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May 05 2015

TBC: Morning Musing 5.5.15

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Before you get started on your margaritas, I have 3 articles for you this morning!

First up, we can only hope:

FORGIVE THEM, FATHER

The ambassadors of denial are nervous that the tone of our cultural conversation is about to shift. Their worst fear is that Francis might successfully disabuse religious conservatives of a longstanding and pernicious myth: that climate change should be thought of as a splinter issue, and that belief in climate science and support for environmental action signify membership in the “enemy camp.” So long as climate deniers can maintain the charade of Us vs. Them, their well-funded dissembling machine keeps on rolling. But if the Pope actually manages to bring people together-and so far his track record on that front is pretty good-the whole thing could fall apart.

Jump!

Next up, some truth:

Why Screwing Unions Screws the Entire Middle Class

They did far more than that, though. As historian Kim Phillips-Fein puts it, “The strength of unions in postwar America had a profound impact on all people who worked for a living, even those who did not belong to a union themselves.” (Emphasis mine.) Wages went up, even at nonunion companies. Health benefits expanded, private pensions rose, and vacations became more common. It was unions that made the American economy work for the middle class, and it was their later decline that turned the economy upside-down and made it into a playground for the business and financial classes.

(snip)

The first is this: Income inequality has grown dramatically since the mid-’70s-far more in the US than in most advanced countries-and the gap is only partly related to college grads outperforming high-school grads. Rather, the bulk of our growing inequality has been a product of skyrocketing incomes among the richest 1 percent and-even more dramatically-among the top 0.1 percent. It has, in other words, been CEOs and Wall Street traders at the very tippy-top who are hoovering up vast sums of money from everyone, even those who by ordinary standards are pretty well off.

Second, American politicians don’t care much about voters with moderate incomes. Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels studied the voting behavior of US senators in the early ’90s and discovered that they respond far more to the desires of high-income groups than to anyone else. By itself, that’s not a surprise. He also found that Republicans don’t respond at all to the desires of voters with modest incomes. Maybe that’s not a surprise, either. But this should be: Bartels found that Democratic senators don’t respond to the desires of these voters, either. At all.

Finally, a sad look at the state of our Fourth Estate:

Press freedom is declining in the US

Today the world recognizes World Press Freedom Day. Instituted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), its purpose, according to the U.N., is to “celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.” The issues of quality reporting, media independence and the safety of journalists are as relevant today as ever, especially in the United States.

So how you doin’?  😀