The Pennsylvania primary failed to generate excitement. In Philadelphia there was record low turnout, about 7.2% of voters participated at last count. This does not bode well since Democratic voters tend to really drop off in non-presidential election years. Look, these votes for ‘esoteric’ office like Supreme Court justices and state legislators are important. These guys get to determine redistricting boundaries, voter id laws and the like. And right now it’s not working as gerrymandering and all that has really clogged up Washington DC. Yes, it’s worse than it looks. And at some level reluctant individuals who vote just when they feel like it or make no effort to understand issues are part (a BIG part) of the problem. It is likely Democrats will get clobbered in the off-year elections but do much better in presidential election years. It is a funny way to determine policy and really does not work well—the luck of the draw when you run and the long-term effects of election at a moment in time (after 2010 guess who controlled a huge amount of redistricting in many states)?
The Tory government in Britain is in crisis. A prominent conservative called the party’s rank and file ‘swiveled-eye loons’ (you got to love UK politics—insults are more refined) which set off a fusillade of bombastic rhetoric. The Daily Mail called one politician a “pint-guzzling eccentric.”
The cause of all this is the miserable failure of austerity politics which has made the government unpopular, no matter what the stated reasons for the livid commentary. The schism between the PM Cameron and his party has gotten so bad that he wrote a letter to his members basically patting them on the back and saying he respects their them.
My question is why does the coalition part of the government (the Liberal Party) been so silent? They have tethered themselves with the conservatives and loss lots of respect. But at this juncture it may be better to cut their losses and get out. They never win many seats anyways. And they failed to get their stated reforms through early in the Cameron government. We will see if there is a vote of no confidence before the five years run their course.
In an online discussion about high deductible health savings accounts two ‘experts’ who are enamored with them were challenged by someone who suggested that once people hit the deductible they will try to go on spending sprees of sorts. And those are precisely the people who should be stopped from spending too much on health care.
The experts dismissed this concern suggesting that insurance companies will not tolerate frivolous spending and people do not like going to the doctor’s.
The irony, absurdities, and hypocrisy was just breath-taking. The experts had defended high-deductible health savings accounts by arguing they discourage excessive and frivolous spending on health care. However, if people really ‘do not like to go to the doctor’ and will not spend excessively once they hit the deductible when they no longer have to pay, then what is the theoretical justification for high deductible health savings accounts? Simply to transfer costs on workers or try to stop people getting needed care?
The experts are correct that insurance companies do not want patients going to the doctors on their dime. But this tends never to be black and white. There is lots of gray of what one might consider frivolous and what is not. Indeed a huge amount of medical costs are associated with these judgment calls.
So then the experts suggested that the future may hold that once people hit the deductible they will have to pay 20% of costs after that to possibly discourage further use. Well, most of us had insurance at one time that had us pay a portion of costs for everything. Once that happens this is just a huge retrenchment where we pay 100% of costs for several thousand dollars and then pay what we used to pay for the rest.
Douthat and his commenters miss a lot of big points about the causes of suicide. The bad economy no doubt is a contributing factor as Douthat kind of alludes to. But why is the suicide rate in Montana the highest in the nation per capita? Here are some key reasons I believe that are missing from the discussion:
1. The lack of adequate mental health services such as psychiatry
2. The number of uninsured and underinsured people in Montana. High deductible health savings accounts are ‘killers’ for those who need long-term therapy and are not high earners.
3. The isolation of Montana and particularly the cold winters and lack of sunlight
4. The firearms culture and easy access to guns. Guns shots have a finality often missing from other attempts.
Once Douthat starts taking these issues into account I will be more interested in his larger sociological discussions about Durkheim, etc.
Douthat made arguments in the New York Times the rise in middle-aged suicide rates is because of the attenuation of various forms of social and economic belonging — from marriage to churchgoing to stable employment. Nate Cohn argues, the only definite driver of suicide rates seems to be population density. He points out that the suicide rate is highest in the low population states in the mountain west. Here is a take from someone who moved to Montana from the east coast two years ago. Actually it has not yet been posted on the Times website. After it is I will post.
Obama’s poll numbers have improved since the trio of so-called scandals have hit. The latest CNN poll had his approval rating going up to 53% from 51%. That is about as high as its been during his presidency. Obviously it’s just one poll with the usual caveats.
All three scandals represent the dismal aspects of America. There is a desire, no need, for scandals especially among conservatives. I’m not sure why. Real or imagined scandals. There are lots of imagined scandals—the Bert Lance affair in the Carter administration, endless ones in the Clinton administration, and now the Obama administration. All three of these seem to be of the imagined/near imagined variety. Very little there. Shame on Fox News for not being news. But this is how it makes money which speaks poorly of its viewers.
The silver lining is that the scandals are not really determining approval. Again, it seems economic factors trump just about everything else.
Unbelievable. The Massachusetts Senate race is very close according to polls. The special election set on June 25 between long-term congressman Ed Markey and Republican newcomer Gomez is within single digits in all polls, with Markey margins of only 3 and 4 points in some (including Democratic leaning polls). Yes shades of Scott Brown.
Republican voters came home in South Carolina. You would think Democratic voters would do so in Massachusetts, especially since Markey does not share any of Sanford’s flaws. We will see.
From the Monkey Cage Blog (one of the most well known political science blogs). This question was answered by Larry Bartels, one of the most well-known political scientists (if that is not an oxymoron) in the country:
Jeremy Johnson asks: “Do we have information yet about voting among whites based on income from the 2012 election? Did lower-income whites in every state again vote more Democratic than upper-income whites?”
I don’t know about every state; but here is the picture for the Non-South and South, based on survey data from the 2012 Cooperative Campaign Analysis Project. The lowest income category is less than $10,000; the highest is $150,000 and up. The overall correlation between income and Democratic support is negative, but Obama’s voter share is higher in the top income groups than among the upper middle class. (That very low Obama share for the lowest income group in the South is based on 196 survey respondents; the other cell sizes range from 285 to 1420.)
When I was a kid, my parents bought the Encyclopedia Britannica. (For you youngsters in the audience, that was a big shelf of books containing all the good stuff that’s now on the internet.) One of the great features was that it came with a bunch of coupons you could mail in to get customized reports on any topic. (Looking back, it seems possible that we were the only subscribers in the world who were not submitting these as schoolwork.) Alas, The Monkey Cage can’t redeem every reader’s coupons—but today we’re here for you, Jeremy.
Classes ended last week at the college I teach. I’ve always attached a great deal of significance to the last class of any course I’ve taught. Not only is it important that students finish the course having been reminded of the sheer significance of what they’ve learnt, but, even more so, they…
George Leader made the cover of Time with his upset victory as governor in 1954.