The free market at work
Remember yesterday, when I said I’d see you today with Friday links? Tough news, champ. The management at Combat! blog loves you very much, but someone bought our time today. You guys know you’re my favorites. But you pay me very little. I must conform my life to those endeavors likely to sustain it, and talking that mess on the old yakbox, as blogging is called, sustains little. It’s probably because my dad isn’t a wealthy blogger, either. The whole blog-based American economy is rigged—a maze with no exit, designed to keep us in roughly the same place we started. If you don’t believe me, ask the Washington Post.
They’re one of several outlets to cite a study of how many Americans have earned more than their parents, from 1940 to the present day. I’ll give you the good news first: we won World War II. The bad news is that since then, the percentage of adults who make more than their parents has declined—sharply. While 92% of children born in 1940 wound up earning more than their parents, only 46% of adults born in 1990 do. If you’ve been born since then, and your version of the American Dream involves buying anything, you have half the chance your grandparents did.
Maybe that’s because there’s been no economic growth since the 1970s—even when you adjust income for taxes and transfers, or tax-funded benefits—for half of American households. Spoiler alert: It’s the bottom half. But half! That’s astonishing. Even as it doubled in size, the economy managed to do nothing for half of us, for the last 40 years. That’s from your boy Thomas Piketty, that dude Emmanuel Saez, and some new jack named Gabriel Zucman who was probably in charge of writing everything down.
Anyway, there’s quantitative proof that we live in a less just society. Or maybe it’s just a more efficient one. How that looks probably depends on where you sit. If I had to estimate it, I’d say there’s about a 50 percent chance of you coming down on either side. What a time to be alive.
Donald J. Trump out for a ride on his horse, Democracy
Donald Trump had a big weekend. On Saturday, he told a rally of his supporters in Birmingham, Alabama that “we have to surveil the mosques.” After a half-dozen white attendees at that rally knocked a Black Lives Matter protestor to the ground and kicked him for a while, Trump went on This Week and told George Stephanopoulos that “maybe he should have been roughed up.” In the same appearance, he called for the return of waterboarding and said he would “not at all” rule out a database of Muslims living in the United States. Sunday afternoon, he tweeted “statistics” claiming that 81% of white murder victims are killed by blacks. According to the FBI as reported by the Daily News, it’s actually about 15%.
Paul Ryan says whatever to some votes at the Iowa State Fair.
Paul Ryan has been directly involved in the 2012 general election only a short time, but he seems bent on racking up as many fact-check stories as he can by November. Speaking to an audience at East Carolina University, Ryan claimed that 1.4 million businesses filed for bankruptcy in 2011, and that the economy under Obama has been worse than under Carter. Quote:
The president can say a lot of things and he will. But he can’t tell you that you’re better off. Simply put, the Jimmy Carter years look like the good old days compared to where we are right now.
“Simply put” is a verbal signal Ryan uses to warn his family to stop listening when he is about to lie, like when Sarah Palin says “gee” or “the.” It turns out that around 48,000 businesses filed for bankruptcy last year, not 1.4 million. It also turns out that fact checkers will jump all over a claim re: quantitative data that can be found on the internet within 30 seconds, and they did.
- Logarithm, player! Woo! Take your shirt off.
In part because we wake gripped by existential terror every morning, we at the Combat! blog offices like to paint the present American moment as one of unusual discord. In this way, we resemble our predatory stepbrothers in the more, ahem, widely-consumed media, who often act as if American politics were more fractious now that it was in, say, the 19th century. Such claims seem convincing—I totally see more modern people accusing one another of not being citizens than I see knickerbockers settling disagreements with sword canes—but how can I know? If only there were some means of quantifying intranational dissent, so I could know with mathematical certainty how the partisan turmoil of my age compares to that of my forebears. I suppose I’ll just have to give up and read the Bi—boom! Logarithmic plotting of correlation between stock market crashes and secessionist movements, pussies! Props to James Erwin, not only for the link but for much of the original research used in the link. He’s also raising a child.
Mike Huckabee explains his premarital sex alternative in graphic detail.
Perhaps you remember around Oscar time, when Mike Huckabee, oppressed by society’s relentless glamorization of single mothers, found the courage to speak out against pregnant Natalie Portman. “One of the things that’s troubling is that people see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts of, ‘Hey look, you know, we’re having children, we’re not married, but we’re having these children, and they’re doing just fine,’” Huckabee told Michael Medved. “But there aren’t really a lot of single moms out there who are making millions of dollars every year for being in a movie.” The former Arkansas governor has a point: if there’s one thing Hollywood consistently makes out to be totally fun and easy, it’s single motherhood. Portman herself played a single mother in the Star Wars prequels, and those nearly ended western society. A week or so after his remarks, disappointed to find that they were still singing in Whoville, Huckabee issued a clarification on his website: