Quick hits (part II)

1) I knew pretty much nothing about Hawaii’s Tulsi Gabbard (now running for president).  Thanks to this New Yorker article, now I do.  Okay, I did know from a few FB posts that she had a rather checkered history on LGBT issues.  Looks like she’s been taking the orthodox Democratic position for a while now, though.  At what point are people not allowed to change?

2a) Nice piece on marginal tax rates thanks to AOC.

2b) It also links to this in Politico:

The Congressional Research Service published a paper in 2012 that found no correlation between top tax rates and economic growth. Congressional Republicans protested the findings, and the service briefly withdrew the paper.

Republicans argued that the CRS paper had methodological errors, namely that it didn’t account for the long-term benefits of tax rate cuts. The paper looked only at effects on growth within the first year of the cuts.

POLITICO looked at each time the country changed the top income tax rate and the following five years of GDP per capita growth rate. The results are similar to the CRS findings: changing the top income tax rate does not have a predictable effect on economic growth.  [emphases in original]

3) Really interesting 538 piece on the problems of single-stream recycling.  It gets so many more people recycling.  But, the recycling is so much more contaminated.  Pretty nasty catch 22.

4) Love this Atlantic article on what $5 billion on border security other than a wall could actually buy.  Great example of the wall as horribly inefficient policy and also of opportunity costs.

5) “Ag gag” laws are just the worst.  Fortunately, some courts are now agreeing.  Vox explains:

Ultimately, though, ag-gag laws aren’t the real problem — they’re a symptom of it. The problem is that what goes on on our farms is so horrifying, and so unconscionable to the typical American consumer, that agribusinesses have turned to trying to hide it.

“The situation agribusiness faced was this,” Balk told me. “They tried for many years” to defend the treatment of animals in industrial farming — blaming systemic abuses on individual bad workers, claiming that their practices were good for animals. “They lost every time. They lost ballot measures, they lost their customers — fast-food chains and major grocery stores.”

That’s why there was a sudden surge of interest in banning undercover investigations of factory farms. Ag-gag laws, in other words, came about because agribusiness concluded the horrors of our food system couldn’t stand up to the light of day.

People want affordable meat. They don’t want animals treated cruelly. Right now, the industry is trying to provide the meat and hide the cruelty. But we can do better. It’s fair to expect a food system that doesn’t have to hide its conduct from its customers — and fair to be very concerned that our current food system considered ag-gag laws a better solution. [emphasis mine]

6) With technology making it so much easier to work from home, we are seeing the death of the sick day.

7) Interesting Op-Ed from a leading pro-life Democrat on the rhetoric of abortion.  I’ll definitely give her this point:

The New York Times editorial board, for instance, recently used the phrase “clusters of cells that have not yet developed into viable human beings,” in a discussion of rights being extended to a fetus in the womb, or what I call a prenatal child.

Language like this ignores the fact that each of us once existed as “clusters of cells that have not yet developed into viable human beings.” It seeks to hide the fact that by the time most surgical abortions take place, a prenatal child has electrical activity in the brain and a beating heart.

Other words and phrases used in the discussion about abortion seek to obscure this reality as well: “tissue,” “part of the mother,” “parasite,” “potential life.” Even the term “fetus” is dehumanizing.

Outside of an abortion context, an obstetrician-gynecologist doesn’t generally speak to a mother about her fetus. She talks to her about her baby. Family and friends organize baby showers, not fetus showers. A mother-to-be has a baby bump, not a fetus bump. She is “with child,” not “with fetus.” It is not unusual for major news outlets, such as the BBC, to use the phrase “unborn babies” when they report on new prenatal surgical techniques.

I’ll always remember the words from my ardently pro-choice Ethics professor friend… if you think abortion is an easy call, you’re not thinking hard enough.  Trying to reduce a human embryo, rhetorically to “clusters of cells that have not yet developed into viable human beings” is a way to try to win an argument without facing up to the moral complexity.

8) Drum is right… never believe corporations:

My take on all this is to repeat something I’ve said before: Never believe corporations. Period.¹ Don’t believe them when they say the “jury is still out” about the danger of the chemicals they produce. Don’t believe them when they say environmental regulations will put them out of business. Don’t believe them when they claim that they’ll hire more people and boost their fixed investment if Congress will pass tax cuts. And don’t believe them when they say they just can’t find people to take their jobs. Most of them just need to stop goosing their hiring requirements and increase their pay rate a bit. Problem solved.

¹I should add that you shouldn’t automatically believe the opposite of what corporations say, either. Simply treat their pronouncements as null data, sort of like the pleas of a coke addict who you know will say anything to get a few bucks from you. Just ignore the chatter and make up your mind based on all the other evidence available.

8) I never heard about this police shooting from over a year ago until today.  It is so horribly appalling and there has been absolutely nothing to hold anybody to account.  Talk about a “police state.”  Ugh.

9) Loved so many of Andrew Yang’s ideas for thinking about the economy.

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