Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Matthew Yglesias points out that a particular income level may have radically different implications depending on an individual's place in life, and that we can only address inequality by formulating policy accordingly:
The median household income in the United States is about $52,000. So go ahead and picture a median-income household. What did you picture?

Did you picture a 25-year-old with a decent job who's maybe worried about student loans but is basically doing okay? Or did you picture a married pair of 45-year-olds who are both full-time workers stuck in kinda crappy jobs? Or did you picture a married couple with one full-time worker and one stay-at-home mom? Or a 65-year-old retiree whose $2.5 million stock portfolio yields him $52,000 a year in dividend income?

These people are all in very different situations. But household income says they are all the same. In fact, it says they are all typical households earning the US median household income.
In any discussion of a broad social phenomenon, a little loss of precision is necessary. But the key things to keep in mind about household income and class are that you always need to supplement with life-cycle analysis and net worthespecially housing wealth, where otherwise similar people are often in very different situations.
- Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal charts how increasing inequality at the family level has thoroughly overtaken any basis for belief that the U.S. is a meritocracy. And Jeff Noonan writes that we can't afford austerity in our education system if we want all children to be able to participate in our society.

- PressProgress debunks the Fraser Institute's attempt to claim that improved fire safety is a reason to slash firefighting services.

- Finally, Glenn Greenwald looks at the UK Cons as a prime example of how the greatest threat to our freedoms comes from the parties willing to sacrifice them to a fight against trumped-up enemies. thwap highlights the Cons' selective definition of terrorism. And Alex Boutilier writes that CSIS continues to identify anybody even remotely associated with environmental protection as an "extremist" threat.

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