And it all started with Reagan

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In recent decades, by contrast, only very affluent families — those in roughly the top 1/40th of the income distribution — have received such large raises. Yes, the upper-middle class has done better than the middle class or the poor, but the huge gaps are between the super-rich and everyone else.

The basic problem is that most families used to receive something approaching their fair share of economic growth, and they don’t anymore.

pub. 08/2017

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It took me a long time to read this article because every paragraph was newly infuriating

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The state is as politically divided as the rest of the nation. One can drive across it and be in two different states at the same time: FM Texas and AM Texas. FM Texas is the silky voice of city dwellers, the kingdom of NPR. It is progressive, blue, reasonable, secular, and smug—almost like California. AM Texas speaks to the suburbs and the rural areas: Trumpland. It’s endless bluster and endless ads. Paranoia and piety are the main items on the menu.

pub. 07/2017

Good guys with guns don’t decrease violent crime rates, but stricter gun control sure seems to

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In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, when NRA leader Wayne LaPierre made his infamous assertion that the “only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he was tapping into the already well-seeded notion that hidden guns at arm’s reach of their private owners increase public safety.

It’s a powerful, seductive idea, particularly to Americans who favor personal liberty over communitarian ideals. It’s also completely wrong, according to a new analysis of nearly 40 years’ worth of crime data.

pub. 07/2017

 

Connecticut as casualty and cautionary tale

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Despite being the richest state in the country, by per-capita income, Connecticut’s budget is a mess. Its pensions are woefully under-funded. Its deficit is projected to surpass $2 billion, or 12 percent of its total annual tax revenue. Hartford is approaching bankruptcy. Conservatives look at Connecticut and see a liberal dystopia, where high taxes have ruined the economy. Liberals, on the other hand, see a capitalist horror show, where the rich dwell in gilded mansions, ensconced in sylvan culs-de-sac, while nearby towns face rising poverty and bankruptcy. Why is America’s richest state floundering?

pub. 07/2017

The delicate balance of running a government by libertarian principles

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For a city, like the country at large, that was hurting economically, Steve Bach seemed like a man with an answer. What he promised sounded radically simple: Wasteful government is the root of the pain, and if you just run government like the best businesses, the pain will go away. Easy. Because he had never held office and because he actually had been a successful entrepreneur, people were inclined to believe he really could reinvent the way a city was governed.

pub. 07/2017

Want to compare the US in 2017 to the fall of Rome?

Then you should learn about the fall of Rome. Here’s a podcast all about it, perfect for listening to in your car, on the train, or while you’re doing chores at home:

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Linked from here:

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This is one story of how the Roman world fell apart.

I’m Patrick Wyman, and I just finished my PhD on the end of the Roman Empire. It seems pretty silly to me that professional historians don’t actually talk to the general public—why would you spend decades working on something if you don’t want to tell people about it?—so that’s why I’m doing this podcast on the fall of Rome.

pub. 03/2017

He answers some thoughtful questions (and links his dissertation) in the comments, too.

What we can learn from Berlusconi

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Perhaps our most important lesson, though, is that of not giving the president the benefit of the doubt. Social-media sniping aside, Americans have a tendency to want to see the best in their leaders, to see them succeed. Europeans, and Italians above all, have learned better. In the mid-1960s, the Italian writer Luigi Barzini opened his best-selling book “The Italians” with these words: “At this point, being honest with oneself is the highest form of patriotism.” Fifty years later, this still rings true.

pub. 11/2016