My favorite part of this Jon Stewart takedown of Fox News is how amazingly disrespectful the Fox blowhards (especially Karl Rove) are while complaining about Obama being disrespectful.

Chart of the day

I was using this great Vox post for my campaign finance lecture, when I came across this disturbing chart:

I knew it was bad, but I didn’t realize it was this bad.  This is horrible.  This is just no way to run any kind of government.  I did know about the pathetic pay for NC legislators, but I didn’t realize the national average was so iinappropriatelylow.  The idea behind this is that we want ordinary citizen legislators.  Here’s the thing though– ordinary citizens cannot do what is basically a full-time, if not more, job for 10 or 20K a year.  You know who can?  Rich people.  And old retired people.  This horribly skews the representation in our state legislators.  Not to mention, being a state legislator is deadly serious business.  We expect these people to create a budget, education guidelines, prison decisions, health care policy, how the environment will be regulated, etc., and we only want to pay them $28,ooo a year on average?!  Utterly absurd.  CA, NY, MI, and PA have it right.  Most of the country– especially the South, of course– really needs to catch up.

Quick hits

I don’t know if I’ve lowered my bar for quick hits inclusion or I’m just finding more good stuff, but I’ve had a bunch lately.  As long as y’all enjoy and there’s no complaints, I’ll keep at it:

1) Why is it so hard to just die at home?  Because financial incentives for many push otherwise.  We were lucky that my mom died at home, but only because we were able to afford extensive home care at the end.  Great read of one family’s sad tale.  Goes along great with Zeke Emmanuel’s terrific essay on why he wants to die at 75 (if you follow and read one link this weekend, this should be it).

2) Jim Hunt with a nice N&O Op-Ed with how we really need to treat teachers policy-wise in this state.  And on the topic of NC schools, how about this pretty sneaky way for Republicans to cut their budgets.

3) Loved this blog post on how the ideology and smell study went from marginal finding to media catnip.

4) Ever stuck in a corn maze?  Ken’s Korny Korn Maze is huge.  Average group takes 90 minutes to get out.  But not if you use this technique (we did).

5) Seth Masket with a nice “why not Joe Biden” post:

The answer is in some ways much simpler: Biden isn’t doing well in presidential polls because almost no one of consequence in the Democratic Party, other than Biden, is talking seriously about his presidential prospects…

It seems fair to say that the party isn’t seriously considering him for the presidency in 2016 because it’s already considered him twice before and, for any number of reasons, found him wanting.

6) Democracy ain’t so great for poor people.

7) Americans say they want bipartisanship, but do they really?  Of course not.

8) So many of Rebecca Schulan’s Slate columns about Higher Ed drive me crazy.  Nice to see I am not alone.

9) Why political scientists should predict things.

10) You are probably not interested in the social science on college course evaluations.  But if you are, this is quite the impressive and interesting piece of work.

11) The sub headline refers to the “surprising” fact that religion does not make you more moral.  Color me unsurprised.

12) Somehow I just came across this great Michael Pollan essay from 2003 comparing current corn-based agribusiness to the 1800’s alcohol-soaked America.

13) I am a fast reader.  But slow for a college professor.  According to this.

14) Enjoyed this post from a friend and NCSU bio-ethics professor about the woman imprisoned for providing the abortion pill to her daughter.

15) One could do whole blogs (and I’m sure people do) keeping up with the inanity from Fox news.  But I enjoy how this story also covers the inanity of a Colorado school board.

16) John Oliver on the Miss America Pageant’s bogus scholarships.  A must watch if you haven’t seen this yet.

History as politics

When you define and explain history you are framing things in such a way as to favor particular political solutions for current problems.  That’s exactly what John Locke Foundaton (an Art Pope thinktank) president, John Hood, has done in an N&O Op-Ed.  His basic argument is that NC isn’t so special and the story that liberals tell and that despite our public investment in higher ed, technology, etc., our per capita economic growth is nothing special compared with our neighbors.  Therefore, it is time to unleash the policies of the present GOP lot in Raleigh.

Nobody knows more about the political history of NC than the N&O’s Rob Christensen and he says Hood is wrong:

Hood’s argument is that North Carolina’s reputation as a leader in the South is overblown, or as he puts it, the idea of North Carolina Exceptionalism is “a fairy tale.”

Hood bases his assertion on statistics showing that North Carolina’s GDP between 1963 and 2010 grew only at the average of the rest of the South, and behind the national average. When adjusted for population, Hood says, North Carolina looks worse.

So Hood’s implicit argument – although he didn’t quite belly up to the bar to say it – is that North Carolina was wasting its money in building one of the nation’s great university systems, one of the best community college systems and one of the most extensive road systems, and in trying to be a leader in the arts.

If you are arguing for fundamental change, you are obligated to make the case that what has gone before is not working.

Even better than Christensen, though, I think Thomas Mills really nails it:

And that’s the problem with John’s analysis. While we may not have significantly exceeded our neighbors’ GDP or per capita income, the benefits were distributed much more evenly. As Irwin notes, “The rubber-meets-road measure of whether the economy is working for the mass of Americans is median real income and related measures of how much money is making its way into their pockets and what they can buy with that money.”

Using those measures, we have consistently and substantially outpaced our neighbors. Our median income has been higher for decades until the economic crash. On almost every quality of life measure, our families have fared better. That’s because of the political choices our leaders have made…

So if the most important measure of prosperity is the rate of economic growth, then we’ve not done substantially better than our Southern neighbors. If the most important measures are the strength of the middle class and health and welfare of our citizens, we’ve done significantly better.

Yep.  I’ll take a great university system and higher quality of life and opportunities for the average citizen over rich people in my state being even richer.  Alas, our current “leaders” don’t see it this way.

A venture capitalist on trickle-down economics

This is just awesome (thanks John F):

Economic prosperity doesn’t trickle down, and neither does civic prosperity. Both are middle-out phenomena. When workers earn enough from one job to live on, they are far more likely to be contributors to civic prosperity — in your community. Parents who need only one job, not two or three to get by, can be available to help their kids with homework and keep them out of trouble — in your school. They can look out for you and your neighbors, volunteer, and contribute — in your school and church. Our prosperity does not all come home in our paycheck. Living in a community of people who are paid enough to contribute to your community, rather than require its help, may be more important than your salary. Prosperity and poverty are like viruses. They infect us all — for good or ill.

An economic arrangement that pays a Wall Street worker tens of millions of dollars per year to do high-frequency trading and pays just tens of thousands to workers who grow or serve our food, build our homes, educate our children, or risk their lives to protect us isn’t an expression of the true value or economic necessity of these jobs. It simply reflects a difference in bargaining power and status.

We’re undeniably becoming a more unequal society — in incomes and in opportunity.

Inclusive economies always outperform and outlast plutocracies. That’s why investments in the middle class work, and tax breaks for the rich don’t. The oldest and most important conflict in human societies is the battle over the concentration of wealth and power. Those at the top will forever tell those at the bottom that our respective positions are righteous and good for all. Historically we called that divine right. Today we have trickle-down economics.  [emphasis mine]

The whole thing throws in lots of good stuff about the minimum wage, but I really loved that part.

Chart of the day

Wow.  From here.

Embedded image permalink

Video of the day

Jon Stewart on Republicans in Congress and climate change.  Awesome.


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