Saturday, June 29, 2013

Links worth reading

I'm working on a few posts right now, but I wanted to post a couple things I've come across that I think are worth reading, but probably won't be able to use.

First, a surprisingly thorough summary of criticism of Burkhauser et al's paper arguing that inequality has decreased from 1979-2007 by Tom Edsall.  Edsall reached out to a huge number of economists of different leanings and put together a surprisingly comprehensive round-up of reactions.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Sequestration persists because it only affects the bottom tier of American welfare

Image: Beneficiaries of the bottom tier of the American welfare system (source)

Updated below

Over at Wonkblog, Brad Plumer has a very instructive round-up of Americans starting to wake up and notice the sequester.  According to survey data, an increasing minority of Americans are feeling the sequester's impact.  Some are even feeling a "major impact."

While his round-up is based on media reports and should not be considered a complete summary of everyone affected by the sequester, the examples he has unearthed are extremely telling.  Watch how, in every case he cites, the sequester only affects a small group of politically underrepresented Americans--that is, it only affects the bottom tier of America's two-tiered welfare system.  That is why the sequester will persist--not because its effects aren't bad, but because it only affects groups lacking in political influence.  If anyone doubts that fact, note that Plumer starts by pointing out that cuts to air traffic controllers were quickly reversed.  Obviously, a cut that inconveniences air travelers is a cut that affects the rich but not the poor.  Obviously, our political system cannot permit such a cut, and it was quickly reversed.  At the end, he also notes that cuts to meat inspections have been reversed; any cut that could potentially kill rich people (or at least give them diarrhea) can obviously not be permitted, either.  That it also benefits poor people is incidental to it helping the rich.

Here are the examples cited:

Sunday, June 9, 2013


I hope to write more regularly starting this week.  Until then, here are a couple of links worth reading: