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.

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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.

The kids are alright

As we’ve clearly seen with the Parkland, FL teenagers.  Love this post from Kevin Drum. Here’s the key chart he made:

About that AR-15

Couldn’t resist yesterday and got into a FB “discussion” with a friend of a friend who was a total troll and, unsurpriisingly, loves his AR-15 and argued that it’s really no different from any other gun.  Of course, it is.  Best post I’ve seen on the matter is from this Army veteran.  Not a fan of the title, but great post:

These are not deer rifles. They are not target rifles. They are people killing rifles. Let’s stop pretending they’re not.

With this in mind, is anybody surprised that nearly every mass shooter in recent US history has used an AR-15 to commit their crime? And why wouldn’t they? High capacity magazine, ease of loading and unloading, almost no recoil, really accurate even without a scope, but numerous scopes available for high precision, great from a distance or up close, easy to carry, and readily available. [emphases mine] You can buy one at Wal-Mart, or just about any sports store, and since they’re long guns, I don’t believe you have to be any more than 18 years old with a valid ID. This rifle was made for the modern mass shooter, especially the young one. If he could custom design a weapon to suit his sinister purposes, he couldn’t do a better job than Armalite did with this one already.

This rifle is so deadly and so easy to use that no civilian should be able to get their hands on one. We simply don’t need these things in society at large. I always find it interesting that when I was in the Army, and part of my job was to be incredibly proficient with this exact weapon, I never carried one at any point in garrison other than at the range. Our rifles lived in the arms room, cleaned and oiled, ready for the next range day or deployment. We didn’t carry them around just because we liked them. We didn’t bluster on about barracks defense and our second amendment rights. We tucked our rifles away in the arms room until the next time we needed them, just as it had been done since the Army’s inception. The military police protected us from threats in garrison. They had 9 mm Berettas to carry. They were the only soldiers who carry weapons in garrison. We trusted them to protect us, and they delivered. With notably rare exceptions, this system has worked well. There are fewer shootings on Army posts than in society in general, probably because soldiers are actively discouraged from walking around with rifles, despite being impeccably well trained with them. Perchance, we could have the largely untrained civilian population take a page from that book?

And some perspective from a Florida radiologist:

Routine handgun injuries leave entry and exit wounds and linear tracks through the victim’s body that are roughly the size of the bullet. If the bullet does not directly hit something crucial like the heart or the aorta, and they do not bleed to death before being transported to our care at a trauma center, chances are, we can save the victim. The bullets fired by an AR-15 are different; they travel at higher velocity and are far more lethal. The damage they cause is a function of the energy they impart as they pass through the body. A typical AR-15 bullet leaves the barrel traveling almost three times faster than, and imparting more than three times the energy of, a typical 9mm bullet from a handgun. An AR-15 rifle outfitted with a magazine cartridge with 50 rounds allows many more lethal bullets to be delivered quickly without reloading.
I have seen a handful of AR-15 injuries in my career. I saw one from a man shot in the back by a SWAT team years ago. The injury along the path of the bullet from an AR-15 is vastly different from a low-velocity handgun injury. The bullet from an AR-15 passes through the body like a cigarette boat travelling at maximum speed through a tiny canal. The tissue next to the bullet is elastic—moving away from the bullet like waves of water displaced by the boat—and then returns and settles back. This process is called cavitation; it leaves the displaced tissue damaged or killed. The high-velocity bullet causes a swath of tissue damage that extends several inches from its path. It does not have to actually hit an artery to damage it and cause catastrophic bleeding. Exit wounds can be the size of an orange.With an AR-15, the shooter does not have to be particularly accurate. The victim does not have to be unlucky

Quite simply, there’s nothing you cannot do with an AR-15 that you can’t do with a far less lethal gun, except quickly kill large numbers of people.  You want to hunt, target practice, defend your home?  Plenty of guns work just great for that without having this ability to so rapidly so kill and maim large numbers of people.  Sure, some folks might really want an AR-15 because it’s cool, fun, whatever, but plenty of folks might also want rocket launchers, tanks, grenades, etc, and we don’t let them have those.

And while we’re at it… think the assault weapons ban we had didn’t work.  Why, yes, it actually did, if you actually use the appropriate metric.  Christopher Ingraham:

Critics of bans on assault weapons, however, say they do little to save lives. The NRA correctly points out that assault weapons are used only in a tiny fraction of gun crimes. The gun rights group also notes that a federally funded study of the previous assault weapons ban, which was in place from 1994 to 2004, concluded that “the ban’s impact on gun violence is likely to be small at best, and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.” Similar points have been made in arguments against a new ban in publications running the ideological gamut from Breitbart to the New York Times to HuffPost.

But the 1994 assault weapons ban was never intended to be a comprehensive fix for “gun violence” writ large. Its purpose, according to gun violence experts and the lawmakers who wrote the bill, was to reduce the frequency and lethality of mass shootings like the ones in Parkland, Sandy Hook and elsewhere. And on that front, the data shows it had a significant impact.

Banning weapons like the AR-15 will probably have a relatively modest positive impact.  But that relatively modest impact is people’s lives!  The cost of the policy is that some gun lovers have to buy a somewhat less lethal gun.  I’ll take that trade

Beating a thriving horse on guns

I thought to myself, do I really need to post again about how addressing mental illness will so not solve our mass shooting problem?  And then I read this article about Rubio and NRA spokespuppet Dana Loesch, and thought, hell yes:

Senator Marco Rubio and a spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association were repeatedly heckled at a nationally televised forum on Wednesday night in Florida after they refused to back new gun control measures.

The spokeswoman for the N.R.A., Dana Loesch, offering the group’s first public comments after a shooting last week at a Florida high school, strongly defended the gun advocacy group’s positions in front of students and teachers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“People who are crazy should not be able to get firearms,” she said, insisting that enforcement of mental health laws, not new gun restrictions, would prevent future massacres.

So, yeah, it’s a dead horse here, but it’s thriving in NRA reality.  Great piece in Business Insider about the reality.  I would say throw these facts around at your friends in social media debate, because that will change so many minds :-).

Stone said many people assume that because someone has committed a deadly act, that must mean they’re crazy. But that’s not true.

In fact, according to the American Psychiatric Association, people with serious mental health problems account for just 3% of all violent crime, though as many as one in five people in the US experience a mental illness every year.

Most mentally ill people are never violent. Information from the National Center for Health Statistics similarly shows that fewer than 5% of the 120,000 gun-related killings in the US between 2001 and 2010 were perpetrated by people diagnosed with mental illness. Only 1% of discharged psychiatric patients commit violence against strangers using a gun. And the mentally ill alsoaccount for less than 3% of all violent acts with guns. [emphases mine]

Data from American Psychiatric Association suggests Americans are about 15 times more likely to be struck by lightning than to be killed by a stranger with a mental diagnosis.

Of course, in a sane world, facts like this would actually matter.  Of course, in a sane world, we wouldn’t have our current president right now.

The worst people!

The right-wing gun lovers so convinced of their righteousness and the goodness of guns, that they are slandering a bunch of high school kids.  So so wrong and so so pathetic.  NYT’s Michael Grynbaum is on top of it:

The teenagers of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., who a week ago lost 17 of their classmates and school staff members in a mass shooting, have emerged as passionate advocates for reform, speaking openly of their anger in the hope of forcing a reckoning on guns.

But in certain right-wing corners of the web — and, increasingly, from more mainstream voices like Rush Limbaugh and a commentator on CNN — the students are being portrayed not as grief-ridden survivors but as pawns and conspiracists intent on exploiting a tragedy to undermine the nation’s laws.

In these baseless accounts [emphases mine], which by Tuesday had spread rapidly on social media, the students are described as “crisis actors,” who travel to the sites of shootings to instigate fury against guns. Or they are called F.B.I. plants, defending the bureau for its failure to catch the shooter. They have been portrayed as puppets being coached and manipulated by the Democratic Party, gun control activists, the so-called antifa movement and the left-wing billionaire George Soros.

The theories are far-fetched. But they are finding a broad and prominent audience online. On Tuesday, the president’s son Donald J. Trump Jr. liked a pair of tweets that accused David Hogg, a 17-year-old who is among the most outspoken of the Parkland students, of criticizing the Trump administration in an effort to protect his father, whom Mr. Hogg has described as a retired F.B.I. agent.

What I love is that Grynbaum practices real journalism, pulls no punches and tells it like it is.  No weaselly, “Democrats say these are baseless” or “gun control proponents refer to these “far-fetched theories.”  But, damnit, he simply calls this wretchedness for the falsehood it is.  Hooray!  More journalism like this, please.  And less pathetic excuses for human being who feel the need to slander high school kids because their arguments are so woefully inadequate.

The mental illness red herring

As I’ve mentioned multiple times before, the U.S. is not unique in having mentally unstable, angry, murderous young men.  The big difference is that it is so much easier for them to get guns here.  So tired of Republicans so doubling-down on this “mental illness” trope.  Especially while they cut funds for Medicaid, etc.  But, even if we had way better mental health care in this country (again, something Republicans vote against as a “waste” of tax dollars at pretty much every opportunity) that would not solve the problem.

Nice NYT Op-Ed by an ER Psychiatrist on the inherent difficulties in actually addressing the problem of angry young men:

Mr. Cruz had suffered from depression and was getting counseling at one point. He was also evaluated by emergency mental health workers in 2016, but they decided not to hospitalize him. Why, some critics are demanding, didn’t he receive proper treatment? And can’t we just stop angry, unstable young men like him from buying firearms?

It’s much harder than it sounds.

The mental health system doesn’t identify most of these people because they don’t come in to get care. And even if they do, laws designed to preserve the civil liberties of people with mental illness place limits on what treatments can be imposed against a person’s will…

The psychiatrist responsible for his care would know how to treat delusions, paranoia, mania, suicidal impulses, self-injurious behaviors, auditory hallucinations and catatonia. But there are no reliable cures for insecurity, resentment, entitlement and hatred.

The one concrete benefit of officially committing him would be that he could be prohibited from buying a gun from any federally licensed retailer. Of course, this would do nothing about any guns and ammunition he may already have amassed. Nor would it deter him from getting guns from private-party sales, which are exempt from background checks in many states…

The reason the mental health system fails to prevent mass shootings is that mental illness is rarely the cause of such violence. Even if all potential mass shooters did get psychiatric care, there is no reliable cure for angry young men who harbor violent fantasies. And the laws intended to stop the mentally ill from buying guns are too narrow and easily sidestepped; people like Nikolas Cruz and my patient are unlikely to qualify.

Instead of hoping that imposing mental health treatment on everyone who shows “red flags” will put an end to mass shootings, we should focus on ways to put some distance between these young men and their guns. [emphasis mine]

Yep.  Of course anybody who shoots a bunch of strangers is “crazy” but that doesn’t mean they have an identifiable DSM-V mental illness that means they can be involuntary committed.  The only thing that is going to stop these mass shootings is the one thing that has been so much more effective in every other modern country– substantially stricter and saner policies on gun ownership.

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