Posts by Nick Cassella

Daily Clips: April 25th, 2016

Daily Clips: April 25th, 2016

The founding fathers weren’t concerned with inequality: So argues a column by Alana Semuels. I find her argument to be tepid, at best. She points out that “neither the Bill of Rights, nor the Declaration of Independence, nor the U.S. Constitution talk explicitly about the nation’s role in making sure its citizens have jobs or homes or earned enough to avoid being impoverished.” That’s true, but at this point in world history brave people were merely trying to attain basic civil liberties. That was the main philosophical and political battle of their time. Screw universal health care, we just want to be treated equally under the law! While Semuels notes that there is only brief mention of pledging to “promote the general welfare” in the preamble of the Constitution. Ok. But did she not read any of The Federalist Papers? If she did, she would have found that James Madison (the father of our Constitution) was very concerned with the idea of general welfare : …the public good, the real welfare of the great body of the people, is the supreme object to be pursued; and that no form of government whatever has any other value than as it may be fitted for the attainment of this object. 2016’s scrambled coalitions:  EJ Dionne contends that “ideology has mattered less in the GOP primaries this year than in the race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.” What good are hedge funds?  A very good question and a very interesting article. Tweet of the day: Can you imagine Jeb being the head of the NFL? Yeah, me neither. @mattsgorman @AdamSchefter Travesty. Fire Goodell…immediately hire the NFL's original choice for the job, @JebBush — Jesse Hunt (@JJHunt10) April 25, 2016

Why Republicans Talk About Freedom and Democrats Don’t

Why Republicans Talk About Freedom and Democrats Don’t

Freedom, as a rhetorical tool and a slogan, is politically advantageous. Since FDR presented the “Four Freedoms” in 1941, our political leaders have uttered the word a lot. That’s not a conclusion influenced by recency bias, either.  Text analysis  from two American scholars shows freedom is more rhetorically popular than ever. Below is a graphical representation of how often our presidents have employed the term: You can see that after a hundred or so years of middling usage, the word’s popularity surged with US presidents in the 20th century. While in the last forty years it went through some peaks and troughs, freedom has remained a prominent political term. An infographic from the analysis  highlights this really well: However, it’s clear that Obama and Clinton are bucking a modern rhetorical trend. In fact, Obama is on pace to say freedom “ less often than any president since Warren Harding ” — who served from 1921-1923. Why are Democrats not saying freedom as much? The answer is rather obvious: modern conservatives have hijacked the word freedom. (I’m certainly not claiming to be the first to notice this, I merely thought it would be interesting to compile various bits of research on the subject.) Just look at FiveThirtyEight‘s analysis on political buzzwords used in Democratic and Republican campaigns dating back to 1948 . The results are unsurprising: As the anti-government wing of the GOP has grown, so has their party’s asymmetric use of freedom. Yet their fondness for the phrase was not created in a vacuum. The word’s recent unprecedented popularity stems, in large part, from their collective reaction to Obama’s presidency. To understand why their base loves hearing “freedom,” you must empathize with how Tea Partiers are feeling. To them, Obama appears to be a revolutionary socialist, a Muslim, and a black person who wants to dramatically transform America…for the worse. He dares to “ spread the wealth ” in a time of increasing income inequality. More than that, in their minds, they’re watching a president marching towards a complete government takeover of health care. To these
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Daily Clips: April 22nd, 2016

Daily Clips: April 22nd, 2016

Just a reminder that the majority of GOP voters support banning Muslims from entering the USA:  The party of individual freedom, everyone! Governor issues sweeping order to let felons vote in Virginia: Gov. Terry McAuliffe “is using his executive power to allow more than 200,000 convicted felons who have served their prison time to vote, circumventing the Republican-run legislature.” I’m sure they’ll just love that. The most focused and effective messenger for Democrats is Elizabeth Warren: Of all the Democrats in positions to make their voices heard at this point, Warren is the most awake. Wide awake. And she is saying what needs to be said about the conservatives who would be president. What’s important is that, while she notes their whining and their failures, Warren attacks the Republicans with a focus on the issues and the ideals that are the most effective tools for countering right-wing extremism. Tweet of the day: Taxpayers subsidize McDonald's low wages to the tune of $1.2 billion / year. Its time to change that. #Fightfor15 . https://t.co/hTmpuPt26u — ATLRaiseUp (@ATLRaiseUp) April 22, 2016

Daily Clips: April 21st, 2016

Daily Clips: April 21st, 2016

Nick Hanauer and Robert Reich pen an op-ed on overtime:  Our supreme troublemaker took to the New York Times to illustrate the secret reason folks in the middle class cannot get ahead. The answer? The evaporation of overtime pay in our economy. Half a century ago, overtime pay was the norm, with more than 60 percent of salaried employees qualifying. These are largely the sorts of office- and service-sector workers who never enjoyed the protection of union membership. But over the last 40 years the threshold has been allowed to steadily erode, so that only about 8 percent qualify today. If you feel as if you’re working longer hours for less money than your parents did, it’s probably because you are. That’s incredible. And it underlines why we live in an economy where wages remain stubbornly stagnant for the middle class. Could Elizabeth Warren be Hillary’s VP pick? “Privately, Warren appears to covet the job.” Really? I’m not sure if there’s any truth to that or if it’s just the media trying to make a story. They go on: She’s picked her spots, carefully choosing which issues she weighs in on. But she’s signaled recently that she would embrace with gusto the attack dog role typically played by a VP candidate. Earlier this week, she ripped into Ted Cruz  for saying that seeking the presidency requires significant sacrifice. She spent another recent day going after Donald Trump. Warren would be a fabulous VP pick for Hillary. Not only would it excite the base, it would also signify to Bernie supporters that she will not leave them behind.  Jobs are scarce for PhD’s:   Without serious changes in higher education, such as higher pay for adjunct professors or decreasing the time spent in graduate school, chances are thousands of new Ph.D.s in their early 30s will be struggling this fall.

Daily Clips: April 20th, 2016

Daily Clips: April 20th, 2016

How finance took over the economy:  A thorough historical look at the rise of the financial sector in the US economy. Bernie Sanders is (still) the future of the Democratic Party:  Hillary Clinton may have won the battle last night in New York, but it is appearing that Sanders is winning the war. By this, I mean that while Clinton may get the nomination, Bernie Sanders’ policies ultimately represent the future of America’s left wing. As Yglesias notes: But though Democrats are certainly the more left-wing of the two parties — the party of labor unions and environment groups and feminist organizations and the civil rights movement — they’re not an ideologically left-wing party in the same way that Republicans are an ideological conservative one. Instead, they behave more like a centrist, interest group brokerage party that seeks to mediate between the claims and concerns of left-wing activists groups and those of important members of the business community — especially industries like finance, Hollywood, and tech that are based in liberal coastal states and whose executives generally espouse a progressive outlook on cultural change. Nearly half of Americans would have trouble finding $400 to pay for an emergency.   Raising the minimum wage could give Democrats the economic edge: This year, the presidential debate highlights voters’ concerns about stagnant wages and the nation’s economic position. Republicans continue to argue that the answer is helping the job creators, with cuts to business taxes and regulations. If more Democrats begin to press their economic argument about growth and prosperity along with the moral argument, they will take away one of the Republicans’ few advantages with voters on domestic issues.

Pope Francis Should Not Be Applauded for Inching Towards Inclusion

Pope Francis Should Not Be Applauded for Inching Towards Inclusion

Pope Francis recently released a 256-page “apostolic exhortation” titled Amoris Laetita (“The Joy of Love”). Among a host of issues related to love and family, Francis addressed the matter of communion for the remarried (or lack thereof) and “ all but explicitly ” said “ yes they can .” The pope considerately “ left room for priests to interpret his words as they see fit since he wrote about it in a rather roundabout way .” Such deference to moral ambiguity seems peculiar, particularly coming from a man who has warned that moral relativism represents “ the spiritual poverty of our time .” When it came to homosexuality, however, Francis ditched his lack of decisiveness. This is what he had to say on the subject of gay marriage: There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family. The pope’s comments are terribly upsetting, but not at all surprising. Having said that, the media’s fawning appraisal of Francis’ document has been bizarre, primarily because it’s appearing from what we would normally call “liberal” sources. For example,  here’s what the Washington Post had to say about the document’s overall message : Francis rejected outright the notion of same-sex marriage. But he laid out the church’s warmest welcome in modern times to divorced and remarried couples, saying they should not be judged, discriminated against or excluded from church life. And he encouraged their priests to be merciful in considering whether such Catholics can receive Communion. I love how the authors quickly skip over his unequivocal dismissal of same-sex couples. Sure, Francis is continuing to perpetuate centuries worth of exclusion, but come on — he’s the head of a slow-moving church. What is he supposed to do — provide moral guidance? Even the inclusive-minded EJ Dionne lapped up the pope’s document. He actually praised Francis for “ lifting up what can be called social justice Christianity .” Come again? Just a couple of weeks ago Dionne lambasted Donald Trump for being a “ clownish peddler of racial and religious stereotypes .” Why didn’t he similarly call out the pope for being nothing more than a “clownish peddler of homophobia”? Jonathan Capehart, another prominent liberal writer,
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Daily Clips: April 19th, 2016

Daily Clips: April 19th, 2016

With Kansas in crisis, GOPers abandon Gov Brownback on tax cuts: Ok, so we know that tax cuts for the rich is not a viable way of growing the economy. Kansas can attest. The state now ranks “43rd in total personal income growth in 2015.” How can that be if people are not being taxed as much? Well, Brownback abdicates responsibility and says, “You’ve got some global issues that are going on that we have absolutely no control over.” David Brooks is a trickle-downer: One true minimum wage story is that corporations are reaping record profits while pushing down wages of the unskilled. But another true story, embodied in the vast trove of research, is that if you raise the minimum wage too high, you end up punishing less skilled workers. One study found the modest hike in the national minimum wage between 2006 and 2009 reduced employment among young people without a high school degree by almost 6 percent. I love how he cites a study on employment that occurs when the financial crisis happened. Notice how he didn’t bring that up. Also, I love how he hides behind the “vast trove of research” on the subject but then doesn’t examine that research at all. Brooks at his finest. The costs of financial isolation:  Turns out, people enjoy talking about infidelity more than personal finances. Tweet of the day: Happy New York Primary! Our voting system in this country sucks. Badly. 27 Percent of New York’s Registered Voters Won’t Be Able to Vote in the State’s Primary via @thenation https://t.co/dCNiLBiE2N — Remi Kanazi (@Remroum) April 19, 2016

Daily Clips: April 18th, 2016

Daily Clips: April 18th, 2016

How cheap does solar power need to get before it takes over the world? I’ve written before about the potential of the solar industry  and Vox‘s Brad Plumer takes an in-depth look at the burgeoning sector. Fascinating stuff. On immigration, law is on Obama’s side: This sentiment isn’t coming from some commie socialist, it’s coming from former Republican Senator Dick Lugar. In this op-ed piece, Lugar is unequivocal about Obama’s actions on immigration, arguing: But whether or not you like President Obama’s actions, he has operated under longstanding provisions of law that give the executive branch discretion in enforcement. This presidential prerogative has been recognized explicitly by the Supreme Court. Moreover, the nature of immigration enforcement and the resources (or lack thereof) appropriated by Congress necessitate exactly the type of choices that the president has made. Moving toward a 21st-century labor movement:  SEIU’s president, David Rolf, has a fantastic column about the need to reboot America’s labor structure. He argues against restoring “America’s collective-bargaining framework” and instead suggests a Shared Security System – which we’ve talked about on our gig economy podcast episode . 3 million registered voters won’t be able to vote in New York’s primary:  New York values. 

Daily Clips: April 15th, 2016

Daily Clips: April 15th, 2016

What follows the Fight for $15?  A pretty good secure scheduling writeup in the Atlantic — if you haven’t heard our podcast on this subject, listen here ! Love that last line: “With luck, and with an honest effort by both business and labor to come to a consensus, Seattle could provide a model to the rest of the country.” Bernie, Pope Francis, and the Moral Economy:  Two old men discuss the purpose of the economy in increasingly unequal times. No, a $15 minimum wage won’t kill businesses:  Sorry trickle-downers, the minimum wage doesn’t destroy the economy. (Yes, I’m even looking at you,  Vox ) Video of the day: Very effective political ad from Bernie Sanders. Not something I say often. Tweet of the day: This claim about Fresno is same thing people said about SeaTac. Didn't happen. #skyaloft https://t.co/xBh9pBcxTY pic.twitter.com/UYO639xjN0 — Robert Cruickshank (@cruickshank) April 15, 2016

Daily Clips: April 14th, 2016

Daily Clips: April 14th, 2016

Chicago police ‘have no regard’ for lives of black people, report says : In a 22-page report, data from the Chicago police showed that there is “validity to the widely held belief the police have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color.” How to watch tonight’s Democratic debate: 9pm ET tonight CNN – online stream available at CNN.com Tax policy is widening the gender gap: It seems that the tax and benefit system is implicitly working against the achievement of gender equality in the workforce. Rather than blame the private sector for exacerbating inequality, it might be time for the state to look more carefully at how its own labor market interventions are impacting the gender gap. Top 50 US companies hold 1.4 trillion in cash offshore : Yay. Tweet of the day: Avg of Continued Claims as a percent of the Labor Force at an ALL-TIME low. Thanks, Obama. pic.twitter.com/ZSrspsRxAQ — Invictus (@TBPInvictus) April 14, 2016