It’s Time For The Right To Openly Embrace Classically Liberal Muslims


Undeniably, the politicization of Islam is harmful to its followers. What blame to the left and right share in this?

The Right and Left are both playing opposite sides of the same game, and happily so. The Left gets to use its identity politics wedge to create yet another special interest group, and the Right, masochistically, gets a new boogeyman to justify spending more money on police and the military.

The Federalist 

Image: Painting by Brianna Keeper

Waking From the Dream


How well do our brains perceive inequality? Are skewed perceptions to blame for American inequality?

Keith Payne, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina, is intent on showing how the problem of inequality operates within the human mind. He does not claim to have studied the historical causes of the American class system, nor does he aim to explore the political or cultural ideologies that have been used to rationalize differences between the haves and the have-nots. His singular focus is on how the brain is evolutionarily wired for ambition and justice alike. When societies such as ours deviate from the primitive sense of fair play, he asserts, everyone suffers.

American Scholar

Image: Painting by Brianna Keeper

All in the Family Debt


What do social conservatism and neoliberalism have in common? They both undermine community responsibility and force families to take on cross-generation debt.

Indeed, many of the policy reforms after the Reagan revolution can be understood as an attempt to reinvent the imperative of familial responsibility in the new idiom of household debt. As policymakers imposed cuts to health, education, and welfare budgets, they simultaneously identified the family as a wholesale alternative to the twentieth-century social state. And as the responsibility for deficit spending shifted from the state to the household, the private debt obligations of family were defined as foundational to socioeconomic order. The family, not the state, would bear primary responsibility for investing in the education, health and welfare of children.

Boston Review

Image: Painting by Brianna Keeper

The Merchandising of Virtue


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I am a big fan of Taleb. Here is an excerpt from his new book Skin in the Game.

If your private life conflicts with your intellectual opinion, it cancels your intellectual ideas, not your private life”

Kids with rich parents talk about “white privilege” at such privileged colleges as Amherst –but in one instance, one of them could not answer D’Souza’s simple and logical suggestion: why don’t you go to the registrar’s office and give your privileged spot to a minority student who was next in line?

The complete article

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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A Jobless Utopia?


Time is a nonrenewable resource. We’re comfortable with giving away the majority of our waking hours to labor, but what happens when that labor isn’t needed any longer? Many have predicted the rise of the machines and their replacement of workers. This article looks at a place where the future has already started to happen — a village where automation has left residents without jobs.

Now reformers everywhere may have to resolve the dilemma of toilsome versus leisurely Edens. Much of the world is approaching what Jeremy Rifken calls “the end of work” and, more recently, “the zero marginal cost society.” In a zero marginal cost society, machines and computer algorithms replace virtually all human effort in the production of goods and services.

Rural Andalusia never had much retail, but its interior villages used to grow a variety of crops under the laborious conditions described by Blasco Ibáñez. In the last two decades, however, an almost effortless form of green energy has moved in. Wind turbines now crowd the terrain and there are few jobs, agricultural or otherwise. As an anthropologist, I began visiting a village familiar with these machines, hoping to see how people live with unemployment within a landscape that has been transformed from fields into electrical infrastructure.

Boston Review

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Student Debt’s Grip on the Economy


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American student loan debt has gotten out of control. New research from the Federal Reserve is reviewed in this article showing just how bad the situation is.

Total student debt — $1.3 trillion — is more than double what it was as recently as 2008 and is more than Americans have racked up for cars or credit cards.
But wages for college-­educated workers have only recently shown gains. They rose 6.6 percent from 2014 to 2016, as the labor market improved, but that still leaves them a mere 4.5 percent above where they were in 2002. Wage gains would have to be considerably more robust to handle rising debt burdens.

The New York Times

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If Every Day is a Rainy Day, What Am I Saving For?


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What’s it like grow up poor and remain poor as an adult? Samantha Irby offers an interesting perspective.

I know I should have invested in a sturdy pair of those bootstraps people who speak at graduation ceremonies are always talking about, but what does that even mean? Pay the rent, throw some cash at the phone bill, sprinkle a little change on the light bill, divide the remaining 20 bucks between the laundromat and a stock portfolio? It all seemed so unmanageable. And the years of being deprived or feeling stressed about money didn’t make me want to save; they made me want to spend, to immediately enjoy the fruits of the $7.25 an hour I made listening to people talk down to me in a customer service job.

The New York Times

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