Monica Potts

Monica Potts is a freelance writer, and former staff member of The American Prospect. A fellow with the New America Foundation Asset Building Program, her work has appeared in The New York Times, the Connecticut Post and the Stamford Advocate. She also blogs at PostBourgie.

Recent Articles

Robbing the Poor so the Rich Can Play.

In Missouri, yacht owners continue to enjoy a sales tax exemption that costs the state $6 million. The report, from The Kansas City Star , comes my way via Balloon Juice and also tells us that the state Revenue Department refuses to tally the cost of exemptions like these because it would be too burdensome on taxpayers. Meanwhile, the state Legislature has recommended cuts to schools and shelters for battered women. Some of the boats sit unused in the Lake of the Ozarks, and a man named Mike Atkinson from the Lake of the Ozarks Marine Dealers Association tries to make the case that taxing the boats would depress boat sales, and therefore cost jobs, but that seems a weak case given that smaller boats are taxed. (Buyers of boats that qualify pay a small fee in lieu of the tax.) The silliness of that argument really becomes apparent in the article, though. Kudos to reporter Mike McGraw for getting let-them-eat-cake quotes from the lobbyists who own many of the boats and fight to keep the...

School Reading.

The Renaissance Learning company, which runs a reading test program called Accelerated Reader, has a list of the top 20 books high school students read, and it's not pretty for those of us who doubt the educational merits of the Twilight series. Jay Mathews at The Washington Post rightly bemoans the lack of nonfiction on the list. Nonfiction is important. Those high school students are about to become voting citizens, and the more they know about the real world, the better off we all are. But there's another big deficit on the list: writers of color. That doesn't mean high school students are encountering no non-white writers, but they're not choosing books from them in significant enough numbers for even one to break into the top 20. There isn't enough to the list to find out why they're underrepresented, but it's all the more reason school reading lists can't just begin with Shakespeare and end with Steinbeck. -- Monica Potts

Sanitizing Nature.

A graduate student named Adam Shriver contributed to our never-ending quest to get rid of our guilt over the industrial agriculture system in a New York Times op-ed, promsing that we could soon have pain-free animals. Removing proteins or genes from some animals could prevent the things that should hurt them from doing so, creating a more humane agricultural system, he writes. If we cannot avoid factory farms altogether, the least we can do is eliminate the unpleasantness of pain in the animals that must live and die on them. It would be far better than doing nothing at all. There are myriad reasons for eating a vegetarian diet, and the desire to prevent the kind of needless suffering farm-factory animals experience is a noble one. Lately, that desire has stretched to a denial that animals should ever suffer at all -- Jonathan Safran Foer made this point especially strongly in his book Eating Animals . The suffering of chickens, pumped full of antibiotics and stacked breast to...

The "Do No Evil" Company May Not Be So Innocent.

The rollout of Google Buzz has raised serious privacy concerns, as well as serious concerns about the company's pervasiveness and our dependency on it, as Nancy Scola wrote for TAP recently. Now, some of those concerns have led to a class-action lawsuit against the company in California, according to the Christian Science Monitor. A woman named Eva Hibnick is seeking damages on behalf of all Gmail users: The odds of this suit bringing any cash rewards for the plaintiffs, of course, are slim to none. But in a way, Hibnick has already made her point: news of the lawsuit is already the topic of thousands of blog posts, tweets, and status updates. Regardless of anyone's thoughts on the case, it's become a very real manifestation of the way some users feel about Buzz. As we reported yesterday, Bradley Horowitz , Google's VP of product management, has admitted that the Buzz backlash caught some of the folks at Google off-guard. Still, Horowitz stopped short of suggesting Google Buzz was...

Getting Students Through High School.

Eight states will start allowing students to go to community college after they finish 10th grade, as long as they pass certain tests, reports the New York Times . The plan would allow students who want to stay to prepare for more selective schools in the 11th and 12th grades, and students who fail get opportunities to take the tests again. At first, it seems like poorly performing students would fare badly, since study after study shows they enter high school with a deficit that began before they started kindergarten. The same panel that suggested this change also recommended starting children in school at age three, the Times reports. But another study in 2006 showed that many students don't leave high school because they can't do the work. They leave because they're bored, and have family and other life-related issues that get in the way. Enabling the kids who have to leave to do so with a complete education might help a lot. It also acknowledges the fact that many kids don't want...