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USA: oligarchy, not democracy

Is America an Oligarchy?. Yep. Definitely smells that way.

A study from Princeton took a numeric look at what happens in our national politics, and it tells the story that we all mostly sensed: the democratic process is succumbing to bad actors with the ability to sway issues and politics away from the interests of the rest of us puny humans.

Good to know.

Slate: Adjuncts in Universities

Hit ‘Em Where It Hurts — The solution to the higher-ed adjunct crisis lies in the U.S. News rankings. Good call. Point being that we can change incentives for universities by penalizing them for not hiring full-time faculty. It’s a problem I’ve seen effect many of my friends’ lives.

VICE: On Turning 30

by Molly Crabapple. Excellent read. Read it. Also check out Discordia, to which she contributed. Quote:

But why hang on to that know-nothing, white-girl vulnerability? Staying alive has power. The years should give you competence and toughness along with the battle scars. You’ve survived. Fuck anyone who would keep life’s beauty from your grasp.

NYT: For the Love of Money

For the Love of Money. Great article, calling out a national problem in an addiction to money from those at the very top. It’s a psychological problem which has not even been properly identified, and it’s wrecking a lot of what’s here. Our public advocacy for the continuation of the disease is also severely troubling. Excerpt:

Like alcoholics driving drunk, wealth addiction imperils everyone. Wealth addicts are, more than anybody, specifically responsible for the ever widening rift that is tearing apart our once great country. Wealth addicts are responsible for the vast and toxic disparity between the rich and the poor and the annihilation of the middle class. Only a wealth addict would feel justified in receiving $14 million in compensation — including an $8.5 million bonus — as the McDonald’s C.E.O., Don Thompson, did in 2012, while his company then published a brochure for its work force on how to survive on their low wages.

Ars: Energy-hungry Suburbs

Energy-hungry suburbs eat up urban savings. Interesting results:

According to the authors, suburban emissions account for about half of all US contributions to climate change. In fact, the energy consumption in suburbia is so high that it actually cancels out any energy conserved by those living in densely populated urban cores.

Yay cities.

Guardian: Don’t Blame the Robots

Technology didn’t kill middle class jobs, public policy did. Short post about a paper titled Don’t Blame the Robots.

Rather, we might look at an agenda that would rein in finance and CEO pay, restore the strength of labor unions, and include a more balanced trade policy.

James Carroll: Who Am I to Judge?

I first came upon this story from Fresh Air, which had a 38 minute interview with James Carroll that was very good. It references the even longer article at the New Yorker, which speaks to Pope Francis. Worth checking out. Some of it seems to be wishful thinking, though there is a lot of things to like in the new Pope, and to me it signals a connection of the Catholic church to more modern, reasonable values.