The world’s next development agenda must include rich countries—not just poor ones.
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After five years of bitter partisan combat, President Obama warned Congress Tuesday that he will move forward on his economic agenda with or without their help, threatening to make an end run around legislative gridlock through a series of new executive actions designed to lay the groundwork for liberals’ newly declared war on income inequality.
Although he didn’t mention them by name in last night’s State of the Union address, one of the president’s more ambitious ideas to address economic instability is a plan to create “Promise Zones” in low-income communities, where the government would target federal investment to reduce poverty in select neighborhoods.
Obama actually introduced the initiative in last year’s State of the Union address, but earlier this month, he finally got around to selecting the first five zones—in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The plan, he said, is to expand the program to 20 neighborhoods by the end of his second term. “Your country will help you remake your community on behalf of your kids,” he told a White House audience on January 9. “Not with a handout, but as partners with them every step of the way.”
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Higher education should be promoted to all students as an opportunity to experience an intellectual awakening, not just increase their earning power.
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"The truth is, the greatest tool to lift children and families from poverty is one that decreases the probability of child poverty by 82 percent," Sen. Marco Rubio said in a speech last week. “But it isn’t a government spending program. It’s called marriage.”
In The Wall Street Journal, former George W. Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleischer concurred. “‘Marriage inequality’ should be at the center of any discussion of why some Americans prosper and others don’t,” he wrote, before suggesting the government would better off pushing matrimony than bulking up the safety net.
It is true that Americans who get married and stay married are unlikely to end up poor. As Derek Thompson noted last week, just 6.2 percent of wedded couples live below the official poverty line, compared to 31 percent of single mothers. Spouses share the costs of raising children and keeping a home, so it’s easier for them stay financially afloat.
But does that make marriage a great anti-poverty tool, on its own?
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"The letters are oddly hostile in tone. They’re written with a strange mix of condescension and legalese. They inform Ackerman of additional paperwork she must file. They repeatedly tell her that her account has been deactivated. At other points, they explain to her with bewildering logic why her benefits have been altered."
In a Wall Street Journal editorial this week, Bush administration press secretary Ari Fleischer wrote that “‘marriage inequality’ should be at the center of any discussion of why some Americans prosper and others don’t.” He cited statistics about the vast income disparities between single women and married women, regardless of race, and argued that these gaps would shrink if women stayed in school and waited until marriage to have kids.
At an Atlantic summit on female poverty on Wednesday, the women in the room would have none of that.
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An Atlantic summit featuring Nancy Pelosi, Kirsten Gillibrand, Maria Shriver, and more.
Happening now, and streaming on our site until 4:30 p.m.
There are two broad answers. The first is simply methodological. Understanding the causes and consequences of obesity is hard because scientists like randomized experiments—e.g.: give one group drug X, give another group a placebo, and observe the difference. But this is almost impossible to do with weight. It’s unethical to randomly make participants obese just to watch what happens to them. So, it’s useful to study compare data and try to find out how income and obesity are actually related. Essentially: To study weight like an economist.
The second answer is that obesity is an economic problem, plain and simple. Obese Americans costs the U.S. $190 billion in annual medical costs attributable to their weight—or 20 percent of national health-care spending, according to Cawley’s research. That’s a shockingly high figure, and it implies that unpacking the relationship between income and obesity could save America even more money and anxiety than many researchers estimate.
The trouble is that, when it comes to obesity, practically nothing is clear-cut, starting with the word, itself.
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Low-income women and single mothers are more likely to live with financial stress and regret, but they’re also more optimistic about their prospects.
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Income inequality is making us sick.
Well, it’s not making all of us sick. Only the poorest of us. That’s what a new paper in Health Affairs by Hilary Seligman, Ann Bolger, David Guzman, Andrea López, and Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo found they looked at when people go to the hospital for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
The basic idea is that people struggling to make it paycheck-to-paycheck (or benefits-to-benefits) might run out of money at the end of the month—and have to cut back on food. If they have diabetes, this hunger could turn into an even more severe health problem: low blood sugar. So we should expect a surge of hypoglycemia cases at the end of each month for low-income people, but not for anybody else.
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