- Race and Poverty in the United States – The Economic Descent of White Americans. Census data about poverty in the United States since 2000 tells a harrowing tale of economic decline among non-Hispanic white Americans. The economic gap between non-Hispanic whites and Hispanic-Americans, African-Americans, and Asian-Americans has diminished, but largely because of the deteriorating condition of non-Hispanic whites, not because Hispanic- Americans, African-Americans, and Asian-Americans have greatly prospered. Here are some key data points: Between 2000 and 2015, the poverty rate for non-Hispanic whites increased from 8.12 percent to 10.35 percent. At the same time, the poverty rate for African-Americans held steady, with a modest increase from 24.90 percent to 25.39 percent. In the same 15-year span, the poverty rate for Hispanic or Latino Americans barely shifted, with a rate of 22.63 percent in 2000 and a rate of 22.59 percent in 2015. Finally, the poverty rate for Asian-Americans was 12.60 percent in 2000 and 12.02 percent in 2015. Deeper data dives into demographic and geographic slices indicate this pattern persists across nearly every age group and every state.
- Analogies for Our Time – The Spanish Civil War. Many analogies exist, in history and in literature, for our straining efforts to account for our inverted times. Our instincts are to obey our laws, trust our institutions, have faith in our leaders. But in these times, fealty to our laws, institutions, and leaders risks our destruction as a nation, if not as a species. We already know about The Handmaid’s Tale. We know about 1984 and other dystopian literature. We should consider The Caine Mutiny. But perhaps the historical analogy that best fits our times is the Spanish Civil War.
- Judicial Appointments – How Republicans Entirely Own Democrats. The Democratic Party failure to grasp the strategic political importance of the federal judiciary for achieving their long-term policy goals remains one of the untold stories of liberal incompetence. Two recent articles (linked below) offer some of the gory details. But the key point is that “progressives” continue to under-appreciate the jurisprudential underpinnings of power, which is to say that courts, and judges, matter enormously in shaping the boundaries of political and policy options and possibilities. Even moreso, given the (typically) lifetime status of a federal judicial appointment. Just crazy to ponder this blind spot, which the Federalist Society has for years exploited.
- White Racism: A Psychohistory (Joel Kovel, 1970). Nearly 50 years out, and probably still the best book ever published on the psychological underpinnings of aversive racism. Out of print, but a must-purchase if you see it in a thrift store or used bookstore. The debate between reviewer Robert Coles and Joel Kovel in the NY Review of Books in 1971-72 sadly evokes the arguments we continue to wage about the racism and “racists” in 2017. We have not traveled far in the last 50 years.
- Seattle Mayoral Primary. The top 4 leaders in Seattle mayoral primary (in a field of 15) are women, with a total of 72 percent of the vote. In November, the top 2 leaders will face off in the election to select the city’s next mayor, who will be the first female mayor in the city since 1926. I’m looking forward to the day when most elected officials are women.
- The Fantastic Observatory of Economic Complexity. Check out the Observatory of Economic Complexity at the MIT Media Lab for the most mind-bending, intuitive visual display of interactive data you’ll find anywhere on the web. The OEC displays product import and export data for nations and products.
Other similarly cool data visualization products built on top of the D3plus visualization engine, include Data USA, Data Viva, and Data Africa.