Tim Hatton: Height of World War I Servicemen: "In the following half century the height of males increased by about two inches.... Sanitary reforms and housing renewal improved the urban environment, and industry gradually became less toxic. Illiteracy disappeared while average education increased by 2-3 years. More and better education, combined with modest medical advances, brought better understanding of the benefit to children of nutrition and hygiene. Together, these developments help to explain the apparent puzzle of the improvement in average health status during a period of war and depression that predates the advent of universal health services..."
Harold Pollack: Death on the Installment Plan Now we know: Rejecting the Medicaid expansion could kill nearly 6,000 people each year: "The study examined the impact of the bipartisan insurance expansion enacted in Massachusetts in 2006—a.k.a. 'RomneyCare', which provided the basic model for the ACA.... Benjamin Sommers, Sharon Long and Katherine Baicker examined a decade’s worth of mortality data in Massachusetts counties, comparing trends to those found in carefully chosen comparison counties in other states.... Insurance coverage reduced [non-elderly adult] mortality rates [for deaths amenable to health care] by about 30 percent. For every 830 people newly insured, Massachusetts prevented one death per year.... Do these results generalize?... Massachusetts has done a better and more enthusiastic job implementing RomneyCare than many states (and the federal government) have done thus far with ACA. On the other hand, Massachusetts experienced the strongest survival benefits in low-income areas that contain many uninsured people.... Massachusetts began its reform as a prosperous liberal state with effective public health polices and a strong infrastructure of safety-net care. Other states are starting with a much less favorable baseline..."
Should Be Aware of:
Gillian Tett: Only connect, but do it in person: "If you want to minimise pain, watch something funny, not golf videos. Better still, do it as part of a group... similar pain-reducing results can also be achieved by getting groups of people to dance together or perform religious rituals.... This should come as no surprise: we all instinctively know that dancing, laughing or going to jolly parties tends to put us in a better mood. But Dunbar thinks there is a more important evolutionary twist.... What fascinates Dunbar today is not simply that magic 150 number, but the question of how humans have evolved to enable this optimum group to bond. As he explains in a new book, Human Evolution, primates typically do this through 'grooming' (ie combing each other for nits). This puts them in such close proximity to each other that it releases endorphins.... Dunbar believes that humans have evolved to create more efficient ways of bonding, such as dancing, storytelling and shared laughter.... These days humans are increasingly communicating not through shared face-to-face rituals but electronic devices.... Can these new forms of communication release the same endorphin buzz as other, older rituals? And if children and teens try to 'grow up' socially with their mobile phones, will they still be able to interact?... If you start laughing with friends this weekend, either online or face to face... this is actually a crucial evolutionary mechanism that humans have developed to survive. Perhaps it is appropriate, then, that one of the most popular text messages is 'LOL' (laugh out loud or lots of love)..."
Matt O'Brien: There’s still no reason to be afraid of the inflation monster: "The hunt for the inflation monster continues. First, it was the national debt and the Fed's bond-buying that were supposed to bring us back to 1970s America, if not 1920s Germany. Then, when that turned out to be wrong, it was only supposed to be a matter of time until it was right--if it wasn't already, and government bureaucrats were just hiding it! But now, with PCE inflation at 1.1 percent, even the most diehard inflation hawks realize they need a new story. So... worrying about rising wages is in.... Monday... a Wall Street Journal article trumpeting that 'Wage Pressure Begins to Build'... not a news story, even though it appears in the news section. It's a mathematical banality. Some companies are increasing wages more than average, and some are increasing them less. That's how averages work.... So, why was this even a story? Well, there's always demand for pieces about why we need to raise rates--mostly from 60-year-olds who think it's always 1979--and wage inflation is supposed to be that reason today. But the data don't tell the story they want it to, so they have to turn to anecdotes instead. A better headline would have been something like: 'Wages Are Flat Despite Lower Unemployment'.... Now, that's admittedly not a scary story about the inflation monster rushing out from under your bed to steal all your cash and bonds. But it is a true one, and that should count for something..."
David Lodge: Nice Work: "Robyn hastens to her conclusion. 'Unable to contemplate a political solution to the social problems they described in their fiction, the industrial novelists could only offer narrative solutions to the personal dilemmas of their characters. And these narrative solutions are invariably negative or evasive. In Hard Times the victimised worker Stephen Blackpool dies in the odour of sanctity. In Mary Barton the working-class heroine and her husband go off to the colonies to start a new life. Kingsley’s Alton Locke emigrates after his disillusionment with Chartism, and dies shortly after. In Sybil, the humble heroine turns out to be an heiress and is able to marry her well-meaning aristocratic lover without compromising the class system, and a similar stroke of good fortune resolves the love stories in Shirley and North and South. Although the heroine of George Eliot’s Felix Holt renounces her inheritance, it is only so that she can marry the man she loves. In short, all the Victorian novelist could offer as a solution to the problems of industrial capitalism were: a legacy, a marriage, emigration or death.'"
Randall Munroe: Comics That Ask "What If?":
Jon Maples: The Magic Numbers: How Apple Beats The Demise of Music Downloads: There are two numbers that you need to pay attention to in order to make sense of Apple’s breathtaking acquisition of Beats Electronics... 13.3 and 800 million.... The first number is the percentage that music downloads have decreased in Q1 of this year compared with 2013.... The download era is waning and Apple knows this better than anyone.... When it comes to the choice between buying downloads or using a streaming service, customers are beginning to choose streaming.... Apple needed to hedge their bets and get into streaming... speed their way to market by purchasing a hot new service that had a lot of buzz, but hadn’t scaled so much that it was prohibitively expensive. Beats is the most viable of all acquisition targets.... Streaming blows up: Apple wins. Streaming doesn’t pan out, well, they still have the iTunes store chugging along.... 800 million iTunes accounts.... After Beats Music’s troubled launch period didn’t produce many subscribers from the 7-day trial, company executives were calling around to see how other firms dealt with the 30 percent Apple tax (answer—you eat the $3 per customer a month). In late April, Beats launched in-app purchase and the results were stunning. Their iOS app became the number one overall free app.... Oh, and that $3.2 billion price tag? With Beats Electronics’ hardware business already creating significant profits, Apple’s purchase price could be covered within a couple years. So in essence the company is getting into streaming music for a song."
- Cover Missouri: Helping Missourians Find Affordable Health Insurance
- Martin Wolf: Wipe out rentiers with cheap money
- Brad Plumer: How the US stopped its fisheries from collapsing
- Rex Nutting: "Fed Chair Janet Yellen didn’t steer anyone away from the assumption that the Fed will probably raise rates next year. But she did flag two risks to the economy that could delay higher rates: the U.S. housing market and the fragile condition of foreign economies..."
- Kenneth Thomas: Middle Class Political Economist: Basics: Is that a good economic development deal? Using the Megadeals database
- Amir Sufi: How old consumer debt holds back today's economy
- Steve Pressman: Live-Blogging Piketty: Review of Reviews
- Dan Tarullo: Rethinking the Aims of Prudential Regulation
- William N. Evans and Craig Garthwaite: Giving Mom a Break: The Impact of Higher EITC Payments on Maternal Health
- Emily Atkin: Obama's Move On Solar Is Equivalent To A Year Without 80 Million Cars
- Andrew Prokop: How Chris Christie proposed a tax cut his state couldn't afford
Mitt Romney: "I, for instance, as you know, part company with many of the conservatives in my party on the issue of the minimum wage. I think we ought to raise it. Because frankly, our party is all about more jobs and better pay..."
James Kwak: Tax Policy Revisionism: "In an otherwise unobjectionable article the generally excellent David Leonhardt wrote... 'In the 1950s, the top rate exceeded 90 percent. Today, it is 39.6 percent, and only because President Obama finally won a yearslong battle with Republicans in early 2013 to increase it from 35 percent.'... The 39.6 percent tax rate... was lowered to 35 percent by the 2001 Bush tax cut, which had a sunset provision at the end of 2010.... The 35 percent rate was then extended for two years by the December 2010 tax cut, which was supported by President Obama.... It finally expired on January 1, 2013, at which point the 39.6 percent rate reappeared in its original form. A few hours later, Congress passed a new tax cut for just about everyone, except households with income over $450,000, who were left with the 39.6 percent rate.... President Obama didn’t fight a battle with Republicans. He fought a battle with himself. In 2010 and 2012 he could have restored the top tax rate to 39.6 percent simply by doing nothing and letting the Bush tax cuts expire. The January 2013 tax bill also locked in big tax preferences for capital gains and dividends.... President Obama talks a good game when it comes to inequality, but he hasn’t backed it up.... [In] tax policy, his main impact has been to make permanent most of the inequality-increasing tax cuts that were his predecessor’s most treasured legacy."
Paul Krugman: Now That’s Rich: "Modern inequality isn’t about graduates. It’s about oligarchs. Apologists for soaring inequality... try to disguise the gigantic incomes of the truly rich by hiding them in a crowd of the merely affluent.... The goal of this misdirection is to soften the picture.... Those 25 hedge fund managers made more than twice as much as all the kindergarten teachers in America combined. And, no, it wasn’t always thus.... Conservatives want you to believe that the big rewards in modern America go to innovators and entrepreneurs.... But that’s not what those hedge fund managers do for a living.... Evidence suggests... they don’t deliver high enough returns... and they’re a major source of economic instability.... Finally... that we’re on our way toward a society dominated by wealth, much of it inherited, rather than work.... The members of the rich list are, after all, self-made men. But, by and large, they did their self-making a long time ago..."
Corey Robin: Clarence Thomas’s Counterrevolution: "What I think Thomas took away... are two ideas. First, not only is racism a perdurable element of the American experience... but it is also a protean and often-hidden element of that experience... so profoundly inscribed in the white soul that you’ll never be able to remove it.... 'At least southerners were up front about their bigotry; you knew exactly where they were coming from, just like the Georgia rattlesnakes that always let you know when they were ready to strike. Not so the paternalistic big-city [Northern and liberal] whites who offered you a helpful hand so long as you were careful to agree with them, but slapped you down if you started acting as if you didn’t know your place. Like the water moccasin, they struck without warning.' If you’re hearing a distant echo in that comment, you should. Think back to that passage in Malcolm X’s 'Chickens Come Home to Roost' speech.... You’ve got the same animal imagery; the same moral emphasis on deceit and insincerity as the crucial marker of difference between liberal and conservative; the same emphasis on whiteness as the essentialist ground of vice and violence.... The goal is not, and never can be, color-blindness. The goal is racial candor or race sincerity.... For black Americans, that means giving up on the idea of racial authenticity.... For white Americans, race sincerity means owning up to the racism that lurks within. Particularly among white northern liberals..."