Happy Thursday, and welcome to The Highlighter #92! Let me begin by saying something simple and plain: This whole Trump Fires Comey thing is pretty huge and pretty scary. With that out of the way, let’s get to today’s issue. The first article will get you thinking about home ownership, how rigg
Happy Thursday, and welcome to The Highlighter #92! Let me begin by saying something simple and plain: This whole Trump Fires Comey thing is pretty huge and pretty scary.
With that out of the way, let’s get to today’s issue. The first article will get you thinking about home ownership, how rigged our tax code is, and how most of us who aren’t struggling day to day don’t much care about those who are. The second piece explores how much of sex education in our country is Sunday school in disguise. After the pet photograph break (two weeks in a row for loyal subscriber Kathleen!), enjoy the first-ever comic featured in The Highlighter, and then end with my excoriation of, my harangue about, my fulmination against fruit juice.
Matthew Desmond (#29, #34) won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. Evicted is a stunning book, and this is a stunning article. Prof. Desmond argues convincingly that our tax code offers huge benefits to homeowners through the mortgage-interest deduction. This is great for homeowners (who on average have 36 times the wealth of renters), and it’s great for homes (inflated values, particularly in places like San Francisco), but it’s not exactly great for working class people living check to check. The theory is that the MID encourages people to buy homes, that it promotes stability. Not according to the data. Rather, it exacerbates economic inequality.
We could fix this problem if we wanted to, Prof. Desmond writes — but we don’t want to. “We tend to speak about the poor as if they didn’t live in the same society, as if our gains and their losses weren’t intertwined. Conservatives explain poverty by pointing to ‘individual factors,’ like bad decisions or the rise of single-parent families; liberals refer to ‘structural causes,’ like the decline of manufacturing or the historical legacies of racial discrimination. Usually pitted against each other, each perspective serves a similar function: letting us off the hook by asserting that there is a deep-rooted, troubling problem — more than one in six Americans does not make enough to afford basic necessities — that most of us bear no responsibility for.”
More and more states require abstinence-only sex education, which of course is a problem, given that teen pregnancy remains higher in those states. The other problem is who is leading the sex ed in the first place. There aren’t enough trained health teachers to go around, so many schools outsource their sex ed to programs like Life Choices, which say they’re secular but are bursting with religion. Sex ed ends up being about God and Christian morals, not about health — not good for teenagers.
This comic from The Oatmeal does a great job explaining why facts don’t matter, particularly when they run counter to what we believe, and especially when they dispute our core values. Apparently there’s a pesky part of our brain called the amygdala that thinks that scary information is the same thing as scary monsters.
In Issue #35, I ruined smoothies. Now I am ruining all things juice, once and for all. Whenever I think that everyone has tasted the truth about juice (i.e., that it is not healthful), I meet a new person who extols the virtues of juice, juicing, and the Juicero. No more! (Except for Martinelli’s apple juice, of course, which is the best, particularly in 10-ounce glass containers.)
Thank you very much for reading today’s issue! I would like to encourage you to click on the thumbs-up or thumbs-down icon to share your thoughts about this issue. (Last week’s statistics: 4 thumbs up, 0 thumbs down!) After you do, on the next screen, you can even write a sentence or two, if you like. As always, thank you for being loyal subscribers, and see you next Thursday at 9:10 am!