Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Jim Crow in the Classroom: New Report Finds Segregation Lives on in U.S. Schools



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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What Does 'High-Quality' Preschool Look Like?



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Chris Hayes interviews economist Thomas Piketty



If you haven't read his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century its really worth your time.

I'm working my way through it myself at the moment.  In fact the last discussion group meet up for my State House campaign was on wealth inequality and the impacts locally--with a number of articles we discussed having been instigated by Picketty's work.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A must read on the new American way of war.

I've been reading Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Mark Mazzetti's new book The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth this past weekend. The book tracks the transformation of the CIA and U.S. special operations forces post 9/11 and I have to say I'm finding it to be a good read.

Here is a rundown of some reviews and interviews I've found online today




Unmanned Killers, and the Men Behind Them NYT's book review of ‘The Way of the Knife,” by Mark Mazzetti - NYTimes.com 

'The Way Of The Knife': Soldiers, Spies And Shadow Wars : an NPR interview Mark does with Terry Gross about the book. 

Cover Story: Review of Mark Mazzetti's The Way of the Knife - DAWN.COM 

Steve Coll: Our Drone Delusion : The New Yorker



Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Universe In Numbers

U.S. No Longer An Actual Democracy

Brendan James over at TPM:
Asking "[w]ho really rules?" researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page argue that over the past few decades America's political system has slowly transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where wealthy elites wield most power. 
Using data drawn from over 1,800 different policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, the two conclude that rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of or even against the will of the majority of voters. 
"The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy," they write, "while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence." 
As one illustration, Gilens and Page compare the political preferences of Americans at the 50th income percentile to preferences of Americans at the 90th percentile as well as major lobbying or business groups. They find that the government—whether Republican or Democratic—more often follows the preferences of the latter group rather than the first. 
The researches note that this is not a new development caused by, say, recent Supreme Court decisions allowing more money in politics, such as Citizens United or this month's ruling onMcCutcheon v. FEC. As the data stretching back to the 1980s suggests, this has been a long term trend, and is therefore harder for most people to perceive, let alone reverse.
"Ordinary citizens," they write, "might often be observed to 'win' (that is, to get their preferred policy outcomes) even if they had no independent effect whatsoever on policy making, if elites (with whom they often agree) actually prevail."
Paul Krugman has more:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Does a Higher Minimum Wage Reduce Jobs?


Over 600 Economists Sign Letter In Support of $10.10 Minimum Wage: Economist Statement on the Federal Minimum Wage | Economic Policy Institute:
 The increase to $10.10 would mean that minimum-wage workers who work full time, full year would see a raise from their current salary of roughly $15,000 to roughly $21,000. These proposals also usefully raise the tipped minimum wage to 70% of the regular minimum.
This policy would directly provide higher wages for close to 17 million workers by 2016. Furthermore, another 11 million workers whose wages are just above the new minimum would likely see a wage increase through “spillover” effects, as employers adjust their internal wage ladders. The vast majority of employees who would benefit are adults in working families, disproportionately women, who work at least 20 hours a week and depend on these earnings to make ends meet. At a time when persistent high unemployment is putting enormous downward pressure on wages, such a minimum-wage increase would provide a much-needed boost to the earnings of low-wage workers. 
In recent years there have been important developments in the academic literature on the effect of increases in the minimum wage on employment, with the weight of evidence now showing that increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market. Research suggests that a minimum-wage increase could have a small stimulative effect on the economy as low-wage workers spend their additional earnings, raising demand and job growth, and providing some help on the jobs front.

Also see:  Why Does the Minimum Wage Have No Discernible Effect on Employment? 

Nomi Prins on Secret History of Washington-Wall Street Collusion