2018/11/18: USA is as geographically fractured as it is economically unequal. In fact, the two trends are intertwined. In separate studies, economists Rebecca Diamond and Peter Ganong and Daniel Shoag revealed a widening gap in incomes, skills and wages between low-income and high-income regions, beginning around 1980. After decades of converging, in other words, our cities and states have been growing apart. The wider the income gap grows between the regions, they show, the harder it becomes for those in service and even blue-collar jobs to afford to live in high-income, high-rent places with high-quality amenities such as clean air, good schools, low crime, strong job markets, transportation infrastructure and retail stores.
Driven out of thriving communities by those rents, people who were just getting by are surrounded by others who were also struggling, in areas that the better-off had fled. That leaves a skimpy tax base, shrunken opportunities and economic segregation.
Thus, we increasingly live in two Americas, and we vote accordingly.
Consider the stark differences in basic measures of local economic performance — employment and housing prices — between counties where the majority of votes were cast for Donald Trump and counties where the majority voted for Hillary Clinton. The average Clinton county employs seven to eight times as many workers as the average Trump county, with nearly double the market value per single-family home. In part, this difference reflects the higher population density of the urban areas, which voted disproportionately for Clinton. But as my analysis shows, it has been growing over time, as the Clinton counties outperform their Trump counterparts.
Statistically, there appears to be no significant improvement in job growth. The gap in housing price growth actually widens. In fact, the larger the Trump electorate and the larger the degree of Trump support, the worse the county’s economic performance.
2018/10/03: There is no political issue more pressing than the official inaction on climate change. With time running out to avert hundreds of millions of deaths and global migration, food, disease, and water chaos, with 73% of US voters believing in climate change (albeit with a mere 57%
In a sample of 17 debates between candidates in competitive Senate and Congressional races, Media Matters found only a single question about climate, down from 25% in the 2016 election.
This year, the US blew through all spending records coping with climate change, spending at least $306 billion coping with climate-change-driven extreme weather events. But even in states where climate change has wreaked havoc, the candidates have barely mentioned the issue (and in many cases, they didn't mention it at all).
Connecticut, which is at risk from coastal and inland flooding, has had three gubernatorial debates, without a single climate change question.
The same is true for Kansas, which is at risk from drought, increasing tornadoes, extreme heat, crop failure and inland flooding; and Maine, which is at risk from coastal and inland flooding, as well as extreme heat and drought.
Rhode Island, which is at risk from coastal flooding, extreme heat, sea level rise and inland flooding, had no climate change questions asked during a gubernatorial debate. The same is true for Texas, which faces extreme heat, increasing hurricanes, drought, wildfires, and coastal and inland flooding.
Thus far, the one instance where climate change was brought into the debate was during a gubernatorial race debate in Minnesota, which is at risk from drought and extreme heat.
2018/09/27: These stances are wildly, maybe disastrously, different. Each side casts the other as inappropriate and lionizes their own entrants into the fray. And as these narratives grow, change, and refract their way across the internet—being discussed and rehashed by people in their own corners of the political spectrum as they go—the gap between them is likely to widen. Partisan narrative has come to trump attempted objectivity. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where that’s less appropriate than when trying to determine whether a man is fit to be an objective arbiter of truth and justice for an entire nation.
3028/09/26: fellows have been charged with waging what the group calls a “massive youth intervention in the 2018 midterm elections.”
Sunrise isn’t the only youth-led group pushing for a green wave this election season.
she was determined to get voters thinking about the impact they can have on the planet where we all live.
“Their individual decisions as voters affect the rest of the world,” Chua said. “I’m part of the rest of the world.”
2018/09/10: The current standards call for studying the U.S. as an exceptional country with ideals based in “personal freedom, the inherent nature of citizens’ rights, and democratic ideals.” These were written around the same time that the controversy erupted over the revised Advanced Placement United States History standards, which involved multiple states threatening to drop the course and the Republican Party issuing a statement condemning the revision.
The challenge with the traditional American Exceptionalism theory is that the more you learn about United States history, the harder it is to defend. It’s hard to defend the idea that the United States has an exceptional record of standing for inherent citizens’ rights when you learn about American history in the era of Japanese internment camps.
The reality is that there is a fundamental duality underlying American political history, and until we fully acknowledge this duality in current public school curriculums, our classrooms will continue to offer only a partial glimpse into the past. This is not an either/or proposition — America is exceptional — but just in ways that have done both good and bad.
We can trace this duality in American history to a conundrum that dates back to the very founding of the United States: When the leaders of the Revolution chose to seek independence, they launched a movement that espoused conservative ideals, but which used radical means to achieve them. Here, I am using “conservative” in the nonpolitical sense — the goal of the leaders was to return to American colonial society as it was before the increased interference of the British crown.
Converging crises are compounding the risk that Republicans could suffer historic 2018 losses in suburban communities that could harden a starkly polarized alignment in American politics.
Precisely as sexual abuse allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh threaten to deepen the GOP's already cavernous deficit with well-educated white women, the chaos that erupted with Monday's uncertainty about the fate of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appears likely to compound the concerns of independent voters who want Congress to provide more of a check on President Donald Trump.
Even before these developments, Republicans faced a perilous environment in white-collar suburbs rooted in discontent among college-educated white voters, especially women, over Trump's tempestuous style, belligerent language and portions of his agenda. Both the Kavanaugh controversy and the Rosenstein speculation could reinforce two of the central sources of that suburban anxiety: concerns that Trump does not respect either women or the rule of law.
Yet national polls and surveys in the key state and House district battlegrounds offer much less evidence that all of these forces are meaningfully eroding Trump's support with the groups that keyed his 2016 election: particularly blue-collar, evangelical and rural whites.
Rather than a wave washing equally over all parts of the country, the 2018 election now appears more likely to produce a targeted current that widens the nation's existing geographic and demographic divisions, like a river cutting through rock.
2018/09/19: our social lives are shaped by a much stronger force that ignores many of these lines: distance.
In the millions of ties on Facebook that connect relatives, co-workers, classmates and friends, Americans are far more likely to know people nearby than in distant communities that share their politics or mirror their demographics.
The power of distance underlying these other patterns can be seen another way: If we were to divide the United States into two regions, merging counties that are most closely connected to one another, we would get a very simple map. It would not show the coasts versus the heartland, or red America versus blue America.
It would show, simply, all of the continental U.S. and Alaska in one region, and far-off Hawaii in the other. Divide the country further, and cohesive regions become clear at different scales. Northern Florida merges with southern Georgia. Texas and California splinter. Divide the country into 50 regions, and you get something that looks like how we might redraw our state borders to reflect the social worlds people in America inhabit today.
These networks are important in part because of other patterns that are correlated with them. Counties with more dispersed networks — where a smaller share of Facebook friends are located nearby, or among the nearest 50 million people — are on average richer, more educated and have longer life expectancies. Places that are more closely connected to one another also have more migration, trade and patent citations between them.
Counties that are more geographically isolated in the index are more likely to have lower labor force participation and economic mobility, and they have higher rates of teenage births. Some of the most economically distressed parts of the country appear to be the most disconnected.
Close-knit communities can have their own benefits, like enabling neighbors to rely on one another for economic and social support. But previous research suggests that “weak ties” to people we know less well can be particularly valuable for bringing us information we don’t already have. So people in communities that are more broadly connected may be more likely to hear about a wider range of business or educational opportunities.
2018/09/21: Dominated by multinational corporations that contract with local farmers, the industry is concentrated in the state's low-lying southeastern coastal plain – exactly where Florence shattered rainfall records.
Even in fair weather, the state's 2,100 facilities, all decades old, pose problems. Odor and pathogens from animal barns, waste pits, and spray fields can torment and sicken neighbors, prompting three juries this year to award hundreds of millions in damages to plaintiffs suing Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork producer. Other suits are in the offing.
A Duke University study published online this week reinforced these neighbors' concerns, citing low life expectancy in communities near confined animal feeding operations, even after adjusting for socioeconomic factors known to affect health and lifespan.
All of these threats are amplified after heavy rains. Fields saturated with rainwater can't absorb nutrients from waste pits; excess nitrogen and phosphorous instead appear in rivers and streams, at worst causing algae blooms and fish kills. Manure pits can burst or overflow, sending sludge, microbes, and potentially antibiotic-resistant bacteria into floodwaters, heightening their risk to public health.
"You're releasing all of that and making this soup of eastern North Carolina," Ryke Longest, director of Duke University's environmental law clinic, told EHN.
2018/09/16: our public school systems are barely providing basic literacy: about 1 in 7 American adults would struggle to read a children’s book. In higher ed, students last year graduated with an average of $39,400 in debt. The top 1 percent of American households today controls more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined. Our justice system puts African Americans in prison at five times the rate of whites.
And voting suppression and intimidation is everywhere — purges to voting rolls in Indiana, Texas repeatedly found guilty of discriminatory practices, gerrymandering everywhere turning Democratic votes meaningless. And Republicans are trying to pass a constitutional amendment that would require voters show a state-issued photo ID at the polls, which research, as well as common sense, tells us suppresses minority votes.
Do you ever stop and marvel how everything seems to be in crisis all at once? Or, as an African-American friend said to me recently, now everyone in America has a glimpse of what it’s like to be black.
It’s not a coincidence, of course. In the system of democratic society, all the parts are totally interdependent.
2018/09/12: after a new report revealing a more than 25% rise in U.S. suicides since 2000, some called for new antidepressants, but that only buys into the mainstream notion that "mental illness" is primarily physiological in nature, caused by a "broken" brain.
we must move beyond a focus on the individual and think of well-being as a social issue.
economic inequality could be a significant contributor to mental illness.
2018/09/14: Democracy didn’t create our problems, but it may solve them.
the extremist evils of our age are the result of anti-democratic action from the very institutions created to preserve the elite veto over "mob rule."
Yet we continue to misdiagnose America's political disease as "mob rule" rather than "elite rule." This misdiagnosis matters, because it leads to prescriptions that merely heighten the grip by elites.
An honest examination of democratic decline would look at the ways in which our counter-majoritarian institutions are thwarting the public will—as expressed through its elected representatives—and how that can create support for truly destabilizing forces.
The transformation of the GOP into a parliamentary-style party primarily responsive to donors, right-wing activists, and conservative media is arguably the central problem for American governance.
What declinist arguments like Rosen’s actually fear is the waning influence of elites. And what these arguments seem to seek - in voicing nostalgia for early American politics - is an era where elites could steer governance with only the cursory affirmation of a narrow and exclusive public.
If political and economic elites have lost their stature in American life, it’s only after a generation of profound mismanagement, from misguided foreign adventures to wage stagnation and broad economic collapse.
If we’ve seen light, it’s in those places where ordinary people have organized and begun to build new movements and new ways of democratic living.
And it seems to me as if in America, we are taught to see personal violence — but remain blind to structural and institutional violence. The American always bears on their own shoulders the risk of being left for dead, abandoned, neglected, forced into having to make terrible choices like “my mortgage or my cancer.” But the job of modern, democratic institutions and structures is precisely to prevent all that, and bear that risk — not to enforce it.
2017/03/17: No one stated their intention to create a social welfare program for white people, specifically white men, but they didn’t need to. By handing control to employers at a time when virtually every good paying job was reserved for white men the program silently accomplished that goal.
When Democrats respond to job losses with an offer to expand the public safety net, blue collar voters cringe and rebel. They are not remotely interested in sharing the public social safety net experienced by minority groups and the poorest white families. Meanwhile well-employed and affluent voters, ensconced in their system of white socialism, leverage all the power at their disposal to block any dilution of their expensive public welfare benefits. Something has to break.
We may one day recognize that we are all “in it together” and find ways to build a more stable, sensible welfare system. That will not happen unless we acknowledge the painful and sometimes embarrassing legacy that brought us to this place. Absent that reckoning, unspoken realities will continue to warp our political calculations, frustrating our best hopes and stunting our potential.
In India, American companies dominate the internet. Facebook's WhatsApp is the most popular app on phones. Virtually every smartphone runs on Google's Android system. YouTube is the favorite video platform and Amazon is the No. 2 online retailer. For some Indian political leaders, it is as being conquered by colonial powers all over again.
"As a country, we have to all grow up and say that, you know, enough of this,"
India is currently the most important country in term of defining the future of Internet policy. It sits at the fulcrum between the United States and China. As it goes, so goes the world."
Each week, TIME Magazine designs covers for four markets: the U.S., Europe, Asia and the South Pacific. Often, America's cover is quite, well - different. This week offers a stark example. ...
An interactive map shows how hospitals across the country charge Medicare different amounts for the same procedure.
It can be harder to decipher is how Americans use their land to create wealth. The 48 contiguous states alone are a 1.9 billion-acre jigsaw puzzle of cities, farms, forests and pastures that Americans use to feed themselves, power their economy and extract value for business and pleasure. July 31, 2018