Category: Social Sciences

  • Republicans vs. Democrats on the economy

    I’ve been busy working on a series about creative commons musicians; expect this blog to explode very soon. Here are some incidental things caught along the way. Here’s a graph made by political scientist Larry Bartels: In other words, across income lines, families prosper more under Democratic administrations than Republican administrations. Andrew Gelman summarizes the…

  • Our Health Care Impasse

    Congress is deadlocked about how not to provide health care. Update:  More seriously, the excruciating detail of the debate can paralyze anyone. Here are the most  perceptive pieces I’ve caught in the last 24 hours.  Milt Shook on why the legislative process (with filibuster and all) is still preferable to reconciliation. MediaMatters corrects all the…

  • Perils of Complexity

    Fascinating story about a Tennessee woman who died from lupus, as reported by Jane Zhang in the Wall Street Journal. “Nikki didn’t die from lupus,” her doctor, Amylyn Crawford, said. “Nikki died from complications of the failing American health care system.” Three points from it: the woman’s sickness caused her to lose her job and…

  • Labor Day Linkdump

    “Mark” decries Glen Beck and his irrational anti-intellectual rants: Beck is not demystifying art, he is attacking it. He is assigning false intentions to the artists and their work. He is denigrating these long-respected icons of free expression and celebrations of American prosperity and spirit. And worst of all, Beck is virtually inviting his disciples…

  • Health care reform and medical bankruptcy: Answering the Libertarian Argument

    Nicholas Kristof on how a system based on private health insurance frequently results in spouse impoverishment, sometimes leading to fake divorces. Here are reader comments about the article which turn out to be more interesting than the original article. This argument has not frequently been cited, but it shows how the health care debate has…

  • Health Insurance and Amenable Mortality

    Here’s an article by Ellen Norte and C. Martin McKee that tries to compare mortality rates for incidents which might be prevented by health care intervention: The concept of amenable mortality was developed in the 1970s to assess the quality and performance of health systems and to track changes over time. For this study, the…

  • “There is just nothing left of her.”

    Karen de Sa reports a heartbreaking story of parental abuse and murder. The criminal father of a young girl received full custody during a divorce and ended up killing her. The method was particularly nefarious. Not only did he sexually abuse her, but he told everyone that the girl had run away.  The mother disagreed…

  • Rescue Schools, Not Banks!

    Robert Reich debunks popular right-wing tax-myths: "The huge debts we’re wracking up will cause your taxes to rise!" Wrong again. When it comes to the national debt, as I’ve said before, the relevant statistic is the ratio of debt to the gross domestic product. The only sure way to bring that debt down and make…

  • Graduate School is a Cult

    Thomas H. Benton asks: Is being in graduate school like being in a cult? Nevertheless, understanding the varied social experiences of graduate school (student culture as well as formal instruction), as a kind of cult helps to explain why so many people cannot be dissuaded from staying in school — or working, year after year,…

  • Dancing with Numbers

    Random thoughts about Europe vs. US.  EU’s population is 499 million people (and that excludes totals of non-EU members who eventually will gain admission like Ukraine,  (46 million) Turkey (71 million) and the Yugloslav states (20 million?). 499 million people and a GDP of 14 trillion (or $28,000 per capita). US has a population of…

  • Bernard Chazelle on Democracy

    Chazelle explains democracy this way: A empowers B to elect C to serve A (where A=corporations, B=citizens, C=politicians and where corporate media is the empowering vehicle).  This is a pretty radical proposition and has the whiff of Marxism.  The main truth here is that the typical citizen doesn’t care about politics very much until they…

  • More houses = more unemployment

    Richard Florida gives a longish history of the relationship between economic fortune and the cities. He talks about how suburbanization came about as a result of economic trends: uburbanization was the spatial fix for the industrial age—the geographic expression of mass production and the early credit economy. Henry Ford’s automobiles had been rolling off assembly…

  • Lots can change in a single weekend

    I was furious that the Senate stimulus bill was weakened by Republicans who cut funding on education, science research, arts funding and all these worthy things that would be especially worthy in such times. I was furious and I emailed my Senator and emailed my friends with my rage. But a funny thing happened. I…

  • Why the Economic Stimulus (and Recession) is all About

    Here are three things you need to read. Martin Fackler on the lessons that the Japanese recession (and its own economic stimulus package)  should teach the US.  An amazing piece of journalism. Second, Robert Reich provides his daily commentary about the effectiveness of various stimulating proposals. Look at this chart: (The main flaw of this…

  • Let’s Improve those Trains

    Phillip Longman has an incredibly well-researched piece arguing that the U.S. needs more public investment in the rail system.  Probably the best article I’d read in a long time…and on a subject I’ve never really thought about.

  • Are men good for anything?

    Roy Baumeister on Is there anything good about men? Recent research using DNA analysis answered this question about two years ago. Today’s human population is descended from twice as many women as men. I think this difference is the single most underappreciated fact about gender. To get that kind of difference, you had to have…