Monica Potts

Monica Potts is an Arkansas-based writer, currently writing a book about the women of her rural hometown.

Recent Articles

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...

What Matters on the Economy.

The New York Times has two stories today on the stimulus package, now a year old. One is an analysis from David Leonhardt on how the stimulus has actually worked pretty well. It's just hard for the average American to tell because President Obama oversold it a tad -- how else would he get Congress to vote for so much spending? -- and because much of the its success was in keeping unemployment and the economy from getting worse, which is hard to see. Another is on how Mississippi and 20 other states, after waiting to see what the economy would do on its own, finally started to use some of the stimulus money to pay the wages of private employees directly. The debate over a new jobs bill in Congress — where the Senate is considering a wavering agreement supported by the Obama administration — largely centers on other approaches, like modest payroll tax breaks for businesses that hire and more spending on infrastructure. Lately, however, with the unemployment rate stubbornly hovering near...

Arguing Against the Facts.

Megan McArdle has been questioning the benefits of health insurance and has been attacked for some pretty lazy reasoning. The basis of her argument is that one study showed there wasn't a big difference in mortality when 64-year-olds go on Medicare -- and that somehow shows having health insurance doesn't provide much benefit. Now, after Ezra Klein and Kevin Drum went in, her argument seems to be that her life wouldn't be that much worse without health insurance because she's rich and connected. I have immense resources at my disposal, most of them non-monetary. There are many ways in which I would like to even out those differences, but privilege cannot be transferred into someone else's checking account. What McArdle misses is what so many of her critics spend time pointing out -- that for various reasons health care is needlessly expensive because we don't have a sane insurance system, that people with preventable problems end up with catastrophic illnesses because they delay care...

How Much Does Bayh Matter?

Not only did Evan Bayh rob Democrats of a sure election bet for Indiana, but he did it in such a way they'll have a hard time recovering: The senator announced his resignation days away from a deadline to qualify for the primary ballot and without informing senior Democratic leadership. Nate Silver points out how important Bayh was for Democrats, and, therefore, how bad his loss is for the party. But the panic over this announcement also shows just how shaky a foundation the idea of a Democratic party unity was. Democrats depend on this guy, someone willing to leave in a heartbeat because being a legislator is hard? And Bayh was pretty centrist, Matt Yglesias points out, with a record similar to that of his Republican co-senator, Dick Lugar . How different will a centrist Republican -- if that's who takes Bayh's place -- be? These points might be especially important to keep in mind as Democrats get further away from the illusion of a supermajority that can get things done. As my...

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