Paul Krugman at The New York Times takes a hunk out of Jamie Dimon's and Marlene Seltzer's hides in Jobs and Skills and Zombies:
A few months ago, Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, and Marlene Seltzer, the chief executive of Jobs for the Future, published an article in Politico titled “Closing the Skills Gap.” They began portentously: “Today, nearly 11 million Americans are unemployed. Yet, at the same time, 4 million jobs sit unfilled”—supposedly demonstrating “the gulf between the skills job seekers currently have and the skills employers need.”
Actually, in an ever-changing economy there are always some positions unfilled even while some workers are unemployed, and the current ratio of vacancies to unemployed workers is far below normal. Meanwhile, multiple careful studies have found no support for claims that inadequate worker skills explain high unemployment.
But the belief that America suffers from a severe “skills gap” is one of those things that everyone important knows must be true, because everyone they know says it’s true. It’s a prime example of a zombie idea — an idea that should have been killed by evidence, but refuses to die.
at The Seattle Times via The Washington Post
writes Who cares about the value of work?
The GOP, [two conservative theorists] said, “should extol work and demand it.”
Yes, that last phrase—“demand it”—could lead to a darker kind of politics involving the demonization of those who simply can’t find jobs. Thus did U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., get into trouble for mourning “this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working.”
No matter what Ryan was trying to say, he seemed to be emphasizing the flaws of the unemployed themselves rather than the cost of economic injustice. My Washington Post colleague Eugene Robinson captured this well: “Blaming poverty on the mysterious influence of ‘culture’ is a convenient excuse for doing nothing to address the problem.”
Nonetheless, many conservatives really do realize that they need to embrace hardworking Americans. But the question stands: What are they willing to do about it?
at The Atlantic
writes Hillary Clinton Doesn't Deserve a Free Pass From the Media
Between now and 2016, Brock will keep pressuring journalists—especially liberal ones—to view every criticism of Hillary Clinton through a partisan lens, to bury their qualms so as to avoid complicity with the Fox News slime machine. Let’s hope he fails. Clinton is a gifted, well-meaning politician whose Manichean tendencies can get her, and the country, in trouble. The 2016 race will be a better campaign, and she’ll be a better president, if the press bears that in mind.
Below the fold you can read excerpts from additional pundits.
Robert M. Sapolsky at The Los Angeles Times Hoping against hope: It's a people thing:
The defining feature of human brains is the size and complexity of the cortex, which provides the underpinnings of rationality for our actions. But just because we have more developed cortexes doesn't mean we are always rational decision-makers. We humans constantly find ourselves loving the wrong person, buying things we don't have the money for and believing that fad diets consisting of nothing but sundaes will work.
To be human is to hope against hope.
When it comes to decision-making and risk assessment, we tend to think in an asymmetrical manner that feeds an optimistic outlook and denies discouragement. This has been shown in recent work by Christina Moutsiana and colleagues at University College London and published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
at In These Times
writes When the 1% and politicians join forces, democracy loses
The most jaw dropping is the case of former Republican Utah state attorney general John Swallow, who used shadowy nonprofit organizations to conceal hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from the vilest industry in America—payday lenders.
In exchange for the money, Swallow promised to use the office of attorney general to champion payday lenders, the flimflam men who exploit and bankrupt the poor with short-term loans at exorbitant interest rates. [...]
Swallow knew, however, a payday lenders’ water boy would disgust voters. So he and his associates shrouded the payday lender donations with a bunch of “social welfare” nonprofits, which don’t have to report who contributes, The New York Times reported last week.
at The Independent
warns that the world should Respond now to Putin's dismissal of the Geneva Convention, or international law will suffer for it
Whilst Putin’s disrespect for international law is clear the depth to which he is prepared to descend is deeply worrying. In the sieges of Ukrainian military installations in Crimea they have used human shields, hiding their troops behind walls of civilians and local militia in total violation of all the rules of war.
Clearly the international community cannot simply sit by and allow a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and a signatory to the Geneva Convention to ride rough shod over international law in such a calculating and premeditated way. Since 1949 those that flout international law have invariably faced justice. Whilst in this case the world has, thankfully, not had to bear witness to mass murder—the intent to flout international law is deliberate. Therefore it is time for the International Criminal Court in the Hague to open an investigation into events in Crimea.
at The Nation
writes GOP Steps Up Attack on Early Voting in Key Swing States
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed legislation eliminating early voting hours on weekends and nights, when it’s most convenient for many voters to go to the polls. When they took over state government in 2011, Wisconsin Republicans reduced the early voting period from three weeks to two weeks and only one weekend. Now they’ve eliminated weekend voting altogether.
Over 250,000 Wisconsinites voted early in 2012, one in twelve overall voters. Cutting early voting has a clear partisan purpose: those who voted early voted for Obama 58 to 41 percent in Wisconsin in 2012, compared to his 51 to 48 percent margin on Election Day.
at The Guardian
, writes If stillbirth is murder, does miscarriage make pregnant women into criminals
Seven and a half years ago, a Mississippi teenager named Rennie Gibbs went into premature labor and delivered a stillborn baby girl named Samiya. Initially, experts attributed the baby’s death to the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. But when traces of a cocaine byproduct showed up on the autopsy report, a medical examiner declared the stillbirth a homicide and cited cocaine toxicity as the cause. Shortly afterward, the 16-year-old Gibbs was charged with murder, specifically “depraved heart murder”, a charge that can carry a sentence of up to 20 years to life in prison. [...]
But should women who engage in unhealthy activities during their pregnancies really be criminalized—to life in prison—if they fail to produce a healthy baby? If so, where do you draw that line?
Just think for a second where such a policy could lead us. Like many women of her time, and many women since, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis smoked while she was pregnant. Jackie-O had a history of troubled pregnancies—at least one miscarriage, a stillborn daughter and baby Patrick, who barely survived two days. Those losses caused the Kennedy family enormous pain. Now imagine if an overzealous prosecutor decided that Jackie's smoking had harmed the babies and indicted the First Lady on murder charges.
Such a scenario might seem far-fetched; indeed, for a woman in the Kennedy demographic, it is. But for poor women—especially poor black women suspected of drug use who fail to carry babies to term—criminalization is already a popular sport.
at The Progressive
writes Obama Whitewashes World War I
President Obama just went to Flanders Field in Belgium to pay homage to those who lost their lives in World War I.
But rather than use the occasion to point out the idiotic hideousness of that war, he whitewashed it, praising “the profound sacrifice they made so that we might stand here today.”
He saluted their “willingness to fight, and die, for the freedom that we enjoy as their heirs.”
But this was not a war for freedom. It was a triumph of nationalism, pitting one nation’s vanity against another. It was a war between empires for the spoils.
at Truthdig Iraqi Law Would Legalize Marriage for 9-Year-Old Girls
It’s nearly incomprehensible for people living in a modern, civilized society to fathom there are still countries where it’s perfectly acceptable for a 40-year-old man to marry a 10-year-old girl. Yet, it’s happening in India, Ethiopia, Nepal and dozens of developing countries.
Iraq has recently put forth a controversial draft law that would allow men to marry girls as young as 9 years old and force their wives to have sex without consent. Women would also not be able to leave the house without their husband’s permission. [...]
Iraq’s current law sets the legal age for marriage at 18 and forbids divorce.