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  • LIVE LONG AND...

    LIVE LONG AND PROSPER, DEPNDING ON WHO YOU ARE. I talk a lot about health care and economic inequality, but too rarely about health inequality . But a new study out today sheds some light on this issue: If you subdivide various demographics, you find life expectancies differ by decades, with some American groups exhibiting outcomes more typical of developing nations. Indeed, if you compare Asian women with urban black men, you see a life expectancy difference of 21 years. That's huge. So much as I'd like to blame this on a lack of insurance and care disparities, actual medical coverage probably accounts for only a small portion of the inequality. Lifestyle factors -- notably stress, obesity, diet, smoking, exercise, etc. -- were the primary determinants. Some of it, like diet and stress, connects heavily to economic inequality, some is cultural. But, when taken together, the difference is shaving decades off the life of massive swaths of America. The article also ranks the states by...
  • THANK YOU FOR...

    THANK YOU FOR CARING. This morning, on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show , NATO Commander Gen. James L. Jones, Jr. , who is leading NATO efforts in Afghanistan, thanked the host for showing "interest" in "this important part of the world." He sounded truly grateful. That, on the day after the fifth anniversary of al Qaeda's attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, and given the current chaos and killing in that troubled land, the general should be in anything other than extreme demand as a talk-show guest is downright pathetic. NATO appears to have led successful attacks, killing hundreds of Taliban fighters in recent weeks, but the Taliban remain strong and resurgent. Recently, a provincial Afghan governor was assassinated by the Taliban. Then, marchers in the governor's funeral procession were killed. Calls by NATO brass for more troops for the Afghan campaign have so far gone unheeded by the alliance's member countries. And precious little has been done to create any kind of...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: TOO MUCH INFORMATION.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: TOO MUCH INFORMATION. Since the president and his team are going on the offensive once again in touting their tough security posture in the war on terror, it's worth emphasizing a point: Moral qualms aside, pervasive surveillance and torture don't actually serve as effective investigative techniques, as Matt reminds us today. They produce bad info, and way, way too much of it. --The Editors
  • EARMARKS.

    EARMARKS. In his triumphant New Republic debut, Brad Plumer makes the liberal case for pork. "It's not," he writes , "because pork projects are defensible on the merits, although they sometimes can be. It's not because they create jobs, although they can do that, too. Rather, it's because, without pork, activist government would wither and die." Using the examples of Reagan 's 1986 Tax Reform and Clinton 's first budget, he explains that pork are bargaining chits that allow tough, controversial pieces of legislation to squeeze through the legislative process. I'll buy that, but I wonder if it's not becoming a relatively obsolete consideration: As Congress continues evolving into a more parliamentary institution and party loyalty grows easier to enforce, I think we'll begin seeing an easier ride for tough legislation. Think of the Medicare Drug Bill, which was anathema to the left and a grotesque mutant to the right, but which nevertheless squeezed through. If massive legislation with...
  • Wal-Mart's Average Wages

    The NYT reported on Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's decision to veto an ordinance setting a higher minimum wage for large stores (e.g. Wal-Mart). After 2010, the law would have required large stores to pay workers at least $10 an hour, plus $3 an hour for benefits. The article concludes by presenting the assertion of a Wal-Mart spokesperson that the average wage for "full-time hourly associates" in Illinois is $10.41 an hour. Before anyone assumes that this means that Wal-Mart already pays more than the 2010 minimum imposed by the vetoed ordinance, it is important to remember that the spokesperson only referred to "full-time" employees. What percent of Wal-Mart's workforce is counted as full-time? I don't know this one offhand, and the article provides no guidance on this issue. Maybe they could have gotten this information if they had spoken to someone from an organization that is critical of Wal-Mart. --Dean Baker
  • Chevron's Tax Windfall on New Oil Find

    This is what reporters are supposed to do. --Dean Baker
  • Finger Pointing on the Housing Bubble

    We are still at the early stages of the collapse of the housing bubble, but it�s not too early to start pointing fingers. This isn�t a question of vengeance, the issue is accountability. If the dishwasher breaks the dishes, she gets fired. If the custodian doesn�t clean the toilet, he gets fired. Economists think it�s very important that people who don�t do their job adequately face serious sanctions, including job loss. This provides the necessary incentive for people to do their job effectively, and sustains the economy�s productivity. This is why it is important to identify the people who did not do their job, and therefore contributed to the growth of a dangerous housing bubble. A very big finger has to be pointed at all the reporters who cover the housing market. In news stories on the housing market, how many times did they present the views of the economists from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the National Association of Realtors, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and the...
  • LAUER STEPS UP.

    LAUER STEPS UP. How I mourn, and if I mourn, is nobody's business but mine. It's not the business of network news organizations, and it's certainly not the business of the ambitious young hacks of local news who send the latest Lisa or Brian to New York to stand over a mass grave while maudlin piano music tinkles away in the background. However, one little bit of video did catch my attention this morning. Matt Lauer of The Today Show got an interview in the Oval Office with George W. Bush . The first odd thing about it was that both men were standing. Usually, as was the case with Tim Russert 's famous "Make-My-Dad-Proud" moment a while back, such conversations are held with both participants sitting down and practicing their best First Communion posture. In this case, Lauer and the president looked like a couple of local sportcasters in Green Bay, standing outside the stadium, chatting over the Packers game. To Lauer's enormous credit, and given the strange circumstances, he pushed...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: CULTURE CLASH.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: CULTURE CLASH. The clash of civilizations theory isn't, in fact, all bogus, says Addie Stan ; but the conclusions the right has drawn from it are the reverse of what's really called for. --The Editors
  • BEATING DR. BEETROOT....

    BEATING DR. BEETROOT. In the world of the AIDS pandemic, South Africa is, as Stephen Lewis , the U.N. Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, memorably termed it, "the unkindest cut of all." The only country in the region rich enough to truly mount an aggressive campaign against the disease is hampered and hamstrung by an administration so aggressively opposed to science that they make the Bush crew look like the MIT Electron Microscope Appreciation Club. South Africa's health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang , believes beetroots, garlic, and African potatoes are an effective replacement for anti-retroviral drugs, which the government fought to keep out of the hands of their citizens. The murderous negligence is taking its toll: One out of every eight HIV cases in the world is currently in South Africa. Nine hundred of the country's citizens die every day from the disease. For perspective, if you scale their population to ours, that would be 5,744 daily deaths, or almost two 9-11s every...

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