July 10, 2012 Leave a comment
Politics, parenting, science, education, and pretty much anything I find interesting
Latest Washington Post poll has Obama and Romney tied on it and Ezra’s got some very interesting thoughts on the matter. I think these two figures he highlights are key:
Short version: even more so than most elections this election is really not about changing minds, but getting like-minded supporters actually to the polls and voting. One of the reasons the Republican voter ID laws are so insidious. It’s also a very useful perspective for thinking about what the campaigns will be doing in coming months. Yes, every vote really counts, but they are presumably going to get more back for the buck with efforts that energize supporters than efforts to try and persuade a shrinkingly small portion of the public to change their minds. And perhaps the Obama campaign should take some solace in that only 4% of Obama supporters think there’s a “good chance” they will change their mind versus 12% of Romney supporters, but I’m not sure how much stock to put in that question.
David Brooks has a nice column about the increasing divergence in the fortunes/opportunity for rich and poor kids:
A generation ago, working-class parents spent slightly more time with their kids than college-educated parents. Now college-educated parents spend an hour more every day. This attention gap is largest in the first three years of life when it is most important.
Affluent parents also invest more money in their children. Over the last 40 years upper-income parents have increased the amount they spend on their kids’ enrichment activities, like tutoring and extra curriculars, by $5,300 a year. The financially stressed lower classes have only been able to increase their investment by $480, adjusted for inflation.
As a result, behavior gaps are opening up. In 1972, kids from the bottom quartile of earners participated in roughly the same number of activities as kids from the top quartile. Today, it’s a chasm.
Richer kids are roughly twice as likely to play after-school sports. They are more than twice as likely to be the captains of their sports teams. They are much more likely to do nonsporting activities, like theater, yearbook and scouting. They are much more likely to attend religious services.
It’s not only that richer kids have become more active. Poorer kids have become more pessimistic and detached. Social trust has fallen among all income groups, but, between 1975 and 1995, it plummeted among the poorest third of young Americans and has remained low ever since.
Not good. Brooks takes the “hard truths for both sides” conclusion:
Liberals are going to have to be willing to champion norms that say marriage should come before childrearing and be morally tough about it. Conservatives are going to have to be willing to accept tax increases or benefit cuts so that more can be spent on the earned-income tax credit and other programs that benefit the working class.
Deal!! The evidence that marriage is beneficial to children (on average) is pretty much incontrovertible. I’m therefore all for government policy and, yes, social norms, therefore, that encourage marriage when child-rearing is involved. I don’t know that we need to get all moralistic about this (enough with the conservative religious obsession about who is having sex with whom), but I think the evidence is pretty clear that a return to these more “conservative” social norms would be a good thing for children.
I suspect I could get a decent number of liberals to agree with me. Now, about those conservatives willing to raise taxes and spend more money on poor kids….
(And, some earlier personal experience thoughts on the matter).
July 10, 2012 2 Comments
So, was listening to the Diane Rehm show about tax policy on the way into work today. I’m not 100% sure who was responsible for the comment I heard, but given her line-up, I’ve got to assume it was the Cato guy. Anyway, he mentioned that Obama’s budget was expected to increase the deficit by $2 trillion over the next decade. Meanwhile, extending the tax cuts for the richest Americans, in contrast, is a measly $100 billion per year. Seriously, switching from a decade based figure to an annual figure and we’re supposed to fall for this? I suppose this works when your audience is Fox News and the WSJ Op-Ed pages. Put that figure over a decade and you are looking at half the total increased deficit. Next time he mentioned the figure he said $100 to $150 billion per year. Hmmm, now we’re looking at 3/4′s of the amount over a decade. Now, I’m firmly of the belief that we need to raise rates in the mid to long-term not just on the top 2% or so, but this kind of statistical sophistry is just offensive. Not to mention, I’m sure that the vast majority of that projected deficit is from Medicare and Social Security, not exactly Obama’s discretionary budgeting decisions.
Much to my dismay, Sarah absolutely loves the Ipad. I cannot pick it up in her presence without her whining for me to share. I especially regret the day I even showed her Pingu videos via Netflix. First thing every morning when she wakes up: “Mingu?”
On the bright side, according to a semi-recent Slate article, I’m doing my part to help get more women into science and technology:
Although most parents would do anything to prevent their children from spending all day in front of a screen playing games, childhood gaming and hacking experience has motivated many computer programmers to enter the field, including Sandberg’s boss, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
And here’s a representative taste of the entertaining for 1 1/2 year olds and 40 year olds Pingu: