Democratic candidates roll up to support legal weed

Kamala Harris, asked whether she had ever smoked pot: ‘Half my family’s from Jamaica. Are you kidding me?’


Brian Cahn/Shutterstock

❝ Among 2020 candidates, marijuana legalisation is a mainstream issue. Among Democrats, nearly all have expressed at least some degree of support. Even Donald Trump’s lone Republican challenger, the former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, supports it. Advocates are optimistic that the 2020 election could help bring an end to the federal prohibition of the drug.

“The support for marijuana legalisation has quickly become a litmus test in the 2020 Democratic primary,” said Erik Altieri, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Norml). “With the upcoming primary, it is also clear that support for prohibition is ultimately disqualifying with the Democratic electorate – and with the American electorate generally.”

If you aren’t supporting legalization – for purportedly moral reasons, some particular religious fetish, political dementia which has your brain locked into, say, the 16th Century – then, you might be missing the simple economics of “sin taxes” derived from social use of cannabis just as they are realized from beer and the hard stuff.

States generally include a proviso to spend all or most of those funds on something beneficial like education. Again, another issue which American conservatives seem honor bound to ignore. Hopefully, voters will learn to ignore stupidity as thoroughly as they’re starting to reject incompetence.

12 states spend less on schools now than before the recession


Oklahoma Teacher Walkout

❝ * 12 states that made especially deep cuts after the Great Recession haven’t yet restored school funding

* Texas slashed school funding the most, with per-pupil spending 20 percent lower than in 2008

* Teachers are earning less in 42 states than they did a decade ago

The U.S. economy has largely recovered from the Great Recession, but one segment is still struggling to regain its financial footing: America’s public schools…

❝ The findings help shed light on why teachers across the country — from West Virginia to California — have taken to the picket lines since early 2018. In some cases, states that cut spending on their public schools failed to boost it again even as their tax revenues improved. That’s leading to a host of challenges for students and teachers in underfunded schools, from teacher shortages to crowded classrooms.

Doesn’t require too much analysis, folks. States with backwards politicians – usually elected by ignorant voters – don’t think it’s important to get around to providing decent educational opportunities to future voters. You don’t really wonder why, do you?

An island matriarchy – in Europe


Fabian Weiss

❝ A four-hour ferry ride off the coast of Estonia, the sunlit conifers and coastal meadows of Kihnu Island rise gently from the Baltic Sea. You can bike from one end to the other in half an hour. Its four villages house around 700 people—only two thirds of whom live there year-round—and there is no hotel. Yet the island receives 12 times more tourists per resident than some of the most visited places in the world.

These tens of thousands of visitors don’t come for landmarks or amusement parks. Instead, they’re here to experience the unique culture of a place often touted as Europe’s last matriarchal society.

❝ “Kihnu women have a very important role: to keep the cultural traditions,” says Mare Mätas, president of the Kihnu Cultural Space Foundation and a driving force in many community projects. “They are taking care of the human life [cycle].”

Historically, Kihnu’s men left the island for weeks or months at a time, to hunt seals and fish and, later, to crew ships on international voyages. In their absence, women became the ones who tended farms, governed, and maintained traditions—traditions which have survived both time and turmoil.

Worth a visit.

How’s the economy in your county?


Click on the map to get the Brookings Institute Report

…We consider five factors — population density, the degree of industry concentration, the manufacturing share of employment, the share of those without a high school degree, and the share of college graduates — that help explain both vitality and its change over time. In total, these five factors explain 71 percent of the variation in vitality across counties in 1980, and 66 percent of the variation in 2016… They are also helpful in understanding the change in vitality across counties over time.

Please RTFA. Well done, even with the conservative bent of the folks at Brooking. A chance to learn and reflect.

Measuring human capital — US works its way from #6 down to #27

❝ The United States ranks 27th in the world for its investments in education and health care as measurements of its commitment to economic growth, according to the first-ever scientific study ranking countries for their levels of human capital… In contrast, China’s ranking of 44th in 2016 represents an increase from its 1990 ranking of 69th.

❝ “The decline of human capital in the United States was one of the biggest surprises in our study,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. “Our findings show the association between investments in education and health and improved human capital and GDP – which policymakers here in the US ignore at their own peril. As the world economy grows increasingly dependent on digital technology, from agriculture to manufacturing to the service industry, human capital grows increasingly important for stimulating local and national economies…”

❝ “Clearly, China is on an upward trajectory, while the US, without more strategic investments, especially in education, risks falling behind even further,” Murray said.

I’m surprised that someone whose expertise is in education metrics…is surprised. I left structured education institutions decades ago. Curiosity, interest in society and progress, all combine within my lifestyle to keep me in touch with life in changing societies on this small ball of mud called Earth.

Decline in the character and culture of the United States has been visible enough to anyone willing to look critically since the days of McCarthyism, crushing the trade union movement [including buying a number of misleaders], assumption of the mantle of leading imperial power from the Brits while they dug out from the direct impact of World War 2 – all led rather logically, consistently, to the powerful ignoring most of the needs of the American working class. It was sufficient to provide scraps from a table groaning under so much wealth that maintaining power with two plastic political parties as game pieces was more like playing checkers than chess.

In 1960, ~half-million teens took a test that, now, may predict their risk of Alzheimer’s

❝ In 1960, Joan Levin, 15, took a test that turned out to be the largest survey of American teenagers ever conducted. It took two-and-a-half days to administer and included 440,000 students from 1,353 public, private and parochial high schools across the country — including Parkville Senior High School in Parkville, Md., where she was a student.

“We knew at the time that they were going to follow up for a long time,” Levin said — but she thought that meant about 20 years.

Fifty-eight years later, the answers she and her peers gave are still being used by researchers — most recently in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. A study released this month found that subjects who did well on test questions as teenagers had a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s and related dementias in their 60s and 70s than those who scored poorly.

A worthwhile read. I have my own opinions. They probably fit in here somewhere with the work and analysis of these researchers. Like Jeff Bezos, my concern goes all the way into pre-school education.

How Americans Use The Land


Click to enlarge

❝ There are many statistical measures that show how productive the U.S. is. Its economy is the largest in the world and grew at a rate of 4.1 percent last quarter, its fastest pace since 2014. The unemployment rate is near the lowest mark in a half century.

What can be harder to decipher is how Americans use their land to create wealth. The 48 contiguous states alone are a 1.9 billion-acre jigsaw puzzle of cities, farms, forests and pastures that Americans use to feed themselves, power their economy and extract value for business and pleasure.

Click through to the article. This is a delightful, informative, visual and intellectual education – online. One of the best educational pieces assembled by the crew at Bloomberg…from work by the US Dept. of Agriculture and other federal agencies. Kudos!