Daily Clips: February 23rd, 2016

Daily Clips: February 23rd, 2016

David Brooks pontificates about marriage:  Of course he does. The guy cannot write a column without the words “moral” and “spiritual.” Get a load of this generalization he endorses from psychologist Eli Finkel: The best marriages today are better than the best marriages of generations ago; the worst marriages now are worse; over all, the average marriage is weaker than the average marriage in days of yore. Does he provide any specific data to back up such an anecdotal claim? Of course not. Also, check out this amazing reader comment: One of the most popular forms of marriage until recently was the ‘shotgun’ marriage, where marriage proposals took the form of coitus pregnantus, and a lifelong union was born, for better or for worse. Many of these marriages lasted a lifetime, and many caused a lifetime of utter misery. Fortunately, thanks to the waning hypnotic power of both religious prisons and traditional misogyny and modern contraception – including a woman’s right to manage her own body parts – the ‘shotgun’ wedding has mostly been relegated to America’s Bible Belt where the dynamic duo of abstinence ‘sex education’ and Bible Study still seems to produce a bumper crop of impregnated teenage girls, forced pregnancies and shattered economic futures.   Congress has only now banned slave labor in US imports:  TIL. US consumer confidence ebbs:  Worries of a recession coupled with “relentless declines in oil prices” contributed to a fade in consumer confidence this month. The Conference Board Consumer reported that its consumer confidence index “fell to 92.2 from a reading of 97.8 in January.”

There Are Kind of a Lot of Reasons Why Poor Kids’ Degrees are Worth Less

There Are Kind of a Lot of Reasons Why Poor Kids’ Degrees are Worth Less

New numbers from the Brookings Institute  demonstrate something that a lot of first generation college students already know: Your degree, despite being printed on the same paper and costing every bit as much (actually, if you took out loans, it could be much  more expensive by the time you’re done paying it off ) as that of all the students in your class, seems to be worth less than you’d thought it would be—and certainly less than your guidance counselor promised you. Exactly how much less, though, is pretty startling. From Brookings: College graduates from families with an income below 185 percent of the federal poverty level (the eligibility threshold for the federal assisted lunch program) earn 91 percent more over their careers than high school graduates from the same income group. By comparison, college graduates from families with incomes above 185 percent of the FPL earned 162 percent more over their careers (between the ages of 25 and 62) than those with just a high school diploma. So while a bachelor’s degree will help you earn more than if you had no bachelor’s degree (at least until you’re in your 60s), if you grew up in an economically distressed household, you can expect it to be a much smaller bump than if your parents had means. That result flies in the face of the popular notion that going to college is a one-way ticket out of poverty and into a better life…which again, is something that most students who grew up poor and went to college have already discovered. And it’s not for one single reason; instead, the modesty of the “bachelor bump” for students who come from poorer households can be explained in any number of ways. In the Brookings blog post on the data, nonresident fellow Brad Hershbein posits several explanations, including “ family resources during childhood and the place where one grew up , to the colleges that low-income students attend “—all of which are plausible and in fact likely to
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There Is No Evidence That Marco Rubio Would Be a Better President Than Donald Trump

There Is No Evidence That Marco Rubio Would Be a Better President Than Donald Trump

This morning, Nick Cassella shared an excellent Vox video about why the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency is so scary. And I agree: Donald Trump’s success is terrifying and disappointing. Obviously. He’s made his name, repeatedly, through hate speech. (It’s not a coincidence that the people Trump has problems with are nonwhite.)  He retweets white supremacists  with alarming regularity. He is a terrible candidate, and the fact that he’s right now the Republican frontrunner should be a cause for shame among Americans. But as the presidential field starts to slim down—so long, Jeb!—Republicans are coalescing behind a single establishment candidate. And it looks like that establishment candidate is Marco Rubio. Vox has also published a piece by Matthew Yglesias about why Rubio is a terrifying candidate. It identifies Rubio’s three biggest problems—his budget is ludicrous, his foreign policy is potentially disastrous, and he’s bad on civil liberties—clearly and concisely. We here at Civic Skunk Works have been on the Rubio tip for a while now. We’ve written a lot about his failures as a candidate. A partial list follows: • Hanna Brooks Olsen wrote about Rubio’s problematic take on the minimum wage . In short: Rubio knows you can’t survive on the minimum wage, but he still wants to keep the minimum wage low. What alternative does this give the working poor in America? • Nick Cassella has written about Marco Rubio’s plans to address college debt, which many people suggest would result in something no better than “indentured servitude.” • And I have written about Rubio’s astounding lack of ideas , and investigated the many serious problems with Rubio’s tax plan : What you have here is a candidate who believes the wealthiest Americans—the top 1 percent, yeah, but more importantly the top 0.0003 percent, according to Bernstein—pay too much in taxes. And so naturally Rubio’s tax plan would result in significantly less revenue for the government. Wait, did I say “significantly?” I mean “disastrously.” Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor for the conservativeNational Review, noted in Bloomberg : “The Tax Foundation estimated that over the first 10 years that revenue reduction would amount to $6 trillion, unless the reform
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Here’s Why Unemployment Is Not the Best Measure of the $15 Minimum Wage

Here’s Why Unemployment Is Not the Best Measure of the $15 Minimum Wage

  There are a handful of anti-minimum wage propagandists who jump on any monthly uptick in Seattle’s already low unemployment rate (or whatever statistic they’re obsessing on this month) as evidence that Seattle’s $15 minimum wage ordinance is an unmitigated job killer. Sure, anybody who actually lives here knows firsthand that Seattle’s economy is booming, but, you know, statistics don’t lie, or something. Of course, it will take years to tease out the real impact of Seattle’s higher minimum wage, so all this short term analysis is just so much bullshit. But let’s for the sake of argument assume that the righties are right, and that a modestly higher minimum wage does in fact result in a modestly higher rate of unemployment. Would that necessarily be a bad thing? If you think about it, if you’re unemployed, what really matters to you personally is unemployment duration, not the unemployment rate — that’s the amount of time it takes you to find a new job. You know, the time during which you might expect to be unemployed. Historically, the median unemployment duration has tended to be about 5 weeks, while the average came in somewhat higher at about 15 weeks, with both figures rising and falling somewhat in line with the unemployment rate. Likewise, the rate of longterm unemployment (defined as 27 weeks or more of unemployment) has tended to average about 1 percent, again, fluctuating somewhat in line with the overall rate of unemployment. (The exception to all this was the Great Recession, when the rate of longterm unemployment soared compared to past downturns. Given that the number one predictor of your likelihood of finding a job is the length of time you’ve been without one, many Americans who lost jobs during the Great Recession may never work again.) Seattle’s seasonally adjusted (though preliminary and uncorrected) unemployment rate has
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Daily Clips: February 22nd, 2016

Daily Clips: February 22nd, 2016

Donald Trump’s rise is a scary moment in America: Yesterday, Vox uploaded this gorgeous video which outlines the absurdity of Trump’s campaign and its implications for our country. It’s extremely well produced and Ezra Klein does a great job of explaining why a Trump presidency could be so dangerous. Can Sandy Hook families hold the gun industry accountable?   The most chilling legacy of the entrustment of AR-15s to the general population may be that Americans are no longer shocked when combat weapons are used to kill people as they work, shop, commute, attend school, and otherwise go about their lives. We may be horrified, saddened, even sickened, but we can no longer be shocked,” lawyers wrote in their filing. Center for American Progress’ Neera Tanden talks Hillary:  Tanden has worked with Hillary Clinton during various stages of her political career. Consequently, the Center for American Progress Executive Director can offer some interesting insights into Hillary’s mind. No doubt, there are plenty of men who have been fierce and laudable advocates for women’s issues. But I know from my many years in Washington that when setting priorities and creating an agenda, it matters who sits around the table. We’ve accomplished so much for women over the last few decades, but we’re still far from where we should be. We’ve fallen short on ensuring equal pay and protecting reproductive rights. And we remain the world’s only developed nation that doesn’t guarantee the basic protection of paid family leave to its citizens. If we want to make meaningful progress, we need more than just promises and policy proposals.

We’ve Got A New Podcast Episode Out! This Time We Look At Robots & Automation

We’ve Got A New Podcast Episode Out! This Time We Look At Robots & Automation

February 19, 2016 Nick Cassella
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Whenever we talk about raising the minimum wage, some supply-sider/trickle-downer/Jeb! supporter always shoots back that if we raise wages, employers will automate low-wage workers out of a livelihood. So on the latest episode of The Other Washington,...

Democrats Are Holding Back The Economy By Not Advocating For Free College

Democrats Are Holding Back The Economy By Not Advocating For Free College

After endorsing Hillary Clinton, Representative Jim Clyburn (D-SC) thought it righteous and necessary to come out against the idea of free college – a clear response to Bernie Sanders’ “socialist” proposal. Here are Clyburn’s  incredibly shallow, ahisotrical, and insulting reasons to deny such a right: Well, let me put it this way. I do not believe there are any free lunches and certainly there’s not going to be any free education. I have made the White House aware of my disenchantment with the proposal they came out with because I do believe we ought to make education affordable. But I think for you to believe that they’re going to make education free, I don’t think that’s going to happen, not in my lifetime, and not in my children’s lifetime. What a dreamer. Seriously though, Clyburn’s comments are very disappointing. They come at a time where the average student now exits college with $35,051 in student debt . Combine these record levels of debt with stagnant wages and rising tuition and you wonder what world Clyburn is living in. How does he find the gall to tell young people that there isn’t such a thing as a “free lunch?” Tell that to Wall Street. Or the American auto industry. Believe me, young people in America know they aren’t getting a free lunch. While Clyburn and many Congressional Democrats advocate for lowering student interest rates to 4.5 percent (oh goodie!), do they not recognize that such policy prescriptions have almost no inspirational quality? How will that stop college tuition from increasing year after year? How will that ease the burden of ever-expanding student debt? As we often say here at Civic Skunk Works, civic innovation must keep pace with the times. If it does not, our society falls behind. We don’t get the outcomes we desire. Clyburn and Clinton need to recognize that reality as they lecture young people about college affordability.
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Daily Clips: February 19th, 2016

Daily Clips: February 19th, 2016

How student debt impacts Americans:  According to census data, “African-American and Latino families have the lowest median incomes in the United States.” These lower-income families with smaller debts “have difficulty paying back the loans,” whereas higher-income families have higher debt because “people in high-income areas are more likely to go to more expensive schools and pursue graduate degrees.” Krugman’s variety of voodoo economics: By endorsing outlandish economic claims, the Sanders campaign is basically signaling that it doesn’t believe its program can be sold on the merits, that it has to invoke a growth miracle to minimize the downsides of its vision. It is, in effect, confirming its critics’ worst suspicions. Oregon just passed the highest state minimum wage in the country: It is also the first ever statewide minimum wage system that will be tiered, with different wage levels for different regions. Over the next six years, Oregon’s already high minimum of $9.25 per hour (only eight states and Washington, D.C., have equal or higher minimums right now, according to EPI ’s minimum wage tracker) will “jump to $14.75 in metro Portland, $13.50 in smaller cities such as Salem and Eugene, and $12.50 in rural communities by 2022,” according to the Guardian . This will reportedly result in raises for more than 100,000 workers. Tweet of the day: If you were to squeeze all of the decency and good intentions out of Richard Nixon all that would remain would be @tedcruz . — John Nichols (@NicholsUprising) February 19, 2016

Gun Responsibility Bill Coming to Washington Ballots This November

Gun Responsibility Bill Coming to Washington Ballots This November

“We’re going back to the ballot,” announced Renee Hopkins, executive director of the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility at Town Hall this afternoon. Hopkins, addressing a large, enthusiastic room full of supporters, said the Alliance was emboldened by their successful background check ballot initiative, which easily won the support of Washington voters despite NRA opposition. Thanks to that law, Hopkins said, the last year has seen “more than 6300 private sale background checks” in the state, and “118 ineligible sales have been blocked,” keeping guns out of the hands of people with criminal records. Unfortunately, Hopkins said, Washington’s legislative body is not following the will of the people: “Despite overwhelming public support, some of our lawmakers caved to the gun lobby and created an overwhelming obstacle to sensible gun laws. The legislature in Olympia failed us this session.” Which means that the Alliance has to take the choice back to the people in November. “We’re going back to the ballot for Extreme Risk Protection Orders,” Hopkins said, “to give families and law enforcement the tools they need to stop tragedies before they happen and keep guns away from people who are likely to hurt themselves and others.” Modeled on pre-existing laws for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Protection Orders, Hopkins explained, Extreme Risk Protection Orders “allow family members and law enforcement officers…to ask a judge to temporarily suspend a person’s access to firearms if there is documented evidence of dangerous mental illness or a high risk of violent behavior.” She said that two of the worst mass shootings in Washington state history—the 2013 Cafe Racer shootings and the 2006 Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle shootings—could have been prevented had Extreme Risk Protection Orders been law. California already has a version of this law on the books, which passed after the 2014 Santa Barbara shootings. Currently, Washingtonians can only be restricted from buying
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Daily Clips: February 18th, 2016

Daily Clips: February 18th, 2016

Glenn Beck begs South Carolinians to support Ted Cruz – “Fall to your knees and pray to God to reveal to you what the hour is.” Or alternatively, look at your watch. Obama’s strategy with the Supreme Court:   One thing Obama is likely to try to do is to minimize substantive grounds for opposition. A sitting federal judge who attracted bipartisan support and generated little controversy during the process of his or her previous confirmation would be an ideal starting point. Another advantage to choosing a sitting federal judge is that such a candidate would be more likely to agree to be nominated. A judge currently in private practice or academia would have little incentive to go on leave and undergo a comprehensive vetting process for what is almost certainly a doomed nomination. A federal judge would already have been vetted, and would be able to stay on the bench with his or her nomination pending. Pope says Trump’s views are “not Christian”:  Pretty rich coming from a dude that continues to malevolently cover up child rape in his own church .

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