Don’t blame religion for poltical violence
Dec09

Don’t blame religion for poltical violence

I haven’t posted at TMV for a while, which is a shame, because it is where I got started writing earlier this year. I’m posting today because another TMV blogger enjoyed an article I wrote for Salon that is published below. The piece has sparked a great and fascinating (for me) debate. You can read my ripostes here, here, here and here. Religion has once again become the “opiate of the people.” But this time, instead of...

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The Best Argument for the Minimum Wage is Moral, not Economic
Aug08

The Best Argument for the Minimum Wage is Moral, not Economic

Economists on left has aptly noted that productivity has increased dramatically over the past 30 years, with no similar increase in wages (Schmitt). Others (Card and Krueger, but more recently Dube et al) have noted that apocalyptic predictions of mass unemployment have proved wrong in the past. Economists of the middle-out persuasion have shown how a higher minimum wage would stimulate demand. But this isn’t something that...

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Milton Friedman: Father of the Tea Party?
Aug01

Milton Friedman: Father of the Tea Party?

Yesterday was the 101st anniversary of Milton Friedman’s birth, and it will be widely celebrated among the vast number of Americans who march in Tea Parties and wear tricorn hats in public. He will be hailed by the vast number of “libertarian populists” now burgeoning within the Republican ranks. But the new “libertarian populism” is increasingly at odds with the possibility of a shared future. Libertarian populists love markets. One...

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Solving the Student Loan Crisis is Only the First Step
Jul26

Solving the Student Loan Crisis is Only the First Step

Congress will likely hammer out some sort of deal, which Republicans will love and Democrats will be forced to swallow, but it’s worth considering whether we view education in entirely the wrong way here in America. In Britain, where my girlfriend lives, students don’t begin paying off their loans until they find stable employment, and the cost is in proportion to their earnings. Australia similarly ties the cost of paying off the...

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Patent Trolls Aren’t the Problem, Patents Are
Jul22

Patent Trolls Aren’t the Problem, Patents Are

As Republican obstruction kills immigration reform, the next problem Congress and the president will try and fail to fix is the patent system. Specifically, they’ll target “patent trolls,” companies that buy patents and use them to create endless litigation. But the larger problem they fail to see is that America’s patent regime is based upon a flawed model of innovation and will hamper innovation, while increasing inequality. The...

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Should Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Face the Death Penalty?
Jul17

Should Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Face the Death Penalty?

The acquittal of Zimmerman has taken up most of the news coverage this week. But with the constant desire for some trial to fill the news cycle, we’ll soon be engulfed in discussion about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The first and most important question will be: should he face the death penalty? Tsarnaev is incredibly young, and give the slow development of the prefrontal cortex (key to rational decision-making) the Tsarnaev in prison at age...

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Congress Must Address the Student Loan Crisis
Jul16

Congress Must Address the Student Loan Crisis

Congress must lower student loan rates to reinvigorate the economy, invest in America’s future and foster the American dream. For many students, like my brother about to head to UConn, the interest rates on student loans will determine how long he remains under the burden of debt. For other students, it may decide whether college or graduate school is even a viable option. Broader access to college, which is made possible by low...

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What the Farm Bill Really Means
Jul12

What the Farm Bill Really Means

The failed farm bill has largely been viewed in light of immigration reform and congressional dysfunction, but it also underlies another spectre: the weakening farm lobby. Since our nation’s founding, farmers (originally slave-owners) have had an unequal voice. The senate, for instance, is made up of two representatives from every state, no matter how large or small. The electoral college was designed to give small states a voice, and...

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End the Death Penalty
Jul09

End the Death Penalty

The United States needs to abolish the death penalty. It’s archaic, costly, ineffective, and most importantly, unjust. The first place to start with the death penalty may be philosophical. The purpose of our criminal justice system is to deter crime, rehabilitate convicts, and incapacitate hardened criminals. Philosophically speaking, life in prison serves these functions better than the death penalty. Life imprisonment is certainly a...

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A Citizen’s Guide to Debating About Inequality
Jul08

A Citizen’s Guide to Debating About Inequality

Here is a citizen’s guide to debunking a half-dozen absurdities and myths you’ll hear about inequality. 1) CLAIM: “The poor are doing just fine!” Example: Robert Rector: In 2005, the typical household defined as poor by the government had a car and air conditioning. For entertainment, the household had two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR. If there were children, especially boys, in the home, the...

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American’s Awful, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Prison System
Jul01

American’s Awful, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Prison System

The United States prison system is a blight for the country. The International Center for Prison Studies estimates that America imprisons 716 people per 100,000 citizens (of any age). That compares (unfavorably) with Russia (484), China (121) and Iran (284). Over two and a half million American children have a parent behind bars. A whopping 60% percent of those incarcerated in U.S. prisons are non-violent offenders, many of them in...

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The Supreme Court Overstates Racial Progress
Jun27

The Supreme Court Overstates Racial Progress

There is a common thread in both of the Court’s last two decisions: an appeal to illusory racial progress. In Fisher v. University of Texas Kennedy argues that it may be time to replace race-based affirmative action with another system, “Strict scrutiny imposes on the university the ultimate burden of demonstrating, before turning to racial classifications, that available, workable race-neutral alternatives do not...

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Elbert Guillory’s Confused History
Jun21

Elbert Guillory’s Confused History

Elbert Guillory, a formerly Democratic state legislator from Louisiana, released this confusing explanation for why he is now a Republican. The video includes these gems: Frederick Douglass called Republicans the ‘Party of freedom and progress,’ and the first Republican president was Abraham Lincoln, the author of the Emancipation Proclamation. It was the Republicans in Congress who authored the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth...

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ALEC-Laffer Ranks Are About Ideology, Not Economic Policy
Jun18

ALEC-Laffer Ranks Are About Ideology, Not Economic Policy

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) released its 2013 Rich State, Poor State rankings in May. The report ranks states by “economic outlook,” but by the report’s standards a positive economic outlook is narrowly defined by the extremity of regional anti-worker laws and regulations. ALEC’s metrics are more concerned with ideology than economic growth, prioritizing twisted value judgments over facts. ALEC’s selective...

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Walmart has Ruthlessly Exploited its Workers for Years
Jun04

Walmart has Ruthlessly Exploited its Workers for Years

Walmart has a long history of evading the law, abusing its workers, and suppressing strikes through illegal means. This week, OUR Walmart (Organization United for Respect) is beginning the first sustained strike against Walmart, and it’s about time. News of the strike arrives just as Walmart is facing public scrutiny for dumping toxic sludge into California’s sanitary sewers. Walmart has also been in the news over the last several...

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It’s a Holiday in Denmark
May31

It’s a Holiday in Denmark

Bernie Sanders has discovered utopia: Denmark. The small country has managed to provide universal health care, extensive parental leave, and generous vacation and unemployment benefits. The result: happiness, equality, and social mobility. This strikes at the core of the American fallacy: the idea that decadent wealth and abject poverty provide an incentive for the poor to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. It turns out that...

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Michele Bachmann Did Nothing – Literally
May29

Michele Bachmann Did Nothing – Literally

Joe has a great summary of the varied reactions to Bachmann’s departure. This article from the Economist blog disuses what she actually did (hint: nothing): But hollowness, alas, is Mrs Bachmann’s legacy. Her brief seven-year tenure in Congress has been heat without light. She has chaired neither a committee nor a subcommittee. Of the 58 bills she sponsored or co-sponsored, precisely one passed the full House: a repeal of...

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How to Spin a Genocide
May29

How to Spin a Genocide

The Rios Montt trial set back a month and will now likely collapse, a sad day for international justice. But for neoconservatives, the decision is good news, because Reagan’s shady connections with Montt have been exposed (for the few willing to discover them). And yet some on the right are still trying to protect Montt and Reagan – here’s how you spin a genocide. J. Michael Waller calls blaming the U.S. “easy propaganda.” He writes...

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More Guns Laws, Less Crime
May21

More Guns Laws, Less Crime

Gun rights advocates are jumping at recent polls showing that gun violence has decreased and the public is unaware of this phenomenon. Rush Limbaugh argues that, “as America arms up, gun violence goes down,” parroting the infamous book by Dr. John Lott, More Guns, Less Crime. Emily Miller argues in the Washington Times that, liberals have been “muzzled” by the news. But, in fact, research shows that those who oppose gun control ask...

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Drones: Made in America, Sold to Militaries Everywhere
May17

Drones: Made in America, Sold to Militaries Everywhere

We’ve known for a while that drones are becoming ubiquitous, sadly, two years before the FAA will have any rules. Already, the military is using drones to terrorize Yemeni villagers and police officers to spy. But with the recent Silicon Valley interest and boom in drones comes worrying questions. The U.S. drone program has always been a bit shady. We know, for instance that the U.S. gained access to Pakistani airspace by covertly...

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