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Politics and Economics

Crossing the Southwest Border from 2000-2018: Are There Any Clear Patterns?

No doubt these Central American countries remain violent and unsafe - but the changing numbers of families leaving for the US appear unrelated to homicides rates. Guatemala in particular has seen declining homicides for a decade and has a much lower homicide rate than El Salvador and Honduras, yet the number of Guatemalan families apprehended at the border has skyrocketed over the past three years

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

Household Income in the US: What's Changed Since 1979?

…Of course, the most affluent households did a lot better than the rest (228% cumulative income growth for the top 1%). But even the lowest income group made significant gains (69% cumulative income growth), mostly because their taxes went down and government transfers became increasingly generous during this period.

How to Pay for The Adult Student Basic Income

Poverty, income volatility, job instability, and lack of social mobility are real problems in the US. While most Americans manage to climb the socioeconomic ladder to achieve a decent version of the American Dream, some get stuck on the lower rungs. They need help.

What To Do With Extra Tax Revenue: Some Suggestions

This post is not about tax rates. Higher tax rates don’t necessarily translate into additional tax revenue, because tax rates interact with economic behavior in complicated ways. That discussion is for another post. This post is about how to use the gift of extra tax revenue.

What To Do About Chronic Homelessness in California: A Suggestion, Part II

Now for the pricing plan. HUD already has rent-subsidy programs that cover up to a third of rent. The big California cities also provide rent subsidies. For instance, in the opening quote, Major Breed’s rent subsidy plan worked out to $6,000 per year per housing unit. That’s pretty reasonable. But subsidizing residential hotel units would be even cheaper. Check it out…

What To Do About Chronic Homelessness in California: A Suggestion, Part I

Consider: San Francisco had 65,000 residential hotel units in 1910, compared to around 19,000 units today. These were teeny rooms (typically 8 x10 feet) with barely enough space for a bed and a dresser (bathroom down the hall) but at least they offered shelter and safety from the streets. Many of the individuals who lived in these units were single men with problems that plague the chronically homeless today: substance abuse, mental illness, disability. Just like today.

The difference is they had a place to stay.

The Dark Side of Empathy

Empathy is also associated with ingroup bias and outgroup antagonism. One is more likely to feel the joys and sorrows of some people more than others, especially if they’re the same ethnicity.

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…