Should We Soak the Rich? You Bet!

Sunday, October 20th, 2019

As a society, instead of playing Robin Hood to smooth out the inequities, we’ve played the Sheriff of Nottingham. Lawrence Summers, the economist and former Treasury secretary, has calculated that if we had the same income distribution today as we had in 1979, the bottom 80 percent would have about an extra $1 trillion each year and the top 1 percent would have about $1 trillion less.

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Thank God for Canada!

Thursday, February 7th, 2019

For aid programs in the developing world… Canada champions programs that are extremely cost-effective but so deathly boring that they will never be discussed on TV — initiatives like iodizing salt to prevent mental impairment…. Off the ice, Canadians pursue policies that are preternaturally sensible. Canadians regulate guns, oversee the banking sector so as to avoid financial crashes, and nurture entrepreneurship and economic growth without enormous inequality.

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Cuddle Your Kid!

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

October 20, 2012
Children in poor households grow up under constant stress, disproportionately raised by young, single mothers also under tremendous stress, and the result may be brain architecture that makes it harder for the children to thrive at school or succeed in the work force. Yet the cycle can be broken, and the implication is that the most cost-effective way to address poverty… may be early childhood education and parenting programs.

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A Poverty Solution That Starts With a Hug

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

Jan. 7, 2012
… a “policy statement” from the premier association of pediatricians… has revolutionary implications for medicine and for how we can more effectively chip away at poverty and crime. Toxic stress might arise from parental abuse of alcohol or drugs. It could occur in a home where children are threatened and beaten. It might derive from chronic neglect — a child cries without being cuddled. Affection seems to defuse toxic stress… suggesting that the stress emerges when a child senses persistent threats but no protector… The upshot is that children are sometimes permanently undermined.

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Our Lefty Military

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

June 15, 2011
As we search for paths out of America’s economic crisis, many suggest business as a paradigm for cutting costs… top C.E.O.’s earn as much as $1 a second around the clock, partly by cutting medical benefits for employees. So they must be paragons of efficiency, right? …The business sector is dazzlingly productive, but it also periodically blows up our financial system. Yet if we seek another model, one that emphasizes universal health care and educational opportunity, one that seeks to curb income inequality, we don’t have to turn to Sweden. Rather, look to the United States military.

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The Power of Mockery

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

April 16, 2011
A crucial lesson… is the power of nonviolence: “If somebody is beating you, don’t attack him. Don’t use any violence against them. Just take photos of them and put them on the Internet.”… One of the most exciting trends in the struggle against poverty and social pathologies such as crime is the use of similar youth-owned movements to change cultural norms from the bottom up… Sometimes the most powerful force for social change is a bunch of irreverent and wise-cracking students, working together.

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Equality, a True Soul Food

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

January 1, 2011
Among rich countries, those that are more unequal appear to have more mental illness, infant mortality, obesity, high school dropouts, teenage births, homicides, and so on. They find the same thing is true among the 50 American states. More unequal states, like Mississippi and Louisiana, do poorly by these social measures. More equal states, like New Hampshire and Minnesota, do far better… “Inequality is divisive, and even small differences seem to make an important difference,” Professors Wilkinson and Pickett note. They suggest that it is not just the poor who benefit from the social cohesion that comes with equality, but the entire society.

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