Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Linda Tirado writes about life in poverty - and the real prospect that anybody short of the extremely wealthy can wind up there:
I haven’t had it worse than anyone else, and actually, that’s kind of the point. This is just what life is for roughly one-third of Americans and one in five people in Great Britain. We all handle it in our own ways, but we all work in the same jobs, live in the same places, feel the same sense of never quite catching up. We’re not any happier about exploding welfare costs than anyone else is, believe me. It’s not like everyone grows up and dreams of working two essentially meaningless part-time jobs while collecting food stamps.

It’s just that there aren’t many other options for a lot of people. In fact, the Urban Institute found that half of Americans will experience poverty at some point before they’re 65. Most will come out of it after a relatively short time, 75% in four years. But that still leaves 25% who don’t get out quickly, and the study also found that the longer you stay in poverty, the less likely it becomes that you will ever get out. Most people who live near the bottom go through cycles of being in poverty and just above it – sometimes they’re just OK and sometimes they’re underwater. It depends on the year, the job, how healthy you are. What I can say for sure is that downward mobility is like quicksand. Once it grabs you, it keeps constraining your options until it’s got you completely. I slid to the bottom through a mix of my own decisions and some seriously bad luck. I think that’s true of most people.

While it can seem like upward mobility is blocked by a lead ceiling, the layer between lower-middle class and poor is horrifyingly porous from above. A lot of us live in that spongy divide.
- Meanwhile, Rebecca Vallas and Melissa Boteach offer ten suggestions to improve the plight of workers across the income spectrum. And oddly enough, neither state-imposed indentured servitude nor a world-lagging set of policies on temporary employment makes the list.

- Ashley Renders points out that in planning to reduce our reliance on dirty energy, it's essential to have cleaner alternatives available. But Vivek Radhwa writes that we're not far off with the renewable energy sources we've already developed.

- Joseph Heath observes that hard power is of extremely limited effectiveness in dealing with both armies around the world and crime at home.

- Finally, Aaron Wherry discusses the price of democratic accountability. And Glen McGregor reminds us that the Cons will tolerate nothing of the sort - as most recently evidence by their systematic disposal of any comment critical of the FIPA.

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