At times NobodyisFlyingthePlane will be a diatribe about the current state of affairs in the US and the world at large, at other times it will be an evidentiary discussion of the problem, and most of the time it will just be a collection of links I wanted to share.
Anti-intellectualism and fake news aside, we’re fomenting a slide towards idiocracy. There are some basic things we can do to slow that slide. The staff here is guilty of thinking inside safe space opinion bubbles. They’re hard to pop when you think you have the right info. We need to rebuild public discourse from a more basic and easily agreed to truths.
It’s time to promote and reward the learning of basic civics lessons. What a wonderful moment to see that STEM isn’t the only field of value to society.
STEM (STEAM too) exacerbated the fake news issue we are feeling so acutely, but as the writer points out, the real problem is that most folks don’t have a sufficient grasp of civic fundamentals.
How can we expect people to see through the propaganda and marketing if they never learned basic functions of our government, etc.
We’re With Stupid https://nyti.ms/2jz6NUS
Not the guy we usually go to for economic advice, but…
I’d love to see a tax code that rewarded investment and discouraged consumption. That would mean cutting taxes on earnings but raising revenue through a progressive consumption tax. I’d love to see a tax code that punished pollution but encouraged social cohesion. That would mean taxing carbon but increasing tax credits for working people and families with children.
The Clash of Social Visions https://nyti.ms/2hMQEr9
Some interesting and timely arguments for getting rid of the Electoral College.
it’s terrible for the rest of the country, which is rendered effectively invisible, distorting our politics, our policy debates and even the distribution of federal funds. Candidates focus their platforms on the concerns of battleground states, and presidents who want to stay in office make sure to lavish attention, and money, on the same places. The emphasis on a small number of states also increases the risk to our national security, by creating an easy target for hackers who want to influence the outcome of an election. Perhaps most important, voters outside of swing states know their votes are devalued, if not worthless, and they behave accordingly. In 2012, 64 percent of swing-state voters showed up, compared with 57 percent everywhere else, a pattern that persisted in 2016. What better way to get more voters to register and go to the polls than to ensure that everyone’s vote is weighed equally?
amending the Constitution is a heavy lift. A quicker and more realistic fix is the National Popular Vote interstate compact, under which states agree to award all of their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. The agreement kicks in as soon as states representing a total of 270 electoral votes sign on, ensuring that the popular vote will always pick the president. So far, 10 states and the District of Columbia have joined, representing 165 electoral votes. The problem is that they are all solidly Democratic, which only adds to the suspicion that this is no more than a partisan game. It’s not: When Mr. Trump is not making up stories about millions of illegal voters, he has argued that if the presidency were decided by popular vote, he would have campaigned differently and still would have won. He may well be right.
Let the People Pick the President https://nyti.ms/2jamIc7
The staff here at NobodyisFlyingthePlane is, like most, fatigued by news of mass shootings. Going forward we are going to try to focus on solutions oriented posts.
Kristof’s piece, linked below, poses the conversation as one of public health not politics. Many of his points resonated in that context. He uses the auto as a way of looking at it. Much of what we have done to reduce harm from cars can be applied to guns.
only in the U.S. do we lose one person every 15 minutes to gun violence.
I suggest that we try a new approach to reducing gun violence – a public health strategy.
We don’t ban cars, but we work hard to regulate them – and limit access to them – so as to reduce the death toll they cause. This has been spectacularly successful, reducing the death rate per 100 million miles driven by 95 percent since 1921.
The evidence is overwhelming that overall more guns and more relaxed gun laws lead to more violent deaths and injuries.
As we often say here: people are terrible judges of risk. We fear terrorism and mass shootings, but we’re far more likely to be killed by having a gun in the home.
although it is mass shootings that get our attention, they are not the main cause of loss of life.
Much more typical is a friend who shoots another, a husband who kills his wife – or, most common of all, a man who kills himself.For skeptics who think that gun laws don’t make a difference, consider what happened in two states, Missouri and Connecticut. In 1995, Connecticut tightened licensing laws, while in 2007 Missouri eased gun laws.The upshot? After tightening gun laws, firearm homicide rates dropped 40 percent in Connecticut. And after Missouri eased gun laws, gun homicide rates rose 25 percent.Yet our laws have often focused more on weapons themselves (such as the assault weapons ban) rather than on access. In many places, there is more rigorous screening of people who want to adopt dogs than of people who want to purchase firearms.In these two states, the laws affected access, and although there’s some indication that other factors were also involved in Connecticut (and correlations don’t prove causation), the outcomes are worth pondering.
How to Reduce Shootings https://nyti.ms/2j3axxv
The 1% against the rest of us.
Labor unions are the common man’s friend. There is just no excuse for shutting a viable business to spite your employees.
This week, we learned just how horrifying some rich people find the idea of employees coming together to improve their workplace.
Instead of bargaining with 27 unionized employees in New York City, he chose to lay off 115 people across America.
Labor unions have done more for the average American than all the rich industrialists put together. Unions are a legal right and the single most powerful tool that regular working people have to improve their lot. DNAinfo and Gothamist employees, who did the fundamentally important work of telling us all what is happening in our cities, were punished for exercising their rights.
Digital media workers have unionized because they understand how they are being exploited at work, and how to fix it.
A Billionaire Destroyed His Newsrooms Out of Spite https://nyti.ms/2hDyvvR
This article gets back the heart of what NobodyisFlyingthePlane means.
You can’t make sense of [Trump’s] shocking victory last year without reference to the downward spiral of public faith in governing elites and established institutions. Years of stagnating incomes, combined with dimming prospects for the future, have primed voters for the message that the system is “rigged” and that only an outsider not beholden to the corrupt establishment can clean it up.
That’s an essential part of NobodyisFlyingthePlane.
Any smart and decent person knew that Trump could never be the solution to lost faith in government. Sadly his message resonated with enough ignorant racist sheep and their self interested political overlords to elect him.
The good part of this article recognizes that the President alone won’t be a solution. We had all these same problems when we had the only decent man since Carter as President. The system itself is rigged and it’s those players we have to battle.
Our predicament of slow growth and sky-high inequality has many causes, but one important factor is the capture of the American political system by powerful insiders — big businesses, elite professionals, wealthy homeowners — that use it to entrench their own economic power. In so doing, they protect themselves from competition, fatten their bank accounts with diverted wealth and slow the creative destruction that drives economic growth.
In the financial sector, a web of regulatory subsidies sustains financial institutions’ unhealthy reliance on extremely high levels of debt. These subsidies, including policies that strongly encourage mortgage securitization as well as the implicit promise to bail out “too big to fail” institutions, swell profits in the near term while increasing the systemic risk of a catastrophic meltdown in the long run. The result is a financial sector much bigger than the economy needs, chronic misallocation of capital and the diversion of some of the country’s top talent into counterproductive work. Luring people into excessive debt, draining their savings with hidden fees, inflating the next asset bubble — these and other dubious “contributions” by finance to the economy need to be curtailed.
The problem is not only at the national level. NIFTP is happening at the local and state level.
In addition, many regressive regulations are made in obscure places with limited participation, such as state licensing boards and town councils in charge of approving new housing. Insiders with narrow interests, whether self-serving professional groups or Nimby neighbors, have the motivation and resources to show up at poorly attended meetings and work the system, often at odds with the general public’s interest in low prices and economic opportunity.
One suggested solution:
Courts at all levels need to be less deferential to regulatory schemes that — in contrast to environmental or labor regulation — have no justification other than the protection of incumbent interests. For example, courts could force legislatures to explicitly approve expansions in the scope of occupational licensing, depriving licensing boards of the power to do so in shadowy obscurity.
Trump Made the Swamp Worse. Here’s How to Drain It. https://nyti.ms/2yNU44e
Dems may make trust busting a core part of their platform. Schumer and Pelosi leading this? Wait…what?
Long overdue this plan would strengthen regulations designed to protect the public from monopolies and market domination by big tech companies.
Placing new standards on the consolidation of corporate power, giving new tools to regulators to confirm and review mergers, and creating a new consumer competition advocate to tackle “anti-competitive behavior.”