All the single mothers

Really interesting piece about the reality of single moms and poverty in America.  There’s a lot of belief that we have  a poverty problem because we have so many single-mom households.  The reality, though, is that we have a poverty problem because America’s society and policies are especially tough on those with the key risk factors for poverty.  Lots of good stuff here:

If single motherhood in the United States were in the middle of the pack among rich democracies instead of the third highest, poverty among working-age households would be less than 1 percentage point lower — 15.4 percent instead of 16.1 percent. If we returned to the 1970 share of single motherhood, poverty would decline a tiny amount — from 16.1 percent to 15.98. If, magically, there were no single mothers in the United States, the poverty rate would still be 14.8 percent.

What really differentiates rich democracies is the penalty attached to single motherhood. Countries make political choices about how well social policies support single mothers. Our political choices result in families headed by single mothers being 14.3 percent more likely to be poor than other families.

Such a severe penalty is unusual. In a majority of rich democracies, single mothers are not more likely to be poor… [emphases mine]

Single motherhood is one of four major risks of poverty, which also include unemployment, low levels of education and forming households at young ages. Our research demonstrates a broader point about the risks of poverty. Poverty in America is not unusually high because more people have more of these risk factors. They are actually less common here than they are in the typical rich democracy, and fewer Americans carry these risks today than they did in 1970 or 1980. Even if one infers that risk factors result from bad choices and behaviors, Americans apparently make fewer such choices and engage in fewer such behaviors than people in other rich democracies or than Americans in the past.

The reality is we have unusually high poverty because we have unusually high penalties for all four of these risk factors. For example, if you lack a high school degree in the United States, it increases the probability of your being in poverty by 16.4 percent. In the 28 other rich democracies, a lack of education increases the probability of poverty by less than 5 percent on average. No other country penalizes the less educated nearly as much as we do.

More generous social policies would reduce the penalty for all four risk factors. In fact, increasing the generosity of American social policies would lower poverty more than increasing high school graduation or employment, and more than decreasing the number of people heading a household at a young age or the number of single mothers. Nor would reducing these penalties encourage people to drop out of high school, be unemployed, form households too young or become single mothers.

Data and social science.  How about that?!  I’m sure Paul Ryan is listening :-).  Nahhh, it’s all about these single moms wanting their cushy hammock.

Photo of the day

Time for another Olympic photo courtesy of an Atlantic photo gallery:

A forerunner jumps during the Nordic combined, Team Gundersen, LH/4x5km, ski-jumping competition round on day 13 of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on February 22, 2018. 

Clive Mason / Getty

Quick hits (part I)

1) Unsurprisingly, the NRA likes to misuse and mis-lead with actual social science analysis of gun policy.  Here’s one researcher in an NYT article:

Christopher Koper, a professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and the lead author of the study that is cited by the N.R.A., has repeatedlysaid that the ban had mixed effects and final results would not be immediately evident.

“My work is often cited in misleading ways that don’t give the full picture,” Mr. Koper said Thursday in an email. “These laws can modestly reduce shootings overall” and reduce the number and severity of mass shootings.

2) Jill Abramson makes a strong case for impeaching Clarence Thomas.  Really.

3) Buzzfeed with, “Guess Who Thinks Arming Teachers Is A Really, Really Bad Idea? Military Combat Veterans.”

4) Jennifer Rubin on how CPAC has always been insane, but the Republican “mainstream” has basically just moved to the insanity.

5) Paul Waldman on how Republican awfulness on health care has moved Democrats more solidly into supporting single payer.

While this evolution has been in-process for a while, the fact is that as of now, the Democratic Party is converging on consensus around the goal of universal coverage with a much stronger role for government. You may recall that in the last presidential election, the party’s candidate wasn’t willing to go that far. Today, nearly every Democrat considering a run for the White House in 2020 has endorsed the idea of universal coverage.

It’s possible that this movement would have happened no matter what Republicans had done in the past year. But it’s hard to argue that the GOP hasn’t helped push the Democrats in this direction, and thereby helped accelerate the arrival of a universal health-care system.

First, Republicans attempted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which had the effect of reminding everyone how many people have benefited from it. In particular, the prospect of tossing millions of people off Medicaid revealed that government insurance is actually quite popular with the public, encouraging Democrats to go ahead and advocate a further expansion of the government’s role…

That doesn’t mean Republicans won’t hate it (Big government! Washington getting between you and your doctor!), but they’ve got no one to blame but themselves. If they had left the ACA alone and not been working so hard to make American health care worse and less secure, the Democrats might not have been pushed this far this fast. But that’s where the Democratic Party is now, and it’s not going back.

6) Catherine Rampell on all the bad “both sides” journalism, “Don’t blame ‘Washington.’ Blame the GOP.”

7) Damn is McSweeney’s good on this gun stuff, “Excuse me while I teach your child, but first I must…”

Master my understanding of adolescent brain development.

Train my students what to do if someone invades our sense of security.

Vomit, thinking of the violent state of our schools.

Show compassion for a student experiencing puberty.

Pick up trash or forgotten material.

Sanitize every nook and adolescent-infected cranny.

Provide another student with breakfast.

Embed a growth mindset into my curriculum.

Practice tae kwon do and finish getting my concealed carry permit.

8) A sport in which basically anybody who can stay on their skis can qualify for the Olympics should not be an Olympic sport.

9) This is just pathetic, Hugh Hewitt seems to think the first step to stop school shooting s should be a Congressional hearings.  Hmmmm, maybe we also need hearings on why it is the earth keeps getting warmer.

10) Onion’s take on Wayne LaPierre, “Unstable Man Plots To Bring Guns To Schools.”

11) Of course Republicans are trying to gut basic environmental protections.  NYT editorial.

12) Of course Trump’s immigration agency has taken “a nation of immigrants” out of it’s mission statement.  Damn these xenophobes!  And  New Yorker story on ICE tearing families apart.  Not exactly MS-13.

13) The snowboarder winning the women’s Super G skiing race (and I love Super G– more interesting than downhill, faster than giant slalom) was my favorite moment of the Olympics.  Okay, that and US women winning hockey.

14) Loved Conor Friedersdorf on the liberals who want to shame other liberals for being insufficiently liberal.  This is not good.  What side you are ultimately on matters:

But I’ve interviewed, studied, and interacted with enough adherents of social-justice ideology to know that a great many are in earnest, even if they operate among others who are less scrupulous in their conduct. And those earnest participants are the people I still do not understand.I don’t understand why they believe that extreme anger and stigma should be directed at people whose intentions and substantive beliefs are so close to their own.I don’t understand why they dedicate so much energy and focus to what even they call microaggressions at a time when an ascendant coalition in American politics is bent on deporting as many immigrants as possible, vilifying Mexicans, Muslims, and others, and cheering figures like Joe Arpaio, who flagrantly violated the civil rights of so many. I don’t understand inhabiting that country, and still making Weiss the prime object of your attacks.I don’t understand how they think they can defeat that nativist faction if their own pro-immigrant coalition engages in divisive infighting over transgressions as inevitable as clumsy wording (in this case, in a tweet intended to extol immigrants). At current sensitivity settings, literally everyone is problematic, most often for beliefs that they neither hold nor are aware of implying.

I don’t understand whether they don’t see that policing language so strictly will invariably cause a backlash, or don’t care, or believe that their coalition is so obviously ascendant and powerful and likely to prevail that a backlash doesn’t matter.Even if every object of dragging deserved it, I don’t understand how the outcome could be anything other than punishing an infinitesimal percentage of bad actors while turning off so many with the excesses that it provokes a backlash.And I don’t understand how so many on the left can dismiss concerns about overzealous policing of language as fragile cis-white men trying to repress the voices of marginalized people when these divisive fights most often break out among or are directed at people in historically marginalized groups. Reputable opinion surveys keep showing that majorities of every racial group share the belief that language in America today is sometimes policed too zealously, even as scores of journalists, academics, and comedians encompassing every race and ethnicity have publicly articulated variations on the same theme.

Yes, yes, yes!  I care pretty passionately about racial equality, gender equality, minimizing economic inequality and treating all people with respect.  So, if you’ve defined somebody like me (or Friedersdorf) on the wrong side of the issue, you are making a huge mistake.

15) This recycled Slate piece on anger and shootings from a psychologist is great:

Violence is not a product of mental illness. Nor is violence generally the action of ordinary, stable individuals who suddenly “break” and commit crimes of passion. Violent crimes are committed by violent people, those who do not have the skills to manage their anger. Most homicides are committed by people with a history of violence. Murderers are rarely ordinary, law-abiding citizens, and they are also rarely mentally ill. [emphasis mine] Violence is a product of compromised anger management skills…

The attribution of violent crime to people diagnosed with mental illness is increasing stigmatization of the mentally ill while virtually no effort is being made to address the much broader cultural problem of anger management. This broader problem encompasses not just mass murders but violence toward children and spouses, rape, road rage, assault, and violent robberies. We are a culture awash in anger.

16) The gun lovers generally don’t realize that the decision in DC vs Heller still allows for substantial restriction of guns.  It does.  Mark Joseph Stern:

This conclusion aligns neatly with the Supreme Court’s Second Amendment jurisprudence, which guarantees only the right to keep a handgun in the home for self-defense. A few courtshave extended that right beyond the home, but most have allowed significant restrictions on public carry. Similarly, four federal appeals courts have ruled that states and cities may ban assault weapons altogether; none have held that such weapons are constitutionally protected. The courts have also allowed a variety of other gun safety measures, including mandatory trigger locksage limits, and waiting periods as well as the strict regulation of gun shops and a lifetime ban on firearm ownership by domestic abusers.

As these rulings indicate, it isn’t primarily the courts that stand in the way of meaningful gun control. The federal judiciary would likely uphold almost any gun safety law that Congress or the states are able to pass, including an outright prohibition on assault weapons. Republicans may insist that the Second Amendment grants every American the untrammeled right to bear arms whenever, wherever. But in reality, the actual Constitution is no impediment to meaningful reform of American gun laws.

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