Poverty may be miserable. But being able to feel a bit better-off than someone else makes it a bit more bearable.
Economists from the National Bureau of Economic Research suggest that people near the bottom end of financial inequity are less likely to be in favour of programs that will help increase their income if those programs will also help those lower on the scale than they are.
...the authors of the new paper argue that people don’t like to be at the bottom. One paradoxical consequence of this “last-place aversion” is that some poor people may be vociferously opposed to the kinds of policies that would actually raise their own income a bit but that might also push those who are poorer than them into comparable or higher positions. The authors ran a series of experiments where students were randomly allotted sums of money, separated by $1, and informed about the “income distribution” that resulted. They were then given another $2, which they could give either to the person directly above or below them in the distribution. The people who were a spot away from the bottom were the most likely to give the money to the person above them..
This may also explain why Warren Buffet's cry to stop coddling the rich (previously
) will continue to fall on deaf ears.
posted by asnider
on Aug 16, 2011 -
Divorce rates are higher than ever? Think again.
A large majority—92%—of children whose families make more than $75,000 a year live with two parents (including step-parents). At the bottom of the income scale—families earning less than $15,000—only 20% of children live with two parents.
Of those who first tied the knot between 1975 and 1979, 29% were divorced within ten years. Among those who first married between 1990 and 1994, only 16.5% were.
posted by lohmannn
on Jul 20, 2011 -
Obesity Epidemic Grows: [CNN.com]
"Two-thirds of all adults and about a third of all children and teenagers in the United States are overweight or obese according to a report release Thursday by the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).
According to "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2011,"[PDF]
adult obesity increased in 16 states during the past year and rates soared to 30% or more in these 12 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. Four years ago, only one state - Mississippi - had an adult obesity rate of more than 30%. No state showed a decrease in it obesity rate in Thursday's report."
posted by Fizz
on Jul 7, 2011 -
The Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most masterfully written state paper of Western civilization. As Moses Coit Tyler noted almost a century ago, no assessment of it can be complete without taking into account its extraordinary merits as a work of political prose style. Although many scholars have recognized those merits, there are surprisingly few sustained studies of the stylistic artistry of the Declaration. This essay seeks to illuminate that artistry by probing the discourse microscopically -- at the level of the sentence, phrase, word, and syllable.
The University of Wisconsin's Dr. Stephen E. Lucas meticulously analyzes the elegant language of the 235-year-old charter in a distillation of this comprehensive study
. More on the Declaration: full transcript
and ultra-high-resolution scan
, a transcript and scan of Jefferson's annotated rough draft
, the little-known royal rebuttal
, a thorough history of the parchment itself
, a peek at the archival process
, a reading of the document by the people of NPR
and by a group of prominent actors
, H. L. Mencken's "American" translation
, Slate's Twitter summaries
, and a look at the fates of the 56 signers
posted by Rhaomi
on Jul 4, 2011 -
Copa América is streamed live
on YouTube. Copa América is the oldest international football competition, having been held first in 1916. This is a contest between the 10 South American nations and two invitational teams, this time Costa Rica and Mexico, who both sent young squads (Japan was slated to take part but withdrew due to the earthquake
). The tournament started yesterday with Bolivia unexpectedly managing to hold Argentina to a draw
. Colombia are currently beating a 10-man Costa Rica 1-0. Brazil start their campaign tomorrow, against Venezuela. One of the world's premier football writers, Jonathan Wilson, wrote previews of the three groups, A
. The Independent has more light-hearted team previews
posted by Kattullus
on Jul 2, 2011 -
Steven Aftergood at the Federation of American Scientists presents Fifty Years of Space Nuclear Power
"A plutonium fueled RTG that was deployed in 1965 by the CIA not in space but on a mountaintop in the Himalayas (to help monitor Chinese nuclear tests) continues to generate anxiety, not electricity, more than four decades after it was lost in place. See, most recently, "River Deep Mountain High"
by Vinod K. Jose, The Caravan
magazine, December 1, 2010." (MeFi previously
posted by HLD
on Jun 28, 2011 -
I’d always dismissed the idea of human trafficking in the United States. I’m Indian, and when I went to Mumbai and saw children sold openly, I wondered, Why isn’t anything being done about it? But now I know—it’s no different here. I never would have believed it, but I’ve seen it.
posted by AceRock
on May 24, 2011 -
Bill Moyers interviews David Simon
"Again, we would have to ask ourselves a lot of hard questions. The people most affected by this are black and brown and poor. It’s the abandoned inner cores of our urban areas. As we said before, economically, we don’t need those people; the American economy doesn’t need them. So as long as they stay in their ghettos and they only kill each other, we’re willing to pay for a police presence to keep them out of our America."
posted by bitmage
on Apr 17, 2011 -
Fareed Zakaria: Are America's Best Days Behind Us?
- "We have an Electoral College that no one understands and a Senate that doesn't work, with rules and traditions that allow a single Senator to obstruct democracy without even explaining why. We have a crazy-quilt patchwork of towns, municipalities and states with overlapping authority, bureaucracies and resulting waste. We have a political system geared toward ceaseless fundraising and pandering to the interests of the present with no ability to plan, invest or build for the future. And if one mentions any of this, why, one is being unpatriotic, because we have the perfect system of government, handed down to us by demigods who walked the earth in the late 18th century and who serve as models for us today and forever. America's founders would have been profoundly annoyed by this kind of unreflective ancestor worship." [for
posted by kliuless
on Apr 17, 2011 -
A Tragedy of Errors.
On Feb. 21, 2010, a convoy of vehicles carrying civilians headed down a mountain in central Afghanistan and American eyes in the sky were watching. "The Americans were using some of the most sophisticated tools
in the history of war, technological marvels of surveillance and intelligence gathering that allowed them to see into once-inaccessible corners of the battlefield. But the high-tech wizardry would fail
in its most elemental purpose: to tell the difference between friend and foe." FOIA
of US cockpit and radio conversations and an interactive feature
provide a more in-depth understanding of what happened.
posted by zarq
on Apr 10, 2011 -
The New York Times asked Gallup to come up with a statistical composite for the happiest person in America, based on the characteristics that most closely correlated with happiness in 2010. Men, for example, tend to be happier than women, older people are happier than middle-aged people, and so on.
Gallup’s answer: he’s a tall, Asian-American, observant Jew who is at least 65 and married, has children, lives in Hawaii, runs his own business and has a household income of more than $120,000 a year. And here he is.
(single link NYT-filter)
posted by ricochet biscuit
on Mar 9, 2011 -
"Nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended, and four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion.... At least half of American women will experience an unintended pregnancy by age 45, and, at current rates, about one-third will have had an abortion." Abortion is one of the most common medical procedures in the U.S., but it can be very difficult to get unbiased information about the procedure. From Jezebel: The Girl's Guide to Having an Abortion
posted by jokeefe
on Jan 16, 2011 -
19th-century newspaper ads for patented stomach cures and digestive aids [...] foregrounded mince pie as the K2 of digestive summits. But for every published warning on the dangers of mince, the newspapers published a poem, essay, or editorial praising it as a great symbol of American cultural heritage or a nostalgic reminder of mother love and better times bygone—or even, as the State of Columbia, South Carolina, asserted in 1901, a beneficial Darwinian instrument that had "thinned out the weak ones" among the pioneering generations.
So wrote Cliff Doerksen in his wonderful, James Beard award-winning article Mince Pie: The Real American Pie
. Doerksen not only gives the history of this once most American of foods, he also makes two mince pies from 19th Century recipes to see if they are indeed all that. This is but one of many great articles Doerksen wrote for The Chicago Reader in recent years (links to a selection below the cut). Sadly, Cliff Doerksen passed at the age of 47 just before Christmas
. [more inside]
posted by Kattullus
on Dec 29, 2010 -
The American Century, proclaimed so triumphantly at the start of World War II, will be tattered and fading by 2025, its eighth decade, and could be history by 2030.
posted by Joe Beese
on Dec 8, 2010 -