Anna

This is interesting. Conservative pundits critique the lopsided coverage of recent “revelations” about mothers as breadwinners—and I actually agree with them on several points! (Also, a take on the GOP’s “woman problem.”)

Just when I thought that the middle class was extinct—in terms of both actual, real-life financial security and a die-off of personal identification with the term—here’s an analysis by Anat Shenker-Osorio on why all Americans—rich and poor—still believe they are middle class.

This New Yorker piece about fast food wages briefly touches on an issue that I feel deserves a lot more air time: One of the big problems when you’re talking about low wage work is that in the US we’ve forsaken any kind of genuine “social insurance” or community back-up support systems that would allow people to get by—even fairly comfortably—in low-paid jobs or even on low-end salaries. It’s always boggled my mind that big corporations in America (and small businesses too) aren’t the ones clamoring for universal health care, child care, and other community investments that would prop up their underpaid workforces:

Realistically, then, a higher minimum wage can be only part of the solution. We also need to expand the earned-income tax credit, and strengthen the social-insurance system, including child care and health care (the advent of Obamacare will help in this regard). Fast-food jobs in Germany and the Netherlands aren’t much better-paid than in the U.S., but a stronger safety net makes workers much better off.

Here’s Eric Liu’s take on the fast food workers’ pay question.

Clark

The irony is palpable: a remote territory in Russia, of all places, is putting the kibosh on a coal export terminal because of the objections of local residents.

Primorye Territory Governor Vladimir Miklushevsky has suspended construction of an international coal terminal in Russia’s Far East after local residents voiced concerns about possible damage to the environment.

Jeez, do we need to start taking our cues from Russia??  (And in case you’re curious—I certainly was—Primorye Territory is at the southern tip of the Kamchatka region on a Risk board.)

Cool: a map showing today’s national boundaries, back 200-300 million years ago when all of the earth’s land masses formed the single super-continent of Pangaea.

Eric

In the depths of our hearts, each of us harbor secret desires. Some are so formless that we may not recognize them until someone else names them and we see them for what they are. This week I learned that I have subconsciously longed to never hear the words “waffle taco” used to describe a menu item.

  • It’s just one more dream of mine punctured by Taco Bell.

    A good infographic on the ways that Americans save and budget, or don’t.

    Coal exports are getting controversial on the East Coast too. The African American Environmentalist Association is suing the Export-Import Bank for financing ramp-ups in coal shipments from Baltimore and Hampton Roads.

    Someone explain to me why Pee Chees are a staple of childhood for everyone on the West Coast, while folks from the Midwest and East only stare blankly when they hear the word. This troubles me.