Poverty and Racism have a dual impact on upward mobility


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❝ The defining feature of the American Dream is upward mobility – the aspiration that all children have a chance at economic success, no matter their background. However, our research shows that children’s chances of earning more than their parents have been declining. 90% of children born in 1940 grew up to earn more than their parents. Today, only half of all children earn more than their parents did.

The American Dream maintains its mythic status even as it declines steadily. Political charlatans, self-described as conservative more often than not seem to have offered the best lies. The liberal flavor [in my lifetime] can be moved by the courage of citizens to grow backbone. Sometimes.

Most Americans Want to Pick Our President by Popular Vote

❝ There has long been support for using the popular vote over the Electoral College, but this recent poll marks its highest level of support in recent years with two-thirds who said the US should use the popular vote and the other third who believe in the Electoral College…

❝ Changing the US system from the Electoral College to popular wouldn’t be easy for those who are in favor of it.

A number of states have signed onto something different, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, by which states would essentially agree to use the popular vote. It’ll take effect when states totaling 270 electoral votes sign on. But it would certainly face court challenges and most of the states that have signed on tilt toward Democrats. Republicans have won the White House twice since 2000 because of the existence of the Electoral College. So don’t look for a change anytime soon.

Some folks think it’s funny – watching Republicans weasel their way around the issue. It’s sad, in fact contemptible in my opinion. Party loyalty has nothing principled to bear on opposition to small-d democratic principles. That goal goes back centuries before the founding of these United States. Unfortunately, hypocrisy goes back further.

Trump appointed a judge who actually pays attention to the Constitution

❝ A federal district judge who was appointed by President Donald Trump has upheld Robert Mueller’s appointment and constitutional authority in the special counsel’s case against Russian social media propagandists.

❝ “The appointment does not violate core separation-of-powers principles. Nor has the Special Counsel exceeded his authority under the appointment order by investigating and prosecuting Concord,” Dabney Friedrich wrote in an opinion published Monday morning. She was one of the first judges Trump placed into a federal court position.

Friedrich cited opinions by three other federal judges — Amy Berman Jackson, who oversees Paul Manafort’s criminal foreign lobbying case; T.S. Ellis, who oversees Manafort’s financial fraud case; and DC District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell — to back up her decision.

All three judges also denied requests to invalidate Mueller’s authority…

Trump really has a problem with folks well enough educated to quality for their jobs. Especially when that education tends to support historic progress rather than regressive class-based retreat.

Making the case for a civilization in decline

❝ For 25 years, photographer Lauren Greenfield has chronicled the ascendance of a global elite: here, a picture of French aristocrats sitting beneath ancient tapestries; there, movie executives flashing $100 bills in St. Barts. Once, she took a portrait of a Chinese businessman in front of the replica of the White House he’d built as his home.

She’s also recorded their fall. Her masterful 2012 documentary, The Queen of Versailles, followed timeshare king David Siegel and his wife, Jackie, as they attempted to build the biggest home in America, a plan that collapsed during the 2008 housing crisis.

❝ A monograph of her highlights, titled Generation Wealth, was published last year. On July 20, Amazon Studios will release a full-length documentary bearing the same name and featuring many of the same people.

❝ Whereas the book was more cautious about passing judgment—the Hermès bags, megamansions, and yachts were photographed carefully, as if at a remove—the film is unequivocal in its distaste for conspicuous consumption…“The pyramids were built at the moment of precipitous Egyptian decline, and that’s what always happens: Societies accrue their greatest wealth at the moment that they face death.”

Looking forward to the film. For all the right reasons. Reasons that would be obvious to anyone who’s spent any time at this blog – or the few others where “eideard” appeared on a regular basis. I’m an old geek, now, according to the calendar. I don’t feel that way. I don’t think that way. But, the foundation of the person I am and have always been – is that I’m a working-class guy from the East End of Bridgeport.

You grow up knowing you’re going to work for GE, Remington Arms or the Bridgeport Brass Company – if you’re lucky. Grades and good writing skills, learning skills and acquired knowledge didn’t guarantee access to a post-high school education. That was bound and chained to class and family income. Some of that has changed. Not because of willing participation by any government in Washington, DC or, for that matter, Hartford, Connecticut. What change there has been has flowed from battles won by ordinary families fighting for education and access.

Macron — “Alas, the handholding is over!”

❝ France’s President Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump skipped through Tuesday kissing, hugging, holding hands and rubbing each others’ shoulders.

On Wednesday, before a joint session of of Congress, the charismatic French leader turned around and repudiated the US President’s political philosophy and worldview.

The startling contrast between Macron palling around with Trump on a state visit and his velvet hammer speech — effectively defending the world order from “America First” nationalism — encapsulated his intricate US strategy.

Macron wants to bind the Trump administration into the existing Western international system, to convince it to dive back into multilateral efforts to shut down Iran’s nuclear program, to battle climate change and to safeguard globalization and free trade…

❝ The contradiction between Macron’s own philosophy and his charm offensive with Trump was laced through a speech punctuated by multiple standing ovations and cheers.

More than Trump has ever received before Congress – or is likely to.

The Harder They Come, The Harder They Fall — Inevitably


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The California Public Utilities Commission will wait until next year to make a decision on PG&E’s application to shutter Diablo Canyon in 2025…

If the five-person commission, which governs utilities in California, follows precedent, it will likely approve the application per the recommendation of administrative law judge Peter Allen…

County officials said they were optimistic after the commission delayed the decision on Thursday.

“Despite our radically diverse interests and viewpoints, a broad community and business coalition all came together and agreed that the proposal would help us protect local public health, safety and economic stability,” County Counsel Rita Neal said in a news release. “This continues to be our top priority. We will wait to move forward and when the commission reaches a decision, we will consider all of our options and next steps.”

PG&E applied in June 2016 to decommission the plant when licenses for its two nuclear reactors expire in 2024 and 2025.

Overdue.

Portugal is Europe’s New Booming Not-Germany-Approved Economy

❝ Germany’s resolute Chancellor Angela Merkel is not usually one to admit she’s been wrong. But this autumn, when it comes to her faith in austerity economics in Europe, Merkel, together with her then-Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaüble, did as much — in deed, if not in word…

Mario Centeno constitutes a shift in course. Until now, he has represented a Southern European country, Portugal, that received a 78 billion euro ($92 billion) bailout from its fellow European Union member states amid the euro crisis. But even more remarkable, Centeno was part of a leftist government with the backing of a communist party, which subsequently bucked the marching orders of its northern creditors and the troika composed of the European Central Bank, European Commission, and International Monetary Fund.

Portugal has proven it’s possible for a struggling country to defy German-imposed austerity in the EU and still succeedPortugal has proven it’s possible for a struggling country to defy German-imposed austerity in the EU and still succeed. That’s not to suggest that, just because Centeno has served a leftist Portuguese government, he will pursue radical policy ambitions in Brussels. But, as president of the Eurogroup, he will execute duties in a body that grew immensely in significance over the course of the financial crises and will be paramount in guiding the reform processes that still lie ahead…

Centeno, like the Portuguese government he served, already symbolizes the possibility that a new, less German, ideological era of economic governance is in the offing in Europe. Lisbon is the first Southern European government to climb out of the swamp of indebtedness and stagnation. Its economy is undergoing its fastest expansion in over a decade, and more growth is expected next year, which will shrink the country’s budget deficit to 1 percent of GDP — the slightest in 40 years. Unemployment this year fell to 9.2 percent, down from 17.5 percent in 2013, and exports are picking up…

Unlike the land of Chumps and a Fake President, a surprising number of EU Nations are willing to experiment with genuine reform. Sometimes conservative, often progressive, almost always advised by well-educated and market-proven economists instead of the obedient pap rolled out by our two-party beer commercials.

Red vs Blue States – Recovery?

Red vs Blue states in jobs recovery. Even when we have a barely progressive herd in Congress, the nation gets to deal with states often controlled by incompetents and other flavors of reactionary. We have a long hard struggle ahead to get this nation back on anything approaching an even keel. Including equal opportunities.

Here’s a link to the article sourcing these graphs.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz.