“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” ― Isaac Asimov
While doing fieldwork in Tennessee for his eye-opening and often harrowing new book, Dying of Whiteness, Vanderbilt University Professor Jonathan M. Metzl met Trevor. A 40-something-year-old former cab driver (who used to “party pretty hard”), Trevor needed a walker to get around; his skin was “yellow with jaundice” from hepatitis C and an inflamed liver. Trevor is dying, yet he is opposed to the Affordable Care Act, even though it would provide him with the medical care he needs and can’t afford. “Ain’t no way I would ever support Obamacare or sign up for it,” he explains to Metzl. “I would rather die. We don’t need any more government in our lives. And in any case, no way I want my tax dollars paying for Mexicans or welfare queens.”
A physician reveals how right-wing backlash policies have mortal consequences — even for the white voters they promise to help Named one of the most anticipated books of 2019 by Esquire and the Boston Globe In the era of Donald Trump, many lower- and middle-class white Americans are drawn to politicians who pledge to make their lives great again.
Today, less privileged white Americans are considered to be in crisis, and the language of sociologists and pathologists predominates. Charles Murray’s Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010 was published in 2012, and Robert D. Putnam’s Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis came out last year. From opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, they made the case that social breakdown among low-income whites was starting to mimic trends that had begun decades earlier among African Americans: Rates of out-of-wedlock births and male joblessness were rising sharply. Then came the stories about a surge in opiate addiction among white Americans, alongside shocking reports of rising mortality rates (including by suicide) among middle-aged whites. And then, of course, came the 2016 presidential campaign. The question was suddenly no longer why Democrats struggled to appeal to regular Americans. It was why so many regular Americans were drawn to a man like Donald Trump.
FEDERAL REGULATORS EARLIER this month unveiled new rules aimed at reining in payday lenders and the exorbitant fees they charge. Now expect to hear a lot of what one payday lender named Phil Locke calls “the lies we would tell whenever we were under attack.”
The new rules announced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are relatively straightforward, if not also a disappointment to some consumer advocates. A payday loan is typically a two-week advance against a borrower’s next paycheck (or monthly social security allotment, for that matter); lenders commonly charge $15 on every $100 borrowed, which works out to an annual interest rate of almost 400 percent (600% in Virginia). Under the CFPB’s proposal, lenders would have a choice. One option would require them to perform the underwriting necessary to ensure that a borrower, based on his or her income and expenses, can afford a loan. Another option requires them to limit the customer to no more than six of these loans per year (and no more than three in a row).
The state-by-state interest rates customers are charged on payday loans. The rates are calculated based on a typical $300, two-week loan. Source: Center for Responsible Lending
Neoliberalism refers to capitalism in its purest form. It is an economic philosophy espoused by libertarians — and repeated endlessly by many mainstream economists — one that insists that privatization, deregulation, the opening up of domestic markets to foreign competition, the cutting of government spending, the shrinking of the state and the “freeing of the market” are the keys to a healthy and flourishing economy.
“There are aspects of the neoliberal agenda that have not delivered as expected,” the economists write in “Neoliberalism: Oversold?“, a study published in the June volume of the IMF’s quarterly magazine Finance & Development.
In analyzing two of neoliberalism’s most fundamental policies, austerity and the removing of restrictions on the movement of capital, the IMF researchers say they reached “three disquieting conclusions.”
The importance of this study is hard to overstate. The IMF is essentially admitted that many of the policies that it demanded countries implement for decades only made things worse.
One, neoliberal policies result in “little benefit in growth.”
Two, neoliberal policies increase inequality, which produces further economic harms in a “trade-off” between growth and inequality.
And three, this “increased inequality in turn hurts the level and sustainability of growth.”
The top researchers conclude noting that the “evidence of the economic damage from inequality suggests that policymakers should be more open to redistribution than they are.”