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What the hell is going on with the stock market? A former Fed economist explains.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on March 10, 2020, in New York City. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images An expert on the economic fallout from the coronavirus. The stock market has been in a free fall the last week or so as fears around the coronavirus spread across the global economy. If you don’t follow the market that closely, or if you don’t understand how it works more generally, it’s hard to know what to make of this volatility. But the uncertainty raises a ton of questions, whether you’re invested in the stock market or not. Is a recession looming? How will this impact the average worker? Are we doing anything to fix it? And above all, will it get worse? To get some answers, I reached out to Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve staff economist who’s now with the Washington Center on Equitable Growth. She’s an expert on recessions — what triggers them and what stabilizes them — and a lot of her research explores the efficacy of previous stimulus programs. We discussed if the economic fallout from the coronavirus will hit some regions of the country harder than others, if the stock market is causing our problems or just a sign of them, and if the Trump administration is doing anything to stop the financial bleeding. A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows. Sean Illing What is going in on with the economy right now? Claudia Sahm The economy is reacting to the coronavirus. As of [Wednesday] morning, stock prices were down almost 20 percent. And this is just from three weeks ago. This is a very rapid contraction and we’re flirting with what’s called a bear market. That’s where you hit the 20 percent mark. This is a very swift descent and a sign that we’re in a frightening economic situation. I want to add one thing about stock prices, because we’ve seen them jump up and down and the markets are gyrating at this point. The markets are telling us a few things. The most important thing is that they don’t know what’s going on, and these are professionalswho are supposed to know what’s going on. But this makes sense since there’s a lot of uncertainty about how the crisis will unfold. What we know is that the virus is spreading in the US and we’ve seen countries like China use authoritarian measures to get it under control. We now have Italy shutting down its entire country, and the death rates in Italy are well above what has been reported in other countries. So events are moving quickly and anybody that tells you that they know what the hell is going on is lying. Sean Illing Can you explain why the stock market is so volatile in moments like this? Claudia Sahm Stock prices don’t reflect what’s happening in the economy today. They’re looking forward. The stock prices us about the expectations of people on Wall Street, and they’re looking closely at consumer confidence numbers. They’re looking at surveys telling them what people expect to happen to their household finances, what they expect to happen with their employment and income. These are the sorts of data points they’re looking at because they point to what’s likely to happen in the future. None of this is certain. These are indications of what’s most likely, but it’s ultimately a guessing game. “We’ve seen this before and it can lead to a recession” Sean Illing This feels a bit like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Is the stock market causing problems, or is it just a sign of problems that already exist? Claudia Sahm It’s a very important question. This is the sort of downward spiral that brings the economy into a recession. We’ve seen it time and again, especially with natural disasters like the coronavirus. So when you think about a hurricane hitting the country, it disrupts economic activity, especially where the hurricane hits, but then it gets better. It’s temporary. There’s destruction in a particular area that causes lots of distress, but eventually we bounce back. But the coronavirus isn’t a hurricane. It’s not something that rolls through in a few days and then we start rebuilding. This is a spreading sickness and a potentially months-long disruption. There are many households in the economy that are one paycheck away from serious financial distress. And right now what’s so scary for those people is that they don’t know if they’re going to get sick. They don’t know if their companies or employers are going to put them on furlough without pay. And even if the virus turns out not to be as severe as we think, much of the damage will be done. It’s being done right now, and families don’t recover easily from that. We’ve seen this before and it can lead to a recession. And that’s what we’re on track for unless there is a very immediate and very big policy response. Sean Illing We’ll get to what that response ought to look like, but first can you tell me how worried the average person should be? Is this a navigable problem, or is it a genuine economic crisis? Claudia Sahm It’s the real deal. And Americans know this. That’s why we’ve seen markets collapse. American families are getting increasingly worried about whether they’re going to get sick, whether they’ll lose paychecks, whether they’ll be able to provide for their families. And things are a lot more real than they were a few weeks ago. Sean Illing Should we expect the economic impact of the pandemic to hit different regions of the country in different ways? Claudia Sahm Well, we know where the virus is spreading the fastest — in Washington State and areas of New York right now. So we need to be watching the economic activity in those areas very closely, because if it’s temporary, if it doesn’t spiral, we can take some comfort from that. But we still need to step in and help the people who are directly affected. I am deeply concerned that what we’re going to see in those areas is not a temporary effect but a long-term effect, and then that will spread across the country as the virus spreads. And then we’re in a recession. Sean Illing What should the government be doing? What sorts of policies should we prioritize? Claudia Sahm I think there are two approaches that we need to see. One, there has to be a public health response. The federal government needs to put hundreds of billions of dollars out to public health. We need to see free testing available to individuals. We don’t want anybody that doesn’t have health insurance to avoid the doctor if they feel sick. And people who can’t work, for whatever reason, need to have paid family leave. They need to have their jobs protected. But then you’d have the paychecks protected, too. We need federal government money that should be very specifically earmarked for people directly affected by the virus. In addition, because we have this downward spiral taking hold, there needs to be support for consumers and businesses because everyone’s freaking out. The fact that no one knows who’s going to be affected is making it worse, so everyone is pulling back on their spending. “Events are moving quickly and anybody that tells you that they know what the hell is going on is lying” Sean Illing The Trump administration is considering a payroll tax cut. Is that a good idea? Claudia Sahm It’s a terrible idea. Sean Illing Why? Claudia Sahm It doesn’t work. It’s too little and it’s not going to move fast enough. And I say this because in the last decade that I worked at the Federal Reserve Board as a forecaster, I tracked the effects of the payroll tax cut on households in real time and it doesn’t work well. First of all, it comes out in dribs and drabs. You’re going to get a little bit in every paycheck. President Trump has talked about that little boost to paychecks happening through the end of the year. He doesn’t want a tax increase before the election. But households don’t need $25 in the next two weeks, or $50 in the next four weeks. They need $500 right now, because if you wait and you put it out in these little increments, it’s no good to people who end up losing their job or getting sent home without pay. We have the ability, since the virus is not affecting broad areas of the country right now, to get ahead of it. If we can push out to these workers a sizable amount of money, then that gives them some financial cushion if they do end up being in this group of individuals who are directly affected.
2020-03-12 14:30:00
2021-05-08T11:27:23.000000
1 y
vox.com
Coronavirus will also cause a loneliness epidemic
The coronavirus outbreak may cause a collapse in social contact that is particularly hard on the populations most vulnerable to isolation and loneliness. | Ray Chavez/MediaNews Group/Getty Images We need to take both social distancing and the “social recession” it will cause seriously. Deborah Johnson Lanholm, 63, lives in Sicklerville, New Jersey. A retired nurse, she’s the primary caretaker for her older sister, Helen Palese, who lives with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. “She’s nonverbal,” Deborah says. “I do her speaking for her. So every other day, we do something together. We go to the movies. I take her to my crocheting group. We go out to dinner or the mall. But she’s with other people. All of that will have to stop because she’s too compromised.” And it won’t just stop for Helen. It’ll stop for Deborah, too. “I’ll have to change my routine because I have to care for her,” Deborah says. “I won’t go out in crowds or be in places where I’ll be exposed.” Make no mistake: The rapid implementation of social distancing is necessary to flatten the coronavirus curve and prevent the current pandemic from worsening. But just as the coronavirus fallout threatens to cause an economic recession, it’s also going to cause what we might call a “social recession”: a collapse in social contact that is particularly hard on the populations most vulnerable to isolation and loneliness — older adults and people with disabilities or preexisting health conditions. Spencer Platt/Getty Images Outdoor spaces are increasingly becoming sparsely populated as fears of the coronavirus spreading through the US are increasing. A tension in the coronavirus response is that it’s so difficult to get people to accept social distancing that few want to muddle the message with worries about social isolation. But if the ultimate concern is the health and well-being of the most vulnerable, then both dangers need to be addressed. “We’re now officially in a pandemic,” says Eric Klinenberg, a New York University sociologist who has studied the way social isolation leaves older Americans vulnerable in emergencies. “But we’ve also entered a new period of social pain. There’s going to be a level of social suffering related to isolation and the cost of social distancing that very few people are discussing yet.” Congress and the administration are, even now, debating the best tools to deploy in fighting the coronavirus’s economic effects. Washington is deep in a debate over payroll tax cuts, industry bailouts, and paid sick leave. But there are fewer policy tools to fight a social recession. What all the experts I spoke to agreed on was this: Just as it’s incumbent on those of us least affected by coronavirus to take precautions to limit its spread, it’s also important that we reach out to limit its social damage. “The brunt of Covid-19 will be borne by the poor, elderly, and sick,” says former US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, “and it is up to us to ensure they are not left behind.” Isolation and loneliness are health problems, too The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already warned Americans over age 60 to “avoid crowds,” cancel “all nonessential travel,” and “stay home as much as possible.” William Schaffner, a CDC adviser and infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, went even further. “The single most important thing you can do to avoid the virus is reduce your face-to-face contact with people,” he told CNN, adding that he is only going shopping late at night, when the stores are empty, and his wife is giving up attendance at her bridge club. “It worries me both for my patients and the larger community and my own family members,” says Cynthia Boyd, a geriatrics specialist at Johns Hopkins University. “My mom and dad live near me now. I definitely feel like I’m not going to pop over as much with their grandchildren.” Boyd was a contributor to a major National Academies of Sciences report on the health consequences of social isolation and loneliness in older adults. The researchers found that even before the coronavirus, about a quarter of older adults fit the definition of socially isolated — which measures routine social contact — and 43 percent said they felt lonely. You can be socially isolated without reporting feelings of loneliness, and you can be lonely without being socially isolated. But both conditions seem to inflict harm on physical and mental health. “Social isolation has been associated with a significantly increased risk of premature mortality from all causes,” the report found, including a “50 percent increased risk of developing dementia,” a “29 percent increased risk of incident coronary heart disease,” a “25 percent increased risk for cancer mortality,” a “59 percent increased risk of functional decline,” and a “32 percent increased risk of stroke.” The mental health risks are also profound. The researchers reviewed dozens of studies and found a consistent relationship between social isolation and depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. Spencer Platt/Getty Images Empty streets, restaurants and cafes make up the business area in the one mile containment zone in New Rochelle, New York, on March 11, 2020. “The health effects of loneliness are astounding,” says Carla Perissinotto, the associate chief for geriatrics clinical programs at UC San Francisco and a contributor to the NAS report. “At any point across the life span, the things we’re most worried about is losing our independence, losing our minds, and heart attack, and these are all affected by loneliness independent of other risk factors.” Humans are social animals, and coronavirus threatens those connections Human beings evolved to feel safest in groups, and as a result, we experience isolation as a physical state of emergency. “Over thousands of years, the value of social connection has become baked into our nervous system such that the absence of such a protective force creates a stress state in the body,” wrote Murthy in a review of the emergent evidence. “Loneliness causes stress, and long-term or chronic stress leads to more frequent elevations of a key stress hormone, cortisol. It is also linked to higher levels of inflammation in the body. This in turn damages blood vessels and other tissues, increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, joint disease, depression, obesity, and premature death.” If stress is the pathway by which loneliness damages health, then even beyond its direct dangers, coronavirus is a dual threat: It’s simultaneously terrifying and isolating. Alice McHale is a 70-year-old living outside Indianapolis with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. “I am having extra anxiety now and have trouble concentrating and sleeping,” she says. Already a self-admitted “homebody,” she says concern about coronavirus has left her afraid to leave the house. “I decided that for me, the easiest way to cope with it all was to pretty much stay home,” she says. No one quite knows how the isolation enforced by an epidemic disease will affect those at the highest risk, but even those who avoid the worst consequences will see their quality of life degrade. Local clubs, religious services, and time with family bring social structure and joy to many of our lives, but they are particularly important touchpoints for those who don’t work or can’t go out on their own, due to age or health conditions. If older and sick people have to refrain from these activities for months on end, their lives will be worse, and the rhythms and relationships that once sustained them may prove hard to rebuild. “We don’t really know what the dose-response curve is for loneliness and isolation,” Perissinotto says. “But the longer it is, the bigger impact it will have, and the harder it will be to reestablish connections.” Fighting the social recession There is no stopping the social recession. It’s an inevitable byproduct of public health recommendations. But there are actions and policies that could ease it. “Obviously, we want people to follow the public health recommendations about social distancing and quarantining,” Boyd says, “but at the same time, we want to try and enable people to remain as connected as possible. We need to be thinking about what individuals can do, but also what we as neighbors and a society can do, to not make it worse than it might otherwise feel for people.” Many of us will face the same choice as Deborah Lanholm: limiting our level of social activity to make sure we can safely visit with at-risk friends and families. The more the young and healthy are careful in their daily activities, the safer it will be for them to see more vulnerable friends and family members. The less careful we are, however, the more we will stay away from older, sicker relations out of caution, worsening their isolation. Yifan Ding/Getty Images Tourists wait by a closed gate of the Shanghai Disneyland in Shanghai, China, on March 10, 2020. The Shanghai Disney Resort will reopen some of the shopping, dining, and entertainment options, though the main theme park remains closed to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. But even where some risk is inevitable, there are ways to mitigate it: A walk outside or even a picnic is safer, from a public health perspective, than a dinner in a crowded restaurant. That will, of course, be simpler for some than others. “People who have easy access to safe and verdant outdoor space are going to feel more comfortable in public,” Klinenberg says. “I’m speaking to you from Manhattan, where it’s gray and crowded in many neighborhoods and being outdoors feels more stressful. You always feel like you’re about to get coughed on.” Just as countless businesses have moved to remote work and teleconferencing to balance social distancing and the need for continued collaboration, every expert I spoke to emphasized the promise of virtual options to ease isolation. Vivek, the former surgeon general, told me that “to compensate for the reduction in in-person social interaction, we must ramp up our virtual communication and ensure we are not losing touch with friends and family.” Video conferences and phone calls, he said, are “more rich than texting or emailing alone.” Sadly, the hardest-hit populations are often the least technologically savvy. So one simple way to help may just be to act as tech support for the people in your life. McHale told me that an unexpected blessing for her was that her computer died last month, and the tech support she received when setting up its replacement “made me a much better tech user.” That’s been a boon as she’s begun to self-quarantine, as it’s allowed her to connect with others online. But the hardest hit, by definition, will be those without robust networks of family and friends who can advocate on their behalf. “When we rely on our personal networks, we guarantee the most isolated and disadvantaged people will be excluded,” Klinenberg says. “By definition, they are not in our networks; they are the least likely to get assistance. This is an area where government can help by funding and supercharging community organizations.” As with so much else in the coronavirus pandemic, the response here will depend on the level of social solidarity we feel, and the degree to which we’re willing to look out for each other. Social isolation and loneliness among older, sicker populations isn’t something caused by the coronavirus, but it will be worsened by it. The question is whether the intensity of the problem will force us to see, and respond, to pain we typically ignore. “A lot of my work is premised on the idea that extreme situations like the one we’re in now allow us to see conditions that are always present but difficult to perceive,” Klinenberg says. “We’re going to learn a lot about who we are and what we value in the next few months.” Help Vox’s reporting on the coronavirus pandemic We want to know what your experience has been when it comes to testing for the virus, figuring out travel plans, and staying healthy. Let us know by filling out the survey below (you can also access the Google form here). Loading…
2020-03-12 14:20:00
2021-05-08T11:27:23.000000
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vox.com
How churches are trying to keep parishioners safe as the coronavirus spreads
A worshipper wears a mask to protect against coronavirus at the Ash Wednesday services at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. | Mario Tama/Getty Images From Communion to passing the peace to Easter season rituals, Christian churches are balancing tradition with precaution. The coronavirus outbreak has caused nearly every religious organization around the world to rethink how it holds worship services, which typically involve people gathering in a confined space and coming into physical contact with each other. But in majority-Christian nations like the US, the question is most fraught for local churches, as they prepare for Easter (Christianity’s most important holiday, which falls on Sunday, April 12, this year). What’s more, many Christian churches practice the rite of Communion using a “common cup” to share wine among the congregation, which means everybody drinks out of the same chalice. And even beyond communion rituals, most churches practice some variation of the “passing of the peace” — in which congregants shake hands and wish each other “peace be with you.” During Holy Week, which directly precedes Easter, many churches traditionally wash parishioners’ feet, to replicate a moment from the Bible. But even outside of official forms of worship, most churches are spaces where there are plenty of handshakes and hugs, before and after services. And that’s to say nothing of other gatherings churches might host, like coffee hours after services, fish fries during Lent, or soup kitchens for those in need. Churches’ responses to coronavirus have evolved rapidly in the time I have spent reporting this article over the past week. When I started working on it, numerous clergy insisted to me (and cited scientific studies in doing so!) that the common cup was actually a safer method of administering communion than some other methods. But many of those same people later discontinued the use of the common cup at their churches, usually under orders from higher authorities within the church. This is the tension of Christianity as churches attempt to prepare for Easter while also keeping their congregants safe. After all, in times of stress and worry, a house of worship is a place to find community and present one’s fears to a higher power. But what happens if the act of gathering itself only causes more stress and worry? Across the country, many churches are curtailing services or canceling them altogether Ezra Acayan/Getty Images A woman wearing a face mask prays at a church in the Philippines on March 11, 2020, as the Covid-19 virus spread through the country. St. Clare’s Episcopal Church in Snoqualmie, Washington, is about 30 miles outside Seattle, where the first major American outbreak of coronavirus to date is centered. As such, the Episcopal diocese St. Clare’s belongs to (based in Seattle) was one of the first in the country faced with the challenge of protecting congregants — and thus one of the first to cancel use of the common cup by anyone but the priests. Rev. Patty Baker, who is the minister for St. Clare’s, says the church — like most other houses of worship throughout the Seattle area — is figuring out precisely what it means to even be a church. “A lot of us are ramping up ways to keep and hold community in the midst of this, either by Facetime, Googling, Zoom calls, Facebook Live, all those forms of media that can help keep and hold a community together,” Baker told me. St. Clare’s most recent service was streamed on Zoom, a videoconferencing application that’s similar to Skype, for anyone who couldn’t attend Mass in person. These changes are being adopted with different levels of rigorousness in different parts of the country. Many churches in the center of the US, where coronavirus is not yet as prevalent, have not taken any such measures, while churches in densely populated areas are already stepping up precautions. “This is a time of high anxiety, and leaders need to show that we are taking seriously the science and the facts of the situation and keeping the best interests of the community in mind, but at the same time we are being faithful and gracious and wise, trusting God, remaining calm, extending compassion to those who are suffering,” says David Gambrell, who works in the office of theology and worship for the Presbyterian Church of the United States. Gambrell’s office has been key in helping individual Presbyterian churches decide how to proceed with services in ways that keep parishioners safe. Since the Presbyterian Church doesn’t have federated governing bishops, as the Catholic and Episcopal churches do, it’s up to individual congregations to decide how they’re going to proceed, something they can do in consultation with the national church. But the heightened precautions around coronavirus are no different from the ones that people who attend church should already be taking to protect themselves during cold and flu season, says Rev. Frank Logue, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia. “There are prudent things we should do for cold and flu season. We already should be washing our hands. We already should be staying away from others when we know we could be infectious. This is just a continuation of that,” Logue said. (The coronavirus is believed to be more dangerous than seasonal flu, but good hygiene is still vital in combating it.) Communion, however, remains the part of Christian services that seems especially likely to spread germs. It’s easy to understand concerns about communion, with long lines of people being served by the same small group of ministers, eating from the same loaf of bread or plateful of wafers. Those concerns only increase once the common cup is involved. Yet, Logue points out, the common cup is actually a safer way of taking communion than dipping the bread in the wine (called intinction). (The safest way of taking communion is from individual cups filled with small amounts of wine, but this cuts against numerous denominations’ traditions and creates significant waste.) Intinction is far more likely to spread germs simply because the act of dipping the bread in the wine means that people’s fingers will probably come into contact with the wine. This is even more true in churches where the minister dips the bread in the wine, then places it on the parishioners’ tongues — meaning the minister’s fingers can come into contact with both the wine and multiple people’s tongues. The common cup might seem just as unsanitary, but there is some research backing the idea that it’s safer. Logue points to two peer-reviewedstudies, published in the American Journal of Infection Control in 1988 and 1998, which found that the common cup was not a significant transmitter of disease. In these studies, scientists took a cup straight from the altar after communion to test whether disease-causing bacteria or viruses were present, and found there were such trace amounts as to not be dangerous to those who drank from the cup. “That fits together with a study in England that looked at the health of the clergy who typically drink the last of the common cup. [The study also found that] our population data set is large enough to be significant and finds that they’re generally healthier from communicable disease in the general population,” Logue said. Still, many churches have canceled the use of the common cup at communion, eliminating the distribution of wine to parishioners altogether. And doing so has raised a larger question about what these rituals mean at a time when gathering with other people — the center of most worship services — could mean putting others at risk. How can the church be the church if people cannot gather in the same space? Andreas Solaro/AFP via Getty Images The Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Square is closed down to tourists in hopes of curbing the coronavirus outbreak. One paradox at the center of this question is that at times when the news is full of catastrophic headlines, a house of worship feels, to many people, like a natural place to go for comfort and support. But in the midst of a pandemic, gathering with other people in the same physical space is sometimes the worst possible idea. Yet on some level, isn’t overcoming fear to gather in community the point of Christianity? “One of the things that Jesus is most famous for is being a healer and specifically often reaching out to and showing love and compassion for people who had leprosy, which was probably a name for a bunch of different conditions at that time, but something that would cause one to be socially ostracized and marginalized,” the Presbyterian Church’s Gambrell says. “If the church is going to be faithful to that mission and ministry of Jesus, then we absolutely have to figure out ways to extend that healing and compassion without putting others at risk.” Balancing the ritual aspects of the faith with the community-building aspects of her job is something that Baker is actively thinking through as the Seattle area works to slow transmission of the coronavirus. “One of the things that we are trying to do is make sure that the people a lot of our churches serve out in the community — at food banks, soup kitchens, and day care centers, where we are the hands and feet of Christ out in the world — that we are not forgetting those people,” Baker said. “How do we make sure those people are taken care of? The marginalized, the disenfranchised, the people who are terrified of the government, the homeless. ... How do we be church when we can’t gather on Sunday mornings? [By finding answers to these questions,] we are still being the church.” Baker told me that one effort her congregation has undertaken is to make sure the church’s food bank collected 250 bars of soap, to distribute to people who want to maintain good hygiene but might not have ready access to soap. And maybe the churches in the Seattle area will serve as a trial run for the rest of the country, as the coronavirus continues to spread. The questions St. Clare’s is trying to answer are ones that will soon be present in nearly every house of worship around the world. “As more and more churches up here are saying, well, we’re not going to be open on Sunday and 50 to 75 percent of your congregation isn’t going to be here Sunday morning, how do you do communion? How do we gather to offer the promises of the gospel up for each other?” Baker says. “It’s important to remember that, you know, we’re in church for an hour or so, and yes, communion is a high point. But it’s not the only point.”
2020-03-12 14:10:00
2021-05-08T11:27:23.000000
1 y
vox.com
Why Wall Street was never really afraid of Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders greets supporters at a Super Tuesday event in Vermont on March 3, 2020. | Alex Wong/Getty Images There’s just “more fear of smart-as-a-whip Aunt Warren than of Crazy Uncle Bernie.” Sen. Bernie Sanders has consistently railed against the millionaire and billionaire class and promised to take on Wall Street throughout his career. But the rich-guy freakout over his candidacy never materialized, even during the period when Sanders was surging in the polls. It might seem strange given how strongly Wall Street reacted to a potential Elizabeth Warren nomination. But there is just “more fear of smart-as-a-whip Aunt Warren than of Crazy Uncle Bernie,” one mid-level hedge fund executive told me. (Some Wall Streeters, of course, were Warren fans.) There was no hedge funder crying on national television over Sanders, and nobody describing the choice between him and Donald Trump as a “decision between sickness and death.” Big donors weren’t pouring money into Biden’s or anyone else’s campaigns to stop the democratic socialist in his path. Sanders has now been eclipsed by Joe Biden as the likelier Democratic nominee, and they’ve got to be feeling smug. When I contacted nearly a dozen finance insiders and analysts in recent weeks to talk about a potential Sanders presidency, they essentially reacted with a shrug. Many on Wall Street don’t think Sanders can win in the general election, even if he did somehow manage to get the nomination. And if he landed in the White House, the Senate would stop him from doing anything dramatic. “If there’s anything that would hold back a lot of people from freaking out about Bernie, it would be that when push comes to shove, it’s just not going to happen,” Tim Anderson, managing director at TJM Investments and a Trump supporter, told me. Plus, the contrast with Warren was clear. “You’d almost have to be in the business to hear the difference in the way they talk — Bernie talks about finance lumped in with all highly profitable and remunerative business, millionaires and billionaires, etc.,” one private equity executive told me. “Warren talks like an insider. Listen to her content for a few minutes as a finance person and you know that she knows all the tricks, all the gray areas, all the loopholes. It lands differently.” That’s not to say Sanders doesn’t have any tension with Wall Street — he’s been engaged in a years-long feud with former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein. While there are some nerves, it just doesn’t seem like the financial industry is all that concerned about a self-professed democratic socialist. And it’s not just because they’re banking on Biden. Wall Street doesn’t think Bernie Sanders will be the nominee — and if he is, they don’t think he can beat Donald Trump As prediction markets showed the probability of Sanders winning the Democratic nomination going up earlier this year, the probability of Trump winning reelection in November went up, too. That means people betting on the election don’t think Sanders can win, and it’s a comparable crowd to the Wall Street world. “He is audibly laughed at at work for his repetitive stream of hippie grandpa platitudes that serve as his ‘platform,’” said Emma Johnston, a vice president at asset manager State Street Global Advisors. “Gauging Sanders’s electability has effectively become guessing how many jellybeans are in the jar. Can he break even on the centrists he loses versus those he pulls from Trump’s base? People at my job don’t seem to think he can, and they certainly will not be voting for him.” The electability question has haunted all the candidates this election cycle, and Sanders isn’t immune. Beyond the ins and outs of the broader debate within the Democratic Party, among many on Wall Street, Sanders just seems inherently less electable. A democratic socialist from Vermont becoming the next president of the United States is hard for them to fathom. “Bernie has been incorrectly dismissed for two elections in a row now, so there are some who seem to have a structural predisposition to look past his candidacy,” Isaac Boltansky, director of policy research at the research firm Compass Point, told me. Wall Street thinks Sanders would be constrained anyway Wall Streeters don’t think Sanders has a clear vision of what he wants to do in terms of financial regulation. “Bernie likes to complain about billionaires, but he never really accomplished any particular policy or regulation that really got in their way, and I wonder if Wall Street folks kind of think of him as somewhat harmless,” said Charlie O’Donnell, a venture capitalist at Brooklyn Bridge Ventures. “It’s not clear that financial regulation is going to be something that he has a leg up on.” “Broadly speaking, yes, I know Sanders loathes investment banks, but his subscription to the entire liberal orthodoxy is baked in, versus Warren who speaks with more precision about what she would do to Wall Street,” Johnston said. Though she also noted that in focusing so much on the details, some in the industry might be missing the point: “Bernie is popular precisely because he is imprecise.” Many in finance can’t imagine a world where Sanders is in the White House, but even if they do, they think there’s a strong chance he’ll be restrained. “It’s a long shot he wins, but even if he does, the odds are very much against him also leading a ticket that takes the Senate. Not impossible, but improbable,” said Barry Ritholtz, a commentator and chief investment officer at Ritholtz Wealth Management, in an email. “Most of his plans require congressional action, which will never pass a Republican Senate. Heck, it’s doubtful some of his plans would pass a 51/49 Democratic Senate.” Sanders has said he doesn’t want to get rid of the filibuster, which requires a 60-vote majority for legislation in the Senate to pass. And if he does get a majority, it will include moderate Democrats such as Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona and Joe Manchin from West Virginia, and a Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, from New York. His constituency is, in part, Wall Street. “Sanders doesn’t have much history of co-sponsoring legislation that has become law either across the aisle or with his fellow Democrats,” Ritholtz said. Wall Street might be underestimating the popularity of Sanders’s ideas The thing about Elizabeth Warren is that Wall Street has plenty of reason to fear her, possibly even after she suspended her presidential campaign. She conceived of and set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has spent years in the private and public sector going after the industry, and understands how finance — and the regulatory apparatus around it — works. You think Warren isn’t serious about this? Look at what she did to the Wells Fargo CEO in a Senate hearing or to billionaire Mike Bloomberg in Las Vegas. “While Sanders and Warren share a similar ideological vision, there are a few distinct instances where Warren successfully applied that vision into palpable policy changes for the industry. I don’t think there are as clear a set of examples for Sanders,” Boltansky said. The people I spoke with agreed that there was likely some level of misogyny and sexism embedded into the Wall Street attacks on Warren. Last year as I was reporting for a story on finance professionals who like the Massachusetts Democrat, one private equity associate told me a story of a private equity CEO referring to her as “Pocahontas,” and another told me a story of a defense contractor investment relations director joking about her and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York being strapped to a jet and dying in a plane crash. Sexism aside, there’s just a sense Warren really knows what to do. “She may be more dangerous,” said one hedge fund portfolio manager. But just because some people in finance aren’t setting their hair on fire over Sanders doesn’t mean he’s not having at least some effect. Concerns about him had started to show up in some stocks and sectors, such as health care. And if he were to nab the nomination, the sentiment in the industry might quickly change. “The only way ... he would have a shot is if this coronavirus stuff spiraled completely out of control and we went into a big recession two to three months before the election,” said Anderson, the TJM Investments managing director and Trump supporter. Wall Street might underestimate what Sanders would be able to do if he lands in the Oval Office. He has plenty of proposals and ideas to go after the finance industry and the wealthy, including taxing stock trades and reinstating Glass-Steagall, and it’s not like details can’t be filled in. He has an ability to publicly advocate for change and pressure major companies, as he has with Amazon, and he has a motivated and vocal political base behind him. Plus, a Sanders administration could very well include Warren and others eager to go after hedge funds, private equity, and the banks. Some billionaires may also have realized it doesn’t exactly behoove them to fight with progressive presidential candidates. In all the hypotheses about where Warren’s campaign has gone wrong, her being too mean to some rich guy on CNBC isn’t one of them. “Maybe Wall Street realizes there’s too much self-owning when you see ‘billionaires afraid of Elizabeth Warren’ headlines,” O’Donnell said. Not everyone is staying quiet about Sanders, and if he were to regain momentum, Wall Street might start to openly worry about him more. Blankfein, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs who has feuded with Sanders for years, seemed quite alarmed about the prospect of a Sanders presidency when he was the frontrunner in February. He has warned that Sanders will “ruin” the economy and said he might “find it harder to vote for Bernie than for Trump.” Billionaires are only a few votes. The question is what happens with all the others.
2020-03-12 14:00:00
2021-05-08T11:27:23.000000
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vox.com
I called out American Dirt’s racism. I won’t be silenced.
Amanda Northrop/Vox As I’ve learned again and again, if you speak out against racism, there are risks you must take on. Less than a month ago, my sheepish face graced the cover of the High Life, the newspaper for the high school where I teach psychology and sociology. I stared at its front page, the headline “Poly Teacher Calls Out ‘Pendeja’ and Sparks Social Movement” hovering above my close-up. The article offered enthusiastic support of my critique of American Dirt, a novel filled with stereotypes of Mexicans, and the movement it inspired to call out racism. Still, I sighed. I recalled the chilliness and aggression some white teachers and administrators had been displaying toward me since I had criticizedthe book’s author, Jeanine Cummins, and the publishing industry’s white gaze, criticisms that were echoed by other writers of color across social media. I looked up from the paper, at the Mexican and American flags sagging above my desk, and thought, “I wonder who will use this paper for target practice.” Little did I know that three days later, I would be escorted off the campus where I teach by several administrators, security guards, and an armed police officer for a different, yet related, incident. As I’ve learned again and again, if you speak out against racism, there are risks you must take on. In December, I wrote an essay that later went viral titled “Pendeja, You Ain’t Steinbeck: My Bronca with Fake-Ass Social Justice Literature,” which strongly critiqued the schlock-fest American Dirt, about a middle-class Mexican bookseller who, along with her son, flees from cartoonish cartel violence. Their journey north is so absurdly stereotyped, it surprised me that Cummins didn’t include a scene of a mother and son trotting to the United States on a donkey. In addition to critiquing the novel’s many pendejadas — a word that has no English equivalent but connotes a person with both foolish and cruel characteristics — my essay also held Big Publishing to account for this fiasco. Cummins set the protagonist Lidia’s story in a fantasy version of Mexico meant to satisfy the gringo market for Brown exoticism. Her prose traffics in one-dimensional representations that Flatiron Books, its publisher, claimed it was attempting to dispel. Furthermore, American Dirt reeks of patriarchal white saviorism. It misrepresents the United States as a safe harbor for women fleeing violence. Instead, four women a day are shot by their partners in this country. Femicide is a public health crisis on both sides of the US-Mexico border. As the student who covered my article in the High Life noted, after “seeing [Gurba] express her anger, people were inspired to express their own discontent.” Writers like Roxane Gay and Wendy C. Ortiz spoke up on social media about the erasure of Brown people in the publishing industry and under the hashtag #DignidadLiteraria, a social movement emerged. Dignidad Literaria aims to promote racial dignity within the publishing industry by pushing for systemic change through grassroots organizing. Young people of color, including my students, were also inspired to translate their anger into direct political action as well as the written and spoken word. One of the topics I cover in my classes is the psychology of anger. We feel rage when injustice pricks our conscience, when we feel that circumstances are unjust and that the ability to correct that injustice exists. For these reasons, anger is preferable to despair. Anger produces hope and incites action. Many of my essay’s loudest detractors — a veritable chorus of white men — accuse me of writing with excess anger. When they demand to know why I’m angry, my mind flashes to El Paso, Texas, where a white man perpetrated the largest massacre of Latinos in modern United States history this summer. I think of the white driver in Iowa who hit a teenager with her car because she looked “Mexican.” I think of the white women who beat a mother and daughter in Massachusetts bloody for speaking Spanish in public. I think of the white person who texted me to stop discussing Poly’s problems with racism. She told me that my social media posts regarding a faculty member accused of calling a student the n-word were “blowing things out of proportion,” and to have “respect.” When we hear from students that a teacher calls a student the n-word, it’s a big deal. Racist teachers should be fired, racist administrators should be fired, people who protect racists should be fired. Racism has no place in education. Neither does physical abuse — the teacher accused of racism has also been accused of duct-taping students to their desks. (Chris Eftychiou, spokesperson for the district, told Vox that the teacher who allegedly said the n-word was placed on leave pending their investigation into recent complaints, but “the school district is not at liberty to provide details of such investigations”; the Long Beach Post confirmed the police department was also investigating the alleged abuse, but the police department did not provide Vox a comment. When asked for comment, the teacher in question told Vox her attorney advised her not to because the case is pending. “However, when the truth comes out, it will establish that I am innocent of any misconduct,” she said.) Brazilian philosopher Paulo Freire wrote that “the educator has the duty of not being neutral.” Under this reasoning, everyone demanding neutrality in the case of the accused teacher fails as an educator. The job of a teacher overlaps with the job of the cultural critic. What I and my students who reported these incidents wanted was justice and to right the wrongs they were experiencing by “turn[ing] the light of truth upon them,” as Ida B. Wells said. The students believed that their complaints weren’t being treated with sufficient gravitas, and they brought their complaints to the public. They self-published a declaration of abuses they allege their teacher committed and ultimately; their most interesting accusation is that the teacher in question failed to meet the legal standard of “in loco parentis.” I offered my support to their voices. A few days later, I was informed I would be put on administrative leave from campus. I was given no reason whatsoever, but later was sent an official letter saying I had “intentionally disrupted the educational environment.” Given the timing, as well as the lack of reasoning beyond “disruption,” I believe my critique of American Dirt, and my critique of the school district’s poor job of handling the students’ accusations, is the reason the district placed me on administrative leave. "Justice for Gurba!" Poly students yelled during protests today in support of Poly teacher Myriam Gurba. She was placed on paid leave after tweeting sharp critiques of the district. Read more @lbpost : https://t.co/qQ0oFGsdGH: Briana Mendez-Padilla#longbeach #education pic.twitter.com/xN5XopHBmj— VoiceWaves (@LBVoiceWaves) February 24, 2020 (Eftychiou told Vox in an email that “the school district is not at liberty to provide further details [of the leave] because of confidentiality rules affecting personnel matters, but the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff is our highest priority.”) At the end of the week, once I had finished teaching, an administrator arrived at my classroom. She ordered me to vacate and hand over my keys, stating that I was “disruptive.” The degrading spectacle of being escorted off campus felt like a “perp walk,” and the crew marched me to the curb. A police officer took out her phone and took pictures of me while scowling. An administrator ordered me to stop talking. And thus, I went from cover girl critic to critic on the curb in the span of one week. I believe that the district forced me out of my classroom to demoralize and silence me. It has had the opposite effect. I want to speak more and louder. Black feminist Audre Lorde asked, “What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own ... ?” In spite of the pain, I am committed to purging the numerous tyrannies I’ve been made to swallow rather than allow them to destroy me. Myriam Gurba is a writer. She is the author of two short story collections and the true crime memoir Mean. Along with Roberto Lovato and David Bowles, she is a founding member of Dignidad Literaria.
2020-03-12 13:30:00
2021-05-08T11:27:23.000000
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vox.com
How we fell for the Fitbit
Approximately 70 million Americans report wearing a fitness tracker. | Getty Images 1 in 5 Americans wear fitness trackers. Here’s how we embraced wearable tech. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when fitness trackers truly entered the mainstream. Perhaps it was when President Obama was spotted wearing one while hanging out with Jerry Seinfeld in an old Corvette Stingray. Maybe it was when David Sedaris limned cleverly on his experiences sporting one in the English countryside. Maybe that was when the backlash against them began. According to Google Trends, 2015 seems to be the year that we started counting our steps en masse. Whatever the specifics, at some point in the past few years, 10,000 steps supplanted the much less manageable 500 miles mandated by The Proclaimers in 1993 as the cultural standard for measured exertion. Ever since, the capacity to digitally track ourselves with the help of Fitbits, Garmins, Apple Watches, Kate Spade smartwatches, and Xiaomis has become a fixture of modern life. And while plenty of people use these devices to check email, buy scones, and board trains, a recent Gallup survey found that 19 percent of Americans monitor their health stats through fitness trackers and mobile apps. In another recent survey from the Pew Research Center, 21 percent of Americans claimed to have embraced wearable tech — a figure equal to nearly 70 million people. 21 percent of Americans claimed to have embraced wearable tech — a figure equal to nearly 70 million people. But what’s more interesting than the sheer volume of wearable tech users is the breadth of them. Though fitness trackers haven’t proven to be as accessible to lower-income groups — they range from $30 for a Neekfox tracker to $1,500 for a Hermès-branded Apple Watch — Pew and other observers have noted a broad adoption across a slew of demographic categories, from age to ethnicity to geography. Fitness trackers and their high-tech ilk are now the tools of suburban walking groups, mahjong leagues, city-dwelling tech workers, amateur pilots, Crossfit junkies, Quantified Self cultists, and your uncle Howard. Nefarious corporate powers have used them to ruthlessly surveil their employees while nefarious parents have used them to ruthlessly surveil their children. Big insurers have implemented them into health schemes and incorporated them into Orwellian-esque “workplace wellness programs.” In 2018, a surreal-yet-humanizing heat map purported to show the data trails of Korean troops traversing both sides of the DMZ. And last month, seven members of the Senate were seen wearing Apple Watches at President Trump’s impeachment trial, in violation of the ban on electronics. Despite this (slightly goofy) permeation, the rise of semi-obsessive data monitoring wasn’t a given. After all, fitness and technology trends are notoriously fickle and fadist. “It has, essentially, one line of products, with variations on the theme,” Vauhini Vara offered in a story for The New Yorker titled “Will Fitbit Go the Way of the Palm Pilot?” in 2015. Indeed, the story of how we fell in love with our Fitbits is a complicated one, one that centers on informational overload and ambient stress as much as it revolves around technology and the quest for healthy living. One limited, but pretty straightforward explanation for the continued appeal of wearable tech is that, unlike the Thighmaster or 8-Minute Abs before it, the products have evolved from electronic pedometers to reflect the endless curiosities consumers have about their lifestyles. “It’s the diversity of applications that’s attractive to the diversity of the population using them,” says Dr. Walter Thompson, the associate dean for graduate studies and research at Georgia State University. In other words, if a user is interested in digitally tracking their sleep, their heart rate, their menstrual cycle, their caloric intake, their running route or mile pace, or their blood oxygen levels, the possibilities increasingly exist. “I don’t pay attention to my heart rate, I don’t pay attention to my caloric balance,” Thompson says, “but I’m really impacted by my sitting time and when my watch tells me I have to stand up.” “It’s the diversity of applications that’s attractive to the diversity of the population using them.” Each year, Thompson coordinates the publication of the Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends, a global ranking of the 20 most popular fitness trends as chosen by a consortium of doctors, trainers, kinesiologists, and other health professionals. And since 2015, wearable technology has dominated the field, holding the top spot all but one year. Thompson attributes the staying power to the new wide-ranging features that have staved off the obsolescence that typically accompanies an ordinary fitness fad. “The Apple Watch now can provide for you an electrocardiogram [EKG],” he explains. “I tested it out myself it’s pretty accurate. … My guess is the next thing that they will do is give you the ability to send that to your doctor.” This trajectory hints at another obvious aspect of wearable tech’s popularity: It occupies an unlikely overlap between seeming both cutting edge and highly practical. Beyond the countless hard-data features, consumers can now use trackers to battle everything from subpar intimacy to lousy golf scores. A culturally standardized fascination with fitness data doesn’t just speak volumes about present-day attitudes about health, but offers a peek of what the future of medicine might look like if the trend holds. Wearable tech may one day help a physician know whether a patient secretly counts folding laundry as part of a medically-recommended daily exercise regimen or considers having a Coors Light as basically the same thing as drinking a glass of water. “What I can tell you is that a few years from now, I truly believe that all research studies that involve some behavioral component or behavior-change interventions, most of the studies, if not all, will involve either a smartphone or some of these devices,” says Dr. Spyros Kitsiou, a professor at the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois, Chicago. “This is the future of research.” Predictions like these are likely to inspire a variety of Luddite appeals for a return to the analog world, especially as wearable tech companies consolidate and get swallowed up by bigger companies. Much to the chagrin of privacy advocates, Google purchased Fitbit in November 2019 for $2.1 billion, roughly the same adjusted-for-inflation amount that it paid for YouTube in 2006. (Notably, by then Fitbit had purchased its competitor Pebble, months before another competitor, Jawbone, was sold off to creditors for parts.) Broader concerns about security, data privacy, and the use of personal information gathered by fitness trackers and third-party apps have been aired by everyone from Redditors to EU consumer privacy watchdogs, and not without good reason. In 2018, for example, an Australian college student on his summer break exposed a security flaw in the fitness app Strava, which revealed extensive user data including the locations of several US military bases in war zones around the world. Critics also point out the consuming nature of fitness tracking itself, which gets lumped into contemporary tech ailments like digital distraction and excessive screen time. And then there are those who view technology’s seep into an already suffocating wellness culture with not-unfounded concern. It’s easy to see the pathologies of the Instagram and Optimization Eras and fret about their potential influence on personal fitness. There are, after all, “If you see me collapse, pause my Garmin” T-shirts out there, a reference to athletic strivers pushing themselves to break their personal records at the risk of keeling over along the way. View this post on Instagram A post shared by GarminFitness (@garminfitness) on Feb 28, 2020 at 6:21am PST But beyond their shiny, wide-ranging possibilities or a high-minded station in the Internet of Things, the fact that wearables are projected to be a $52 billion industry in 2020 may also have to do with a bigger sense of powerlessness among consumers. As Americans contend with lifestyles geared toward inactivity and increasingly blurred lines between work and home, some view fitness trackers as potential correctives. “I think people are looking for ways to integrate more movements into their life considering that we’re so sedentary today,” says Dr. Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist and the author of Decoding the New Consumer Mind. “Most of our jobs don’t involve movement or are just staring at a computer and so, we’re looking for the antidote to that.” In assessing the fitness-tracker trend, Yarrow notes a culture where scheduling and socializing are bygone pastimes and where misinformation and anxiety are rampant. Within this paradigm, wearable tech appeals not because of their features, but because they stay consistent in a contemporary life where new diets, superfoods, or exercise fads crash into disrepute as quickly as they rise. We live in an ecosystem in which concrete data about ourselves can seem like the only reliable compass. Even the most minute particulars can create baselines in an environment bent on constantly demanding more from everyone at all times. “We’re just given so much information that scares us and makes us a little paranoid,” Yarrow explains. “We are more craving of reassurance. I think this trend falls more into the category of calming our fears and reinforcing that we’re doing okay and that everything is all right.” Sign up for The Goods newsletter. Twice a week, we’ll send you the best Goods stories exploring what we buy, why we buy it, and why it matters.
2020-03-12 13:00:00
2021-05-08T11:27:23.000000
1 y
vox.com
Bernie Sanders wins the North Dakota caucuses
Sen. Bernie Sanders addresses supporters during a rally in Phoenix, Arizona on March 5, 2020. | Laura Segall/AFP via Getty Images Sanders also won the state in 2016. Bernie Sanders has defeated national frontrunner Joe Biden to win the 2020 North Dakota caucuses. The win is somewhat of a surprise. While Sanders has done well in caucuses, and won the 2016 North Dakota contest in a landslide over Hillary Clinton, he was not expected to win. The state had only one poll taken ahead of Tuesday’s caucuses, an unsurprising fact given its small 14 delegate total. But that poll, from Swayable, gave Biden a 35 percentage point advantage in the state, and FiveThirtyEight’s forecast model estimated a 93 percent chance that Biden would win. The results were difficult to predict however because much changed about the caucuses compared to 2016. For one thing, there was substantial early voting this year, and it was unclear what its effect would be. A week before the caucuses, the party reported that over 3,100 people had requested mail-in ballots for the caucus, which is only a few hundred votes short of the entire turnout for the 2016 caucus (3,350). The early votes had to be postmarked by Thursday to ensure an accurate and prompt count on the night of the caucus. And Sanders weathered an institutional change that could have harmed his chances in North Dakota. Again, he tends to perform better in traditional caucuses like those held in Nevada and Iowa. Unlike those caucuses, however, the 2020 North Dakota contest operated more like a conventional primary — just one run by the state party, rather than the government. Balloting was open from 11 am to 7 pm (though only in 14 different locations). A spokesperson for the state party (technically called the Democratic-NPL Party after a 1956 merger with the Nonpartisan League) told the Williston Herald the process was to work like this: “People can come in, sign in, vote, and be on their way. They don’t have to stay for multiple rounds of voting. They won’t have to debate their neighbors. The process will be more similar to a general election day.” By contrast the 2016 caucuses were rowdy in-person affairs with the Clinton and Sanders camps actively jockeying for support, closer to how the caucuses in Iowa work. The delegate split in North Dakota is unlikely to be of great national consequence, given how few delegates were actually at stake in the caucus. But being able to claim another state is symbolically important for the Sanders campaign as it struggles to stay afloat after a disappointing Super Tuesday performance.
2020-03-11 14:55:00
2021-05-08T11:27:23.000000
1 y
vox.com
Are you a “political hobbyist?” If so, you may be the problem.
Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden wait for his arrival at a campaign rally at Kiener Plaza on March 7, 2020 in St Louis. | Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images Political scientist Eitan Hersh explains how “political hobbyism” is ruining politics on The Ezra Klein Show Obsessively following the daily political news feels like an act of politics, or at least an act of civics. But what if, for many of us, it’s a replacement for politics — and one that’s actually hurting the country? That is the argument made by Tufts University political scientist Eitan Hersh in this episode of The Ezra Klein Show. In his incisive new book Politics Is for Power,Hersh draws a sharp distinction between what he calls “political hobbyism” — following politics as a kind of entertainment and expression of self-identity — and the actual work of politics. His data show that a lot of people who believe they are doing politics are passively following it, and the way they’re following it has played a key role in making the political system worse. But this isn’t just a critique. Hersh’s argument builds to an alternative way of engaging in politics: as a form of service to our institutions and communities. And that alternative approach leads to some dramatically different ideas about how to marry an interest in politics with a commitment to building a better world. It also speaks to some of what we lost in rejecting the political machines and transactional politics of yesteryear — a personal obsession of mine and a more important hinge point in American political history than I think we realize. We are, as you may have noticed, deep into election season, and that’s when it’s easiest to mistake the drama of national politics for the doing of actual politics. So there’s no better time for this conversation. Here’s a lightly edited transcript of part of our conversation, which we released this week on The Ezra Klein Show. Ezra Klein It seems to me that you are quietly making a distinction between what we might call politics as a verb and politics as a noun — between being interested in the subject of politics and doing politics. So what is “political hobbyism”? Eitan Hersh Political hobbyism is a catchall for all the ways we do politics to serve our own emotional or intellectual needs or wants rather than do a kind of power-seeking organized behavior. It’s arguing about the news, sharing the news, reacting to news, being an at-home pundit about the news. All of those things that involve giving politics your headspace and emotion but not doing the real work of it. Ezra Klein Depending on how you cut it, it seems like this definition could implicate me quite deeply. You could categorize a lot of the work I do as functionally crack for political hobbyists and categorize many people listening to the podcast right now as political hobbyists. But, in my head, the work I do is give people good information and analysis on politics that helps motivate their action. And I think a lot of people imagine that’s what they’re doing when they inform themselves about politics: That information leads to people being able to take good, clear action. How do you make a cut between those two things when a lot of people see the former is being necessary for the latter? Eitan Hersh For most people who are political junkies, their news consumption is not really geared toward information that is going to help them be active citizens in the community. And even if it is, they’re not being active in the community. Most people who are daily news consumers belong to zero organizations and have worked zero times in the past year with other people on a community problem. So, most people are not doing anything. Ezra Klein You have actual survey data in the book on the amount of time people spend on politics and the amount of time they spend on political hobbyism. Could you substantiate this little bit for me? Eitan Hersh If you look at the number of people who are spending time on politics, there’s about a third of the country that says they’re spending about two hours a day in news consumption. That might sound crazy at first, but if you add up all the time on podcasts or radio and reading the news and worrying about it and talking about it at the family dinner table, two hours actually doesn’t seem that unreasonable for a whole lot of people. Ezra Klein How does the two hours break down and how does it differ among groups? Eitan Hersh Almost none of it, let’s say 2 percent, is real community or volunteer engagement. The rest is mostly news consumption and sharing, talking, and debating online. The group that spends the most time in any kind of political engagement is white men, particularly college-educated white men. They know the most facts about politics, but they are not the group that is engaging most in real politics — organized politics with goals and strategies. You have women overwhelmingly in those roles. You also have racial minorities, particularly blacks, but also to some extent Latinos who spend less overall time on politics like following the news but more of their time is spent in these concrete ways. Ezra Klein You say that there are three primary reasons a political lobbyism is bad. It makes our politicians worse, it makes us worse, and it takes away time that could be spending building power. Let’s take those one by one. How does it make our politicians worse? Eitan Hersh A lot of what’s happening in small-dollar donations, for example, is the second a politician on the debate says stage says something like really provocative you feel connected to them and you give them a $5 donation. Or you’re watching a congressional hearing and a politician grandstands and makes some speech. And because they grandstand in a way that you liked, you react by giving a $5 donation. So, what’s really going on is you have no goals except to reward a politician for saying something that feels great in the moment. I think that makes politics worse rather than better. And you are doing it more for yourself — for your own kind of emotional cathartic ends — rather than to move politics in a direction that’s good. Ezra Klein How does political hobbyism make us worse? Eitan Hersh There are a lot of power relationships we have outside of politics [boss, coworker, parent] where we are trying to get other people to take some action that they wouldn’t otherwise take that we want them to take. And we kind of know the basic parameters for how to behave in those situations: We have to understand where people are coming from and understand their needs. We have to be empathetic to them. Because that’s how you can bring other people along with you. That does not describe the way that people do politics online. If the whole point of it is kind of for fun or catharsis, then anger and outrage and not taking people’s opinions seriously will be normal. Actual politics requires a sense of empathy and understanding other people’s interests; Otherwise, you can’t get anything done. So, in that sense, we’re just practicing the wrong skill set. You can listen to the full episode by subscribing to The Ezra Klein Show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.
2020-03-11 14:45:00
2021-05-08T11:27:23.000000
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vox.com
A new, big review of the evidence found that Alcoholics Anonymous works — for some
People gather at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting at the American Church in Paris. | John van Hasselt/Corbis via Getty Images The 12-step approach doesn’t work for everyone, but it can be as effective as other forms of treatment for some people. Addiction treatment based on Alcoholics Anonymous works as well as or better than scientifically proven treatments for alcohol addiction, according to a new review of previous studies by Cochrane, an organization renowned for its analyses of scientific research. The review does not mean that AA and treatments that use the 12 steps, which are derived from AA, work for everyone with alcohol addiction. But it shows that, at least for some people, AA and 12-step treatments work as well as alternative treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy, which has solid scientific evidence behind it. In fact, AA and 12-step treatment appear to work better in terms of producing abstinence from alcohol. And some studies indicate that they lead to cost savings. (AA meetings, after all, are free.) “From a public health standpoint, this is good news, because it means that we got a freebie out there that works,” John Kelly, a researcher at Harvard who led the Cochrane review, told me. The new review, which looked at 27 studies involving nearly 11,000 participants, builds on a previous one by Cochrane. That review, in 2006, concluded that no studies “unequivocally demonstrated the effectiveness of AA or [12-step facilitation treatment] approaches for reducing alcohol dependence or problems,” but that 12-step treatment fared about as well as other treatment programs. This time, the Cochrane review found, there was more solid evidence for the finding that AA and 12-step treatment work at least as well as alternatives, although the quality of the evidence still had a wide range from very low to high. Kelly said that, based on the evidence, the positive findings probably aren’t a result of anything unique to AA or 12-step treatment, but the kinds of traits more broadly applicable to mutual help groups in general, particularly the ability to bring people together and shift their social networks to better favor recovery. The major strength of AA, then, is that it’s everywhere, with thousands of meetings a day and millions of members. If alternative mutual help groups, like SMART Recovery or LifeRing Secular Recovery, were as available, Kelly suspects that they would work as well as AA — and could fill the remaining void for people who, for whatever reason, don’t do well in AA. “I don’t think it’s something unique to AA, as if it’s got some sort of magic,” Kelly said. “It’s rather that the magic of AA is that it’s everywhere and mobilizes these therapeutic mechanisms in a very strong, socially supportive network of recovery support.” A big caveat: Cochrane’s findings only apply to alcohol addiction. The evidence for whether AA and 12-step treatment work for other drugs is much weaker — even nonexistent in some areas. Still, alcohol addiction is by far the most prominent kind of drug addiction in the US. Based on federal data, more than 20 million Americans 12 or older had a substance use disorder in 2018, and nearly 15 million of those had an alcohol use disorder. Excessive drinking alone is linked to 88,000 deaths each year, with that death toll rising in recent years. So AA and 12-step treatment’s potential effectiveness for some people with alcohol addiction is a big deal — potentially a lifesaver. What Cochrane’s review of AA and 12-step treatment found The Cochrane review looked at studies that analyzed the effects of AA or 12-step treatment. That includes the typical AA meeting, thousands of which happen in churches and treatment centers all over the US on a daily basis. It also includes the more formal treatment programs that facilitate the 12 steps by guiding people to AA — an approach that more than 70 percent of addiction treatment facilities in the US use, according to federal data. The review included studies comparing AA or 12-step facilitation treatment to other kinds of treatment, like cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational enhancement therapy, and different ways of facilitating the 12 steps. The researchers evaluated studies for methodological quality, then gauged how AA and 12-step treatment fared in terms of rates of continuous abstinence from alcohol, percentage of days abstinent, longest period of abstinence, drinking intensity, alcohol addiction severity, alcohol-related consequences, and cost-effectiveness. (In most addiction treatment in the US, full abstinence from drinking is the goal. But some favor a less restrictive approach, which the other metrics cover.) The findings: AA and 12-step treatment seem better than other treatment approaches for continuous abstinence and percentage of days abstinent, while likely producing “substantial cost-saving benefits.” AA and 12-step treatment did about as well on the remaining measures. Given that AA meetings are free, Kelly said the findings suggest AA and groups like it “are the closest thing in public health we have to a free lunch.” The findings apply only to alcohol addiction. The review did not look at 12-step treatment’s benefits for other drugs. Although some studies have looked at this, there’s generally a lack of evidence for AA and the 12-step approach when it comes to other substances, including opioid addiction. Even within alcohol addiction, an area in which there’s been much more research on AA, the evidence was often lacking — with evidence from the included studies and for tracked outcomes at times graded as “very low” or “low” quality. This makes it hard to put too much stock in some of the review’s findings for individual outcomes, although AA and 12-step treatment do seem to be effective on average and overall. Kelly also cautioned that not all 12-step treatments are the same, so they shouldn’t all receive the same credit. Some of the research, for instance, found using motivational interviewing techniques to persuade people to go to AA may produce better outcomes than just describing AA and the 12 steps to patients. The findings also don’t mean that AA and the 12 steps work for everyone. J. Scott Tonigan, a researcher at the University of New Mexico Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions, previously told me that there’s roughly a “rule of thirds”: About a third of people maintain recovery from alcohol addiction due to AA, another third get something out of AA but not enough for full recovery, and another third get nothing at all. That’s potentially two-thirds of people who can’t get into recovery solely through AA or 12-step treatment. The review didn’t look at how and why AA and 12-step facilitation treatment work, but Kelly and other researchers have studied that question for years. Despite the 12 steps’ emphasis on spirituality — the final step invokes “a spiritual awakening” — researchers say spirituality actually isn’t the key component in general, even if it’s helpful for some individuals. The power of AA and the 12 steps instead lies in how they shift social networks, bringing people who struggle with alcohol addiction together. That gives people an important outlet for discussing challenges and coping mechanisms related to addiction with others who can credibly relate to the struggle of getting into recovery, while also providing a social check on unwanted behaviors. And AA meetings can do this all by being accessible over long periods of time, with AA meetings spread all over the country and some localities having dozens of meeting a day. “Pure and simple, it links people to an indigenous, ubiquitous community resource,” Kelly said. “If you’re treating a chronic illness, you want to link people to something that can help sustain that gain made initially in treatment, but over time.” Even if AA works for some, we still need alternatives As positive as the findings are for the 12 steps, Kelly cautioned against using the review’s findings as proof that AA is a one-size-fits-all solution for alcohol addiction. The same thing that appears to work for AA — the rerouting of social networks — could, after all, work as well for other mutual help groups, like SMART and LifeRing, if they were just as common. In fact, one study already suggested that’s the case: The research, published in 2018 in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, found that the three biggest alternative mutual help groups — SMART, LifeRing, and Women for Sobriety — perform about as well as 12-step programs. It’s only one study, but it’s a promising finding. In an ideal world, people would be able to choose from a menu of mutual help groups to find their best way to recovery. Someone who wants a spiritual focus can go to AA, while someone who wants a more secular experience can go to LifeRing. Someone who wants to use medications for addiction, like naltrexone and acamprosate for alcohol or methadone and buprenorphine for opioids, may do better in SMART and LifeRing — since AA groups can be hostile, despite the scientific evidence, to medications. Or someone could prefer the style of one group for whatever other reason. Still, the reality is that AA and other 12-step groups are much more common in the US. No matter where you live in the US, there’s a good chance you can find an AA or other 12-step meeting that week — maybe even dozens a day, making it especially easy to fit one into a busy schedule. That’s not true for the alternatives in most places. This gets to a key failure of the addiction treatment system: It’s simply not filling the need from people who do not do well in AA or 12-step programs in general. Treatment programs in the US tend to use the 12 steps as a core philosophy, pushing people to AA meetings as a necessary part of treatment. But even if that works for some people — as Cochrane’s review demonstrates — it’s not going to work for everyone. The concern here is particularly acute for drugs besides alcohol, since there’s not even good evidence the 12 steps work for other substances. I’ve heard this firsthand from people struggling with addiction: Emilie Cote struggled for years to find an addiction treatment program that worked for her, in large part because so many emphasized the 12 steps. “I had a really hard time with the whole God thing,” Cote, who’s “not religious at all,” previously told me. She eventually found help for her opioid and meth use disorders in a secular program that provided medications for addiction. But as Cote and other people in recovery are always quick to tell me, what works for them may not work for others. Even medications, which are considered the gold standard for opioid addiction, don’t work or aren’t necessary for everyone. The ideal, then, is to have a bunch of tools ready to tackle each individual’s specific problems. So the Cochrane review doesn’t prove that AA and the 12 steps work for everyone. But it does, at least, show that AA is one more evidence-based tool in the shed. As Kelly put it, “Now we have a good science base also on which to base those [AA] recommendations.”
2020-03-11 14:30:00
2021-05-08T11:27:23.000000
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vox.com
Live results for the March 10 primaries
Amanda Northrop/Vox The race is now Joe Biden vs. Bernie Sanders, and six states held primaries or caucuses. The Democratic presidential race is now a two-way contest between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders — and Tuesday, we got our first real look at how that head-to-head matchup will play out. These March 10 contests were much less “super” than those from last week, but it’s an important day for the nomination battle — it’s the third-biggest delegate day left in the calendar. About 9 percent of Democrats’ pledged delegates were up for grabs in six states: Michigan, Washington, Missouri, Mississippi, Idaho, and North Dakota. Biden emerged from Super Tuesday with a significant but not overwhelming delegate lead over Sanders. Since then, the former vice president has surged in both national polls and polls of the March 10 states, suggesting he has an opportunity to dramatically expand that advantage. Sanders, meanwhile, is behind. He needs to change the dynamics of the race to have any hopes of catching up. He won four of these six states last time around against Hillary Clinton, and lost a fifth quite narrowly (Missouri). The flip side of that is if Sanders fails to make up ground here in the delegate count, or if he falls further behind, then he will have come up short in one of his best opportunities to turn things around. We’ll display the latest vote totals in each contest, courtesy of our friends at Decision Desk (click on a state on the map to see that state’s results). But it’s important to keep in mind that what matters most now is the delegate count. Democrats allot their delegates proportionally. That means that a landslide win for Biden in Mississippi is more important to the delegate count than a narrow win for Sanders in a state where there are more delegates at stake. Tuesday’s results will also matter greatly because another crucial day of primaries — March 17’s Florida, Illinois, Ohio, and Arizona contests — is rapidly approaching. After that day, there will in theory be nearly three months left in the Democratic contest. But because the calendar is frontloaded, 61 percent of all pledged delegates will have already been locked down. And if Biden builds a large lead by then, it could become all but impossible for Sanders to come back. The quick results, by state We’ll post who wins each of the states holding primaries or caucuses Tuesday below, once Decision Desk makes a call. Michigan (125 delegates) — Winner: Biden Washington (89 delegates) Missouri (68 delegates) — Winner: Biden Mississippi (36 delegates) — Winner: Biden Idaho (20 delegates) — Winner: Biden North Dakota (14 delegates) How to think about the March 10 contests — and the delegate math Even though voting in the nomination contest just began a little over a month ago and is scheduled to continue through June, the March 10 contests bring us nearly to the halfway point in the delegate count. Once the votes are counted, about 47 percent of total pledged Democrats in the nomination contest will have been allotted. And though Super Tuesday holds the crown for delegates at stake, the March 10 contests are nothing to sneeze at: Nearly 9 percent of Democrats’ total pledged delegates will be allotted in these states. Particularly if you consider these contests alongside next week’s March 17 primaries, when another 14.5 percent of pledged delegates are up for grabs, this is a crucial period. It’s the time when the Super Tuesday results can either be ratified (if Biden expands his delegate lead) or rejected (if there’s an unexpected late swing to Sanders). It will determine the shape of the rest of the contest — if there even is a rest of the contest. It’s clear that Super Tuesday gave Biden a lead in the delegate count, but the exact size of that lead remains unclear due to slow vote-counting in California and other states with many mail ballots. Decision Desk estimates that Biden has a 78-delegate lead over Sanders, while the Associated Press says he’s up by 91 delegates. So though the question of who wins each state will be interesting, what matters most is whether Biden can expand that lead further, by getting a large share of the 352 delegates up for grabs on Tuesday. But recent polls also suggest that Biden has a real shot of dealing Sanders defeats in some, or even all, of the March 10 states Sanders did well in last time. If he manages to come close to pulling that off, the Sanders campaign would really be on the ropes — and at risk of what could effectively be a knockout blow on March 17. What to expect in the March 10 primaries and caucuses The overall narrative of these contests likely hinges on the outcomes in two states: Michigan and Missouri. Michigan has symbolic importance because, in 2016, it was the site for a poll-defying Bernie Sanders win after the Vermont senator lost badly to Hillary Clinton on Super Tuesday. Now, that win was quite narrow, so it barely helped Sanders cut into Clinton’s delegate lead. But it gave him a “win” with which he could stoke hope among his supporters and justify continuing the race. Sanders was hoping for a similar comeback in Michigan this time around. But the polls looked grim for him. The 10 polls of the state released since Super Tuesday show Biden winning by between 13 and 41 points. Those outcomes would have drastically different implications for the delegate math, but neither would be good for Sanders — he is losing, and to reverse that, he needs to win states. Missouri, meanwhile, didn’t loom as large in pundits’ imagination, but its demographic makeup and 2016 outcome are actually quite similar to Michigan’s (Clinton won Missouri by just 0.25 percentage points). There have been five polls of Missouri since Super Tuesday, showing Biden leading by between 4 and 38 points. Together, if Biden performed at the upper end of his polls — winning strongly in both Michigan and Missouri — it would signal that he’s thoroughly in command of the race going forward. If he wins more narrowly in both, he’s still in a good place. Elsewhere on the map, Biden’s best chance for an overwhelming win over Sanders is in Mississippi. It’s one of the smaller states voting Tuesday, with only 36 delegates at stake, but Mississippi’s Democratic electorate will likely be more than 80 percent black. The only state that’s voted so far that has anywhere near that proportion of black voters in the Democratic electorate is Alabama, where Biden won by nearly 47 percentage points. Alabama is currently Biden’s single best state in terms of net delegates, so Mississippi could be similarly beneficial to the former vice president. Meanwhile, Sanders’s likely best state in the lineup is Washington. It was where he netted the most delegates over Hillary Clinton in 2016 — though he won so big partly because Washington Democrats used caucuses then, and they are not doing so this time around. Washington is experiencing the nation’s most severe coronavirus outbreak, but luckily, the state uses mail voting rather than crowded in-person polling places. In an ominous sign for Sanders, though, polls conducted after Super Tuesday show the race being quite close. A shocking defeat in Washington would be a devastating result for Sanders. However, because mail ballots take longer to count (they have to be verified), we may not know the outcome here until later in the week as well. Finally, there are the Idaho primary and the North Dakota caucuses. Sanders won both states against Clinton. But his support among rural white voters has been weaker this time around, so it’s not inconceivable that Biden could win in both of these states.
2020-03-11 14:16:53
2021-05-08T11:27:23.000000
1 y
vox.com
Your legal rights in a quarantine, explained
People waiting for the public waterbus in Venice, Italy, on March 10, 2020. | Simone Padovani/Awakening/Getty Images The truth is, your rights aren’t particularly well defined. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced on Tuesday that the state would create a “containment area” in the city of New Rochelle, hoping to contain the spread of Covid-19, the coronavirus disease. The epicenter of this area is a synagogue believed to be connected to several cases of the disease. For now, the state plans to close gathering spaces near the synagogue. It is unclear if New York or some other state will resort to more serious measures, such as mandatory quarantines. But can the government quarantine someone against their will? The short answer is probably “yes.” As the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) explains, “every state, the District of Columbia and most territories have laws authorizing quarantine and isolation, usually through the state’s health authority.” The federal government also has some power to apprehend individuals who may be infected with a communicable disease that could trigger a public health emergency, but this power is largely restricted to those entering the country or crossing a state border. How much can be done varies by state based on their particular public health laws (NCSL has a helpful rundown of each state’s law here). The Constitution places fairly strict limits on the federal government’s power to quarantine individuals within a single state — though these limits do not apply to state officials. And the Constitution prohibits both federal and state governments from denying anyone “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” But the contours of this right to “due process” is not particularly well defined, at least in the context of quarantines. Spencer Platt/Getty Images New Rochelle, a city just north of New York City, has become the state’s largest source of coronavirus infections, prompting Gov. Andrew Cuomo to implement a one mile radius “containment area” to try to halt the spread. For the moment, at least, mandatory quarantines remain a hypothetical in the United States — although some such quarantines are being implemented in other countries. Realistically, if a US government resorts to quarantines to control the spread of coronavirus, there is likely to be a brief period of legal chaos where judges across the country try to make sense of existing precedents — often reaching contradictory results in the process — until the Supreme Court steps in to hand down a nationwide rule. And when that rule is handed down, it’s likely that the Court will be very deferential to public health officials. The federal government’s power to quarantine is quite limited Though the federal government has some ability to prevent the spread of a communicable disease, as a practical matter, there cannot really be a comprehensive federal response to coronavirus. That’s because the day-to-day decisions about whether to shut down schools, close down major events, or implement a mass quarantine are likely to be made by state and local officials who may have wildly different views about how they should act. Not only is New York’s response to coronavirus likely to differ from Florida’s, but Miami’s response could be quite different than Orlando’s. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains on its website, “the federal government derives its authority for isolation and quarantine from the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.” That clause permits Congress to “regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states.” The full scope of Congress’s powers under this clause is one of the most hotly contested questions in American constitutional history. Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson fought over how to read this clause during President George Washington’s first term. The Supreme Court spent four decades in the late 19th and early 20th centuries reading the Commerce Clause narrowly to thwart progressive change; the Court’s decision to abandon this narrow reading of the Commerce Clause, and permit much of the New Deal to take full effect, was one of the most consequential events of the 20th century. Even in the pre-New Deal years when the Court routinely struck down federal laws as beyond Congress’s power to regulate commerce, the Court recognized that Congress has a broad power to regulate travel across state lines. Hence the Court’s decision in Hoke v. United States (1913), which upheld a law making it a crime to transport a woman across state lines “for immoral purposes” (a euphemism for prostitution). David Dee Delgado/Getty Images New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo (center) holds a coronavirus press conference alongside Mayor Bill de Blasio (right) and New York state Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker on March 2, 2020. But under the Court’s current understanding of the Commerce Clause, Congress’ power to protect the physical safety of people who are not engaged in interstate or international travel is very limited. And accordingly, federal law does not provide for quarantines of individuals who remain within a single state. Federal officials could potentially quarantine someone seeking to enter the country or seeking to cross from one state into another. The federal government is also allowed to provide voluntary assistance to the states, so if a state government asks for federal help in enforcing or maintaining an intrastate quarantine, federal officials could potentially provide that assistance. Ultimately, however, the power decide how individual states respond to coronavirus largely rests with the leadership of those states, and that has troubling implications if a coordinated response is necessary. An outbreak could potentially spread out of control in one state — and cross over into others — if state and local officials take a lax response to the disease. At the same time, many Americans could potentially have their civil liberties needlessly restricted if state or local officials in another state take a reactionary approach. If I am quarantined, what are my rights? The Constitution divides power between the states and the federal government, but it also protects certain individual rights. Among them is the right to not be denied “liberty” without “due process.” It should be noted that there’s a big difference between a procedural right and a substantive right (although the Supreme Court has, at times, blurred this line). There is no freestanding constitutional right to go about your normal life while an epidemic endangers many people’s lives. At the same time, the government cannot simply confine people for arbitrary reasons, or without providing an adequate explanation. If you are quarantined, you do not necessarily have a right to be released from that quarantine, but you do have a right to demand some sort of adjudicative process to determine whether the quarantine is justified. It is well established that the government may confine people against their will if those individuals present a danger to themselves or others, even if the person being confined has not committed a crime. In Addington v. Texas (1979), for example, the Supreme Court held that individuals with such severe mental illnesses that they present a threat to their own safety, or to the safety of others, may be involuntarily confined to a mental hospital. Addington, however, also held that the government must prove by “clear and convincing” evidence that such confinement is justified — a much higher burden of proof than courts typically apply in civil cases. An “individual’s interest in the outcome of a civil commitment proceeding is of such weight and gravity” the Court explained, “that due process requires the state to justify confinement by proof more substantial than a mere preponderance of the evidence.” That said, it’s not entirely clear that this heightened standard of proof would apply to coronavirus quarantines. Though Addington held that “civil commitment for any purpose constitutes a significant deprivation of liberty that requires due process protection,” much of the Court’s analysis was restricted the the specific circumstances of a person believed to have a severe mental illness. “At one time or another, every person exhibits some abnormal behavior which might be perceived by some as symptomatic of a mental or emotional disorder, but which is, in fact, within a range of conduct that is generally acceptable,” Chief Justice Warren Burger explained for the Court. That creates a risk that “a factfinder might decide to commit an individual based solely on a few isolated instances of unusual conduct.” A higher burden of proof would help prevent such an occurrence. A coronavirus diagnosis, by contrast, is less likely to prove so elusive — at least assuming that health care providers have adequate access to diagnostic tests. And the stakes are also lower for people who are quarantined than they were in Addington. The Texas law at issue in that case permitted individuals to be confined “for an indefinite period to a state mental hospital” — potentially for years or even decades if the individual does not respond well to treatment. Someone confined due to coronavirus, by contrast, is likely to recover much more quickly. And even if there is uncertainty about whether their symptoms are due to coronavirus or some other disease, this uncertainty could be resolved by diagnostic testing. For these reasons, it’s possible that the courts may permit the government to quarantine individuals based on less than clear and convincing evidence. There’s also one more reason why courts may be reluctant to intervene in such cases. In national security cases, judges often defer to the executive branch when it claims that a particular incursion on civil liberties is necessary to protect the country. As the Supreme Court explained in Boumediene v. Bush (2008), “neither the Members of this Court nor most federal judges begin the day with briefings that may describe new and serious threats to our Nation and its people.” And no judge wants to hand down a decision that prevents the government from stopping a terrorist attack. A similar psychology is likely to set in if states begin large quarantines of people with coronavirus symptoms. Fears of coronavirus are already making stock markets volatile. Worse, while the data is unclear about how many people infected by this virus will die, there’s at least some evidence indicating that older adults are especially at risk. Thus, just as judges tend to defer to the executive on matters of national security, those same judges are likely to defer to public health officials regarding a potential pandemic.
2020-03-11 14:10:00
2021-05-08T11:27:23.000000
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vox.com
The race for presidential delegates is well underway. Track them here.
Amanda Northrop/Vox Vox will be tracking the delegates throughout the primary season. The magic number to win the Democratic Party’s nomination for presidentis 1,991 delegates. It could take months to officially get there, but after March’s primary contests, a large chunk of delegates will have been awarded. Presidential candidates are all competing for a majority of 3,979 pledged delegates. On March 10, 365 delegates from six states — Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Michigan, North Dakota, and Washington — were up for grabs. According to estimates from our partners at Decision Desk and the Virginia Center for Politics, this is where the delegate count from Tuesday’s contests stands as of Wednesday morning: Former Vice President Joe Biden: 163 delegates Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders: 97 delegates Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: 0 delegates Beyond the race’s 3,979 pledged delegates, there are also 771 automatic delegates, otherwise known as “superdelegates.” After a contentious 2016 primary, the Democratic National Committee changed its rules around superdelegates so they may now vote on the first ballot to select a nominee at the Democratic National Convention only if a campaign has secured a supermajority of pledged delegates. Otherwise, they weigh in during a second round of voting at the convention. Candidates are competing for these delegates against a backdrop of complex rules: Delegates are awarded proportionally, and most states and districts require a minimum threshold of 15 percent of the primary or caucus vote to earn pledged delegates. This makes the contest a bit fairer but also means it’s harder to secure that magic number in a contested primary until much later in the year. The Iowa caucuses officially kicked off the delegate race on February 3. But while the early states are all about gaining momentum, the race is ultimately about who can bag the most delegates and get to that magic number. Super Tuesday, March 10, and the remaining contests on March 17 will get us 61 percent of the way there. This could all be over soon if one candidate racks up an insurmountable lead — something Biden could do should he have strong showings in the next few contests — or it could drag on into the spring and summer, ahead of the Democratic National Convention in July. Vox has a tracker for the total number of delegates awarded, in partnership with our friends at Decision Desk and the Virginia Center for Politics. It’s easiest to think about the primary race in three phases, as we explained in our primary delegate calendar. Phase one: The early states. This is the all-important opening salvo of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, but their importance is all about momentum — not delegates. Taken together, these four states account for 155 delegates, or just 4 percent of the total pledged allocated delegates. Phase two: Super Tuesday and the mid-March contests. On March 3, Super Tuesday and its 15 contests are when the presidential race shifts into a true national primary. A total of 1,344 delegates will be allotted on Super Tuesday alone — about 33 percent of the total. And 11 more state contests are up for grabs on March 10 and 17. By the time March 17 rolls around, 61 percent of the pledged delegates will have been allotted. Phase three: The slog. As Vox’s Andrew Prokop noted, we could either have a pretty good sense of who the nominee will be by mid-March or the primary could still be contested, as it was in 2016. If the latter, the contests to decide the winner will happen from March 18 to June 6. Those three months will be when the remaining 39 percent of delegates will be allotted; The most important day in this stretch is April 28, when New York and Pennsylvania vote, among others. Delegate math, briefly explained The four earliest states didn’t contain a lot of delegates, but they acted to winnow the field to its most serious contenders. This was especially important this year, as several Democratic candidates were still in the race on Super Tuesday. Winnowing the field — now down, essentially, to Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden — is half the battle. The race to bag delegates started in earnest on Super Tuesday. “It’s a virtual national primary because there are so many states. The math itself changes, and every network has some sort of chart showing the projected delegate count,” longtime California Democratic consultant Bill Carrick told Vox recently. And this is not just about winning states, it’s also about winning delegates at a congressional district level. Most states award delegates based on state-level totals as well as delegates in each individual district. District-level delegates are the voters and local activists who sign up through their state party to act as delegates — together they make up the vast majority of eligible delegates. It is critical for Democratic candidates to get at least a 15 percent threshold in states or individual congressional districts in order to qualify for pledged delegates. And a big part of figuring out delegate math means campaigns have to focus on crunching the numbers to target certain districts with demographics that could be favorable for them. Here’s a breakdown of the delegate math, both pledged delegates and automatic delegates: Pledged delegates District level: 2,591 At-large: 898 Party leaders and state and local elected officials (PLEO): 490 Total: 3,979 Automatic (“super”) delegates Democratic National Committee members: 445 Democratic members of Congress: 280 Democratic governors: 24 Party leaders: 22 Total: 771 Again, it’s worth noting the biggest DNC rules changes were around superdelegates. That means these 771 superdelegates will largely sit on the sidelines on the first ballot unless there’s already a candidate with a supermajority of pledged delegates. Correction: An earlier version of this story said it takes 1,990 delegates to win the Democratic nomination. The correct number is 1,991.
2020-03-11 14:04:28
2021-05-08T11:27:23.000000
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vox.com
Trump judge lays out an aggressive plan to protect Trump from congressional oversight
Neomi Rao, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be US circuit judge for the District of Columbia Circuit, testifies during a Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill on February 5, 2019, in Washington, DC. | Zach Gibson/Getty Images Judge Neomi Rao’s opinions read like she’s acting as Trump’s personal protector. A federal appeals court ruled that the House Judiciary Committee must be allowed to see certain confidential documents relating to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential Russian interference in the 2016 election — despite the Trump administration’s efforts to keep these documents secret. That decision isn’t particularly surprising; indeed, it’s a pretty straightforward application of a federal procedural rule governing grand jury secrecy. The one thing that stands out about this decision is Judge Neomi Rao’s dissent. Rao is both a former Trump White House official and a former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. And her name is well-known to anyone who has followed President Trump’s efforts to avoid congressional oversight. Last fall, she wrote a widely mocked dissenting opinion that could have shut down much of Congress’s power to investigate the president altogether. The case, which has the obnoxiously long title In re: Application of the Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives, for an Order Authorizing the Release of Certain Grand Jury Materials, involves a fairly minor legal dispute about when grand jury materials can be shared with outside investigators. After Mueller filed his report, the Judiciary Committee sought various documents, including some redacted portions of the report, and “any underlying grand jury testimony and exhibits that relate directly to certain individuals and events described in the Mueller Report.” As a general rule, grand jury materials are kept confidential. But the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure sometimes allow such materials to be disclosed “preliminary to or in connection with a judicial proceeding.” Judge Judith Rogers, a Clinton appointee, wrote in a majority opinion that an impeachment trial counts as a judicial proceeding. And, thus, a House committee may potentially obtain grand jury materials if it seeks them as part of an impeachment inquiry. Her opinion was joined by Judge Thomas Griffith, a George W. Bush appointee. It is likely that the Trump administration will seek Supreme Court review of Tuesday’s decision, and that it will also seek a stay of the decision while the justices are considering what to do with the case. Rao’s argument basically allows the Trump administration to run out the clock Rao does not contest the majority’s broad claim that an impeachment trial is judicial in nature, or that a House committee conducting an impeachment inquiry may be allowed to see grand jury materials. But she argues that the House should be required to go back to the trial court and prove, once again, that it is actually seeking these particular materials as part of an impeachment inquiry. After all, she claims, impeachment is over. “Much has happened since the district court authorized disclosure in October,” Rao writes, before briefly recounting the past impeachment proceedings against Trump. “If impeachment is no longer the primary purpose of the Committee’s application, the court could not authorize disclosure because the grand jury records would not be sought ‘preliminarily to or in connection with’ an impeachment trial or inquiry.” The practical impact of Rao’s opinion would be that the House would have to go back to the trial court, most likely spend months convincing that court to issue a new order seeking the grand jury documents, and then wait even longer while this case proceeds on appeal. By the time the House is done litigating this case, Trump could very well be out of office and the case would be moot. So, while Rao’s dissent would not shut down this case entirely, it would delay it for so long that the case would likely become meaningless. There are a few legal problems with Rao’s argument. One is that, as Rogers points out in the majority opinion, the House Judiciary Committee “has repeatedly stated that if the grand jury materials reveal new evidence of impeachable offenses, the Committee may recommend new articles of impeachment.” Nothing in the Constitution immunizes the president from a second impeachment proceeding if a first one ends in acquittal — at least if new evidence emerges suggesting that the president committed a different crime that was not the subject of the first impeachment trial. Rao’s opinions place Congress in a trap Additionally, Rao’s Grand Jury dissent appears to fit a pattern. Last October, her court handed down Trump v. Mazars USA, a case asking whether Trump can shield many of his financial records from congressional oversight (this case will be heard by the Supreme Court later this month). As the majority opinion explained in Mazars, Congress has broad authority to conduct investigations so long as those investigations have a “valid legislative purpose,” which includes any investigation that touches on a matter “on which legislation could be had.” Judge David Tatel’s majority opinion held that the House may investigate Trump’s financial records because those records could reveal whether stricter presidential ethics laws are needed. Rao, meanwhile, wrote a dissent arguing that the Constitution forbids Congress from investigating “illegal conduct by the President” unless that investigation takes place during an impeachment investigation. As Tatel noted in the court’s majority opinion, “no case law supports the dissent.” Rather, the Supreme Court’s decisions establish that “Congress’s ‘authority ... to require pertinent disclosures in aid of its own constitutional power is not abridged’ merely ‘because the information sought to be elicited may also be of use’ in criminal prosecutions.” Admittedly, the legal issues in Mazars and Grand Jury are rather distinct. Rao’s Mazar’s dissent argued that it is unconstitutional for Congress to investigate the president outside of an impeachment inquiry. Grand Jury, by contrast, deals with a much narrower question of who is allowed to see grand jury materials under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. But it’s hard not to see the trap Rao has built around Congress. Her Mazars opinion claims that Congress has only one path it can use to investigate President Trump. Then, when Congress traveled down the very same path that Rao identified in Mazars, Judge Rao invents a new limit — suggesting that Congress may only get one shot at an impeachment inquiry. Moreover, as Tatel suggests in the Mazars majority opinion, Rao appears to have invented the constitutional limit she placed on congressional investigations out of thin air. The Atlantic’s David Frum wrote that Rao’s Mazars dissent was “wild talk that would shut down almost all congressional investigations.” Maybe that’s the point — at least as long as Trump is in the White House.
2020-03-11 14:00:00
2021-05-08T11:27:23.000000
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vox.com
Who is winning the March 10 delegate count so far
Joe Biden speaks during a campaign rally in Detroit on March 9, 2020. | Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images Biden has the lead, with votes still being counted in Washington and North Dakota. With votes still being counted in Washington and North Dakota, here’s the total delegate count for the March 10 Democratic primary contests so far,powered by results from our partners at Decision Desk and the Virginia Center for Politics. Voters in six states — Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, Michigan, North Dakota, and Washington — headed to the polls Tuesday, with approximately 9 percent of national pledged delegates at stake. As of Wednesday morning, the race has been called for former Vice President Joe Biden in Mississippi, Missouri, Michigan, and Idaho. Here are the pledged delegates awarded so far: Former Vice President Joe Biden: 163 delegates Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders: 97 delegates The results will be updated as more results come in. Candidates have to earn 1,991 pledged delegates of the 3,979 available to clinch the nomination. The easiest way to do that, as Vox’s Andrew Prokop explained, is to run up large margins in individual states: In the Democratic contest, it’s not just about winning states, it’s about how much you win by and how much of the vote you get in both states and congressional districts. There are no winner-take-all states; instead, all delegates are awarded proportionally. Going into Tuesday, Biden had a slim delegate lead on Sanders, having netted 608 delegates to the Vermont senator’s 532, by Decision Desk’s estimates. The delegates Biden has won so far will make it mathematically difficult (though still not impossible) for Sanders to catch up to his rival. But as Prokop again explained, the way the primary calendar is arranged this year will make Sanders’s effort to narrow Biden’s delegate advantage even more of an uphill battle: This coming Tuesday, March 10, features six contests (Michigan, Washington, Missouri, Mississippi, Idaho, and North Dakota). The following Tuesday, March 17, features four (Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio). Then on March 24 is Georgia. That is a lot of big states in a very short period. Right now, 62 percent of delegates in the Democratic contest are still up for grabs, but after March 24, only 36 percent will be left. Even more worryingly for Sanders, Biden is currently favored to win big in some of these states — most notably Florida and Georgia. And if Biden does as well in Florida and Georgia as he did in Virginia and North Carolina, just those two states would result in a Biden +110 net delegate advantage — more than doubling his lead, and putting it into the “likely insurmountable” territory. So while Tuesday’s contests likely won’t be the end of the primary cycle, they may spell serious trouble for Sanders if Biden can continue to decisively build his lead in the delegate count.
2020-03-11 13:51:53
2021-05-08T11:27:23.000000
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vox.com
As the world burns, Americans buy bigger cars 
A 2018 Honda CR-V. | Burhaan Kinu/Hindustan Times/Getty Images In the aughts, there was a backlash against the SUV. Then came the crossover vehicle. As a kid, I was furious about SUVs with a passion that now seems embarrassing, telling all the suburban adults I knew that their ugly, gas-guzzling tanks were going to end life on Earth. I didn’t come up with this idea myself: Anti-SUV discourse was everywhere. Mainstream organizations like the Sierra Club — which famously renamed the huge Ford Excursion “Ford Valdez” after the catastrophic Exxon Valdez oil spill — helped create a cultural backlash against these hulking cars. A TV ad campaign run by the Evangelical Environmental Network — “What Would Jesus Drive?” — urged Midwesterners to rethink their addiction to big cars. New York Times reporter Keith Bradsher’s 2002 polemic High and Mighty sneered at the rise of “behemoths that guzzle gas, spew pollution, and endanger their occupants and other motorists.” Twenty years on, international alarm about climate change may be higher than ever, but the SUVs have won. The crossover, a generally smaller, more modern kind of SUV, has exploded in popularity since the Great Recession. Their better gas mileage compared to earlier SUVs combined with car industry greenwashing and the widely held perception that big cars are safer — even as they’ve made the streets more dangerous for pedestrians — have helped make crossovers America’s biggest car segment, displacing sedans as the default choice for many drivers. Also known as crossover utility vehicles or CUVs, crossovers were barely on the scene at the turn of the century, but they now make up more than 40 percent of the American market for new cars. Sedan sales have plummeted over the same period: Where passenger cars represented half of car sales just a decade ago, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis, they fell to less than a third by the end of 2018. At the end of 2019, while Australia was ablaze, Honda closed its best year ever for its CR-V crossover, now its top-selling car in the US. “Car companies kind of neutralized the critique of SUVs when they introduced crossovers.” “Car companies kind of neutralized the critique of SUVs when they introduced crossovers,” says Angie Schmitt, a former reporter for transit publication Streetsblog who is writing a book about the pedestrian safety crisis. “I think crossovers are definitely not as bad as full-size SUVs, and people get that. A lot of people who would never buy a full-size SUV have bought these crossovers, otherwise they’d probably be in sedans.” American carmakers are all but divesting from sedan production (with some exceptions) and going all in on light trucks, a class that includes big cars like SUVs, crossovers, pickups, and vans. “We’ve seen that both Ford and Fiat Chrysler are pretty much out of the passenger car market,” says Dave Kushma, a retired senior editor at the trade journal Automotive News. “If you’re a patriotic American consumer and you want to buy a new vehicle from a Detroit Three manufacturer, and your preference is for a passenger car, whether that’s a family sedan or a compact or whatever, you may not have much choice.” Because crossovers are more profitable than sedans, they’re aggressively marketed for features like more cargo space, to which Kushma says: “Why do we need to be hauling around all this shit in our cars?” While the American shift toward SUVs and CUVs has largely become, as Kushma puts it, a “self-fulfilling prophecy,” it’s hardly been limited to the United States. Globally, the recent rise of SUVs has been even more dramatic: In 2010, there were 35 million SUVs in the world’s car fleet. Now there are over 200 million. SUVs were the second greatest contributor to the world’s increase in carbon emissions from 2010 to 2018, according to a recent International Energy Agency report, threatening to undo all the gains made by electric cars and better fuel efficiency. There’s no one definition of a crossover, and the line between SUVs and crossovers is fuzzy in practice. “SUV and CUV are kind of the same thing for a consumer right now,” says Stephanie Brinley, principal automotive analyst at research firm IHS Markit. Traditional SUVs are built on a pickup truck platform, while crossovers use a unibody construction like those in passenger cars, so they drive more like a car than a truck, handle better, and tend to have limited off-road capabilities. CUVs are also thought of as smaller, but that’s often not the case. “You can get a BMW X7 that’s every bit as big as a truck-based traditional SUV,” Brinley explains. “If you look at a Chevrolet Traverse ... it’s every bit as big as a Chevrolet Tahoe.” Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for IMG A BMW X7 outside New York Fashion Week. A handful of crossovers, like today’s top-selling CR-V and Toyota RAV4, have been around since the ’90s. As consumers bought more of them, carmakers introduced more options, from the bulky Buick Enclave to the subcompact Nissan Kicks. Fuel economy across all car segments has improved in the last few decades, which has meant that, from a consumer perspective, a non-hybrid 2020 CR-V’s combined 30 miles per gallon is not that much worse than a Honda Accord’s 33 — and certainly better than the subterranean gas mileage of the now-defunct Ford Excursion or non-electric Hummer. On aggregate, however, these differences matter. On a warming planet, the 21 combined MPG in a Chevy Traverse or 23 in a Nissan Murano is still, well, bad. “The gains that car companies have made in fuel efficiency have completely been undermined by the size and weight of the cars that these efficient engines are now pushing around,” says Doug Gordon, a pedestrian safety advocate and co-host of The War on Cars podcast. How did we end up in a position where, instead of rapidly decarbonizing, Americans are buying more SUVs than ever? Since the early aughts, environmental activism has moved away from what Shane Gunster, a media studies professor at Simon Fraser University, sees as “green consumerism” — encouraging drivers to avoid SUVs — to an emphasis on the structural causes of climate change, like the fossil fuel industry. “I think that’s a good thing,” he says, but it can also discourage consumers from imagining how their lives will have to change to confront the climate crisis: “Insofar as there’s been this backlash against talking at all about that kind of individual consumerism, I do think...there’s a little bit of loss there too.” Gunster presaged the age of the crossover in his 2004 paper on the use of nature in SUV marketing, by noticing the emergence of greenwashing in car ads. At the time, ads for traditional SUVs reflected a social Darwinist image of car culture: “Survival of the fittest” ruled the road, and SUV drivers became the apex predators with a natural right to bully everyone else, both in the city and out in the wilderness. This created an opening for carmakers to sell the idea of a smaller SUV that could square consumers’ eco-consciousness with a desire for a rugged, adventurous, get-out-to-nature car. Subaru, Gunster writes, “reinvented its all-wheel drive Outback station wagon as a kinder, gentler SUV in a series of 2002 television commercials that present its drivers as the real nature lovers compared to the blundering insensitivity of those with larger vehicles.” In one ad, “a couple quietly observes a group of deer in the woods from the comfort of the Subaru Outback. All is well until the tranquility is shattered by a lead-footed SUV driver racing through the forest to catch a glimpse for himself.” “One of the fascinating ways in which advertising works is it needs to create differences,” Gunster tells me. “The more that you can magnify and multiply those differences, the more effectively you can sell and you can dramatize the appeal of those products to different constituencies. And so crossovers were ideal in terms of enabling automakers to appeal to a gentler, natural sensibility that could be set against that super rugged, kind of primitive, very patriarchal, masculine, almost misogynist domination of nature type.” Crossover marketing has proven so successful that consumers may not recognize the fallacy of pushing cars for their ability to quietly blend in with nature. In a commercial for the 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid, writes Brock University sociologist Dennis Soron, a young family drives right up to admire a group of deer. Just like the Subaru ads before it, this crossover was meant for the crunchy consumer who is concerned with human impact on our planet. “Because of the quiet hybrid engine, the otherwise skittish deer remain unperturbed,” Soron continues. “Ironically enough for Ford drivers, not only are deer the large mammal most often killed by auto collisions, but all animals vulnerable to road traffic are likely to be put in greater danger by quieter vehicles that are harder to hear in advance.” Cars kill more than a million vertebrates in the U.S. per day, he points out — so many that cars are second only to animal agriculture (and ahead of hunting) as the largest killer of animals. Yet because cars and the ever-expanding infrastructure that accommodates them have come to be seen as a native part of our environment, road kill is assumed to be inevitable, rather than a political problem. If you ask a car industry analyst to explain the shift to crossovers, they will say it’s all about supply and demand. “Consumers want them, so automakers have delivered them,” Brinley says. “You don’t want to be the only sucker in a small tin can when everyone else is driving a tank.” That may be true on one level, but I would propose that SUVs/CUVs are a social contagion. The more of them there are on the roads, the more everyone else wants one, especially when consumers view them as safer. “You don’t want to be the only sucker in a small tin can when everyone else is driving a tank,” Gordon says, adding that he sees SUVs as part of “a highly militarized American culture” where it’s everyone for themselves. Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, stresses that it’s misleading to assume SUVs are safer than sedans: “There is a perception that simply because something is bigger it is safer. The data doesn’t actually back that up on a class level.” SUVs are no longer as prone to fatal rollovers thanks to electronic stability control, but their high center of gravity can still make them less stable. Perhaps the most dramatic safety risk posed by SUVs is their danger to pedestrians. Between 2009 and 2016, pedestrian deaths increased by 46 percent, and much of that is almost certainly attributable to the rise of SUVs, says Schmitt. “When a pedestrian is hit by a moving vehicle, the taller that vehicle is, the more dangerous it is,” says Levine. “All other things being equal, the taller the vehicle, the harder it is for the driver to be able to see pedestrians and to stop themselves from hitting pedestrians, and that is a problem that you see day after day.” In a collision with a sedan, a pedestrian can roll onto the hood and get away with serious injuries, but when hit in the chest or higher by an SUV, a person is much more likely to die. Crashes can be mitigated by new technologies like automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, but whether these can do enough to neutralize SUVs’ danger to people is unproven. All these factors explain why big cars’ implicit promise of safety is not really about safety. Much as gun advocates assert that more AR-15s will protect Americans, when all indications point to the opposite, there is every reason to believe that SUVs and CUVs are at odds with human (and nonhuman) life. From a climate perspective, their threat is obvious. But even if we could run every SUV on decarbonized electricity, we can’t invent our way out of the monopoly they’ve claimed on public space. Car companies, by explaining away the ascendance of crossovers as consumer preference, have shifted the blame for big cars onto their customers. But for most Americans, whose transit options are constrained by corporate priorities and a lack of viable alternatives to cars, our dependence on ever-bigger cars is a decision that’s largely been made for us. Sign up for The Goods newsletter. Twice a week, we’ll send you the best Goods stories exploring what we buy, why we buy it, and why it matters.
2020-03-11 13:20:00
2021-05-08T11:27:23.000000
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vox.com
Poll: Bernie Sanders does well with Latinos — but not in Florida
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally at Lincoln Park on May 23, 2016, in East Los Angeles, California. | David McNew/Getty Images A new poll shows Latino voters are backing Joe Biden over Sanders in Florida. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is the favorite to win the Latino vote in the Arizona primary next week, as he has in several states so far. But things are different in Florida, where former Vice President Joe Biden is currently besting Sanders among Latino voters by an 11-point margin, according to a Telemundo poll released Wednesday. The state polls, which were conducted in early March and sampled hundreds of likely voters, show Sanders is preferred by 47 percent of Latino registered voters in Arizona, a state that Democrats are hoping to turn blue in 2020. Biden, meanwhile, has 40 percent of their support. And in a direct matchup with President Donald Trump, a majority said they would support either Sanders or Biden at rates of 68 percent and 72 percent, respectively. But in Florida, Biden is preferred by 48 percent of Latino voters in the state, compared to 37 percent who support Sanders. And the poll shows Sanders in a tie with Trump in a direct matchup in a general election. Biden, however, would win in a landslide with Latino voters there, with 58 percent support among Latino voters compared to 38 percent who would back Trump. It’s not surprising that Sanders is performing poorly among Latino voters in Florida, a swing state, despite successfully capturing the Latino vote in the Nevada, California, and Texas primary contests. Whereas Mexican Americans made up the vast majority of Latino voters in those previous contests, Florida’s Latinos are primarily Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Venezuelan, and they have different political preferences. Cubans in particular tend to lean more conservative and backed Trump in 2016. Both Cubans and Venezuelans are also wary of socialism, so it follows that Sanders, a self-identified democratic socialist and progressive, isn’t getting their support. According to the poll, Sanders is performing particularly badly in southeastern Florida, where there is a large Cuban community. Only 19 percent of Cubans — compared to 65 percent of Puerto Ricans — would vote for him in a contest against Trump. And 70 percent of Latino voters in the state said they wouldn’t vote for a candidate who described himself as a socialist. Cubans are also more satisfied with their health care options than other Latino groups in Florida, a plurality of whom cited health care as their top priority in the poll. That means that Sanders’s signature issue of Medicare-for-all might not resonate with Cubans. In Arizona, voter preferences play much more in Sanders’s favor. Roughly half of Latino voters say their communities are being “widely persecuted or discriminated against” under Trump and want to “change the direction [he] is leading the nation.” Sanders has beentrying to appeal to Latino voters with a progressive policy platform on immigration, but that isn’t the only issue that motivates them. He has also been speaking to their core interests, including health care and jobs. Starting last summer, he has poured resources into spreading his message, in both Spanish and English, to Latino communities. And he’s hired Latino staff from the grassroots advocacy community and integrated them into every facet of his campaign.
2020-03-11 13:20:00
2021-05-08T11:27:23.000000
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vox.com