CX – relevant articles, and more on plan financing

McConnell et al – Why the fear over ubiquitous data encryption is overblown

Wyden, Internet privacy guru, pushes back on cyber, intel bills

One of the ways to fund plans is by changes in the tax code. As such it’s critical that you understand progressive and regressive taxation. (Oversimplified: Income taxes are supposed to be progressive in this country, affecting those higher up the economic scale the most, though the degree is debatable; sales taxes that hit those on the lower end of the economic scale the hardest are regressive.) The following article discusses taxes, and how certain deductions affect their progressive/regressive nature.

Tilts in the tax code: Pictures of regressive deductions




NX – Prisons/Sentencing Reform

How mass incarceration creates ‘million dollar blocks’ in poor neighborhoods

A most interesting counterpoint to most of the discussions I’ve seen on either the cost of prisons or the need for sentencing reform. I’ve linked directly to the original article; attempts to save it as a PDF file didn’t capture the maps. (I love maps. I student taught Geometry classes and love what maps can be used for. The impact graphically is more impressive than a chart would have been. Besides, you’re in high school, and reading maps, graphs, and charts is part of the standards for Social Studies.)


FX – What you should be reading

Brazil first (from NPR):

As Brazil’s Economy Goes In Reverse, Illusion Of Prosperity Fades With It

Cuba: Diplomatic relations are hardly the whole picture of US-Cuba relations.

The US now has an embassy in Cuba but relations are hardly normal

Egypt: A previous post briefly discussed Egypt’s political cycle in recent years. This articles presents a more nuanced discussion of Egypt’s government. A necessary background article.

Brown et al – Who is running the Egyptian state

Syria: Knowing who we should help seems easy – not pro-Assad forces or Islamic extremist militias (Nusra/ISIS) – but actually helping is a lot more complex.

Abductions Hurt US Bid to Train Anti-ISIS Rebels in Syria

China: Krugman tackles China’s economic problems. Excellent background.

Krugman – China’s Naked Emperors

Euro: While this article has to do with Italy specifically, the bridge line between pages 1 and 2 just begs to be used in an intro on Greece as well.

Italy is the most likely country to leave the euro

CX – Funding

For decades (literally) I’ve heard plans funded by “closing tax loopholes” plan planks, something accomplished legislatively and something that assumes a working collection system. Often skipped is the collection role the IRS plays. If part of the Greek debt crisis is structural problems with their tax collection system, what does the following article say about our choices, and what does it suggest about whether or not additional federal revenue could be raised with a tax system that doesn’t have a damaged/crippled enforcement mechanism. This also suggests that, if you encounter a “loopholes” plank, you might be able to challenge its effectiveness with this article. (The article goes both ways, on Neg as a refutation of “loophole” plans, and on the Aff by arguing that proper funding of the IRS would raise collection levels enough to pay for your plan. You’d need, on the Aff, an additional article showing how extra dollars to the IRS bring in multiples of that in federal revenue. Such articles exist; I’ll post one if/when I find one.)

What’s happened at the IRS after five years of slashed budgets

NX – What you shold be reading and listening to

Police shootings: An unfortunate topic; the graphic in the first article is quite sobering. Since this was published about two weeks ago there was even a shooting in my town.

Police shot and killed people on all but 12 days of the year so far

Despite Spotlight On Police Shootings, Incidents With Latinos Often Forgotten

Health Care: A solid background article on Medicare and Medicaid

As Medicare and Medicaid Turn 50, Use of Private Health Plans Surges


The Global Impact Of Low Oil Prices

U.S. Wind Power On Course To Grow Big

Minimum Wage:

Is Raising The Minimum Wage To $15 A Good Idea?

Two things to keep in mind: First, to figure out what an hourly wage translates to annually, multiply it by 2000 ($15/hr is about $30,000 annually before taxes). 40 hours per week times 50 weeks per year get you the 2000 figure. (Yes, I know there are 52 weeks each year, but for a quick approximation using 2000 is faster than using 2080.) The question then becomes whether or not that wage is adequate.

Second, one of the big problems with free market disciples is the failure to recognize that capitalism is amoral. Not moral good, not moral bad, there simply isn’t a question of morality in its structure. Any morality has to be added by people later – as with the question of a living wage. That question gets to the moral issue of whether people have an inherent value in and of themselves, and what sort of system should be constructed around them to reflect that value.

The following article on policy/political polarization includes the minimum wage question:

Yes, there really are two Americas. Just look at this chart.

FX – What you should be reading and listening to

Turkey: How Turkey’s position towards ISIS and the Kurds complicates the Middle East even further

Turkey’s Focus on Crushing Kurdish Separatists Complicates the Fight Against ISIS

Turkey Launches Bombing Campaign Against ISIS, PKK Bases

Lebanon and the spillover from Syria: Note the population statistics, and realize that for all the Syrian refugees going to Lebanon, there are a lot more going elsewhere (Jordan, Turkey, and even EU countries).

Lebanon Evicted Syrians From A Refugee Camp; They Refused To Go

Iran and Saudi Arabia: Friedman is always worth reading, and there’s some really good background info in this article

Friedman – For the Mideast, It’s Still 1979

A small but noteworthy issue in the disputes between Israel and Iran:

Torn Between Native And Adoptive Lands, Israel’s Iranian Jews Hope For Peace

Russia: Note the author’s qualifications; is his thesis correct in spite of his biases on the issue?

Gershman – Russia’s crackdown on civil society shows the regime’s weakness

Greece and Germany: One side played a game and won – was that a good thing?

Irwin – How Germany Prevailed in the Greek Bailout

China: There are ways around government restrictions; this article explains one method.

These are the secret code words that let you criticize the Chinese government

FX – What you should be reading

Turkey – the short and long of it:

Turkey’s Fight Against ISIS Explained  (explanation lite)

Turkey’s messy war in the Middle East, explained (a more nuanced and detailed description)

Turkey Grants U.S. Permission To Use Air Base Near Syrian Border (from NPR, a discussion of the changes in Turkey’s position)

Iran: two views on the “now what” question from two of my go-to writers, and NPR’s look at the Iran – Saudi Arabia conflict

Pincus – Figuring out the dimensions of Iran’s past research on nuclear weapons

Fallows – The Real Test of the Iran Deal – The Atlantic

Saudi Arabia Softens Opposition To Iran Nuclear Deal

Greece: How much of the debt problem should be on those who owe the loans, vs. those who made the loans:

Davidson – Why Greece’s Lenders Need to Suffer

Egypt: What a cycle. First, Mubarak, his military, and his bans on the Muslim Brotherhood (to which many turned as the only means to protest government policies), then the Arab Spring uprisings topple Mubarak. First elections are won by the best-organized faction – not surprisingly the Muslim Brotherhood. A too-conservative/too-religious approach results in more protests and effectively a coup, taking us back to Mubarak Lite (a different military figure becomes the country’s ruler), his military, and bans on the Muslim Brotherhood. Now we’re back to conservative religious positions as one of the few means of protesting the government. Watch what’s going on in the Sinai, and listen to NPR’s take on it.

Egypt’s Military Struggles To Quell Growing ISIS-Linked Insurgency