The Roosevelt Institute (love!) just completed a study of basic income experiments—long version here and short summary here. The upshot: extra cash helps improve parenting, mental health, school attendance and test scores, and reduces substance abuse and addiction. What it doesn’t do is cause people to stop working.

As an introduction to its advice to the modern American left, this article quotes an amazing (but not oft-quoted) speech by Abraham Lincoln to the temperance society. He advised the abstemious that denouncing drinkers as “moral pestilences” was likely to make them resent temperance, not embrace it. “To have expected them not to meet denunciation with denunciation . . . was to expect a reversal of human nature.” The article goes on to quote this passage from a book about the privilege framework:

It can seem as if the desired goal is for everyone to be oppressed, rather than for all to be free from oppression. Is it a problem that white killers are captured alive by the police? That white drug addicts appear in the media as real people with a medical condition? Or is the problem that black killers and drug addicts, respectively, don’t get that treatment? It seems right to use ‘privilege’ if your point is that some people do indeed have it too easy.

That is, after all, what ‘privilege’ implies.

Which is why it’s such an odd fit for cases where the point being made is that the world is just for some and unjust for others. Calling justice “privilege” is just another way of highlighting that not all experience it. The problem is that it also implies that no one should… The privilege framing, with its focus on unearned advantage rather than unjust disadvantage, doesn’t fit with situations where even the “privileged” person is still quite screwed.

Humans are made for small-group interaction. Evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson is trying to learn from Korean evangelical pastor Dr. Cho how to use small groups, or cells, as a unit to achieve bigger social change.

Charles Dickens, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Charles Darwin all worked five hour days. What did they know that we don’t?


An old but smart article from Yale Law Professor David Schleicher explains how state and local elections are worse than national ones, because voters know little about the candidates, and parties are defined at the national level. In British Columbia, of course, many national, provincial, and municipal parties are different from one another. The center-right provincial BC Liberals are more like the federal Conservatives than the federal Liberals, for example. A center-right, free-enterprise-valuing voter in Vancouver, BC, for example, might vote for federal Conservatives, provincial Liberals, and municipal candidates from the local party that’s called (for further confusion) the Non-Partisan Alliance.

Interesting new research on the gender pay gap.

  • Groupthink, no matter who is engaged in it, is an enemy of progress. I’m seeing too much of it on both the right and the left these days, and I find it deeply disturbing. The latest example comes from academia, where critique of one obscure philosophy argument gave way to thought policing and a modern witch hunt.


    John and I recently wrote about the Trump Administration’s failure to ban a remarkably nasty pesticide known to cause brain damage in children. Now, we learn that just a few weeks after the decision, as many as 50 California farm workers were poisoned by the pesticide.


    Democracy Now! ran a recent show from Seattle, and in the process interviewed Kshama Sawant, the Socialist Seattle City Council member, covering immigration matters in Washington state and reporting on the tunnel collapse at Hanford.

    Yale Environment 360 examined the atomic power industry’s troubles in multiple industrial nations.

    Since I’ve been writing articles on pesticides, I thought I should learn more about organic food. This TED Talk dispels organic food myths, including some that I held. Spoiler alert, the major reason organics are more expensive is not higher costs to grow them.

    John Abbotts is a former Sightline research consultant who occasionally submits material for Weekend Reading and other posts.