September 19, 2014

In fairness to chimps...

In yesterday's post, I said some unflattering things about our cousins the chimpanzees (not that I don't say worse things about humans most days). Here's the other side of the coin. If we inherited our capacity for intra-species violence from our chimplike common ancestor, it looks like we also got a sense of fairness from them too. It's always a mixed bag.

SCISSORBILL was a term used by the Industrial Workers of the World back in the day to describe workers who just didn't get it. The term refers to the bill of a duck, as in cutting off your nose to spite your face. As in low income workers who finally get health care from the Affordable Care Act but support politicians who want to repeal it. Earlier this week, I linked a NY Times article about that. Here's another take on the subject.

CHILD POVERTY. Despite some progress, it got worse in WV in 2013, according to the latest Census data..

September 18, 2014

War before people

For a long time, there has been a prejudice in the social sciences which tended to view early humans as peaceful noble savages and blame human violence on more recent social structures like capitalism, imperialism and all that. Short version: we used to be cool but now we're crap.

I'm no cheerleader for predatory capitalism or imperialism, but that view turned out to be pretty much perfectly wrong. More and more evidence indicates that the rate of violence as it affects a portion of the human population has actually decreased throughout human history. By a lot. In other words, we may be crappy now, but we were a whole lot more crappy and violent in hunter gatherer societies.

It is also now pretty well established that something like war has long existed in chimpanzee societies and that this is unrelated to human intervention.

You could view that as a downer, but I don't. It shows that we really can make progress and control our historical end evolutionary baggage to some degree. Of course, we're not there yet!

September 17, 2014

Three on health care

It has been fascinating to watch the rollout of the Affordable Care Act and all the dramas and subplots involved. Three items about it recently caught my eye.

First, government-sponsored health care is making it easier for some people to become entrepreneurs.

Second, this item from Politico suggests that the ACA has moved from being an election game changer to background noise.

Third, some people who have benefited most from the ACA seem to have a bit of trouble putting 2 and 2 together.

No doubt there will be more drama to come.

September 16, 2014

We're on it

Sometimes El Cabrero is a little slow on the uptake. No, really. One example of that is how long it took me to get the importance of early childhood education as a way of promoting economic justice. I've worked with child advocates for years and try to play nicely, but I really didn't feel it until fairly recently, when I stopped and looked at the overwhelming evidence that this is the place to make a real difference.

Fortunately, West Virginia is kind of a leader in early childhood education and the folks I work with are committed to taking it to the next level. I'm especially a fan of voluntary home visiting programs for pregnant women and parents of young children.

In this NY Times op-ed Nicholas Kristof  and Sheryl WuDunn lay out the case for early childhood education. Here's a sample:

One reason the United States has not made more progress against poverty is that our interventions come too late. If there’s one overarching lesson from the past few decades of research about how to break the cycles of poverty in the United States, it’s the power of parenting — and of intervening early, ideally in the first year or two of life or even before a child is born.
I'm hoping we can make real progress on that in the coming year.

September 15, 2014

No surprise

This isn't exactly the most surprising news in the world, but it's still worth mentioning. A new study by the Urban Institute found that helping parents get health care helps kids as well.You can read more here. Part of the context for the study is the decision of states whether to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. I'm very proud of how WV has handled that--well over 141,000 people covered under Medicaid expansion since Jan. 1.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE has been in the news quite a bit lately. Here are some ideas about how to stop it.

MORE OF THE SAME. Here's Ken Ward at Coal Tattoo on business as usual in WV.