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Opinion | Be Afraid of Economic ‘Bigness.’ Be Very Afraid. - The New York Times
"There are many differences between the situation in 1930s and our predicament today. But given what we know, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that we are conducting a dangerous economic and political experiment: We have chosen to weaken the laws — the antitrust laws — that are meant to resist the concentration of economic power in the United States and around the world.

From a political perspective, we have recklessly chosen to tolerate global monopolies and oligopolies in finance, media, airlines, telecommunications and elsewhere, to say nothing of the growing size and power of the major technology platforms. In doing so, we have cast aside the safeguards that were supposed to protect democracy against a dangerous marriage of private and public power.

Unfortunately, there are abundant signs that we are suffering the consequences, both in the United States and elsewhere. There is a reason that extremist, populist leaders like Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, Xi Jinping of China and Viktor Orban of Hungary have taken center stage, all following some version of the same script. And here in the United States, we have witnessed the anger borne of ordinary citizens who have lost almost any influence over economic policy — and by extension, their lives. The middle class has no political influence over their stagnant wages, tax policy, the price of essential goods or health care. This powerlessness is brewing a powerful feeling of outrage."



"In recent years, we have allowed unhealthy consolidations of hospitals and the pharmaceutical industry; accepted an extraordinarily concentrated banking industry, despite its repeated misfeasance; failed to prevent firms like Facebook from buying up their most effective competitors; allowed AT&T to reconsolidate after a well-deserved breakup in the 1980s; and the list goes on. Over the last two decades, more than 75 percent of United States industries have experienced an increase in concentration, while United States public markets have lost almost 50 percent of their publicly traded firms.

There is a direct link between concentration and the distortion of democratic process. As any undergraduate political science major could tell you, the more concentrated an industry — the fewer members it has — the easier it is to cooperate to achieve its political goals. A group like the middle class is hopelessly disorganized and has limited influence in Congress. But concentrated industries, like the pharmaceutical industry, find it easy to organize to take from the public for their own benefit. Consider the law preventing Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices: That particular lobbying project cost the industry more than $100 million — but it returns some $15 billion a year in higher payments for its products.

We need to figure out how the classic antidote to bigness — the antitrust and other antimonopoly laws — might be recovered and updated to address the specific challenges of our time. For a start, Congress should pass a new Anti-Merger Act reasserting that it meant what it said in 1950, and create new levels of scrutiny for mega-mergers like the proposed union of T-Mobile and Sprint.

But we also need judges who better understand the political as well as economic goals of antitrust. We need prosecutors willing to bring big cases with the courage of trustbusters like Theodore Roosevelt, who brought to heel the empires of J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller, and with the economic sophistication of the men and women who challenged AT&T and Microsoft in the 1980s and 1990s. Europe needs to do its part as well, blocking more mergers, especially those like Bayer’s recent acquisition of Monsanto that threaten to put entire global industries in just a few hands.

The United States seems to constantly forget its own traditions, to forget what this country at its best stands for. We forget that America pioneered a kind of law — antitrust — that in the words of Roosevelt would “teach the masters of the biggest corporations in the land that they were not, and would not be permitted to regard themselves as, above the law.” We have forgotten that antitrust law had more than an economic goal, that it was meant fundamentally as a kind of constitutional safeguard, a check against the political dangers of unaccountable private power.

As the lawyer and consumer advocate Robert Pitofsky warned in 1979, we must not forget the economic origins of totalitarianism, that “massively concentrated economic power, or state intervention induced by that level of concentration, is incompatible with liberal, constitutional democracy.”"
timwu  economics  monopolies  history  bigness  scale  size  2018  telecommunications  healthcare  medicine  governance  democracy  fascism  government  influence  power  bigpharma  law  legal  robertpitofsky  consolidation  mergers  lobbying  middleclass  class  inequality 
4 days ago by robertogreco
Here's Fresh Evidence Student Loans Are a Massive, Generational Scam - VICE
"Over the centuries, America has bestowed generous, state-sponsored privileges upon select classes of its citizens. Veterans and old people get free socialized healthcare—and, for the most part, they love it. Corporations (who count as people, look it up) get sweet tax breaks and, in the case of defense contractors, no-bid deals to build extremely expensive weapons unlikely to be used in the near future. And young people get thousands and thousands of dollars of student loans to pay for college, putting them in a hole they might spend the rest of their lives digging out of.

Obviously, one of these things is not like the others—the United States has put many students in the position of making decisions that can determine their financial futures when they're teenagers. This has nightmarish consequences: Some 44 million people have $1.5 trillion in student loan debt on the books. And even when young people do get through college and find a decent job, many can't fathom possibly buying a home or taking on other trappings of adulthood when faced with decades of monthly loan bills.

The worst part is that those who sought an elite education on the widely accepted notion that it would help them later in life were basically sold a bad bill of goods.

All that debt provides awfully little payoff in terms of boosted wages, even as it ensnares more and more people and hits youth of color especially hard, according to a new paper released Tuesday by two researchers at the left-leaning Roosevelt Institute. Research fellows Julie Margetta Morgan and Marshall Steinbaum concluded that more and more debt hasn't significantly boosted income for college grads—it just seems that way because high school grads without BAs are making less than they once did. They also found that looking at decent rates of repayment by student debtors is a misleading way to look at the scale of this crisis. And thanks to workers lacking the power they once enjoyed in an increasingly skill-obsessed economy, young people are often being pressured into getting extra degrees on their own dime (which is to say by taking on more debt) for minimal payoff.

For some perspective on how America let student loans get so out of control, why taking on debt is so often a mistake, and what we can do about it, I called co-author Julie Margetta Morgan for a chat.

VICE: Why do you think this has been allowed to get so bad, to the point not only that it's widely known as a crisis, but one that gets worse and worse?

[A] Julie Margetta Morgan: We have seen the overall amount of student debt grow and we've seen some of the industries around repayment get worse over time, although default rates recently got a little bit better. But I think that the reason why it's sort of been allowed to exist as this quiet crisis is that there's not a lot of agreement among experts that, on the whole, student debt is getting worse. I think that's because experts primarily look at measures around successful repayment of the loan as the target. And in this paper we try to take a slightly different look. First of all we interrogate those questions around repayments themselves—so we have a section around, like, experts have said that student debt is not a bigger burden now than it was a generation ago. And yet if you delve into the figures a little bit deeper you can see that, in fact, it is worse—the burden is worse but the repayment plans are slightly better, which masks the burden on students.

So part of what we're trying to do here is combat some of the common wisdom in the higher education policy world—what we tend to hear is: Yeah, students are taking on a lot of debt but ultimately that debt is worth it because their degrees are paying off in the long run. And we're finding that that's not necessarily true.

[Q] Is the most radical conclusion you reached here that the increased debt burden people are bearing is not paying off in terms of boosted income? Or is that already well known?

[A] That higher education is not paying off in terms of overall changes in the distribution of income is definitely apparent to labor economists but not necessarily apparent to higher education policy experts and those who advocate on behalf of students, because we are so often fed the college earnings premium as the single measure of whether college pays off over time. Yes of course college still pays off, but it pays off because it's becoming less and less viable for someone to make a living with just a high-school diploma. It's no longer this thing of, I'd like to earn a higher income, I guess I'll go to college. It's like, I have to go to college in order to not end up in poverty—and I'm also forced to take on debt to get there.

[Q] Is there any evidence that, thanks to income growth in the last year or two, college debt is paying off more than it did?

[A] It remains to be seen, but I'm not sure that it's a good idea for us to tie higher education policy—how we fund college—to the swings of the labor market. Our focus should be on taking the risk off of the individual and spreading it across the public, because the public is getting a lot of the benefit of college degrees.

[Q] Have you seen any indicators that people—including the communities hit hardest by college debt—might actively be avoiding college because of the specter of endless debt?

[A] We have lower levels of college attainment already among African American and Latino populations and we do see polls that suggest people are more and more skeptical of the value of college. And that's exactly the result we don't want to see. We don't want to see the people already discriminated against in the labor market avoiding going to college.

The other trend that comes to mind is this trend of programs that we would have previously considered trade programs, whether they're now being offered at for-profit colleges or as industry credentials that are trying to become part of the mainstream higher education system and get access to the loans. So there's a world in which people are trying to avoid getting the loans but the loans are actually following them to these trade programs.

[Q] But given that discrimination, is it not rational to—in some cases—calculate against attending college given the massive debt burden and how it hits some communities extra hard?

[A] I think it's absolutely at an individual level a rational decision that we're seeing people make. And at a national level we ought to be concerned about that and looking to change policies so people don't have to make that decision.

[Q] I know one of your aims here was to reinforce that this is a worse crisis than people think, but isn't the problem that Republicans just don't care?

[A] There's obviously a group of policymakers who don't want to deal with it. But I think there's another subset of policymakers who are looking at the student debt crisis through the lens of repayment—that the goal is to ensure that people can repay their loans. Keeping people out of default shouldn't be the biggest goal we set for ourselves.

If student debt is a crisis, is the answer that we should have less student debt? Or just that people are able to make their monthly payments? Our answer is that we should have less debt overall.

[Q] Part of your paper is about how workers keep getting pressured to gain new degrees and credentials that load them up with debt—all because they have no power. Is this about unions disappearing, or what would help there?

[A] Certainly the declining power of unions is one part of it. The lack of say for average workers in the decision-making at the companies they work for, the increase in corporate concentration within the economy—the rise of monopoly power makes it harder for workers to have a say, because there are fewer employers. And back during the recession, the scarcity of jobs made it harder for employees to have power and negotiate for themselves.

[Q] It's hard not to read the paper and feel like taking on student loans is maybe (very often) a mistake or even that the larger system is a scam. Even when students are not being preyed upon by for-profit schools or predatory lenders, the whole seems flimsy or even fraudulent. Is that unreasonable?

[A] I don't think it's unreasonable. I think of it as a failed social experiment that young people are caught in the middle of. It wasn't intentionally sold like a scam, but the way young people experience this is they were told: You go to college, you study, don't worry so much about how much it costs, it's going to be worth it in the end. And they get out on the other side, they have a ton of debt, they are working as hard as they can, but they're not getting ahead—they're treading water. They're making payments on their debt, but not able to buy a house, they're not able to save for retirement. You were sold on a promise, you come out on the other hand that that promise was false, and everybody looks at you like, What's wrong?

One of the things I thought was so exciting about writing this paper is it puts data to that deep frustration that we see in younger generations right now.

[Q] It doesn't seem likely that we'll see a major overhaul of the system in DC right now, with unified Republican control. But what can and should be done, the next time Democrats have control of the government, or in the meantime?

[A] There are things we can do right now. it's encouraging to see what's happening in the courts—some great student advocates and lawyers have taken action to make sure the [Education Secretary Betsy] DeVos administration at least enforces rules on the books to help get student loan cancellation for a smaller group of borrowers and limit predatory practices at for-profit schools.

As we look to the future, we have to think a lot bigger. We should be looking at both free and debt-free options for college. Free college at public universities and more debt-free options for students. That's how we take care of generations… [more]
studentloans  health  healthcare  inequality  2018  economics  socialsafetynet  society  us  education  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  juliemargettamorgan  marshallsteinbaum  debt  income  policy  politics  labor  markets  capitalism  work  unions 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
Offering a more progressive definition of freedom
"Pete Buttigieg is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He is a progressive Democrat, Rhodes scholar, served a tour of duty in Afghanistan during his time as mayor, and is openly gay. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone [https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/pete_buttigieg-36-year-old-mayor-south-bend-indiana-2020-713662/ ], Buttigieg talked about the need for progressives to recast concepts that conservatives have traditionally “owned” — like freedom, family, and patriotism — in more progressive terms.
You’ll hear me talk all the time about freedom. Because I think there is a failure on our side if we allow conservatives to monopolize the idea of freedom — especially now that they’ve produced an authoritarian president. But what actually gives people freedom in their lives? The most profound freedoms of my everyday existence have been safeguarded by progressive policies, mostly. The freedom to marry who I choose, for one, but also the freedom that comes with paved roads and stop lights. Freedom from some obscure regulation is so much more abstract. But that’s the freedom that conservatism has now come down to.

Or think about the idea of family, in the context of everyday life. It’s one thing to talk about family values as a theme, or a wedge — but what’s it actually like to have a family? Your family does better if you get a fair wage, if there’s good public education, if there’s good health care when you need it. These things intuitively make sense, but we’re out of practice talking about them.

I also think we need to talk about a different kind of patriotism: a fidelity to American greatness in its truest sense. You think about this as a local official, of course, but a truly great country is made of great communities. What makes a country great isn’t chauvinism. It’s the kinds of lives you enable people to lead. I think about wastewater management as freedom. If a resident of our city doesn’t have to give it a second thought, she’s freer.


Clean drinking water is freedom. Good public education is freedom. Universal healthcare is freedom. Fair wages are freedom. Policing by consent is freedom. Gun control is freedom. Fighting climate change is freedom. A non-punitive criminal justice system is freedom. Affirmative action is freedom. Decriminalizing poverty is freedom. Easy & secure voting is freedom. This is an idea of freedom I can get behind."
petebuttigieg  freedom  democracy  2018  jasonkottke  everyday  life  living  progressive  progress  progressivism  education  water  healthcare  universalhealthcare  health  climatechange  politics  policy  poverty  inequality  decriminalization  voting  affirmitiveaction  guncontrol  liberation  work  labor  salaries  wages  economics  socialism  policing  police  lawenforcement  consent  patriotism  wealth  family 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Wrongest Profession | Dean Baker
[via: https://economicsociology.org/2018/07/21/bb-populism-rostows-economics-and-vietnam-war-informal-economy-grows-universities-privatization-failures-deficit-hawks-deceive-you-inequality-one-sided-economists/ ]

"How economists have botched the promise of widely distributed prosperity—and why they have no intention of stopping now"



"OVER THE PAST TWO DECADES, the economics profession has compiled an impressive track record of getting almost all the big calls wrong. In the mid-1990s, all the great minds in the field agreed that the unemployment rate could not fall much below 6 percent without triggering spiraling inflation. It turns out that the unemployment rate could fall to 4 percent as a year-round average in 2000, with no visible uptick in the inflation rate.

As the stock bubble that drove the late 1990s boom was already collapsing, leading lights in Washington were debating whether we risked paying off the national debt too quickly. The recession following the collapse of the stock bubble took care of this problem, as the gigantic projected surpluses quickly turned to deficits. The labor market pain from the collapse of this bubble was both unpredicted and largely overlooked, even in retrospect. While the recession officially ended in November 2001, we didn’t start creating jobs again until the fall of 2003. And we didn’t get back the jobs we lost in the downturn until January 2005. At the time, it was the longest period without net job creation since the Great Depression.

When the labor market did finally begin to recover, it was on the back of the housing bubble. Even though the evidence of a bubble in the housing sector was plainly visible, as were the junk loans that fueled it, folks like me who warned of an impending housing collapse were laughed at for not appreciating the wonders of modern finance. After the bubble burst and the financial crisis shook the banking system to its foundations, the great minds of the profession were near unanimous in predicting a robust recovery. Stimulus was at best an accelerant for the impatient, most mainstream economists agreed—not an essential ingredient of a lasting recovery.

While the banks got all manner of subsidies in the form of loans and guarantees at below-market interest rates, all in the name of avoiding a second Great Depression, underwater homeowners were treated no better than the workers waiting for a labor market recovery. The Obama administration felt it was important for homeowners, unlike the bankers, to suffer the consequences of their actions. In fact, white-collar criminals got a holiday in honor of the financial crisis; on the watch of the Obama Justice Department, only a piddling number of bankers would face prosecution for criminal actions connected with the bubble.

There was a similar story outside the United States, as the International Monetary Fund, along with the European Central Bank and the European Union, imposed austerity when stimulus was clearly needed. As a result, southern Europe is still far from recovery. Even after another decade on their current course, many southern European countries will fall short of their 2007 levels of income. The situation looks even worse for the bottom half of the income distribution in Greece, Spain, and Portugal.

Even the great progress for the world’s poor touted in the famous “elephant graph” turns out to be largely illusory. If China is removed from the sample, the performance of the rest of the developing world since 1988 looks rather mediocre. While the pain of working people in wealthy countries is acute, they are not alone. Outside of China, people in the developing world have little to show for the economic growth of the last three and a half decades. As for China itself, the gains of its huge population are real, but the country certainly did not follow Washington’s model of deficit-slashing, bubble-driven policies for developing countries.

In this economic climate, it’s not surprising that a racist, xenophobic, misogynist demagogue like Donald Trump could succeed in politics, as right-wing populists have throughout the wealthy world. While his platform may be incoherent, Trump at least promised the return of good-paying jobs. Insofar as Clinton and other Democrats offered an agenda for economic progress for American workers, hardly anyone heard it. And to those who did, it sounded like more of the same."



"At this point, the deficit hawks typically start raising apocalyptic fears about higher taxes impoverishing our children. I have three responses to this claim.

The first is that we are all paying much higher Social Security and Medicare taxes than our parents and grandparents did. Are we therefore the victims of generational inequity? What’s more, the main reason Social Security costs are rising is that our kids will live longer lives than we will. In other words, the dire specter of a generously subsidized cohort of older Americans is actually a sign of widespread social progress. (High Medicare costs are due to an incredibly inefficient health care system, but that’s another story—one that deficit hawks are also in the midst of monkey-wrenching in order to delegitimize any state-supported solution.)

My second reply is that we should be worried about after-tax income, not the tax rate. Recall that austerity policies favored by deficit hawks may have already cost us the equivalent of an increase in the payroll tax of 14 percentage points. We’re supposed to get hysterical over the prospect that our kids may pay 2 to 3 more percentage points in payroll taxes, but be unconcerned about this huge and needless loss of before-tax income?

More generally, if we manage to reverse the wage stagnation of the past thirty-plus years and see ordinary workers once more take a share of the gains of economic growth, their before-tax pay will be 40 to 50 percent higher in three decades than it is today. If they have to give back some of these gains in higher payroll taxes in order to support a longer retirement, it’s hard to see just what the problem would be. (The bigger question, of course, is whether we can succeed in creating a political economy in which ordinary workers will once again share in generalized economic growth.) And taxes are just one way in which the government imposes costs on citizens. Donald Trump wants to have a massive infrastructure program financed by the creation of toll roads. These tolls will be paid to private companies and will not count as taxes. Feel better?

On a much larger scale, the government grants patent and copyright monopolies as an incentive for research and creative work. In the case of prescription drugs alone, these patent monopolies cost close to $350 billion a year (approximately 1.9 percent of GDP) over what the price of drugs would be in a truly free market. Even as deficit hawks try to convince us that the government can’t afford to borrow another $50 billion a year to finance the research done by the pharmaceutical industry, they tell us not to worry about the extra $350 billion we pay for drugs because of government-granted patent monopolies. This monomaniacal obsession with tax burdens, to the exclusion of any reckoning with the burden of patent monopolies, shows yet again that the deficit hawks’ oft-professed concern for our children’s well-being is purely rhetorical, and in no way serious.

We should remember that we will pass down a whole society to our kids—including the natural environment that underwrites the quality of life of future generations. If the cost of ensuring that large numbers of children do not grow up in poverty and that the planet is not destroyed by global warming is a somewhat higher current or future tax burden, that hardly seems like a bad deal—especially if the burden is apportioned fairly. Now suppose, by contrast, that we hand our kids a country in which large segments of the population are unhealthy and uneducated and the environment has been devastated by global warming, but we have managed to pay off the national debt. That is, after all, the future that many in the mainstream of the economics profession are prescribing for the country. Somehow, I don’t see future generations thanking us."
economics  economists  us  policy  politics  deanbaker  health  healthcare  deficits  government  governance  gdp  priorities  labor  markets  capitalism  socialsecurity  bubbles  greatrecession  2018  china  portugal  spain  españa  greece  eu  paulryan  timothygeitner  donaldtrump  taxes 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Uses This / Georgina Voss
"What I do - gestures expansively - is research-intensive projects (writing [essays, journalism], performance, installation, sculpture) about the politics of large-scale complex technological and industrial systems; and teaching about the same.

I'm co-founder and lead/director of two studios: Supra Systems Studio, based at the London College of Communication's Design School, University of the Arts London, where I'm a senior lecturer; and Strange Telemetry, in residence at Somerset House Studios. My PhD is in the anthropology of deviance, and industrial economics."



"Clue is the single best software tool I can think of, tying together my messy sense of time with the realities of my physical form; and was also the thing that made me realise that what I'd worried was an ongoing glandular fever relapse was actually pre-menstrual exhaustion. Thanks, Clue!"



"What would be your dream setup?

Universal healthcare and education, open borders, an alternative internet, better battery life. A gigantic warehouse big enough to do enormous work in; a huge city; also, a forest."
georginavoss  usesthis  thesetup  2018  education  healthcare  tools  software  hardware  anthropology  technology  deviance  bodies  time  body 
june 2018 by robertogreco
ER bills: A baby was treated with a nap. His parents got an $18,000 bill. - Vox
"An ER patient can be charged thousands of dollars in “trauma fees” — even if they weren’t treated for trauma."



"Patients face steep bills — and questionable charges — when trauma teams “activate”"



"An ibuprofen, two medical staples — and a $26,998 bill"
us  healthcare  medicine  money  2018  policy  hospitals  california 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Stowe Boyd — However problematically the notion of...
"However problematically the notion of “responsibility” has been reappropriated for neoliberal purposes, the concept remains a crucial feature of the critique of accelerating inequality. In the neoliberal morality, each of us is only responsible for ourselves, and not for others, and that responsibility is first and foremost a responsibility to become economically self-sufficient under conditions when self-sufficiency is structurally undermined. Those who cannot afford to pay for health care constitute but one version of a population deemed disposable. And all those who see the increasing gap between rich and poor, who understand themselves to have lost several forms of security and promise, they also understand themselves as abandoned by a government and a political economy that clearly augments wealth for the very few at the expense of the general population. So when people amass on the street, one implication seems clear: they are still here and still there; they persist; they assemble, and so manifest the understanding that their situation is shared, or the beginning of such an understanding. And even when they are not speaking or do not present a set of negotiable demands, the call for justice is being enacted: the bodies assembled “say” “we are not disposable,” whether or not they are using words at the moment; what they say, as it were, is “we are still here, persisting, demanding greater justice, a release from precarity, a possibility of a livable life."
Judith Butler, Notes Toward a Peformative Theory of Assembly (p. 25)

"The Human Spring is coming, I predict 2023. The time when we, the people, actually understand our situation is shared.

Because of the nature of things in the post-everything, postnormal era, we will have to rely on fluidarity – cooperative action around a small set of core issues – rather than the historical solidarity – collective action around a comprehensive platform – but if it is the right 4 or five things, that will be enough."
judithbutler  stoweboyd  neoliberalism  economics  democracy  inequality  justice  socialjustice  precarity  healthcare  health  change  evolution  solidarity  collectivism  care  caring  morality  persistence  assembly 
april 2018 by robertogreco
“The Workplace Is Killing People and Nobody Cares” | Stanford Graduate School of Business
"A new book examines the massive health care toll today’s work culture exacts on employees.

Jeffrey Pfeffer has an ambitious aspiration for his latest book. “I want this to be the Silent Spring of workplace health,” says Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business. “We are harming both company performance and individual well-being, and this needs to be the clarion call for us to stop. There is too much damage being done.”

Dying for a Paycheck, published by HarperBusiness and released on March 20, maps a range of ills in the modern workplace — from the disappearance of good health insurance to the psychological effects of long hours and work-family conflict — and how these are killing people.

Pfeffer recently sat for an interview with Insights. The following has been edited for length and clarity."
psychology  mentalhwalth  work  labor  economics  health  healthcare  2018  jeffreypfeffer  food  eating  diet  culture  society  nuriachinchilla  socialpollution  social  humans  human  employment  corporatism  latecapitalism  mindfulness  well-being 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Reasons To Be Cheerful
"I’m starting an online project here that is an continuation and extension of some writing and talks I’ve done recently.

The project will be cross-platform—some elements may appear on social media, some on a website and some might manifest as a recording or performance… much of the published material will be collected here.

What is Reasons To Be Cheerful?

I imagine, like a lot of you who look back over the past year, it seems like the world is going to Hell. I wake up in the morning, look at the paper, and go, "Oh no!" Often I’m depressed for half the day. It doesn’t matter how you voted on Brexit, the French elections or the U.S. election—many of us of all persuasions and party affiliations feel remarkably similar.

As a kind of remedy and possibly as a kind of therapy, I started collecting good news that reminded me, "Hey, there's actually some positive stuff going on!" Almost all of these initiatives are local, they come from cities or small regions who have taken it upon themselves to try something that might offer a better alternative than what exits. Hope is often local. Change begins in communities.

I will post thoughts, images and audio relating to this initiative on whichever platform seems suitable and I’ll welcome contributions from others, if they follow the guidelines I’ve set for myself.

These bits of good news tend to fall into a few categories:

Education
Health
Civic Engagement
Science/Tech
Urban/Transportation
Energy
Culture

Culture, music and the arts might include, optimistically, some of my own work and projects, but just as much I hope to promote the work of others that has a proven track record.

Why do I do this? Why take the time? Therapy, I guess, though once in awhile I meet someone who has the connections and skills but might not be aware of some of these initiatives and innovations, so I can pass the information on. I sense that not all of this is widely known.

Emulation of successful models- 4 guidelines

I laid out 4 guidelines as I collected these examples:

1. Most of the good stuff is local. It’s more bottom up, community and individually driven. There are exceptions.

2. Many examples come from all over the world, but despite the geographical and cultural distances in many cases others can adopt these ideas—these initiatives can be utilized by cultures other than where they originated.

3. Very important. All of these examples have been tried and proven to be successful. These are not merely good IDEAS; they’ve been put into practice and have produced results.

4. The examples are not one-off, isolated or human interest, feel-good stories. They’re not stories of one amazing teacher, doctor, musician or activist- they’re about initiatives that can be copied and scaled up.

If it works, copy it

For example, in an area I know something about, there was an innovative bike program in Bogota, and years later, I saw that program become a model for New York and for other places.

The Ciclovia program in Bogota"
davidbyrne  politics  urban  urbanism  bogotá  curitiba  addiction  portugal  colombia  brazil  brasil  jaimelerner  cities  society  policy  qualityoflife  economics  drugs  health  healthcare  crime  ciclovia  bikes  biking  bikesharing  activism  civics  citybike  nyc  medellín  afroreggae  vigariogeral  favelas  obesity  childabuse  education  casamantequilla  harlem  civicengagment  engagement  women'smarch  northcarolina  ingridlafleur  afrotopia  detroit  seattle  citizenuniversity  tishuanajones  sunra  afrofuturism  stlouis  vancouver  britishcolumbia  transportation  publictransit  transit  velib  paris  climatechange  bipartisanship  energy  science  technology  culture  music  art  arts  behavior 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Why are Democrats so afraid of taxes?
"Tax hikes on the rich to fund child care, universal health care, higher education, and a green infrastructure bank would immensely benefit both the college-educated and non-college folks who are seeing their standard of living threatened by the GOP. According to Global Strategy Group polling, 85 percent of working-class whites and 80 percent of college-educated whites support higher taxes on the one percent.

Class politics do not threaten the Democratic Party — they may be the only way to save it. But all camps in the Democratic Party are grasping at different parts of the problem. Many strategists on the Hillary Clinton-end of things have rightfully noted that a shift in college-educated white support for Democrats is a positive harbinger for the party. But they have seemingly failed to grasp that the Bernie Sanders wing has a point: these voters can be won over on classic tax and spend social democracy. In 2016, only three percent of college-educated white Clinton voters made more than $250,000 a year, according to the Cooperative Congressional Election Study from that year. Far from worrying about taxes, these voters are increasingly worried about proving health care and child care for their children. Most have seen their retirement security erode and worry about whether their children can afford college. Instead of trying to appeal to a mushy center that doesn’t really exist, Democrats should embrace high taxes, particularly on the rich, to fund social services. The public is ready."
democrats  taxes  policy  208  economics  healthcare  childcare  inequality  banking  finance  richardrorty  hillaryclinton  berniesanders  spencerpiston  class  infrastructure  climatechange  publicgoods  materialism  psychology  emptiness  capitalism 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Considerations On Cost Disease | Slate Star Codex
[via: https://meaningness.com/metablog/post-apocalyptic-health-care ]

"IV.

I mentioned politics briefly above, but they probably deserve more space here. Libertarian-minded people keep talking about how there’s too much red tape and the economy is being throttled. And less libertarian-minded people keep interpreting it as not caring about the poor, or not understanding that government has an important role in a civilized society, or as a “dog whistle” for racism, or whatever. I don’t know why more people don’t just come out and say “LOOK, REALLY OUR MAIN PROBLEM IS THAT ALL THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS COST TEN TIMES AS MUCH AS THEY USED TO FOR NO REASON, PLUS THEY SEEM TO BE GOING DOWN IN QUALITY, AND NOBODY KNOWS WHY, AND WE’RE MOSTLY JUST DESPERATELY FLAILING AROUND LOOKING FOR SOLUTIONS HERE.” State that clearly, and a lot of political debates take on a different light.

For example: some people promote free universal college education, remembering a time when it was easy for middle class people to afford college if they wanted it. Other people oppose the policy, remembering a time when people didn’t depend on government handouts. Both are true! My uncle paid for his tuition at a really good college just by working a pretty easy summer job – not so hard when college cost a tenth of what it did now. The modern conflict between opponents and proponents of free college education is over how to distribute our losses. In the old days, we could combine low taxes with widely available education. Now we can’t, and we have to argue about which value to sacrifice.

Or: some people get upset about teachers’ unions, saying they must be sucking the “dynamism” out of education because of increasing costs. Others people fiercely defend them, saying teachers are underpaid and overworked. Once again, in the context of cost disease, both are obviously true. The taxpayers are just trying to protect their right to get education as cheaply as they used to. The teachers are trying to protect their right to make as much money as they used to. The conflict between the taxpayers and the teachers’ unions is about how to distribute losses; somebody is going to have to be worse off than they were a generation ago, so who should it be?

And the same is true to greater or lesser degrees in the various debates over health care, public housing, et cetera.

Imagine if tomorrow, the price of water dectupled. Suddenly people have to choose between drinking and washing dishes. Activists argue that taking a shower is a basic human right, and grumpy talk show hosts point out that in their day, parents taught their children not to waste water. A coalition promotes laws ensuring government-subsidized free water for poor families; a Fox News investigative report shows that some people receiving water on the government dime are taking long luxurious showers. Everyone gets really angry and there’s lots of talk about basic compassion and personal responsibility and whatever but all of this is secondary to why does water costs ten times what it used to?

I think this is the basic intuition behind so many people, even those who genuinely want to help the poor, are afraid of “tax and spend” policies. In the context of cost disease, these look like industries constantly doubling, tripling, or dectupling their price, and the government saying “Okay, fine,” and increasing taxes however much it costs to pay for whatever they’re demanding now.

If we give everyone free college education, that solves a big social problem. It also locks in a price which is ten times too high for no reason. This isn’t fair to the government, which has to pay ten times more than it should. It’s not fair to the poor people, who have to face the stigma of accepting handouts for something they could easily have afforded themselves if it was at its proper price. And it’s not fair to future generations if colleges take this opportunity to increase the cost by twenty times, and then our children have to subsidize that.

I’m not sure how many people currently opposed to paying for free health care, or free college, or whatever, would be happy to pay for health care that cost less, that was less wasteful and more efficient, and whose price we expected to go down rather than up with every passing year. I expect it would be a lot.

And if it isn’t, who cares? The people who want to help the poor have enough political capital to spend eg $500 billion on Medicaid; if that were to go ten times further, then everyone could get the health care they need without any more political action needed. If some government program found a way to give poor people good health insurance for a few hundred dollars a year, college tuition for about a thousand, and housing for only two-thirds what it costs now, that would be the greatest anti-poverty advance in history. That program is called “having things be as efficient as they were a few decades ago”.

V.

In 1930, economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that his grandchildrens’ generation would have a 15 hour work week. At the time, it made sense. GDP was rising so quickly that anyone who could draw a line on a graph could tell that our generation would be four or five times richer than his. And the average middle-class person in his generation felt like they were doing pretty well and had most of what they needed. Why wouldn’t they decide to take some time off and settle for a lifestyle merely twice as luxurious as Keynes’ own?

Keynes was sort of right. GDP per capita is 4-5x greater today than in his time. Yet we still work forty hour weeks, and some large-but-inconsistently-reported percent of Americans (76? 55? 47?) still live paycheck to paycheck.

And yes, part of this is because inequality is increasing and most of the gains are going to the rich. But this alone wouldn’t be a disaster; we’d get to Keynes’ utopia a little slower than we might otherwise, but eventually we’d get there. Most gains going to the rich means at least some gains are going to the poor. And at least there’s a lot of mainstream awareness of the problem.

I’m more worried about the part where the cost of basic human needs goes up faster than wages do. Even if you’re making twice as much money, if your health care and education and so on cost ten times as much, you’re going to start falling behind. Right now the standard of living isn’t just stagnant, it’s at risk of declining, and a lot of that is student loans and health insurance costs and so on.

What’s happening? I don’t know and I find it really scary."
scottalexander  economics  education  history  politics  policy  prices  inflation  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  bureaucracy  costdisease  healthcare  spending  us  government  medicine  lifeexpectancy  salaries  teachers  teaching  schools  regulation  tylercowen  poverty  inequality  litigation  litigiousness  labor  housing  rent  homes  subways  transportation  health 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Post-apocalyptic life in American health care | Meaningness
"TL;DR:

• Much of my time for the past year has been spent navigating the medical maze on behalf of my mother, who has dementia.

• I observe that American health care organizations can no longer operate systematically, so participants are forced to act in the communal mode, as if in the pre-modern world.

• Health care is one leading edge of a general breakdown in systematicity—while, at the same time, employing sophisticated systematic technologies.

• Communal-mode interpersonal skills may become increasingly important to life success—not less, as techies hope.

• For complex health care problems, I recommend hiring a consultant to provide administrative (not medical!) guidance.

Epistemic status: impressionistic blogging during a dazed lull between an oncologist and an MRI. No attempt to validate with statistical data or knowledgeable sources."



"It’s like one those post-apocalyptic science fiction novels whose characters hunt wild boars with spears in the ruins of a modern city. Surrounded by machines no one understands any longer, they have reverted to primitive technology.

Except it’s in reverse. Hospitals can still operate modern material technologies (like an MRI) just fine. It’s social technologies that have broken down and reverted to a medieval level.

Systematic social relationships involve formally-defined roles and responsibilities. That is, “professionalism.” But across medical organizations, there are none. Who do you call at Anthem to find out if they’ll cover an out-of-state SNF stay? No one knows.

What do you do when systematicity breaks down? You revert to what I’ve described as the “communal mode” or “choiceless mode.” That is, “pre-modern,” or “traditional” ways of being.

Working in a medical office is like living in a pre-modern town. It’s all about knowing someone who knows someone who knows someone who can get something done. Several times, I’ve taken my mother to a doctor who said something like: “She needs lymphedema treatment, and the only lymphedema clinic around here is booked months in advance, but I know someone there, and I think I can get her in next week.” Or, “The pathology report on this biopsy is only one sentence, and it’s unsigned. The hospital that faxed it to me doesn’t know who did it. I need details, so I called all the pathologists I know, and none of them admit to writing it, so we are going to need to do a new biopsy.”

But at the same time, each clinic does have an electronic patient records management system, which does work some of the time. And there are professional relationships with defined roles that operate effectively within the building.

I suspect increasing “patchiness” of systems may be typical of our post-systematic atomized era. Understanding the medical case may help predict the texture of cultural and social life as atomization proceeds.

A central research topic in ethnomethodology is the relationship between formal rationality (such as an insurance company’s 1600 pages of unworkable rules) and “mere reasonableness,” which is what people mostly use to get a job done. The disjunction between electronic patient records and calling around town to try to find out who wrote a biopsy report that arrived by fax seems sufficiently extreme that it may produce a qualitatively new way of being.

I would like to ask:

• How does health care continue to function at all?

• Can it continue to function at all?

• How do people within the ex-system navigate a world that mashes up high-tech infrastructure that only sometimes works with pre-modern social relationships across organizations?

• How do they understand this contrast? How do they cope personally?1

• What can we do about it?"



"Perhaps American health care is a bellwether model for the future of other aspects of life in post-systemic world? A pattern that occurs in many other sectors: as systems fail, people fall back on innate communal logic. Politics and the media are obvious current examples."
us  healthcare  systems  2017  medicine  davidchapman  medicalcostdisease  costdisease  economics  bureaucracy  communication  politics  absurdity  media 
january 2018 by robertogreco
OHCHR | Statement on Visit to the USA, by Professor Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights*
[See also:

"A journey through a land of extreme poverty: welcome to America"
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/dec/15/america-extreme-poverty-un-special-rapporteur

"Extreme poverty in America: read the UN special monitor's report"
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/15/extreme-poverty-america-un-special-monitor-report

"Trump turning US into 'world champion of extreme inequality', UN envoy warns"
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/15/america-un-extreme-poverty-trump-republicans ]

[Thread by Allen Tan:
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/942934883244171264

"if a progressive party wanted to build a platform for 2020, it could just copy paste this

if a newsroom wanted to cover US poverty in a systematic and rigorous way, here is the blueprint

this is how you make a case for a social safety net when you don't assume that everyone is already on board with you ideologically

1) human rights
“the US is alone among developed countries in insisting that while human rights are of fundamental importance, they do not include rights that guard against dying of hunger, dying from lack of access to affordable healthcare, or growing up in…total deprivation.”

2) debunking myth of poor people as lazy or scammers
“poor people I met from among the 40 million living in poverty were overwhelmingly either persons who had been born into poverty, or those who had been thrust there by circumstances largely beyond their control such as…”

“…physical or mental disabilities, divorce, family breakdown, illness, old age, unlivable wages, or discrimination in the job market.”

3) disenfranchisement in a democratic society (just gonna screengrab this one)

4) children
“In 2016, 18% of children – some 13.3 million – were living in poverty, with children comprising 32.6% of all people in poverty.”

etc, etc, etc

stay for the extended section on homelessness and its criminalization

re: drugs testing [screen capture]

treating taxation as a dirty word and third rail means the state must raise money on the backs of the poor [screen capture]

Ok one last thing and then I’m done:
notice how you can talk about poverty and not make it just about white people, weird"]
philipalston  us  poverty  un  himanrights  policy  politics  inequality  2017  donaldtrump  mississippi  alabama  california  puertorico  housing  georgia  exceptionalism  democracy  employment  work  socialsafetynet  society  incarceration  warondrugs  criminalization  children  health  healthcare  dentalcare  disability  race  racism  fraud  privatization  government  governance  environment  sustainability  taxes  taxreform  welfare  hunger  food  medicare  medicaid  chip  civilsociety  allentan  journalism  homeless  homelessness 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Millennials Are Screwed - The Huffington Post
"In what seems like some kind of perverse joke, nearly every form of welfare now available to young people is attached to traditional employment. Unemployment benefits and workers’ compensation are limited to employees. The only major expansions of welfare since 1980 have been to the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, both of which pay wages back to workers who have already collected them.

Back when we had decent jobs and strong unions, it (kind of) made sense to provide things like health care and retirement savings through employer benefits. But now, for freelancers and temps and short-term contractors—i.e., us—those benefits might as well be Monopoly money. Forty-one percent of working millennials aren’t even eligible for retirement plans through their companies."



"The most striking thing about the problems of millennials is how intertwined and self-reinforcing and everywhere they are.

Over the eight months I spent reporting this story, I spent a few evenings at a youth homeless shelter and met unpaid interns and gig-economy bike messengers saving for their first month of rent. During the days I interviewed people like Josh, a 33-year-old affordable housing developer who mentioned that his mother struggles to make ends meet as a contractor in a profession that used to be reliable government work. Every Thanksgiving, she reminds him that her retirement plan is a “401(j)”—J for Josh.

Fixing what has been done to us is going to take more than tinkering. Even if economic growth picks up and unemployment continues to fall, we’re still on a track toward ever more insecurity for young people. The “Leave It To Beaver” workforce, in which everyone has the same job from graduation until gold watch, is not coming back. Any attempt to recreate the economic conditions the boomers had is just sending lifeboats to a whirlpool.

But still, there is already a foot-long list of overdue federal policy changes that would at least begin to fortify our future and reknit the safety net. Even amid the awfulness of our political moment, we can start to build a platform to rally around. Raise the minimum wage and tie it to inflation. Roll back anti-union laws to give workers more leverage against companies that treat them as if they’re disposable. Tilt the tax code away from the wealthy. Right now, rich people can write off mortgage interest on their second home and expenses related to being a landlord or (I'm not kidding) owning a racehorse. The rest of us can’t even deduct student loans or the cost of getting an occupational license.

Some of the trendiest Big Policy Fixes these days are efforts to rebuild government services from the ground up. The ur-example is the Universal Basic Income, a no-questions-asked monthly cash payment to every single American. The idea is to establish a level of basic subsistence below which no one in a civilized country should be allowed to fall. The venture capital firm Y Combinator is planning a pilot program that would give $1,000 each month to 1,000 low- and middle-income participants. And while, yes, it’s inspiring that a pro-poor policy idea has won the support of D.C. wonks and Ayn Rand tech bros alike, it’s worth noting that existing programs like food stamps, TANF, public housing and government-subsidized day care are not inherently ineffective. They have been intentionally made so. It would be nice if the people excited by the shiny new programs would expend a little effort defending and expanding the ones we already have.

But they’re right about one thing: We’re going to need government structures that respond to the way we work now. “Portable benefits,” an idea that’s been bouncing around for years, attempts to break down the zero-sum distinction between full-time employees who get government-backed worker protections and independent contractors who get nothing. The way to solve this, when you think about it, is ridiculously simple: Attach benefits to work instead of jobs. The existing proposals vary, but the good ones are based on the same principle: For every hour you work, your boss chips in to a fund that pays out when you get sick, pregnant, old or fired. The fund follows you from job to job, and companies have to contribute to it whether you work there a day, a month or a year.

Seriously, you should sign up. It doesn’t cost anything.

Small-scale versions of this idea have been offsetting the inherent insecurity of the gig economy since long before we called it that. Some construction workers have an “hour bank” that fills up when they’re working and provides benefits even when they’re between jobs. Hollywood actors and technical staff have health and pension plans that follow them from movie to movie. In both cases, the benefits are negotiated by unions, but they don’t have to be. Since 1962, California has offered “elective coverage” insurance that allows independent contractors to file for payouts if their kids get sick or if they get injured on the job. “The offloading of risks onto workers and families was not a natural occurrence,” says Hacker, the Yale political scientist. “It was a deliberate effort. And we can roll it back the same way.”

Another no-brainer experiment is to expand jobs programs. As decent opportunities have dwindled and wage inequality has soared, the government’s message to the poorest citizens has remained exactly the same: You’re not trying hard enough. But at the same time, the government has not actually attempted to give people jobs on a large scale since the 1970s.

Because most of us grew up in a world without them, jobs programs can sound overly ambitious or suspiciously Leninist. In fact, they’re neither. In 2010, as part of the stimulus, Mississippi launched a program that simply reimbursed employers for the wages they paid to eligible new hires—100 percent at first, then tapering down to 25 percent. The initiative primarily reached low-income mothers and the long-term unemployed. Nearly half of the recipients were under 30.

The results were impressive. For the average participant, the subsidized wages lasted only 13 weeks. Yet the year after the program ended, long-term unemployed workers were still earning nearly nine times more than they had the previous year. Either they kept the jobs they got through the subsidies or the experience helped them find something new. Plus, the program was a bargain. Subsidizing more than 3,000 jobs cost $22 million, which existing businesses doled out to workers who weren’t required to get special training. It wasn’t an isolated success, either. A Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality review of 15 jobs programs from the past four decades concluded that they were “a proven, promising, and underutilized tool for lifting up disadvantaged workers.” The review found that subsidizing employment raised wages and reduced long-term unemployment. Children of the participants even did better at school.

But before I get carried away listing urgent and obvious solutions for the plight of millennials, let’s pause for a bit of reality: Who are we kidding? Donald Trump, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are not interested in our innovative proposals to lift up the systemically disadvantaged. Their entire political agenda, from the Scrooge McDuck tax reform bill to the ongoing assassination attempt on Obamacare, is explicitly designed to turbocharge the forces that are causing this misery. Federally speaking, things are only going to get worse.

Which is why, for now, we need to take the fight to where we can win it.

Over the last decade, states and cities have made remarkable progress adapting to the new economy. Minimum-wage hikes have been passed by voters in nine states, even dark red rectangles like Nebraska and South Dakota. Following a long campaign by the Working Families Party and other activist organizations, eight states and the District of Columbia have instituted guaranteed sick leave. Bills to combat exploitative scheduling practices have been introduced in more than a dozen state legislatures. San Francisco now gives retail and fast-food workers the right to learn their schedules two weeks in advance and get compensated for sudden shift changes. Local initiatives are popular, effective and our best hope of preventing the country’s slide into “Mad Max”-style individualism.

The court system, the only branch of our government currently functioning, offers other encouraging avenues. Class-action lawsuits and state and federal investigations have resulted in a wave of judgments against companies that “misclassify” their workers as contractors. FedEx, which requires some of its drivers to buy their own trucks and then work as independent contractors, recently reached a $227 million settlement with more than 12,000 plaintiffs in 19 states. In 2014, a startup called Hello Alfred—Uber for chores, basically—announced that it would rely exclusively on direct hires instead of “1099s.” Part of the reason, its CEO told Fast Company, was that the legal and financial risk of relying on contractors had gotten too high. A tsunami of similar lawsuits over working conditions and wage theft would be enough to force the same calculation onto every CEO in America.

And then there’s housing, where the potential—and necessity—of local action is obvious. This doesn’t just mean showing up to city council hearings to drown out the NIMBYs (though let’s definitely do that). It also means ensuring that the entire system for approving new construction doesn’t prioritize homeowners at the expense of everyone else. Right now, permitting processes examine, in excruciating detail, how one new building will affect rents, noise, traffic, parking, shadows and squirrel populations. But they never investigate the consequences of not building anything—rising prices, displaced renters, low-wage workers commuting hours from outside the sprawl.

Some cities are finally … [more]
economics  housing  retirement  inequality  highered  highereducation  employment  wealth  income  politics  generations  babyboomers  michaelhobbes  poverty  policy  anirudhkrishna  unions  healthcare  cities  socialmobility  socialsafetynet  zoning  urban  nimbys  urbanization  unemployment 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Michelle Alexander's Keynote Speech from the 2017 International Drug Policy Reform Conference - YouTube
[20:15] "We're all primed to value and prefer those ho seem like us though the preferences hues have themselves re remarkably greater. No doubt due to centuries of brainwashing that have led them to actually believe often unconsciously, that they are in fact superior. Marc Mauer in his book "Race to Incarcerate" cites data that the most punitive nations in the world are the most diverse. The nations with the most compassionate or most lenient criminal justice policies are the most homogeneous. We like to say that diversity is our strength, but it may actually be our Achilles heel. Researchers have reached similar conclusions in the public welfare context. The democarcies that have the most generous social welfare programs, universal health care, cheap or free college, generous maternity leave, are generally homogeneous. Socialist countries like Sweden and Norway are overwhelmingly white. But when those nations feel threatened by immigration, by so-called foreigners, public support for social welfare beings to erode, often quite sharply. It seems that it's an aspect of human nature to be tempted to be more punitive and less generous to those we view as others. And so in a nation like the United States, where we're just a fe generations away from slavery and Jim Crow. Where inequality is skyrocketing due to global capitalism, and where demographic changes due to immigration are creating a nation where no racial group is the majority, the central question we must face is whether We, the People, are capable of overcoming our basic instinct to respond more harshly more punitively with less care and concern with people we view as different. Can we evolve? Can we evolve morally and spiritually? Can we learn to care for each other across lines of race, class, gender, and sexuality? Clearly these questions are pressing in the age of Trump.

[via: "Michelle Alexander asks the most fundamental question: Can we learn to care for each other across lines of difference?"
https://twitter.com/justicedems/status/934478995038572544 ]

[See also: "Michelle Alexander: I Am 'Endorsing The Political Revolution' (Extended Interview) | All In | MSNBC"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFHNzlx24QM ]
michellealexander  2017  drugs  waroondrugs  race  racism  bias  diversity  homogeneity  heterogeneity  policy  welfare  socialsafetnet  healthcare  education  maternityleave  socialism  sweden  norway  humans  criminaljustice  socialelfare  compassion  incarceration  donaldtrump  immigration  xenophobia  othering  democracy  jimcrow  thenewjimcrow  us  politics  humannature  demographics  inequality  class  classism  sexuality  gender  sexism  marcmauer  berniesanders  hillaryclinton  revolution  change  billclinton 
november 2017 by robertogreco
💜🏳️‍🌈 ♿️✡️ Mx. Amadi Says Ban Nazis on Twitter: "Students eligible for Pell Grants are those most likely to have education interruptions because of ongoing financial issues. Forcing them to… https://t.co/blRHN9RvGu"
"Students eligible for Pell Grants are those most likely to have education interruptions because of ongoing financial issues. Forcing them to repay because they had to pause education would significantly reduce their chances of being able to resume it.

Ultimately we know Republicans want to eliminate Pell Grants entirely. This would be a first step toward that goal.

Couple this with the effort to make grad school tuition waivers taxable income, the disappearance of Title IX guidance & students with disabilities guidance and the Trump perspective on affirmative action programs & charter schools and it is an all out assault.

The end goal is to make access to all levels of education from kindergarten through graduate programs the privilege of the wealthy.

You can throw in the ending of broadband access programs for rural and highly impoverished areas as well. The GOP wants Americans stratified into educated haves and intentionally uneducated worker drones.

When you add in the destruction of any means of getting healthcare unless you have an employee or a benevolent enough to give you insurance (which may not be comprehensive) it becomes a larger, uglier picture.

It becomes: intentionally uneducated worker drones who cannot have any basic necessities of human existence without pledging their labor (without protections) to the owner class.

Add their perspective on the environment into the picture and it becomes intentionally uneducated worker drones who cannot have any basic necessities of human existence including clean air and water.

You’ll be buying water credits from your employer the same way some people earn time off now. Every month you work nets you 100 gallons of potable water.

The goal is the reformatting of the entirety of society to benefit — solely benefit — a minuscule number of uberwealthy people. There are FAR more of us than them. We cannot allow this.

8 people, 8 dudes, 4 of them old and frail have as much wealth as 162.5 million of us. Think 162.5 million could subdue 8 people and take their unearned surplus of blood money? I do. Just saying."
amadiaeclovelace  taxes  2017  policy  pellgrants  healthcare  capitalism  latecapitalism  gop  us  politics  inequality  wageslavery  education  wealth  wealthinquality  incomeinequality  plutocracy  labor  work  charters  privatization  affirmativeaction  disabilities  highered  highereducation  schools  publicschools 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Isabel Rodríguez on Twitter: "Rather than seeking to equalize educational results, we should seek to equalize access to good food, good housing, adequate health services,… https://t.co/3Q5Ise6emh"
"The central problem in education is not about improving learning. It is about power imbalances and unacknowledged violence and abuse against children.

The accountability we need in education should not be about learning outcomes, but about making political and economic elites responsible for the abuses that are inflicted on children for the sake of economic exploitation and political control.

We could also think of the accountability we need in education in terms of how children are treated and the resources that are made available to them.

The socioeconomic gaps among children, which incidentally mirror gaps in the results of standardized tests, will not be closed with stricter schools.

Rather than seeking to equalize educational results, we should seek to equalize access to good food, good housing, adequate health services, natural spaces, playgrounds, and a wide array of educational resources for all children.

Democratizing education should not be about compulsory schools attendance, but about democratizing the access for people of all ages to educational resources and respecting the right of children to have a voice in their own education.

We could have open schools with a good library, computers, an Internet connection, all sorts of tools, musical instruments, sports' facilities, a community garden, workshops and courses in order to meet many different learning needs, etc.

What we need to understand is that we cannot have a competition and not have losers. As long as human beings are made to compete for access to a good life, we will always have exclusion and inequality.

And as a matter of justice, the well-being and safety of racial, cultural and linguistic minorities should not depend on meeting school expectations and adopting ideas and behaviors promoted by upper class white families.

As a matter of justice, children who are diverse in interests and skills should not be made to conform to a very narrow and arbitrary curriculum.

As a matter of justice, children who are diverse in characteristics should not be made to conform to prejudiced notions of normalcy.

When education is thought as a path out of poverty and towards social justice, we are only leaving off the hook those who create poverty, exclusion and violence in the first place.

The problem of social and economic inequality is not educational, it is political. It is about institutional arrangements that create exclusion and force people to submit and compete.

And schools can never be a substitute for what must be solved through laws granting access to nature, good housing, good food, health services, etc., etc., etc.

At the end of the day, it is always about elites not willing to give up power and privilege, and choosing instead to make the poor accept blame for their own poverty and oppression for their own "good".

It's not that schools can do nothing. Raising free and peaceful individuals, people literate in the ways of those in power, people not willing to submit as easily, should help.

But if we accept that the central problem in regard to inequality is about power, an education meant for liberation requires a radical departure from the adultism, standardization and control exercised in conventional schools.

An education meant for liberation requires an alignment between the overt and the hidden curriculum.

It requires that we stop confusing being good with being obedient, being responsible and professional with being cruel and alienated from our humanity, being hardworking with not playing and doing busy work, and being educated with having a diploma.

It requires understanding that values such as freedom, equality and respect are not just things we teach, but things we live and do.

Above all, it requires giving up pretensions and simulations in regard to learning that are only about exploiting children for the benefit of others.

I don't agree with everything said in this documentary, but the segment in min.18:21 illustrates what I want to say. There's a difference between making killer whales perform tricks for an audience and seeing them playing freely and for their own benefit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WImKDJuaCmU

The problem is: Freeing killer whales and treating them with respect would kill the business."
isabelrodríguez  schools  schooling  education  inequality  compulsory  unschooling  deschooling  curriculum  standardization  policy  learning  lcproject  openstudioproject  libraries  justice  race  socialjustice  racism  colonization  decolonization  obedience  class  freedom  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  diversity  exploitation  children  adultism  ageism  control  power  submission  economics  capitalism  society  privilege  health  healthcare  food  hunger  equality  poverty  conformity  2017  business  businessinterest  corporatism  humanity  humanism 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Dr. Nev Jones on Vimeo
[found after reading:

"The Tough of Madness: Culture profoundly shapes our ideas about mental illness, which is something psychologist Nev Jones knows all too well."
https://psmag.com/magazine/the-touch-of-madness-mental-health-schizophrenia ]
nevjones  academia  psychology  psychosis  schizophrenia  2017  mentalhealth  healthcare  health  ptsd  immigration  support  culture  society  risk 
october 2017 by robertogreco
A Manifesto – Evergreen Review
"We devise and concoct ways to make each other beg for the most meager of resources. Death, which should simply be something that comes to us, is instead an instrument of dominion and torture. We have perfected instruments of death-making. We extend such deathery even to our social systems, creating ways to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable among us will die because the rest of us don’t believe they deserve the methods and technologies by which we keep ourselves alive."



"And yet, even in our imagination, we cannot conceive of a world where abundance is enough. We can literally create anything we want and live without want, but we still want more.

In this imagined new world, we are still at war with others, crisscrossing space to divide it up into sectors and grids, cutting up even empty air into parcels the way we do patches of land. We make the vast and incomprehensible universe malleable by exerting our history of dispossession onto it. Our thirst for possession is as boundless as the universe we inhabit. Even our imagination is limited by avarice. This is why, dear aliens, I feel no real pain or sadness at the thought of what you might do to us. The sorrows and suffering we have inflicted upon each other, the degradations, the humiliations, the pain, the contrasts in resources and the creation of need—nothing in the universe can match what we have already done."



"Like the utopias they bring forth, manifestos are birthed in the possibility of failure. They succeed not in the audacity of hope but in the audacity of despair. What is the present and the future we need to keep imagining? What is a utopia? What is the nature of our utopias? Do we still dare to have any?"



"No one is outside ideology. Yet, too many Americans believe they are, and prefer to focus on how they feel: a particularly American problem is the preponderance of affect in politics. But when it comes to politics—to anything that calls itself justice—we should only pay attention to two questions: what do people need, and how do we get them what they need without having to beg? Yet our political programs are neither initiated nor sustained by the will to redistribute our ridiculously ample resources. Rather, we obsess over whether the people who receive them are worthy of our care. We ask questions we never ask the well-off: Are you deserving? Do you have the proper moral character? If we give you this money, how do we know you won’t spend it on cigarettes? If you buy food, will it be junk food or apples? But wait, how can we be sure you won’t blow it all on lobster?"



"If you want our help, then make us weep for you.

In that, the left has failed miserably. The left can barely articulate what it stands for without weeping for forgiveness for its own existence. This manifesto is an attempt to instantiate the left. How do we learn to be the left fearlessly, without either shame or arrogance?"



"No doubt, dear aliens, you will have found in your exploration of our debris or our archives (who knows in what state you encounter us) rants from leftists about “identity” or “identitarianism.” It has been difficult to convince this kind of activist that a true left finds a way to think about getting people what they need without erasing the material realities of their lives, but without capitulating to the essentializing of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality. Yet, even now, in most left organizations, it is women who do the emailing and the cleaning up, while the menfolk spout on about the revolution."



"A true left abjures philanthropy, which only enables the concentration of wealth by providing the super wealthy with fantastic tax breaks. A true left fights for a society where housing is not a matter of investment linked to the survival of an economy but simply a right. It fights for a world where prisons don’t exist to extract life from those whose failings, real or imagined, we cannot confront and whom we would rather shut away forever."



"
Such focus on Trump’s xenophobia ignores the fact that the millions of undocumented in this country became such under Bill Clinton. Two pieces of immigration legislation, in 1994 and 1996, made many simple misdemeanours into felonies only for non-citizens, and created the three- and ten-year bars on re-entry, which pushed undocumented people, now afraid of not being allowed to return if they should leave the country, into the shadows. Arguably, Trump has fine-tuned such mechanisms, but the tools for expulsion and removal were left there by Democratic administrations and are simply being sharpened and honed by this one."



"Resistance, like the heart, is a muscle, and needs to be constantly exercised. Instead, it’s become a buzzword. It’s made people think that somehow they’re soldiers now, fighting on every front. Ongoing work gets rebranded as “resistance” as if magically, due to the presence of Voldemort, everything changed overnight. The press plays up a collective sense of impending doom, making it seem like our lives are now unfolding like a scene from The Deathly Hallows."



"To liberals and lefties, this August 2016 exchange was evidence of Trump’s madness and his dangerously childish naivete. But in fact Trump’s response revealed the idiocy of nuclear weaponry and exposed the irrationality at the heart of American foreign policy: that somehow there is nothing wrong about possessing nuclear weapons."



"Neoliberalism is in fact capitalism made familiar, which is why I describe it as the endless privatisation of everyday life. It survives on vectors of intimacy, transforming capitalism into an emotional matter rather than an economic one, even though its incursions and devastations are deadly and long-lasting precisely because of the way it serves to insinuate itself into the machinations of the daily world."



"This is not to wax nostalgic about “neighborhoods” or to imply that everyone needs to be an “ethical gentrifier,” but to point out that the economic structure in relation to something as basic as housing is entirely set up to benefit the banking and finance industry. Meanwhile, Chicago resolutely and proudly refers to itself as a city of neighborhoods. The question is: who gets to belong, who gets phased out?"



"how neoliberalism operates upon various vectors of intimacy, and how that intimacy cuts across lines of class, race, and gender with varying effects."



"Over and over, Chicago and other cities fetishise their “neighborhood feel,” creating “community” out of displacement, demanding that the displaced then return only to satisfy the cravings the new residents refuse to acknowledge or to perform the jobs beneath the newcomers’ pay grade. Home ownership is what Americans, gay and straight, are expected to do as married people and the intimacy of married life brutally occludes the covert and hidden intimacies of transactions that keep underground economies flourishing.

Neoliberalism seduces us with its intimacy. Intimacy with our workplace, our occupation, the idea of having to “love” what you do: our work becomes our lover. Neoliberalism feeds off our sense of constant economic precariousness by convincing us that we must never demand more from the state or corporations, that what we label “sharing” economies are somehow community-based endeavors. And so people everywhere distribute their labor almost for free, in workplaces that are described as “mobile” and to which they “commute” as free agents. But these are in fact far more onerous than regular workplaces, and are mostly unregulated enterprises, and offer neither benefits nor protections (the field of “left publishing", including this publication, consists almost entirely of such labor).

But what they do is put us in touch with our own labor as something we control, birth, operate. We work with the illusion of control, but we are compelled, all the while, to cede it. We believe that having no control over the circumstances of our lives yields an intimacy that we cannot get elsewhere.

Neoliberalism survives as well as it does because its machinations allow people to express dissent even as they in fact only echo support for its worst effects. During Occupy, it was incredible to watch so many take to the streets, finally critical of how capitalism had wreaked its havoc. But as I wound my way through the massive crowds and their signs, it also became evident that the palpable anger was not so much at the system but that the system had failed them. Signs everywhere said, in effect, “I did the right thing for years, and I was still screwed over.” Everywhere, there was an anger at the ruling classes, certainly, but I couldn’t help but recall yet again those words about America’s “temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” The subsequent bailouts only confirmed a widespread sense that if we just fix the system, we can make it all better, when the system itself is the problem, and “fixing” it only serves to concentrate resources and power in the hands of fewer and fewer people."



"Capitalism flows unimpeded."



" Western analysts take their own social freedoms for granted—average Americans have, for many decades, left their parental homes in their late teens—but when it comes to other and what they fondly imagine as “more traditional” cultures, would prefer it if everyone just stayed transfixed in quaint old ways, please.

Neoliberalism fills the immediate needs of people in ways that other systems cannot—because, yes, that’s how capitalism functions, by dismantling our existing structures, and creating a need for new ones that provide the illusion of stability but in fact cause more harm. Consider schooling, at least in the US. We first eviscerated public education by defunding it, except in the wealthiest districts, and then created a demand for (exploitative, ruinous, substandard) … [more]
yasminnair  2017  society  manifestos  left  love  compassion  justice  socialjustice  utopia  ideology  charity  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  government  excess  abundance  hunger  healthcare  gender  race  racism  sexism  homophobia  neoliberalism  capitalism  feminism  systems  sytemsthinking  socialism  communism  migration  immigration  donaldtrump  barackobama  hillaryclinton  resistance  future  climatechange  neighborhoods  gentrification  chicago  privatization  class  classism  poverty  sexuality  intersectionality  compromise  change  organization  economics  power  control 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Unspeakable Realities Block Universal Health Coverage In America
[See also: "The Fight for Health Care Has Always Been About Civil Rights: In dismantling Obamacare and slashing Medicaid, Republicans would strike a blow against signature victories for racial equality in America."https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/06/the-fight-for-health-care-is-really-all-about-civil-rights/531855/ ]

"Election 2016 has prompted a wave of head-scratching on the left. Counties Trump won by staggering margins will be among the hardest hit by the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Millions of white voters who supported Donald Trump stand to lose their access to health coverage because of their vote.

Individual profiles of Trump voters feed this baffling narrative. A Washington Post story described the experience of Clyde Graham, a long-unemployed coal worker who depends on the ACA for access to health care. He voted for Trump knowing it might cost him his health insurance out of his hope of capturing the great white unicorn – a new job in the mines. His stance is not unusual.

Why are economically struggling blue collar voters rejecting a party that offers to expand public safety net programs? The reality is that the bulk of needy white voters are not interested in the public safety net. They want to restore their access to an older safety net, one much more generous, dignified, and stable than the public system – the one most well-employed voters still enjoy.

When it seems like people are voting against their interests, I have probably failed to understand their interests. We cannot begin to understand Election 2016 until we acknowledge the power and reach of socialism for white people.

Americans with good jobs live in a socialist welfare state more generous, cushioned and expensive to the public than any in Europe. Like a European system, we pool our resources to share the burden of catastrophic expenses, but unlike European models, our approach doesn’t cover everyone.

Like most of my neighbors I have a good job in the private sector. Ask my neighbors about the cost of the welfare programs they enjoy and you will be greeted by baffled stares. All that we have is “earned” and we perceive no need for government support. Nevertheless, taxpayers fund our retirement saving, health insurance, primary, secondary, and advanced education, daycare, commuter costs, and even our mortgages at a staggering public cost. Socialism for white people is all-enveloping, benevolent, invisible, and insulated by the nasty, deceptive notion that we have earned our benefits by our own hand.

My family’s generous health insurance costs about $20,000 a year, of which we pay only $4,000 in premiums. The rest is subsidized by taxpayers. You read that right. Like virtually everyone else on my block who isn’t old enough for Medicare or employed by the government, my family is covered by private health insurance subsidized by taxpayers at a stupendous public cost. Well over 90% of white households earning over the white median income (about $75,000) carried health insurance even before the Affordable Care Act. White socialism is nice if you can get it.

Companies can deduct the cost of their employees’ health insurance while employees are not required to report that benefit as income. That results in roughly a $400 billion annual transfer of funds from state and federal treasuries to insurers to provide coverage for the Americans least in need of assistance. This is one of the defining features of white socialism, the most generous benefits go to those who are best suited to provide for themselves. Those benefits are not limited to health care.

When I buy a house for my family, or a vacation home, the interest I pay on the mortgage is deductible up to a million dollars of debt. That costs the treasury $70 billion a year, about what we spend to fund the food stamp program. My private retirement savings are also tax deductible, diverting another $75 billion from government revenues. Other tax preferences carve out special treatment for child care expenses, college savings, commuter costs (your suburban tax credit), local taxes, and other exemptions.

By funding government programs with tax credits and deductions rather than spending, we have created an enormous social safety net that grows ever more generous as household incomes rise. It is important to note, though, that you need not be wealthy to participate. All you need to gain access to socialism for white people is a good corporate or government job. That fact helps explain how this welfare system took shape sixty years ago, why it was originally (and still overwhelmingly) white, and why white Rust Belt voters showed far more enthusiasm for Donald Trump than for Bernie Sanders. White voters are not interested in democratic socialism. They want to restore their access to a more generous and dignified program of white socialism.

In the years after World War II, the western democracies that had not already done so adopted universal social safety net programs. These included health care, retirement and other benefits. President Truman introduced his plan for universal health coverage in 1945. It would have worked much like Social Security, imposing a tax to fund a universal insurance pool. His plan went nowhere.

Instead, nine years later Congress laid the foundations of the social welfare system we enjoy today. They rejected Truman’s idea of universal private coverage in favor of a program controlled by employers while publicly funded through tax breaks. This plan gave corporations new leverage in negotiating with unions, handing the companies a publicly-financed benefit they could distribute at their discretion.

No one stated their intention to create a social welfare program for white people, specifically white men, but they didn’t need to. By handing control to employers at a time when virtually every good paying job was reserved for white men the program silently accomplished that goal.

White socialism played a vital political role, as blue collar factory workers and executives all pooled their resources for mutual support and protection, binding them together culturally and politically. Higher income workers certainly benefited more, but almost all the benefits of this system from health care to pensions originally accrued to white families through their male breadwinners. Blue collar or white collar, their fates were largely united by their racial identity and employment status.

Until the decades after the Civil Rights Acts, very few women or minorities gained direct access to this system. Unsurprisingly, this was the era in which white attitudes about the social safety net and the Democratic Party began to pivot. Thanks to this silent racial legacy, socialism for white people retains its disproportionately white character, though that has weakened. Racial boundaries are now less explicit and more permeable, but still today white families are twice as likely as African-Americans to have access to private health insurance. Two thirds of white children are covered by private health insurance, while barely over one third of black children enjoy this benefit.

White socialism has had a stark impact on the rest of the social safety net, creating a two-tiered system. Visit a county hospital to witness an example. American socialism for “everyone else” is marked by crowded conditions, neglected facilities, professionalism compromised by political patronage, and long waits for care. Fall outside the comfortable bubble of white socialism, and one faces a world of frightening indifference.

When Democrats respond to job losses with an offer to expand the public safety net, blue collar voters cringe and rebel. They are not remotely interested in sharing the public social safety net experienced by minority groups and the poorest white families. Meanwhile well-employed and affluent voters, ensconced in their system of white socialism, leverage all the power at their disposal to block any dilution of their expensive public welfare benefits. Something has to break.

We may one day recognize that we are all “in it together” and find ways to build a more stable, sensible welfare system. That will not happen unless we acknowledge the painful and sometimes embarrassing legacy that brought us to this place. Absent that reckoning, unspoken realities will continue to warp our political calculations, frustrating our best hopes and stunting our potential."
socialism  us  race  health  healthcare  housing  2017  chrisladd  policy  politics  socialwelfare  welfare  europe  racism  civilrightsact  labor  work  jobs 
july 2017 by robertogreco
California Über Alles | Ann Friedman
"It’s tempting to interpret the waning economic prospects and cultural relevance of rural America as an inevitable consequence of casual bigotry. If these people were just a bit more forward-looking—more accepting of immigrants and gay people, more interested in new technology—then maybe people like me would stay put. And maybe those states would still be attracting employers. Maybe there would be TV shows and movies set there. Maybe they’d even be drawing in transplants rather than hemorrhaging the best and brightest of each generation. Oppressive state laws can drive people away; in several states, for example, major businesses have scuttled investment plans in response to anti-LGBT legislation. The Associated Press found that North Carolina’s so-called bathroom bill, passed last year, will end up costing the state at least $3.76 billion over twelve years in canceled business.

Yet in the end, this vision of culture-wide economic payback for the politically backward interior is as much a fantasy as the notion that Trump can bring back manufacturing jobs. The real reason that jobs have disappeared from large swathes of the country has more to do with neoliberalism than with social issues. Broadly speaking, California is a winner in this system. Most other places in America are not.

The Golden State has long contained some of the richest zip codes in the country, but it’s increasingly becoming a state where only the wealthy can build a decent life for themselves. This is apparent in places like Los Angeles’ Boyle Heights, where my friend flies his rebel flag but rising housing prices are breaking up the Latino community that’s called the neighborhood home since the 1950s. Zoom out the lens, and you can see that it’s not just a local issue: since 2011, housing prices across the state have gone up 71 percent. That’s had real consequences. Between 2007 and 2014, more people left California than migrated here. Leading the exodus were people without college degrees—in other words, the same demographic that’s credited with delivering Trump a landslide victory in red states.

The hard truth about liberal secession fantasies is that California is not a place where progressive policies enable everyone to become successful. It’s a place to which people move to enjoy their success when they’ve beaten the odds elsewhere. As Kendrick Lamar reminded us, people come to California for “women, weed, and weather”—not decent wages, affordable education, and accessible health care.

Ruiz Evans’s case for secession rests on the claim that Californians’ “views on education, science, immigration, taxation and healthcare are different” from those prevailing in much of the rest of the country. This is certainly true when you look at polling on the issues. But when it comes to policies and outcomes, California’s unique values are less apparent. To take just the first example on Ruiz Evans’s list, California’s per-pupil spending on K-12 education has declined for years, falling well below the national average. In this realm, California is comparable to states like Florida and Texas—even though California also boasts some of the highest-performing high schools in the nation. This is not a sign of our more progressive views on education; it’s an indication that the state is deeply segregated along lines of race and class."



"The heartland isn’t monolithically conservative. My home state of Iowa split its Senate seats for decades, electing both a liberal member and a conservative one, and many of the midwestern states that delivered Trump the Electoral College have a similar history of mixed representation. Now that Trump is going to fail to deliver on his promises to improve the economic prospects of the people who voted for him in these states, the time is ripe for liberals to put forth an economic agenda that rests not on racial fearmongering but on guaranteed access to health care, fair wages, education, and affordable housing.

And as it turns out, these needs are every bit as acute in California as they are in Iowa. To move toward a true majoritarian liberal strategy means we must challenge more than a few ingrained narratives about American politics. It means rejecting the fallacy that California is a liberal utopia, a place where we coastal transplants can enjoy the moral high ground over our high school classmates who remained in our hometowns to raise their families. It also means dispensing with the opposite fallacy: that those who stayed behind have some sort of shopworn dignity that the rest of us lack.

And this is because, ultimately, division helps Trump advance his agenda. It keeps Republicans firmly in control of state legislatures and the House. So we must resist the urge to smugly turn our backs on the glum spectacle of the self-inflicted economic immolation of Trump country. We must keep it together. If you had a choice about where to build your life, you now have an obligation—not to move back to your beleaguered homeland, but to stay engaged with it. And if you hope to maintain any genuine sort of moral high ground in your adopted state, you have an obligation there, too: to work to make its policies align with your beliefs.

This is not, as Rich suggests, as simple as adopting Trump’s shoot-from-the-hip rhetorical style. Nor is it a question of luring venture capitalists to rural Ohio—where, in all likelihood, they would bring the same mounting inequality and diminished returns that have made Silicon Valley a fortress of paper wealth. It’s a matter of supporting candidates who share our values and have a track record of actually getting them enacted in policy. That’s a hard thing to prove when Democrats are not in power. But as I write these words, opinion polls show that Bernie Sanders is the most popular political leader in the country. Surely that suggests an opportunity to build on the best parts of his 2016 platform and to get behind other Democrats who are known for supporting such policies. There are several, like Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren, who enjoy a cross-demographic appeal. The time is also ripe to capitalize on the fiasco of Trumpcare and place single-payer health reform back on the table. Similar opportunities will surely present themselves on other issues, from education reform to infrastructure investment, as the president fails to deliver on promises to his base. The trick will be to continue to frame these issues as nationwide problems that we all have a stake in solving.

Those of us who have the economic freedom to migrate to pursue better jobs and a broad range of economic opportunities are the ones who bear the greatest burden for bridging the country’s internal geopolitical divides. Believe me, I understand the temptation to separate yourself: it’s true that I am different from the people I grew up with who chose to stay in Iowa. Part of that difference is, now, an economic and cultural advantage. So I have a dual responsibility: to see that California actually makes good on its professed values, and to ensure that those values incorporate the rest of America. Refusing to rationalize elite neglect is the real rebellion."
california  politics  policy  economics  work  labor  inequality  annfriedman  2017  education  healthcare  segregation  progressivism  class  race  classism  racism  homeless  homelessness  housing  donaldtrump  division  us  secession  siliconvalley  democrats  highereducation  highered  property  proposition13  elitism  migration  freedom  values  exclusion  inclusion  inclusivity  berniesanders  sherrodbrown  elizabethwarren  singlepayer  livingwage  affordability 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Books that have shaped our thinking – Nava PBC
"Recommended reads related to civic tech, health, government, behavioral science, design and engineering

At Nava we have a living Google Doc where we link to books that help us understand the systems and architecture we use. The intention of this document is to form a baseline of readings that new employees will need and to share with other employees good resources for being productive.

Below are some of our favorites from that list:

Sorting Things Out: Classification and its Consequences
by Susan Leigh Star and Geoffrey C. Bowker
This covers, in great detail, the astounding ways that the models we make for the world end up influencing how we interact with it. This is incredibly relevant to our work: the data models we define and the way we classify and interpret data have profound and often invisible impacts on large populations. — Sha Hwang, Co-founder and Head of Creative

Decoded
by Jay Z
Decoded is Jay Z’s autobiography and describes his experience as a black man growing up in an impoverished neighborhood in NYC. In particular, there is a passage about poor people’s relationship to the government that changed the way I think about the perception of those government services that I work to improve. This book showed me that the folks we usually want to serve most well in government, are the ones who are most likely to have had profoundly negative experiences with government. It taught me that, when I work on government services, I am rebuilding a relationship, not starting a new one. Context is so important. It’s a fun, fast read and I used to ask that our Apprentices read at least that passage, if not the whole book, before starting with our team at the NYC Mayor’s Office. — Genevieve Gaudet, Designer

Seeing like a State
by James C. Scott
A reminder that the governance of people at scale can have unintended consequences when removed from people’s daily lives and needs. You won’t think of the grid, property lines, and last names the same way again.— Shelly Ni, Designer

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
by Susan Cain
Cain uses data and real world examples of how and why introverts are overlooked in American culture and then discusses how both introverts and extroverts can play a role in ensuring introverts get a seat at the table and a word in the conversation. — Aimee Barciauskas, Software Engineer

Capital in the Twenty-First Century
by Thomas Piketty
This book analyzes the long-term fluctuations in wealth inequality across the globe, from the eighteenth century to present. He exposes an incredibly important issue in a compelling way, using references not just to data, but to history and literature to prove his point. — Mari Miyachi, Software Engineer

Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson III
by Robert A. Caro
Our most underhanded president also brought us Medicaid, Medicare, and civil rights. Was Machiavelli so bad after all? — Alex Prokop, Software Engineer

Praying for Sheetrock
by Melissa Fay Greene
A true, close-up story of McIntosh County, Georgia, a place left behind by the greater Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. This is a story about the civil rights movement that shakes up the community in the 1970s, and this is also a story about burnout, and organizing, and intergenerational trauma. — Shelly Ni, Designer

The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care
by T. R. Reid
Reid explores different models for healthcare in nations across the globe. He’s searching for an understanding of why America’s system is comparatively so expensive and unsuccessful, leaving so many uninsured and unhealthy. There is a great chapter on Ayurvedic medicine which (spoiler alert) seemed to work for the author when he was suffering from a shoulder injury! — Aimee Barciauskas, Software Engineer

Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration
by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace
A very enjoyable and inspirational read about the history of Pixar from founder Ed Catmull himself. It delves into what sets a creative company apart and teaches lessons like “people are more important than ideas” and “simple answers are seductive” without reading like a typical business book.— Lauren Peterson, Product Manager

Thinking, Fast and Slow
by Daniel Kahneman
The magnum opus of Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman. Kahneman is a psychologist but his Nobel is in Economics, and unlike other winners in this category, his win stands the test of time. You will be a much better decision maker after reading this book and understanding the two modes our brains work in: System 1 intuitive “fast” thinking and System 2 deliberate “slow” thinking. It is a beast of a book, but unlike the vast majority of (pop) psychology books, this book distills decades of groundbreaking research and is the basis for so many other psychology books and research that if you read this book carefully, you won’t have to read those other books. There are so many topics in this book, I’ll just link to the Wikipedia page to give you a flavor.— Alicia Liu, Software Engineer

Nudge
by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein
This covers how sensible “choice architecture” can improve the decisions and behavior of people. Much of what’s covered comes from decades of research in behavioral science and economics, and has a wide range of applications — from design, user research, and policy to business and everyday life. — Sawyer Hollenshead, Designer

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right
by Atul Gawande
This book is about how checklists can help even experts avoid mistakes. Experience isn’t enough. I try to apply the lessons of this book to the processes we use to operate our software.—Evan Kroske, Software Engineer

The Soul of a New Machine
by Tracy Kidder
This book details the work of a computer engineering team racing to design a computer. While the pace of work for the team is certainly unsustainable and perhaps even unhealthy at times, the highs and lows they go through as they debug their new minicomputer will be familiar to engineers and members of tight-knit groups of all varieties. The rush to finish their project, which was thought to be a dark horse at the beginning of the book, is enthralling and will keep you engaged with this book late into the night. — Samuel Keller, Software Engineer

Release It!: Design and Deploy Production-Ready Software
by Michael T. Nygard
One of the best, most practical books I’ve ever read about creating resilient software on “modern” web architectures. While it may not be the most relevant with regards to cloud-based infrastructure, the patterns and processes described within are still very applicable. This is one of the few technical books I have read cover-to-cover. — Scott Smith, Software Engineer

Design for Democracy
by Marcia Lausen
From an AIGA project to improve the design of ballots— both paper and electronic— following the “hanging chad” drama of the 2000 election, comes this review of best practices for designers, election officials, and anyone interested in the intersection of design and voting.—Shelly Ni, Designer

The Design of Everyday Things
by Donald A. Norman
This is a classic for learning about design and its sometimes unintended consequences. I read it years ago and I still think about it every time I’m in an elevator. It’s a great introduction to a designer’s responsibility and designing in the real world for actual humans, who can make mistakes and surprising choices about how to use the designs you create. — Genevieve Gaudet, Designer

More recommendations from the team
• The Unexotic Underclass
• Open Government: Collaboration, Transparency, and Participation in Practice
• Everybody Hurts: Content for Kindness
• Poverty Interrupted: Applying Behavioral Science to the Context of Chronic Scarcity [PDF]
• Designing for Social Change: Strategies for Community-Based Graphic Design
• Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga, and Graphic Novels
• The New New Journalism: Conversations with America’s Best Nonfiction Writers on their Craft
• The Furious Improvisation: How the WPA and a Cast of Thousands Made High Art out of Desperate Times
• The Effective Engineer: How to Leverage Your Efforts In Software Engineering to Make a Disproportionate and Meaningful Impact
• Effective DevOps: Building a Culture of Collaboration, Affinity, and Tooling at Scale"
nava  books  booklists  design  education  health  healthcare  sawyerhollenshed  jayz  susanleighstar  shahwang  geoffreybowker  decoded  jamescscott  seeinglikeastate  susancain  introverts  quiet  thomaspiketty  economics  melissafaygreene  civilrrights  socialjustice  creativity  edcatmull  amyallace  pixar  teams  readinglists  toread  howwethink  thinking  danielkahneman  government  richardthaler  casssunstein  atulgawande  tracykidder  medicine  checklists  process  michaelnygard  software  ui  ux  democracy  donalnorman  devops  improvisation  collaboration  sfsh  journalism  kindness  socialchange  transparency  participation  participatory  opengovernment  open 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Organizing for Action
"We aren’t the first to fight for progressive change and we won’t be the last.

OUR STORY

Organizing for Action is a movement of millions of Americans, coming together to fight for real, lasting change.

We’re community organizers, and we’re proud of it.

With more than 250 local chapters around the country, OFA volunteers are building this organization from the ground up, community by community, one conversation at a time—whether that’s on a front porch or on Facebook. We’re committed to finding and training the next generation of great progressive organizers, because at the end of the day, we aren’t the first to fight for progressive change, and we won’t be the last.

This is bigger than just one person or one cause.

The 5 million Americans who’ve taken action with OFA are part of a long line of people who stand up and take on the big fights for social justice, basic fairness, equal rights, and expanding opportunity.

That means turning up the heat on climate change deniers, because the stakes are too high not to act.

It means calling for lawmakers to stop standing in the way of comprehensive immigration reform.

We’re helping people get health coverage, and telling the stories of the millions who are seeing the life-saving benefits of Obamacare.

We’re the ones rallying around the simple principle that love is love and that no one should ever be discriminated against because of who they are or whom they love.

We organize because too often a woman’s health care is debated as a political issue, not as a basic right.

And we believe that anyone who works hard and plays by the rules deserves a fair shot at the American dream.

That kind of progress is never easy. But we’re not here for the easy fights.

In the face of partisan gridlock and powerful, deep-pocketed interests, we refuse to be cynical about what we can accomplish. We have a history of proving the naysayers wrong, and we look forward to doing it again."
climatechange  immigration  us  policy  politics  government  organization  healthcare  progress  discrimination  reform  barackobama 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Lana Del Raytheon🌹 on Twitter: "The Democrats: we keep losing even though the opposing party wants your family to die horribly because we love our major donors too much"
"The Democrats: we keep losing even though the opposing party wants your family to die horribly because we love our major donors too much

The Democrats: we squandered two years of complete power and totally failed poor people and immigrants but at least now we have drone murder

The Democrats: We like our voters engaged with politics like Americans like soccer—intensely, shallowly, and only every 4 years

The Democrats: We lost the easiest election ever because we love money, provincial power, and the existing capitalist system too damn much

The Democrats: We would rather you all die horribly *and* keep losing elections than lose our personal money/power
sick transit, gloria @samknight1
.@EvanMcS asks @NancyPelosi if single payer should be a Democratic Party platform in 2018.

"No," she says, without missing a beat

The Democrats: We will sell you all out if it means even just a fleeting amount of money and power from donors

David Sirota @davidsirota
EXPOSED: Dianne Feinstein held fundraiser with healthcare lobby firm days after slamming Sanders' single-payer bill http://www.ibtimes.com/political-capital/dianne-feinstein-takes-money-health-care-lobby-rejects-single-payer-insurance

The Democrats: We will claim credit for anything good even though we are too useless + craven to ever accomplish it
The New York Times @nytimes
Hillary Clinton has a new message for voters: Universal health care was her idea first http://nyti.ms/1UjcoFU
"
democrats  us  2017  elections  nancypelosi  healthcare  universalhealthcare  poer  elitism  change  politics  policy  corruption  democracy  poverty  immigration  capitalism  economics  money  influence  governance  diannefeinstein  california 
may 2017 by robertogreco
'More Justice and Some Peace': Mariame Kaba on Ending America's Violence | Broadly
"Last year, she moved back to New York, where she has continued her work of ending violence in its myriad forms. To her, that means ending prisons, ending white supremacy, ending gender-based violence, ending economic inequality, and ultimately ending capitalism. It is, of course, a tall order. Over the phone, Kaba says she simply tries to fill it piece by piece, with as many people as possible fighting alongside her. She currently organizes with Survived and Punished, bringing attention to victims of domestic violence who have been incarcerated for fighting back against their attackers.

"I don't think you can make change as a lone ranger. That's why you see myself and others building so many organizations. And when those organizations and containers are no longer needed, you end those and then you do something else." she said. "You need organization because people need containers for the work and we need each other's backs. Ella Baker used to always say, 'Martin didn't make the movement. The movement made Martin.' [Individuals] actually transform things with a base of people who are working their asses off. That's how it works."

Most recently, she invigorated the push for "Medicare for All" by starting a campaign to get both state legislatures and congressional representatives to support single-payer health care. It is at once a concrete demand and way of envisioning a positive future. In the face of the Affordable Care Act being dismantled by Donald Trump and the Republicans, Medicare for All goes beyond simply defending existing benefits and asserts that everyone has a right to health and life. Indeed, all of Kaba's efforts consciously intersect and try to build a world with, as she often tweets, "more justice and some peace."

If you find yourself wondering what to do next as Donald Trump's horrible presidency only gets worse, Kaba's organizing is instructive: Engage on a local level, find ways to support your community, build new institutions, and think about what you are working toward—not just resisting. I talked with Kaba about how she does just that."



"I have a hard time focusing on [Trump] in particular. Trump really does not care about Chicago. Chicago is not a real place for him. Chicago is a metaphor for him that he's able to use in his fevered, racist project. Addressing what he has to say about Chicago just feels like falling into a trap. He doesn't see people who live in the city as people. They're just abstractions to be weaponized to maintain white supremacy. There's just no question about how that is playing itself out in all ways. You're seeing it as a through-line in all his policies.

Chicago is a city that is ground zero of the neoliberal experiment led by Democrats over a long period of time. They were trying to figure out and test out their policies of privatization in multiple ways. They closed dozens and dozens of schools over a 20-year period. They defunded public services like public mental health clinics. That is itself violence, and to expect that that is not going to lead to interpersonal violence in those communities is nuts. They just want to point their finger at an individual young person and raise the penalties against that young person. For years in Chicago, the mayor has had an obsession with increasing the mandatory minimums for gun possession. Empirical data has said that that is not the way forward, but they still want to do it. When I was in Chicago we spent four years in a row fighting against that mandatory minimum gun bill. It will probably pass this year because people are so whipped up into frenzy about crime. The same failed policies from the past get repeated as though they are brand new. And the public doesn't have the energy to follow it closely enough. They're scared. They don't have the energy. They're taken by the fear-mongering. People have some legitimate, real concerns as well. Some young people are being put into harm's way by other people with guns. They want people to feel safe. That's all understandable. Nobody wants their neighborhood to be a shooting gallery, but we just have to be smart about how we respond to these things. And people aren't."



"I kind of cringe when I hear the term self-care, for lots of reasons: the way that it's been commodified, the way it's a form of compulsory action. People do a lot of "are you doing self-care?" and it becomes, like, it's own work. People have made self-care a labor. To me that's really not useful, and for some people it's actually oppressive. It becomes it's own job. I'm interested in collectivizing our care. I'm interested in community care. We should take care of each other and help each other out. It's not an individual pursuit. Everything in this county is so fucking individualistic and so rooted in capitalism I can't stand it. Like, do I have hobbies? Yes. I knit. I watch dumb movies. I go out to dinner with people I love. I love to do lots of different kinds of things, and I don't see it as some special time that I'm carving out. I just see it as my life. Just like organizing is my life, and part of the rent that I pay to live on this planet.

I understand, though. I hear a lot of conversations around self-care and healing. I'm so happy that they pay attention to those things and try to center them in their own lives. On the one hand, I'm grateful to them for making sure they pay attention to that. In my generation this was not something that people focused on doing. But I have to admit to being super concerned by a lot of the language and how people are trying to operationalize and actualize self-care within capitalism. I also worry that it is going to become a new labor for people to undertake. So when you are in a position where you can't "self-care" the anxiety of not being able to do it becomes its own thing. I just think it shouldn't be that. I also think that struggle and organizing are also joys. It's not taxing labor all the time, and if it is you're probably doing it wrong."
mariamekaba  activism  violence  capitalism  organization  medicadeforall  healthcare  policy  grassroots  2017  self-care  socialjustice  collaboration  peace  racism  inequality  whitesupremacy 
february 2017 by robertogreco
John Berger, Written in the night: The pain of living in the present world
"I WANT to say at least something about the pain existing in the world today. Consumerist ideology, which has become the most powerful and invasive on the planet, sets out to persuade us that pain is an accident, something that we can insure against. This is the logical basis for the ideology's pitilessness.

Everyone knows, of course, that pain is endemic to life, and wants to forget this or relativise it. All the variants of the myth of a Fall from the Golden Age, before pain existed, are an attempt to relativise the pain suffered on earth. So too is the invention of Hell, the adjacent kingdom of pain-as-punishment. Likewise the discovery of Sacrifice. And later, much later, the principle of Forgiveness. One could argue that philosophy began with the question: why pain?

Yet, when all this has been said, the present pain of living in the world is perhaps in some ways unprecedented.

I write in the night, although it is daytime. A day in early October 2002. For almost a week the sky above Paris has been blue. Each day the sunset is a little earlier and each day gloriously beautiful. Many fear that before the end of the month, US military forces will be launching the preventive war against Iraq, so that the US oil corporations can lay their hands on further and supposedly safer oil supplies. Others hope that this can be avoided. Between the announced decisions and the secret calculations, everything is kept unclear, since lies prepare the way for missiles. I write in a night of shame. By shame I do not mean individual guilt. Shame, as I'm coming to understand it, is a species feeling which, in the long run, corrodes the capacity for hope and prevents us looking far ahead. We look down at our feet, thinking only of the next small step.

People everywhere, under very different conditions, are asking themselves - where are we? The question is historical not geographical. What are we living through? Where are we being taken? What have we lost? How to continue without a plausible vision of the future? Why have we lost any view of what is beyond a lifetime?

The well-heeled experts answer. Globalisation. Postmodernism. Communications revolution. Economic liberalism. The terms are tautological and evasive. To the anguished question of where are we, the experts murmur: nowhere. Might it not be better to see and declare that we are living through the most tyrannical - because the most pervasive - chaos that has ever existed? It's not easy to grasp the nature of the tyranny for its power structure (ranging from the 200 largest multinational corporations to the Pentagon) is interlocking yet diffuse, dictatorial yet anonymous, ubiquitous yet placeless. It tyrannises from off shore - not only in terms of fiscal law, but in terms of any political control beyond its own. Its aim is to delocalise the entire world. Its ideo logical strategy, besides which Osama bin Laden's is a fairy tale, is to undermine the existent so that everything collapses into its special version of the virtual, from the realm of which (and this is the tyranny's credo) there will be a never-ending source of profit. It sounds stupid. Tyrannies are stupid. This one is destroying at every level the life of the planet on which it operates.

Ideology apart, its power is based on two threats. The first is intervention from the sky by the most heavily armed state in the world. One could call it Threat B52. The second is of ruthless indebtment, bankruptcy, and hence, given the present productive relations in the world, starvation. One could call it Threat Zero.

The shame begins with the contestation (which we all acknowledge somewhere but, out of powerlessness, dismiss) that much of the present suffering could be alleviated or avoided if certain realistic and relatively simple decisions were taken. There is a very direct relation today between the minutes of meetings and minutes of agony.

Does anyone deserve to be condemned to certain death simply because they don't have access to treatment which would cost less than $2 a day? This was a question posed by the director of the World Health Organisation last July. She was talking about the Aids epidemic in Africa and elsewhere from which an estimated 68 million people will die within the next 18 years. I'm talking about the pain of living in the present world.

Most analyses and prognoses about what is happening are understandably presented and studied within the framework of their separate disciplines: economics, politics, media studies, public health, ecology, national defence, criminology, education. In reality each of these separ ate fields is joined to another to make up the real terrain of what is being lived. It happens that in their lives people suffer from wrongs which are classified in separate categories, and suffer them simultaneously and inseparably.

A current example: some Kurds, who fled last week to Cherbourg, have been refused asylum by the French government and risk being repatriated to Turkey, are poor, politically undesirable, landless, exhausted, illegal and the clients of nobody. And they suffer each of these conditions at one and the same second. To take in what is happening, an interdisciplinary vision is necessary in order to connect the fields which are institutionally kept separate. And any such vision is bound to be (in the original sense of the word) political. The precondition for thinking politically on a global scale is to see the unity of the unnecessary suffering taking place. This is the starting point.

I WRITE in the night, but I see not only the tyranny. If that were so, I would probably not have the courage to continue. I see people sleeping, stirring, getting up to drink water, whispering their projects or their fears, making love, praying, cooking something whilst the rest of the family is asleep, in Baghdad and Chicago. (Yes, I see too the forever invincible Kurds, 4,000 of whom were gassed, with US compliance, by Saddam Hussein.) I see pastrycooks working in Tehran and the shepherds, thought of as bandits, sleeping beside their sheep in Sardinia, I see a man in the Friedrichshain quarter of Berlin sitting in his pyjamas with a bottle of beer reading Heidegger, and he has the hands of a proletarian, I see a small boat of illegal immigrants off the Spanish coast near Alicante, I see a mother in Mali - her name is Aya which means born on Friday - swaying her baby to sleep, I see the ruins of Kabul and a man going home, and I know that, despite the pain, the ingenuity of the survivors is undiminished, an ingenuity which scavenges and collects energy, and in the ceaseless cunning of this ingenuity, there is a spiritual value, something like the Holy Ghost. I am convinced of this in the night, although I don't know why.

The next step is to reject all the tyranny's discourse. Its terms are crap. In the interminably repetitive speeches, announcements, press conferences and threats, the recurrent terms are Democracy, Justice, Human Rights, Terrorism. Each word in the context signifies the opposite of what it was once meant to. Each has been trafficked, each has become a gang's code-word, stolen from humanity.

Democracy is a proposal (rarely realised) about decision-making; it has little to do with election campaigns. Its promise is that political decisions be made after, and in the light of, consultation with the governed. This is depend ent upon the governed being adequately informed about the issues in question, and upon the decision-makers having the capacity and will to listen and take account of what they have heard. Democracy should not be confused with the freedom of binary choices, the publication of opinion polls or the crowding of people into statistics. These are its pretence. Today the fundamental decisions, which effect the unnecessary pain increasingly suffered across the planet, have been and are taken unilaterally without any open consultation or participation. For instance, how many US citizens, if consulted, would have said specifically yes to Bush's withdrawal from the Kyoto agreement about the carbon dioxide greenhouse effect which is already provoking disastrous floods in many places, and threatens, within the next 25 years, far worse disasters? Despite all the media-managers of consent, I would suspect a minority.

It is a little more than a century ago that Dvořák composed his Symphony From the New World. He wrote it whilst directing a conservatory of music in New York, and the writing of it inspired him to compose, 18 months later, still in New York, his sublime Cello Concerto. In the symphony the horizons and rolling hills of his native Bohemia become the promises of the New World. Not grandiloquent but loud and continuing, for they correspond to the longings of those without power, of those who are wrongly called simple, of those the US Constitution addressed in 1787.

I know of no other work of art which expresses so directly and yet so toughly (Dvořák was the son of a peasant and his father dreamt of his becoming a butcher) the beliefs which inspired generation after generation of migrants who became US citizens.

For Dvořák the force of these beliefs was inseparable from a kind of tenderness, a respect for life such as can be found intimately among the governed (as distinct from governors) everywhere. And it was in this spirit that the symphony was publicly received when it was first performed at Carnegie Hall (16 December 1893).

Dvořák was asked what he thought about the future of American music and he recommended that US composers listen to the music of the Indians and blacks. The Symphony From the New World expressed a hopefulness without frontiers which, paradoxically, is welcoming because centered on an idea of home. A utopian paradox.

Today the power of the same country which inspired such hopes has fallen into the hands of a coterie of fanatical (wanting to limit everything except the power of capital), ignorant (recognising only the reality of their own fire-power), hypo critical (two measures for all ethical judgments, one … [more]
johnberger  2013  presence  present  consumerism  pain  ideology  worldhealthorganization  aids  africa  health  healthcare  priorities  power  powerlessness  kurds  turkey  iraq  war  tyranny  baghdad  saddamhussein  democracy  decisionmaking  participatory  participation  dvořák  us  military  freedom  economics  capitalism  language  euphemisms  media  resistance  words 
january 2017 by robertogreco
99 Reasons 2016 Was a Good Year – Future Crunch – Medium
[See also Chris Hadfield’s list:

"With celebrity death and elections taking the media by the nose, it’s easy to forget that this year saw a great many positives. Let’s look."
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:017019e54e7b ]

"Our media feeds are echo chambers. And those echo chambers don’t just reflect our political beliefs; they reflect our feelings about human progress. Bad news is a bubble too."

Some of the biggest conservation successes in generation

[1 – 9]

Huge strides forward for global health

[10 – 24]

Political and economic progress in many parts of the world

[25 – 41]

We finally started responding seriously to the climate change emergency

[42 – 59]

The world got less violent

[60 – 66]

Signs of hope for a life-sustaining economy

[67 – 78]

Endangered animals got a some well-deserved breaks

[79 – 90]

The world got more generous

[91 – 99]"
via:anne  optimism  2016  trends  improvement  progress  health  global  healthcare  disease  conservation  environment  chrishadfield  economics  endangeredanimals  animals  violence  climatechange  politics  generosity  charity  philanthropy 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Chris Hadfield on Twitter: "With celebrity death and elections taking the media by the nose, it’s easy to forget that this year saw a great many positives. Let’s look."
[See also: "99 Reasons 2016 Was a Good Year: Our media feeds are echo chambers. And those echo chambers don’t just reflect our political beliefs; they reflect our feelings about human progress. Bad news is a bubble too."
https://medium.com/future-crunch/99-reasons-why-2016-has-been-a-great-year-for-humanity-8420debc2823#.tj7kowhpd

"With celebrity death and elections taking the media by the nose, it’s easy to forget that this year saw a great many positives. Let’s look.

1. The Colombian government and FARC rebels committed to a lasting peace, ending a war that killed or displaced over 7 million people.

2. Sri Lanka spent five years working to exile the world’s deadliest disease from their borders. As of 2016, they are malaria free.

3. The Giant Panda, arguably the world’s second cutest panda, has official been removed from the endangered species list.

4. @astro_timpeake became the first ESA astronaut from the UK, symbolizing a renewed British commitment to space exploration.

5. Tiger numbers around the world are on the rise for the first time in 100 years, with plans to double by 2022.

6. Juno, a piece of future history, successfully flew over 588 million miles and is now sending back unprecedented data from Jupiter.

7. The number of veterans in the US who are homeless has halved in the past half-decade, with a nearly 20% drop in 2016.

8. Malawi lowered its HIV rate by 67%, and in the past decade have seen a shift in public health that has saved over 250,000 lives.

9. Air travel continue to get safer, and 2016 saw the second fewest per capita deaths in aviation of any year on record.

10. India’s dogged commitment to reforestation saw a single day event planting more than 50 million trees, a world record.

11. Measles has been eradicated from the Americas. A 22 year vaccination campaign has led to the elimination of the historic virus.

12. After a century, Einstein’s theory of gravitational waves has been proven correct, in a ‘moon shot’ scientific achievement.

13. China has announced a firm date for the end of the ivory trade, as public opinion is becoming more staunchly environmentalist.

14. A solar powered airplane flew across the Pacific Ocean for the first time, highlighting a new era of energy possibilities.

15. Costa Rica’s entire electrical grid ran on renewable energy for over half the year, and their capacity continues to grow.

16. Israeli and US researchers believe they are on the brink of being able to cure radiation sickness, after successful tests this year.

17. The ozone layer has shown that through tackling a problem head on, the world can stem environmental disasters, together.

18. A new treatment for melanoma has seen a 40% survival rate, taking a huge step forward towards long-term cancer survivability.

19. An Ebola vaccine was developed by Canadian researchers with 100% efficacy. Humans eradicated horror, together.

20. British Columbia protected 85% of the world’s largest temperate rainforest, in a landmark environmental agreement.

21. 2016 saw the designation of more than 40 new marine sanctuaries in 20 countries, covering an area larger than the United States.

22. These marine reserves include Malaysia’s 13 year struggle to complete a million hectare park, completed this year.

23. This also includes the largest marine reserve in history, created in Antarctica via an unprecedented agreement by 24 nations.

24. Atmospheric acid pollution, once a gloomy reality, has been tackled to the point of being almost back to pre-industrial levels.

25. Major diseases are in decline. The US saw a 50% mortality drop in colon cancer; lower heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia.

26. Uruguay successfully fought tobacco companies to create a precedent for small countries looking to introduce health-focused legislation.

27. World hunger has reached its lowest point in 25 years, and with poverty levels dropping worldwide, seems likely to continue.

28. The A.U. made strides to become more unified, launching an all-Africa passport meant to allow for visa-free travel for all citizens.

29. Fossil fuel emissions flatlined in 2016, with the Paris agreement becoming the fastest UN treaty to become international law.

30. China announced a ban on new coal mines, with renewed targets to increase electrical capacity through renewables by 2020.

31. One third of Dutch prison cells are empty as the crime rate shrank by more than 25% in the last eight years, continuing to drop.

32. In August went to the high Arctic with some incredible young artists. They helped open my eyes to the promise of the next generation.

33. Science, economics, and environmentalism saw a reversal in the overfishing trends of the United States this year.

34. @BoyanSlat successfully tested his Ocean Cleanup prototype, and aims to clean up to 40% of ocean-borne plastics starting this year.

35. Israel now produces 55% of its freshwater, turning what is one of the driest countries on earth into an agricultural heartland.

36. The Italian government made it harder to waste food, creating laws that provided impetus to collect, share and donate excess meals.

37. People pouring ice on their head amusingly provided the ALS foundation with enough funding to isolate a genetic cause of the disease.

38. Manatees, arguably the most enjoyable animal to meet when swimming, are no longer endangered.

39. Grizzlies, arguable the least enjoyable animal to meet while swimming, no longer require federal protection in US national parks.

40. Global aid increased 7%, with money being designated to helping the world’s 65 million refugees doubling.

41. 2016 was the most charitable year in American history. China’s donations have increased more than ten times since a decade ago.

42. The Gates Foundation announced another 5 billion dollars towards eradicating poverty and disease in Africa.

43. Individual Canadians were so welcoming that the country set a world standard for how to privately sponsor and resettle refugees.

44. Teenage birth rates in the United States have never been lower, while at the same time graduation rates have never been higher.

45. SpaceX made history by landing a rocket upright after returning from space, potentially opening a new era of space exploration.

46. Finally - The Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years, giving hope to Maple Leafs fans everywhere. Happy New Year.

There are countless more examples, big and small. If you refocus on the things that are working, your year will be better than the last."
chrishadfield  optimism  2016  improvement  trends  humanity  earth  environment  economics  health  poverty  refugees  crime  news  imprisonment  incarceration  prisons  us  canada  india  reforestation  forests  vaccinations  measles  manatees  tigers  giantpandas  wildlife  animals  multispecies  endangeredanimals  change  progress  oceans  pollutions  peace  war  colombia  government  srilanka  space  science  pacificocean  china  energy  sustainability  costarica  electricity  reneableenergy  britishcolumbia  ebola  ozone  africa  uruguay  smoking  disease  healthcare  dementia  mortality  environmentalism  italy  italia  bears  grizzlybears  spacex  gatesfoundation  angusharvey 
january 2017 by robertogreco
The Gates Foundation, Ebola, and Global Health Imperialism | Jacob Levich - Academia.edu
"Powerful institutions of Western capital, notably the Bill& Melinda Gates Foundation, viewed the African Ebola outbreak of 2014–2015 as an opportunity to advance an ambitious global agenda.Building on recent public health literature proposing “global health governance” (GHG) as the preferred model for international healthcare, Bill Gates publicly called for the creation of a worldwide,militarized, supranational authority capable of responding decisively to outbreaks of infectious disease—an authority governed by Western powers and targeting the underdeveloped world. This article examines the media-generated panic surrounding Ebola alongside the response and underlying motives of foundations, governments, and other institutions. It describes the evolution and goals of GHG, in particular its opposition to traditional notions of Westphalian sovereignty. It proposes a different concept—“global health imperialism”—as a more useful framework for understanding the current conditions and likely future of international healthcare."

[via the thread that starts with (and contains highlighted screenshots)

"The Gates Foundation, Ebola and Global Health Imperialism. https://www.academia.edu/16242454/The_Gates_Foundation_Ebola_and_Global_Health_Imperialism … #ResistCapitalism

Really great & insightful read."
https://twitter.com/JordanLM__/status/791260406518079488

Amidst the Ebola outbreak, Gates said there needs to be a 'powerful global warning and response system' alike to NATO rather than WHO etc.



I did not know about this.
International health charity has its roots in colonial 'tropical medicine schools' est in Britain 19th cent.

Post-war philanthropy 'development' schemes specifically set out to pacify the third world & counter communism.

Agricultural CDPs [Community Development Programmes] in post-ind India, were specifically to counter revolutionary communist threats of.....

wait for it....'basic social reforms'.
Basic social reforms in India fought for by revolutionary communists were a threat to the US empire

See how subtle academia frames things like this. It's not by accident. #Imperialism #ResistCapitalism #GHG ['Global Health Governance']" ]

[that thread via "Bill Gates publicly called for the creation of a worldwide, militarized, supranational authority..."
https://twitter.com/shailjapatel/status/815457312013856768
gatesfoundation  imperialism  global  health  capitalism  charity  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  communism  history  development  agriculture  us  policy  thirdworld  colonialism  healthcare  medicine  healthimperialism  charitableindustrialcomplex  power  control 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Hard for California to Calexit federal government | The Sacramento Bee
"California and some other parts of the U.S. are in different political orbits when it comes to presidential picks. But the nation’s largest state and the federal government are more deeply entwined than ever on tax, spending and other fiscal matters.

In the wake of the presidential victory by Republican Donald Trump – who lost to Democrat Hillary Clinton in California by nearly 4.3 million votes – some Golden State denizens have suggested more autonomy if not outright independence from the rest of the United States.

Little mention is made of the federal government’s major role in the lives of Californians, from the $47.5 billion in federal contracts awarded to state businesses and other recipients in federal fiscal year 2015, or the nearly $96 billion in federal funds in the current state budget, representing more than one-third of the budget total.

About 344,000 Californians work directly for the federal government, according to the most recent census data, paying state taxes and generating economic activity.

Some Trump supporters, meanwhile, have opined that the rest of the country would be better off without California and its Democratic-leaning electorate.

Yet those people rarely note that California, which represents about 12 percent of the country’s population, generated 13.5 percent of the total federal income tax payments in 2014, the most recent data available – the most of any state.

Compared to most other states, California generally has paid more to the federal government than it receives in federal spending.

A report last year by the New York Office of the Comptroller concluded that California received 99 cents in federal spending for every dollar it paid in federal taxes during the 2013 federal fiscal year, one of 11 states that received less federal money than they paid in taxes.

California, though, has outsized involvement in some federal programs. For example, the state has embraced the federal Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, opting to expand Medi-Cal to cover more than 3.5 million new participants.

If Trump and congressional Republicans follow through on their threat to repeal the law, annual federal funding for Medi-Cal would drop by more than $15 billion, according to the California Budget and Policy Center."
california  calexit  us  money  government  data  2016  taxes  healthcare  employment  obamacare  affordablecareact  medical  economics 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Joamette Kills on Twitter: "Fidel Castro is dead and I am full of emotions."
"Fidel Castro is dead and I am full of emotions.

Disclaimer before I even talk: if you're not Cuban, I don't give a fuck what you think about what I'm about to say.

I found out he was dead when I woke up this morning. I have no comparison for everything I felt at that moment. It was too much.

Fidel is a man who lived 90 miles away from me, who everyone in my family wished was dead, vocally, for as long as I can remember.

Fidel was a man who unwittingly lead to my existence: my parents met as teens in the Miami exile community.

It's a strange feeling when a man you've never known played a pivotal role in your conception - then he dies. Mirrors my actual father.

This moment is also strange for me as a bi-racial Cuban. There are very few Afro-Cubans in Miami. There's a reason.

Cuba became a much Blacker nation after several waves of exiles left. Most exiles were white and white-ish Cubans. They could afford to go.

The first wave of exiles where the wealthiest. Many already had property in Miami they could move into.

That was slightly before the revolution was won. A little after, people began to deport their children en masse to avoid indoctrination.

My family arrived in the last of the great waves of Cuban immigration to the US, broke into Peru's embassy, claimed asylum.

My skinny little mother, 12 years old in 1980, crushed in a tiny boat sent over from Florida, made her way with abuela and 2 brothers to US.

Ultimately, America's promise of capitalist mobility did not pay off for us. Do not scoff at free healthcare and education. Don't scoff -

- at my family's suffering under US capitalism.

The US education system failed my Black immigrant mother. The healthcare system has failed her sick body and ailing mind.

No, Cuba is not a utopia. Yes, it is a dictatorship, with or without Fidel. Yes, the US kills dissidents, too, abroad moreso than at home.

No, it's not justified to limit the freedom of speech and association of your people. No, it's not justified to claim absolute power.

Yet my stomach rolls over looking at the photos from Miami right now. Light-skinned Cubans mourning the privilege that was ripped from them.

Light-skinned Cubans celebrating in the streets because the man that stole their mansions to create housing for the poor is DEAD.

I can oppose so much of what Castro did without feeling glee over his death nor solidarity with the white Cuban elite who ALSO voted Trump.

Being a Cuban right now is way more complicated if you would have been just as poor before Castro as you would have been after.

The popular opinion right now in Cuba is torn. Younger folks don't really a give a shit that he's dead. Folks in their 50s mourning the -

- person that fed them, housed them, when elite ran away and took all their money with them.

My greatest wish for Cuba is greater personal liberties, civil rights, mainly freedom of speech and the press.

I want democracy in Cuba. What I fear now is corporate oligarchy gaining a foothold on the island. No matter what you think about all -

- this, one thing is 100% fucking true: capitalism is a poison."
joamettekills  fidelcastro  cuba  2016  history  race  racism  capitalism  dictatorships  nuance  housing  inequality  oligarchy  healthcare  education  afro-cubans 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Ejike 🇳🇬 on Twitter: "To truly understand Cuba and in fact the rest of Latin America you need to study the Monroe doctrine in 1823"
[Thread]

"Viva Fidel. Your revolutionary courage & your commitment to fighting for the self-determination of the Cuban people will never be forgotten

[URL bookmarked] To truly understand Cuba and in fact the rest of Latin America you need to study the Monroe doctrine in 1823

It's important to note that the US in the early 19th century wasn't strong enough to stop Europe from colonizing Latin America... not yet

That ended in the late 1800s. Look up the Cuban War of Independence where the Cuban people had been whooping the Spanish colonial government

As Cuba was on the verge of liberating itself from Spanish control America intervened in what is shamefully dubbed the Spanish-American war

In 1898 the US intervened in order to "liberate" Cuba frm its humanitarian crisis which was a cover to prevent Cuba frm becoming independent

From 1898 Cuba practically served as an agricultural-colonial plantation for the United States up until Fidel Castro in 1959

In other words, the "Spanish-American war" was really a fight for who got to control Cuba & its resources. America consolidating its empire

I'm not sorry for giving a quick history lesson bc you cannot understand Fidel Castro if you don't understand America as an empire

Fidel Castro with his brilliant use of guerrilla tactics beat the Cuban army over and over again with only a few hundred soldiers

After Fidel Castro overthrew the undemocratic Batista government in 1959, the US in fearing is declining control went berserk!!!

People who talk about Cuba's problems conveniently leave out 58 years of economic blockade, invasion, assassination by the US

Never mind the 630 some assassination attempts made on Fidel Castro the sanctions & absolute terrorism on the Cuban people is reprehensible

The US embargo is literally anything to destroy Cuba's economy. And guess who started this war on Cuba… Your Democratic president JFK

For 9 administrations in a row the US has done everything in its power to destroy Cuba & every time they have failed thanks to Fidel Castro

I don't think there is a country that has been invaded and exposed to more terror by the US in the Western Hemisphere

The literacy rate of Cuba is at 99.8% which is higher than both the US and the UK thanks to Fidel Castro

The infant mortality rate is lower in Cuba than it is in the United States thanks to Fidel Castro

Cuba after being a country in 3rd world conditions now enjoys one of the highest life expectancy's in the world thanks to Fidel Castro

When Nelson Mandela was released one of the first places he went was Havana bc Cuba played one of the biggest roles in ending apartheid

Thanks to Fidel Castro Cuba has the highest ratio of doctors to patients anywhere else in the world in fact Cuba's biggest export is doctors

Thanks to Fidel Castro education in Cuba from kindergarten all the way up to the PhD level is FREE no exceptions

Thanks to Fidel Castro healthcare in Cuba is not a privilege determined by economic status but a human right given to ALL free of charge

Thanks to Fidel Castro, even with the vicious sanctions by the US, Cuba has managed to almost totally eliminate homelessness

To people who want to be critical of Fidel Castro I ask you what would've become of Cuba if the US did not issue its devastating sanctions

The economic strangulation that the US has been engaged in towards Cuba are so SEVERE that they can be considered an act of aggression

The angry Cubans in Florida that you here chastise Fidel Castro are all mysteriously neoliberal capitalists. That should raise red flags

Yes that little socialist island of Cuba has made mistakes but I would've made mistakes too if the US tried to assassinate me over 600 times

Y'all should RT all of these tweets to let everybody know that the US propaganda machine is wrong about Cuba and wrong about Fidel Castro

That Cubans can even provide basic services to its ppl despite being terrorized by the biggest bully in the world 90 miles away...

I love how everybody who is critiquing Fidel Castro sounds just like FOXNews right now. That's great

I REST MY CASE!!!Ejike 🇳🇬 added, RT: "Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump Fidel Castro is dead!" https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/802499192237080576

Trump and Fox News is celebrating the death of Fidel Castro and that still doesn't make people take pause

Every leader who defies US power is deemed a mass murderer and a threat to humanity

Every deficiency in Cuba can seriously be traced back to the economic warfare, subversion, assassination and invasion attempts by the US

Assata Shakur, a courageous revolutionary black woman, was granted political asylum from the US by which country... Cuba

I find it fascinating that the US wants Cuba to know the US is a friend when it still hasn't lifted the embargo RT: "Obama's statement on Castro [image] https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2016/nov/26/fidel-castro-death-cuban-leader-live-updates " https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/802533786739216384

The US embargo has cost Cuba $753.69 billion. Don't forget to mention that when you're talking about the lack of pristine services in Cuba

#FidelCastro overthrew a dictatorship and then was besieged by the strongest military power in the history of the world. Start there

Look at some the absurd ways the United States tried to assassinate #FidelCastro http://www.vox.com/2016/11/26/13752514/us-fidel-castro-assassination "
fidelcastro  us  cuba  history  2016  monroedoctrine  imperialism  communism  socialism  nelsonmandela  apartheid  latinamerica  healthcare  education  literacy  homelessness  economics  subversion  assassination  invasion  spanish-americanwar  blockade  assatashakur  donaldtrump  barackobama  jfk  johnfkennedy 
november 2016 by robertogreco
The Health Threats Mark Zuckerberg’s Gift Doesn’t Address | Risa Lavizzo-Mourey | Pulse | LinkedIn
"But health is not merely, or even mostly, determined by our DNA. Poverty, inequity, violence, poor housing, lack of a good education, lack of jobs, lack of access to healthy food or safe places to play – all have a dramatic impact on health. These social determinants of health are responsible for an estimated 80 percent of all illnesses; only 20 percent can be chalked up to biological causes alone.

The power of social determinants to drive health is illustrated by a series of maps (see below), produced by the Center for Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University, which lay out projected lifespans based on where a person lives. In Atlanta, a baby born in Buckhead, a high-end shopping mecca, can expect to live 84 years, while five miles away in Bankhead, a neighborhood in transition, residents face a life expectancy a full 13 years shorter. Babies born on opposite sides of downtown Denver have an 11-year difference in life expectancy; in Richmond, Virginia the longevity gap between wealthy and underserved neighborhoods is a yawning 20 years. As the maps demonstrate, your zip code can be a greater determinant of life expectancy than your genetic code.

Narrowing the longevity gaps found in communities across the United States requires far more than money alone. These are the "wicked problems" facing America – problems that are huge and complex, with solutions that are neither clear nor stable. Even the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s $10 billion endowment — the fourth largest of any U.S. foundation — is not enough to cure these challenges to health.

What is needed is diverse thinking, lots of collaboration, and solutions designed by, and specific to, the communities they target. These solutions are already emerging, in communities across the nation, and need to be encouraged and amplified. For example, RWJF and the Reinvestment Fund recently launched Invest Health to bring together leaders from mid-sized U.S. cities that are applying innovative solutions to entrenched poverty, poor health, and a lack of investment. In January Invest Health awarded $3 million to 50 cities in support of programs that are creating affordable housing, safe places to play and exercise, and quality jobs. Teams from the selected cities have access to faculty advisors and coaches, and share what they've learned.

Zuckerberg and Chan will also require that researchers share their work, which is likely to speed up the search for causes and treatments for disease. In the same way, we all need to share ideas about how to address the systems and structures that perpetuate the glaring inequities that cause illness. We must develop cross-sector solutions that can address a multitude of problems. And we must learn from each other – both our successes and our mistakes."
markzuckerberg  health  healthcare  society  policy  politics  us  via:anne  2016  risalavizzo-mourey 
october 2016 by robertogreco
What Aetna’s Withdrawal Means for Obamacare - The New Yorker
"Obamacare is being hobbled by the political compromises made to get it passed. The program’s basic principles were the right ones: everyone would be able to get insurance, regardless of preëxisting conditions, and everyone would pay the same price for a given policy, with upward adjustments made only for older people and smokers. In short, insurance companies were prohibited from managing risk by charging healthy, low-risk people less than frailer, high-risk people. Since managing risk is typically key to how insurers make money, it would have made sense to leave them out and just enroll everyone in a government-run program like Medicare. Politics, of course, ruled that out. Shoring up the private-side approach would require penalties stiff enough to get young, healthy Americans to buy health insurance, but politics ruled that out as well.

Conservatives point to Obamacare’s marketplace woes as evidence that government should stop mucking around with health insurance. In fact, government hasn’t mucked around enough: if we want to make universal health insurance a reality, the government needs to do more, not less. That doesn’t require scrapping the current system: the Netherlands and Switzerland both demonstrate that you can get universal coverage through private insurers. But their examples also show that to do so we’d need to make it much harder to avoid buying insurance, and we’d need to expand subsidies to consumers.

Alternatively, we could implement the public option, which Obama himself called for in that 2009 speech: a federal program, modelled on Medicare, open to anyone on the individual market. The public option would guarantee that there was always at least one good choice available in the marketplace, and would provide competition for private insurers. If it used the government’s bargaining power to hold down costs and expand access, it could offer good benefits at a low enough price to attract younger, healthier patients.

There are solid arguments for both of these models. Either would work, if there were a shift in the political mood and it were given a shot. Even if nothing is done, Obamacare will continue to limp along, probably turning into something akin to Medicaid. But the departure of big insurers like Aetna has made it clear that, if we don’t do more to help cover people in the individual market, the program will never make good on its original promise of truly comprehensive reform. So don’t hate the players; fix the game."
medicine  jamessurowiecki  2016  obamacare  policy  us  aetna  healthinsurance  healthcare  politics  medicare  netherlands  switzerland 
september 2016 by robertogreco
Is Obamacare failing? - Vox
"Obamacare’s drafters didn’t envision the marketplaces looking so much like a Medicaid program. But is it a bad thing if that's how the exchanges ultimately shake out?

The answer likely depends on what you think is most important in creating universal coverage — and what metrics we use to judge whether the Affordable Care Act is working.

Obamacare’s marketplaces aimed to prioritize choice and a shopping experience as an important good to deliver to consumers. Legislators saw inherent value in letting consumers pick the plan that was right for them.

Consumers seemed to value the shopping experience too: Between 2015 and 2016, only one-third of marketplace enrollees kept the same plan. People who bought Obamacare coverage really did seem to shop for coverage that fit their needs.

If the marketplaces become more like Medicaid, that’s the type of experience that gets lost. The promise Medicaid makes isn’t one about choice. Medicaid enrollees get little say in what hospitals they can visit or which doctors will take them. It's much more of a one-size-fits-all program.

Medicaid doesn’t guarantee options, but it does promise coverage. It doesn’t provide access to all doctors, but it provides access to a doctor who, without the program, might be out of reach. When I’ve talked to people who have enrolled on both, some prefer the latter.

Earlier this year I spoke with Kaylynn Maxfield, who recently moved from Utah to Pennsylvania with her husband and young son. Maxfield generally found signing up for Medicaid a better experience than enrolling in the marketplace.

"With the marketplace, you have so many options that it's overwhelming, like which one do I choose, and how do I make sure I choose the right one," she says. "With Medicaid there are three options, and you know they’re all offering the same level of coverage. It was so much simpler."

For Maxfield, choice didn’t really matter that much. What she wanted was the ease of mind that comes with health coverage — and for her, Medicaid offered a better experience by that metric.

There are millions of shoppers who buy coverage who have different priorities when it comes to what they want from the marketplaces. There are those, like Maxfield, who just want a guarantee of coverage and find shopping a hassle. But there are many others who did shop, and took advantage of the choices the marketplaces offered. These are the losers of a Medicaid-style marketplace, as the law shifts from what drafters envisioned to what health insurers are actually willing to build."
healthcare  us  policy  obamacare  2016  insuarnce  healthinsurance  politics  switzerland  netherlands  medicaid 
september 2016 by robertogreco
The American Dream Is Alive in Finland - The Atlantic
"If the U.S. presidential campaign has made one thing clear, it’s this: The United States is not Finland. Nor is it Norway. This might seem self-evident. But America’s Americanness has had to be reaffirmed ever since Bernie Sanders suggested that Americans could learn something from Nordic countries about reducing income inequality, providing people with universal health care, and guaranteeing them paid family and medical leave.

“I think Bernie Sanders is a good candidate for president … of Sweden,” Marco Rubio scoffed. “We don’t want to be Sweden. We want to be the United States of America.”

“We are not Denmark,” Hillary Clinton clarified. “We are the United States of America. … [W]hen I think about capitalism, I think about all the small businesses that were started because we have the opportunity and the freedom in our country for people to do that and to make a good living for themselves and their families.”

Opportunity. Freedom. Independence. These words are bound up with American identity and the American Dream. The problem is that they’re often repeated like an incantation, with little reflection on the extent to which they still ring true in America, and are still exceptionally American.

Anu Partanen’s new book, The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life, argues that the freedom and opportunity Americans cherish are currently thriving more in Nordic countries than in the United States. (The Nordic countries comprise Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Finland.) But she also pushes back—albeit gently—against the trendy notion that Nordic countries are paradises.

Partanen is an unusual messenger. After all, her personal story is a testament to the Land of Opportunity’s enduring magnetism and vibrancy; she recently became a U.S. citizen, after moving from her native Finland to the United States in part because she felt she was more likely to find work as a journalist in New York City than her American husband was as a writer in Helsinki. But her time in America has also convinced her that Finland and its neighbors are doing a better job of promoting a 21st-century version of the American Dream than her adoptive country.

Partanen’s principal question is the following: What’s the best way for a modern society to advance freedom and opportunity? She explains that Nordic governments do so by providing social services that the U.S. government doesn’t—things like free college education and heavily subsidized child care. Within that big question, Partanen poses more pointed questions about contemporary life in the United States: Is “freedom” remaining in a job you hate because you don’t want to lose the health insurance that comes with it? Is “independence” putting your career on hold, and relying on your partner’s income, so you can take care of a young child when your employer doesn’t offer paid parental leave or day care is too expensive? Is “opportunity” depending on the resources of your parents, or a bundle of loans, to get a university degree? Is realizing the American Dream supposed to be so stressful?

“What Finland and its neighbors do is actually walk the walk of opportunity that America now only talks,” Partanen writes. “It’s a fact: A citizen of Finland, Norway, or Denmark is today much more likely to rise above his or her parents’ socioeconomic status than is a citizen of the United States.” The United States is not Finland. And, in one sense, that’s bad news for America. Numerous studies have shown that there is far greater upward social mobility in Nordic countries than in the United States, partly because of the high level of income inequality in the U.S.

In another sense, though, it’s perfectly fine to not be Finland. As Nathan Heller observed in The New Yorker, the modern Nordic welfare state is meant to “minimize the causes of inequality” and be “more climbing web than safety net.” Yet the system, especially in Sweden, is currently being tested by increased immigration and rising income inequality. And it’s ultimately predicated on a different—and not necessarily superior—definition of freedom than that which prevails in America. “In Sweden,” Heller argued, “control comes through protection against risk. Americans think the opposite: control means taking personal responsibility for risk and, in some cases, social status.”

Last week, I spoke with Partanen about what she feels Nordic countries have gotten right, where they’ve gone wrong, and why, if Finland is really so great, she’s now living in America. An edited and condensed transcript of our conversation follows.

Uri Friedman: You make an argument in the book that if you think about the American Dream in a certain way—if you define it in terms of opportunity, independence, and freedom—it is actually flourishing in the Nordic region more than in the United States. Why?

Anu Partanen: For a long time now, we’ve all, both in the United States and in Europe, thought that the United States is the land of freedom. For a long time, it was certainly true: American democracy was leading the way, the American middle class was the wealthiest. America was really the place where you could make your own life and you could decide who you wanted to be and pursue the dream.

When I moved to the United States in 2008, that was the idea I had. [But] when I came here, I was actually surprised [to learn that] people were very anxious. They were in many ways very dependent on their circumstances, the opposite of being a self-made woman or man. And a lot of this is related to family: if, [when] you were a child, your parents could provide opportunities, if they could offer you a life in a good neighborhood, offer you a life in a good school.

…"
culture  economics  europe  finland  us  policy  norway  denmark  sweden  iceland  freedom  independence  opportunity  denamrk  anupartanen  urifriedman  democracy  socialism  inequality  middleclass  income  incomeinequality  immigration  taxes  daycare  healthcare  health  qualityoflife  government  society  nathanheller  politics 
july 2016 by robertogreco
7 Things Nordic Countries Are Totally Doing Right, According To 'The Nordic Theory Of Everything' | Bustle
"1. Balancing Federal Budgets …

2. Curbing Income Inequality …

3. Bringing Equity To Education …

4. Closing The Gender Gap …

5. Supporting Families …

6. Aiming For True Work-Life Balance …

7. Insuring Everyone …"
nordiccountries  scandinavia  policy  socialism  equality  us  inequality  education  gender  women  families  paternityleave  work-lifebalance  well-being  health  healthcare  universalhealthcare  finland  sweden  norway  iceland  denmark  2016  government  qualityoflife  anupartanen  middleclass 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Inclusive on Vimeo
"Learn how human-led design makes a deep and connecting impact, leading to innovative and inclusive solutions.

Learn more at inclusivethefilm.com

Participants:
Catharine Blaine K-8 School
Susan Goltsman - MIG, Inc
Will Lewis and Ted Hart - Skype Translator
TJ Parker - Pillpack
Graham Pullin - University of Dundee
The High School Affiliated to Renmin University Of China (RDFZ) Beijing
Jutta Treviranus - OCAD University
Mike Vanis - Interaction Designer"
inclusion  inclusivity  microsoft  via:ablerism  2015  design  catharineblaine  susangoltsman  willlewis  tedhart  tjparker  grahampullin  juttatreviranus  mikevanis  video  documentary  audiencesofone  sewing  aging  retirement  work  ambientintimacy  memory  nostalgia  presence  telepresence  inclusivedesign  technology  translation  healthcare  prescriptions  playgrounds  seattle  sanfrancisco  captioning  literacy  communication  hearing  deaf  deafness  skype 
june 2016 by robertogreco
I'm an American living in Sweden. Here's why I came to embrace the higher taxes. - Vox
"It seems that Americans would rather have inaccessibility to public places and crumbling infrastructure than pay more in taxes, right? After all, every American seems to know that taxes in Sweden are high and that they want nothing to do with high.

My wife and I have been dividing our time between jobs in Sweden and Wisconsin for the past dozen years, and I'm here to tell you that taxes in Sweden are not that high. To my surprise, I found that there are lots of things to love about the Swedish tax system. Swedish taxes are easy to pay, rational, and efficient. Best of all, rather than take away opportunities, Swedish taxes expand them.

Here are six reasons I have come to love Swedish taxes."
sweden  taxes  economics  2016  scandinavia  healthcare  healthinsurance  policy  politics  freedom  choice 
may 2016 by robertogreco
Databite No. 62: Sha Hwang - YouTube
"Sha Hwang (@shashashasha) on building for the government in a time of precarity: Sha will discuss the ongoing work and discussions inside Nava as a way to open a conversation around the design of the government’s digital services for the public. He will use the architectural theorist Keller Easterling’s term “disposition” – the propensity of forms to produce actions – to understand what we encounter when we build with and for the government. These dispositions, both of the tech industry and the government, create a set of material constraints that shape issues around healthcare, taxation, and identity. This talk will discuss both the possibilities and implications of designing for the government, and the necessity of dialogue between research and practice. Nava is a public benefit corporation working to improve digital services at public-facing government agencies. It was formed out of the efforts to fix HealthCare.gov in late 2013, where Nava worked with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to streamline and redesign systems. Together they cut the time people take to submit an application in half and built an identity management backend system that has saved tens of millions of dollars in operating costs."
shahwang  nava  towatch  precarity  kellereasterling  2016  healthcare  government  taxation  identity  digitalservices  medicare  medicaid  healthcare.gov 
april 2016 by robertogreco
This speech could reignite Bernie Sanders: Here’s the argument he needs to make about capitalism - Salon.com
"Bernie uses every public opportunity to show how unjust the economic system is toward the most vulnerable. And he is right.

What he fails to do is help the rest of the American public understanding that some of their biggest heartaches are also tied to capitalism–not because it doesn’t give them enough economic returns or the ability to consume more, but because it promotes values that are destructive to human relationships and families , popularizes an ethos of “looking out for number one” and popularizes materialism and self-destructive self-blaming.

I learned about this as principle investigator of an NIMH-sponsored research project on stress at work and stress in family life. What my team heard from thousands of middle income working class people was that there was a huge spiritual crisis in American society generated by the experience most middle income non-professional people have in the world of work.

It’s hard for professionals and the upper middle class to believe this, but most people spend most of their awake hours each work day doing work that feels meaningless and unfulfilling. They quickly learn that their sole value in the marketplace is the degree to which they can contribute directly or indirectly to the old “bottom line” of money and power of those who own and manage the corporations, businesses and other institutions where they find employment. Moreover, they learn that those who are most successful are those who have learned best how to maximize their own advantage without regard to the well being of others in the work world outside their particular work unit, or the well being of those buying their goods or services.

What we learned was that most working-class people (not all, just most) come away from their work with a complex set of seemingly contradictory feelings. On the one hand, they hate the values of selfishness and materialism they see surrounding them at work and brought home by everyone they know. On the other hand, they believe that everyone is so completely enmeshed in those values that selfishness just is “the real world” and that they themselves have no choice but to seek to maximize their own advantage wherever they can. They find relief from this when they go to church, synagogue or mosque, identify with those spiritual or religious values, but are so depressed by their daily work-world experience that they feel those alternative values have no chance of working in the “real world.”

Moreover, from their earliest experiences in school they have been immersed in the capitalist indoctrination into the fantasy that they live in a meritocracy, and that “anyone can make it if they deserve to.” As a result, they blame themselves for the lack of fulfillment in their lives. And they blame themselves for not being better at “looking out for number one” and maximizing their own self-interest.

The result is a society increasingly filled with people who see each other through the framework of capitalist values: other people are valuable primarily to the extent that they can satisfy our own needs and desires, rather than seeing them as intrinsically valuable just for who they are regardless of what they can deliver for us.

No wonder, then, that so many people feel lonely and scared. They see themselves as surrounded by people who have internalized the “look out for number one” ethos of the capitalist marketplace. Many notice these same attitudes in friends, even in one’s spouse. Some report that their children have picked up these same values and look at their parent with a “what have you done for me lately” attitude. So increasing numbers of people feel afraid not only because there is no effective societal mechanism to protect them should they be out of money or in need of too-expensive-to-afford health care and pharmaceuticals, but also because they fear that no one will really be there for them when they are most vulnerable and in need of caring from others, Of course these dynamics play out differently depending on one’s own circumstances, but they are prevalent enough to make many people feel bad about themselves and worried about the enduring quality of their most important relationships.

Bernie Sanders could help tens of millions of Americans reduce their self-blaming were he to help people see that his campaign against capitalism is not just about its unjust allocation of economic well-being, but also and most importantly about how to strengthen loving relationships, friendships and family life by repudiating the values of the marketplace, rejecting the meritocratic fantasies that lead to self-blame, and embracing a New Bottom Line. If his democratic socialism also included the insistence that work provide people with the opportunity to satisfy the deep human need to see their lives contributing to the best interests of the planet and the best interests of the human race, rather than solely to the interests of maximizing the income of the wealthiest, he would be embracing what I once called a “Politics of Meaning” and now call a spiritual politics defined by a New Bottom Line.

Instead of judging institutions, corporations, government policies, our economic system, our legal system and our educational system as efficient, rational and productive to the extent that they maximize money and power (the Old Bottom Line), the New Bottom Line would also include in this assessment how much these institutions and social practices enhance our human capacities for love and generosity, kindness and ethical behavior, environmental responsibility sustainability, our ability to transcend narrow utilitarian ways of seeing other human beings and the earth, so that we can see others as embodiments of the sacred and respond to the magnificence of this planet and the universe with awe, wonder and radical amazement rather than just seeing them as “resources” to be used for our own needs."
capitalism  berniesanders  2016  economics  well-being  health  meritocracy  individualism  socialism  materialism  consumerism  selfishness  fulfillment  self-blaming  middleclass  workingclass  relationships  mentalhealth  success  healthcare  politics  policy  business  efficiency 
march 2016 by robertogreco
The Superintendent Who Turned Around A School District By Tackling Poverty : NPR
"We often hear about school districts that struggle with high poverty, low test scores and budget problems. But one district has faced all of these and achieved remarkable results.

In just over three years, Superintendent Tiffany Anderson, who oversees the Jennings School District in Jennings, a small city just outside St. Louis, has led a dramatic turnaround in one of the worst-performing systems in Missouri.

Anderson has embraced a holistic approach to solving the problems of low-performing students by focusing on poverty above all else, and using the tools of the school district to alleviate the barriers poverty creates.

"We serve the whole child," Anderson tells NPR's Michel Martin. "The leverage point for me is the school system."

The school district of 3,000 students has taken unprecedented steps, like opening a food pantry to give away food, a shelter for homeless students and a health clinic.

"My purpose is to remove the challenges that poverty creates," she says. "You cannot expect children to learn at a high level if they come in hungry and tired."

That unconventional approach has had big results. When Anderson took over in 2012, the school district was close to losing accreditation. Jennings had a score of 57 percent on state educational standards. A district loses accreditation if that score goes below 50 percent.

Two years later, that score was up to 78 percent, and in the past year rose again to 81 percent, Anderson says. She points to a 92 percent four-year graduation rate, and a 100 percent college and career-placement rate.

Anderson is quick to give credit to the entire community for the improvement. "No one person can do this," she says. "The staff, the teachers, the board ... have worked together collectively to demonstrate that our kids can exceed at very high levels."

Anderson talks of "removing barriers" like the barrier of hunger. The district has a food pantry that gives out 8,000 pounds of food each month. Between 200 and 400 families are getting food from the schools, she says.

And health care: "If a child breaks an arm, come to school, we have a pediatrician there," Anderson says. Students who would otherwise have had to travel long distances to see a doctor can now stay in school.

Through a partnership with Washington University in St. Louis, a clinic opened in Jennings Senior High School this year. In addition to medical care, the clinic offers "mental health counseling, case management and wellness education," according to the university.

The newest effort is Hope House, which opened in November. The school office building was vacant, and "I don't think schools should sit vacant," Anderson says, so they refurbished the house. The foster home now houses at least eight children, with foster parents from the community, according to the school district. One house resident, formerly homeless 17-year-old Gwen McDile, told The Washington Post that since she's moved in, "I've eaten more in the last two weeks than I've eaten in the last two years."

There's more: washers and dryers in schools, free to use in exchange for one hour of volunteering; free groceries at parent-teacher organization meetings; parenting classes.

In addition to her efforts to remove barriers to students and families, Anderson wants teachers to think differently about how they approach problems in the classroom.

Anderson says training in dismantling racism is one of the first trainings for teachers in districts where she has worked. There's also equity training. She recently placed many teachers in poverty for a week in a simulation. And all staff in the school district will soon have training to deal with trauma and how to defuse tense situations.

Part of the funding for these efforts comes from donations from Jennings residents and many local businesses. But for programs like these to continue, "we're going to have to have buy-in from a lot of people, inside and outside of Jennings," Anderson says.

The district still has a lot to improve upon. As the Post noted, "just 36 percent of the graduates in 2015 scored high enough on the ACT, SAT or similar tests to meet Missouri's definition of 'college and career ready.' "

But Anderson largely ruminates on the positive, of what can be done, rather than the roadblocks along the way.

In 2016, she's weighing the possibility of adding dental care to the services in schools, while continuing to grow and improve existing programs and academic performance.

"In Jennings we changed how we served people. We see ourselves in their shoes. What happens to them matters because what happens to them affects me," Anderson says. "That's a whole different way of thinking, and inspires people to do more.""
schools  publicschools  2016  education  policy  poverty  missouri  tiffanyanderson  community  jenningsschooldistrict  via:willrichardson  health  healthcare  food  wellness  well-being 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Study Finds the Poorest Americans Die Younger Than the Poorest Costa Ricans - The Atlantic
"One of the many things economic development buys is longer life. In countries with per-capita GDPs of $1,000 to 2,000 per year, like Haiti, people can expect to die when they’re about 60, but when that figure rises to $40,000 per year, like in Japan, people live until they’re about 80 on average.

This is, however, not the case among poor Americans, who are dying younger in greater numbers, or in so-called “overachiever” countries like Costa Rica, where people live about as long as Norwegians even though they’re about as poor as Iraqis.

Now, a surprising new study shows that in terms of mortality, it’s actually better to be poor in Costa Rica than poor in the U.S.

According to research published by Luis Rosero-Bixbya from the Universidad de Costa Rica and William H. Dow from the University of California, Berkeley, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the richest Americans do indeed live longer than the richest Costa Ricans—something you’d expect when comparing a global economic powerhouse to a tiny Latin American country. But Costa Ricans in the lowest fourth of the country’s income spectrum have a significantly lower age-adjusted mortality rate than their counterparts in the United States.

“From a life-expectancy standpoint, it is thus better to live in Costa Rica for low-[income] individuals, whereas it is better to live in the United States for high-[income] people younger than 65,” Rosero-Bixbya and Dow write.

The difference does not come down to income inequality, as measured by the Gini index. Inequality is higher in Costa Rica than in the U.S. However, life expectancy outcomes are more unequal across the economic spectrum in the U.S. than in Costa Rica. Poor Americans under 65 die at a rate 3.4 times higher than their rich counterparts, while that difference is just 1.5 in Costa Rica.

The authors are not sure why, but they have a few guesses:

• Universal health care: In 2011, 86 percent of Costa Ricans were covered by the country’s public health-insurance system. The rest get subsidized or free care, depending on their ability to pay. The study authors found that 35 percent of the poorest Americans are uninsured, compared with just 15 percent of the poorest Costa Ricans. Meanwhile, the country’s per-capita health expenditures are a tenth of America’s.

• ​Obesity: One way the authors tried to determine the reason for the disparity was by looking at how much various health factors differed within the income spectrum of each country. Costa Ricans are less likely to be obese overall, and there’s less of a difference in the obesity rate between the rich and poor in Costa Rica than in the United States.

• Smoking: The mortality difference among the poor in the two countries is driven mainly by just two causes of death, lung cancer, and heart disease. “U.S. men have four times higher risk of dying by lung cancer and 54 percent higher risk of dying by heart diseases than Costa Rican men,” the authors note. The smoking rates of the poorest Americans are much higher than that of the richest Americans, while the rate doesn’t vary nearly as much in Costa Rica.

This study provides further evidence that in the U.S., money buys health, to an extent not seen in other countries. There’s nothing that puts that in stark relief like looking at the long, healthy lives of poor foreigners."
us  costarica  inequality  poverty  healthcare  obesity  2016  olgakhazan  mortality  health  economics  socialsafetynet  universalhealthcare  disparity  smoking 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Center on Policy Initiatives
"The Center on Policy Initiatives is a research and action institute dedicated to creating economic prosperity, sustainable communities and a healthy environment for all.  CPI serves a unique role in the San Diego region providing the analysis, policy solutions, education and alliances that advance social and economic justice."



"CPI’s research and analysis on poverty, healthcare, affordable housing and local government has shaped public debate for the last 10 years. It is regularly sought by local and state policymakers on the economy, local government and redevelopment.

CPI has developed innovative model policies to reform and improve government services.

CPI was the driving force behind San Diego’s Living Wage Ordinance, which was passed by the City Council in 2005. This ordinance guarantees a decent wage and healthcare benefits for employees of companies doing business with the city.

CPI won Responsible Contracting language that requires businesses that work with the City be good corporate citizens and bans those with histories of fraud or theft from working with the city.

The Service Worker Retention Ordinance, passed in 2005, protects workers who provide contracted City services from losing their jobs when a contract changes hands.

CPI advocated for San Diego’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance, which requires that all developers of new housing include 10% affordable housing, or pay a commensurate fee.

CPI created the nation’s first job-quality criteria with livable wages in San Diego’s General Plan (the City’s 20-year guideline for growth).

CPI won a Community Benefits Agreement ensuring that one of the largest downtown developments will have living wage jobs, affordable housing, and green building standards.

CPI developed a policy package to make sure that the public interest is protected if City services are privatized.

CPI was a key partner in the Project Stabilization Agreement at the San Diego Unified School District, to ensure that jobs funded with taxpayer dollars go to local workers.

CPI’s research in The Bottom Line exposed the City’s structural deficit and the need for more revenue."
sandiego  policy  poverty  healthcare  affordablehousing  government  housing  labor 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Two sentences that perfectly capture what it means to be privileged in America today - Vox
"Giridharadas's point is particularly salient now, as Robert Putnam's book about the growing fissure between upper- and lower-class America is a hot topic in political circles. Toward the end of his talk (around the 16-minute mark), he hammers home the point that there are two Americas, and that many people who reside firmly in the more privileged version don't even realize it.

"Don't console yourself that you are the 99 percent," he says. "If you live near a Whole Foods; if no one in your family serves in the military; if you are paid by the year, not the hour; if most people you know finished college; if no one you know uses meth; if you married once and remain married; if you're not one of 65 million Americans with a criminal record — if any or all of these things describe you, then accept the possibility that actually, you may not know what's going on, and you may be part of the problem."

Harsh as that sounds, Giridharadas gets at an important point that Putnam also echoed in a recent interview with Vox: as the highest and lowest incomes in the US move further apart, well-off and low-income Americans also know less and less about each other and what it truly means to be from another social class. Indeed, only 1 percent of Americans consider themselves upper-class. As economic segregation grows, it plays a part in keeping people from climbing up the social ladder."

[YouTube link for Anand Giridharadas's talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8i-pNVj5KMw ]

[Response from Connor Kilpatrick:
“Let Them Eat Privilege: Focusing on privilege diverts attention away from the real villains.”
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/04/1-99-percent-class-inequality/

"By forcing the middle class to divert their attention downward (and within) instead of at the real power players above, Vox and Giridharadas are playing into the Right’s hands. It’s an attempt to shame the middle class — those with some wealth but, relative to the top one or one-tenth of one percent, mere crumbs — to make them shut up about the rich and super rich and, instead, look at those below as a reminder that it could all be much worse.

[…]

Even when the income of the one percent (mostly the bottom half of that select group) is derived primarily from high salaries (as opposed to returns on investment) it’s far more likely to be reinvested in shares, bonds, and real estate — and of course elite educations and other opportunities for their children — than the income of the middle 40 percent, who have hardly anything left once the bills are paid.

That means that even with nothing more than a killer W-2, the salaried lower half of the one percent still have the means to consolidate themselves as an elite class while the rest of us are immiserated.

When a cut in capital gains taxes is paid for by hiking state tuition and slashing social services, the one percent benefits while the vast majority of the 99 percent loses. When a new law is passed making it harder to organize a union or wages are squeezed to ring out higher and higher corporate profits, it’s the one percent — and their investment portfolios — that benefits and the majority of the 99 percent who loses.

It’s real winners and losers — not a state of mind and not a “culture.” And it works like this:

[chart]

What’s bad for you economically is probably good for them. That’s why the rest of us will have to come in conflict with this tiny elite and its institutions if we’re going win a more just and egalitarian future for ourselves.

By substituting class relations for an arbitrary list of “privileges,” Vox is attempting to paint a picture of an immiserated America with no villain. It’s an America without a ruling class that directly and materially benefits from everyone else’s hard times. And this omission isn’t just incorrect — it robs us of any meaningful oppositional politics that could change it all.

It’s a conclusion that, despite Vox’s endorsement, plays into conservatives’ hands. Like the journalist Robert Fitch once wrote, it is the aim of the Right “to restrict the scope of class conflict — to bring it down to as low a level as possible. The smaller and more local the political unit, the easier it is to run it oligarchically.”

So why turn inward? Why argue over who’s got the sweeter deal and how we’re all responsible for the gross inequity of society when it’s not that much more than a tiny sliver of millionaires and billionaires at Davos sipping wine and rubbing shoulders with politicians?

Let’s try worrying more about knowing thy enemy — and building solidarity from that recognition. “Check your privilege?” Sure. But for once, let’s try checking it against the average hedge fund manager instead of a random Whole Foods shopper."]
anandgiridharadas  inequality  privilege  2015  race  military  employment  work  labor  drugs  addiction  poverty  education  marriage  class  robertputnam  politics  secondchances  religion  islam  mercy  forgiveness  grace  us  humanism  segregation  lifeexpectancy  healthcare  faith  civics  law  legal  capitalpunishment  deathpenalty  raisuddinbhuiyan  markstroman  connorkilpatrick 
april 2015 by robertogreco
What "Causes" Poverty? | Demos
"Pundits of all stripes are relitigating this somewhat tired debate about what "causes" poverty. David Brooks, apparently with no self-awareness or self-reflection, bemoans nonjudgmentalism towards those who stray from specific family forms. Nicholas Kristof, previously famous for his hilarious fever dreams about a mysterious underclass of Kentucky welfare cheats, wrote a somewhat similar column, drawing upon the same tropes and no new analysis. Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig, Paul Krugman, and Jeff Spross push back, noting, among other things, that poverty can be dealt with in other proven ways and that impoverishment, the demise of good working class jobs, and precariousness are themselves at the root of a lot of relationship strife.

There is a problem in this entire debate that nobody ever seems to grapple with, and that is: what exactly is meant by asking what "causes" poverty? What exactly is being communicated when someone says X, whether that's declining morals or family values or whatever else, causes poverty? This might seem like a tedious question, but it's actually the most crucial question in the debate.

Elderly

Would it be correct, for instance, for me to say old age causes poverty? On first take, I guess the answer would be no, or not really. At 9.5%, the elderly poverty rate is the lowest in the country among the different age groups. But, this didn't used to be the case.

In 1967, the elderly poverty rate was 29.5%, and the highest among the age groups. Since then, Social Security retirement benefits more than doubled, which is why the elderly poverty rate has been pushed so low. If you subtract these benefits from the Census microdata file, the current elderly poverty rate shoots to over 40%.

So, once again, the question is posed: does old age cause poverty? Well, when we have low public pension benefits, the answer seems to be yes. But when we have high public pension benefits, the answer seems to be no. Whether old age entails poverty thus depends on our economic institutions. Standing alone, old age is not sufficient to result in poverty. It results in poverty only if it gets an assist by pro-poverty economic institutions.

Disability

The same question can be asked of disability: does it cause poverty? Before answering that question, consider this graph of disability poverty with and without public benefits: [graph]

Now, even counting transfers, disability poverty is higher than overall poverty by 5 to 6 percentage points. When we exclude transfers (which primarily come from Social Security and Supplemental Security Income), however, the disability poverty rate is over 50%.

So would we say disability "causes" poverty? Once again, it really seems to depend on what economic institutions you find yourself in. Under some sets of institutions (e.g. if we eliminated disability benefits), disability results in high and severe poverty. Under other institutions, it does not. Our institutions still make disabled people poorer than the overall population by a significant margin, but more generous and better designed disability benefits probably could close if not eliminate that gap.

I could replicate this same point for nearly anything else you could throw at me. Does child-having cause poverty? Seems to under US institutions, but not others. Does sickness cause personal bankruptcy? Seems to under US healthcare institutions, but not others. The same goes for unemployment, single parenting, low levels of education, bad jobs, and so on. What level of poverty attaches to each of those conditions is heavily determined by what set of economic institutions (whether liberal market, corporatist conservative, social democratic, or something else) they occur in.

We have this debate about poverty's "causes" as if economic institutions do not exist, as if we are pondering over poverty's causes in some kind of abstract ether denuded of any of the economic particularities of our time and place. Needless to say, this pretension is as useless as it is deluded.

Pundits never actually debate about what "causes" poverty in some universalist sense. They debate about what conditions are associated with high poverty in some specific economic system, without every clarifying that they are doing so and indeed probably not even realizing they are doing so themselves.

Given where the US is today, modifying our background economic institutions is clearly and indisputably the most effective way to reduce overall poverty. Across the board and across all sorts of different categories, the US features poverty rates that are much higher than those seen elsewhere in the world. This is directly attributable to its garbage institutions, in particular its bare minimum levels of social insurance benefits.

It's trivially easy to identify specific patterns within our across-the-board elevated poverty and then declare things associated with those patterns as "causes" (just as it used to be trivially easy to declare that old age was a major cause of US poverty). But if your goal is to actually cut poverty, fixing our pro-poverty institutions is what really matters, not treading in the murky waters of causation theory."
mattbrienig  2015  poverty  economics  socialsafetynet  us  policy  age  disability  parenting  socialsecurity  systemsthinking  causation  healthcare  unemployment  sickness  bankruptcy  socialinsurance  society  politics  disabilities 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Radical community research | The McGill Daily ["Reflections on alternative research through the lens of healthcare"]
"Through CURE, students can also undertake projects for academic credit. I completed my project as the focus of an independent study course through McGill’s department of Geography. Researching immigrant access to care alongside a community organization through an academic course, I encountered one question over and over: who holds the power to produce knowledge in our society? Historically, minority groups have been the ‘subjects’ on whom research is ‘done’ and from whom knowledge is extracted. When social inequality becomes the project of academics, these minority groups rarely see themselves reflected in academic literature as the makers of knowledge. Many academic fields are moving toward inclusion of lived experiences in their literature, but we have yet to reach a point where the authors of these accounts are primarily the people who live them. Meanwhile, ethics committees carefully detail guidelines for confidentiality and data storage. Consider that these standards are set out by the institution sponsoring the research. Whom are these guidelines meant to protect?"



"From the moment I began working on this project in earnest, my intention was to speak with, not for, immigrants with precarious status. In proceeding one by one through clinics in Parc-Extension to assemble information about health services, I learned about many barriers immigrants face in accessing these services. Unfortunately, however, I was never able to work closely with the immigrants affected by barriers to healthcare access or consult individuals about their lived experiences. My portrayal of the situation is a poorer one because of it, one that does not explore or amplify the the agency, self-determination, or resilience of immigrants confronting precarious status and successfully overcoming barriers to the healthcare system. CURE was crucial in guiding me to navigate these issues transparently and ensuring that ultimately, my project worked toward establishing an important resource in the Parc-Extension community. The most valuable part of radical social justice research for me was the ongoing conversation with my academic supervisor and my collaborators at CURE and SAB surrounding these considerations. Alternative research partnerships, where a commitment to the community group exists from the start, offer a model for researcher accountability to the groups they are serving, and demand shared production of knowledge. Moving forward, an important part of maintaining equitable grassroots research partnerships in this way will be to ensure that consideration of anti-oppressive principles, questions of voices consulted, and emphasis on participatory process don’t simply become items to check off to meet an arbitrary requirement of self-reflexiveness."



"Institutional research projects have historically separated the producers of knowledge from its subjects, and universities have rarely had constructive and positive relations with neighbouring communities. Radical research alternatives in Montreal are transferring power from institutions to people. In the process, they establish reciprocal, mutually beneficial community-institution relationships that bridge students with meaningful work. These projects are occupying the spaces between the university and the neighbourhood to turn the traditional research paradigm on its head."

[See also: http://www.selinjessa.com/projects/#/healthcare/
http://www.solidarityacrossborders.org/en/solidarity-city/solidarity-city ]
2015  selinjessa  research  academia  minorities  knowledge  knowledgecreation  culturecreation  credit  horizontality  alternative  cooption  ecole  partnerships  acknowledgement  inequality  socialinequality  power  relationships  oppression  ethics  health  healthcare  accessibility  inclusion  inlcusivity  inclusivity 
february 2015 by robertogreco
The Town Where Everyone Got Free Money | Motherboard
"The motto of Dauphin, Manitoba, a small farming town in the middle of Canada, is “everything you deserve.” What a citizen deserves, and what effects those deserts have, was a question at the heart of a 40-year-old experiment that has lately become a focal point in a debate over social welfare that's raging from Switzerland to Silicon Valley.

Between 1974 and 1979, the Canadian government tested the idea of a basic income guarantee (BIG) across an entire town, giving people enough money to survive in a way that no other place in North America has before or since. For those four years—until the project was cancelled and its findings packed away—the town's poorest residents were given monthly checks that supplemented what modest earnings they had and rewarded them for working more. And for that time, it seemed that the effects of poverty began to melt away. Doctor and hospital visits declined, mental health appeared to improve, and more teenagers completed high school.

“Do we have to behave in particular ways to justify compassion and support?” Evelyn Forget, a Canadian social scientist who unearthed ​some of the findings of the Dauphin experiment, asked me rhetorically when I reached her by phone. “Or is simply human dignity enough?”

Critics of basic income guarantees have insisted that giving the poor money would disincentivize them to work, and point to studies that show ​a drop in peoples' willingness to work under pilot programs. But in Dauphin—thought to be the largest such experiment conducted in North America—the experimenters found that the primary breadwinner in the families who received stipends were in fact not less motivated to work than before. Though there was some reduction in work effort from mothers of young children and teenagers still in high school—mothers wanted to stay at home longer with their newborns and teenagers weren’t under as much pressure to support their families—the reduction was not anywhere close to disastrous, as skeptics had predicted.

“People work hard and it’s still not enough,” Doreen Henderson, who is now 70 and was a participant in the experiment, told the ​Wi​nnipeg Free Pres​s​ in 2009. Her husband Hugh, now 73, worked as a janitor while she stayed at home with their two kids. Together they raised chickens and grew a lot of their own food. “They should have kept it,” she said of the minimum income program. “It made a real difference.”

The recovered data from “Mincome,” as the Dauphin experiment was known, has given more impetus to a growing call for some sort of guaranteed income. This year, the Swis​s Parliament will vote on whether to extend a monthly stipend to all residents, and the Indian government has already begun replacing aid programs with direct cash transfers. Former US Labor Secretary Robert Reich has called a BIG “alm​ost inevitable.” In the US, Canada, and much of Western Europe, where the conversation around radically adapting social security remains mostly hypothetical, the lessons of Dauphin might be especially relevant in helping these ideas materialize sooner rather than later."



"Advocates have argued that a single coordinated program providing a base income is more efficient than the current panoply of welfare and social security programs and the bureaucracy required to maintain them (in the U.S. there are currently 79 means-tested social welfare programs, not including Medicare or Medicaid). “Existing social assistance programs were riddled with overlaps and gaps that allowed some families to qualify under two or more programs while others fell between programs,” says Forget.

When Mincome was first conceived, in the early '70s heyday of social welfare reform, some thought the experiment in Dauphin could be the prelude to a program that could be introduced across Canada. South of the border, there was widespread support for minimum income as well. A 1969 Harris poll for Life Magazine found that 79 percent of respondents supported a federal program President Nixon had proposed called the Family Assi​stance Plan that guaranteed a family of four an annual income of $1,600, or about $10,000 today. Nixon’s FAP plan (it wasn't guaranteed income, he insisted, but it was) made it through the House before it was killed in the Senate, voted down by Democrats. Still, there remained a sense of experimentation in the air. Four minimum income trials occurred in the US between 1968 and 1975, which appeared to show that the work hours of basic income recipients fell more sharply than expected.

But these experiments were done with small sample sizes; the experiment in Dauphin was unusual in that in encompassed a whole town. Forget, now a community health professor at the University of Manitoba who studies a range of social welfare programs, saw in the Mincome data a rare chance to examine the effects of BIG on a wider scale.

An undergrad in Toronto at the time the experiment was first being conducted, she remembers hearing about it in class. “My professor would tell us about this wonderful and important experiment taking place ‘out west’ that would revolutionize the way we delivered social programs.”

Years later, when she ended up “out west” herself, she began piecing together what information she could find about Dauphin. After a five-year struggle, Forget secured access to the experiment's data—all 1,800 cubic feet of it—which had been all but lost inside a warehouse belonging to the provincial government archives in Winnipeg. Since 2005, she’s been thoroughly analyzing it, carefully comparing surveys of Dauphin residents with those collected in neighboring towns at the time.

Forget's analysis of the data reveals that providing minimum income can have a substantial positive impact on a community beyond reducing poverty alone. “Participant contacts with physicians declined, especially for mental health, and more adolescents continued into grade 12,” she concludes in her paper, “The Town with No ​Poverty,” published in Canadian Public Policy in 2011. Forget also documented an 8.5 percent reduction in the hospitalization rate for participants as well, suggesting a minimum income could save health care costs. (Her research was unable to substantiate claims from US researchers that showed increases in fertility rates, improved neonatal outcomes or increased family dissolution rates for recipients of guaranteed incomes.)"



"When Forget looks at politics and culture and the economy now, she sees forces converging to create a more hospitable climate for minimum income experiments on a grander scale than before.

“This is an interesting time,” she said. “A lot of our social services were based on the notion that there are a lot of 40 hour-per-week jobs out there, full-time jobs, and it was just a matter of connecting people to those jobs and everything will be fine. Of course, one of the things we know is that’s certainly not the case, particularly for young people who often find themselves working in precarious jobs, working in contracts for long periods of time without the benefits and long-term support that those of us who have been around longer take for granted.”

In the Canadian context, at least, she said, “I’m optimistic enough to believe that at some point we are going to end up with a guaranteed income.”"
2015  manitoba  universalbasicincome  wellbeing  poverty  economics  dauphin  1970s  labor  income  mincome  switzerland  health  healthcare  education  mentalilliness  thomaspaine  martinlutherkinkjr  miltonfriedman  libertarianism  socialwelfare  motivation  via:anne  jamesmanzi  evelynforget  canada  ubi 
february 2015 by robertogreco
The American Way over the Nordic Model? Are we crazy? - LA Times
"In my long nomadic life, I've been to both poles and most countries in between. I still remember when to be an American was to be envied. The country where I grew up after World War II seemed to be respected and admired around the world.

Today, as one of 1.6 million Americans living in Europe, I instead face hard questions about our nation. Wherever I travel, Europeans, Asians and Africans ask expatriates like me to explain everything odd or troubling about the conduct of the United States. Polite people, normally reluctant to risk offending a guest, ask pointedly about America's trigger-happiness, cutthroat free-marketeering, and "exceptionality."

Their questions share a single underlying theme: Have Americans gone over the edge? Are you crazy?

At the absolute top of the list: "Why would anyone oppose national healthcare?" Many countries have had some form of national healthcare since the 1930s, Germany since 1880. Some versions, as in France and Britain, have devolved into two-tier public and private systems. Yet even the privileged would not begrudge their fellow citizens government-funded comprehensive healthcare. That so many Americans do strikes Europeans as baffling, if not brutal.

In the Scandinavian countries, long considered to be the most socially progressive in the world, a national (physical and mental) health program is a big part — but only a part — of a more general social welfare system. In Norway, where I live, all citizens also have access to free education from age 6 through specialty training or university; low cost, subsidized preschool; unemployment benefits, job-placement and paid retraining; paid parental leave; old age pensions, and more. These benefits are not a "safety net" — that is, charitable payments grudgingly bestowed upon the needy. They are universal: equally available as a human right, promoting social harmony.

In the Scandinavian countries, long considered to be the most socially progressive in the world, a national (physical and mental) health program is a big part — but only a part — of a more general social welfare system. In Norway, where I live, all citizens also have access to free education from age 6 through specialty training or university; low cost, subsidized preschool; unemployment benefits, job-placement and paid retraining; paid parental leave; old age pensions, and more. These benefits are not a "safety net" — that is, charitable payments grudgingly bestowed upon the needy. They are universal: equally available as a human right, promoting social harmony.

This is the Nordic Model: a balance of regulated capitalism, universal social welfare, political democracy and the highest levels of gender and economic equality on the planet. It's their system, begun in Sweden in the 1930s and developed across Scandinavia in the postwar period. Yes, they pay for it through high taxation. (Though compared with the U.S. tax code, Norway's progressive income tax is remarkably streamlined.) And despite the efforts of an occasional conservative government to muck it up, they maintain it. Why?

They like it. International rankings cite Norway as the best place to grow old, to be a woman and to raise a child. The title of "best" or "happiest" place to live on Earth comes down to a neighborly contest among Norway and the neighboring Nordic social democracies, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland.

All the Nordic countries broadly agree that only when people's basic needs are met — when they cease to worry about jobs, education, healthcare, transportation, etc. — can they truly be free to do as they like. While the U.S. settles for the fantasy that every kid has an equal shot at the American dream, Nordic social welfare systems lay the foundations for a more authentic equality and individualism.

These ideas are not novel. They are implied in the preamble to our own Constitution. You know, the part about "We the People" forming "a more perfect Union" to "promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."

Knowing this, a Norwegian is appalled at what America is doing to its posterity today. That top chief executives are paid 300 to 400 times as much as an average employee. Or that Govs. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Chris Christie of New Jersey, having run up their state's debts by cutting taxes for the rich, now plan to cover the loss with money snatched from public pension funds. That two-thirds of American college students finish in the red, some owing $100,000 or more. That in the U.S., still the world's richest country, 1 in 3 children lives in poverty. Or that the multitrillion-dollar wars of Presidents George W. Bush and Obama were fought on a credit card, to be paid off by the kids.

Implications of America's uncivilized inhumanity lurk in the questions foreign observers ask me: Why can't you shut down that concentration camp in Cuba? Why can't you stop interfering with women's healthcare? What is it about science and climate change you can't understand?

And the most pressing question of all: Why do you send your military all over the world to stir up trouble for all of us?

Europeans often connect America's reckless conduct abroad to its refusal to put its own house in order. They've watched the United States unravel its flimsy safety net, fail to replace decaying infrastructure, weaken organized labor, bring its national legislature to a standstill and create the greatest degree of economic inequality in almost a century. As they see it, with ever less personal security and next to no social welfare system, Americans are bound to be anxious and fearful. They understand as well why so many Americans have lost trust in a national government that for three decades has done so little for them (save Obama's endlessly embattled modest healthcare effort).

In Norway's capital, where a statue of a contemplative President Franklin D. Roosevelt overlooks the harbor, many America-watchers think he may have been the last U.S. president who understood and could explain to the citizenry what government might do for all of them.

It's hard to pin down why America is as it is today, and — believe me — even harder to explain it to others. Some Europeans who interrogate me say that the U.S. is "crazy" — or "paranoid," "self-absorbed," or simply "behind the times." Others, more charitably, imply that Americans are merely "misguided" or "asleep" and may still recover sanity. But wherever I travel, the questions follow, each suggesting that the United States, if not exactly crazy, is decidedly a danger to itself and others."
2015  annejones  us  healthcare  healthinsurance  socialsafetynet  scandinavia  norway  germany  uk  europe  inequality  equality  americandream  progressivism  socialism  capitalism  politics  policy  parentalleave  pensions  universality  nordiccountries  sweden  denmark  finland  iceland  individualism  equity  education  obamacare  affordablecareact  fdr 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Scratch-off the Facebook logo, and you’ll find the CompuServ logo underneath. |
"The answer is quite simple. The early internet was not significantly capitalist funded. The change in application topology came along with commercialization, and this change is a consequence of the business models required by capitalist investors to capture profit. The business model of social media platforms is surveillance and behavioral control. The internet’s original protocols and architecture made surveillance and behavioral control more difficult. Once capital became the dominant source of financing it directed investment toward centralized platforms, which are better at providing such surveillance and control, the original platforms were starved of financing. The centralized platforms grew and the decentralized platforms submerged beneath the rising tides of the capitalist web.

This is nothing new. This was the same business model that capital devised for media in general, such as network television. The customer of network television is not the viewer, rather the viewer is the product, the “audience commodity.” The real customers are the advertisers and lobby groups wanting to control the audience.

Network Television didn’t provide the surveillance part, so advertisers needed to employ market research and ratings firms such as Nielson for that bit. This was a major advantage of social media. Richer data from better surveillance allowed for more effective behavioral control than ever before, using tracking, targeting, machine learning, behavioral retargeting, among many techniques made possible by the deep pool of data companies like Facebook and Google have available.

This is not a choice that capitalists made, this is the only way that profit-driven organizations can provide a public good like a communication platform. Capitalist investors must capture profit or lose their capital. If their platforms can not capture profit, they vanish. The obstacle to decentralized social media is not that it has not been invented, but the profit-motive itself. Thus to reverse this trajectory back towards decentralization, requires not so much technical initiative, but political struggle.

So long as we maintain the social choice to provision our communication systems according to the profit motive, we will only get communications platforms that allow for the capture of profit. Free, open systems, that neither surveil, nor control, nor exclude, will not be funded, as they do not provide the mechanisms required to capture profit. These platforms are financed for the purpose of watching people and pushing them to behave in ways that benefit the operators of the platform and their real customers, the advertisers, and the industrial and political lobbies. The platforms exists to shape society according to the interests of these advertisers and lobbies.

Platforms like Facebook are worth billions precisely because of their capacity for surveillance and control.

Like the struggle for other public goods, like education, child care, and health care, free communication platforms for the masses can only come from collective political struggle to achieve such platforms.

This is a political struggle, not a technical one."

[via: https://twitter.com/DrParnassus/status/552285634917040129 RTs by @furtherfield ]
capitalism  surveillance  facebook  internet  walledgardens  2013  dmytrikleiner  platforms  publicgoods  publiceducation  childcare  healthcare  collectivism  politics  communication  web  online  compuserv  decentralization  socialmedia  google  control 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Why has human progress ground to a halt? – Michael Hanlon – Aeon
"Some of our greatest cultural and technological achievements took place between 1945 and 1971. Why has progress stalled?"



"Yet there once was an age when speculation matched reality. It spluttered to a halt more than 40 years ago. Most of what has happened since has been merely incremental improvements upon what came before. That true age of innovation – I’ll call it the Golden Quarter – ran from approximately 1945 to 1971. Just about everything that defines the modern world either came about, or had its seeds sown, during this time. The Pill. Electronics. Computers and the birth of the internet. Nuclear power. Television. Antibiotics. Space travel. Civil rights.

There is more. Feminism. Teenagers. The Green Revolution in agriculture. Decolonisation. Popular music. Mass aviation. The birth of the gay rights movement. Cheap, reliable and safe automobiles. High-speed trains. We put a man on the Moon, sent a probe to Mars, beat smallpox and discovered the double-spiral key of life. The Golden Quarter was a unique period of less than a single human generation, a time when innovation appeared to be running on a mix of dragster fuel and dilithium crystals.

Today, progress is defined almost entirely by consumer-driven, often banal improvements in information technology. The US economist Tyler Cowen, in his essay The Great Stagnation (2011), argues that, in the US at least, a technological plateau has been reached. Sure, our phones are great, but that’s not the same as being able to fly across the Atlantic in eight hours or eliminating smallpox. As the US technologist Peter Thiel once put it: ‘We wanted flying cars, we got 140 characters.’

Economists describe this extraordinary period in terms of increases in wealth. After the Second World War came a quarter-century boom; GDP-per-head in the US and Europe rocketed. New industrial powerhouses arose from the ashes of Japan. Germany experienced its Wirtschaftswunder. Even the Communist world got richer. This growth has been attributed to massive postwar government stimulus plus a happy nexus of low fuel prices, population growth and high Cold War military spending.

But alongside this was that extraordinary burst of human ingenuity and societal change. This is commented upon less often, perhaps because it is so obvious, or maybe it is seen as a simple consequence of the economics. We saw the biggest advances in science and technology: if you were a biologist, physicist or materials scientist, there was no better time to be working. But we also saw a shift in social attitudes every bit as profound. In even the most enlightened societies before 1945, attitudes to race, sexuality and women’s rights were what we would now consider antediluvian. By 1971, those old prejudices were on the back foot. Simply put, the world had changed."



"Lack of money, then, is not the reason that innovation has stalled. What we do with our money might be, however. Capitalism was once the great engine of progress. It was capitalism in the 18th and 19th centuries that built roads and railways, steam engines and telegraphs (another golden era). Capital drove the industrial revolution.

Now, wealth is concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite. A report by Credit Suisse this October found that the richest 1 per cent of humans own half the world’s assets. That has consequences. Firstly, there is a lot more for the hyper-rich to spend their money on today than there was in the golden age of philanthropy in the 19th century. The superyachts, fast cars, private jets and other gewgaws of Planet Rich simply did not exist when people such as Andrew Carnegie walked the earth and, though they are no doubt nice to have, these fripperies don’t much advance the frontiers of knowledge. Furthermore, as the French economist Thomas Piketty pointed out in Capital (2014), money now begets money more than at any time in recent history. When wealth accumulates so spectacularly by doing nothing, there is less impetus to invest in genuine innovation."



"But there is more to it than inequality and the failure of capital.

During the Golden Quarter, we saw a boom in public spending on research and innovation. The taxpayers of Europe, the US and elsewhere replaced the great 19th‑century venture capitalists. And so we find that nearly all the advances of this period came either from tax-funded universities or from popular movements. The first electronic computers came not from the labs of IBM but from the universities of Manchester and Pennsylvania. (Even the 19th-century analytical engine of Charles Babbage was directly funded by the British government.) The early internet came out of the University of California, not Bell or Xerox. Later on, the world wide web arose not from Apple or Microsoft but from CERN, a wholly public institution. In short, the great advances in medicine, materials, aviation and spaceflight were nearly all pump-primed by public investment. But since the 1970s, an assumption has been made that the private sector is the best place to innovate."

[See also this response from Alan Jacobs: http://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/105225967233/the-future-of-ambition

"I’m not sure this essay by Michael Hanlon on the lack of technical and scientific progress over the past 40 years adds much to other recent speculations on the same theme: Tyler Cowen’s book The Great Stagnation, talks by Neal Stephenson on our lack of visionary imagination, and so on.

But it’s an indication at least of a growing awareness that, despite the determined efforts of the advertising world to suggest that everything is getting better all the time, our society is stuck in something of a technological rut, especially with regard to travel and, more important, medical care. Flying is a more frustrating experience than it has ever been and is only getting worse; only Google and Elon Musk are even trying to innovate in automobiling; and, as Hanlon points out, a person getting cancer today will receive treatment not fundamentally different than he or she would have received in 1970, and doesn’t stand a much greater chance of beating the disease.

So why aren’t we doing better? Hanlon offers a few fairly vague suggestions, as does Cowen, but this is an inquiry in its early stages. Let me just offer my two cents — precisely two.

Cent number one: Litigiousness. Every technological development in every field, but especially in health care, is hamstrung by the need to perform due diligence, and then beyond-due diligence, and then absurdly-over-the-top diligence, before putting a product on the market lest the developing company be sued by someone unhappy with their results. How many times have you read about some exciting new cancer treatment — and then never hear about it again, as it disappears into the endless Purgatory of tiny clinical trials that dying people beg (usually unsuccessfully) to be allowed to participate in?

Cent number two: Self-soothing by Device. I suspect that few will think that addition to distractive devices could even possibly be related to a cultural lack of ambition, but I genuinely think it’s significant. Truly difficult scientific and technological challenges are almost always surmounted by obsessive people — people who are grabbed by a question that won’t let them go. Such an experience is not comfortable, not pleasant; but it is essential to the perseverance without which no Big Question is ever answered. To judge by the autobiographical accounts of scientific and technological geniuses, there is a real sense in which those Questions force themselves on the people who stand a chance of answering them. But if it is always trivially easy to set the question aside — thanks to a device that you carry with you everywhere you go — can the Question make itself sufficiently present to you that answering is becomes something essential to your well-being? I doubt it." ]
science  technology  progress  michaelhanlon  tylercowen  attention  distraction  litigiousness  law  legal  funding  economics  capitalism  research  society  channge  inequality  innovation  riskaversion  risktaking  risk  medicine  healthcare 
december 2014 by robertogreco
How risk factors drive medical overtreatment – Jeff Wheelwright – Aeon
"Misunderstanding risk factors has led to massive overtreatment of diseases people don’t have and probably never will"



"Hypnotised by the swings in relative risk factors, we might miss the more hopeful numbers surrounding absolute risk

If there is one lesson the medical consumer ought to master, it is the difference between absolute risk and relative risk. Health journalists are constantly reporting relative risks – how medication X lowered the risk of health outcome Z in a group of patients, compared with a similar group that didn’t take X and had a higher rate of Z.

Let’s assume that the drug X achieved a relative risk reduction of 50 per cent. That sounds impressive until you read, probably not in the article but in the fine print of a medical journal, that the prevalence of Z, the absolute risk to everyone in the study, is only two per cent. Thus the pill has cut the actual risk from two per cent to one per cent. In light of that slender benefit, X’s side effects and price tag loom large. Risk factors for disease are also relative entities, having been derived from a comparison of patients, one group healthier than another. Hypnotised by the swings in relative risk factors, we might miss the more hopeful numbers surrounding absolute risk.

Ultimately, what we really want to know is our risk of death. Just as risk factors are painless proxies for the threat of disease, so worries about disease substitute for fears about dying. I know that my death creeps closer with each passing decade, but I manage my mortality by fractionating the absolute risks of death’s vehicles. As noted, my risk of a heart attack or stroke is 15 per cent, though the odds that either would be fatal are far lower. My lifetime risk of dying of prostate cancer is just one in 38. Because of family history, I’m going to bump it up to one in 30, still a low probability, nothing to lose sleep over.

According to the statistics, no other cancer out there is more likely to kill me than prostate cancer. You see how it works? Someone might inconveniently point out that invasive cancer as a whole has a one-in-four chance of getting me, but I’m not listening to that someone. As Schwartz says: ‘Bad things don’t happen that often. To go from an eight per cent to a seven per cent death reduction is important to doctors, but it may not be to individuals. Do you want to take a pill every day to reduce a small risk?’

I don’t."
risk  riskassessment  2014  jeffwheelwright  health  healthcare  medicine  disease 
december 2014 by robertogreco
12 ideas for making Boston more inclusive - Magazine - The Boston Globe
"1) CREATE SPACES WHERE PEOPLE FROM ALL WALKS CONVERGE … — Francie Latour

2) HELP SKILLED IMMIGRANTS GET RE-LICENSED … — Omar Sacirbey

3) BRING HIGH-TECH OPPORTUNITIES TO THE INNER CITY … — Michael Fitzgerald

4) GET HIGH SCHOOLERS TO CROSS CLIQUE LINES … — James H. Burnett III

5) ENSURE ACCESS TO PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION … — Sarah Shemkus

6) NURTURE URBAN BUSINESSES … — Michael Fitzgerald

7) SPREAD THE HEALTH … — Priyanka Dayal McCluskey

8) BUILD MORE MIXED-INCOME HOUSING … — Jeremy C. Fox

9) PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF TRANSGENDER PEOPLE … — Jeremy C. Fox

10) CULTIVATE INCLUSION EXPERTS … — Nadia Colburn

11) CELEBRATE DIVERSITY THROUGH THEATER … — Cindy Atoji Keene

12) TEACH TOLERANCE TO CHILDREN — Sarah Shemkus"

[See also: "What are Boston’s biggest barriers to inclusion? Community and nonprofit leaders, academics, activists, and others discuss problems and priorities."
http://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2014/12/03/what-are-boston-biggest-barriers-inclusion/0PnxFPYOYlqbAyQRGS4TRK/story.html

[via: https://twitter.com/anamarialeon/status/543045803393433600 ]
boston  cities  urban  urbanism  inequality  2014  francielatour  omarsacirbey  michaelfitzgerald  jamesburnett  sarahshemkus  priyankadayalmccluskey  jeremyfox  nadiacolbum  cindyatojikeene  inclusion  housing  education  health  healthcare  business  highschool  relationships  community  diversity  tolerance  theater  children  youth  technology  immigrants  urbanplanning  inlcusivity  inclusivity 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Who Cares – The New Inquiry
"The supposedly natural emotions of love and compassion are used to compel many people, especially women, to work for free."



"Reports of neglect and abuse in hospitals and care homes appear with alarming regularity. Received narratives blame “burn-out”: understaffing, low wages and squeezed margins transform overworked and overstressed carers into monsters. The proposed solution is extra vigilance and “Compassion Training.” Shifting the question of working practices and worker wellbeing onto the terrain of compassion is a sleight of hand. It implies that care workers should police themselves and their colleagues rather than fight collectively for better pay and conditions. By this account, compassion flows in one direction only, from nurse to patient, and never between nurses, or from the nurse to her or his own family and friends."



"Of course, the majority of care workers—parents but mostly mothers, children but mostly daughters, spouses but mostly wives—never receive any wages at all. Within families, and other close interpersonal relationships, love and guilt are the mechanisms by which caring labor (cleaning, wiping, feeding and so on) is extorted from a largely female workforce. Perhaps this is what nurse-lecturers are really alluding to when they ask students to imagine their patients as their mothers. When women, who dominate caring professions, take their capacity to care away from the private sphere and sell it on the labor market instead, the same mechanisms—love and guilt—are called upon to bridge the shortfall in staff, resources and wages that characterize many caring institutions, whether they are run for profit or by the state."



"In the SCUM Manifesto, Valerie Solanas proposes that “thrill-seeking females overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and destroy the male sex.” In her vision of post-revolution society, all work will be performed by machines. Caring labor will be eliminated and will no longer be constitutive of expressions of love between individuals. Instead, women will spend their newfound leisure time expressing love for each other through intellectual discourse and great projects (e.g. curing death).

While increased leisure time and revolutionized interpersonal relationships have not yet been forthcoming, technology has already been employed in a range of caring tasks from baby formula milk or TV as babysitter to animal robots. However, we remain a long way from machines raising the next generation of workers and carers. As demonstrated by Harry Harlow’s heartbreaking experiments raising baby monkeys in isolation chambers with inanimate robot mothers, the task of reproducing socialized primates is complex and nuanced. So far, despite the deficiencies of some human carers, we do not have a machine that can care for the sick or bring up a child.

Many feminist theorists disagree with Solanas’s analysis. They argue that while in patriarchal capitalist societies women are overburdened with the tasks of love and care, these tasks are an inherent part of what it means to be human. For example, Selma James, co-founder of the International Wages for Housework Campaign, defends care work like this: “Mothers feeding infants, in fact all caring work outside any money exchange, is basic to human survival—not exactly a marginal achievement. What, we must ask in our own defense and in society’s, is more important than this?”"



"Is it possible to imagine a restructured society in which love remains the primary motivation for engaging in care work but where this labor is provided freely, without exploitation? We might assume that rich women love their families, but just as they don’t work in the factories where their iPhones are made, they rarely perform the hard graft of caring labor themselves. Instead they employ nurses and nannies. The reason that some working class women perform care work for rich people as well as for their own families and communities is not that they experience love more intensely. Or if they do, perhaps they experience it more intensely because they are required by capitalism to perform this labor. Ultimately they do it because they do not have a choice.

There are potentially a million different possible ways to treat the sick, raise children or organize intimacy. It’s at least imaginable that in a different social form we could cure ourselves with shared knowledge of pharmacologically active substances, or that sick people might choose to meditate on their pain alone, or countless other examples. In a fully communized society, it might be possible to retain both love and iPhones, but the conditions of their production and consumption would need to be radically transformed. It might be necessary, as Solanas suggests, to de-couple love from care work. Whatever happens, we must stop taking it for granted that women care and want to care. And we must begin to investigate the meaning of that caring."
care  caring  emotionallabor  2014  economics  lauraannerobertson  love  healthcare  gender  aging  children  parenting  childcare  eldercare  housework  homemaking  capitalism  labor  work  valeriesolanas  patriarchy  silviafederici  employment 
december 2014 by robertogreco
This One Chart Shows Everything That’s Wrong With Liberal Politics | Notes on a Theory...
"Let’s leave aside the fact that federal dollars do materialize out of thin air. Transferring money from the rich to the poor is precisely what conservatives don’t want to do. Normally this complaint is about “redistribution” but the reality is that conservatives (especially elite conservatives) are opposed to any distributions that don’t transfer money upward. They support policies that make the poor more insecure, more miserable, and they oppose those that prevent the rich from having more wealth and power. They will pay the costs when it comes to these goals. As I’ve said before, ‘big government’ is any action that enforces the law against the rich or provides protections to the poor while ‘small government’ is any and all protections and benefits for the rich or punishments for the poor. This is the conservative project, not spending less federal dollars as a matter of principle.

Every once and a while there’s a renewed effort among liberals to insist that the GOP is the party of death because they oppose universal health care (or more to the point, somewhat more universal). People die without health care, people don’t get health care without health insurance, so those who oppose expansion of health insurance are ensuring people die. But if we admit that people die without health care than what do we say about not fighting to change that? The Democratic Party has still not engaged in a serious effort to fight for Medicaid expansion. The original bill was designed to coerce states into accepting it, and when the Supreme Court took that mechanism away, Democrats mostly threw up their hands. (I mean officials and candidates. Even then there are exceptions. There are people out there fighting for this, and they are to be commended and supported). The party put most of its resources and attention on the Senate, never really made a case for why people should vote for them, never tried to move passive supporters of Medicare expansion or various other policies into active supporters, and the GOP ended up racking up large victories in state houses around the country in addition to taking the Senate.

The thing is that Medicaid expansion is popular. It’s popular in red states. It gives Democrats a wedge to use in less hospitable places.  But to translate that position into political support takes work. And charts won’t do that. Facts won’t do that. ‘Cost’ arguments won’t do it. Only contestation will."
obamacare  democrats  republicans  politics  policy  healthcare  insurance  2014  inequality  poverty  medicaide  affordablecareact  georgia  redistribution  biggovernment  government  elections 
november 2014 by robertogreco
The Land That Never Has Been Yet — Medium
"America has always had something of a Calvinist bent — the middle class whites as the elect, saved from birth. The poor whites, blacks, Native Americans, and whatever the current outclass of immigrants as her preterites, and sometimes even her damned. She has always talked of growing the elect, rather than serving the preterite, as if this were compassion rather than an insidious form of erasing people.

Like many of America’s preterites, my mom believes in this ordering of things. She doesn’t question her fate, but works hard to make it slightly more comfortable. “It doesn’t have to be easy,” she once told me. “It shouldn’t be easy. But it should not be this hard.”

Here, my mom and I agree.

In 1906 Upton Sinclair published The Jungle, a harrowing story of conditions in the meat packing industry in Chicago, and the employment practices that treated immigrant lives as nothing more than coals to feed to the fire of business profit. The political reaction was swift — inspections were instituted to make sure the meat was healthy. Sinclair lamented that he’d “…aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.” For many, especially in “growth” fields like medical care, labor conditions are only slightly better than they were in Sinclair’s day. For others, like those trapped in America’s prison labor system, they are as bad or worse."
quinnnorton  us  economics  healthcare  socialsafetynet  poverty  work  labor  2014  havesandhavenots  inequality  calvinism  class 
june 2014 by robertogreco
San Francisco’s (In)Visible Class War — Editor’s Picks — Medium
"San Francisco is in the middle of a class war. It’s not the first or last city to have heart-wrenching inequality tear at its fabric, challenge its values, test its support structures. But what’s jaw-dropping to me is how openly, defensively, and critically technology folks demean those who are struggling. The tech industry has a sickening obsession with meritocracy. Far too many geeks and entrepreneurs worship at the altar of zeros and ones, believing that outputs can be boiled down to a simple equation based on inputs. In a modern-day version of the Protestant ethic, there’s a sense that success is a guaranteed outcome of hard work, skills, and intelligence. Thus, anyone who is struggling can be blamed for their own circumstances.

This attitude is front and center when it comes to people who are visibly homeless on the streets of San Francisco, a mere fraction of the total homeless population in that city.

I wish that more people working in the tech sector would take a moment to talk to these men and women. Listening to their stories is humbling. Vets who fought for our country, under the banner of “freedom,” only to be cognitively imprisoned by addiction and mental illness. Abused runaways trying to find someone who will treat them with respect. People who were working hard and getting by until an accident struck and they lost their job and ended up in medical debt. Immigrants who came looking for the American Dream only to find themselves trapped. These aren’t no-good lazy leeches. They’re people. People whose lives have been a hell of a lot harder than most of us can even fathom. People who struggle on a daily basis to find food and shelter. People who we’ve systematically disenfranchised and failed to support. People who the bulk of tech workers ignore, shun, resent, and demonize.

A city without a safety net cannot be a healthy society. And nothing exacerbates this worse than condescension, resentment, and dismissal. We can talk about the tech buses and the lack of affordable housing, but it all starts with appreciating those who are struggling. Only a mere fraction of San Francisco’s homeless population are visible, but those who are reveal the starkness of what’s unfolding. And, as with many things, there’s more of a desire to make the visible invisible than there is to grapple with dynamics of poverty, mental illness, addiction, abuse, and misfortune. Too many people think that they’re invincible.

If you’re living in the Bay Area and working in tech, take a moment to do what I asked my colleague to do a decade ago. Walk around the Tenderloin and talk with someone whose poverty is written on their body. Respectfully ask about their life. Where did they come from? How did they get here? Where do they want to go? Ask about their hopes and dreams, struggles and challenges. Get a sense for their story. Connect as people. Then think about what meritocracy in tech really means."
danahboyd  sanfrancisco  poverty  2014  inequality  homeless  homelessness  meritocracy  libertarianism  mentalhealth  cities  healthcare  classwar 
may 2014 by robertogreco
6, 4: Block quotes
"So! In some of NASA’s actions you can detect a flavor of institutional hypervigilance against controversy. For example, most of what I’m in contact with is EO (Earth Observation, under what to my great pleasure was once called MTPE, Mission to Planet Earth), and for them climate change is a big, big deal. But they have to bend over backwards not to say anything that could be interpreted as even a little partisan, which is a tough move when simple, contextualized facts are very partisan. Likewise, two different people have politely reminded me that their communications are subject to FOIA, giving me the impression that they feel they have to avoid volunteering opinions outside narrow technical topics, even when they’re squeaky clean of any bias that could possibly affect the quality and independence of their work.

The impression that one sometimes gets is of a sticky note on the monitor frame reading “Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want to hear read out in Congress by someone who intends to defund your program”.

It’s a shame. You add friction to people’s work when you make them second-guess themselves and not express even well-supported, carefully framed, intellectually honest, professionally relevant opinions.

I wish the squint-inducing sunlight were felt in agencies whose failures cause secret murders, foolish wars, and the creation of surveillance states more than in an agency whose most salient failures so far – seventeen suited astronaut deaths – were caused by institutional lock-up more than by anything else. It should scare us how much Columbia was a repeat of Challenger: in both cases, a good understanding of the problem and solution was diffused within NASA, but it never converged on the point where it was needed. Too little jidoka. It’s not that transparency causes Crew Module Catastrophic Events, but there’s a chain from “we need to make sure the taxpayers are getting their money’s worth” through “let’s make sure we have solid procedures for everything” to “no, don’t just say ‘STOP! I see a problem that could kill the crew.’ to your boss; write up a nice report in rock-solid formal language” that has to be broken somewhere.

Astronaut deaths are the most salient failure, but to my mind the much bigger one is the failure to go further, which is the fault of the Executive and Legislative branches. One illustration of the problem is the Landsat program. As a series of satellites, you might assume it would be NASA’s responsibility to manage the space side of things. Nope. Obama reached over with scissors and glue to move Landsat to its own authority within the Geological Survey, because we was rightly counseled that Congress (and the presidency) cannot be trusted to fund NASA consistently enough to let it run Landsat. The consequence is very good: USGS’s Landsat operation is one of my stock examples when folks ask about doing open data right. But it bodes bogus of our handling of our primary space program when we have to take satellites away from it because we can’t trust ourselves to let it run them.

And so I see the hypervigilance as another face of the imposed institutional conservatism that has made NASA an anxious genius of an agency, never sure whether it will have the funding to do anything ambitious even after it’s been promised, tired of being scolded for not finishing what it doesn’t have the mandate to start, trying to get through a few short-sighted decades while doing justice to its domain. It’s amazing it’s as sure-handed as it is.

This, then, I think, is why we don’t see even more radical innovation from NASA: because Congress hates funding costly failures, even ones that are small and necessary parts of hugely worthwhile successes. And that’s why I doubt we’re anywhere close to the fail-hard/win-big r strategy program that Maly envisions. NSF grants are one good back door. Universal healthcare and a better social net in general is another: read Bill Gates’s “half” story and go ask a single mother who can’t afford daycare how she thinks the US economy is doing at letting her best ideas compete. I bet we’ll get there, but what happens between now and then still counts. America is waiting.

One of many causes for hope is that, even as its funding for outreach is cut, it’s NASA’s figured out how to put on a show on the web."
charlieloyd  2014  nasa  bureaucracy  universalhealthcare  healthcare  research  government  failure  science  hypervigilance  observation  imagery  congress  funding  landsat  usgs  remotesensing  earth  satellites  satelliteimagery 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Socialism: Converting Hysterical Misery into Ordinary Unhappiness | Jacobin
"There is a deeper, more substantive, case to be made for a left approach to the economy. In the neoliberal utopia, all of us are forced to spend an inordinate amount of time keeping track of each and every facet of our economic lives. That, in fact, is the openly declared goal: once we are made more cognizant of our money, where it comes from and where it goes, neoliberals believe we’ll be more responsible in spending and investing it. Of course, rich people have accountants, lawyers, personal assistants, and others to do this for them, so the argument doesn’t apply to them, but that’s another story for another day.

The dream is that we’d all have our gazillion individual accounts — one for retirement, one for sickness, one for unemployment, one for the kids, and so on, each connected to our employment, so that we understand that everything good in life depends upon our boss (and not the government) — and every day we’d check in to see how they’re doing, what needs attending to, what can be better invested elsewhere. It’s as if, in the neoliberal dream, we’re all retirees in Boca, with nothing better to do than to check in with our broker, except of course that we’re not. Indeed, if Republicans (and some Democrats) had their way, we’d never retire at all.

In real (or at least our preferred) life, we do have other, better things to do. We have books to read, children to raise, friends to meet, loved ones to care for, amusements to enjoy, drinks to drink, walks to take, webs to surf, couches to lie on, games to play, movies to see, protests to make, movements to build, marches to march, and more. Most days, we don’t have time to do any of that. We’re working way too many hours for too little pay, and in the remaining few hours (minutes) we have, after the kids are asleep, the dishes are washed, and the laundry is done, we have to haggle with insurance companies about doctor’s bills, deal with school officials needing forms signed, and more."



"That’s what the neoliberal view reduces us to: men and women so confronted by the hassle of everyday life that we’re either forced to master it, like the wunderkinder of the blogosphere, or become its slaves. We’re either athletes of the market or the support staff who tend to the race.

That’s not what the Left wants. We want to give people the chance to do something else with their lives, something besides merely tending to it, without having to take a 30-year detour on Wall Street to get there. The way to do that is not to immerse people even more in the ways and means of the market, but to give them time and space to get out of it. That’s what a good welfare state, real social democracy, does: rather than being consumed by life, it allows you to make your life. Freely. One less bell to answer, not one more."
obamacara  healthcare  capitalism  socialism  cognitiveload  neoliberalism  freedom  inefficiency  healthinsurance  coreyrobin  2013  economics  mittromney  polic  retirement  self-sufficency  markets  privatization 
december 2013 by robertogreco
David Simon: 'There are now two Americas. My country is a horror show' | World news | The Observer
[video of the full talk here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNttT7hDKsk ]

"The idea that the market will solve such things as environmental concerns, as our racial divides, as our class distinctions, our problems with educating and incorporating one generation of workers into the economy after the other when that economy is changing; the idea that the market is going to heed all of the human concerns and still maximise profit is juvenile. It's a juvenile notion and it's still being argued in my country passionately and we're going down the tubes. And it terrifies me because I'm astonished at how comfortable we are in absolving ourselves of what is basically a moral choice. Are we all in this together or are we all not?"



"And that's what The Wire was about basically, it was about people who were worth less and who were no longer necessary, as maybe 10 or 15% of my country is no longer necessary to the operation of the economy. It was about them trying to solve, for lack of a better term, an existential crisis. In their irrelevance, their economic irrelevance, they were nonetheless still on the ground occupying this place called Baltimore and they were going to have to endure somehow.

That's the great horror show. What are we going to do with all these people that we've managed to marginalise? It was kind of interesting when it was only race, when you could do this on the basis of people's racial fears and it was just the black and brown people in American cities who had the higher rates of unemployment and the higher rates of addiction and were marginalised and had the shitty school systems and the lack of opportunity.

And kind of interesting in this last recession to see the economy shrug and start to throw white middle-class people into the same boat, so that they became vulnerable to the drug war, say from methamphetamine, or they became unable to qualify for college loans. And all of a sudden a certain faith in the economic engine and the economic authority of Wall Street and market logic started to fall away from people. And they realised it's not just about race, it's about something even more terrifying. It's about class. Are you at the top of the wave or are you at the bottom?

So how does it get better? In 1932, it got better because they dealt the cards again and there was a communal logic that said nobody's going to get left behind. We're going to figure this out. We're going to get the banks open. From the depths of that depression a social compact was made between worker, between labour and capital that actually allowed people to have some hope.

We're either going to do that in some practical way when things get bad enough or we're going to keep going the way we're going, at which point there's going to be enough people standing on the outside of this mess that somebody's going to pick up a brick, because you know when people get to the end there's always the brick. I hope we go for the first option but I'm losing faith."



"The last job of capitalism – having won all the battles against labour, having acquired the ultimate authority, almost the ultimate moral authority over what's a good idea or what's not, or what's valued and what's not – the last journey for capital in my country has been to buy the electoral process, the one venue for reform that remained to Americans.

Right now capital has effectively purchased the government, and you witnessed it again with the healthcare debacle in terms of the $450m that was heaved into Congress, the most broken part of my government, in order that the popular will never actually emerged in any of that legislative process."
davidsimon  2013  us  capitalism  politics  economics  warondrugs  lawenforcement  socialism  karlmarx  marxism  healthcare  addiction  prisonindustrialcomplex  race  neworleans  baltimore  labor  class  greatdepression  greatrecession  marginalization  work  corruption  systems  process  systemsthinking  bureaucracy  incarceration  elections  campaignfunding  nola 
december 2013 by robertogreco
BBC News - Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes
"For 75 years, Finland's expectant mothers have been given a box by the state. It's like a starter kit of clothes, sheets and toys that can even be used as a bed. And some say it helped Finland achieve one of the world's lowest infant mortality rates."
babies  culture  finland  parenting  2013  infantmortality  cardboard  health  healthcare  society  mothers  children  priorities 
june 2013 by robertogreco
5 Ways Pirates Were Way More Modern Than You Realize | Cracked.com
"Pirates Had Health Insurance
Pirates Had a Form of Gay Marriage
Pirates Practiced Religious Tolerance
Pirates Were Equal-Opportunity Employers
Pirates Had Democratic Elections"
pirates  healthinsurance  healthcare  democracy  tolerance  religion  gaymarriage  marriageequality  history  freedom 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Driven to Despair | Center on Policy Initiatives
"1) Almost 90% of licensed taxi drivers in San Diego are “lease drivers,” who rent the cars from individual or business owners, usually by the week.

2) San Diego taxi drivers earn a median of less than $5 an hour. They must drive for more than 70 hours a week to earn what a minimum-wage worker makes in 40 hours.

Drivers make only 30¢ of each $1 collected, including tips.

3) Virtually no drivers have job-related health coverage or workers’ compensation insurance, and few are covered for injuries in case of accidents. While they lack employee benefits, drivers also are denied the business practices standard for independent contractors.

4) The current system encourages taxi drivers to drive when tired or sick, and allows lax vehicle maintenance, putting public health and safety at risk.

5) City permits are re-sold on the open market without regulation, for tens of thousands of dollars more than their purchase price. As a result, drivers pay high lease prices and are blocked from becoming owner-operators."

[via: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2013/may/23/city-considers-taxi-industry-overhaul-amid-reports/ ]
sandiego  taxis  labor  safety  health  healthcare  compensation  regulation  2013 
may 2013 by robertogreco
The Pulse of Oakland
"Stories on the intersection of health, wealth and race in Oakland neighborhoods."
oakland  race  wealth  neighborhoods  healthcare  inequality  poverty  brittanyschell  maps  mapping 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Critical Making | materials protocols and culture
"Critical Making will operationalize and critique the practice of “making” through both foundational literature and hands on studio culture. As hybrid practitioners, students will develop fluency in readily collaging and incorporating a variety of physical materials and protocols into their practice. With design research as a lens, students will envision and create future computational experiences that critically explore social and culturally relevant technological themes such as community, privacy, environment, education, economics, energy, food, biology, democracy, activism, healthcare, social justice, etc.

While no previous technical knowledge is required to take this course, class projects will involve basic programing, electronic circuity, and digital fabrication design. While tutorials and instruction will be provided, students will be expected to develop basic skills in each of these areas in order to complete the course projects. The course will result in a final public show of student work.

The course goals are:

• develop a critical understanding of emerging making technologies and their role within the current cultural and social context
• establish proficiency with the fundamental concepts, methods, and practices of physical modeling, sketching, form giving, electronic prototyping, and hands on making across a range of materials
• improve students ability to make expressive, physical, interactive objects that critique and advance computing culture through the production of making and artifact creation
• advance the communication and presentation skill of students through the process of the studio critique

projects

This is a studio class with time devoted to lecture, discussion, practice activities, design worksessions, and critique of student work. This course will consist of two Provocations and a Final Project demonstrating a functional interactive object set within a real life context and scenario. There will also be a series of Field Activities and in class sessions that are incuded as a portion of your particpation grade.

readings

Readings will be assigned throughout the semester. Everyone is expected to read the readings. One or two people will be selected for each reading to prepare a class presentation. Each student is expected to engage in class discussions when readings are assigned. This counts towards your class participation grade.

zip.crit

Most classes will begin with a zip.crit. A zip.crit is a rapid crit of an interface, object, design, etc. We will be rotating through the class roster and choosing one person to do a zip.crit each class. That person will select an interface, object, design, instructable, kickstarter, toy, etc. At the beginning of class that person will briefly introduce the object, interface, design to us. The class will collectively critique the artifact.

evaluation

Work and performance in the course will be evaluated after each Provocation and the Final Project. In addition, the process of exploration is as important as the final product, so it is important that students manage time well and devote time to working on the assignments during the course of a week. If class time is given as a worksession and is not put to good use, students’ grades will be penalized. For assignments done in teams, students will be graded on individual contributions as well as synthesis with the team. Work that is late will be decremented in grade.

rules of engagement

One of the main learning exercises in this course is the critique. We will be building this skill throughout the semester Each of the assignments will be critiqued in class.

Be there!

Critique days mandatory attendance. If you are not in class or late, we will deduct from your attendance grade. There will be no exceptions.

Attendance of all classes is mandatory. You are allowed one absence for the semester without penalty (except critique days); thereafter you will receive zero credit for the missed studio. To receive an additional excused absence, you must ask in advance, and receive an acknowledgment from the instructor.

Excusable absences include family emergencies, job interviews, and presenting at a conference. It does not include wanting to leave early for long weekend or vacation. To receive credit for attendance, you must arrive on time. No late assignments will be accepted

Be active!

During the in class critique everyone is expected to be engaged in the discussion. Assignments, timely attendance, and in-class and team participation are a critical part of the grade. Bringing examples from outside of the class is considered to be an assignment and is also important.

Be attentive!

No laptops, phones, electronics out or used during critique and at other selected parts of class.

grading criteria

participation in assignments
good use of class time: attendance, critiques, (NO multitasking)
problem selection
rigorous design explorations
quality of craftsmanship and level of completion
quality of the team’s reflection and communication about a design solution and process
For projects done in teams, students will be graded on individual contributions as well as synthesis with the team.
Work that is late will be decremented in grade.

PARTICIPATION 20%
PROVOCATION 1 20%
PROVOCATION 2 20%
FINAL PROVOCATION 40%"

[See also: http://www.paulos.net/
http://www.krisfallon.com/
http://www.isopoddesign.com/ ]
education  sustainability  making  classideas  syllabus  2013  ericpaulos  krisfallon  chrismeyers  environment  biology  democracy  activism  healthcare  socialjustice  studioculture  openstudio  openstudioproject  makers  berkeley  bayarea  programming  coding  computing  electronics  digitalfabrication  technology  learning  lcproject  kickstarter  instructables  prototyping  glvo  edg  srg 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Boston Review — Lili Loofbourow: “No to Profit” (Chile, Privatized Education)
"“The culture of the market that was established in Chile made social inequality ethically and politically tolerable,” Mayol writes. Such a system “guarantees that difference will exist,” in fact, “differentiation is its sign of health.”
We are Chileans of an age in which ideas . . . are ‘bought,’ where ‘to cooperate’ means to be dim or naïve (because to be intelligent is to be selfish), where achieving an object regardless of the means is ‘making it,’ and where being a millionaire is synonymous with a high intellectual capacity.

Thus Chileans became accustomed to a passive role. Their country would react to international demand for goods—mainly the nation’s rich underground resources—and services, and that would be all. Everyone had to adapt, and there was no use complaining about it. The result is that Chileans aren’t even actors in a free market anymore. They’ve instead become another resource Chile can offer to investors: a captive consumer base forced to pay private industry for domestic goods that were once public.

Mayol sees the student movement as the stirring to life of a people that had forgotten it once had the right, and even the responsibility, to complain and to demand. Following the example set by the students, citizens started complaining to the institutions that they felt were behaving abusively. In 2010 there were 9,010 complaints against rising health care costs. In 2011 that figure was 25,767. There was no substantive change in health care; what changed, Mayol says, was the public’s consciousness. Suddenly there was hope that complaints might not be futile after all."
chile  economics  neoliberalism  2013  education  healthcare  markets  albertomayol  ricardolagos  sebastiánpiñera  universities  highereducation  highered  debt  consumerism  citizenship  civics  passivity  freemarket  responsibility  society  lililoofbourow 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Design for the New Normal (Revisited) | superflux
"I was invited to talk at the NEXT Conference in Berlin by Peter Bihr, as he felt that a talk I gave last year would fit well with the conference's theme Here Be Dragons: "We fret about data, who is collecting it and why. We fret about privacy and security. We worry and fear disruption, which changes business models and renders old business to ashes. Some would have us walk away, steer clear of these risks. They’re dangerous, we don’t know what the consequences will be. Maintain the status quo, don’t change too much.Here and now is safe. Over there, in the future? Well, there be dragons."

This sounded like a good platform to expand upon the 'Design for the New Normal' presentation I gave earlier, especially as its an area Jon and I are thinking about in the context of various ongoing projects. So here it is, once again an accelerated slideshow (70 slides!) where I followed up on some of the stories to see what happened to them in the last six months, and developed some of the ideas further. This continues to be a work-in-progress that Superflux is developing as part of our current projects. "

[Video: http://nextberlin.eu/2013/07/design-for-the-new-normal-3/ ]
anabjain  2013  drones  weapons  manufacturing  3dprinting  bioengineering  droneproject  biotechnology  biotech  biobricks  songhojun  ossi  zemaraielali  empowerment  technology  technologicalempowerment  raspberrypi  hackerspaces  makerspaces  diy  biology  diybio  shapeways  replicators  tobiasrevell  globalvillageconstructionset  marcinjakubowski  crowdsourcing  cryptocurrencies  openideo  ideo  wickedproblems  darpa  innovation  india  afghanistan  jugaad  jugaadwarfare  warfare  war  syria  bitcoins  blackmarket  freicoin  litecoin  dna  dnadreams  bregtjevanderhaak  bgi  genomics  23andme  annewojcicki  genetics  scottsmith  superdensity  googleglass  chaos  complexity  uncertainty  thenewnormal  superflux  opensource  patents  subversion  design  jonardern  ux  marketing  venkateshrao  normalityfield  strangenow  syntheticbiology  healthcare  healthinsurance  insurance  law  economics  ip  arnoldmann  dynamicgenetics  insects  liamyoung  eleanorsaitta  shingtatchung  algorithms  superstition  bahavior  numerology  dunne&raby  augerloizeau  bionicrequiem  ericschmidt  privacy  adamharvey  makeu 
april 2013 by robertogreco
21 graphs that show America’s health-care prices are ludicrous [Chile is pricey too.]
"This is the fundamental fact of American health care: We pay much, much more than other countries do for the exact same things. For a detailed explanation of why, see this article [http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/03/15/why-an-mri-costs-1080-in-america-and-280-in-france/ ]. But this post isn’t about the why. It’s about the prices, and the graphs."
us  health  healthcare  costs  money  business  economics  2013  chile  medicine 
march 2013 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Journal: Fabrica
"a type of school, or studio, or commercial practice, or research centre. Fabrica, hovering between all these things yet resisting the urge to fall into becoming any one of them, is perhaps genuinely without parallel. This makes it a little tricky to explain, but this ability to avoid pigeonholes is also to its credit."

"hybrid organisation—part communications research centre…but also part arts and design school, part think-thank, part studio. My kind of place."

"While I might occasionally characterise Fabrica as the pugnacious upstart, or startup, whose agility might challenge the established institutions, it’s clear we also have a lot to learn from the likes of the exemplary creative centres like the RCA, and from Paul in particular. His experience across the Design Museum, Cooper Hewitt and the RCA will be invaluable, and he’s beginning to draw together a great advisory board. Watch that space. I’m also exploring various newer models for learning environments, from Strelka and CIID to MIT Media Lab and School of Everything, alongside the centres of excellence like the RCA and others. My father and mother, more of an influence on me than perhaps even they realise, were both educators and learning environments and cultures may well be in my DNA, to some degree."

"…the other idea that I’m incredibly interested in pursuing at Fabrica is that of the trandisciplinary studio."

"With this stew of perspectives at hand, we might find project teams that contain graphic designers, industrial designers, neuroscientists, coders, filmmakers, for instance. Or product design, data viz, sociology, photography, economics, architecture and interaction design, for instance. These small project teams are then extremely well-equipped to tackle the kind of complex, interdependent challenges we face today, and tomorrow. We know that new knowledge and new practice—new ideas and new solutions—emerges through the collision of disciplines, at the edges of things, when we’re out of our comfort zone. Joi Ito, at the MIT Media Lab, calls this approach “anti-disciplinary”."

"And living in Treviso, a medieval walled Middle European city, our new home gives me another urban form to explore, after living in the Modern-era Social Democratic Nordic City of Helsinki, the Post-Colonial proto-Austral-Asian Sprawl of Sydney, the contemporary globalised city-state of London, and the revolutionary industrial, and then post-industrial, cities of the north of England."
1994  australia  uk  finland  venice  helsinki  london  sydney  domus  josephgrima  danielhirschmann  bethanykoby  technologywillsaveus  tadaoando  alessandrobenetton  rca  schoolofeverything  strelkainstitute  joiito  medialab  mitmedialab  ciid  paulthompson  nontechnology  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  marcosteinberg  jocelynebourgon  culturalconsumption  culturalproduction  code  darkmatter  fabricafeatures  livewindows  colors  andycameron  richardbarbrook  californianideology  discourse  sitra  italy  treviso  helsinkidesignlab  benetton  culture  culturaldiversity  socialdiversity  diversity  decisionmaking  sharedvalue  economics  obesity  healthcare  demographics  climatechange  research  art  design  studios  lcproject  learning  education  2012  antidisciplinary  transdisciplinary  cityofsound  danhill 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Hullabaloo: California's supermajority: use it or lose it, by Robert Cruickshank
"Political reality, then, makes it absolutely clear that Democrats need to deliver meaningful improvements to people's daily lives if they are going to keep their supermajority. However, that doesn't mean they should just pass whatever they want. Legislators should assume any tax increase or substantial policy action will be put on the ballot for a referendum by wealthy conservatives. Democratic leaders will need to work hand-in-hand with California's progressive movement to determine and then implement a reform agenda over the next two years. Only by a coordinated effort will that reform agenda withstand the certain counterrevolution from the rich that would come at the November 2014 ballot.

What should that agenda look like? Here are just a few ideas:

Make it even easier to vote…
Bring even more revenue to the schools…
Make sure every Californian gets good health care…
Do something to create jobs…
Fix the Constitution…"
elections  referendums  legistlature  progressivism  democrats  mandate  texes  education  schools  singlepayerhealthsystem  singlepayer  healthcare  jobs  proposition13  government  supermajority  constitution  california  2012  robertcruickshank 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Obesity Campaigns: The Fine Line Between Educating and Shaming - Lindsay Abrams - The Atlantic
"But Puhl points out that despite the large amounts of money that go into these campaigns, little research has been done by the organizations behind them on their practical effectiveness. She urges the people spreading these messages to pay more attention to the effects they may be having -- especially when they're in danger of causing harm. As the authors wrote, "Considerable evidence demonstrates that individuals who feel stigmatized or shamed about their excess weight engage in higher calorie intake, unhealthy eating behaviors, binge-eating patterns, as well as avoidance of exercise." And previous studies done by these researchers revealed that exposing people to stigmatizing images worsens their attitudes toward obese people.

The trick is figuring out how to be anti-obesity without being anti-obese people -- and boiling these issues down to a slogan makes this difficult to do. \"
healthcare  health  stigma  behavior  psychology  2012  education  shaming  obesity 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Half an Hour: The Robot Teachers
"There is an ongoing and incessant campaign afoot to privatize education. In the United States, education is almost the last bastion of public expenditure. In Canada, both health care and education face the forces of privatization and commercialization.

The results are wholly predictable. In all cases, the result will be a system that favours a small moneyed elite and leaves the rest of the population struggling to obtain whatever health and education they can obtain with their meagre holdings. As more wealth accumulates in the hands of the corporations and the wealthy, the worse health and education outcomes become for the less well-off in society.

(Indeed, from my perspective, one of the greatest scams perpetrated by the wealthy about the education system is that it has a liberal bias. …)"

But here's where the challenge arises for the education and university system: it was designed to support income inequality and designed to favour the wealthy."
via:tealtan  economics  policy  politics  schooling  oligarchy  wealth  wealthy  sorting  tonybates  liberalbias  criticalthinking  higherorderskills  texas  california  corporations  corporatism  bias  corruption  influence  wealthdistribution  poverty  inequity  disparity  capitalism  adaptivelearningsystems  mitx  udemy  coursera  learninganalytics  programmedlearning  universalhealthcare  healthcare  deschooling  publiceducation  onlinelearning  canon  cv  technology  scriptedlearning  robotteachers  democracy  highereducation  highered  moocs  pedagogy  hierarchies  hierarchy  inequality  schools  education  privatization  privilege  us  canad  2012  stephendownes  mooc 
september 2012 by robertogreco
An Entirely Other Day: Bugged
"“I got mine” are just about the ugliest words in the English language. They’re also, increasingly, a mantra for the same people who shout “We, the people” out of the other side of their mouths.

I love this country, more than I can properly express in words. It’s my home. It’s my future. Its history and achievements are awe-inspiring. Its idea, its founding purpose, is the most important the world has ever known. We are bound together by the notion that we are all created equal, committed to one another as a single body politic, held by the strength of our lives and our fortunes and our sacred honor. We put a man on the moon and an SUV on Mars and we made sure that tens of millions of our fellow citizens can know that a goddamned insect — or an accident or a disease or any of a billion other random, faultless happenstances — isn’t going to send them to the poor house."
healthinsurance  precarity  economics  politics  gregknauss  universalcoverage  socialsafetynet  medicine  health  2012  policy  healthcare  obamacare  ppaca  us 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Doctors Really Do Die Differently « Zócalo Public Square
"Research Says That More Physicians Plan Ahead, Reject CPR, and Die In Peace"

"Unwanted futile measures, prolonged deaths, and hospital deaths remain commonplace in America and many other places. But they don’t have to be. It just requires our doctors and, no less, the rest of us to come to terms with the inevitable."
health  healthcare  resuscitation  peacefulness  suffering  2012  doctors  medicine  via:anne  endoflife  death 
july 2012 by robertogreco
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