(Super late) Quick hits

Sorry to be late.  I spent Friday and Saturday in (mostly) Wilmington, NC area learning about leadership and disaster response with NCSU Park Scholars.  It was good stuff.   And, then I had a horrible headache much of Sunday.   Anyway, here you go:

1) Let’s start with a slightly older, but really good one.  Nicholas Stephanopolous nicely explains the legal case against gerrymandering.

2) Ezekiel Emmanuel knows his health care policy, “Bernie Sanders Thinks He Can Vanquish Health Insurers. He’s Wrong.: His “Medicare for all” plan is the best known—and the most politically impractical.”

The real obstacle to Sanders’s plan is the public’s expectations. As much as Americans hate insurance companies in general, they want the right to have a love-hate relationship with their own insurer. During the battle over the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama promised, “If you like your plan, you can keep it.” When a handful of Americans lost their plans, the backlash was tremendous—even when the cancellations had nothing to do with the new law. The polling data today are clear: When Americans are told they might have to give up their current insurer, fewer than 40 percent support Medicare for all. That’s nowhere near enough to override the entrenched interests in health care.

More important, Sanders’s Medicare for all would put almost all private insurance companies out of business—or diminish them to runts. These companies manage more than $1 trillion in revenue per year and cover more than 175 million Americans. For Sanders and his supporters, the prospect of putting nearly all those companies out of business is a major attraction of Medicare for all. But no trillion-dollar industry has ever just rolled over and died. Insurers have experience fighting far less ambitious health reforms—and winning…

Emmanuel continues with his favored Medicare for America approach:

By allowing businesses to continue to offer private insurance and allowing insurers to compete in Medicare Part C, these proposals expand coverage—and the government’s role in health insurance—without threatening private insurance companies with extinction. In fact, a number of insurers might see an opportunity under Medicare Advantage for all to enroll new customers.

There are also good policy rationales to preserve a role for private insurers. While progressives often claim these companies do nothing for the health-care system but add paperwork and extract profits, this view is anything but universal. Medicare Advantage plans offered by private insurers currently enroll about a third of seniors and are the fastest-growing part of Medicare. The evidence—only 2 percent switch back to regular Medicare— suggests that seniors like these plans and, by implication, the private insurers that offer them. In addition, having multiple payers adds competition, which can improve performance and prevent the government’s health plan from ossifying. The health systems of the Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland all include multiple competing private insurers and sickness funds.

3) Rethink laptops in the classroom yet again?  Maybe.  Interesting evidence, but for now I am going to continue to disallow them.

4) Local news is dying and that is genuinely horrible for American democracy:

The newspaper industry has been in a tailspin since internet companies ate the $5 billion in classified advertising they’d been raking in, and social media became an alternative entry point to the day’s news. Worse, the solution that saved the The New York Timeshigh-margin digital subscriptions—has not yet proved itself for smaller papers. Just 14 percent of Pew’s survey respondents said they had paid for local news in some way in the past year. Forty-nine percent of the people who didn’t pay cited the “widespread availability of free content” as their reason why, according to Pew…

Local television has proved a more resilient business. Despite viewership declines and the loss of deeper forms of reporting, the industry has only been very, very mildly contracting.

But newspaper reporters used to be the backbone of every local journalism ecosystem. Medium- and large-sized cities sometimes had hundreds of them, and their publications’ formats allowed for the day-to-day coverage and investigative explorations that make civic journalism valuable to communities.

5) Pete Buttigieg with some pretty damn smart observations on democracy and capitalism:

Pete Buttigieg

I think the word “socialism” has largely lost its meaning in American politics because it has been used by the right to describe pretty much anything they disagree with. To the extent there’s a conversation around democratic socialism — even that seems to be a little squishy in terms of what it actually means.

I think of myself as progressive. But I also believe in capitalism, but it has to be democratic capitalism.

Part of the problem here is that you have one generation that grew up associating socialism with communism like they’re the same thing, and therefore also assuming that capitalism and democracy were inseparable. I’ve grown up in a time when you can pretty much tell that there’s tension between capitalism and democracy, and negotiating that tension is probably the biggest challenge for America right now.

You don’t have to look that hard to find examples of capitalism without democracy — Russia leaps to mind. And when you have capitalism without democracy, you get crony capitalism and eventually oligarchy. So a healthy capitalist system, working within the rule of law, is the stuff of American growth and can be the stuff of equitable growth. But we don’t have that right now.

Zack Beauchamp

Talk to me more about that tension and how you see the concept of “rule of law” playing into it.

Pete Buttigieg

The big issue we have right now is regulatory capture.

When you’re in a system where money can equate to power, even more than it has historically, through the ability to purchase influence in politics, what starts to happen is the bigger you are and the more resources you command, the more you can bend the system to your advantage.

I think that structure helps to explain why our society has become more and more unequal. And all sorts of horrible side effects happen when you have that inequality, in addition to it just being morally upsetting. Look at the way that a lot of powerful businesses get their way in Washington. In statehouses it’s even more pronounced, because there’s less scrutiny.

It also leads to much greater concentration and consolidation in our economy. People are usually talking about that right now in the context of the tech sector, but it’s just as big a problem or bigger in the agricultural sector. This is a nation-wide illness that winds up threatening both democracy and capitalism.

6) These efforts on the gender pay gap would help move things in the right direction, but there really is only so much you can do with this kind of policy.  Either women need to stop having babies or society needs to change (to be clear, I recommend the latter):

But her bill doesn’t get at another important root cause of the gender pay gap: the economic impacts of motherhood. As Vox’s Sarah Kliff wrote, Princeton University economist Henrik Kleven found that mothers in Denmark (a country with a robust social safety net) saw their earnings take a significant hit after they had a child. Kleven compared the salaries of mothers to childless women and to men and found that “childbearing accounts for 80 percent of the gender wage gap in Denmark.”

And, of course, it’s not so different in America.

7) This was really, really good.  Using evolutionary principles to better treat cancer.

8) Is it time for us to eschew “statistical significance” as traditionally used?  Probably.  Good summary in Vox.

9) Frank Bruni with a nice profile of Dan McCready, the Democratic candidate cheated out of the NC-9 election.  Honestly, I didn’t realize he was such an impressive guy.

10) Thomas Edsall sums up a lot of really good recent Political Science analyses with an eye towards 2020.  And… Trump will lose.   Umm, no, not that simple.  Lots of stuff does look really good for Democrats.  But presidents usually get re-elected, especially with a strong economy.

11) The under-appreciated superfood?  Fiber.  I’m in a very small minority of actually getting my recommended daily allowance every day.  I eat plenty of unhealthy food and y’all know how much pizza I eat.  But I get my fiber, damnit.

12) Drum on how the divorce rate is down mostly because the marriage rate is down:

If marriage rates are down, you’d naturally expect fewer divorces. So let’s take a look at the divorce rate as a percentage of the marriage rate:

Divorce as a percentage of marriage has fallen a bit in recent years, but the bigger picture shows that it’s been roughly flat since 1975. There’s something to see here, but not quite as much as it appears at first glance.

13) This animation of the 10 biggest cities in the world over time is amazing.  Watch it.

14) This is really good.  “A brutal attack almost killed her husband. It transformed Abby Maslin into a different person.”

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