Friday, December 18, 2015

A Few Tabs, Late in the Day

I'm not sure if you've ever noticed, but the later in the day I post something, the less coherent it is. I'm clearly a person who functions best before noon. That said, let me see if I can pull it together to post some of the open tabs in my browser windows.

Before there was Citizens United, there was Buckley v. Valejo, which gave us the abhorrent Supreme Court decision that money equals speech. Demos gives a succinct summary of that case and why it matters in the morass of corruption we call the American election system.

A thoughtful essay that appeals to and assails both the activist and historian parts of my self: Historian Tim Tyson, writing for the Atlantic, asks can honest history coexist with hope? Not surprisingly, he finds the obligations of scholarship diverge from the needs of activists. He writes, "When I march in a demonstration and begin to chant, 'The people, united, can never be defeated,' it makes me want to lie down in a puddle of tears." Tyson ends with some version of hope, despite his historical approach; I pair his thoughts with those of Bob Jensen (hope is for the lazy) and Ta-nehisi Coates (a writer wedded to “hope” is ultimately divorced from “truth”).

If Matt Bruenig of Demos was in charge, this is what he would do to revise the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Should only wealthy people be able to have children in the U.S.? That's the way we're heading, given the cost of child care (not to mention housing and other essentials). "Having children isn’t like buying a whirlpool bathtub or a fancy car, and it certainly should not be reserved for the wealthy. Childcare and other supports for working families are an investment in our future and the country we want to be."

How family doctors contributed to America's opioid problem (you know, the one that's so bad it's led to ads during the World Series for drugs to counter the constipation caused by opioids). From Pacific Standard.

This map of KKK "klaverns" between the World Wars may explain why I saw so many rebel battle flags during my trip across part of Upstate New York. Zoom in for detail in any part of the country. There was even one in my tiny home town.

Matt Bruenig (yes, him again) wrote a three-part take-down of the recent Brookings Center/American Enterprise Institute report, which its authors touted as a bipartisan solution to poverty based on education, marriage and delayed child-bearing, and having a job. While those things clearly correlate with being better off in our society, Bruenig assails the causality. This post provides a wrap up of his arguments and links to all of his more detailed points.

The world sees Americans as disorder-level narcissists. From CityLab. Who can blame them? Many of us agree, according to the research. Some of the markers of narcissism: immodesty, self-absorption, entitlement, exploitativeness, and callousness.

For your right-to-bear-arms reading pleasure, this from The Nation:  The Second Amendment was never meant to protect an individual’s right to a gun. The crux of the article rests on John Paul Steven's dissent from the court's 2008 Heller ruling. He wrote, "The Second Amendment was a response to concerns raised during the ratification of the Constitution that the power of Congress to disarm the state militias and create a national standing army posed an intolerable threat to the sovereignty of the several states. Neither the text of the Amendment nor the arguments advanced by its proponents evidenced the slightest interest in limiting any legislature’s authority to regulate private civilian uses of firearms."

Combine that with this piece from the Atlantic, The slave-state origins of modern gun rights. "The idea that citizens have an unfettered constitutional right to carry weapons in public originates in the antebellum South, and its culture of violence and honor." Concealed carry, open carry, dueling, keeping those slaves (er, blacks) under control... it's all coming back.

So maybe it's time to ban guns. Yes, all of them.

Once and for all, there's no such thing as a male brain and a female brain.

Dave Roberts of Vox, who usually writes on environmental topics, is going further afield these days. This time it's rumination and research why gun rights advocates dig in deeper each time there's a mass shooting. It's similar to The Weekly's Sift's analogy of the security blanket. But Roberts broadens it beyond a direct response to a "scary world" to an attempt by gun advocates to hold onto an entire way of life that's slipping away ("men working in honorable trade or manufacturing jobs, women tending home and children, Sundays at church, hard work yielding a steady rise up the ladder to a well-earned house, yard, and car...").

I may have been sucked in by the musical Hamilton into the Alexander Hamilton fan club, but not so much that I can't appreciate facts that run counter to Lin-Manuel Miranda's lionizing narrative, such as this from Boston Review and this from Vox.

How single poor moms survive. It makes me angry to read the words, "Syracuse resident Brandi Davis, a 35-year-old mother of five, has been on public assistance since she was 18 years old. She asks her parents and grandmother to watch her kids when she’s working her minimum-wage job at the grocery store..." When I read "on public assistance" I automatically assumed the writer meant "welfare" in the meaning of the word -- that the person who gets that money is not working. But that is clearly not the case. She's working. It's just not nearly enough to support a family, and the systems we have in place don't make it possible to get more education so that she can improve that, since our economy is intent on keeping wages low for the kinds of jobs she currently qualifies for.

How American businesses (most, but not all, in agriculture) manipulate the H-2 visa program so they don't have to hire American workers. It's a seven-step process that the employers have perfected.

Barbara Ehrenreich's thoughts on the growing death gap among poor and working-class whites. And how it relates to the rise of Donald Trump and our current wave of know-nothingism.

Why today’s college students don’t want to be teachers. "Today’s top college graduates are savvy enough to understand [the loss of status and autonomy in teaching]. They intuit what pollsters already know is happening in schools. In a comparison across 14 professions, teaching ranked last among respondents who felt that their 'opinions seem to count,' or included workplaces with 'an environment that is trusting and open.'"

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