The world is getting automated more quickly than we think—and when the robots take over it will throw our capital-labor balance out of whack and decimate the middle class:
"Until a decade ago, the share of total national income going to workers was pretty stable at around 70 percent, while the share going to capital—mainly corporate profits and returns on financial investments—made up the other 30 percent. More recently, though, those shares have started to change. Slowly but steadily, labor's share of total national income has gone down, while the share going to capital owners has gone up. The most obvious effect of this is the skyrocketing wealth of the top 1 percent, due mostly to huge increases in capital gains and investment income."
PUBLISHED: May 14, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4423 words)
Picks this week from Mother Jones, Slate, Grantland, The Washington Post, Film Comment, The Paris Review, and a guest pick by The Boston Globe's Baxter Holmes.
Deinstitutionalization moved thousands of mentally ill people out of hospitals and into the prison system. States are cutting mental-health funding. A look at America's mental health care crisis:
"'Homelessmentallyilldeinstitutionalized was one noun in the media at the time,' says SAMHSA's Roth, who is the source of the oft-cited data point that a third of America's homeless people are seriously mentally ill (helping to rebut the misconception then that they all were). In 1984, Dr. John A. Talbott, then president of the American Psychiatric Association, apologized for the association's role in the disaster. 'The psychiatrists involved in the policymaking at that time certainly oversold community treatment,' he said, 'and our credibility today is probably damaged because of it.'
"'Think of it as haircuts,' says Roth, who watched deinstitutionalization unfold in her 37 years as chief of evaluation and research at the Ohio Department of Mental Health. 'In the age of the great gothic castle on the hill, mentally ill patients had everything taken care of. Health care, sleeping, eating, etc. When they got out, they were supposed to have everything. They got Medicare and Medicaid, but [policymakers] didn't think about food. And haircuts. Clothes. How to find a place to live.' How to do laundry; how to grocery shop. How to ensure people who need meds take them. What to do with people who had too many behavioral problems to avoid being evicted six times in a row."
PUBLISHED: April 29, 2013
LENGTH: 33 minutes (8317 words)
A collection of stories from Salon, Jane, The New Yorker, New York Times and more.
PUBLISHED: March 30, 2013
LENGTH: 3 minutes (996 words)
A look at mental illness and the death penalty:
"The doctor would later testify that Andre was 'really mentally ill,' as if to stress that this wasn't just your run-of-the-mill crazy person. And then there was this detail from the physician's records: "Thomas," he wrote, "is psychotic. He thinks something like Holodeck on Star Trek is happening to him." If you don't know what that is, and there is no good reason you should, a holodeck is a simulated reality facility—a place where nothing is real.
"Finally, the patient wanted to know whether he had volunteered for his life, or been forced to live it. Maybe that was the final straw. The doctor referred Andre to the hospital's mental health unit and filled out an emergency detention order to hold him against his will. But while staffers waited for a judge to sign the order, Andre simply wandered off. The hospital called the police, but there's no evidence that officers went looking for him at the home of Andre's mother or any of his other relatives. The next time they saw him, he was walking into the Sherman police station to confess to killing his family."
PUBLISHED: Feb. 12, 2013
LENGTH: 24 minutes (6080 words)
A look at the families who are not just affected by returning veterans, but display similar symptons:
"Brannan and Katie's teacher have conferenced about Katie's behavior many times. Brannan's not surprised she's picked up overreacting and yelling—you don't have to be at the Vines residence for too long to hear Caleb hollering from his room, where he sometimes hides for 18, 20 hours at a time, and certainly not if you're there during his nightmares, which Katie is. 'She mirrors…she just mirrors' her dad's behavior, Brannan says. She can't get Katie to stop picking at the sores on her legs, sores she digs into her own skin with anxious little fingers. She is not, according to Brannan, 'a normal, carefree six-year-old.'"
PUBLISHED: Jan. 17, 2013
LENGTH: 36 minutes (9091 words)
Why are violent crime rates still dropping, even during the recession? The latest evidence suggests lead—in the air, in our gasoline, in our paint—was responsible for the rise in crime in the 1960s & '70s, and the drop in the 1990s:
"And with that we have our molecule: tetraethyl lead, the gasoline additive invented by General Motors in the 1920s to prevent knocking and pinging in high-performance engines. As auto sales boomed after World War II, and drivers in powerful new cars increasingly asked service station attendants to 'fill 'er up with ethyl,' they were unwittingly creating a crime wave two decades later.
"It was an exciting conjecture, and it prompted an immediate wave of...nothing. Nevin's paper was almost completely ignored, and in one sense it's easy to see why—Nevin is an economist, not a criminologist, and his paper was published in Environmental Research, not a journal with a big readership in the criminology community. What's more, a single correlation between two curves isn't all that impressive, econometrically speaking. Sales of vinyl LPs rose in the postwar period too, and then declined in the '80s and '90s. Lots of things follow a pattern like that. So no matter how good the fit, if you only have a single correlation it might just be a coincidence. You need to do something more to establish causality."
PUBLISHED: Jan. 3, 2013
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5326 words)
From The Daily Beast's David Sessions, a collection of stories on gun violence and policy in the U.S., featuring The Atlantic, Washington Post, Bloomberg Businessweek and Mother Jones.
Internal memos and documents show how the sugar industry worked to cover up evidence of its dangerous health effects:
"In January 1976, the GRAS committee published its preliminary conclusions, noting that while sugar probably contributed to tooth decay, it was not a 'hazard to the public.' The draft review dismissed the diabetes link as 'circumstantial' and called the connection to cardiovascular disease 'less than clear,' with fat playing a greater role. The only cautionary note, besides cavities, was that all bets were off if sugar consumption were to increase significantly. The committee then thanked the Sugar Association for contributing 'information and data.' (Tatem would later remark that while he was 'proud of the credit line...we would probably be better off without it.')
The committee's perspective was shared by many researchers, but certainly not all. For a public hearing on the draft review, scientists from the USDA's Carbohydrate Nutrition Laboratory submitted what they considered 'abundant evidence that sucrose is one of the dietary factors responsible for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.' As they later explained in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, some portion of the public—perhaps 15 million Americans at that time—clearly could not tolerate a diet rich in sugar and other carbohydrates. Sugar consumption, they said, should come down by 'a minimum of 60 percent,' and the government should launch a national campaign 'to inform the populace of the hazards of excessive sugar consumption.' But the committee stood by its conclusions in the final version of its report presented to the FDA in October 1976."
PUBLISHED: Oct. 31, 2012
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5042 words)