Chart of the day

In a post from Chait on why Obama’s attempts at bipartisanship failed, he includes this chart:

<p>This graph shows the ideological movement for both parties in the House. Note the steady shift towards conservatism among Republicans. </p>

An extremely dramatic look at how the Republican party has moved to the right tremendously more than Democrats have moved left.  Once again, it’s the asymmetry.

 

Don’t give back the ring!

Found this piece about engagement rings in the Atlantic a couple weeks ago to be quite interesting.  Take away point: don’t give back the engagement ring.  The whole reason you have it is so that the intended groom won’t renege:

Once upon a time, diamond rings weren’t just gifts. They were, frankly, virginity insurance.

A now-obsolete law called the “Breach of Promise to Marry” once allowed women to sue men for breaking off an engagement. Back then, there was a high premium on women being virgins when they married — or at least when they got engaged. Surveys from the 1940s show that roughly half of engaged couples reported being intimate before the big day. If the groom-to-be walked out after he and the bride-to-be had sex, that left her in a precarious position. From a social angle, she had been permanently “damaged.” From an economic angle, she had lost her market value. So Breach of Promise to Marry was born…

Let’s think like an economist. An engaged couple aren’t all that different from a borrower and a lender. The woman is lending her hand in marriage to the man, who promises to tie the knot at a later date. In the days of Breach of Promise, the woman would do this on an unsecured basis — that is, the man didn’t have to pledge any collateral — because the law provided her something akin to bankruptcy protection. Put simply, if the man didn’t fulfill his obligation to marry, the woman had legal recourse. This calculus changed once the law changed. Suddenly, women wanted an upfront financial assurance from their men. Basically, collateral. That way, if the couple never made it down the aisle, she’d at least be left with something. And that something was almost always small and shiny. The diamond ring was insurance.
So, should a jilted bride give back the engagement ring? Today, the answer is often yes. But back when rings first came into vogue, part of the point was that she wouldn’t. It was a security against a default on the engagement. The good news is that this seems so alien to us today. Women have their own careers. They earn more degrees. And, for the younger generation, they out-earn men. More importantly, the stigma against premarital sex has disappeared. A broken engagement isn’t a lasting financial disaster for a woman like it was before. The diamond engagement ring has itself undergone a transformation. It’s no longer a security. It’s just about signaling nowadays. It’s anachronistic. But don’t try telling your girlfriend that.

I think this is one of those anecdote/factoids I’ll be sharing with many an engaged person in the future.

Now that’s an analogy

In response to a recent post about just how dumb it is to always compare a national budget to a family budget there was a little debate about the appropriate analogy.  In comments, Mike (from Canada– I think, not Chapel Hill) gives us this awesome analogy:

I don’t think the analogy is really a problem.
The problem with this household is the family is dysfunctional and one of the family members is a spendthrift, the other has schizophrenia (they see and hear things that aren’t really there). Plus the mother shoplifts and the father beats the mother.

Also, when it comes time to make a budget everyone gets to add stuff to the list of things to buy, including some hundred odd children. And children tend to add silly things, like twenty-five pounds of candy, a bridge to nowhere, tax breaks for the massively wealthy and tax breaks for oil companies that are making record profits.

Meanwhile, they are going out to dinner every night. Some are saying they shouldn’t, but they are being ignored.

They are also supporting the grandparents, both sets. One set had a health care emergency and badly need support to keep them from losing the house and living on the street, but the other set is rich and doesn’t need any support, or needs greatly reduced support, but they still get full support, even though the rest of the family can’t afford it. All the rest of the family is terrified of all the grand parents and no-one wants to suggest cuts or changes to their support, even to the rich ones.

The family members that are rich simply refuse to help out anyone else in the family at all. They got theirs, and they believe that everyone else has to get their own as well. But they too keep taking money from the families coffers.

Half the family goes into tantrums when the other half of the family suggests that they simply increase the money that goes into the budget to help pay off the debts they already owe.

“When I was on food stamps, the government never helped me!” (quote from semi famous now well off stupid person)

Debt isn’t a problem when managed properly. Otherwise, almost no one would own a house. The US would never have been able to build the interstate system. Debt is only a problem when you let it get out of hand, whether you are a household, or a government.

Oh, and there are guns all over the house and the children keep shooting each other. Even though the kids are dying like flies, some of the adults refuse to lock up their firearms.

Now that’s an analogy.

Photo of the day

Love this photo posted to FB by friend of the blog (and the blogger),  JDW.   Among just being cool, it shows the under-appreciated importance of getting down low with your subject (alas, the biggest difference between parents who know what they are doing and those who don’t when photographing kids).

Beards and politics

Nice essay and slideshow about beards in politics.  It’s been 96 years since we’ve had a presidential candidate with a beard.  Slate has some fun putting facial hair on Romney and Obama.  My favorite:

I guess this means I could not run for president in my present state (though, as I’ve done in recent years, will shave off on graduation day):

The Tea Party and race

So, mentioned earlier that I was on a panel at MPSA last week with a terrific paper that did a very thorough and compelling job at looking at how racial attitudes influence the political perceptions of Tea Party supporters.  I told the lead author, David Perkins, I wanted to blog about it here and he said that I should just be sure to mention that it is still a draft and has not undergone peer review yet.  Though, I’ll go ahead and say that I’m a peer and if I were reviewing this for most journals, I’d recommend it be accepted for publication.

Anyway, what the paper does is compare how race influences seemingly unrelated political attitudes among those who support the Tea party versus those who do not support the Tea Party.   Perkins takes advantage of a panel that spans 2008 and 2009 to find that people who later professed support for Tea Party (obviously did not exist in 2008) had their racial views significantly affect their views about the deficit under Obama, but under President Bush, their views on race did not affect their views on the deficit at all.  He also finds that being a Tea Party supporter leads to racial views having a strong effect on various attitudes towards Obama whereas these racial views do not have an effect for non-TP persons.

The really convincing kicker, though, is an experiment in which a hypothetical program for providing relief for foreclosed homeowners is paired with a photo of a white man vs. paired with a photo of a Black man.

To be clear, this was an experiment and half the sample got the top photo and half got the bottom photo.  And the results?

You guessed it.  For Tea Partiers, the race of the person in the photo significantly influenced their support for the mortgage program.  Non Tea Partiers– no significant effect.  Pretty damning of the Tea Party, honestly.  That said, Perkins makes every effort to be fair in the paper, and rather than cherry-picking all significant results mentions a number of political attitudes where Tea Partiers views on race do not seem to have an influence.

That said, the overall conclusion is fairly clear.  No, not all Tea Partiers are racist, but certainly Tea Partiers overall political views are much more shaped by race (in particular, racial resentment towards Blacks) than the political views of other Americans.

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