Video of the day

If you are my wife, don’t watch this, you’ll get too freaked out.  Other people who don’t like snakes might also want to consider.  Crazy:

Photo of the day

From the Telegraph’s Animal Photos of the Week gallery:

a sea lion dramatically emerges from the water in an attempt to steal the eagles catch
A sea lion dramatically emerges from the water in an attempt to steal an eagles catch.Picture: CATERS

Kids and guns

Slate’s crime writer, Justin Peters, is on a crusade against accidental child shootings (by highlighting them and making compelling arguments that we do far more to hold adults responsible).  I really liked his take on a recent sad story of a 10-year old girl shot by her 13-year old brother:

In Virginia you can’t drive until you’re 16, plus three months. You can’t drink until you’re 21. But for some reason you can own a basic shotgun at any age. That blows my mind. Anyone who has ever had or been a child knows that no matter how well-intentioned or cautious they may be, children are impulsive and scatterbrained. And so are some adults, sure, but the difference is that adults are supposed to know better. Kids aren’t. Kids are irresponsible because their brains and bodies haven’t fully developed yet. They lack the judgment, experience, and perspective that comes with age.

According to the Hollifield report, the boy’s father “stated that he trusted his son with the firearm and that his son was knowledgeable about maintenance and care of the firearm.” But no matter how responsible and knowledgeable your kids might seem, they’re still kids. They’re going to make mistakes and forget things because that’s what kids do. If you’re going to let your kid have a gun, then you can’t assume that they won’t do anything stupid with it. You have to assume that they will do something stupid with it, and you have to do everything in your power to make sure they don’t. That means caring more about gun safety than your kid does, not less.  [emphases in original]

Some readers have emailed me questioning why I’m fixating on accidental child shooting deaths, given how relatively rare they are. And they’re right. The absolute number of children who are killed in accidental shootings is low. But these incidents could almost all have been prevented if the parents or guardians in these cases had been more attentive. The primary purpose of a gun is to shoot small holes in things, and if a boy shoots a small hole in his sister because he forgot there was a shell in his shotgun’s chamber, it is the fault of the parents. They were the ones who allowed him not only to have the gun, but to attempt to fix it, alone and unsupervised, in the freaking living room. An adult who gives a kid a gun needs to bear responsibility for what the kid does with it. Prosecuting the parents of the children in these incidents sends a clear message that society expects those parents to take care of their guns, and their children.

Amen.  And I would suggest that if you are not old enough to drive a car, you are not old enough to be responsible for a gun.

Chart of the dday

Pre-school, dummies, pre-school!!  *Thanks, DJC) Of all the low-hanging fruit of public policy we are not close to taking advantage of this, is surely it:

And, some accompanying explanation (though if you are reading this blog, this should be familiar):

The latest research, from a new National Bureau of Economic Research working paper by James Heckman and Lakshmi Raut, concludes that a policy of free preschool for all poor children would have a raft of cost-effective benefits for society and the economy: It would increase social mobility, reduce income inequality, raise college graduation rates, improve criminal behavior (saving some of the societal expenses associated with it), and yield higher tax revenue thanks to an increase in lifetime wages.

Specifically, Heckman and Raut estimate that the percentage of children whose parents never graduated from college who go on to graduate themselves would rise from 6.71 percent to 9.45 percent. And such a preschool policy would reduce the percent of the population that falls in the long run into poor socioeconomic status, from 35.71 percent to 29.14 percent. (Heckman and Raut define poor socioeconomic status as families earning less than 70 percent of the average in the economy.)

Keep such a policy in place for years, and its benefits accrue from one generation to the next. Put a child in preschool, in other words, and that improves her chances of graduating college. But it also improves the future education and earnings prospects of her children and grandchildren. Obviously, the quality of a school that a child attends later in life matters, too. And we’d be foolish to invest in preschool without continuing to invest in poor children as they age.

Do Republicans really hate Hispanics that much?

Interesting Ezra post yesterday about how Republicans are using health care reform to further drive away Hispanic voters.  I swear, some of this stuff sounds like it was thought up by Montgomery Burns.

House Republicans are considering legislation “that would deny publicly subsidized emergency care to illegal immigrants [emphasis mine] and force them to purchase private health insurance plans, without access to federal subsidies, as a requirement for earning permanent legal residency.”

So amidst an effort to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill meant to help the Republican Party appeal to Hispanic voters, Republicans are making a point of demanding that legalized immigrants can’t get Obamacare, and in some cases can’t even get emergency care. They’re also considering a crushingly punitive version of the individual mandate, in which undocumented immigrants need to purchase private health care on their own, without subsidies, or they can’t even become legal residents. And they’re refusing to agree to Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion in some of the states where it would do Hispanics the most good.

Are you serious?  How are you supposed to force illegal immigrants to buy private health insurance plans they cannot afford (citizens get subsidies if they cannot afford them).  More notably, citizens are not going to be left to die sitting outside of emergency rooms.  Those illegal aliens, however…  Well, I guess they can just go back to Mexico for the hospital, damnit!  If this wasn’t disturbingly stingly and misanthropic, it would just be funny, as it really does sound more like what a cartoon villain would come up with.  Alas, ladies and gentleman, your modern Republican party (which, I’ve been told by commenters, has not actually moved to the right at all).

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