There was a 47 percent increase in the rate of Texas children living in poverty from 2000 to 2011, according to the Kids Count report by the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank that advocates for low-income Texans. That was faster than the 18 percent growth rate in the child population in Texas during the same period.
Twenty-seven percent of Texas children were living in poverty in 2011, a rate that put the Lone Star State among the nine worst states.
Poverty is “almost a canary in the coal mine,” said Frances Deviney, Texas Kids Count director at the Center for Public Policy Priorities. “Poverty is not destiny, but it certainly puts kids off on the wrong foot.”
The children couldn’t date—that was a given—but they also weren’t allowed to develop friendships. Between ages 10 and 12, Lauren says she only got to see friends once a week at Sunday school, increasing to twice a week in her teens when her parents let her participate in mock trial, a popular activity for Christian homeschoolers. Their parents wanted them naïve and sheltered, Lauren says: “18 going on 12.”
Mixed with the control was a lack of academic supervision. Lauren says she didn’t have a teacher after she was 11; her parents handed her textbooks at the start of a semester and checked her work a few months later. She graded herself, she says, and rarely wrote papers. Nevertheless, Lauren was offered a full-ride scholarship to Patrick Henry College in Virginia, which was founded in 2000 as a destination for fundamentalist homeschoolers. At first her parents refused to let her matriculate, insisting that she spend another year with the family. During that year, Lauren got her first job, but her parents limited the number of hours she could work.
Even conservative Patrick Henry felt like a bright new reality. While much about the college confirmed the worldview Lauren grew up in, small freedoms like going out for an unplanned coffee came as a revelation. She describes it as “a sudden sense of being able to say yes to things, when your entire life is no.”
The White House is expecting a very important guest tomorrow. Said guest is adored by the children of the nation, loves Beyoncé, is obsessive about exercise, and a total ham in front of the press. He also tastes delicious with cranberry sauce. Yes, we’re talking about the national turkey.
“Today I read a study that sheds some light on why this might be. It isn’t just that liberals are more divided and conservatives are more united, it’s also that liberals believe they’re more divided, and conservatives believe they’re more unified, even when it’s not necessarily true. The study asked people about their opinions on a range of questions on both political and non-political topics, then asked them to guess what proportion of people who shared their general ideology agreed with them on that particular question. The results showed that liberals displayed a “truly false uniqueness effect”—they were more likely to think that their views were different from those of their peers, even when they weren’t—while conservatives displayed a “truly false consensus effect,” believing that their views were the same as their peers, even when they weren’t.”—Paul Waldman
“I strongly suspect that Healthcare.gov is never going to be easy to use. That doesn’t mean the catastrophic problems like the site seizing up when it has too many users won’t be solved, and it doesn’t mean that people won’t be able to complete their applications without tearing their hair out. But there’s little evidence so far that the contractors who created it are capable of designing something that’s genuinely easy to use. In the end, it’ll probably be sufficient, but not nearly as good as it could be.”—Paul Waldman
If someone is looking for the perfect example of how the 113th Congress functions, it doesn’t get much better than last week. The Senate beat back a filibuster to pass a popular bill with support from every Democrat in the chamber and a handful of Republicans.
In case you haven’t heard, in the last week or so we’ve found out that Paul gave a speech that included a lengthy description of the movie Gattaca, a description lifted word for word from the movie’s Wikipedia entry. And he gave a speech that included a description of the movie Stand and Deliver, lifted from that movie’s Wikipedia page. And he lifted a part of another speech from an AP story. And he lifted a part of a speech from a Focus on the Family report. And he copied part of a column he wrote for the Washington Times from an article in The Week. And he plagiarized reports from the Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation, and an article in Forbes, in his 2012 book Government Bullies.
You have to work hard to commit that much plagiarism.
“He really does want to see how New York City can become less unequal and more capable of promoting upward mobility. But assuming things go the way the polls suggest, he still faces an enormous challenge.”—Professor John Mollenkopf, forecasting what’s next for de Blasio.
If you live outside of major film markets like New York or Los Angeles, this weekend marked your first opportunity to see Steve McQueen’s much-lauded 12 Years a Slave. But it’s probable that you’ve already heard early buzz, either from fawning reviewers or from friends who’ve caught advance screenings. Perhaps you’ve heard that its commitment to historical accuracy has resulted in graphic depictions of violence and torture. Maybe your best friend still can’t shake the cracking urgency in Chiewetel Ejiofor’s voice or a haunting expression on Lupita Nyong’o’s face.
If you’ve experienced any of this as a member of the black movie-going public, you’re already in the cycle. You’ve entered the Seven Stages of Important Black Film Fatigue, a tiring exercise in decision-making whenever films like 12 Years a Slave are released.
The stages are doubt, guilt, self-preservation, annoyance, anger, vulnerability, and acceptance.
You may have never heard these stages named, but you’ve likely experienced most of them.
”—Stacia Brown, describing the seven stages of important black film fatigue.
“The lesson for the right should be this: journalism is a good thing! Even if Costa’s reporting didn’t aid the conservative cause in the short run, it helped everybody, no matter what their ideology, understand what was going on. It’s something they should do more of.”—Paul Waldman, on Robert Costa’s shutdown reporting
“Keep the pressure on and the Republican split will only widen. Keep shining a spotlight on the sheer recklessness and unreality of the Tea Party, and the Republicans will lose in both 2014 and 2016.”—Robert Kuttner’s shutdown post-mortem
And Wall Street? Oh, them. Well, Wall Street is more profitable than it was before the collapse. The top 1 percent collects 97 percent of the benefits of restored growth, and it dominates political debate. Its paladins like Druckenmiller even instruct the rest of us on why it’s salutary to cut what’s left of social insurance, and have Tom Friedman to do their PR. Poor Wall Street.
Seniors, Wall Street, and unions. That’s a bit like putting in the same power category the Red Sox, the Brandeis baseball squad, and the Brookline High J.V. (They all play ball, don’t they?) Or maybe China, Uruguay, and Malta (all U.N. members.)
It didn’t happen because nobody wanted it, and everybody grasped the horrific risks. In the event, the common European civilization was destroyed, three empires fell, 16 million people died, and 20 million were wounded. So World War I couldn’t happen because everyone knew how awful it would be.
In August 1914, virtually all leaders anticipated a short set of skirmishes, a readjustment of borders as in other recent wars, and everyone would be home for Christmas. But, you know, stuff happens.
Then there was the American Civil War. It didn’t happen either. Many Southern leaders knew that staying in the Union and accepting some limitations on slavery in the territories and new states would allow them to keep their “peculiar institution” and avoid the economic catastrophe of a war on their soil. Oops.
Thus the Republican game of chicken with the debt default. It can’t happen because its consequences would be too unthinkable, right?
”—Robert Kuttner, saying … oh god this is going to suck so hard is we reach the debt ceiling why are we doing this fml
“So let’s recap: In this proposal, Democrats get a whole six weeks before Republicans can again threaten to plunge the world economy off a cliff, at which point they’ll inevitably demand more concessions. Republicans get some spiteful thrusts at Obamacare and a bill that allows them to slash government all on their own. For some reason, they didn’t also throw President Obama’s resignation, the repeal of Medicare, and renaming the capital to “Reagan, D.C.” into their proposal. But maybe that’ll come later.”—Paul Waldman
Just to hit the point home of how bad a position the House is in, let’s look at what people have said in the past about a few things people currently like better than Congress.
Witches: “Her mind will always be plotting and scheming and churning and burning and whizzing and phizzing with murderous bloodthirsty thoughts.” Respondents preferred witches over Congress by a margin of 14 percentage points.
Cockroaches: “Catching sight of a cockroach usually inspires one of a short list of fairly predictable human reactions: a scream, a churn of the stomach, or a swift stamp of the foot in the critter’s direction. Or all three.” Respondents preferred cockroaches by a margin of two percentage points.
Wall Street: ”These frauds are worse than common robberies. They’re crimes of intellectual choice, made by people who are already rich and who have every conceivable social advantage, acting on a simple, cynical calculation: Let’s steal whatever we can, then dare the victims to find the juice to reclaim their money.” Respondents preferred Wall Street by a margin of 31 percentage points.
The DMV: “Most everyone who works in my local D.M.V. is rude. These folks should be sent to some sort of customer service training course. And if they aren’t pleasant to people, then dismiss them.” Respondents preferred the DMV by a margin of 34 percentage points.
“If we come to November, there’s a whole lot of everything else that starts to fall apart.”—Karen McLaughlin, the director of budget and research at Arizona’s Children’s Action Alliance, on what happens if the shutdown stretches on and on and on…
He agrees to delay the Affordable Care Act for a year to restart the government, and agrees to budget cuts and entitlement cuts beyond the sequester-level budget Democrats have already agreed to in order to raise the debt ceiling. Tea Partiers triumph.
Many congressional Republicans still think this is a possibility. They see Barack Obama as a weakling who will always crumble in the end. They also suffer from a common political delusion, that the American public agrees with you on both the substance of policy and the tactics you’ve chosen. So even with polls showing approval of the shutdown, their party, and the institution in which they serve plunging to the depths of Hades, they believe they’re going to win and get everything they want.
“I would love to see some kind of Back to the Future Hill Valley/Hell Valley alternate-timeline scenario depicting how our brave colonial-garbed no-tax-aficionados would act when faced with the kind of government immolation they crave. Ignore for the moment all the ethereal machinery regarding fiscal policy and Medicare percentages and foreign relations and other intangibles. Think about your morning today. Your radio wasn’t a jumbled mess thanks to the FCC. And those weather reports only occur due to the National Weather Service (under the umbrella of the Commerce Department—hope Texas doesn’t need any hurricane or tornado warnings). On the way to work from the house you might’ve bought with governmental help in the form of the mortgage interest tax deduction, you may have your life saved thanks to federal regulations mandating seat belts and child safety seats. OSHA has your back against unsafe work conditions. The FDA labels food against manufacturers’ desires so you know what you’re actually eating. The EPA works to improve air and water quality. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.”—Alec Bings, unfortunately prescient about impending government immolation in 2011
As part of the resolution to the crisis, Obama should demand that whatever agreement they come to include eliminating the debt ceiling. Not raise it, blast it to oblivion. The fact that we have a debt ceiling at all is ridiculous. It essentially requires Congress to approve every budget twice, once to spend the money, and once to pay the bills for the money they just spent. There’s only one other democracy in the world (Denmark) that has such a thing, and they set theirs high enough that it never matters. In the days before the Republican Party descended into madness, the debt ceiling was nothing more than an occasion for some harmless grandstanding by the opposition party, but now it has become a weapon of economic destruction that needs to be disarmed. So get rid of it. If Republicans don’t want the country to take on debt, they can try to put together a balanced budget and see if it can pass. But this insanity has to stop, and the way to do it is to take away the minority party’s ability to initiate what Bloomberg News calls “an economic calamity like none the world has ever seen.”
“The success of the law won’t depend on whether you can get a majority of the public to tell pollsters, ‘I approve of Obamacare.’ Once it’s fully implemented, the only thing that will matter will be whether, in all its different component parts, it works.”—Paul Waldman