Louisiana calls them.
The idea that invalid but still-on-the-books anti-sodomy laws serve no real function is exactly what’s belied by Murphy’s story and the reporting of the Baton Rouge Advocate, which first publicized the arrests.
Their function is to provide cover for local law enforcement to carry out a campaign of intimidation and harassment against the gay community. As the East Baton Rouge sheriff’s spox says, “This is a law that is currently on the Louisiana books, and the sheriff is charged with enforcing the laws passed by our Louisiana Legislature.” They’re well aware that courts have struck the statute down, but they’re intent on being assholes about it until the Legislature changes the law.
Being arrested has real consequences, even if charges from the local DA aren’t forthcoming. The handcuffs are real, the mugshots published on websites/local rags are real, and the feeling of intimidation is real.
It’s true that anti-sodomy laws don’t serve a legitimate function, but they carry very real consequences that go beyond a statement of disapproval from the state government.
Next year, the nation will mark the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, which President Johnson proclaimed in his State of the Union address of January 1964. Sadly, we should expect to hear a drumbeat of attacks claiming that, as President Reagan said long ago, we fought a war on poverty and “poverty won.” Indeed, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said recently of the anti-poverty effort, “We don’t have much to show for it.”
The truth is very different. A number of anti-poverty programs — including some key efforts that have their origins in the War on Poverty and some that came later, often the product of bipartisan agreement — have an impressive record of achievement. Together, programs such as food stamps (now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP), the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Medicaid, college financial assistance and broader based programs such as Medicare, have reduced poverty and malnutrition, expanded access to health care, and opened doors of opportunity for millions of people. To be sure, poverty remains a serious problem in the United States and remains higher here than in many western industrialized countries. And, not every program begun in the 1960s or more recently has been effective. But, a bumper sticker analysis of the War on Poverty and today’s safety net that implies that “poverty won” misses the mark.
In 1989, Hallam Hurt began what would become 25-year, federally-financed longitudinal study of babies exposed to cocaine in utero. Her subjects — babies born to low-income mothers in Philly’s Albert Einstein Medical Center — were divided between an experimental group of infants whose mothers had used cocaine during their pregnancy and a control group that had not been exposed.
The results, via the Philadelphia Inquirer:
The researchers consistently found no significant differences between the cocaine-exposed children and the controls. At age 4, for instance, the average IQ of the cocaine-exposed children was 79.0 and the average IQ for the nonexposed children was 81.9. Both numbers are well below the average of 90 to 109 for U.S. children in the same age group. When it came to school readiness at age 6, about 25 percent of children in each group scored in the abnormal range on tests for math and letter and word recognition.
Other researchers found similar results.
None of this suggests cocaine use is safe. The researchers only studied near- or full- term babies in order to separate the ill-effects of premature birth from the effects of cocaine exposure itself. Cocaine use during pregnancy increases the risk of premature birth.
But this does mean crack cocaine was not responsible for poor outcomes in full-term children:
While the cocaine-exposed children and a group of nonexposed controls performed about the same on tests, both groups lagged on developmental and intellectual measures compared to the norm. Hurt and her team began to think the “something else” was poverty.
As the children grew, the researchers did many evaluations to tease out environmental factors that could be affecting their development. On the upside, they found that children being raised in a nurturing home - measured by such factors as caregiver warmth and affection and language stimulation - were doing better than kids in a less nurturing home. On the downside, they found that 81 percent of the children had seen someone arrested; 74 percent had heard gunshots; 35 percent had seen someone get shot; and 19 percent had seen a dead body outside - and the kids were only 7 years old at the time. Those children who reported a high exposure to violence were likelier to show signs of depression and anxiety and to have lower self-esteem.
It’s easy to ascribe moral culpability to pregnant women who destroy their children’s chance at healthy development by using illicit drugs. It’s a lot more difficult to blame mothers for being poor and living in violence-ridden neighborhoods.
The supposed “Crack Baby Epidemic” made it easy for the media and conservative politicians to demonize poor, overwhelmingly Black, mothers. But turns out, we didn’t have a crack baby epidemic. We had — and still have — an epidemic of kids living in poverty.
Piketty and Zucman have a new working paper out and it’s a really interesting and important read.
TL;DR is that more and more of the total economic output in rich countries is being accumulated as wealth in a way that hasn’t happened in over a hundred years. This is probably due to slowing productivity and population growth, rather than everyone waking up and deciding they want to save more money. Obviously has massive implications in terms of investment taxation and regulation in the long run.
But holy eff I cannot get over this graph that shows the distribution of US wealth over time. In the early part of that graph, human slaves are one of the single largest sources of wealth. Like, the proportion of total wealth from the ownership of slaves was higher than the proportional of total wealth from the ownership of housing during the housing bubble. And things worked this way for decades.
So by and large, this is how American wealth was initially accumulated - by kidnapping and imprisoning Africans and forcing them to work and claiming ownership of the output of the labour. Not even an exaggeration there. It’s just really jarring to actually see data on it.
Yes: “So by and large, this is how American wealth was initially accumulated - by kidnapping and imprisoning Africans and forcing them to work [on land violently expropriated from Native Americans] and claiming ownership of the output of the labour.”
All doctors in NYC receive alerts from the NYC Department of Health about important health issues in the city. I just received this:
The outbreak of measles among Orthodox Jewish communities in Borough Park and Williamsburg, Brooklyn has ended. This was the largest outbreak of measles in the United States since measles elimination in 2000. A total of 58 cases were confirmed; the last case had rash onset on June 9. The outbreak began in a few extended families of vaccine refusers, and it was propagated by children whose vaccinations were delayed. No confirmed measles cases had documentation of vaccination at the time they were exposed to measles.
This is great news. However, as you can see, vaccinating your children saves lives. Again, it’s not about your kid, it’s about you and the kids around you. Vaccines are a social good.
Seriously, vaccines have helped prevent a lot of really harsh and potentially deadly diseases.
Plus they save the lives of adults who are sick or immunocompromised.
Btw some anti vax people? Actually say it’s a good thing these diseases kill people, because it weeds out those too weak to survive. In case you weren’t aware that deadly ableism and anti vax sentiments often go hand in hand.
Insular religious communities are not the only places anti-vaxers are gaining strength.
Boulder, Colorado — wealthy, well-educated, liberal — has a vaccine exemption rate of 11%, which is a healthy reminder that conservatives don’t come close to owning a monopoly on irrationality and scientific illiteracy.
There’s probably a role for state law to place in fixing this. Colorado, along with 20 other states IIRC, permit parents to excuse their kids from vaccination with merely a “philosophical objection.” That needs to end. But most of the work is going to have to come from other parents applying pressure on their friends and acquaintance to not be idiots.
A fantastic report on inter-generational mobility, courtesy of researchers at UC Berkeley and Harvard and the NY Times. Some findings:
My first reaction was to suggest that areas which attract a higher proportion of immigrants were going to have better inter-generational mobility, on the theory that there’ll be a lot of catch-up income growth between 1st and 2nd generations of Americans. But I’m not sure that’s right. A few of those southeastern MSAs with terrible mobility figures do attract a fair number of immigrants.
The Harvard/UC Berkeley research group released its data, in case the NY Time’s infographics don’t do it for you.
I worked for a local government for a while. That I did not suggest this kind of promo for our town council meeting fills me with shame. (via Wonkblog)
Pro-tip for these folks: When Elizabeth Warren says she wants to curb the power of Wall Street, she’s not advocating for expanding sidewalks that line the street in lower Manhattan.
When a newspaper lede reads, “The White House called on the Kremlin to respect the freedom of the press,” it is not the case that the building located at 1600 Pennsylvania avenue called up a fortress in Moscow to discuss printing presses.
Similarly, when President vowed to bail out Detroit, everybody understood him to mean the US-owned segment of the auto industry, which has offices and plants all over the country.
As Weigel writes, “If you’re still conflating the bankruptcy proceedings of “Detroit” (car industry) and “Detroit” (city) you’re probably just stupid.”
This tweet > people think who Robocop was a documentary.
Here’s a new plan for bringing bipartisanship to Washington: make Chuck Schumer less Jew-y. It’s pretty meshuggah.
Wouldn’t the “Good News” be bad news for Chuck Schumer?
Will Wilkinson, Getting away with it, on why we should hesitate to make it easier for prosecutors to put away the Zimmermans of the world.
The House of Reps has narrowly passed a massive agro-welfare package that excludes all nutrition programs which traditionally make up the bulk of the farm bill.
The roll call: 216 Republicans in favor of the subsidy-only bill, 12 Republicans joining 196 Democrats in opposition, and the remaining members not voting.
If the 2010-2012 campaigns, in which Republicans demanded that Barack Obama get his grubby hands off their wealthy constituents’ Medicare, did not already convince you that the Republicans are not the party of limited government, please let this vote be a lesson: the vast majority of elected Republicans are motivated by a burning desire to make life miserable for the poor and more comfortable for the wealthy.
There are a dozen — literally, just 12 — House Republicans who are in the least bit ideologically committed to small government. These 12 happen to be among the most conservative members of the House — Phil Gingrey (R-GA) and Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) are among their number — and their commitment to small government doesn’t extend to keeping government out of women’s uteri or gay people’s bedrooms and their voting records are otherwise problematic, but at least in the economic sphere, they are consistent. They’ll vote against food stamps when the House leadership deigns to put up a separate SNAP bill, but they oppose corporate welfare too.
The remaining 216 House Republicans have eagerly enlisted in a class war in which the wealthy are kicking ass.
Farmers — even real honest-to-God actual working farmers and not the owners of hunting lodges who receive subsidy checks from Uncle Sam for the heroic deed of not planting any crops — are not some destitute class in need of special protection. On average, farm households earn slightly more than the typical U.S. household and they earn far from than their rural neighbors who are not engaged in farming.
It’s true that there are struggling farmers, but they do not represent the prime beneficiaries of farm-state welfare. The top chart shows data from 2008. It indicates that among those farmers who received a government subsidy check of $10,000-$20,000, the average household income was $110,368, 61% more than the U.S. mean household income. Farmers who received subsidy checks in excess of $30,000 had incomes more than 3X higher than the average American household. The wealthier a farm operation, the more money it receives from taxpayers.
The nicest thing that can be said about contemporary Republicans is that they’ve stopped hiding the ball. After the past 5 years, no intellectually honest person can say that Republicans hate taxes. If they hated taxes, House Republicans wouldn’t be so eager to see the payroll tax rise, Mitt Romney wouldn’t have been talking about the 47% who are too poor to pay federal income taxes, various GOP honchos wouldn’t be cackling about more Americans needing to “have skin in the game,” and GOP-controlled state legislatures wouldn’t be passing sales tax hikes while cutting income taxes. They hate taxes on the wealthy, not taxes per se. Nor do Republicans hate government spending. After all, they just passed a $195 billion piece of rich guy socialism. They’ve long lived to reward the rich and punish the poor. Now they’re just being brazen about it.
(Chart from Environmental Working Group)