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11Nov/150

Post-Election Cache Clearance

I've been away too long. Fortunately, others have taken up the usual election mapping and district analysis. That leaves a bit of neighborhood analysis that I like to do. And I'll get to that before I have the pleasure of speaking to the Meyerland Dems on Monday evening. For now, I'm slightly more interested in deleting some tabs on my tablet in order to keep it from being bogged down with the smattering of news items I want to preserve in blog form. With that, here's most of the news I wish I had more time to comment on over the past two weeks:

» The Upshot: Obamacare Not as Egalitarian as It Appears (Tyler Cowen)
The NBER Working Paper referenced in the article isn't likely to make it onto an already lengthy list of weekend reads for whenever I reach that mythical weekend where I catch up on my reading list. Until then, this is Cowen's setup conclusion that builds up to his more cynical conclusion which you can agree or disagree based on your own preference. This setup, however, captures most of what I was skeptical about in the Affordable Care Act:

... while numerous government programs redistributed income toward the poor successfully in the past, successive improvements, as exemplified by the Affordable Care Act, have become harder to accomplish, as many of the easiest and most efficient opportunities have already been exploited. We have ended up at margins where political divisions and interest group capture make further progress harder to carry out, no matter how good the proposed policies may seem on the drawing board. While politicians wrangle over the health care law, many of the monetary gains from the changes in the system are benefiting the health care establishment rather than the patients.

» NY Times: Red Tape Slows U.S. Help for Children Fleeing Central America (Michael Shear)
It's not just grand ambitions that suffer these days. It's also somewhat minor ones that have an unfortunately massive impact on people's lives:

President Obama vowed a year ago to give Central American children fleeing violence a new, legal way into the United States by allowing them to apply for refugee status while in their own countries instead of accepting help from smugglers or resorting to a dangerous trek across Mexico.

But not a single child has entered the United States through the Central American Minors program since its establishment in December, in large part because of a slow-­moving American bureaucracy that has infuriated advocates for the young children and their families.

More than 5,400 children, most of them trying to escape street gangs, extortion and sexual assault in El Salvador, have applied to join their parents, who are already in the United States legally. So far the Department of Homeland Security has interviewed only 90 of them, and lengthy procedures for getting airplane tickets and processing paperwork have delayed those whose applications were approved.

» The Guardian: I've seen America’s future – and it’s not Republican (Stan Greenberg)
This is basically a refresh on the Emerging Democratic Majority thesis. But that original argument has plenty of room for some updates like this:

The political landscape is also being reshaped by a reversal of the historic pattern of mobility and home ownership. The middle class ladder used to take every generation and new wave of immigrants from city centres to suburbs to the exurbs. But in the past decade cities, with their falling crime rates, have attracted more people – particularly retiring baby boomers – than suburbs, and real estate values in metropolitan areas have risen faster than elsewhere and created more jobs. At the same time, only half of millennials have a driver’s licence, the right of passage for prior generations.

The political tides are still more incremental than the folks who get in print would have you believe. That's probably a contributing factor to EDM co-author John Judis changing his mind earlier in the year. What I find increasingly lacking in these arguments is the point of "which electorate are you talking about?"

» NY Times: School vs. Society in America’s Failing Students (Eduardo Porter)
Defining educational reality of our time:

In a report released last week, Martin Carnoy from the Graduate School of Education at Stanford, Emma García from the Economic Policy Institute in Washington and Tatiana Khavenson from the Institute of Education at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, suggest that socioeconomic deficits impose a particularly heavy burden on American schools.

“Once we adjust for social status, we are doing much better than we think,” Professor Carnoy told me. “We underrate our progress.”

Also outlined on a state-level scale by former State Rep. Mark Strama at the end of the 2013 legislative session:

» Washington Monthly: Confessions of a Paywall Journalist (John Heltman)
This is easily the most entertaining and insightful read on the topic of DC-area trade publications vs general interest media you'll find today. And as exciting as that sounds, I find the economics of each industry group mind-boggling to consider:

More recently, McGraw Hill Financial—which owns Platts, an energy trade outlet that has been active in Washington for decades—announced its bid to buy SNL Financial, a financial and business intelligence trade outlet that has in recent years expanded its footprint in energy and climate reporting. McGraw Hill agreed to buy SNL for $2.23 billion in cash.

Contrast that with the recent sales and acquisitions of more household names in journalism. The Washington Post was sold to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2013 for $250 million. The Boston Globe sold in 2013 for $70 million. The international education firm Pearson sold its 50 percent stake in the Economist for $731 million, valuing the 172-year-old institution at around $1.4 billion. Even the New York Times’s market capitalization is about $2 billion. This demonstrates that the market is convinced of the business case for trade journalism and its potential for growth, and that it is not similarly assured of the future of newspapers.

Currently wondering how hard it is to launch a new trade publication.

» NY Times Mag: The Cult of the ‘Amateur’ (Amanda Hess)
Noted here in the not-entirely-miniscule chance that we find ourselves with an amateur President.

» Politico Magazine: Winning Isn't Everything – John Weaver and the business of political seduction. (Jason Zengerle)
I like John Weaver about as much as it's possible to like any Presidential-tier lead consultant. There's a lot to read here to give anyone a reason to agree or disagree with that conclusion. That said, I've largely tuned out the GOP side of the campaign season. It's just too hard to take stupid seriously.

» Deal Book: The Risks and Rewards of Short­Termism (Eilene Zimmerman)

I do not own a controlling interest in any company as of this writing. So this probably impacts me at something close to zilch. But I vividly recall most of the points of this debate from my days at UH's business college (at the time, named for the founder of U-Tot-Em convenience stores). Maybe we'll see if any of the grand ambition expressed these days comes to fruition.

... and with that, my tablet seems to have some resources freed up. This is going to totally come in handy for spending Veterans Day binge-watching Curb Your Enthusiasm.

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