Data Show the “American Dream” Is a Fallacy and Americans Still Don’t Realize It

Quartz: “Economists at Harvard University recently published research on actual and perceived economic mobility in the United States and four European countries. They found an American public in denial. The data show that Americans believe the chance that a person who is born into the bottom 20% of households in income in the US can reach the top 20% in adulthood is more than 50% higher than in reality.”

“The researchers also discovered that, within the US, an overly optimistic outlook about economic mobility is concentrated in the parts of the country where actual mobility is lowest.”

An ObamaCare Compromise That Republicans and Democrats Can Both Love

James Pethokoukis: “The most obvious compromise is to fix and stabilize ObamaCare — such as deregulating the insurance exchanges — not repeal and replace it with something brand new.”

“But that’s just a start. Republicans should go even farther than reforming ObamaCare. They should expand it.”

“Imagine an America where ObamaCare was so robust, where the exchanges were such a crackling hotbed of free-market activity and competition, that everyone purchased insurance this way, and no longer counted on their employers (or the government) for health coverage.”

How Clearing Criminal Records Puts People to Work

CityLab: “There are nearly 70 million Americans with a prior arrest or conviction. The mark on their record follows them around, sometimes for 30 or 40 years.”

“Enter expungement, sealing, and set-aside. These legal terms sometimes refer to different processes state to state, but they end with the same result: prior offenses not showing up on background checks for employment. Depending on the state, a criminal record can effectively remove every right a citizen has—like the right to vote, serve on a jury, run for office, or even travel internationally. Going through expungement restores those rights.”

“A recent study put the national cost of the employment penalty for former prisoners and those convicted of felonies at $78 to $87 billion annually.”

The U.S. Media’s Problems Are Much Bigger than Fake News and Filter Bubbles

“The media did exactly what it was designed to do, given the incentives that govern it. It’s not that the media sets out to be sensationalist; its business model leads it in that direction. Charges of bias don’t make the bias real; it often lies in the eye of the beholder. Fake news and cyberattacks are triggers, not causes. The issues that confront us are structural,” Bharat N. Anand writes for Harvard Business Review.

How to Prevent Gun Deaths? Where Experts and the Public Agree

New York Times: “The academics in our panel — many of the country’s best empirical researchers on gun policy — were far more likely than the general public to support gun control. But nearly all of the policies that experts think could work have widespread support from the general public.”

“While Americans remain sharply divided in their overall view of the tension between gun control and gun rights, individual proposals are widely favored. The most popular measures in our survey — policies like universal background checks and keeping guns from convicted stalkers — were supported by more than 85 percent of registered voters. Even the least popular idea, a law that would limit gun sales to people who had to demonstrate a ‘genuine need’ for the weapon, was favored by nearly 50 percent.”

“Public support, of course, doesn’t always translate into legislative action. The Republican Congress, like Mr. Trump, has shown little appetite for measures that would curb gun rights.”

Where Could Trump Find an Example of a GOP-Led Clean Energy Plan? Texas

“Even without a carbon tax, Trump could implement a successful, Republican-led clean energy transition. And there’s one place he can turn for an example: Texas,” Marilu Hastings writes for Dallas News.

“Texas’s main power grid operator is expected to cut carbon dioxide emissions 28 percent below 2005 emission levels by 2035, or 61 million tons per year, as new, efficient plants and renewables replace older, dirtier coal-fired power plants. This will easily surpass any carbon-dioxide reductions called for in the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan.”

“Clean energy has created jobs in Texas. In 2014, the governor’s office reported that 1,300 Texas companies employ more than 100,000 people in the renewable energy sector. According to Carlton Schwab, chief executive of the Texas Economic Development Council, these new jobs pay average annual salaries of more than $78,000.”

Did Media Literacy Backfire?

Danah Boyd: “Anxious about the widespread consumption and spread of propaganda and fake news during this year’s election cycle, many progressives are calling for an increased commitment to media literacy programs. Others are clamoring for solutions that focus on expert fact-checking and labeling. Both of these approaches are likely to fail — not because they are bad ideas, but because they fail to take into consideration the cultural context of information consumption that we’ve created over the last thirty years. The problem on our hands is a lot bigger than most folks appreciate.”

“Media literacy asks people to raise questions and be wary of information that they’re receiving. People are. Unfortunately, that’s exactly why we’re talking past one another.”

All the Risks of Climate Change in a Single Graph

Vox: “Since the atmosphere affects everything, everything will be affected by its warming — there’s no single risk, but a wide and varied array of risks, of different severities and scales, affecting different systems, unfolding on different timelines. It’s difficult to convey to a layperson, at least without droning on and on.”

“One of the better-known and more controversial attempts to address this problem is a graphic from the reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The so-called ‘burning embers’ graph attempts to render the various risks of climate change — ‘reasons for concern,’ or RFCs — in an easy-to-grasp visual form.”

The Major Potential Impact of a Corporate Tax Overhaul

Neil Irwin: “The current corporate income tax manages the weird trick of both taxing companies at a higher statutory rate than other advanced countries while collecting less money, as a percentage of the overall economy, than most of them. It is infinitely complicated and it gives companies incentives to borrow too much money and move operations to countries with lower tax rates.”

“Now, the moment for trying to fix all of that appears to have arrived. With the House, Senate and presidency all soon to be in Republican hands and with all agreeing that a major tax bill is a top priority, some kind of change appears likely to happen. And it may turn out to be a very big deal, particularly if a tax plan that House Republicans proposed last summer becomes the core of new legislation.”

Americans Over 60 Now Have $67 Billion in Student Debt

Quartz: “It’s no secret that Americans carry an enormous amount of student debt: $1.3 trillion in total, owed by 44 million borrowers. Less well known is that many debtors aren’t borrowing for themselves, but for their children and grandchildren, and the number of Americans over 60 with student debt is soaring.”

“According to a new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, borrowers over 60 have $66.7 billion in student loan debt. The number of debtors over 60 has quadrupled in a decade—to 2.8 million in 2015 from 700,000 in 2005—making them the fastest growing age segment with student debt. While some of it was borrowed for their own education, more than two-thirds of the debt is owed for children or grandchildren.”