The Electoral College over time

by WCE

After Trump’s strong showing in the Rust Belt, I thought about how the electoral college has changed over time. When my kids asked whether New York or Texas had more electoral votes, we had to look it up — it turns out Texas is way ahead, and New York is tied with Florida.

This link projects changes for 2020 that reflect ongoing Rust Belt emigration and population increases in Texas (3!), Colorado, Florida, California, North Carolina and maybe Virginia, Oregon and Arizona.

Updated 2020 Reapportionment Projections

This link shows the electoral college and how each state voted over time. I was surprised to learn that Kansas and California each had 10 electoral votes for the 1908 election and Florida had only 5. New York’s share of the U.S. population peaked in the 1930’s and 1940’s, when it had 47 electoral votes. I find the chart fascinating and I also admire the wisdom of the Founding Fathers for creating a system that added (later apportioned) electors based on a census every decade.

Historical Timeline

Democratic vs. Republican occupations

by Grace aka costofcollege

Your Surgeon Is Probably a Republican, Your Psychiatrist Probably a Democrat

New data show that, in certain medical fields, large majorities of physicians tend to share the political leanings of their colleagues, and a study suggests ideology could affect some treatment recommendations. In surgery, anesthesiology and urology, for example, around two-thirds of doctors who have registered a political affiliation are Republicans. In infectious disease medicine, psychiatry and pediatrics, more than two-thirds are Democrats.

The author suggests that salary and gender play a role in the political leanings of doctors.

Here’s another measure of politics and occupations that is based on political contributions.

Democratic vs. Republican occupations
Most librarians are Democrats. Most farmers are Republicans.
As a group, doctors are in the middle, though pediatricians lean left and urologists right

Do you see these trends among people you know?  Do you fit in with any overall political orientation among your colleagues, or do you usually feel out of place?  What about with your neighbors, friends, and relatives?  Do you talk politics in real life?

Our uncivilized public lands

by WCE

As Homeless Find Refuge in Forests, ‘Anger Is Palpable’ in Nearby Towns

In many western states (see Time magazine link for details by state), the federal government owns a majority of the land, either as national forest or as Bureau of Land Management land. This allows for great hiking and camping opportunities, as well as grazing, firewood cutting and mushroom hunting, but so much open land has disadvantages as well.

The NY Times article discusses the mess and risks associated with disadvantaged people who live on public lands. Two of my friends who are PhD wildlife biologists have confirmed that there are significant risks when hiking and camping on public lands. Unlike cities, which are usually well-policed, forest lands have very limited law enforcement. Growing marijuana and drug trafficking are probably the most common crimes. A single officer may be responsible for hundreds of square miles. Even with the cooperation of local law enforcement and fire departments, crime and wildfires are very problematic. The federal government has reduced/tried to eliminate “payment in lieu of property taxes” for forest lands, so the costs of busing kids to school in these areas is high and borne by counties with an artificially low tax base.

Do you have any thoughts (or maybe questions, since there are a few of us in states with lots of federal land) about how federal land should be managed? Do you agree or disagree that it is under-resourced in terms of fire/police protection? Any other thoughts about how federal land ownership affects western states?

What’s So Special About Finland?

by WCE

This Atlantic article discusses differences between the U.S. and Finland. I liked the emphasis that speaking English as a first language is a natural advantage that people in the United States have. I enjoyed the part about what citizens receive in return for high taxes, because in the U.S. model, upper middle class citizens pay taxes at marginal rates comparable to those in Scandinavia but must still pay significant amounts toward childcare, healthcare and college for their children. I think that the diversity of the U.S. compared to Finland in terms of the background and culture of its citizens is both a benefit and a disadvantage, depending on the situation. Discuss!

What’s So Special About Finland?

“In terms of immigration, if you have a situation like you have now in Europe—huge numbers of immigrants coming in all of a sudden—that’s a very difficult situation for any country. But if a lot of these immigrants also [have] education levels [that] do not help them in this society to find work, then this puts strain on the system. The system is built on the idea that everybody works, everybody pays taxes, and then they get these things in return. Whereas in the United States you don’t really have any [government-provided] benefits. That’s not so much of a problem in terms of immigration.

In higher education, the Nordic approach of offering everyone free tuition is a really good system for educating the whole population well. On the other hand, the U.S. has fantastic research institutes, leading Ivy League universities [that] are amazing, [and] their resources are very different from the resources that Nordic [universities] have.

Friedman: Many Americans might say, “This all sounds great, but you guys are paying sky-high taxes. We don’t want anything to do with that.” How would you respond?

Partanen: First of all, the taxes are not necessarily as high as many Americans think. One of the myths I encounter often is that Americans are like, “You pay 70 percent of your income in taxes.” No, we do not. For someone who lives in a city like San Francisco or New York City—where you have federal taxes, state taxes, city taxes, property taxes—the tax burden is not very different [than the tax burden in Finland]. I discuss my own taxes in the book and I discovered this to be true: that I did pay about the same or even more in New York than I would have paid on my income in Finland. I’ve talked to many Nordics in the U.S. who say the same thing.

The second thing is that there’s no point in discussing the levels of taxes in different countries unless you discuss what you get for your taxes. Americans in many states, certainly, or cities—they might pay less taxes [on] their income or [on] property than Nordics do. But then, on top of that, they pay for their day care, they pay for their health insurance, they pay for college tuition—all these things that Nordics get for their taxes.

The GOP’s future?

by Rhode

Republicans Left Wondering If Donald Trump Will Kill The Party Or Just Maim It

I’m interested in people’s opinions on this one. Is the HuffPost right about this one? Is the Republican Party as fractured as we are led to believe?

For those of you who lean right and tend to vote for Republicans, what are your thoughts on the Grand Ole Party?

Is a Trump Presidency as dire as the HuffPost believes?

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

by winemama

What are your thoughts on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Both Donald Trump and Hilary appear to be against it.

TPP: What is it and why does it matter?

“It involves 12 countries: the US, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru.

The pact aims to deepen economic ties between these nations, slashing tariffs and fostering trade to boost growth.

Member countries are also hoping to foster a closer relationship on economic policies and regulation.

The agreement could create a new single market something like that of the EU.”


Trans-Pacific Partnership Supporters Pin Hopes on Lame-Duck Vote

Smug style?

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

The smug style in American liberalism

I don’t agree with everything in this long essay, but some of it rings true. I take the author’s point about boycotting Indiana over the marriage equality issue but failing to boycott over the failure-to-expand Medicaid issue. “But few opinion makers fraternize with the impoverished”. I don’t know if that’s true. I do fraternize with the impoverished, and I’m usually horrified at how racist and reactionary they are, but I try not to be condescending about it and I try to figure out where they’re coming from. I don’t always succeed.

Terrorism is not hate

by WCE

As media elites have become, in my view, more narrow in their viewpoints, it becomes harder to find well-written essays that contradict what “everyone knows”. I liked this essay arguing that violent incidents with roots in a political decision are different from violent incidents with roots in hate. What do you think?

TERRORISM IS NOT HATE

… The violence he will commit is properly called terrorism. It is motivated by a political judgment, and committed by reactionary non-state actors in an asymmetric warfare with military powers. It is fundamentally different from incidents in which the perpetrator is deranged by some strong emotion—“hate”—as were Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. We don’t call the Columbine massacre “terrorism.” Nor do we call the Sandy Hook massacre, with its mentally ill shooter, “terrorism.” In both cases, violence had psychological roots and no political meaning.

Terrorism has political roots. One could say that the Italian anarchists who (most historians assume) bombed Wall Street in 1920, killing thirty and injuring hundreds, “hated” capitalism. But their feelings about capitalism were incidental. Their judgment of capitalism—that it was unjust, and that in the interest of humanity it should be destroyed—was decisive. The same could be said for Alger Hiss. He was a communist spy not because he “hated” America, but because he thought history was on the side of communism. He made a political judgment and acted on it. The same could be said for Timothy McVeigh. He saw the United States government as an enemy of the people. Having formed this political judgment, he acted on it.

The same should be said for Muslim terrorists, including Omar Mateen. So why do our leaders, when speaking of the Orlando shooting, have recourse to “hate”?

Because our leaders cannot imagine a rational anti-Americanism. This is due in part to the narrowing effect of multiculturalism. Paradoxically, instead of broadening our capacity to entertain ways of thinking not our own, multiculturalism has made us parochial. We compliment ourselves endlessly for our tolerance, inclusiveness, and diversity. Since we are so tolerant of others, we assume, there is no reason others shouldn’t tolerate us. Since we are never offended, we must be inoffensive.

Brexit

Two Totebaggers have Brexit on their minds.

by Finn

Now that the voters in the UK have spoken on Brexit, how does it affect you?

Some of us have jobs with companies that are based in Europe. Anyone whose jobs are in the financial sector probably will be affected more than most others.

Did anyone make any financial moves, or does anyone plan to make any financial moves, based on Brexit? Anyone see the resulting dip in the stock market as a buying opportunity?

 

by WCE

My attention to politics is limited but the Brexit vote has caught it. This article draws attention to what economists have long identified as the primary hurdle to a strong social safety net, global immigration.

Why Britain Left
The June 23 vote represents a huge popular rebellion against a future in which British people feel increasingly crowded within—and even crowded out of—their own country.

Socialism?

by Rhode

Venezuela should be rich. Instead it’s becoming a failed state.

This article came across my Facebook news feed. The person who shared it asked that if socialism failed in Venezuela, is it wise to try to bring it to the US? He’s a very strong conservative who tows the party line every chance he gets.

I have to ask, does this article scream “socialism”? Is that really what caused the downfall of Venezuela? Or was it cronyism? Does cronyism equal socialism, or can it equal socialism?

Some services (police, fire, ambulance, public education) are all socialist ideas because everyone pays for the service even though they don’t need it or use it. Can other socialist ideas (health services, so-called entitlement programs) exist and thrive in the US? Would we then be a socialist country?

Bubbles within bubbles

by Honolulu Mother

We’ve talked before about the idea that Totebaggers generally live within a comfortable urban-coastal bubble. But this Prospect article suggests that many of our business and political leaders live in yet a smaller and more comfortable bubble, which makes it difficult for them to understand the everyday experiences of the great majority of their fellow citizens:

Sanders, Trump, and the Hassles of Regular People

Daily life is more and more of a hassle for more and more people, whether it involves insecurity of jobs, of pay, of schools, of health care, of retirement, of unaffordable apartments and tuitions, of long lines and crumbling transit systems—you name it. And the super-elite doesn’t care, because they literally don’t experience any of this.

The article is short and unfocused and a bit of a humblebrag, but the idea it raises is an interesting one. Totebaggers, what do you think?

Common Core

by laurafrombaltimore

In the interest of setting things off, here are two hot-button issues rolled into one: Trump and Common Core.

Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand Common Core (and Neither Do His Rivals)

OK, really, I was more interested in the discussion of Common Core, because the description here fits my experience: there is a huge difference between what Common Core is and what people think it is.

Example: as seems to happen every spring, DD went into one of her periodic grade spirals, and so we did the standard swoop-and-poop (our deal is that she can handle her work on her own, as long as she’s actually handling her work; when she doesn’t, she gets to do it our way). During the discussion of why her math grade went from a 90-something to a 70-something, she exploded about her frustrations with Common Core. ??? Hunh? What does a 14-yr-old know about Common Core?

The answer is that DD had head this from her math teacher. He is having them work in groups, because Common Core “requires” student-led learning, where they all work together to figure out how to approach problems and get to the answer; the teacher explained that he is allowed to ask questions but cannot give them the answers when they get stuck. And DD’s entire group basically cratered on one particular chapter (so, what, I am supposed to be happy that she got a 70-something when the others in her group got a 30-something?).

We had a little re-education of our own at home that night, explaining that Common Core is just the standards kids need to understand. The Board of Ed is the one that determines whatever dumb-@$$ method-du-jour the teachers need to use to get there.

What do you think about Common Core? Have your districts made changes in their teaching methods in an effort to achieve the Common Core standards?

Hot political issues

Today’s post includes two submissions, both offering the writers’ perspectives on what they consider crucial issues surrounding this year’s presidential election.

——–

by Sheep Farmer

Healthcare

Our recent discussion on health care made me realize how important this issue is in this year’s election cycle. For me, it will probably be the deciding factor as I head to the polls for my state’s primary next week. My family has benefited greatly from the Affordable Care Act, and I would hate to see it dismantled. The ACA is a great start, but as shown in our discussion last week, health care in this country is still too expensive and complicated. It is an issue that needs to be addressed. The economy, government spending, social issues, foreign policy, and immigration are all issues mentioned regularly by the candidates. If you are headed to the polls in the next few weeks, what issues are driving your decision?

———

By Mémé

Why I fear a Republican President

I put this post off for a long time because I didn’t know how to say what I meant clearly without giving possible offense to other members of our online community. But after a couple weeks of pointed political discussion in our new and less timid iteration of the Totebag, I have decided to go ahead.

It comes down to one word. Religion. The conservative religious supporters of the GOP have been loyal for 30 plus years and have received little or nothing in return. The bill for services rendered will be presented to a Republican President and Congress and it will be paid. (The Supreme Court without Scalia, even if the new Justice is appointed after the election, is always a wild card. We could get a corporatist or even a true libertarian.)

So why do I care? Plenty of economic but not social conservatives, including non Christians, are not particularly bothered by the idea that so-called individual religious liberty will become the first criterion in determining the hierarchy of civil rights when there is a conflict. That government will be forbidden to enforce any law or regulation that anyone objects to on religious grounds. Social moderates often assume that the inability to enforce will lead to lifting of legislative and regulatory mandates, so that the market and common social norms will be decisive. It will require adjustment from people (usually not “people like us”) whose current rights and freedoms (many of which were established over the past century, bit by bit) will as result no longer be guaranteed. They will gradually take their business elsewhere or move to more hospitable localities or home school or find workarounds or accept the conditions that their forebears endured – after all, many of the things the social conservatives want to see changed resulted not only from changing social standards but also from government granting and enforcing rights that the conservatives consider immoral or that impinge on their personal freedom. And this does not even take into account the likelihood that the legislative legacy will not be entirely libertarian/reduced government, but will also include new morally inspired restrictions (and more government interference) on personal freedom that is deemed to have crossed over into immorality or socially destructive behavior.

Ross Douthat, in a column on Islamophobia sets out the terms of the ideological conflict from his conservative religious point of view. “[C]osmopolitan liberals… are also convinced that many conservative Christians are dangerous crypto-theocrats whose institutions and liberties must give way whenever they conflict with liberalism’s vision of enlightenment.”

I really don’t see how a requirement to serve all comers in a public business or gay civil marriage or Season’s Greetings means that anyone’s institutions or liberties are being constrained. Please, conservative Totebaggers, explain this to me. I do from my own people’s experience see how religion has been used for millennia as an excuse to limit personal and property rights or worse – periods of acceptance/inclusion/honor alternating with periods of actual persecution, so I don’t buy the argument that the march of progress and economic power means that it won’t happen again.

The lessons of Prohibition

by Mémé

The popular view today of Prohibition is that it was a failed attempt by a repressive, primarily religious segment of society to legislate morality and conduct for the entire population. I decided to look into the historical record in relation to some serious concerns of mine about the current national political landscape. I read many articles on the era from all across the spectrum (from Cato Institute to Mother Jones), but here is a balanced one from the AJPH that might be of interest

Did Prohibition Really Work? Alcohol Prohibition as a Public Health Innovation

Key takeaways from my reading are the following:

Alcohol consumption, primarily beer after the waves of German immigration, was a serious public health problem in the 19th century among men of the laboring classes. Alcohol was not consumed primarily in the home, but in saloons which were usually established by liquor manufacturers. Men spent time there instead of at home, often with pay envelope in hand, and had ready access to all of the manly vices. Wives and children suffered poverty and abuse with no recourse.

The origins of the “dry” movement were in white evangelical old stock Protestantism, primarily in the Midwest and the South, and women were a major force. The early movement was very successful on a local and state level in creating dry zones outside of the cities in those regions.

Around 1900 reform minded men, many of whom were not themselves dry or evangelical, redirected the movement toward the goal of a national ban on saloons and alcohol production. Their idea was to improve by legislation the social condition of members of the lower and immigrant classes who lacked the bourgeois virtues of restraint and delayed gratification, to use a modern phrase. They allied themselves locally and strategically with every possible progressive and regressive movement from the NAACP to the Ku Klux Klan. Opposition at a national government level waned with the imposition of the income tax. Prior to that, liquor taxes were a principal source of US Govt revenue. President Wilson imposed a wartime prohibition on manufacture supposedly because grain was needed for other purposes, and anti-German feeling was whipped up to add one’s Lutheran neighbors with their beer to the previously targeted big city Catholics with their whiskey (Irish) and wine (Italian). So the 19th amendment was ratified very quickly. Huge numbers of people were thrown out of work, but that was collateral damage to the national reformers, many of whom fully intended to keep consuming alcohol in middle class moderation in the privacy of their own homes.

The most interesting thing to me is that despite the religious overlay of the long standing temperance movement, the forces that actually achieved a national ban on liquor were do-gooders who thought that they knew what was best for other people. The fact that the wets were either sophisticated high church Protestants or city dwellers/ immigrants / Catholics made them “other” and eligible for loss of personal liberty.

Totebaggers, what parallels from this piece of history do you see to current differences in outlook between the regions, or to movements to impose one region’s views on another? Do you agree with libertarians that Prohibition was the camel’s nose under the tent that established government, especially Federal, power to regulate the daily lives of citizens? Do you think that legislated public health or moral/religious concerns should curtail individual freedom of choice? What if the freedom being curtailed for a secular purpose is indirectly religious in nature?

Open thread — politics or whatever

by Grace aka costofcollege

Today we have an open thread to discuss politics, or anything else on your mind.  Hijacks are encouraged.  Go at it.

The presidential race continues to be interesting.
Bernie is giving Hilllary a run for her money.  (The Millennials I know are going for the “Bern”.)  Trump is trumping his rivals, apparently garnering considerable interest among Democrats as well as Republicans.

Political Polarization & Media Habits

A Pew study finds that conservatives rely on fewer news sources.  But could that be because conservatives tend to believe most news sources have a liberal slant?

Have you been following the Flint water crisis?  There’s plenty of blame to go around.

Series of Mistakes Tainted Flint Water
Blame for water crisis is spread among Michigan city’s emergency managers, state environmental officials, the mayor, the governor and the EPA

Nanny government applied to public housing residents

by Honolulu Mother

When the Government Tells Poor People How to Live

Totebaggers, what do you think of the scheme outlined in this article? I know some of you strongly dislike paternalistic government programs. Do you find it any more acceptable in this context, where it’s applied as a condition of receiving a government benefit rather than universally?

Another way to label income groups

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

And here’s a piece from Robert Reich. I mostly found it interesting because he has new labels for various income groups. Whether Bernie is The Answer is up for debate. For Totebaggers, I think some of us are “Overclass” and some of us exist in the apparently unmentionable land between $300K and $1M.

There are now four classes in America: an underclass, an anxious class in the middle, an overclass, and an oligarchy at the very top.

The underclass is the bottom 20 percent with family incomes under $26,000 this year, who live in marginal neighborhoods, whose kids attend lousy schools, and whose families are in continuous danger of hunger, homelessness, or serious medical problems.

The anxious class is the old middle class — 75 percent of Americans, with family incomes between $26,000 and $80,000 a year, whose jobs are becoming less secure and who are living paycheck to paycheck, and most of whose children will not live as well as they do.
The overclass is the top 5 percent, earning between $80,000 and $300,000 a year, who still feel pressured and worry about the future but can afford to live in good neighborhoods and send their kids to good schools.

The oligarchy is the top 0.1 percent, most earning over $1 million a year and sitting on over $15 million of wealth, who now possess almost all the power. Through their political contributions, lobbying, “think tanks,” and media, they essentially rule America – influencing politicians and organizing the market to get most of the economic gains.

It’s a vicious cycle. The only way to reverse it is through a political revolution of the sort Bernie has been advocating.

What do you think?

I wish I lived in Theory… everything works in theory

by WCE

I read this article not long after LfB’s Nov 10 post “The Welfare Myth” and others where many Totebaggers expressed support for “adequate” levels of social support, with “adequate” not thoroughly defined. :)

This Washington Post article discusses the problems with both Democrat and Republican approaches to tax policy. You can’t cut taxes and maintain our current government, Republican candidates, and other than new defense spending (vs. VA benefits, what I consider “back end defense spending”), there is little government spending that the public supports eliminating. Democratic candidates don’t want to admit that raising taxes on the 1% is not going to generate much revenue.

What do you think?

The coming middle-class tax increase

Are your political views similar to your parents’?

by Honolulu Mother

This article highlights a study finding that people tend to adopt what they believe are their parents’ political leanings — even though in many cases they are wrong about their parents’ views!

People Mostly Inherit What They Think Are Their Parents’ Politics

Do you know who your parents voted for when you were growing up, and do you share their political views now?

In my case, my mother and father usually voted for opposite parties in national elections while I was growing up, but in the last few presidential cycles my father has migrated to the Democrats. He’s not ever going to be a Sanders voter — he liked Jim Webb — but he views Obama as being closer to the old-style Eisenhower Republicans than are the current Republicans. So my own politics are indeed close to theirs.

How about the rest of you?

Did I miss my calling as a government bureaucrat?

by WCE

Room for Debate:  Is VW Proof That Businesses Can’t Regulate Themselves?

I enjoyed this “Room for Debate” article on the necessity of regulation and strongly disagreed with Ian Adams. Companies are NOT going to regulate themselves well. The safety and environmental practices of oil companies in the late ’80’s and ’90’s, when oil prices were at an inflation-adjusted low, convinced me of that. No (Almost no?) company will lose money in order to comply with expensive regulations

However, compared to some countries, the US politicizes its regulation and forces particular geographic areas to bear the costs of federal regulation. (If we would allow removal of dead trees and/or limited logging on public lands, forest fires in the West might be less severe.) In China, the bureaucrats are all from one party, so they can focus on the technical, economic and social effects of their policies, rather than whether a particular policy will appeal to a party’s base.

In addition to understanding technical aspects of policies, regulators also need to be knowledgeable and to understand unintended consequences. In my opinion, they should be non-partisan. I can imagine an appropriate role for academics in drafting regulation, since they are less vulnerable to corporate volatility and profit demands than people employed by companies in competition with one another.

What skills would it take to become a good regulator? Would you have any interest in this type of career, or is regulatory policy so convoluted and partisan that real improvement is virtually hopeless?

Would you welcome Syrian refugees in your community?

by AustinMom

I came across three links in my Facebook feed this week that I found very interesting. The first I thought it was a helpful primer. The second shows where those refugees already allowed into the US have been settled. The third shows those states opposed to and/or refusing to accept more refugees. My state is one that has a number of refugees and is “refusing” more. How do you feel about this? Would you welcome them into your community?

And, lastly, is a fourth link about the US opposition to accepting Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany. Do you see this as the same or different and why?

Syria’s war: A 5-minute history

Paris Attacks Intensify Debate Over How Many Syrian Refugees to Allow Into the U.S.

Here’s a map of every state refusing to accept Syrian refugees

Pre-WWII poll shows that Americans did not want to accept Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany

Presidential politics

by Grace aka costofcollege

Are you a democratic socialist like Bernie Sanders? Take the quiz.

I suspect most Totebaggers are democratic socialists.

Who’s your candidate at this point, a year ahead of the presidential election.  You can use ISideWith.com to help you decide.



Would you prefer that the Totebag avoid political topics?

Cancer

by WCE

I was fascinated by two aspects of this article on cancer — the lay description of how cancer cells work, and the frustration with how outdated laws inhibit cancer research.

Death of cancer

Here’s an excerpt of the biology part:

Humans derive their energy from two forms of metabolism: oxidative phosphorylation and glycolysis. Oxidative phosphorylation, the most efficient form of metabolism, takes place in the presence of oxygen carried by red blood cells in the bloodstream (that’s what ‘oxidative’ means). It results in the complete metabolism of nutrients to glucose; that glucose is then converted into water and carbon dioxide, which are easily excreted by the lungs and kidneys.

On the other hand, humans generally derive energy from less-efficient glycolysis only when oxygen is in short supply. Glycolysis is the metabolic system tapped by the muscles of long-distance runners, for example, after oxygen has been spent.

Very rarely, however, glycolysis can take place when oxygen is present. One of those rare instances includes the circumstance of the cancer cell, which prefers glycolysis, as inefficient as it is, because it burns glucose only incompletely, leaving parts of molecules behind that can be used to synthesise DNA and other large molecules that rapidly dividing cells need. The cancer cell, like the embryo, retains the ability to switch back and forth between the two forms of metabolism, depending on a cell’s needs at the time.

The political aspect of this article is how outdated laws — on overtime, the environment, and cancer research, among others — are very difficult to fix. What do you think of “sunset provisions” for laws, where a law either has to be re-approved after a period of time, re-approved with changes or lapse? Would this result in legal chaos? I know we have enough lawyers that I’ll get an informed opinion.

Look who’s asking for work/life balance

by Rhode

So Paul Ryan did something I didn’t expect – he asked for work/life balance.

Paul Ryan’s Remarkable, Personal Demand For Becoming Speaker

While he is known as the “family man”, he’s also considering a position that will require a lot of dinners with donors, hand shaking, and kissing babies. A powerful position requiring more career and less family time.

If the Republicans accept his terms, and he becomes Speaker of the House, do you think his family-time request will become mainstream? Could this change our national view on work-life balance?

And because I have to ask – what does this mean for the Republican party?

Public Speaking

by Grace aka costofcollege

Hillary Clinton Can’t Give a Decent Speech. Does It Matter?

… Great speeches require something Clinton has refused to give: exposure, access, the illusion of intimacy….

Rhetorical skill alone has become something of an essential skill for the modern politician. It has put several of them on the map as serious presidential contenders, from Ronald Reagan to Mario Cuomo to Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren.Consider the defining campaign speeches. At the 1992 Democratic convention, Bill Clinton memorably invoked his belief in “a place called Hope,” while George H. W. Bush delivered a weak and disjointed address littered with phrases like “serious business” and “You bet.” There were Obama’s 2008 remarks on race and John F. Kennedy’s on religious freedom.

Speech making may be important to politicians, but I doubt anyone counts on beating Clinton just “because she can’t give a good speech”.  And it’s not as if many of her opponents are particularly outstanding in that department.

I agree that great public speakers give “the illusion of intimacy”, and in that way they effectively engage their audience.

Are you a good public speaker, or even a great one?  How did you build up your skills?  Or, do you fear public speaking?  How have good or bad public speaking skills affected your career or other parts of your life?  Which politicians are the best and the worst speechmakers?

Related:  “How I Overcame the Fear of Public Speaking”

Sources Of Inequality

by WCE

This article argues that parental IQ, not parental income, is the primary cause of inequality. I always appreciate analyses that look at trends in countries other than the U.S., whether that’s stock market performance or educational inequality. I also appreciate the point that society needs to value nonacademic character traits, those currently referred to as “grit”.

“All high-quality academic tests look as if they’re affluence tests. It’s inevitable. Parental IQ is correlated with children’s IQ everywhere. In all advanced societies, income is correlated with IQ. Scores on academic achievement tests are always correlated with the test-takers’ IQ. Those three correlations guarantee that every standardized academic-achievement test shows higher average test scores as parental income increases…

The more strictly that elite colleges admit students purely on the basis of academic accomplishment, the more their student bodies will be populated with the offspring of the upper-middle class and wealthy—not because their parents are rich, but because they are smart. No improvement in the SAT can do away with this underlying reality.

I haven’t used the word “meritocracy” to describe this because it doesn’t apply. Merit has nothing to do with possessing a high IQ. It is pure luck. And that leads to my reason for writing this.

As long as we insist on blaming inequality of academic outcomes on economic inequality, we will pursue policies that end up punishing children whose strengths do not lie in academics. We will continue to tell them that they will be second-class citizens if they don’t get a college degree; to encourage them to accumulate student debt only to drop out or obtain a worthless degree. Worse, we will prevent them from capitalizing on their other gifts of character, grit and the many skills that the SAT doesn’t test.”

The reason I’m sending the article, of course, is that I think Charles Murray is mostly right. But I know many people think inequality is a problem that government can or should solve. Is the role of government in reducing inequality limited to income transfers from the poor to the rich, or can the factors underlying inequality be changed more than Murray argues?

Why the SAT Isn’t a ‘Student Affluence Test’

(Google the title if the link doesn’t work)