Monday, April 7, 2014

Tabs Tabs Tabs

The drugging of the American boy from Esquire. "By the time they reach high school, nearly 20 percent of all American boys will be diagnosed with ADHD. Millions of those boys will be prescribed a powerful stimulant to 'normalize' them. A great many of those boys will suffer serious side effects from those drugs. The shocking truth is that many of those diagnoses are wrong, and that most of those boys are being drugged for no good reason—simply for being boys. It's time we recognize this as a crisis."

The function of black rage by Mychal Denzel Smith from the Nation. "What some call depression or pessimism, I would call impatience and rage. Our impatience and rage is what has produced progress. That we are still impatient and angry reflects not black people’s failing but how far America still has to go. My question/challenge to white people who claim to be on the side of equality and justice: when will you get just as angry that these things have been done in your name?"

What I Learned About Stop-and-Frisk From Watching My Black Son from the Atlantic. "If we truly believe that a tax [like stop and frisk] must be imposed in order to control crime, then we should all share in the burden of that tax. We should not take the easy and unfair route of imposing the tax on someone else—especially when that someone else is already overburdened." Counterbalance that with another Atlantic article, Is Stop-and-Frisk Worth It? The author of the second article was on MPR's The Daily Circuit today. He came off as more pro-stop-and-frisk on the radio than he seems in the article, which conveniently made no mention of the lead poisoning/crime connection. It was 45 minutes that were bad for my blood pressure, although the callers were a bright spot.

How to shave $1 trillion out of health care from the New York Times blog by Victor Fuchs, professor emeritus of economics and health research and policy at Stanford. Fuchs enumerates the good we could do if the U.S. paid the same percent of its GDP for health care as other developed countries. With just half of the trillion dollars, we could:

  • Increase expenditures on highways, bridges, tunnels, and other infra-structure by 50 percent. Annual cost: $100 billion
  • Increase annual salaries of K-12 teachers by an average of $25,000. Annual cost: $100 billion
  • Fund a two-year apprenticeship program for one million men and women ages 17-24. Annual cost $80 billion.
  • Provide a first-class pre-school experience for all four-year olds. Annual cost: $80 billion
  • Provide additional teachers for arts, music, math and physical education in K-12 and expand counseling in high schools. Annual cost: $70 billion.
  • Fund R&D for renewable sources of energy. Annual cost: $40 billion.
  • Fund R&D for waste disposal (including nuclear) and reduction of pollution. Annual cost: $20 billion
  • Fund after school sports programs for young people 8-18. Annual cost: $10 billion.
The big myth about income inequality that just won't die by Matt Bruenig. "Conservatives want you to believe other people's wealth doesn't affect you. It does."

And finally, I've been waiting to write something about Thomas Piketty's book Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Piketty is a French economist who has spent decades studying capital accumulation. His book was recently published in English. Its basic finding is that people who make money from money will always come out ahead of everyone else when national economic growth is relatively low. And that the divergence of the wealthy from everyone else is bad for democracy. The book had gotten a lot of attention and some critique:
Here's another link to a Piketty post, this one by Matt Yglesias on the new Vox site. Yglesias does a nice job of summarizing the book, including these four main points:
  • The ratio of wealth to income is rising in all developed countries.
  • Absent extraordinary interventions, we should expect that trend to continue.
  • If it continues, the future will look like the 19th century, where economic elites have predominantly inherited their wealth rather than working for it.
  • The best solution would be a globally coordinated effort to tax wealth.

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