It was a great weekend for reading:

  • This New Yorker article (mostly about an impending AIDS crisis in Russia) makes an important observation: Russian males’ life expectancy has declined by six years over the last four decades. In 1965, a Russian baby boy could expect to live to be 64. For the time, it was a reasonably respectable figure, just three years shy of the 67 years an American male could expect to live. (By contrast, a baby boy born in British Columbia could expect to live to be 69.)

But now, a boy in the U.S. can expect to live to more than 74 years; a boy born in BC, more than 78; and a Russian boy, just 58. That’s a stunning difference—and more evidence that measures such as life expectancy really do have a place in our accounting of prosperity.


  • Also from the New Yorker (though only available in the print version), a profile of Moscow, Idaho’s own MaryJane Butters, an organic food and lifestyle entrepeneur. She’s aiming to be the Martha Stewart of healthful (but convenient) rustic lifestyles—though the article portrayed her as a master marketer rather than an organic pioneer. As we’ve pointed out, organic doesn’t necessarily meansustainable; but with less than 2 percent of foods grown organically, I don’t mind the hype.



  • Most importantly, from the L.A. Times comes an excellent article on economic security in the U.S. The short version: though incomes are higher now than 30 years ago, income growth has slowed, even as income volatility has increased (due to layoffs and the like). At the same time, fewer jobs come with health care and pensions. The result: “over the last 25 years, economic risk has been steadily shifted from the broad shoulders of business and government to the backs of working families.” It’s worth a read, just to understand the trends.