Professor David Brat: Testing Ayn Rand's Moral Foundations of Capitalism

If you've read any news about Prof. David Brat you'd not only know he ousted Majority House Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) but also know that his interests include Ayn Rand.  One of his papers is repeatedly mentioned: "An Analysis of the Moral Foundations in Ayn Rand." Not only did the WSJ mention the paper but so did Mother JonesNPRVoxAlterNet and a slew of others. Yet, nobody bothered tracking down the paper -- only the title mattered.

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New Immigration Report Examines Death Toll

Not only does the newest immigration reform need to address immigration enforcement, it should also address the human cost of border patrol.

Kevin R. Johnson at ImmigrationProf reports on the new study from the Binational Migration Institute at the University of Arizona, entitled A Continued Humanitarian Crisis at the Border.  Download the report here.

It finds the following news about border fatalities:

  • While 66 percent of the deceased were identified, 34 percent (or 761 cases) remained unidentified. As a result, the families of these individuals can never be notified as to what became of them.
  • 46 percent of the deceased died of exposure to the elements (“hyperthermia or hypothermia, often coupled with dehydration”), 9 percent from motor vehicle accidents, and 4% from homicides. Cause of death could not be determined in 36 percent of the cases.
  • 80 percent of the deceased were men, 18 percent were women. Gender could not be determined in the remaining cases.
  • The average age of the deceased was 31.
  • 82.2 percent of the deceased were from Mexico, 7.1 percent from Guatemala, 2.3 percent from El Salvador, and 1.4 percent from Honduras.


Read me, please

The past few months I've been reading book after book, which is pretty impressive as I usually focus on magazine stories or web posts — of which I read a ton. Unfortunately, I haven't been keeping track of books I want to read with any success. I've looked into Evernote and Trello. I also had a binder keeping track (still have it, but haven't written in it). I've also been jotting down my "dream" list of book shelves and what they'd have on them. But all these trackers haven't been working the best as lately I've been reading what's next in the pile. Now, as a rule, I've always been a little wary of reading books on one subject — there's just too much out there to focus on one topic. But, that rule has changed dramatically as I've gotten older. I do tend to focus on non-fiction although I'm hoping that will change this year. The problem is I have so many political books I want to read, biographies, long-form stories. Anyway, for the time being, here are a few books on my waiting list. I would love to hear what I should read next. Really, I would.  (Also, like my apropos drop cap? Time for you to check out Daily Drop Cap!)

Stop Saying "I'm Not a Feminist But..."

My cousin greeted me on the phone with "Happy International Women's Day!" yesterday. Instead, when I should have been celebrating I didn't even manage to read a full article on this joyous day. My cousin was a bit matter-of-fact in telling me that America doesn't seem to celebrate this day like the rest of the world. Which got me thinking, why is that? Even though the U.S. has made such great strides in women's equality, women in the workplace, so on and so forth, few women care to remember exactly how long in took. Instead of celebrating my womenhood—the women from around the world—I caught an episode of The Office on TBS. Not that I would expect much from a perenially leaderless clan of office workers, but something Phyllis said caught my attention. Maybe TBS knew what was up when they played this episode with Will Ferrell playing an overtly sexist boss, blind to his own sexism. Sure he can do an invisible juggling routine unlike any other but in this episode when the women confront him on being a sexist, Phyllis raises her hand and says, "I'm not a feminist but..."

Because, when you say you’re not a feminist you have to wonder what exactly are you?

I know so many other feminists have raised their hands over this particularly grating and infuriating apologetic statement. Because, when you say you're not a feminist you have to wonder what exactly are you? Because, without feminism you wouldn't be working in The Office. You wouldn't be voting. Hell, you might not even be raising your hand.

Evolution of New Yorker's Tattoo Artist Romney Cover

Model image for "The Tattoo Artist" by Norman Rockwell, courtesy Visual News

"The Tattoo Artist" by Norman Rockwell, 1944, courtesy Visual News. Also accessible via Brooklyn Museum.

New Yorker October 29 & November 5 2012 Cover “Skin Deep” by Barry Blitt

Supermarket Infographic-What You Need to Know

Don't like crowded supermarkets? Go on Wednesdays, says this Coupon Cabin supermarket infographic. Why is candy placed at eye level? For the kids, of course. If you want to eat healthier, shop the perimeter of the supermarket and look at the top of the shelves. More expensive, name brand items are placed at eye level whereas the healthier options are placed at the top, and cheaper items at the bottom. For a larger view, and more info, click here: Supermarket Infographic.

Should SNAP let you drink soda

Michele Simon from EcoWatch finds the SNAP program hurtling toward an obese future if industry powerhouses such as Coca-Cola, Kraft, and Mars remain giant beneficiaries. In her report published earlier this month Food Stamps, Follow the Money: Are Corporations Profiting From Hungry Americans? Simon asks why the FDA has not tabulated SNAP's expenditure on sugary drinks. 

"Without data on how much money is being spent on Coke versus orange juice, or Lucky Charms versus oatmeal, how will we ever evaluate the nutrition goals of the program?" Simons asked in Reuters.

Some, such as Dr. Kelly D. Brownell of Yale, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, estimate SNAP soda sales to be in the billions.

“It’s a real shame that the U.S.D.A. won’t allow this to be tested,” Dr. Brownell said in the NY Times. “The government purchases $4 billion worth of soda through the food stamp program every year, and that soda is making people sick.”

Here are a few more stats from Simon's report where she examines the role of three powerful industry sectors that benefit from SNAP:

  1. Major food manufacturers such as Coca-Cola, Kraft and Mars
  2. Leading food retailers such as Walmart and Kroger
  3. Large banks, such as J.P. Morgan Chase, which contract with states to help administer SNAP benefits. Findings from the report include:
  • Powerful food industry lobbying groups such as the American Beverage Association and the Snack Food Association teamed up to oppose health-oriented improvements to SNAP, at times working with anti-hunger groups
  • At least nine states have proposed bills to make health-oriented improvements to SNAP, but none have passed, in part due to opposition from the food industry
  • In one year, nine Walmart Supercenters in Massachusetts together received more than $33 million in SNAP dollars—more than four times the SNAP money spent at farmers markets nationwide
  • In two years, Walmart received about half of the one billion dollars in SNAP expenditures in Oklahoma
  • J.P. Morgan Chase holds contracts in 24 states to administer SNAP benefits, indicating concentrated power and a lack of competition
  • In New York, a seven-year deal originally paid J.P. Morgan Chase $112 million for EBT services, and was recently amended to add $14.3 million—an increase of 13 percent
  • States are seeing unexpected increases in administrative costs, while banks and other private contractors are reaping significant windfalls from the economic downturn and increasing SNAP participation.