Viewing entries tagged
Ideology and Politics

With Liberty, Justice, and More Disposable Income for All

In 1960, food, clothing, housing, healthcare, and transportation accounted for 86% of household spending. That left just 14% for everything else. In 2017, food, clothing, housing, and healthcare accounted for 73% of household spending… Progress has been made.

Which Legacy Counts? The Case of Racial Differences in Homeownership, Part II

According to a 2006 HUD report covering the period of 1990 - 2003, close to half of low-income buyers did not sustain home ownership for more than five years. However, HUD found no evidence that first-time buyers were systematically using higher cost or riskier mortgage products during this period. Instead the report noted that “the share of low-income home buyers with severe payment burdens (over half of income) rose from 14.5% of buyers in the first part of the 1990s to 20.1% by 2003”.

Which Legacy Counts? The Case of Racial Differences in Homeownership, Part I

So many questions! For instance, why do government policies that ended over 50 years ago count more towards the “legacy” than more recent policies? Is homeownership a necessary condition for social mobility? When does homeownership undermine social mobility? How much does wealth facilitate social mobility? What other factors come into play?

How Owning a Small Business Changes One's Politics (Update)

Which is why it makes total sense to me that small business owners are more likely to be Republicans than Democrats. One, the vast majority of small business owners work long hours – so the Republican emphasis on hard work resonates with them. Two, the vast majority of small business owners make less than $100K a year; they don’t see themselves as part of an “elite establishment” but as hard-working common folk pursuing the American Dream – another Republican theme. Three, over two-thirds of small businesses fail within 10 years, so owners are sensitive to government policies that impact their bottom line.  Four, even when small businesses beat the odds, it typically takes decades for owners to strike it rich.  As far as these lucky few are concerned, their riches are deserved, not the result of unfair privilege.

How We Think about Luck, Hard Work, and Social Justice: It's All Related

While disagreements about the importance of luck versus work are often framed as matters of degree, there is a school of thought that subsumes hard work within the higher-order category of luck - basically reducing the role of hard work to zero. The argument goes something like this: yeah, some people work really hard to get where they are, but the reason they’re able to work so hard is because they were lucky enough to have been born into privileged circumstances (e.g., parents, neighborhood, schools, connections). In other words, it all boils down to luck.

Neither Right Nor Left Nor In-Between: Thinking Outside The Line

There is no natural connection between being pro-business and anti-environment. Nor natural connection between embracing gender fluidity and advocating for a more generous social welfare system. Nor between being a fiscal conservative and an evangelical Christian. These political orientations are correlated in the US, not because they “naturally” go together but because the American system of government favors a two-party system, which is turn favors broad coalitions. This is not the case in European countries with strong multi-party traditions, where you find much greater mixing of political views than in the US.

What's Worse: Our Side Losing or Their Side Winning?

So on one side we have a racist president who has pushed some decent policies that have improved the lives of most Americans. On the other, we have …the Democrats, who promise to undo those policies and usher in the new era of Payback. Then again Trump doesn’t care about the environment or the possibility of climate change….

Astrology, Political Attitudes and Party Affiliation

…twice as many Democrats as Republicans consider astrology “very” scientific and Republicans are more likely than Democrats to consider astrology “not at all” scientific. What’s going on here? Is there a solid scientific case for believing in astrology?

Behind The Headlines: "Wealthy Opponents of New Shelter Claim Homeless Are Bad for Environment"


“This project will have a significant effect on the environment due to these unusual circumstances, including by attracting additional homeless persons, open drug and alcohol use, crime, daily emergency calls, public urination and defecation, and other nuisances,” the lawsuit states.

Opponents of the shelter have long said that their ultimate concern is public safety, a point that homeless rights advocates have argued was bigoted and dehumanizing.

Language and Power: The Case of "Himpathy"

…Kate Manne introduces the word “himpathy” to describe “the inappropriate and disproportionate sympathy powerful men often enjoy in cases of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, homicide and other misogynistic behavior.”

Fact-Checking The Democratic Debates: Statements about the US Economy

Politicians run on platforms, which are statements of goals, problems, and proposed policies that aim to achieve the goals by fixing the problems. I often share the stated goals of both Republican and Democratic politicians. Yes to widespread prosperity! What’s more likely to give me pause is their take on what’s wrong with this country and what to do about it. Consider, for example, how Democratic candidates discussed economic issues in last week’s debates:

Trends in US Hate Crimes: 2005-2017

The FBI compiles detailed stats on US hate crimes, based on data submitted by thousands of law enforcement agencies covering most of the US population. News outlets and politicians often cite the FBI data as proof that hate crimes are increasing in the age of Trump. So let’s look at the data!

Political Rhetoric and The US Healthcare System: Demonizing Insurance Companies

“Look at the business model of an insurance company. It’s to bring in as many dollars as they can in premiums and to pay out as few dollars as possible for your health care. That leaves families with rising premiums, rising co-pays, and fighting with insurance companies to try to get the health care that their doctors say that they and their children need.” Elizabeth Warren, quoted by Jack Cassidy/New Yorker in The First Democratic Debate Shuns Donald Trump in Favor of Substance June 27, 2019

How Much Do CEOs Get Paid And Why

Per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 195,530 chief executives in 2018, with a mean annual salary of $200,140. That doesn’t seem unfairly high, given that the mean annual compensation for physicians in 2018 was $299,000.  But the CEO pay that gets people riled up isn’t what run-of-the-mill chief executives get, it’s the CEOs pulling in millions working for the top companies. For instance, the $14 million average annual compensation paid to S&P 500 CEOs…

Behind The Headlines: Are Millennials Being Crushed by Student Debt?

The basic theme in these stories is that college has become so expensive that students increasingly rely on loans to fund their education and the resulting burden of student debt has kept millennials from realizing the American Dream of home ownership and wealth accumulation…. I decided to investigate the matter further.