poverty, productivity, workers, mental energy
The author writes, “As Washington debates sending checks to Americans and increasing the minimum wage, a new study offers evidence for how such policies could help eliminate poverty. Obviously, giving more money to people without much money helps them. But the study adds to a growing body of research that says that money really does help workers earn more money. ... Poverty, researchers found, is like a parasite, consuming mental energy that could be put to more beneficial use.” Photo credit: Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Movie at the Ellipse: A Study in Fascist Propaganda (DonkeyHotey)

From Just Security: “On January 6, Trump supporters gathered at a rally at Washington DC’s Ellipse Park, regaled by various figures from Trump world, including Donald Trump Jr. and Rudy Giuliani. Directly following Giuliani’s speech, the organizers played a video. To a scholar of fascist propaganda, well-versed in the history of the National Socialist’s pioneering use of videos in political propaganda, it was clear, watching it, what dangers it portended. In it, we see themes and tactics that history warns pose a violent threat to liberal democracy. Given the aims of fascist propaganda — to incite and mobilize — the events that followed were predictable.”

The Kyle Rittenhouse Story Is Looking More and More Like a Rerun of George Zimmerman (Dan)

From the Chicago Tribune: “Kyle Rittenhouse, like George Zimmerman before him, is turning out to be every bit as dreadful as his insta-critics assumed. Rittenhouse is the teen from far north suburban Antioch, who in the course of allegedly taking the law into his own hands shot three men, two fatally, during street protests in Kenosha in August. … Rittenhouse is in the news again this week as prosecutors are seeking to have him rearrested for allegedly failing to disclose his whereabouts to authorities while out on bond. His lawyers contend he’s been living in a ‘safe house’ in response to death threats. They provided the address to the courts Wednesday, along with a motion to seal the information.”

How COVID-19 Has Hurt the Effort to Track STDs (Dana)

The author writes, “Last year, as cases of Covid-19 spread across her Houston community, public health official Guadalupe Valdovinos was pulled from her job contact tracing sexually transmitted diseases (STD) to work on contract tracing cases of the novel coronavirus. Her professional experience came in handy: Valdovinos had been tracking cases of syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV, notifying those with positive test results of their diagnosis, advising them on treatment, finding out who their partners had been, and then contacting those partners to try to prevent further spread of the diseases. … Workers left to focus on STDs, which before the pandemic had been increasing in case volume, were overwhelmed. Specialists who transitioned to Covid-19 work had to adapt to contact trace a new disease with many unknowns.”

The Mirage of the Black Middle Class (Dana)

The author writes, “A foundational myth of the American dream is the potential of the individual, wholly unbound by context. Parental income level, race, education, access to resources as a child, health, location — positive or negative — all become incidental. The idea is that in America, land of opportunity, you excel on your own merits. This is a lie, of course. When we talk about class status in America, we still largely focus on current status instead of intergenerational familial legacy; on income, rather than our access to wealth.”

310, 213, 818: Why Southern California Is Obsessed With Area Codes (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “Long ago, when the world was young and there were only landlines, one area code ruled them all, from the Mexican border to Bakersfield: 213. Then it began to divide and multiply. 714 was born, and 805, and then L.A. became the first burg with three area codes within the city limits. Now, nearly 75 years after the birth of 213, Los Angeles County has 10 area codes, eight originally rooted in geography and two that float atop heavily used 310 and 818. Does your area code mean anything to you? In a footloose megalopolis that mashes city against indistinguishable city, a place that topples the kind of historical landmarks other cities depend upon to navigate identity, we make do with what we have. And what we have, to the frequent mystification of newcomers, is a nest of area codes.”