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How Do You Create Attentive, Responsible Teens? Give ’Em Jobs!

How Do You Create Attentive, Responsible Teens? Give ’Em Jobs!

by Ruth Graham @ Slate Articles

Always Right is Slate’s pop-up blog exploring customer service across industries, technologies, and human relationships.

One of the things I love most about my small town is our grocery store. The prices are low and the selection is decent. But it’s the customer service at Market Basket that makes picking up milk and broccoli such an agreeable errand. As in many retail settings heavy on entry-level jobs, a fair proportion of Market Basket’s employees are teenagers. But these teens aren’t surly or inept or mumblingly awkward like the ones at Cinnabon. These bright young things make friendly eye contact, they dress neatly, and they make pleasantly professional small talk. When I was visibly pregnant a few years ago, baggers walked me out to my car, helped to load my bags, and whisked away the cart afterward. These days they greet my toddler by name in the store. This is Generation Z as if designed in a lab by Greatest Generation scientists.

Now, I’ve been to other stores with some perfectly adequate teenage employees, but how does Market Basket ensure that all their teens are so freshly scrubbed and gung-ho? When I asked the company’s operations supervisor, Joe Schmidt, about its training procedures, I half expected a secret formula: an intense indoctrination program, a complex mentoring system, military-style bagging drills. Instead, he described a one-day orientation, a detailed employee handbook, and corporate “core values” that put customer service first. It all sounded reasonable enough, but it didn’t quite explain why my unremarkable New England supermarket feels like the set of Pleasantville.

As it turns out, one secret to making a good teenage employee is simply employing a teenager. When I reported on teenage employment a few years ago, experts told me over and over how having a job is an invaluable tool for teaching young people “soft skills” like dependability and communication. Employers tend to be much less forgiving of attendance problems than schools are, and the workplace is often the first time teenagers are expected to interact as equals with adult supervisors and customers. Entry-level customer service jobs are where many teens first absorb the kind of basic life skills that make them employable in other fields later—and more pleasant to be around in the meantime. Hiring them is exactly what turns them into people you’d want to hire.

I was 14 when I got my first real job, working the counter at a snack bar on a college campus near my home. Yes, I learned how to operate a cash register and how to reheat the vat of old nacho cheese. But the real skills the job imparted were intangible: I had to learn how to respond to people who had special requests and obscure questions, reasonable and unreasonable. Some were grouchy for reasons that weren’t my fault, and sometimes for reasons that were my fault; they required cheerful on-the-spot solutions either way. In the next few years, those skills were honed further at a series of full-service restaurant jobs, which raised the stakes. Critics point out that tip-based systems end up privileging white men as customers and create a variety of other structural problems. All absolutely true, but I got a real charge out of hustling for tips. When you work for tips, you literally receive cash in proportion to your social expertise—the ability to quickly “read” a group of people and provide the exact style of service (chatty, speedy, flirty) that suits their needs. This was sometimes wildly satisfying, and other times stressful or humiliating. In other words, it was a lot like the rest of my working life would be.

If service-oriented jobs are where teenagers learn to be adults, it’s disturbing, then, that the teenage employment rate has dropped dramatically. In 2000, 46 percent of 16-to-19-year-olds had a job in any given month. Last year, just 30 percent were working. That slump is happening for several reasons, including the decline of entry-level jobs and the fact that more adult workers are resigning themselves to low-paying service work. Meanwhile, white teenagers and those from higher-income families are notably more likely to have jobs. In 2017, the after-school job is becoming a luxury experience.

There’s a risk to fetishizing teen employment as some kind of assembly line for producing cheerful, obedient capitalist drones. But for the teenagers who may not have their first real job until they’re in their 20s, the trend could have real consequences. “This is the first generation that will not have major work experience as part of their adolescent development,” Jeylan Mortimer, a sociologist at the University of Minnesota, told me back in 2014. “This raises major concerns.”

Which brings me back to Market Basket. Schmidt, the company’s director of operations, started working for the company at 14 as a bagger at a store in Danvers, Massachusetts. He worked there throughout high school and college, and made it a career after he graduated. He has now worked for the company for 31 years, and he’s proud that it’s a place that tries to make every employee feel important. “It’s my first job and hopefully my last job,” he said. Schmidt was an amiable, knowledgeable, and helpful guy. Perhaps he learned it on the job.

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As Warm As Its Cookie: 5 Questions With DoubleTree’s Stuart Foster

by Dale Buss @ brandchannel:

DoubleTree by Hilton elevates its iconic welcome cookie into a social campaign with #SweetWelcome

The post As Warm As Its Cookie: 5 Questions With DoubleTree’s Stuart Foster appeared first on brandchannel:.

Winning Over Female Beauty Consumers in India - A Lesson From Dove - GFluence

Winning Over Female Beauty Consumers in India - A Lesson From Dove - GFluence


GFluence

The Dove “Real Beauty” campaign has an iconic status among marketing circles. Using “real” women who buy the products instead of models seems simple, yet it defied everyday advertising practices. After major success in the West, Dove continues to reinvent its famous advertising campaign in other countries. Taking in account cultural specifics it snatched its share of female beauty consumers in India’s market. Let’s take look how the famous beauty products company adapted its western marketing strategy to make it in India.The Original Dove Real Beauty CampaignIt all started in 2003 in the UK. Remember these billboards?Source: Creativebrief.comSince then [...] Read more

Smaller Is Better

Smaller Is Better

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

Like so many Americans, particularly ones who experience both the U.S. air system and transit in the New York City area, I have come to dread out-of-town travel.

Just to get home, tri-staters must endure a series of Herculean labors. Whether you’re taking the train, stomaching an expensive car service, or self-parking in a garage that’s practically in another time zone, getting to and from LaGuardia, JFK, or Newark can take an hour or three hours, depending on traffic, construction, or weather. And even once you arrive, there are mob scenes, long and hostile TSA lines, half-mile walks through the terminals, chaotic boarding procedures, and the dreaded 45-minute taxi, which inevitably ends with “We’re No. 16 for takeoff.” When my ticket reads JFK, LGA, or EWR, I now resort to mindfulness exercises.

But there is one airport code that inspires calm when I travel: HPN. That’s the identifier for the Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York. Sitting on 700 acres 30 miles north of New York City, it’s not exactly hidden or undiscovered. The 99th busiest airport in America, it manages a few dozen flights daily and handled 755,000 departing passengers in April (which is about what JFK does in two days). For those fortunate enough to use it, HPN—like so many small, charming airports—offers the illusion that the American air transit system is tidier and chiller than it actually is.

In business and transport, scale is generally an advantage, leading to lower costs, more economic efficiency, and a better user experience. But over the years, I’ve come to realize that smaller airports—like the ones I’ve come to love in Lansing, Michigan; Ithaca, New York; Portland, Maine; Charleston, South Carolina; and Bismarck, North Dakota—offer a much higher level of functionality. And Westchester, while sharing all the advantages of other small airports, has a huge factor working in its favor: It’s close to where lots of people live and runs direct flights to many huge population centers.

The experience of flying out of Westchester is the polar opposite of using one of the region’s big three. The drive there from my home in Connecticut is short and peaceful. Once off the Merritt Parkway, you head up King Street, which is one of the few streets in the country in which the houses on the eastern side have an address in one state while the houses on the western side have an address in another. Cruise past the ultra-posh Brunswick School, take a hard left, carve 270 degrees of a roundabout, and you’re there. And driving is a cinch, since the parking garage is about 50 feet from the terminal.

The terminal itself is a throwback. Though the area is wealthy, the airport has no luxury retailers, no outposts of celebrity chefs, no airline lounges. It basically has the mien of a bus stop. HPN has two TSA lines and only six gates, but things move very quickly. Before security there’s an ATM and a Dunkin’ Donuts. Tucked away on the second floor is the Purchase Country Diner, whose ambitions eclipse at pancakes, BLTs, and club sandwiches. This airport may lack many of the amenities that the big airports have developed to reduce the misery of flying—fancy stores, a spa, gourmet food. But those can only take the edge off a miserable experience. What a lot of travelers really crave is less wasted time and more dignity.

The reason HPN works is precisely because it doesn’t scale—or, more accurately, can’t scale. Since the airport is located in an area where property values are high and the residents have political clout, there are sharp limits on the level of activity at the airport: Just 240 passengers may move through the terminal each hour, both arriving and departing. According to the Westchester Journal News, HPN allows just four departures or landings every 30 minutes.

Think about that. At any given time, only two flights are being prepared for boarding and takeoff. But don’t mistake the low volume for irrelevance. Four of the nation’s big airlines service the airport. American ferries passengers to Charlotte, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, and Miami. Delta takes customers to Atlanta and Detroit. United connects to its major hub at Chicago’s O’Hare. And JetBlue offers service to five airports in Florida. There are also two smaller regional operations that service Boston, Cape Cod, and Martha’s Vineyard.

There may not be much competition among airlines at Westchester. But the reality is that the airlines operating here are competing against the operations of all the airlines at the other three large airports in the region. (Somehow, the cost of flying to on short notice from Westchester to Washington on American is pretty much the same as the Delta shuttle from LaGuardia.)

So you can get from Westchester to a lot of the places you can get to from JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark and at roughly the same price. But the hassle is much lower. You don’t have to arrive 90 minutes early; it usually it takes just 10 minutes from the time you park your car to the time you’re through security. The staff and crews are much less stressed, precisely because they’re handling a maximum of two departures and two arrivals per hour. When a plane arrives at Westchester, you never sit on the runway until some other plane leaves the gate. You breeze right through the terminal and are on your way to you next destination in five minutes.

Sure, things do go wrong. In fiscal year 2016, 1.7 percent of the flights from Westchester were canceled, while 76 percent left on time, and 73 percent arrived on time. The level and frequency of delays is roughly the same at Westchester as it is at the region’s bigger airports. (At LaGuardia, 2.9 percent of flights were canceled.) But it doesn’t feel that way. That’s partly because at the big airports, airlines often build in 30 minutes for taxiing and sitting on the runway. Which means that at LaGuardia and JFK, even a normal flight can seem like it is delayed.

Of course, in an era when businesses and people are flocking to the largest cities, small, provincial airports are finding it difficult to compete. But smaller airports that are in relatively close proximity to large metroplexes are finding more fans among passengers and airlines that appreciate the smaller degree of hassle. Many frequent travelers who live near big cities have their go-to small places. T.F. Green Airport in Rhode Island, which is emerging as an alternative to Boston’s Logan, has added several flights from Norwegian Air and Frontier. Many Angelenos traumatized by the scrum at LAX flock to the low-key Long Beach Airport, which has added JetBlue and Southwest flights. At the Colorado Springs airport, which connects Denver-area residents to a growing number of markets, passenger traffic in June was up 22 percent from last year.

The appeal of these places is obvious: The entire experience—the parking, the security lines, the boarding lines—is much less dehumanizing. The best thing an airport can do for you is move you into and out of it as quickly as possible. It helps when there’s less airport in the first place.

Read the rest of our series about the airport as the hub of American anxiety.

Trump Has a Nullification Crisis

Trump Has a Nullification Crisis

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

In the 19th century, nullification was the idea that states could void the actions of the federal government if they deemed them unconstitutional. Its proponents, chief among them John C. Calhoun, argued that if something the feds were doing—i.e. tariffs—was contrary to the economic interests of the entity he cared most about—South Carolina—then the state could simply do its own thing. Nullification, like Calhoun’s ideas about slavery, was a profoundly bad one, and it led to a constitutional crisis.

Today, I’d propose a different meaning for nullification—and it is a reason for both hope and concern for anyone dismayed by the presidency of Donald Trump. There is always a tendency for powerful actors—in state and local government, yes, but also in the private sector generally—to decide not to do business with the president, and to act as if the executive branch’s policies don’t exist. In the Trump era that tendency has already become notably pronounced, and it comes in three principal forms.

One form of nullification is denial of patronage: refusing to do business with the entities the president or his family owns. One theory has suggested that the presidency would be a boon to Trump’s businesses, including his golf courses, his private club Mar-a-Lago, and the hotels that carry his name. But with each month, Trump’s conduct in office has pushed people and groups concerned with their brands to cease working with Trump properties. The Trump-branded public golf course in the Bronx, New York, saw its business decline in 2016. While Trump’s Washington, D.C., hotel attracts lobbyists and corporate events, most of the rooms are empty. (Its occupancy rate is a measly 42 percent.) Mar-a-Lago, a stalwart of the social and charity scene in Palm Beach, Florida, has been hit by a wave of event nullification. Since Trump’s disastrous series of comments about the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, one by one charities and nonprofits have canceled their plans to host luncheons, dinners, galas, and dances at the facility. The club, write Drew Harwell and David Farenthold in the Washington Post, has “lost nine of the 16 galas or dinner events that it had been scheduled to host during next winter’s social ‘season’ in Palm Beach. At least three other groups have also canceled charity luncheons there this week.”

A second form of nullification is denial of association: refusing to provide counsel or show up to photo opportunities, or to be in the same room as the president. In the early days of the Trump administration and during the transition, CEOs, athletes, and other boldface names dutifully showed up—some with glee, some with pained expressions on their faces—to be part of the photo ops and volunteer to serve on various councils.

But the norm is no longer the norm. CEOs, athletes, and celebrities are denying Trump the privilege of their association. After Ken Frazier of Merck and Co. quit the Trump’s council on manufacturing, an exodus of CEOs commenced. Several of the advisory firms set up to grant corporate legitimacy and support for the Trump presidency quickly disbanded: the Manufacturing Council, the Strategic and Policy Forum, the Infrastructure Council.

The people on these committees had significant business with the government, and hence much to gain and lose from changes in government policy. But they decided that having their personal or corporate brands associated with Trump would be damaging, cause an intolerable level of cognitive dissonance at a personal level, or both. As Merck lead director Leslie Brun told the Wall Street Journal about boardroom discussion surrounding Trump: “Informal conversations among board members often revolved around ‘what do you tell your kids?’ ”

The Kennedy Center, about to toast six artists, breathed a sigh of relief when Trump said he wouldn’t show up to its annual Honors and canceled the White House reception associated with the event—this as some of the recipients, including actress and dancer Carmen de Lavallade, said they would not show up at the White House reception. Basketball star Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors said he would not go to the White House to celebrate his team’s victory in the NBA Finals, citing a lack of respect for its occupant. “I don’t agree with what he agrees with, so my voice is going to be heard by not doing that,” Durant said.

A third form of nullification is to act as if the proclamations, executive orders, and policy pronouncements are irrelevant to you, don’t exist, or are to be ignored—and to create alternate markets and realities. This dynamic can be seen most vividly in the energy and environmental arenas. Trump has promised to revive the coal industry, pulled out of the Paris climate accord, and installed a bunch of climate-change denialists and skeptics in relevant government agencies.

But states, cities, and companies make their own climate-change policy through laws, policies, standards, or procurement decisions. And many of them are actively nullifying Trump’s statements and actions.

Here are a few things that have happened so far this year:

California extended its cap-and-trade program through 2030. Hawaii became the first state to commit to having 100 percent renewable energy on its electricity supply grid. Orlando, Florida, adopted a target of getting all its electricity from renewable sources by 2050, joining the growing roster of more than three dozen cities that have done so. JPMorgan Chase said that by 2020, it would power all its operations through emissions-free energy. The bank has joined more than 100 large multinational corporations that have made the same commitment. Through May, utilities announced the closure of eight coal-burning plants as the industry continues its transition to a lower-carbon future.

This is not to say Trump doesn’t have real power or that his administration isn’t affecting change or delivering results to favored constituencies. Whether it is the Environmental Protection Agency rolling back water regulations, general nonfeasance at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or the Justice Department’s enforcement of immigration policies, the Trump administration is changing realities on the ground. The rise of nullification does not decrease the danger of an unfettered Trump administration.

What’s more, nullification isn’t a particularly good precedent. I would argue that it is much better for the country and our economy when all sorts of people feel comfortable visiting the White House and making common cause with the White House—and when states, cities, the federal government, and companies are on the same page in the pursuit of goals. There are good historical, constitutional, and practical reasons for the federal government to have primacy over states in many areas. And while it’s nice that some companies are relatively progressive on some issues, and that some CEOs can muster the moral courage to take stands, we shouldn’t be relying on them excessively. CEOs of defense contractors have a much harder time acting as if Trump doesn’t exist than, say, CEOs of consumer products or technology companies. Bench players and role players have far less leeway than all-stars to express their political views.

Still, nullification offers something more satisfying than catharsis or schadenfreude. The fact that people, institutions, and organizations are willing and able to deny their dollars and association with Trump and be celebrated for it is a sign that America’s democratic and market system, which has been under attack, is holding up strong.

One of the features about authoritarian regimes is that there is a price to be paid for defying the expressed wishes and whims of the government and its leader: You can lose your business, or get jailed, or get frozen out from contracts, or lose your license. That’s not happening here.

Overcoming My Fear of Returns, With the Help of E-Commerce

Overcoming My Fear of Returns, With the Help of E-Commerce

by Heather Schwedel @ Slate Articles

Always Right is Slate’s pop-up blog exploring customer service across industries, technologies, and human relationships.

Typically an item left in the office kitchen is a reason for celebration: leftover birthday cake, homemade cookies, fresh tomatoes from someone’s garden. But the saddest thing I ever saw in an office kitchen was an abandoned pair of brand-new women’s pants I found sitting on a table one day. I remember the pants were from Coldwater Creek, size large in a dark color, and they were still in the plastic wrap and packaging they’d been shipped in. They had a note on them that said something like “take me” or “free!”

Sure, those pants weren’t “baby shoes, never worn,” but they broke my heart anyway. Whose were they? What was wrong with them? Was the idea of visiting a store or post office to return them so upsetting that the pants’ owner couldn’t bear it and decided the only way forward was desertion? Since I was a kid, I’ve always felt apprehensive about demanding my money back, stemming no doubt from all the childhood weekend shopping expeditions I spent quietly dying inside while standing in line with my mom at Toys R Us or Caldor or Kmart, watching the women of her generation pursue returns with single-minded purpose. Even if you don’t have full-blown return anxiety, you probably don’t like returning stuff. As Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist and the author of Decoding the New Consumer Mind, told me, “People returning in a store, the emotions there are so clear to read. There’s a combination of either guilt or shame, and it’s also layered over with anger at the hassle of returning.”

But one major thing has changed about retail since my childhood return anxiety: the rise of e-commerce. Because we don’t have fitting rooms on the internet, we tend to return a whole lot more. Some e-commerce players have put in place generous return policies that seem to acknowledge the inevitability of returns and maybe even the possibility that the people who return the most might actually be the most discerning, and best, customers, as Zappos has posited. This year, Amazon introduced a service called Prime Wardrobe, wherein members of the company’s Prime program (who pay an annual fee) can try on clothes and return whatever doesn’t fit. The clothes arrive in a resealable box that already has a prepaid label for mailing it back included inside. Some experts—in particular, makers of retail software who have a dog in the e-commerce race—have encouraged companies beyond the Zappos and the Bonobos of the world to put as much thought into the “after-buying” experience as they do the purchase itself.

It’s difficult to isolate the monetary impact of doing so unless the companies themselves trumpet their results, but a few studies have borne out that it pays to create easy return policies. One 2012 paper in the Journal of Marketing found that a free returns policy at one leading website boosted consumer spending 158 to 457 percent. Another study, this one in the Journal of Marketing Research in 2015, concluded that providing positive return experiences was a valuable tool for creating customers who would bring in more money in the long run.

Yet even as e-commerce makes returns easier there’s still the matter of, as David Sobie calls it, “the dreaded arts and crafts project.” You have to find a box, fit your product back into that box, print out a label, visit the post office. Two years ago, Sobie and Mark Geller co-founded a company called Happy Returns in their own bid to improve the return process. Their idea was to open physical locations in high–foot traffic areas where people could go to return goods purchased at e-commerce-only outlets. At Happy Returns bars, “you don’t need a receipt, you don’t need to do any prep. You simply hand your items to someone, answer a few questions, and get your money back immediately,” Sobie told me. Happy Returns currently has a few dozen locations across the country and works with companies such as Everlane, Eloquii, and Tradesy.

This got me to thinking. Sobie said that what customers want with e-commerce is the ability to buy online and return in person. But even that feels a bit like a compromise—yeah, I guess I’d agree to talk to someone in person to do a return, if my only alternative is having to locate one of those weird padded envelopes and surreptitiously use the office Xerox to print out a label. Everyone knows the real holy grail solution to any problem is that it solves itself without you having to do anything at all: How about instead of sending something back, I do nothing, keep the thing, and get a refund anyway? Greedy, maybe, but it’s what the e-commerce boom has wrought. When one site offers a great perk, like free shipping, suddenly every site has to offer it to compete, and when one retailer gives you a full refund one time, you think maybe you could get accustomed to that kind of service.

I know, because it’s happened to me: Recently, the snaps on a pair of sandals I bought last summer broke. They were from one of those chichi startups that like to trumpet their superior quality and customer service, so I emailed to ask if there was any restitution the company could offer me. (Yes, I used the word restitution.) I never would have done this—complained about a year-old pair of shoes or used an embarrassing word like restitution—in person, but I had no problem firing it off in an email. The impersonal nature of e-commerce had emboldened me. Maybe it’s emboldened us all.

It’s not just that people return more of what they buy online because it doesn’t fit. The whole culture of shopping has evolved over the past few decades. “There’s a lower level of trust between the retailer and the consumer,” Yarrow told me. As mom-and-pop stores have declined and soulless chains have taken over, the power has shifted to consumers. Meanwhile, we’ve also got online stores conditioning us to expect VIP service. “At one point I think consumers felt an obligation of fairness toward a retailer,” Yarrow said. “And then at some point, that sentiment really changed and consumers lost their trust in retailers. Retailers noticed consumers were becoming much more unethical in how they shopped, and they tightened up. It is just a mentality of distrust on both sides.” Among the $260 billion worth of goods Americans returned last year were no doubt billions of dollars’ worth of fraudulent, sneaky, or just plain tacky returns. Haven’t we all seen this firsthand? A friend recently told me about a trip to Costco in which she was appalled to see that the woman in line ahead of her returned a third of a pizza.

It doesn’t feel great that my journey of self-actualization is part of a larger story of the decline of American consumer ethics. On the other hand, though, thinking back to those Coldwater Creek pants, present-me might take them and see what I could get for them. Hell, I have half a mind to write Coldwater Creek now, all these years later, and see what it’ll offer for my troubles, in the way of, ahem, restitution. The old me, who felt a sense of obligation and shame, is gone, replaced by the retail industry’s worst nightmare: a woman who isn’t afraid to ask to speak to the manager.

Illuminati and Music

by noreply@blogger.com (Pop Music) @ The World of Pop Music

In addition to not being particularly good, the song's lyrics are full of not-at-all subtle references to Kim and Kanye, and repudiations of any responsibility for the way public perception turned against her as her lies came into focus. To hear Taylor tell it, even as she reinvents herself, she is still the victim of this story. The throbbing, repetitive refrain pummels into your head and insists that Taylor is not at fault for what she's about to do. It's both a threat and a warning, but it rings hollow: Taylor is not the victim here. No one wronged her. How much longer does she plan to bang that drum? Her inability to recognize why the public turned so swiftly against her is demonstrative of the initial critiques. She seemingly still believes she's being unfairly targeted. 

Her attempt to reclaim the snake imagery she's been saddled with is valiant and demonstrates her good instincts, but it would only have worked if she leaned into it wholesale and fully stepped into her role as the music industry's resident Regina George. Instead, she's positioning herself as full of righteous anger, but the audience already knows she's full of shit. The track insists that karma never forgets, but Taylor is nursing self-inflicted wounds. The song reads as the opening shot of the reignition of a petty feud everyone has moved on from but her. Her declaration that "the old Taylor can't come to the phone because she's dead" reads as though she's quietly been driven mad by delusion, a presumption reinforced by the Hitchcockian imagery of the lyric video. Her insistence that she's coming to avenge herself feels defensive and silly, like a puppy trying to fight its own reflection. Even the song's title is a common refrain of domestic abusers, insisting that their victims are at fault for the suffering they inflict. Knowing what we know now, the song reveals just how small-minded Taylor Swift really is. Is it any wonder she's become emblematic of the 53%?

By trying to have it both ways, Taylor's shooting herself in the foot. What happened to wanting to be excluded from this narrative? She doesn't get to blame the media for her bad reputation when she colluded with them to invent the tightly constructed image she has leaned on for so much of her career. It will be interesting to see how the rest of this album release rolls out and if Taylor will make any course-corrections in the wake of the song's lukewarm reception, but if the rest of the tracks are more declarations of revenge or initiations of unearned wars, she may finally lose her crown as the reigning queen of pop. We all saw through her shallow attempt to embrace feminism as a marketing tactic, so her pivot to anti-heroine villainess makes sense in the age of Trump. But it's a pity that the only thing of substance she has left to give us is a shallow recreation of her old Reputation.

Dove's New Campaign Features 5 Empowering Latinas

Dove's New Campaign Features 5 Empowering Latinas


POPSUGAR Latina

Dove is highlighting real beauty in their newest campaign. The skin-care brand recruited Peruvian photographer Mario Testino to shoot 32 women and girls from

55 agencies with 120 projects enter BalCannes 2017

by Gašper @ Marketing magazin

This year’s BalCannes entries will be judged by separate panels of judges, consisting of marketers (clients), journalists and agency representatives. As every year, the best 25 campaigns will be chosen among submitted entries. Yet for the first time in BalCannes history, top 25 list will be presented by each of three juries on 22 September […]

The post 55 agencies with 120 projects enter BalCannes 2017 appeared first on Marketing magazin.

Julene Allen Hopes That Her Book Sparks Action & Movement

by Amrita Paul @ SheThePeople TV

Julene Allen is the Executive Director of the women’s rights organization, Women For Action. They feature stories about the under-recognized(...)

The post Julene Allen Hopes That Her Book Sparks Action & Movement appeared first on SheThePeople TV.

Real Beauty? Measuring the Dove Marketing Program's Success

Real Beauty? Measuring the Dove Marketing Program's Success


EnergizeGrowth

More than 10 years after its debut, the Dove Real Beauty program remains a marketing icon and a source of controversy. What did it accomplish?

The Latest Version of “Skinny Repeal” Might Give States a Chance to Wreck Obamacare

The Latest Version of “Skinny Repeal” Might Give States a Chance to Wreck Obamacare

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

Republicans have finally unveiled the “skinny” Obamacare repeal bill they plan to vote on this evening. Like everybody expected, it’s an atrocious bit of policy—a piece of legislation that, as many GOP senators have already admitted, would destabilize the insurance markets by killing off the individual mandate while leaving the Affordable Care Act’s other regulations in place.

Somewhat surprisingly, the bill also still aims to make it easier for states to dismantle Obamacare on their own—though just how much easier is a bit of an open question, which of course won’t be resolved because Senate procedure is now a farce and Republicans are voting on this thing tonight.

As you may recall, the original Better Care Reconciliation Act made it extremely easy for conservative states to opt out of Obamacare’s rules and regulations by expanding the so-called 1332 “state innovation waivers” contained in the law. This provision was designed to let states experiment with alternative health care systems—like, say, single-payer—so long as officials could show that whatever setup they came up with would cover as many people as comprehensively as Obamacare, and without raising the federal deficit. The Republican bill would have nixed most those conditions, save the deficit bit, forcing the secretary of health and human services to approve pretty much any waiver request that came his way. Worse yet, once waivers were in place, the federal government would not be allowed to revoke it, no matter how states mismanaged their funding.

As Michigan Law Professor Nicholas Bagley wrote back in June, “If state officials blow the Obamacare money on cocaine and hookers, there’s apparently nothing the federal government can do about it.”

Earlier on Thursday, however, it seemed like those waivers-on-steroids might have be removed from the GOP’s bill. The Senate parliamentarian ruled that they were not eligible for a vote under the reconciliation process GOP leaders are relying on to pass their bill, and so would need 60 votes to break a filibuster.

But it turns out a somewhat-less-expansive version of the waivers made it into the skinny bill after all. To get them, states will still have to show that their proposals will cover as many people as thoroughly as Obamacare—those guardrails have been left in place. But once a waiver is approved, they can’t be canceled for eight years, which may effectively give states room to do whatever the heck they want. Or so writes Bagley late Thursday at The Incidental Economist: “So while the ACA’s guardrails are still in place, states can ignore them once a waiver has been granted. And there’s not a thing the federal government can do about it.”

Personally, I’m not so sure these waivers are really a free hall pass for states to revoke insurance from their residents. Presumably, if a state doesn’t abide by the terms of its own waiver, individuals who lost their coverage or premium subsidies could bring a lawsuit. (Likewise, if the administration tried to approve a waiver that clearly doesn’t meet all of Obamacare’s standards, someone would almost surely drag it into court). Would that work? I can’t say. There was some debate about it tonight on Twitter.

And that’s the problem (or, one of the problems, anyway). There hasn’t been nearly enough time to judge how this bill could affect health care for millions. And no matter what Mitch McConnell says, there’s a strong chance it could become law.

London to Uber: Get Out

London to Uber: Get Out

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

Starting in October, Londoners may have one fewer way to get around town.

It will be the first month since 2012 that Europe’s largest city goes without Uber, whose license to operate will expire on Sept. 30. Transport for London, the city’s transportation department, will not renew it, the agency announced on Friday.

It’s a massive blow to Uber, which has 40,000 drivers in the British capital. The company has three weeks to appeal and may continue operating while the appeal is considered.

The ride-hailing company has already done significant damage to London’s black cabs, a guildlike profession whose drivers must memorize 25,000 streets in a test that has been shown to expand the size of their hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for spatial thinking. There are twice as many Ubers as black cabs in London; the cabbies have nicknamed Transport for London, known by its acronym TfL, “Totally Failing London.” As in many cities, cabbies are upwardly mobile, small-time entrepreneurs who say Uber has precipitated a race to the bottom. Adding to the tension is the fact that many Uber drivers are immigrants; cabbies tend to be native and white.

But TfL’s opposition to Uber is not with its business model, but with its corporate governance. In a press release, the body cited Uber’s fast-and-loose approach to crime reporting, medical certificates, and background checks, in addition to its use of Grayball, a software that helped the company evade police scrutiny.

So while London’s approach to Uber may wind up as one anecdote in a series of stories of European regulators willing to take on U.S. tech companies, it’s much more an Uber-specific problem. The company’s aggressive disregard for local laws was instrumental in its expansion and operation, but that was during the Travis Kalanick era. New CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who was appointed last month, has signaled the arrival of a more mature company.

This is his biggest test yet. In the past, Uber has responded to legal setbacks with scorching PR campaigns that have largely succeeded in getting the company what it wants. When New York City challenged the company several years ago, for example, it enlisted local celebrities in its defense. A year of terrible press may have strained that model. Still, tens of thousands of Londoners have grown to depend on the company, whose fares can be 30 percent lower than typical black cabs. (Lyft, Uber’s main U.S. rival, does not have international service—though the company has said it plans to expand.) If those inconvenienced riders are outraged enough, they may be able to pressure TfL to accommodate Uber, leading other municipal regulators to go easier on the company, too.

An Uber exit from London would hurt the company’s image and its bottom line. But the real victims will be its tens of thousands of drivers, many of whom will have taken on auto debt to buy new cars to drive for Uber.

Uber’s in a good position, with its recent leadership shuffle, to politely make the case its governance ain’t what it used to be. The last time it left a major city was in 2016, when Austin, Texas, instituted a strict new background check rule. In the absence of Uber and Lyft, a homegrown ride-hail scene bloomed. But after the Texas Legislature pre-empted the city this summer, Uber and Lyft returned—and quickly recaptured their market share.

Why Detroit Erupted

Why Detroit Erupted

by Jake Blumgart @ Slate Articles

The long, heated summers of the 1960s are seared into the American imagination: commercial corridors in central cities reduced to ruin, tanks in the streets, and the angry release of pent-up disaffection as the long-suffering black populations of numerous cities rose up.

All of this is captured in Kathryn Bigelow’s new movie, Detroit, which dramatizes one of the bloodiest instances of civil violence in the 1960s. The film centers around what is known as the Algiers Motel incident, a horrific instance of police brutality and murder in the midst of wider chaos.

Bigelow’s Detroit has been criticized for focusing on an extended scene of torture at the expense of that summer’s larger story about activism, unrest, and frustrated dreams. The film opens with an animated depiction of the Great Migration—based on Jacob Lawrence’s famous artwork—and then jumps to the police raid on an after-hours bar that sparked the five days of riots. Then it settles into the sickening scene at the Algiers Motel and Manor House, where police brutally interrogated a group of people who’d been taking shelter in the building about the possible presence of a sniper in their midst. After hours of torture, three young black men were killed.

New York University’s Tom Sugrue, a native of Detroit, attended the film’s premiere at the city’s legendary Fox Theater. He is the author of an essential work about the city’s history, The Origins of the Urban Crisis, which charts Detroit race relations from the end of World War II through the unrest of 1967, the year of the city’s riots. The book definitively shows that many of the forces that would eventually gut Detroit, reducing its population by more than half (and still falling), had been set in motion decades before the unrest—which conveyers of conventional wisdom have often blamed for the city’s decline.

Sugrue and I recently discussed the larger context of the Detroit riots, the history of racial violence in the Motor City, and the factors he wishes Bigelow’s film had depicted. Our interview has been edited for concision and clarity.

Jake Blumgart: What did you think of Kathryn Bigelow’s new movie?

Tom Sugrue: I say this with all humility because I’m not a film critic and I don’t produce for a mass audience. But it’s a Hollywood production, and I think Bigelow left out some really important dimensions.

I found the focus on what happens in the Algiers Motel to be important, but the aftermath of what happened is also important. The trials were ruthlessly compressed to the single trial up in Mason [a suburb where an all-white jury was allowed to decide the case against the offending officers]. The role of the motel incident and the events of 1967 in mobilizing a black politics of resistance in Detroit, especially around questions of policing, was underdeveloped.

One of the most interesting post-1967 events was the people’s tribunal, an alternative trial of the police in the motel put on by black power, anti-police brutality, and civil rights activists in Detroit. It was really dramatic, and one of the regular attendees included Rosa Parks, who was living in Detroit at the time and closely affiliated with the black power movement in the late 1960s. That story of a challenge to police brutality and power was absent.

That would have made a richer film, but based on Bigelow’s earlier movies, she isn’t big on legal drama and is much more interested in torture and terror.

Even beyond the central horror of the set piece at the Algiers Motel, the film repeatedly emphasizes just how trigger happy the forces of law and order were. The vast majority of the riot’s 43 deaths were at the hands of government agents of various kinds.

Thirty-four of the 43 deaths were at the hands of law enforcement officials or the National Guard. Only one person was killed by the paratroopers [whom President Lyndon Johnson sent in].

Was this kind of death toll, mostly black people being killed by the police, normal for the urban unrest of the 1960s?

Yes. But understand that most of the deaths in the long, hot summers of the 1960s happened in a relatively small number of cities. Newark, Watts, and Detroit counted for the lion’s share of deaths, while in the summer of 1967 alone there were 163 incidents of rebellions, uprising, civil disorder, whatever you want to call it. Most of those didn’t involve any deaths.

I thought it particularly notable that the opening of the movie, using the famous artwork of Jacob Lawrence, made sure to make note of pervasive job and housing discrimination that had been occurring since the Great Migration—and that white flight had already begun in earnest well before the riots. That narrative, that you put forward in your book, runs counter to the conventional wisdom that it was the riots themselves that spurred white flight and divestment.

In Detroit in particular, today there is a lot more recognition of the fact that the city’s troubles date to well before 1967. That said, lots of journalists and popular commenters still truck in the stale conventional wisdom that 1967 was the beginning of the end. I think that animated introduction of the movie did a good job of capturing, in a compelling shorthand way, a lot of the major themes of urban history scholarship from the last 20 years.

I would have liked to see more recognition in that section of the importance of Detroit as a center for African American activism. 1967 didn’t emerge out of a vacuum but in some ways grew out of a 20-year movement of racial equality and justice in Detroit that focused among other things on policing and exploitative neighborhood businesses in African American communities. And those were the major targets of the folks who took to the streets in Detroit in 1967.

There’s an important backstory that’s more than segregation and discrimination; it’s exploitation and systemic violence and predation that was afflicting those communities before 1967. Bigelow captured some of that by showing the common policing practice in Detroit leading up to 1967, particularly in the late 1950s when the city instituted really aggressive policing tactics, like stopping and frisking African American men.

What were the other circumstances that laid the groundwork for the unrest of 1967? It’s easy to see why Bigelow would focus on societal trends that are easier to dramatize, like police brutality, but how did forces like capital flight and residential segregation contribute?

Detroit’s long-established residential segregation played a critical role. The neighborhoods at the epicenter of the uprising of 1967 were places where African American residents had little contact with whites outside of shopkeepers and law enforcement officials. Detroit’s police department in 1967 was 95 percent white. Most officers didn’t have any substantive experience living with African Americans because of the intense patterns of racial segregation. They weren’t socializing with African Americans, playing baseball with them, going to church with them; they weren’t drinking at the same bars or having block parties with them.

There was a nearly complete separation and as a consequence a really deep ignorance of African American life in Detroit on the part of the overwhelmingly white police force. That separation provided really fertile ground for stereotypes to flourish and for prejudice to intensify.

Can you provide more context about those who participated in the civil violence of 1967? As I understand it, most of the rioters were young black men. What were the specific challenges they faced that didn’t affect young white men or young black men a generation before?

One thing to remember that pretty much all the studies of the uprisings of 1967 showed was that the folks who took to the streets weren’t at the very bottom of the economic ladder. It wasn’t the poorest or the most marginal. It was folks who were slightly better off and slightly better educated and more tied into the city’s labor market than the poorest residents.

Part of the conventional wisdom of 1967 is that this was a revolt of the very bottom, the folks who were the most left out. That wasn’t the case. That said, African American men in Detroit experienced a great deal of economic precarity, even those who had a decent education and connection to the city’s labor market. African Americans were still confined to the city’s most insecure jobs and often the least pleasant jobs. But unemployment rates in Detroit were relatively low in 1967, certainly in comparison to today. I think part of it was expectations. In a city that had long been at the epicenter of one of the most powerful industries in the world and had a large and vibrant economy, the fact that African Americans had jobs was part of the story—but the fact they had the worst jobs is a critical factor to keep in mind.

Discrimination in the workplace was still rife in Detroit in the 1960s, despite the opening of opportunities to African American workers and despite civil rights legislation. And there was a great deal of resentment that the benefits of the city’s industrial economy weren’t being distributed equally across racial lines.

In your introduction to John Hersey’s book The Algiers Motel Incident, you write that between 1948 and 1967 Detroit lost nearly 130,000 manufacturing jobs. That’s another historical event people often think occurred later, but deindustrialization wasn’t just a product of the 1970s and 1980s. As you show, it really started happening almost immediately after World War II.

Exactly. The disappearance of jobs from Detroit fell particularly hard among younger African American men. The jobs that were disappearing were the first rung on the manufacturing ladder, which required few skills and had few barriers to entry. These provided significant opportunity for their parents’ generation, for African Americans migrating from the South in the World War II era and immediately afterward. Everyone in Detroit regardless of race is being affected by this restructuring, but its effects are particularly hard on unskilled African American workers.

To put it differently, the significant reality of the auto industry is that it’s leaving Detroit when there isn’t any significant international competition, well before the oil shocks of the 1970s caused real trouble for the auto industry. Manufacturing is already picking up and decamping for other parts of the United States and the world during that period of the unchallenged supremacy of the American auto industry.

Another thing I wanted to touch on from your book, that provides the context to the 1967 civil unrest, is the persistent violence that met black families trying to move into white neighborhoods in the postwar years. Why is that violent white resistance still unrecognized?

Recognizing that narrative really demands coming to terms with white culpability for the intense residential segregation and racial polarization in metropolitan Detroit. That’s a story many folks would prefer to sweep under the rug. Detroit had two genuine race riots during World War II. Both were pitched attacks on African Americans by whites.

After the war, white Detroiters organized into one of the most powerful grassroots urban movements of the period, the so-called homeowners’ rights movement to protect the racial homogeneity of their neighborhoods by any means necessary. That included putting pressure on elected officials to keep affordable housing out of predominantly white neighborhoods. It also meant organizing vigilante activities to resist African Americans who were the first to move in, signaling the high price they would pay if they moved onto white turf.

Combing through the records of civil rights organizations, government agencies, and the African American press, I found more than 200 violent incidents that accompanied the first movements of African Americans into formerly white neighborhoods. White Detroiters sent a very strong signal to black Detroiters to not cross these invisible racial lines.

Another dimension of that is the city’s police turned a blind eye toward vandalism and attacks on black property by whites. Often police would be dispatched to the sites of the protests, and then mysteriously late at night with cop cars stationed outside, windows would still be broken. Many of Detroit’s white police officers were sympathetic with white homeowners who wanted to protect their neighborhood from racial encroachment.

If you think of the totality of African American resentment toward the city’s white police force, the role of the police in turning a blind eye toward racial violence is a really important dimension of the story.

Any final thoughts on Bigelow’s movie and the uprising of 1967?

One other part of the uprising, which would be hard for the film to convey as well, is the toll that urban renewal, highway construction, and looting in the summer of 1967 had on a couple generations of black business people. It’s devastating to African American capital.

Most shopkeepers in cities like Detroit rented the buildings they had businesses in. A lot of the buildings were still owned by whites who fled the neighborhood but kept their investments in real estate. Renters didn’t get reimbursement when their businesses were displaced by urban renewal. So, when properties were condemned then demolished, the property owners got reimbursed for the loss of their property. But if you run a neighborhood bar or barbershop, you can’t just pick up and move four miles away and expect you can just get all your clients back.

To start a whole business over from scratch when you aren’t being compensated for the loss because you don’t own the building? So when the Paradise Valley neighborhood in Detroit is blasted away for the construction of a major arterial freeways and then when looting and burning guts a lot of the thriving black businesses, including on 12th Street where the rebellion began.

That’s the story of Melvin Dismukes [played by John Boyega], a security guard standing inside a building during the riots, or of folks writing “Soul Brother” on their shop windows hoping that would turn away looters and arsonists. These are folks desperately trying to hold on to their fragile investments in these neighborhoods. And the long-term effects were devastating to black shopkeepers and business owners.

Republicans Think It’s Unfair How States That Expanded Medicaid Are Getting More Medicaid Funding

Republicans Think It’s Unfair How States That Expanded Medicaid Are Getting More Medicaid Funding

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

At this point, pretty much everybody in Washington has noticed that the new Obamacare repeal bill Senate Republicans have rallied behind, Graham-Cassidy, would transfer large amounts of cash from blue states to red states. Specifically, its funding formula would strip federal money from places that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, like California and New York, and reward those that did not, like Alabama and Texas. Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul, who opposes the bill, has described it as a “game of Republicans sticking it to Democrats.” (Of course his state, which did expand Medicaid under a Democratic governor, also stands to lose out.)

In the past couple of days, the bill’s authors, Sens. Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham, have tried to respond to this charge. Their legislation is not a partisan smash and grab, they insist. Nope. Not all. Rather, it merely fixes Obamacare’s own grossly unfair funding formula. How so? Per the New York Times:

“Right now, 37 percent of the revenue from the Affordable Care Act goes to Americans in four states”—California, New York, Massachusetts and Maryland, Mr. Cassidy said. “That is frankly not fair.”

As is his wont, Graham delivered a more elaborate version of this spiel during a floor speech Monday.

“I like Massachusetts, I like Maryland, I like New York, I like California, but I don’t like them that much to give them a bunch of money that the rest of us won’t get,” he said. “Now, if you live in Massachusetts, you don’t get twice the Social Security or 50 percent more than if you live in Pennsylvania. Now how can this happen? Obamacare, for whatever reason, favors four blue states against the rest of us.”

Graham treats this as if it’s some sort of impenetrable mystery, one accessible only to nearsighted budget wonks. But of course, there’s a very obvious, good reason why these four states receive a disproportionate share of Obamacare’s funding today: They expanded Medicaid. That’s pretty much the whole answer. Meanwhile most red-state governors decided to treat health care policy like an Appalachian blood feud and refused the money the Obama administration all but begged them to take. Thus, the high-population California and New York get a very big slice of the ACA’s pie. If Florida or Texas had decided to accept the big, gift-wrapped pile of dough Washington was offering, things wouldn’t look quite so imbalanced.

And this stat, insofar as it has any significance, really is just about California and New York. I don’t know precisely where Graham and Cassidy got their number, but according to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal government is expected to spend about $117 billion on Obamacare’s marketplace subsidies and Medicaid expansion this year. As of 2015, the Kaiser Family Foundation says California was receiving $19.6 billion worth of federal funding for its Medicaid expansion population while New York got $7.7 billion. Maryland and Massachusetts both got less than $2 billion—less than the amount Ohio received for its Medicaid expansion, or than Florida gained entirely for premium tax credits this year, for that matter.

Now, it pains me to have to spell this out, but it’s worth remembering that the federal government offered every single state the same match rate for Medicaid expansion enrollees. All they had to do was sign people up. There was no inequity baked into the formula. So when Cassidy and Graham grouse about how much money California and New York get, they are essentially whining over the fact that Medicaid-expansion states get more Medicaid funding. The only way that might seem unfair is if you happen to live in a state where your stubborn Republican governor turned that money down.

Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty" Is the Campaign of 21st Century - Marketing magazin

Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty" Is the Campaign of 21st Century - Marketing magazin


Marketing magazin

The iconic campaign was picked by every one of the Advertising Age judges as belonging on the list, and one that was described by the panel as “groundbreaking, brave, bold, insightful, transparent and authentic.” As Ad Age states, Dove began its campaign with a global survey in 2004 that found, among other things, that only 23 …

Shonda Rhimes Is On a Mission to Give You Olivia Pope-Level Confidence in Yourself

Shonda Rhimes Is On a Mission to Give You Olivia Pope-Level Confidence in Yourself


PEOPLE.com

The television producer and beauty brand are on the hunt for real women to share their real stories of beauty with the world

The Awful Irony of Obama’s Economic Recovery

The Awful Irony of Obama’s Economic Recovery

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

2016 was not a terrible year for American families. According to the Census Bureau’s annual report on income, poverty, and health insurance, released Tuesday, the median household income rose by a healthy 3.2 percent, building 2015’s record-setting gains. The poverty rate also dipped a bit—from 13.5 percent down to 12.7 percent—as did the fraction of Americans who lacked health insurance. The folks at the census summed things up with this upbeat graphic. It’s not inaccurate. Our economic well-being is gradually improving.

And yet, looking over the data, I couldn’t help but feel slightly morose. Whatever you think of President Obama and Congress’ attempts to revive the economy after 2008, you have to reckon with the fact that the recovery took years to meaningfully reach the middle class and poor. Yes, the unemployment rate ticked down slowly, month by month. But incomes were essentially stagnant for more than half a decade.

Even now, as economist Justin Wolfers points out, median incomes for most demographic groups are barely above their levels from 1999. Black households still have yet to recover fully. Americans have had to wade through a vast swamp of economic disappointment to reach even the moderately good news we’re seeing today.

It’s bitterly ironic that Donald Trump launched an entire presidential campaign about American decline at almost the precise moment that middle-class incomes and poverty began to heal from the recession. But he was able to do it in part because the economy took so many years to right itself. And while “economic anxiety” was obviously not the only thing (or even the main thing) fueling Trumps support, it’s hard not to wonder what we might have been spared politically had Washington managed to engineer a faster recovery. A bigger stimulus, more help for struggling homeowners—maybe these things would have only helped around the margins. But maybe they also would have prevented a bit of hopelessness from setting in, before it was too late.

Letting People Buy In to Medicaid Is the Hot New Democratic Health Care Idea

Letting People Buy In to Medicaid Is the Hot New Democratic Health Care Idea

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

With Obamacare repeal defeated for the time being, Democrats have begun looking ahead and crafting plans to expand health coverage to the millions of Americans who still remain uninsured. On Tuesday, Vox previewed one such proposal from Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, which would let middle- and upper-income Americans buy into Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act's exchanges. “Exclusive: Sen. Schatz’s New Health Care Idea Could Be the Democratic Party’s Future,” declared the somewhat breathless, if technically accurate, headline. (I mean, Dwayne Johnson could be the Democratic Party's future, too.)

When I asked Schatz's office for more details, I was told the bill is still a work in progress with some pieces subject to change. But after reading a draft summary of the plan that's been making the rounds in health-policy circles, it strikes me more like an old idea with some important new twists: Schatz wants to bring back the concept of a strong public option on the Affordable Care Act's exchanges. Medicaid just happens to be the vehicle to do it.

As you no doubt recall, Democrats spent much of the 2009 Obamacare wars arguing over whether to create a government-run health plan to compete with private insurers. But even among public-option advocates, there were two camps. On one side, you had progressives, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, advocating a “strong” public option that would save costs by using the same doctor payment rates as Medicare. Moderate and conservative Dems saw this as a step too close to socialized medicine and preferred a weaker public option that would have to negotiate rates with providers just like Aetna or Humana.

In the end, both ideas proved objectionable to industry-friendly centrists like Connecticut's Joe Lieberman. The public option died.

Eight years later, liberals are now seriously debating the merits of full-on Medicare-for-all. In this new, lefty0friendly milieu, Schatz is more or less resuscitating the strong public option and serving it up as a political half-measure, just in case Congress can't muster the votes for single payer whenever Democrats next regain power.

As I said, though, it's not quite the same idea as before.

Instead of creating a federally run insurance plan, Schatz would give states the option to offer Medicaid coverage for purchase through their Obamacare exchanges. The plans would be open to all residents who were not otherwise insured and, according to the outline, would be modeled on the sort of insurance offered through Obamacare's Medicaid expansion—which, among other things, means it would cover the ACA's 10 essential health benefits. Crucially, premiums would be capped at no more than 9.5 percent of a family's income. Customers could also use their Obamacare tax credits toward the cost.

Letting middle-class families buy into Medicaid this way would fix two of the Affordable Care Act's fundamental flaws. First, it would create a health plan of last resort in places where private carriers decided not to do business. That seems more necessary than ever now that dozens of rural counties have just narrowly avoided being left without insurance options for next year. Second, it would create a new guarantee of affordable coverage for upper-middle-class families. Today, households that make more than 400 percent of the poverty line aren't eligible for Obamacare's tax credits. That's created millions of disgruntled Americans, who've been left exposed to rising premiums on the individual market. Opening up Medicaid to everyone, and putting a ceiling on its cost, would give that group some protection.1

It's not clear that either of these moves would vastly expand the number of Americans with health coverage. But they would sure up Obamacare's promises. Every family would have access to coverage on the individual market, and it would cost less than a tenth of their income, no exceptions.

Schatz's plan has one other important plank. It would increase Medicaid's payment rates to doctors and hospitals so that they matched Medicare's, with Washington picking up the full cost of the change. This move would be expensive—Medicaid pinches its pennies today, paying providers 72 percent of what Medicare offers, on average. But it would likely go a long way toward fixing what many people consider Medicaid's biggest flaw: the fact that many doctors simply won't accept the program's patients because it pays too little. Hiking the pay rates would give Medicaid enrollees access to wider networks of care and make the program more appealing to middle-class customers.

One quirk of using Medicaid to create a public option is that it might not really be public, strictly speaking. While Medicaid is funded by states and the feds, most of its enrollees today actually receive their insurance through private managed-care organizations that contract with the government. Judging from Schatz's outline, a state could lean on the same companies to offer buy-in plans. Some of these carriers, like Centene and Molina, already sell coverage on Obamacare's insurance exchanges; in places where they do, Schatz's plan might simply serve as a way to extend ACA-like subsidies to more upper-middle-class families.

That might make the Medicaid buy-in a bit more palatable to the insurance industry, which came out hard against the public option in 2009. Instead of putting them out of business, it could pad their profits. Of course, that might also be a turn-off to the left-wing activists who've been driving the Democrats' health-care debate, many of whom want to drive the private sector out of the health insurance business entirely.

There's at least one other obvious downside to using Medicaid as a public insurance backstop: States might simply choose not to expand it, just like many chose not to expand the program under the ACA. For that reason, some Democrats might still prefer to let Americans buy in to Medicare, since it's available everywhere.2 The upside of using Medicaid, so far as the left might be concerned, is that it would give states flexibility to make their buy-in's more generous. A state like California might even use it as a vehicle to pursue single payer, with federal funding.

Potential qualms aside, Schatz's plan says something interesting about the changing politics of health care. Once maligned as a poor program for poor people, Democrats are now treating Medicaid as a viable option for ensuring the middle class. For that, we can thank its successful expansion under Obamacare, as well as the Republican Party's failed attempts to slash its budget, which helped rally liberals in support of Medicaid.

Schatz's plan has also shown how far the Overton window has shifted on health care. Less than a decade ago, the public option was a bridge too far Democrats. Now, it's being treated as a modest step toward something bigger. “If there’s ever a vote for single-payer, I’m a ‘yes,’ ” Schatz told Vox. “But there are lots of things we can do in the meantime.”

1For families that earn 300 to 400 percent of the poverty line, Obamacare's subsidies cap premiums at about 9.6 percent of income. So you could argue that Schatz's plan is effectively expanding Obamacare-like subsidies to everyone.

2 I suppose Congress could also let people buy into both, and see which gets more traction.

World’s Wealthiest Woman Passes Away: Things To Know

by Tara Khandelwal @ SheThePeople TV

Liliane Bettencourt, the heiress to the L’Oreal fortune, passed away at the age of 94. She was the daughter of(...)

The post World’s Wealthiest Woman Passes Away: Things To Know appeared first on SheThePeople TV.

How to Find Your Company’s Voice

by admin @ Elevate Promo

When your customers and potential customers talk with customer service, does it feel consistent with who you are on social media, or in your ads and commercials? Few small businesses really take time to define their “voice.” However, having a consistent identity across all the forward-facing elements of your business is important. It helps you […]

Take a Knee: NFL Players Show United Front Against Trump by Kneeling and Locking Arms During National Anthem

Take a Knee: NFL Players Show United Front Against Trump by Kneeling and Locking Arms During National Anthem

by Stephanie Petit @ PEOPLE.com

Before facing off in London, multiple players on both the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars took a knee during the national anthem on Sunday.

The athletes, appearing to take a united stance against President Donald Trump’s recent railing against NFL player Colin Kaepernick and other players kneeling during the “Star Spangled Banner,” linked arms with each other at Wembley Stadium. Ravens coach John Harbaugh and Jaguars coach Doug Marrone stood with their team as well as their coaching and medical staffs during the anthem.

Jaguars owner Shad Khan, the only minority owner in the NFL, stood and linked arms with players Marcedes Lewis and Telvin Smith.

USA Today reports Khan donated $1 million to Trump’s presidential campaign. Later on Sunday, Khan released a statement saying that it was a privilege to stand with his players.

“Our team and National Football League reflects our nations, with diversity coming in many forms — race, faith, our views and our goals,” Khan said. “We have a lot of work to do and we can do it, but the comments by the President make it harder. That’s why it’s important for us, and personally for me, to show the world that even if we may differ at times, we can and should be united in the effort to become better as people and a nation.”

According to ESPN, the Ravens had seven players who took a knee: Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley, Za’Darius Smith, Mike Wallace, Tony Jefferson, Anthony Levine and Lardarius Webb. About 10 Jaguars knelt, including Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, Malik Jackson, Tashaun Gipson and Leonard Fournette. It is thought to be the largest number of players who have knelt during the national anthem during a NFL game.

“We recognize our players’ influence,” said Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti in a statement. “We respect their demonstration and support them 100 percent. All voices need to be heard. That’s democracy in its highest form.”

During a rally speech in Alabama on Friday, Trump stated, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say, ‘Get that son of a b–ch off the field right now. Out, you’re fired.’”

He followed this up by pouring more gasoline on the fire with a series of tweets. “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect…our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem,” he wrote. “If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”

Numerous celebrities — including Diddy — have also joined in standing behind the players, causing a resurgence of the #TakeAKnee hashtag on social media.

RELATED VIDEO: Diddy Tells NFL Players to ‘Stand Up for Each Other’ After Trump’s Colin Kaepernick Tirade

 

On Saturday morning, NFL commissioner Roger Goodman, responded to Trump’s comments.

“The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture,” Goodman said. “There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month.

“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities,” he said.

RELATED VIDEO: Natasha Stoynoff Breaks Silence, Accuses Donald Trump of Sexual Assault

In August 2016, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made headlines — and sparked a movement — when he took a knee during the national anthem.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said at the time. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”


Meditation, Anointing and Anger in Beyoncé's #Lemonade

Meditation, Anointing and Anger in Beyoncé's #Lemonade

by Cate Young @ BattyMamzelle: feminist • pop culture • criticism - Cate Young

 

There's very little that I can add to the conversation about Beyoncé's latest visual masterpiece, Lemonade. The pros, cons, dos and don'ts have already been talked to death, and all the best things have been said. But truthfully I'm more interested in how Lemonade makes me feel. I want to interrogate the reactions I had to what I consider to be one of the most profound pieces of work ever created by a black woman, both artistically and economically.

I watched Lemonade, end to end, on my own. I turned my phone off, silenced my notifications, and paid attention to the journey that Beyoncé had decided to take me on. I watched in awe as black women congregated and communed with each other as Beyoncé lay bear her own feelings and tapped into universal truths about existing both black and female. I cried as a Mardi Gras Indian blessed a dinner table full of empty chairs; places set for people who could never join the offering.

Much has been made of Becky with the good hair; an attempt by white women to find something recognizable to latch onto in a sea of womanhood both public and commercial, that for the first time, deliberately excludes them. But Becky is beside the point. Because the point is that Beyoncé sees us. Beyoncé sees and acknowledges black women and our struggles, and she centered her art around affirming our hurt, our pain, our suspicion and our betrayal. Beyoncé made an (another) album about being a black woman, and the pain and joy that it can entail.

Guiding us through the stages of grief, Beyoncé weaves a story of pain, heartbreak and most of all anger, that is all too familiar to black women. Routinely, we are labelled as crazy or unpredictable without acknowledgement of the abuse that warranted that reaction. We are betrayed and told his infidelity is our sin to bear, we're mocked for our attempts to become the women the world holds in high esteem.

Lemonade explores the blatant lies and half-truths that black women are forced to swallow and the pathology we are cursed to bear. But most importantly it justifies the delicious destruction born of righteous and justified anger. It allows our anger, ever stymied, always dismissed, to bubble over, froth and foment, and acknowledges it as a valid reaction to repeated abuse. As Ijeoma Oluo writes in the Guardian:

 

This expectation of black women to suffer in silence is passed from generation to generation. Beyoncé explores this inheritance unflinchingly: "You remind me of my father - a magician, able to exist in two places at once/In the tradition of men in my blood you come home at 3am and lie to me.

And it is this inheritance that Beyoncé rejects throughout Lemonade. She refuses to suffer in silence, and instead delves deep into the hurt and betrayal that has rended her life and her love apart, and encourages us all to do the same. She rips our generational burden to shreds and sets herself and us, on a path to redemption through shared communion. The hurt she explores here is real and familiar; an old prophecy passed from mother to daughter and back again, repeated ad infinitum until it fulfills itself. It is a battle we prepare for from the moment we are old enough to distinguish our blackness. Dominique Matti's beautiful essay roots this out:

 

But Lemonade says to Black women that Black women are enough. It says the world must take responsibility for the damage it does to us. It says we are not protecting anyone who harms us. It says we will not suffer in silence, we will not beg, we will not make up for flaws that aren't flaws at all. It says I see you, now see me. Look me in the eye, see yourself. It says that healing will not come if we are not allowed to vocalize our aching. It says we are owed healing by everyone who hurts us. It says you owe us for what you take from us. It gives back to us what you've taken. 

Lemonade is for Black women because the world treats Black women as though they are difficult daughters, difficult mothers, difficult lovers, difficult friends, difficult workers, difficult strangers. They are treat us like we are difficult, because it makes us easy targets. They treat us like we are difficult so that no one in the world will defend us. But now we are defending ourselves. Lemonade was an act of self-defense.

The idea of Lemonade as a pre-emptive attack on a world that  denies our humanity is seductive. So much of being a black women amounts to being less. To diminishing oneself to fit into neat boxes, to crafting oneself in Becky's image to forestall justifications of mistreatment, of ripping skin apart to get to the respectability underneath. Lemonade shows strength borne not of hardship exactly but rather of necessity. Here, black women are not inherently strong enough to bear the unimaginable. Rather we use our shared experiences to build each other up in the aggregate so that we might each individually endure.

The prevalence of water imagery is not a coincidence. In New Orleans, Beyoncé digs at her demons, anoints them and is born anew. She finds salvation in forgiveness, but only after sorting through the tragedy of her pain, and washing away the betrayal of lovers both old and new. The pain is necessary she tells us. It must be endured and felt and mourned and held in your hand and beheld before the healing can commence.

Warsan Shire's mournful poetry ties these pieces together through the film. Explicitly invoking the hurt and humiliation so many of suffer through, her words paint a tragic picture of all we endure, pointing to it, illuminating it; proving it to be real. For that too is a small revolution. If a thing does not have a name, does it exist? With Warsan's assistance, (this too a communion), Beyoncé has named this suffering, split it open, rifled around inside it, told us what makes it tick and how to fix it.

But the greatest achievement here might be that Lemonade exists at all. Here, arguably the most powerful black celebrity of our time used her considerable power to validate other black women. Very few are financially able to do the same without consequence, and fewer still care to. But Beyoncé has looked at her fans, her stans, her haters and her detractors, stared them in the face and dared them to blink.

Because Lemonade is blink and you'll miss it. But only if you were never looking in the first place.

#ANTI Is Rihanna's Declaration of Agency

#ANTI Is Rihanna's Declaration of Agency

by Cate Young @ BattyMamzelle: feminist • pop culture • criticism - Cate Young

 

Over the last decade, Rihanna has cultivated a very specific image of herself. Shifting ceaselessly from cheeky to coy to naked sexuality and back again, Rihanna is the consummate chameleon, changing for the times and evolving when she feels the need to shed her latest skin. Largely, as an audience, we have projected our perceptions onto her. Each new iteration of music, hair and fashion has left just enough room for our own desires to rush in and fill the void. But on ANTI we see exactly what powers the Rihanna machine and she lets us into her head; here is a full body of work that examines every facet of her being and lays it bare on her own terms.

ANTI is peak Rihanna. Endlessly delayed, it's no coincidence that this is Rihanna's most daring and truthful work to date. She waited until it was right; until it reflected her the way she wanted to be seen, and then gave it away for free, ensuring that no one could mistake it for sheer arrogance or braggadocio. ANTI shows a side of badgalriri we've only speculated about before, and untangles the complicated issues of her place in pop culture and how it relates to her sexuality, her blackness and her feminism.

The thing about ANTI is that it almost doesn't work. As a singular entity it makes sense: it is a declaration of her personhood on all fronts. But take it apart and it becomes mush in your hands, exploring disparate ideas all at once with through-lines that are tenuous at best. And yet, the ideas themselves are crystal clear: there is no beating around the bush. Rihanna is here now and she knows exactly why and on what terms she expects for that to happen. Gone are the pulsing club bangers she's built her career on. Instead we're treated to raw, brooding melodies that conjure images of solitary contemplation. The music exists under an eternal thick fog of smoke traced back to a blunt; truths emerging as inhibitions come down.

The opening track, Consideration, (which she co-wrote) is the brash declaration of a new direction. The heavy bass drops deep as Rihanna's voice, higher and clearer than ever before, laments. If it wasn't clear before, it is now. Rihanna is over it, and she's ready to move onto something fresh and new. She's ready to grow and make music that can evolve with her, and she's demanding the space to do so. With that, she sets the tone for the complex delicacy she's about to serve us, combining styles and sounds until she achieves that magic cocktail that hits exactly the right spot.

On Kiss It Better, she taunts an ex, making him admit that he'll take her back no matter what. As guitar riffs sing in the background, Rihanna asserts herself both to him and to us as the audience: "You're always going to come back to me so why fight it?" Work, the first official single, is a moody dancehall inspired track full of lust and longing. The messaging persists, though here she has convincing to do. The negotiation between disregard and sentiment is delicate, and Rihanna handles it expertly. She wants us to stay, but she doesn't plan to work for it. Slurring through the lyrics, the light disdain is palpable. Should you stay? Rihanna answers "Sure I guess..." She's far more concerned with her own pleasure than she ever will be with you.

OnWoo, she's back to taunting, but it's on the deliciously dark and cutting Needed Me where she turns savage. Rihanna may long for company when the sun sets, but she doesn't need it and never did. Here she pointedly cuts her man down, reminding him that she's the one doing all the giving here. She asserts her sexual agency as someone who likes to fuck and is perfectly happy getting it elsewhere should the need arise. Here is the reminder: she's not the one tied to you and she never intends to be. The rejection is unambiguous and swift: "Don't get it twisted. Everything about you is replaceable."

But on Higher, Rihanna is lit and pouring her feelings out. On the all too brief track, her voice strains high and raw as she fights to ensure she gets the words out. She's independent yes, but the moments of loneliness and need still come. She's a savage, but not a loner or a recluse. She too longs for comfort and company, and she'll take it where it comes. The Rihanna amalgam to Adele's HelloHigher breaks open the shell of the untouchable black woman and exposes the pain too many assume she never feels. Pose is a return to the Rihanna we know and love. While the sound is new, the lyrics recall the swagger and surety we saw in Pour It Up. Hate if you like, but have a seat while she gets loaded and works it. On Sex With Me she brags about hitting it better than anyone else. On both, she's little concerned with outside validation. Feel free to come along for the ride, but don't expect to be missed if you don't.

 
 

Taken together, the disparate parts of ANTI form a cohesive whole. Here is a woman a decade older and wiser, sure of herself and the direction she intends to take her life in. These tracks open her up and lay her bare as a whole person, showing the ways in which conflict can exist in harmony. The music is daring and intimate. She lets us see the strings in a way we never have before, perhaps an effort to undo the "bad bitch" label she has inhabited for so long. It's not that she won't cut you down with a sharply chosen emoji or gif on Instagram, it's that there are levels to being Rihanna, and under the surface, there exists more than the "sexy Bajan pop princess" we've come to know and love.

This is the album Rihanna wanted to make rather than the one that we expected from her, but that too shows growth. Her declarations of sexual freedom serve as metaphor for very real freedom: from commercial constraints or a continued need to prove her staying power. She's established herself as a powerhouse and her legacy is set. Now she seeks out experimentation and nuance.

ANTI may be less radio friendly and traditional, but that is the point. This is not establishment. This is her truest self in music form and it's anti-everything. There are none of her usual themes and no pop hits. Rihanna has set herself firmly in opposition to not only to her own past musical ethos, but to the very music industry itself.

Tom Brady Shows Subtle Support for NFL Players’ Protest Following ‘Friend’ Trump’s Controversial Comments

Tom Brady Shows Subtle Support for NFL Players’ Protest Following ‘Friend’ Trump’s Controversial Comments

by Stephanie Petit @ PEOPLE.com

Tom Brady has joined his fellow NFL players in their displays of unity following President Donald Trump’s recent railing against NFL player Colin Kaepernick and other players who kneel during the national anthem during games.

The New England Patriots quarterback, 40, shared a photo on Instagram Sunday showing him and teammate James White during a game.

“Strength. Passion. Love. Brotherhood. Team. Unity. Commitment. Dedication. Determination. Respect. Loyalty. Work,” he captioned the image, adding the hashtag #nflplayer.

Brady also reacted to a photo posted by Aaron Rodgers, which featured the Green Bay Packers quarterback kneeling with other players. The five-time Super Bowl champion commented with a simple arm flexing emoji.

Brady said last October that he considers Trump a friend.

The two met in 2002 — just as Brady claimed his first Super Bowl title, reports CBS Sports. He was hired by Trump’s organization as a judge on the Miss USA pageant, and the two have remained supportive of one another through the years.

“I met him probably 15, 16 years ago,” Brady said of Trump. “We’ve played golf together many, many times and I’ve always had a good time with him. He’s been a friend of mine.”

RELATED VIDEO: Diddy Tells NFL Players to ‘Stand Up for Each Other’ After Trump’s Colin Kaepernick Tirade

During a rally speech in Alabama on Friday, Trump stated, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say, ‘Get that son of a b–ch off the field right now. Out, you’re fired.’”

He followed this up by pouring more gasoline on the fire with a series of tweets. “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect…our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem,” he wrote. “If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”

Numerous celebrities — including Diddy — have also joined in standing behind the players, causing a resurgence of the #TakeAKnee hashtag on social media.

In August 2016, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made headlines — and sparked a movement — when he took a knee during the national anthem.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said at the time. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

On Sunday, multiple players on both the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars took a knee during the national anthem. Others, including coaches, linked arms on the sideline in solidarity.

Jaguars owner Shad Khan, the only minority owner in the NFL, stood and linked arms with players Marcedes Lewis and Telvin Smith.

RELATED VIDEO: Watch: Natasha Stoynoff Breaks Silence, Accuses Donald Trump of Sexual Attack

USA Today reports Khan donated $1 million to Trump’s presidential campaign. Later on Sunday, Khan released a statement saying that it was a privilege to stand with his players.

“Our team and National Football League reflects our nations, with diversity coming in many forms — race, faith, our views and our goals,” Khan said. “We have a lot of work to do and we can do it, but the comments by the President make it harder. That’s why it’s important for us, and personally for me, to show the world that even if we may differ at times, we can and should be united in the effort to become better as people and a nation.”


Trump’s Best Plan to Save the Rust Belt Is Telling Upstate New Yorkers to Move

Trump’s Best Plan to Save the Rust Belt Is Telling Upstate New Yorkers to Move

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

Donald Trump won the presidency in part on the promise of reviving the Rust Belt, ending job loss and population stagnation, and bringing back the halcyon days of meaningful factory work.

But if that doesn’t work, the president conceded in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, you should probably just move:

I’m going to start explaining to people: When you have an area that just isn’t working like upper New York state, where people are getting very badly hurt, and then you’ll have another area 500 miles away where you can’t get people, I’m going to explain, you can leave.

With that, Trump appeared to acknowledge—to the chagrin of whoever penned his inevitably ignored talking points—what most economists believe about migration and job growth, but that his campaign was premised on denying: It’s easier to move people to jobs than to move jobs to people. For politicians in Upstate New York, including some Republicans who have supported the president, it was a disheartening comment to read. Even the president who promised to resurrect American manufacturing had given up on them, not to mention his own quest to implement or advance any kind of national policy to back his “Made in America” campaign.

The occasion was an otherwise celebratory announcement that Foxconn, the Taiwan-based manufacturer that builds iPhones and other electronics, would be (maybe) building a massive plant in Southeastern Wisconsin, between Milwaukee and Chicago. Wisconsin beat out New York with an offer of subsidies that ranks among the largest in U.S. history—$3 billion for 13,000 jobs on the high end ($231,000 per job) or something closer to $2 billion for 3,000 jobs on the low end ($666,000 per job).

Wisconsin claims it’s the largest “corporate attraction project” in U.S. history, measured by jobs. Gov. Scott Walker said the development would be called “Wisconn Valley”—the Silicon Valley of Wisconsin. (And an extra “n” for the “conn” in Foxconn.)

Trump may have felt free to lob an insult at the one depressed Rust Belt area that had responded enthusiastically to his campaign trail talk but doesn’t sit in a politically competitive state like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, or Wisconsin. In 2016, he visited Syracuse and other hard-hit upstate cities, promising the return of factory work. He called the area a “ghost town,” but claimed he could win the state on the backs of its voters, for whom, he told CNN, "I'm like the most popular person that has ever lived, virtually.”

Slightly less popular now. Anthony Picente, a Republican and Oneida County executive who had tried to lure Foxconn to an industrial park near Utica, said he was “disappointed in Trump.”

Rep. Claudia Tenney, a Republican congresswoman and early Trump supporter who stood by the president during his recent “Made in America” showcase at the White House, said she hoped the president’s comments had been taken out of context.

"It’s OK,” the president told Tenney’s constituents, in urging them to decamp for the Milwaukee suburbs. "Don’t worry about your house.”

It’s true that Upstate New York has been battered by deindustrialization, and has tried to swim against the tide. Since 2000, New York State leads the nation in the value of “megadeal” corporate subsidies, defined by Good Jobs First, a tax break watchdog, as projects involving more than $50 million in subsidies. New York made 24 such deals, worth $11.8 billion. Only a quarter of those were in the New York City area, which accounts for more than two thirds the state’s GDP and nearly two thirds of its population. The rest were upstate, including the six biggest deals.

It hasn’t been enough to spur a general recovery, as Jim Heaney and Charlotte Keith showed in an Investigative Post investigation in March. During Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s tenure, upstate job growth is at 2.7 percent, compared to 16 percent in New York City, 7.4 percent in its suburbs, and 11 percent nationally, despite the governor’s efforts to redirect downstate productivity north.

So in a funny way, Wisconsin is actually taking a page from New York here in giving Foxconn a pass on future state income tax, capital investment tax, and sales tax exemptions on construction materials. The largest state subsidy ever awarded in Wisconsin had been about $65 million, to Mercury Marine in 2009, not all of which has been claimed.

At any rate, Trump is wrong that New Yorkers should move to Wisconsin to get a job, which isn’t exactly thriving either. (They’d be better off moving to New York City.) But the real lesson in the Foxconn deal is that Trump has conceded that his “Made in America” policy, such as it exists, consists of the usual political horse-trading and subsidies that prop up isolated, negotiated investments in American manufacturing.

If the president had made a concerted policy push to revive Rust Belt factories, or was planning on it, Upstate New York and Wisconsin might both stand to benefit. Instead, they’re where U.S. states have been for decades: In competition to dismantle tax and regulatory systems to appease flighty corporate bosses.

Dove's ridiculous new body wash bottles are the apotheosis of its "real beauty" campaigns

Dove's ridiculous new body wash bottles are the apotheosis of its "real beauty" campaigns


Quartz

All soap bottles—I mean, women—are beautiful as they are.

Changing the Conversation: The Dove "Real Beauty" Campaign and the Debate on "Real" Women

Changing the Conversation: The Dove "Real Beauty" Campaign and the Debate on "Real" Women


Cate Young

The Image of Real Beauty?via Lexis AgencyThere are many things that bother me in this world. That's why I have a blog. So I can whine about them in peace, and not harass people who don't want to hear about it. But there's something happening in the body politics debate that has been bothe

Growing Up On GIRLS

Growing Up On GIRLS

by Cate Young @ BattyMamzelle: feminist • pop culture • criticism - Cate Young

 

Girls premiered in 2012, just before my college graduation. I had found myself in the tenuous position of figuring out what to do with my life at a point in time where I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. I had important decisions to make, but I was 22, alone, and completely unmoored from any sense of the future. Though I'd been avoiding the show, a chance viewing of S1E02 "Vagina Panic" hooked me. The show was bizarre, but sharp; I could immediately relate to it on a visceral level. I wasn't expecting that. 

Much of the discussion about the show in that first season was about race and representation. How could Lena Dunham create a vision of New York that was so incredibly monotonous? How could she so clumsily sidestep such glaring issues? How did that vision reconcile with her very public feminism? It's a critique that remained true and valid through the series' run, right up to the series finale. The defenses she gave were  pitiable at best and offensive at worst, but in hindsight I'm inclined to forgive her poor instincts. At 24, I was contemplating the inevitability of my death, not creating my legacy. I shudder to think how I would have fared under that kind of intense scrutiny at that stage of my life. I don't think I would have handled it well either, or even survived. Her behavior in later seasons, is less defensible. 

But what has always frustrated me about the way Girls treated race was the sheer simplicity of the problem. I am a college-educated millennial black woman from the Global South. Lena is a college-educated millennial white woman from the United States. If I was able to so immediately see myself in the stories she told about her life, why couldn't she see herself in mine? The idea that "writing what you know" means "only other white women" revealed to me that Lena saw black and brown women as inherently "other" in a way that meant she presumed our experiences had no overlap. It still irks me that after all this time, white women rarely seem to have any imagination past the tips of their own noses. 

But in the end I grew up on Girls; it has existed almost as long as my adulthood. It was there with me when I got my first job and when I got fired from my first job. It was there when I started my first adult relationship and when I went back to him long past the point at which it was over. It was there when I grew apart from friends and found my way back to them again. Girls has marked the milestones of my adult life, and its end coincides with my finally finding my own way.

Over the course of its six-year run, it served as a way for me to contemplate the failures of my own life and assess those of the characters from a distance. Whether it was Marnie's self-involvement masked as pseudo-spiritualism, Jessa's intense self-loathing parading as enlightenment, Hannah's mental illness or Shoshanna's misplaced awe, I could see the trials and tribulations of a life like mine play out before me; close enough to serve as a warning, yet distant enough to afford me the moral superiority needed not to emulate them. 

Stepping outside my own sphere however, Girls still exists as the best version of what it is: one woman's vision of life in the here and how. As detestable as these characters often were, they did feel real and actualized. I resented them, but I also resented the parts of me I saw in them. The show had gaping flaws, but it isn't the first to find itself in that position. I wish the show had been better able to course-correct as the episodes stacked up, but even in the messiness, there were flashes of brilliance: season 5 and 6 were some of the strongest, most coherent television I've ever seen. "Hello Kitty" and "American Bitch" were stand-out half hours of TV, the latter of which also served to delineate Lena's own personal ruminations on feminism and power. 

The finale "Latching" then, was a bit of a disappointment. While it felt like an end in the middle, it also did not address the glaring fact of Hannah's son's brownness and how that unforeseen factor might influence her mental approach to her own readiness for motherhood. With one last chance to get it right, Girls dropped the ball on race again.

What resonated about this final season however was that it was, to quote contemporary philosopher Kylie Jenner, "the year of realizing things." People came together and fell apart and mended things or didn't. But that finality existed in a way that never seems possible when you're in the thick of things. These characters moved on to new phases of their lives and shed the things that were binding them to people who no longer made sense for them. From Adam's realization that he could not be with Hannah to Shoshanna's revelation that she had simply outgrown the other three women, the characters peeled away at themselves to find the core of who they were, and then they moved forward, and sometimes, sadly, apart.

Now that it has ended, I find myself almost compelled to say that Girls was a better, smarter and more self-aware show that it ever truly got credit for. Looking back, I can admit to myself that I was guilty of conflating the issues I had with Lena Dunham the person, with my issues with Hannah Horvath the character. Like many others, I got lost in the deluge of think-pieces and criticisms that while true and fair, were too focused on peripheral ideas about what the show should or could be rather than what it was. Six years later, I can look back with fondness at the mistakes that Hannah, Shoshanna, Marnie and Jessa made on my behalf, so that I never had to. I loved Girls perhaps more than it deserved and gave it more credit than it earned, but I also know that it gave me something valuable in return and I will always be grateful for that. 

Our Aging Workforce Needs Foreigners

Our Aging Workforce Needs Foreigners

by Joseph Coughlin @ Slate Articles

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

Earlier this summer, Rep. David Schweikert, a Republican congressman from Arizona, delivered some hard truths to a session of the House of Representatives. “We have a math problem, and it is based on demographics,” Schweikert said on June 28. “I am a baby boomer. There are 76 million of us who are baby boomers, who are heading towards retirement. That demographic curve is changing the cost structure of government.”

This was back during that precarious period when Obamacare repeal-and-replace efforts had succeeded in the House but hadn’t yet floundered in the Senate, and Schweikert was lending voice to an aspect of the legislative push that had gone more or less unsaid, at least in public. To austerity-minded policymakers, the Better Care Reconciliation Act represented an exceedingly rare opportunity—“once in a lifetime,” wrote Grover Norquist—to rein in Medicaid spending before the U.S. population grew significantly older and more reliant on public funds. “It is time for almost revolutionary thoughts,” Schweikert said. “We need to look at the budget holistically.”

Between Schweikert’s take on the future solvency of Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security and the ongoing efforts of President Trump and congressional Republicans to push the BCRA into law, Republican policymakers have demonstrated real concern about the economic dependency of the old and sick on the young and gainfully employed. Which is, from a certain point of view, fair enough: The Republican Party, at least in its platonic form, exists to limit government’s reach, and our aging population, it could be argued, may force that reach to extend. It would be strange if no Republicans pushed back.

And perhaps that was why it was so peculiar when, a little more than a month after Schweikert’s demographics lesson, President Trump announced he would embrace the RAISE Act, a legislative one-two punch co-sponsored by Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, also staunch supporters of the Republican health care effort. RAISE, if signed into law, would change the admissions criteria for legal immigrants and, more concerning from a demographics perspective, reduce their numbers by half within a decade. To the limited extent that the American working-age population continues to grow, immigrants are responsible. And so, for leaders of a party with clear apprehensions regarding the ongoing ability of the country’s workers to support its older adults, slashing legal immigration would seem, to put it gently, inconsistent.

President Trump has weathered charges of inconsistency before, but this time may be different. His campaign promise to make America great is in a category of its own—the ur-promise from which all his other promises descend. And the passage of RAISE will likely violate it in a very tangible way.

It’s not just that the legislation’s legal-immigration cuts would damage the economy, a fact most economists affirm. It’s that RAISE would hurt the American economy relative to the economies of other countries. And for those who want America to be first in all things, that outcome may prove difficult to stomach.

The cuts entailed by RAISE aren’t extreme—at least, not by international standards. They would not put us in the hermetic company of Japan, which admits very few new permanent residents, or lump us in with Switzerland and Denmark, where new immigrants must pay a high ticket price for admission, sometimes out of future wages. Even under this new proposed policy, the U.S. would still accept more newcomers, in raw terms, than any other country except perhaps Germany. (On a per-capita basis, however, the U.S. is nowhere near the top of the list of immigration-friendly countries.)

But even if such a policy wouldn’t make the U.S. an immigration outlier, it would still be a spectacularly regrettable unforced error. In fact, it’s such a bad move precisely because it would put the U.S. on a level footing with more restrictive countries. As it stands, immigration is granting America an underappreciated edge that it would be a mistake to blunt.

Populations around the world are aging—in some cases, with alarming speed—for three reasons. Birthrates in the vast majority of the world’s nations have fallen since the middle of the 20th century. (In some countries, such as India, Mexico, and Brazil, birthrates have outright plummeted.) That means fewer younger people. At the same time, life expectancy has risen, and despite recent, well-publicized downticks in the U.S., the overall trend continues to point north. Finally, in some of the countries that were heavily involved in World War II, an enormous cohort of baby boomers is just now crossing into retirement age.

As a result, by 2030, more than 20 percent of the U.S. population will be age 65 or older, a demographic breakdown slightly older than that of today’s Florida. Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, and many other wealthy countries have already achieved Floridian status, and Japan is ranging far ahead with a quarter of its population aged 65-plus. On the balance, societywide aging is a good thing—in our opinion, every extra year of life is a gift—but it still poses serious challenges beyond even the monumental-yet-crucial task of maintaining a safety net for older adults. One inevitable consequence of global aging is the shrinking of labor pools and even, in select countries, the waning of entire populations. China, Japan, Russia, much of Eastern Europe, and many other countries are now either experiencing population decline or will begin it soon.

The very real possibility of such trends manifesting in either the raw or working-age populations of the U.S. should alarm anyone who claims an interest in American greatness. Consider, for instance, yet another stated priority of President Trump: infrastructure construction. Baby boomer retirement is hitting the construction industry hard, and taking with it able bodies and institutional knowledge. Positions in the skilled trades, such as machinists, welders, electricians, and HVAC technicians, were ranked the hardest for employers to fill in 2016 according to a survey conducted by staffing company Manpower. Such shortages will only worsen in the coming years as retirements accrue. Adecco, another staffing company, estimates that retirements in the aforementioned fields as well as general construction; mechanical, electrical, and industrial engineering; plumbers and pipefitters; and others will mean that 31 million skilled-trade positions will be left unfilled by 2020, almost a tenth of the population of the United States. As a result, contractors will have to either turn down jobs, slowing growth, or else raise their wages and therefore their rates, an expense that would likely be passed along to taxpayers in the event of a major infrastructure push.

And that’s just the construction-related industries. Others facing mass retirement include the petrochemical, defense, transit, agriculture, financial advisory, and railroad industries. Air-traffic controllers, hired en masse after Ronald Reagan fired their predecessors in 1981, are now retiring en masse. The ranks of doctors and nurses—especially internists and, in an unfortunate twist, geriatricians—are also thinning. Even the Hoover Dam, perhaps the country’s most quintessentially American piece of infrastructure, is now running short of workers qualified to operate its machinery.

Despite ongoing, frenzied discussions of the potential for advanced automation to take American jobs, these crucial shortfalls continue to go overlooked. U.S. companies are already finding it difficult to entice the staff they need, as Slate’s Daniel Gross has written. Who, in the next two decades, will run our economy and grow our food? It’s not just a matter of retraining those currently unable to find work. The economy is already at or near full employment, and at a certain point, the U.S., like other aging nations, will simply need more warm bodies.

Japan is quietly addressing its labor shortage by admitting foreign workers as temporary “trainees.” Germany is attempting to stall an incipient population decline by increasing its acceptance of immigrants and refugees. (Both countries are also finding ways of keeping older workers happy in their longtime jobs, from adopting exotic exoskeletons to making workplace ergonomic adjustments—a strategy that would also benefit the U.S.) Meanwhile, China, poised to experience the largest demographic swing of any nation, is losing millions of people from its workforce every year. The resulting spike in wages is one possible explanation for why President Xi Jinping recently laid off 300,000 troops from the country’s armed forces.

In the United States, the birthrate is 1.9 children per woman, slightly below the replacement rate of roughly 2.1. Thanks only to the twin inputs of immigration and the relatively large size of new immigrant families, the U.S. population is still growing slowly and stably. Without immigration, however, the population would begin to fall as soon as 2040, according to unpublished data supplied to us by Jeffrey Passel, a senior demographer at the Pew Research Center. (The projection, originally made in 2015, assumes that immigration would have been cut off starting that year.)

Thanks to its current inflow of immigrants, the U.S. has, and will continue to have, one of the youngest populations among wealthy nations. That relative youth equates to a better-than-average (though still troubling) ratio of workers to nonworkers and, at least in theory, a good crop of workforce replacements for baby boomer retirees. Without immigrants, however, we would be staring cross-eyed down the barrel of a far more threatening demographic future, filled with economic malaise, higher taxes, and even disastrous cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.

Legal immigration has become a partisan issue, but it shouldn’t be. Economists might disagree about whether to adopt a system that prioritizes highly skilled immigrants, as the RAISE Act proposes. (It’s worth mentioning, however, that the RAISE Act’s salary rules would keep out home-health aides, which the aging United States will soon need in droves, as Vox’s Sarah Kliff recently pointed out.) But there is broad agreement that slashing the raw number of immigrants to the U.S. would be an economic mistake. Immigration has been shown to have little to no effect on wages for native-born workers, and has even been called an “economic boost” by the George W. Bush Foundation.

Congress understands the stakes involved in cutting off America’s youth supply. Schweikert even mentioned it in his June 28 speech: “You do understand, as a nation, we functionally have zero population growth without immigration?” Though population aging may not be news to our political leaders, the question of whether they will prioritize the economic competitiveness of the nation over nativism remains open. We get it: There are people in this country who just don’t like immigration. But presumably a lot of those same people would feel more comfortable living in a world where America, bolstered by a healthy economy and a workforce strengthened by legal immigration, retains its geopolitical clout. As it stands, the world at large is sending the United States a precious resource—young people—free of charge. You can want an America with far fewer of these immigrants, or you can want America to be great. In this era of population aging, however, you can’t have both.

It's an ad, but Dove's Real Beauty campaign is a gamechanger

It's an ad, but Dove's Real Beauty campaign is a gamechanger


The Independent

When Dove’s latest tear-jerking advert hit the web, I was strangely one of the few people that found it empowering and uplifting.

Dove ripped apart for latest #RealBeauty campaign featuring curvy bottles

Dove ripped apart for latest #RealBeauty campaign featuring curvy bottles


AOL.com

'You're a straight up b---- if you buy the skinny Dove bottle.'

The Lessons of Marco Island

The Lessons of Marco Island

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

Hurricane Irma arrived in Florida by tearing through the Keys, but it made its second landfall at Marco Island, a picture-perfect resort community with a five-mile white-sand beach just south of Naples. Each winter, Marco swells from about 17,000 people to more than 40,000 thanks to vacationers and southbound snowbirds. On Sunday morning, as the Gulf of Mexico rose around the island’s houses, Marco’s fate elicited far-flung cries of concern in the way that only a beloved beach town can.

Now, residents return to survey the damage. There is no power. No water. The Dolphin Tiki Bar & Grill is in ruins. Virtually all of Marco Island is in the FEMA flood zone; it is also threaded through with 91 miles of canals that abut nearly every house like the wires of a circuit board. It is a perfect symbol of how yesterday’s South Florida ambition is today’s vulnerability. And it is the kind of community where, once it has dried out, planners will have to ask: How should this place—always susceptible to hurricane damage, newly exposed to rising seas—be rebuilt?

Forty years ago, the consensus of the state and federal governments was that Marco Island should not have been built at all. The community was the setting for one of the biggest development controversies in the United States and nearly ruined one of Florida’s largest and most celebrated developers. In a region with a notorious building addiction, it became the site of the environmental movement’s greatest victory over the Florida growth machine. Ecological foresight halted millions of dollars in real estate development and all but ended an engineering technique that had turned the South Florida coast from swampland to resort.

“This may be the last major development to take place in Florida,” Florida Sierra Club lobbyist David Gluckman said in 1982, when Deltona, the developer of Marco, turned over its remaining holdings to the state of Florida as a nature preserve.

Of course, it wasn’t. Two thousand miles of levees and canals have transformed South Florida from a “barren, swampy, and good-for-nothing peninsula,” in the words of an American soldier who fought to conquer the place from the Seminole Indians in the 1830s, into a glittering mega-region of 8 million souls. It’s a real-life Joni Mitchell chorus where the joke, Dexter Filkins recalls, was that every new housing development was named for the ecosystem it vanquished. You better believe Marco Island has a Mangrove Court.

Still, Marco Island is a reminder that we’ve changed the way we build before, and could again.

When brothers Robert, Elliott, and Frank Mackle discovered Marco in the early 1960s, half of its 10 square miles consisted of mangrove swamps. Home to just a few hundred people and an abandoned clam factory, it was the single largest undeveloped barrier island property in South Florida.

“They had a vision,” says Mike Coleman, a resident and the author of a pair of books about Marco. “It was nothing but a mosquito-, alligator-infested swamp.”

The Mackles were among the most famous developers in South Florida, which is like saying someone is one of the best-known actors in Hollywood. Between General Development Corp. and Deltona, which they founded in 1962, the brothers were responsible for building 75,000 Floridians’ homes, including the communities of Port Charlotte, Port St. Lucie, Port Malabar, Deltona, Spring Hill, Citrus Springs, Marion Oaks, Sunny Hills, and Key Biscayne, where Richard Nixon later bought a home.

But Marco was bolder still. The plan called for 35,000 residential units, which would require displacing 18.2 million cubic yards of ground (more than 150,000 dump trucks’ worth), dredging the land into channels, and using the dredge to create development sites in the swamp. This method is common across South Florida; Cape Coral, a little to the north, is a good example. Still, at the time, Marco Island was the largest “finger-fill” waterfront housing project to ever come before the Army Corps of Engineers, Science reported in 1976.

Since each Army Corps permit lasted just three years, the brothers split the project into five phases. A sales campaign brought 25,000 people to Marco on “sponsored visits” for which Deltona footed the bill. By 1971, Deltona had sold 11,000 lots—most before they even existed. It was a literal version of the old Florida joke about land sold by the gallon. Marco’s appeal was sold on the back of the very land it would destroy. “Cast up close to the mangroves, grass beds, and oyster bars,” the brochures read. “That’s where the fish are.”

The environmental policy revolution of the late ’60s and early ’70s thwarted the Mackles’ plans. First, the Florida Legislature passed a law requiring biological impact studies for all dredge-and-fill projects. Second, the Army Corps agreed to consult with the secretary of the interior before approving permits for controversial projects. Third, the Army Corps denied a permit to fill in 11 acres of Boca Ciega Bay, near Tampa, to build a trailer park, in a closely watched case that was upheld in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. And finally, in 1975, the Army Corps published a rule that wetlands should not be sacrificed for uses that were not either water-dependent (i.e., a dock) or required by the public interest.

The final phases of Marco Island—creating 4,000 lots on reclaimed land in Barfield Bay and Big Key—did not meet that standard, the corps ruled in 1975. Deltona sued, arguing the ruling constituted a taking of their property rights. After half a decade, its appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court, and the company ultimately agreed to a land trade with the state of Florida.

It took years for the Mackles to settle with the buyers of lots that were never built, costing the developers an inflation-adjusted quarter billion dollars. They had to sell their beloved beachfront hotel to Marriott and ultimately stopped building homes. The remaining Mackle family members sold the company to out-of-state investors in 1985 and left their roles there a few years later. East of developed Marco Island lie great swaths of mangroves, which in addition to their role in marine ecosystems are also excellent protectors from storm surges. If you can find one, a mangrove creek is still the best place to keep a small boat in a hurricane.

Florida, of course, did not stop building. Developers never lost control over state and local politics. “The problem is that the Florida economy is driven by real estate and tourism,” says Jeff Goodell, the author of The Water Will Come, a book about cities and rising sea levels. “There’s no sales tax, so these cities and counties are hugely dependent on property tax. The only way to raise money to pay for city services and defenses against flooding is by building more.”

Goodell pointed to Homestead, an Everglades boomtown south of Miami that was leveled by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Nearly 80 percent of its housing stock was damaged or destroyed. “The city was like a war zone. I served in the war in Korea so I know what one looks like,” the former City Councilman Nick Sincore told the Miami Herald recently. But the city bounced back:

Homestead leaders decided its future lay in encouraging a breakneck sprawl of residential, shopping-mall and commercial development on the potato fields and farms on the east side of U.S. 1 that had long supported the town’s economy. Before long, Homestead was one of the fastest-growing cities in the country.

It remains one of the most vulnerable communities in the country to hurricane damage.

Meanwhile, as Marco Island recovers from the eyewall, the town must confront its exposure to both storms and rising seas. “Climate change is not always a popular term down in the Marco area,” says Austin Bell, the curator of the Marco Island Historical Society. “But it’s definitely something that needs to be looked at when planning the future of the city.” Freeboard requirements in Marco—how high in relation to the base flood elevation a flood-zone home must be built—are comparatively relaxed. Multimillion-dollar homes, each with a screened-in swimming pool, are perched just above the high tide.

And so Marco, the symbol of one generation’s environmental recklessness, finds itself in that role once more.

My Dream Campaign: Dove Campaign for Real Beauty | 52nd & Madison

My Dream Campaign: Dove Campaign for Real Beauty | 52nd & Madison


52nd & Madison

Self-acceptance is a universal topic. Parents try to instill it in their children. Teachers attempt to reinforce it. And as... Read more »

Bernie Sanders’ Big Single-Payer Proposal Skips Over the Hardest Thing About Single-Payer

Bernie Sanders’ Big Single-Payer Proposal Skips Over the Hardest Thing About Single-Payer

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

After weeks of buildup, Sen. Bernie Sanders has finally released his latest plan to create a single-payer health care system in the United States, tugging along 16 Democrats as co-sponsors of the Medicare-for-all legislation, many of whom appeared with him at a buoyant press conference Wednesday afternoon. On its face, the rollout was an impressive show of political support for an idea that, not so many years ago, was widely considered a patchouli-scented left-wing fantasy, on par with dragging George W. Bush before a war-crimes tribunal and cutting the defense budget in half.

But in some subtle ways, Wednesday’s health care pep rally also showed what an uphill climb Medicare for all still faces, even among Democrats.

The fact that one-third of Senate Democrats have now endorsed Sanders’ version of Medicare for all mostly affirms something that’s been obvious for a while: Thanks to America’s favorite irascible socialist, single-payer health care is now a mainstream liberal policy idea. Even more telling is the number of potential 2020 contenders who have decided to get on board with the plan. Sens. Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren each took turns at the podium Wednesday extolling the virtues of socialized health insurance. Such a scene that would have been utterly unimaginable eight years ago. Their support may or may not be 100 percent heartfelt, but it’s pretty clear where they think Democratic primary voters will be standing on this issue in four years.

It’s also important that these senators have planted a flag on what they mean by “Medicare for all.” For months now, Democrats have been murmuring the phrase without fully defining it. Now, they’re getting specific. The new bill would not only extend Medicare to the entire population, but—much like the plan Sanders campaigned on—make it dramatically more generous by eliminating co-pays and deductibles while adding benefits for dental and eye care. It’s a truly all-encompassing vision of publicly financed government health care. And it will be extremely hard for other Democrats to brand less ambitious ideas—even interesting, Medicare-related ones, like blowing out Medicare Advantage—as “Medicare for all.”

But the reality is that 16 Democrats did not back a fully workable single-payer plan Wednesday. At best, they backed half of one. While the Sanders bill details how a “Medicare for All” system would work, it tap dances around the all-important question of how to pay for it.

The legislation itself does not include any taxes. Instead, its authors have written up a complementary white paper titled “Options to Fund Medicare for All” with a menu of tax hikes that add up to about $16.9 trillion over a decade (which, for what it’s worth, might not actually be enough to cover the cost of a single-payer system). That might give wonks a sense of what the bill’s backers are thinking. But it definitely gives the co-sponsors a convenient out from endorsing any specific tax increase that could be used against them in a campaign ad. More importantly, at least if you’re a single-payer fan, it means they haven’t committed themselves to some of the more controversial trade-offs that would be necessary to make single-payer a reality. If four years from now Democrats win control of Washington, it’s entirely possible some of the politicians jumping on the Medicare for all bandwagon now will jump off once Congressional Budget Office scores start rolling in and they have to reckon with the actual cost, just as some Republicans have suddenly had second thoughts about repealing Obamacare now that they’ve had to write a bill.

It’s not especially surprising that Sanders & co. would choose to leave the sticky question of taxes for a later date. As the senator himself said, this legislation is just an appetizer designed to “begin the debate” about the future of health care and single-payer. The unveiling functioned as an early head count of Democrats who are at least enthusiastic about the idea in theory. At such an early stage, it would be political malpractice to alienate potential allies by forcing them to sign on to $17 trillion of carefully spelled out tax hikes when Democrats barely have enough power in Washington to rename a post office.

And, to be sure, the senators who endorsed Sanders’ bill Wednesday did take some risks. The polling on single-payer is mixed—the Kaiser Family Foundation describes support as “malleable”—and some voters are still going to hate the idea of giving up their current coverage for whatever plan Washington cooks up. Moreover, Wednesday’s bill would reimburse doctors at current Medicare rates, which would save the government money but would surely arouse opposition from hospitals and some physician groups. The fact that Medicare for all is still controversial was probably best illustrated by the fact that one of the Senate’s most reliably progressive members, Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, declined to co-sponsor it. It’s not much of a mystery why: He’s running for re-election next year in a state Donald Trump won by eight points and that has largely elected Republicans to statewide office in recent years.

But Brown’s hesitation is a sign of the challenge single-payer supporters face. If the left wants to remake the entire U.S. health insurance system from the ground up, it will need the support of purple- and red-state Democrats. And as of now, it can’t even get a died-in-the-wool, labor-loving progressive to support a fantasy bill that shunts inevitable tax hikes into a companion document. Medicare for all might be mainstream. But it’s got a long, long way to go before it becomes consensus.

Performing Beauty: Dove's “Real Beauty” Campaign (PDF Download Available)

Performing Beauty: Dove's “Real Beauty” Campaign (PDF Download Available)


ResearchGate

Official Full-Text Paper (PDF): Performing Beauty: Dove's “Real Beauty” Campaign

Good Campaign of the Week: Vice “Safe Sesh”

by D&AD @ Brandingmag

If there is anything that history has taught us, it’s that people will invariably do whatever they damn well please, with very little regard for consequence. So, when we’re talking about illegal substances, the ever so tiny matter of them being illegal is exactly that – ever so tiny. As long as they are readily […]

How “Press One for English” Became an Anti-Immigrant Meme

How “Press One for English” Became an Anti-Immigrant Meme

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

Always Right is Slate’s pop-up blog exploring customer service across industries, technologies, and human relationships.

In August, White House adviser Stephen Miller unveiled Donald Trump’s new immigration plan, a points-based proposal that would favor English-speaking immigrants. In an ensuing confrontation with Miller, CNN White House Correspondent Jim Acosta accused the administration of “bringing a ‘Press One for English’ philosophy to immigration.”

Acosta was alluding to a right-wing grievance that’s as common as it is curious: that when English-speaking Americans call an automated customer service hotline, they are forced to press a key just to be allowed to speak English. (Para Español, oprima el dos.)

If you’re an American who’s worried about immigration, customer service lines are a convenient transmitter of immigration anxiety you may not actively experience in your everyday life. “Does it bother anyone besides me to call a business with a question or for technical support and have to press one for English or press 2 for….?” Rick Robertson asked in July, in a letter to the Clarion-Ledger. “We shouldn’t have to press ‘one’ for English,” Orwell, New York resident Brenda LaRue told Syracuse.com in March. Neither lives in a county where more than 3 in 100 residents is Latino.

Conservative columnists have picked up the refrain. In a widely shared column that ran during the presidential campaign, talk radio host Howie Carr wrote, “You may be a deplorable if you don’t think you should have to press one for English.” The whole anecdote has become a sympathetic symbol of white resentment projected as a kind of staple experience of alienation in the new multicultural America. “Plenty of Americans do see the increasing prevalence of foreign cultures in the U.S., including Hispanic culture, as an unwelcome invasion,” wrote the Atlantic’s Molly Ball. “They resent having to press 1 for English when they call customer service.”

How did this trivial annoyance, which seems more suited to an Andy Rooney segment than serious political commentary, became a right-wing meme? Many accommodations for the world’s second-largest Spanish-speaking population—the U.S. has more Spanish speakers than any country but Mexico—are largely hidden: Spanish-language baseball broadcasts, or Barack Obama doing a Spanish-language television ad. Online, UPS and Amazon both offer parallel Spanish-language interfaces that the average Anglo customer wouldn’t even know exist. But while Spanish-language functionality in customer service reflects corporate priorities for national companies like American Airlines and Verizon, it conveys national demographics to callers who may not have other interactions with immigrants to draw on. (Ironically, English-language callers to U.S. companies may find themselves speaking to deported Dreamers whose excellent English makes them stellar call-service employees in, say, El Salvador.)

And Americans are particularly sensitive about language. A Pew survey conducted in the spring of 2016 and released in January found that 7 in 10 Americans believe it’s important to speak English to be “truly American”—making English a more valued trait than religion, ethnicity, or cultural affinity. (Though several European countries consider language to be more important still.) “If you ask people to define American cultural identity, people will give you all kinds of fuzzy answers,” says Tomás Jiménez, a professor of sociology at Stanford. “But even the most strident multiculturalists will say that people should speak English.”

There’s also a trope that current immigrants don’t want to learn English as much as their predecessors did, says Deborah Schildkraut, whose 2007 book, Press “ONE” for English, explores the role of English in American identity. The perception is entirely inaccurate, Schildkraut says. In her research, she’s found that many immigrants have to sit on waitlists to enter English classes, sometimes for years. But for Anglophone Americans, language still strikes a chord. “Even people who are sympathetic to immigrants, this is the one issue that gets them,” she notes.

But while it may be annoying for native-born Americans to endure a momentary Spanish-language direction, it can be downright debilitating for immigrants who don’t speak English well to attempt to use customer service in a language they don’t understand. (Ask an American who has lived abroad.) Government forms and ISP helplines may make a convenient symbol, but no one ever learned English by talking to a representative from Delta Airlines—or decided they didn’t have to because that representative spoke Spanish.

For companies, the adoption of Spanish in customer service calls is an example of what Tod Famous, the director of product management at CISCO, called “market-driven multiculturalism.” As we’ve seen with corporate America’s blanket support of the gay rights movement, capitalism looks out for minorities because minorities are customers. “They’re just trying to make more money,” says Famous, whose company provides an automated call-response platform that companies can then customize individually. “The call center community is insular, and they’re all copying each other. Respect for language affinity improves customer loyalty. If you offer them options, they will be more likely to stay with you.” If there’s collateral damage in including Spanish-language prompts, the math doesn’t show it—no matter how many people complain about having to press one for English.

And that’s another thing about “Press One.” Do companies really make their Anglophone customers actively choose English? Turns out that hardly anyone does. In fact, if pressing one for English was ever a thing, it has ceased to exist at most of America’s largest companies. I called Albertsons, Apple, Amazon, American Airlines, Best Buy, Bank of America, Citibank, CVS, Dell, DHL, FedEx, Mars, Samsung, Spectrum-TWC, Target, T-Mobile, United Healthcare, UPS, Verizon, and Walmart. Blogs will tell you that some of these companies once forced customers to choose English. Today, none of them do. Most quickly tell you, in Spanish, how to proceed in that language. “Marque el nueve,” “Oprima el dos.” A handful—Albertsons, Amazon, Apple, Mars, Samsung, United Airlines, and Walmart—do not even offer Spanish. The only large company I found that asked callers to select English was Starbucks which also offers, inscrutably, French.

“Typically you’ll get a welcome message that says to speak in Spanish, say Spanish or press one, some combination,” says Judi Halperin, a principal consultant at Avaya. “I’ve never in 20-something years dealt with a system where you had to press one for English. I’m sure at some point it was there, but as time progressed and we started getting more and more experience, the last thing you want to do is get in the way of the caller.”

That tiny, short-lived impediment was spun out into an enduring web of resentment. What some white Americans perceive as a roadblock, in reality, constitutes a crucial bridge for their neighbors—1 in 8 Americans—whose native language is Spanish.

When Robots Make Us Angry, Humans Pay the Price

When Robots Make Us Angry, Humans Pay the Price

by April Glaser @ Slate Articles

Always Right is Slate’s pop-up blog exploring customer service across industries, technologies, and human relationships.

The customer service industry is teeming with robots. From automated phone trees to touchscreens, software and machines answer customer questions, complete orders, send friendly reminders, and even handle money. For an industry that is, at its core, about human interaction, it’s increasingly being driven to a large extent by nonhuman automation.

But despite the dreams of science-fiction writers, few people enter a customer-service encounter hoping to talk to a robot. And when the robot malfunctions, as they so often do, it’s a human who is left to calm angry customers. It’s understandable that after navigating a string of automated phone menus and being put on hold for 20 minutes, a customer might take her frustration out on a customer service representative. Even if you know it’s not the customer service agent’s fault, there’s really no one else to get mad at. It’s not like a robot cares if you’re angry.

When human beings need help with something, says Madeleine Elish, an anthropologist and researcher at the Data and Society Institute who studies how humans interact with machines, they’re not only looking for the most efficient solution to a problem. They’re often looking for a kind of validation that a robot can’t give. “Usually you don’t just want the answer,” Elish explained. “You want sympathy, understanding, and to be heard”—none of which are things robots are particularly good at delivering. In a 2015 survey of over 1,300 people conducted by researchers at Boston University, over 90 percent of respondents said they start their customer service interaction hoping to speak to a real person, and 83 percent admitted that in their last customer service call they trotted through phone menus only to make their way to a human on the line at the end.

“People can get so angry that they have to go through all those automated messages,” said Brian Gnerer, a call center representative with AT&T in Bloomington, Minnesota. “They’ve been misrouted or been on hold forever or they pressed one, then two, then zero to speak to somebody, and they are not getting where they want.” And when people do finally get a human on the phone, “they just sigh and are like, ‘Thank God, finally there’s somebody I can speak to.’ ”

Even if robots don’t always make customers happy, more and more companies are making the leap to bring in machines to take over jobs that used to specifically necessitate human interaction. McDonald’s and Wendy’s both reportedly plan to add touchscreen self-ordering machines to restaurants this year. Facebook is saturated with thousands of customer service chatbots that can do anything from hail an Uber, retrieve movie times, to order flowers for loved ones. And of course, corporations prefer automated labor. As Andy Puzder, CEO of the fast-food chains Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s and former Trump pick for labor secretary, bluntly put it in an interview with Business Insider last year, robots are “always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case.”

But those robots are backstopped by human beings. How does interacting with more automated technology affect the way we treat each other? When machines fail, it’s usually the most immediate human operator who has to take responsibility for the malfunction, whether or not that person had any say in building the failing system. A customer service agent who finally answers your call had zero to do with the poorly designed phone menu you just wasted 15 minutes navigating. A cashier who previously only had to deal with one impatient shopper at a time might now be in charge of overseeing 10 self-checkout kiosks at once. When the kiosks inevitably malfunction, not only does that cashier have to puzzle through how to get them working again: She now has to deal with 10 frustrated customers at once, too.

It’s not only interacting with machines that don’t work that can make us unfriendly toward other humans. Machines that work perfectly fine can inspire people to act less humane toward each other. Take Amazon’s Alexa, which is basically a customer service robot designed to live in your kitchen. Last year, a parent wrote about how his child’s behavior changed after they brought an Alexa home. Amazon’s tabletop smart speaker doesn’t require “please” or “thank you” to process commands, which he said was making his kid rude and demanding to other people as well.

“We know that people treat artificial entities like they’re alive, even when they’re aware of their inanimacy,” writes Kate Darling, a researcher at MIT who studies ethical relationships between humans and robots, in a recent paper on anthropomorphism in human-robot interaction. Sure, robots don’t have feelings and don’t feel pain (not yet, anyway). But as more robots rely on interaction that resembles human interaction, like voice assistants, the way we treat those machines will increasingly bleed into the way we treat each other.

This matters now because in the future there are going to be even more robots than there are today. They’ll be in our homes, at work, school, in stores, in the sky, and on our sidewalks. And robots are becoming more human-like every day: Google’s voice recognition software can now understand English with 95 percent accuracy, and researchers recently developed robotic skin that’s more sensitive than a human hand.

And it matters because many of the machines being built for human interaction are designed not only to help us, but to need humans to help them, too. The industrial robotics market is expected to nearly triple in less than 10 years, and collaborative robots made to work alongside people, or co-bots as they’re often called, are expected to make up one-third of that growth, according to data from Loup Ventures. Workers in Amazon’s robotized warehouses don’t need to walk as far or carry as many heavy boxes—robotic shelves that rove the warehouse floor do that. But humans are still needed to do things that the robots can’t do well, like pick odd-shaped objects off shelves or improvise when necessary.

That’s not that different from the changes happening in customer service, except that in customer service you, the customer with the weird question only a human can answer, are the odd-shaped box. As more of these machines are brought on to help humans, whether on the factory floor or at a customer service counter, Elish warns that companies that use and design them need to take the roles of the humans who work with them seriously from the start. That means rigorous user testing and field work; asking people who will be tasked to collaborate with the machines, including customers, about their experience; and programing robots to be as easy to work with as possible. Physically, robots might be designed to move more slowly or be constructed from softer materials; on the software side, they could be programed to deliver more information without requiring customers to ask for it, or to provide an easy route to connect with a person. (Or another option is just to hire more humans, since even a nicer robot isn’t a person with empathy, patience, and understanding who can interpret problems in a way only a person can.)

The great promise (and the great fear) of robots has always been that they’ll replace human labor. But if companies don’t carefully consider how humans interact with the robots that work for and alongside them, we may find we’re becoming a little less human, too.

Mario Testino shot the Dove real beauty pledge campaign | Elle Canada

Mario Testino shot the Dove real beauty pledge campaign | Elle Canada


Elle Canada

Dove launches new "real beauty pledge," and uses real women's stories to illustrate the campaign.

The Economy Minus Houston

The Economy Minus Houston

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

It’s too early to tally the economic losses from Hurricane Harvey. But with the waters yet to subside, analysts are already suggesting that the financial impact of Harvey may not be as bad as Katrina was—at least for insurers. As CNBC reported on Monday, “Damages from Harvey, the hurricane and tropical storm ravaging Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast, are estimated to be well below those from major storms that have hit New Orleans and New York, according to [reinsurance company] Hannover Re.”

The analysis may be correct when it comes to the financial losses suffered by insurers. But the suffering is massive—in this natural disaster and in every natural disaster. And while it is understandable to look at Harvey through the lens of Katrina—they’re both hurricanes that swamped low-lying Gulf Coast areas with lots of energy infrastructure—doing so doesn’t provide the clearest possible picture of the economic damage. And it misconstrues the relative importance and economic power of New Orleans and Houston.

For the U.S. economy to lose New Orleans for a couple of weeks was a human and cultural disaster and an economic challenge. For the U.S. economy to lose Houston for a couple of weeks is a human disaster—and an economic disaster, too.

The Houston metropolitan area, with a population of well over 6 million, has nearly five times the number of people as the New Orleans metropolitan area. More significantly, Houston has more than five time as many jobs as New Orleans, 3.06 million to 578,000. And they tend to be well-paying jobs. The Houston metropolitan area gross domestic product in 2015 was $503 billion, compared with $78 billion for New Orleans. For any retailer or large e-commerce company, the Houston region likely represents close to 3 percent of annual sales.

Houston, America’s fourth-largest city, has a massive, diversified economy. Sure, New Orleans sits near the mouth of the mighty Mississippi River and is an important entrepôt and site for export of raw materials, agricultural commodities chemicals, and petroleum products. But Houston is a larger, busier, and far more important node in the networked economy. Economies derive their power and influence from their connections to other cities, countries, and markets. And Houston is one of the more connected. It is one of the global capitals of the energy and energy services industries. The Johnson Space Center has 10,000 employees. Houston is home to the headquarters of 20 Fortune 500 companies and the massive MD Anderson Cancer Center. The two airports, George H.W. Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport, combined handle about 55 million passengers annually, about five times the number that Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport does.

Yes, there’s a degree to which consumption and other economic activity that is forestalled or foregone during a flood is consumption and economic activity deferred. And cleanup efforts tend to be additive to local economies. But in today’s economy, a lot of value can easily be destroyed very quickly. With only a small portion of the housing stock carrying flood insurance, billions of dollars in property will simply be destroyed and not immediately replaced. People who get paid by the hour, or who work for themselves, won’t be able to make up for the income they’re losing a few weeks from now. Hotel rooms and airplane seats are perishable goods—once canceled, they can’t simply be rescheduled. Refineries won’t be able to make up all the time offline—they can’t run more than 24 hours per day. And given that supply chains rely on a huge number of shipments making their connections with precision, the disruption to the region’s shipping, trucking, and rail infrastructure will have far-reaching effects. If you’re a business in Oklahoma or New Mexico, there’s a pretty good chance the goods you are importing or exporting pass through the Port of Houston.

There’s a conventional wisdom that holds that natural disasters aren’t always that bad for the economy. Reconstruction and relief efforts often function as miniature stimulus packages. And many sectors of our economy are indeed highly resilient and flexible—and hence able to weather the storm. Writing in the New York Times earlier this week, Neil Irwin was relatively sanguine about the economic impact of Harvey on the system at large. He noted that any disruption to supply chains was likely to be short-term and that insurers were well-situated to weather the storm. So, yes, it is tough to quibble with the notion that taking a long-term perspective, Harvey will be a blip. But we all know what John Maynard Keynes said about the long run. And in the meantime, there will be a lot of financial and human suffering.

Exploring Supergirl's Flimsy Feminism

Exploring Supergirl's Flimsy Feminism

by Cate Young @ BattyMamzelle: feminist • pop culture • criticism - Cate Young

 

You might not have heard, but Supergirl is all about girl power. Kara Danvers is a girl and her best friend and sister Alex Danvers is a girl. Her romantic rival is Lucy Lane who is a girl and they both work at CatCo. for Cat Grant who is also proudly a girl who built a media empire. In her free time, Kara is Supergirl and many of her foes are girls. In National City, girls are everywhere.

Supergirl as an avatar for 2016 feminism exists largely at a very superficial level that mostly works. The show is bright and sunny and endearing and consciously aware that it in addition to a bunch of cynical (mostly male) television critics, it also has an audience of very young girls. The girl power message is overt and highly unsubtle, but it works when one considers that girls as young as eight aren't necessarily ready for critical feminist theory just yet. Supergirl presents complex ideas about identity and womanhood and how they interact in the larger world in a way that is digestible to young viewers, and I think that's a net benefit.

The only problem? All the girls are white.

There's the argument to be made that since Supergirl's feminism is actively very surface level, it can't be expected to delve too deeply into issues of intersectionality and white privilege. However, even surface level affirmations have something of value to offer. Simple lessons about not being afraid to assert yourself in a workplace, dealing with female jealousy or not feeling obligated to reciprocate a romance you don't feel, may be minor things in the grander scheme of the feminist movement, but they are still essential parts of it. They are still ideas that we want young women to internalize. By rendering women of colour largely invisible in Supergirl's universe, we deny young girls of colour access even to that.

Platitudes have their place. They serve to break things down in a way that's easy to understand and usher us into to larger, more complex ideas. If this show serves as a primer for feminists in the making, that would be an amazing thing. But its glaring omission of women of colour characters risks telling young women that the movement is only for the white girls and reinforcing the racial divide in feminism for a new generation. When we erase girls of colour even from these simple stories, we tell them that they do not have a place in narratives of empowerment, and that can have a devastating cumulative effect on a generation.

It doesn't help that Supergirl is incredibly clumsy when it does slink around issues of race. The only two main characters of colour are black men: head of the DEO, Hank Henshaw, and presumptive love interest James Olsen. Hank is often portrayed as a direct threat to Kara's autonomy and (until the introduction of the current villain Maxwell Lord) was usually the character most likely to suggest that Kara was incapable of achieving her stated goals. The current storyline involves Hank taking the blame for killing Kara's aunt, an act in fact committed by her sister Alex. This positions Hank, a large and substantial black male character as the antagonist to a much smaller white female character. It also requires that he bear the burden of something that another white female character has done without any awareness of the historical context of this particular racial dynamic. Hanks is both opponent and scapegoat for white female characters at his own expense, a theme that was also rampant in last year's Jessica Jones.

Jimmy's blackness is rarely acknowledged, but when it is, it's as an addendum to what Kara is dealing with. When Kara is struggling with controlling her anger, Jimmy notes that black men are rarely encouraged or allowed to express anger either. No acknowledgement is made of the fact that much of the historical fear of black men is in service of the protection of white women in that scene or any other. In a later episode, Jimmy, burdened by journalistic responsibility, argues that recently captured villain Max Lord shouldn't be detained unlawfully at the DEO and deserves due process just like everyone else. Kara is furious and argues that because Lord has tried to kill her, he is evil and dangerous and does not deserve additional consideration. In the current political climate, where even half hour comedies are compelled to invoke #blacklivesmatter because not doing so would be to willfully ignore current events, not lending more weight to a black man arguing against at-will detention while a white woman argues in favour of it seems like a missed opportunity.

It would be silly to expect Supergirl to be everything to everyone. Politics aside, the show exists as a money-making enterprise and is unlikely to ever fully cover every feminist issue of our time. But even meta-narratives about who is allowed to be part of the story matter over time, and in 2016, creating a universe that is fueled by girl power in which girls of colour simply do not exist is a conscious choice to reinforce the status quo.

There is very little subtext in Supergirl. Meaning-making is done explicitly and out in the open. What then are we to make of the apparent extinction of women of colour?

Please Step Aside, Sir

Please Step Aside, Sir

by Jacob Brogan @ Slate Articles

We’ve all lived through the necessary indignity of passing through airport security. Especially when the queue moves slowly, the process leaves you replaying familiar worries. Do I still have to take off my shoes? Should I pull out my laptop? Are my toiletries small enough to escape notice? When you pass through with a medical device, however, the list of questions is longer and the answers more frustratingly predictable. Yes, you’ll waste still more time as the agents scrutinize every aspect of your equipment. Yes, before the experience is done, one of them will touch your groin. Yes, you are being singled out for something that already makes you feel terrible—physically and emotionally—almost every day. If you’re lucky, you still make it to your gate in time.

In my case, the trouble starts with two medical devices that are always attached to my body to treat my diabetes: a wireless insulin pump, which I typically wear on my upper arm, and a constant glucose monitor that adheres to my stomach. Removing either would require me to apply a new module, which is both expensive and time-consuming. And though neither device is especially large, they announce themselves loudly on full-body scans: bright blots of light against the murky gray of my digitally rendered frame.

Each time they show up—and they always do—the next steps are the same. Officers pull me aside and pat me down. Somewhere along the way, they test my fingers for explosives. Inevitably, I’m all but compelled to explain my condition, telling the agents what I’m wearing and why, even as other travelers stream by.

Where devices like mine are designed to make my life easier, allowing me to live without fear of my disease, here they become objects of near-performative skepticism. For a few minutes, I become a sort of showpiece, a dramaturgical prop in the Transportation Security Administration’s ongoing work of security theater. In the moment, it’s hard not to feel that the TSA counts on such screening opportunities, if only because they allow the agents to show everyone else in line just how thorough they are.

Perhaps that’s unfair to officers who are, after all, simply doing an important job. While the agency does a great deal to accommodate those with medical conditions (individuals with disabilities don’t need to remove their shoes, for example), its information pages also clarify that any and all medical equipment may receive further screening. In other words, they’ll do their best to ensure you make it through safely, but they’re almost always going to look at you more closely than they would at another passenger.

This can be frustrating in the moment, but it’s not just those of us who repeatedly receive extra scrutiny who have concerns. The Electronic Privacy Information Center, which researches civil liberties and privacy issues, has argued that that the full-body scanning technology currently in use across the United States is unnecessarily invasive in ways that go beyond the basic imaging process. As the organization put it in a recent petition to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, that’s partly because that system “heighten[s] the burden of disclosure for persons who rely on certain life-sustaining medical devices.”

In May, the court brushed off EPIC’s petition, writing that the issues “do not warrant a published opinion.” Jeramie Scott, director of EPIC’s Domestic Surveillance Project, told me that conclusion was frustrating. In particular, he told me, the court seems to have overlooked or otherwise discounted the pressures that the screening process can put on people with medical conditions to reveal information about their well-being.

Do TSA agents know how to sensitively move travelers like me through security? According to Supriya Raman, a manager in the TSA’s disability office, security screening officers undergo training that addresses both disabilities and medical conditions and devices associated with them. Raman’s office also circulates updates when it learns about new medical technologies as they make their way to the market, attempting to help the agency’s officers recognize devices that might pass through their checkpoints. In my own experience, at least, that training doesn’t seem to have stuck: Though my pump and monitor are both relatively common, few security officers recognize them.

TSA representatives also stress that passengers have the right to request a private screening. The agency even makes cards that travelers can hand to an officer, an approach that can, at least in theory, spare them the uncomfortable experience of declaring a medical condition aloud. But even that process requires that the traveler be publicly taken aside, which may amplify shame or other unpleasant feelings associated with a medical condition. And merely making the request still entails conveying potentially sensitive information to strangers about the private particulars of one’s health, something I, for one, am often loathe to do, even when the circumstances are stress-free.

For all that, these protocols do evince a real desire to ease the burden on travelers. The agency even advertises a passenger support helpline through which concerned travelers can prearrange to have a specialist meet them at a checkpoint, leading them through the process in a way that better accommodates individual needs. While this service is likely critical for many—especially those with mobility impairments—it still requires substantial effort on the traveler’s own part, effort that can only distract from the constant work of medical self-care. And as with other forms of enhanced screening, this process also still leaves the TSA dedicating considerable time and energy to the investigation of innocuous conditions.

TSA spokesman Mike England proposes that the situation is largely unavoidable, at least for now. “The technology we have can tell that something is there, but it can’t tell the difference between, say, a hip replacement or something dangerous,” he says. “We have no choice but to conduct further screening.”

As England and Raman told me, the TSA is working with “industry partners” to allay that situation. To that end, Raman said, the agency hopes to develop a process that would allow “a broader range of individuals to be screened without having to go through secondary screening.” What such a process might entail, and how it might work, remains unclear. It also seems entirely possible that a system capable of clearly distinguishing between medical devices and more threatening objects would raise new privacy concerns.

EPIC suggests that such innovations might not even be warranted. In its brief to the appeals court, the organization writes that a combination of metal detectors and already-available explosive trace detection devices could effectively assess threats without singling out travelers with medical conditions or disabilities. “All things being equal, TSA should have chosen the less privacy-invasive route. The bomb trace equipment is designed to detect the threat for which we have screening in the first place,” Scott told me.

Ultimately, England may be right about the inevitability of additional screenings targeting individuals with medical devices—an inevitability that speaks to the paradox that devices like mine present. When I first received my diagnosis, I did what I could with the options that were available, carrying around fragile insulin vials and sheaths of needles with me everywhere I went. Later, I upgraded to self-contained pens and eventually to the cybernetic attachments I now wear.

While each of those upgrades has made it a little easier to manage my disease, they also bring complications of their own, forcing me to reshape my days around their particulars. New technologies—medical and otherwise—never enhance our lives without transforming them. On occasion, I’ve had to rush home from the office because my pump failed and I didn’t have a replacement in my bag—something that never happened with the old needle method. In other circumstances, I’ve been woken in the middle of the night because my phone was shrieking about a mis-calibrated blood sugar reading. These devices keep me healthy, but they also do as much to manage me as I do to manage them.

It’s hard to grasp the burden of such experiences until you’ve lived with them. And though I spend a great deal of my time trying to forget it, passing through the already liminal space of a security checkpoint only serves to drive the experience home. Much as I appreciate the TSA’s efforts, I worry that its attempt to develop new screening methodologies will bring new irritations, redirecting our time with the agency in as yet unthought ways. For now, at least, I will have to continue resigning myself to the frustrations of enhanced screening every time I fly, as will others who live with chronic conditions.

Read the rest of our series about the airport as the hub of American anxiety.

Snapchat Is Doing Even Worse Than Everyone Thought

Snapchat Is Doing Even Worse Than Everyone Thought

by Will Oremus @ Slate Articles

On Snap Inc.’s second earnings call as a public company, CEO Evan Spiegel started with the good news. Users visited Snapchat more frequently in the latest quarter, and spent more time on it “than ever before,” Spiegel said Thursday.

It’s the sort of generic superlative that tech executives reach for when they need to put a positive gloss on a discouraging trend. Snapchat did add 7.3 million daily active users in the past three months, which sounds like a lot—until you realize it added 8 million in the three months before that. Investors were hoping for a number closer to 9 million or 10 million, which would have suggested that growth was rebounding rather than slowing.

For a company in Snap’s position, rapid growth is expected. What people really care about is: Are you growing faster than before? Or are you heading for—gasp—a plateau? In Snapchat’s case, it’s beginning to look like the latter. That’s why, as of about 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, the company’s stock had tumbled a precipitous 17 percent in after-hours trading.

That disappointing user growth was actually worse news than the ugly-sounding $443 million net loss Snapchat posted. Those investing in it were hoping for a rocket ride to global ubiquity, similar to the ones Facebook and Google enjoyed in the years following their IPOs. They would have been happy to tolerate plenty of big losses along the way, as long as the future looked bright. (Just ask Amazon.) Instead, they’re hearing whispers of dirty words like “Twitter,” whose growth began to flatline almost as soon as it went public.

Snapchat was supposed to be the hip teen that made Facebook look old and out-of-touch. Instead, Facebook is pushing it around like the class bully and stealing its lunch money. Mark Zuckerberg’s company, whose acquisition bid Spiegel once famously spurned, has copied Snapchat’s key features—not just once, but on nearly every platform it owns—and the competition appears to be taking its toll.

Spiegel sounded embattled and a little irritable on the earnings call, which at one point featured a hot mic snafu in which an analyst could be heard mocking Spiegel for failing to answer his question. That question came after Snap executives excused the company’s lackluster growth by saying that Snapchat doesn’t rely on “growth-hacking” tricks like some of its competitors do. What specific growth-hacking tricks, the analyst asked, does Snapchat not engage in? “I think there are plenty of examples online if you want to go for a Google,” Spiegel replied.

As poorly as things are going for Snapchat, there are still a few factors working in its favor. Growing by 7 million active users may be a disappointment given its previous trajectory, but the 4 million that it added in North America suggests that there is room for more even in its home market. It would be worse if Americans were fleeing and all of the growth was coming from low-hanging fruit overseas.

More importantly, those who do use Snapchat still seem to use it a lot. Daily users under 25 spend an average of 40 minutes per day on the app, Spiegel said, while those over 25 average 20 minutes. Such deep engagement has been a key to Facebook’s long-term success. Then again, Twitter has loyal users too—it’s attracting the casual ones that has given it fits.

It’s too soon to write off Snapchat, which is still by most standards a young and fast-growing company. But when your competitive edge is being the trendy upstart, it’s never good to see the trends turning in the wrong direction.

Rape, Consent and Race in Marvel's Jessica Jones

Rape, Consent and Race in Marvel's Jessica Jones

by Cate Young @ BattyMamzelle: feminist • pop culture • criticism - Cate Young

 

Jessica Jones is the latest, best example of white feminist fiction: excellent on sexism, terrible on racism. There are a lot of great things about this series that speak directly to the ills that women face on a daily basis. Kilgrave, the central villain, is chillingly terrifying, specifically because the only difference between him and your garden variety abuser is his total power to enact his will. The examination of male entitlement in ways both large and small (by contrasting Kilgrave and Simpson for example) are excellent and poignant. But as I watched the 13 episode first season, I was struck by how callously black people's lives were treated on the show, rendered into convenient plot devices in service of the white female protagonist's character development. As a black woman viewing the show, it was easy to see that the active pursuit of liberation from abuse was not a struggle that this show believes includes me (an ongoing struggle for Marvel). Ironically, the best parts of the show are its treatment with its villain, while the worst are its treatments with its female anti-heroine.

While I do have several critiques of the show, there were a number of things that I thought were handled exceptionally well. Firstly, this is a show driven by women about the fears and terrors that women must navigate in the world shrunk down to a micro-level, enabling us an intimate look at the various levels of abuse women routinely endure. The contrast between Kilgrave and Simpson is genius, as it helps demonstrate the full scale of abuse that men knowingly and unknowingly enact on the women around them. The two men are flip-sides of the same coin. While Kilgrave simply takes what he feels he is entitled to by means of his powers of enhanced persuasion, Simpson intially takes a less forceful but no less sinister approach, exemplified in his treatment of Trish after he realizes that Kilgrave has compelled him to murder her. As Stephanie Yang writes in a Bitch Magazine review:

 

The warning signs are there early on. Under Kilgrave's control, Simpson assaults Trish inside her own apartment. Once Kilgrave's control wears off, he's wracked with guilt and comes back to apologize. The problem is that Trish doesn't want Simpson's apology; she wants him to just leave. Trish doesn't want to be reminded that she was attacked in her own home, or feel trapped by her own high-end security system while her attacker lingers outside. But Simpson is insistent, sitting in her hallway and talking to her through the intercom. Simpson makes his apology about his needs and his absolution, not about Trish's needs, safety or mental health. It's entirely understandable, but it's still wrong. 

Simpson and Kilgrave certainly have different motivation for their destructive actions. But as Jessica points out, intent doesn't matter. Their actions and consequences are what matter. That's an important distinction that needs to be made at a time when courts and media alike dismiss many real-life cases of abuse because the abuser "couldn't know" what they were doing was wrong. Violence is a symptom of a culture that indulges bad behavior as being inherently and unavoidably part of masculinity, or even a romantic expression of desire and protectiveness.

 

I would go a step further and name Simpson's insistent apologies to Trish as outright abusive on their face, specifically because they prioritize his need for absolution over her need to heal. Trish is the victim in the situation, and yet Simpson manages to find a way to center himself in the story of this trauma. As with Kilgrave and Jessica, Simpson's abuse is rooted not in a cartoonish hatred of women as we are often led to believe, but rather in prioritizing his own will and desires over Trish's.

The show's exploration of rape and consent is also spot-on. Through interaction with Kilgrave's superhuman abilities, Jessica Jones is able to make plain text of the subtext of rape culture. In one episode, Jessica makes plain that what Kilgrave did to her was rape. She says the word and invokes it over and over, explaining to him that by revoking her ability to consent, he violated her in a profound way that he can never make up for, nullifying any "kind treatment" during that time. For Jessica (and many other victims of sexual abuse) she was raped not only when Kilgrave forced sexual consent by rendering her suggestible, but also by forcing her to display trust and affection for him against her will. We see this idea replicated when Hope demands that she be allowed to abort Kilgrave's fetus, because "every moment it's in me is like he's raping me all over again."

The other great thing about Jessica Jones is that it is a show ostensibly about rape, that never depicts a rape. It can be argued that the entire engine of the show is powered by the actions of a serial rapist with many, many victims in his wake, and yet the show never feels the need to indulge in crude depictions of trauma to demonstrate how horrifying rape is. Instead, we spend extensive time examining the fallout; following Jessica and Hope as they try to cope with being violated on such a profound level, grapple with their own feelings of guilt and culpability and make it to the other side with their faculties intact. One of the things that made Kilgrave so scary in the initial episodes was the way the memory of him haunted Jessica, always lingering at the edge of her thoughts, out of sight, but never out of mind. It masterfully depicted the way that rape trauma is a burden that doesn't go away once the act itself is over. In a year that's been replete with depictions of rape in television, it was refreshing to see a show tackle the true emotional weight of sexual assault without using the violation itself to titillate.

On the other hand, the treatment of people of colour in Jessica Jones is often anti-intersectional and openly anti-black. Vulture's year end "Best of Television" list cites the show as demonstrating "a racially diverse cast, heavy on women," a construction that belies that for many people, diversity means "add black men and stir." To me, it is borderline disrespectful to call the show racially diverse when the only significant, named woman of colour character is dead before the narrative begins and never speaks a word, while the black male characters are all subjected to incredible violence in service of the white female protagonist. This force frames feminist representation as the representation of white women and yet again, erases women of colour from our popular narratives.

With Reva's character, this is especially glaring. Her death at Jessica's hands is essentially the inciting incident of the story; the act that allows Jessica to free herself from Kilgrave's control. Reva is fridged to motivate Jessica's escape and eventual confrontation with Kilgrave. As Shaadi Devereaux writes in Model View Culture:

 

[...] One has to wonder what metaphor is offered, that she has to kill a Black woman in order to finally obtain that freedom. She must literally stop Reva Connors' heart with a single blow in order to experience her moment of awakening, enabling her to walk away from a cis-heterosexual white male abuser. It brings to mind how white women liberate themselves from unpaid domestic labor by exploiting Black/Latina/Indigenous women, often heal their own sexual trauma by performing activism that harms WoC, and how the white women's dollar still compares to that of WoC. Like Jessica's liberation is only possible through the violence against Reva, we see sharp parallels with how liberatory white womanhood often interplays with the lives of WoC. Were the writers consciously aware of these parallels, or was it just the same script playing out in their heads?

It's disappointing that the show, knowingly or not, replicates the same cycles of abuse that routinely play out within the feminist movement, by positioning violence against black women as the justified cost of white women's liberation. Jessica eventually enacts the same cycle of abuse against Luke Cage, her main love interest. Shaadi notes:

 

After killing Reva, Jessica goes on to stalk Reva's husband, Luke Cage, in a compulsive and boundary-violating cycle of guilt. She finally sleeps with him...without disclosing how she was implicated in Reva's death. She both withholds and actively obstructs him from finding out information about his own life, so that she can continue to get what she needs intimately from him. In dealing with her own demons, Jessica violates an invulnerable Black man and lays him a blow that no other character in their universe has the power to. Was this another nod to a complex understanding of gender, race and power, or another trope surfacing in insidious ways?

The issue here is that the show does not give any indication as to whether this is commentary or trope, so we are forced to assume the latter, interpreting the text as presented to us. Jessica makes a habit of using the black men around her, in service to her own ends treating them as interchangeable and disposable, a glaring and problematic oversight given the current political climate, and the historical context of black men being subjected to undue violence for the protection of white women. Jessica's pursuit of Luke despite her knowledge of her involvement in what we are led to believe in the most painful event of his life replicates the same disregard for his feelings that we saw Simpson demonstrate with Trish. To Jessica, her own need to be in Luke's orbit because of her overwhelming guilt and self-loathing, supersede his right to be fully informed about the circumstances of his wife's death, and as Tom and Lorenzo astutely write in their review:

 

[...] Like it or not, she has the capacity to be a bit hypocritical about Kilgrave's abilities choosing to think that there's actually a right way to take people's control away from them.

And Jessica very literally takes Luke's control away by not disclosing her involvement in Reva's death. She takes away his ability to choose not to be with the person who murdered his wife. Later, his choice to forgive is later revoked by Kilgrave, as he is forced to reconcile with her under Kilgrave's control. Again, the invulnerable black man's pain is not respected, but rather toyed with and manipulated by the narrative to serve the needs of white characters. As Shaadi again points out, the pattern becomes more uncomfortable and glaring as the series continues:

 

When her neighbor shares how Black people are more vulnerable to others' perceptions, it invokes not sympathy but an idea of how she can use it for her own ends. The result is several scenes where she pushes Black men into people to create a scene of chaos, using the opportunity to go unseen as she breaks the law. Instead of challenging oppressive systems directly, she uses them to get what she wants and to center her own survival. We see that she has some guilt about it, but sis willing to do it for her survival and the survival of other white characters.

These scenes demonstrate that as people marginalized along a spectrum, we often leverage violence against others for our own survival, sometimes with full awareness. But is awareness enough? Or as long as power remains unchallenged, will we always be lured by self-priority, the hierarchy of own safety and access? Our hero is willing to take on the mindcontrol of Kilgrave, but not those dangers most affecting the two most important men in her life - both Black. She intimately understands that no one will believe her, but capitalizes on the hierarchy of who has enough humanity to be believed - against other marginalized identities. She can finally walk away from the mind of her abuser, but the gravitational pull of racism is still too much.

As a black woman, I'm left to wonder, is Jessica worse than your garden variety racist for acknowledging systems of oppression only to exploit them? And on a real world level, why is this behaviour heralded by viewers as feminist when it actively takes advantage of people that the feminist movement is meant to protect?

My last issue is less a problem with this show specifically and more a general trope in fiction. I expect that very little can be done about this considering the source material, but truly abhor narratives in which a black person's "power" is that they cannot feel pain or be hurt. It is a direct callback to very pervasive superhumanization bias and stereotypes that still exist and are perpetuated today. As I have written before about this characterization, it feeds into the idea that violence against black people is not traumatic or dangerous as they can withstand the pain, and that this ability positions them as protectors of white characters who often also do them harm. It explains why young black boys are coded by white people as much older than they are, or why they think black people feel less pain. With Luke, we see this reflected in Luke's fight scenes as person after person escalates the violence against him to no effect. He is easily able to trounce several men at once. Earlier, we also see him take a circle saw to his abdomen in order to demonstrate his power to Jessica. Later still, we see doctors poke and prod him with needles and other penetrating devices ostensibly to save him, but the scenes only reinforce what we have already been told; nothing can hurt him, and so violence against him is justified.

In the end, I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy the show. The way Jessica Jones deals with consent resonated with me on a deep level, but it also made me question why the show didn't identify with me as a black woman, when I so easily identified with it. Hopefully in the next season we will see a more intersectional approach to the struggles that women face that treats its black characters with the same care that it affords the white women in the cast.

Airports Can Be Marvels

Airports Can Be Marvels

by Mark Vanhoenacker @ Slate Articles

You might assume that pilots hate airports. That at best we’d view them as earthly pit stops, as the base—the adjective as much as the noun—precursors to a high dream.

Not me. I’m a 747 pilot, and I love airports. I love them even—perhaps especially—when I’m flying as a passenger. If you feel the same about airports, I’m delighted to hear it. But I’m really writing to those of you who don’t, because it’s part of my job to try to make your journey more pleasant.

Let’s concede, for the sake of argument, everything that anyone could possibly not like about airports. Done. Now if aviation remains a part of your life—if it’s only flying that allows you to visit your far-flung family, friends, colleagues, or customers, not to mention all the fascinating corners of the world you otherwise couldn’t—then let me try to nudge the needle on your airport-ometer just a little toward the wondrous side. After all, if you’re going to fly anyway, then why not make the terrestrial bookends to your next journey across the vault of the heavens a little more interesting?

One thing I have to ask you to pack, though, is time. Not much. In his forthcoming book Airportness, the literature (and airports) scholar Christopher Schaberg invites you to contemplate the “poetics” of the curbside and to dial up a William Blake poem as you observe a boarding gate. (I imagine a Max Richter or Ludovico Einaudi track would serve just as well.) As with Schaberg, the things I love best about airports are hard to appreciate when I’m in a rush. I know that passengers (and pilots) can’t always choose how much extra time we have in airports. But those of us who want to see airports in a new light might take Schaberg’s advice, near the start of Airportness, to “build in an extra ten minutes to spare.”

“Just ten minutes”—that’s all he asks. Here’s how I spend mine.

Marvel at What’s Taking Flight

It remains relatively expensive and complicated to move things across the planet. When it comes to exactly which objects we find it worthwhile to transport over significant distances, we might think of seaports, which handle an enormous physical volume of trade, and of airports, of course, which handle plenty of high-value and perishable cargo. But what strikes me most about airports is the critical role they retain in the transmission of information. I know, there’s this new thing called the internet. Exactly. So why does air travel continue to increase? Why travel to Kenya or Kathmandu or Kansas City these days, when you can learn so much about their wonders from afar? Why are conferences so crucial to science, medicine, and business? The next time you’re watching a fellow passenger unpack his or her world-shrinking, cloud-connecting electronic devices at a security checkpoint, step back and ponder what this scene really says to us: that a great deal of the world’s most valuable knowledge, ideas, and experiences still travels by airplane—by you.

Take in the Departures Board

When I was a kid, I loved to flip through atlases. I was mesmerized by the names of cities, whether near or far, familiar or strange—Samarkand, Phoenix, Albany, Athens. I could never quite get my head around the fact that all of these cities were existing at the same time: that in each there was at that moment a different light and a different smell in the air; that in each it was a certain temperature and a certain hour; and that the histories of each, whether short or long, were pressing their noses up against the same present moment—as if time were a sphere, a kind of round front that enveloped the planet much like the atmosphere itself.

Airport departure boards offer a supercharged version of the atlas experience. In fact, these signs make it even easier to imagine this planet of glowing conurbations you might someday visit, because the travelers on those planes will, later today or sometime tomorrow, be walking right down the far-off streets of those far-scattered cities. I recently asked my followers on Facebook and Twitter to describe some of their favorite things about airports. I was pleased, but not at all surprised, to see enthusiastic rhapsodizing about departure boards among the replies.

I’d happily spend all of my 10 minutes staring up at a departure board. I like how by the mere ordering of departure times a flight to Aberdeen can appear near one to Buenos Aires, or to Jeddah. I love to think of old metropolises such as Rome, of how it can be that the name of the Eternal City appears so matter-of-factly on screens in Seoul or Tehran or Los Angeles. Departure boards are especially pleasing at U.S. airports that have both regional and long-haul flights. Suddenly, staring upward as you sip your Starbucks in San Francisco International Airport, you have found at least one answer to the question of what Bakersfield and Osaka have in common.

People-Watch (and -Listen)

Whether you’re perched in a coffee bar or sailing along the moving walkway, airports are among the best places on earth to marvel at humanity. This is true not only at global hubs but also at the smaller, farther-flung airports that connect travelers to those hubs. When it comes to pretty much every visible aspect of culture, from dress through to manners and expressiveness (especially at the emotional extremes of bidding farewell to loved ones and greeting them after a long absence), airports offer some of the best people-watching on the planet. And if, like me, you find it pleasurable to hear conversations in the few languages you recognize and the many you can’t, you’re in luck. Airports are the perfect place to eavesdrop on the wonders of our spoken world.

Admire the Architecture

Airports are of architectural interest for a number of reasons. First of all, while it’s often claimed that museums are our modern cathedrals, I’d argue the same might be said of certain airports. As with museums, airports say a lot about what we value (or what their designers value, or think we should value). Second, airports present a number of unique design challenges, from signage to baggage handling to transport links. I’m no architect, but I find it interesting to think about these challenges and about whether there are different ways to meet them, or if in fact these constraints are the main reason so many airports look alike.

Third, many (though clearly not all) political authorities view airports as highly prestigious projects that represent a city—or indeed an entire country—to the wider world. Especially in countries that have just one main international airport, business travelers can’t help but reflect on the airport experiences that frame the bleary-eyed beginnings and ends of their visits. That’s one reason many authorities hire world-class architects, give them big budgets, and demand an inspiring structure with global stature but also (these days) a touch of local flair. As a result, and despite their functional similarities, the best airports offer experiences as transcendent as any that architecture can. A few are worth a visit even if you never intend to get on a plane.

Take the midcentury, Eero Saarinen–designed main building at Washington Dulles (not to mention the airport’s distinctive font, itself an icon of the jet age). I love the glowing lines of the now-classic terminal, especially as seen at night from an approaching car or bus. When I finally walk into the terminal I usually pause and look up—not for 10 minutes but maybe a minute—before walking on, almost always with a touch more spring in my step. And of course, many of the most beautiful airports are new. The first time I landed at Mumbai’s Terminal 2 I forgot all about my jet lag, pulled out my phone, and enthusiastically texted a bunch of photos to awestruck friends back in the States.

Gaze at the Planes

Newer airports tend to have more windows, and all that glass is an invitation to remember that planes themselves can be beautiful. And not just the jet-age icons such as the Boeing 747. In fact you are living in one of the best times in recent memory to look out for lovely new birds in the skies and to contemplate how pleasingly form can follow function—a principle, by the way, associated with the legendary architect Louis Sullivan, who, in the days before airplanes, found it helpful to refer to “the sweeping eagle in his flight.” It’s tempting to wonder what Sullivan would make of the wingtips of the shiny new Airbus A350. Are the engineers behind these bladelike appendages incredibly smart, or do they have a great sense of style? Or take a look at the distinctive saw-toothed engines on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Yes, they’re quieter. And yes, they look awesome.

Absorb the Culture (Really!)

Airports, it’s fair to say, are internationalized places that don’t always go far out of their way to cultivate difference. Maybe that’s what we secretly want? I’m certainly not unhappy when I find decent lattes, English signage, copies of the Economist, and a meticulously controlled climate no matter where on the globe I am. And I’m thrilled when offbeat ideas like rocking chairs (which I first sat on in Boston) and little smiley-face buttons to rate immigration officers (which I first pressed in Beijing) spread rapidly to other airports.

But the relative homogeneity of airports also highlights the differences that do confront the traveler. As you walk through a terminal, what can you see, hear, or smell that helps you identify where you are? At Singapore’s beloved Changi Airport, for example, of course there’s an observation deck, a rooftop swimming pool, an indoor slide, and a Hello Kitty–themed café. But it’s the gardens—the separate orchid, sunflower, cactus, and butterfly gardens—that really strike you and that it seems only this ultra-green garden city would go to so much trouble to construct for you. Singapore is one of the world’s most globalized hubs and yet, as you walk through a place built solely to move you to and from the farthest reaches of the world, there’s really nowhere else you could be.

I have a similarly local, well-grounded feeling in Vancouver’s airport. The airport is quiet. It’s full of beautiful wood and calming water features. The people are friendly. In other words, Vancouver’s airport is perfect in all the ways that Vancouver itself is. In a surprise to no one who’s ever flown here, Vancouver’s airport was recently named the best airport in North America for the eighth year in a row.

And back in the U.S. of A? The “peaks” of Denver’s airport always make me smile, as do the foodie options popping up at SFO. And I’ll never forget the warm breezes that I once felt in the open-air walkways of Honolulu’s airport.

Savor the Exit

I recently landed in Accra, Ghana, one of my favorite African cities, just after sunset. When the terminal doors at last opened, the heat and humidity rushed over me. I could smell the air, I could see the crowds of waiting families and porters, and I could hear laughter and the local television from the little bar and restaurant just outside. By then, I marveled, I’d been on Ghanaian ground for almost an hour.

The scene reminded me to think about what happens when the terminal doors open and we step across the line that airports draw so neatly for us. If flying, compared to older forms of travel, is essentially a kind of teleportation, then the airport is a big part of the machine. Indeed travel couldn’t be so fast and accessible without such a sharp border somewhere along the way. That is, the line between the internationalized realm inside airports and the world outside isn’t a flaw—it’s an inevitable consequence of the way that we’ve chosen to move.

It’s also one of the interesting aspects of airports. The poet Kirun Kapur (a college friend of mine) describes the invigoration of the airport exit’s assault on the senses in “Arriving, New Delhi,” a poem from her book Visiting Indira Gandhi’s Palmist.

...Doors open and the blood pounds out
its local language along every limb.
Smell ashes. Men. Jasmine
climbing on a fence. A taxi driver
turbaned in a tongue of flame
says, Sister, I can take you into the city.
Sister, shall I take you home
?

If you didn’t find 10 extra minutes at the start of your journey, perhaps you have half a minute to spare here at its end. Airports—as Christopher Schaberg, Kirun Kapur, Alain de Botton, and so many others who’ve stopped to think about them have written—are liminal places. So take note of their doors, which perhaps more simply than anything else sum up how airplanes have changed our world. Pause as they open and the bewildered airs meet. Welcome.

Read the rest of our series about the airport as the hub of American anxiety.

Republicans Claim That Their New Plan to Repeal Obamacare Is a Moderate Compromise. LOL.

Republicans Claim That Their New Plan to Repeal Obamacare Is a Moderate Compromise. LOL.

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

On Monday, two plucky Senate Republicans are set to embark on one final madcap effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana have promised to introduce a piece of practical, compromise legislation that will simply let states decide whether to keep the Affordable Care Act or ditch it for something they prefer.

“It would leave in place taxes on the wealthy, taking that money and giving it back to governors to come up with better health care,” Graham has told CNN. “If you like Obamacare, you can keep it. If you want to replace it, you can.”

This modest pitch is wildly misleading. Graham and Cassidy have been shopping versions of their bill for months now, and submitted a detailed version as an amendment in July. As it stands, the legislation would make it virtually impossible for dozens of states to continue operating Obamacare as we know it without kicking in unrealistic amounts of their own money. That’s because, in the short term, the law is designed to penalize states that embraced the ACA while rewarding those that resisted it. Further down the line, the legislation simply zeroes out all of Obamacare’s spending, a de facto repeal of the entire program that doesn’t include a replacement. As policy, it’s a bit like walking into somebody’s house, lighting the whole ground floor on fire, then telling them, “Hey, you can keep living here—if you like it.”

In its early years, Graham-Cassidy is about robbing Peter to pay Paul—or, to be more precise, raiding California’s health-care budget in order to temporarily lavish some extra dough on North Dakota. The bill would take all of the money Washington currently spends on Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and premium subsidies, then distribute it to states in the form of block grants that, in theory, lawmakers in Albany or Topeka could use to fund whatever health care system they desired. Meanwhile, it leaves in place some of Obamacare’s consumer protections for patients with pre-existing conditions.

Sounds reasonable? There’s a catch. Instead of determining each state’s block grant based on how much money it receives under Obamacare today, the bill would doll out funding based on a baroque formula that favors poorer, older, sparsely populated parts of the country. As a result, it shifts spending from large states that expanded Medicaid, like California and New York, to small states that did not, like Mississippi and Alabama. There are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, nonexpansion states like North Carolina and Florida could see their health-care funding slashed, since lots of their residents get premium subsidies through the ACA’s exchanges today. Nevada, which did take up the expansion, could see a slight funding bump. But, as a whole, the bill starts off as a giant slap at states that committed the sin of trying to get more of their residents insured through Obamacare.

It gets worse. Graham-Cassidy schedules its block grants to grow slower than the cost of health care or insurance, thus eroding their value over time. According to the progressive Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the system would would lead to a 34 percent spending cut by 2026. Nine states—California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Virginia—would see their federal health-care funding cut in half under the block grant system, compared to what they would have received from Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and subsidy spending. Keeping the ACA in place would require spending vastly more of their own state revenue, which would be prohibitively expensive.

And what about the winners under the block grant setup? Many of them turn out to be losers, too. That’s because, like previous Republican House and Senate health-care bills, Graham-Cassidy would impose a per-capita cap on traditional Medicaid, designed to throttle its spending over time. By 2026, just eight states would end up with more overall health care funding than under current law—and many of them would probably be better off if lawmakers just swallowed their irrational animosity toward the ACA and expanded Medicaid.

But the real kicker comes after 2026. At that point, the block grant simply disappears, leaving states to fund whatever insurance scheme they’ve set up without federal assistance. As CBPP’s Edwin Park noted to me, this is even more draconian than what Republicans dreamed up in the previous House and Senate bills, both of which would have left in place subsidies that Americans could use to buy insurance. “Looking past 2026, both the House and Senate had their grossly inadequate tax credits, but they were permanent. Here, all funding for expanded coverage, the marketplace subsidies and Medicaid expansion, disappears,” Park said.

So far, nobody seems to be taking Graham and Cassidy too seriously, mostly because time is working against them. While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has dangled the possibility of a vote, few seem to think the pair can move their bill before the end of the month, when the legislative vehicle Republicans are counting on to pass repeal with a bare majority expires.”I don’t think there’s much of a chance,” Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the Senate Finance Committee chairman, told Politco. Plenty of other Republicans apparently agree. President Trump, meanwhile, has not-so-subtly nudged everybody to move on.

Even so, this bill should make Obamacare’s supporters nervous, at the very least. It doesn’t merely shuffle Obamacare’s funding around, but rather chokes it off entirely over the course of a decade. Graham and Cassidy may be attempting the legislative equivalent of a half-court buzzer beater. But we’re in big trouble if they just happen to sink it.

It looks as though at least one of the 'real women' meant to be in Dove's latest 'Campaign for Real Beauty' ad was an actress

It looks as though at least one of the 'real women' meant to be in Dove's latest 'Campaign for Real Beauty' ad was an actress


Business Insider

The actress tweeted that she was "feeling blessed en route to 'Doors/Choose Beautiful' documentary set."

This Startup Will Let You Go to the Movies Anytime for $10 a Month. It’s Probably Doomed.

This Startup Will Let You Go to the Movies Anytime for $10 a Month. It’s Probably Doomed.

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

Thanks to streaming services like Netflix and Spotify, Americans have gotten used to thinking about home entertainment as a $10-per-month, all-you-can-binge buffet. Now, a company run by one of Netflix's co-founders wants to bring a similar model to movie theaters—which are decidedly unhappy about it.

This week, the 6-year-old startup MoviePass announced that it was dropping the cost of its ticket subscription service to $9.95 a month. For a little more than the price of a large popcorn, users will (theoretically) be allowed to catch one flick every day at any theater in the country that accepts Mastercard. (According to the company's website, that covers 91 percent of theaters nationwide). However, the announcement drew a quick rebuke from AMC, the country's biggest cinema chain, which said in a statement that it was conferring with lawyers about whether it could block customers from using MoviePass at its theaters.

It's unclear whether AMC can do such a thing. Then again, it might not need to, since MoviePass seems to be counting on AMC's long-term cooperation to survive.

At the moment, MoviePass is poised to burn a prodigious pile of cash subsidizing the cost of its subscriptions. That's because every time a customer buys their movie ticket using one of the company's debit cards, it pays the theater for the full cost of admission. Given that the average film ticket cost $8.65 last year, MoviePass will end up losing money on every user who sees two or more showings a month. In big markets like New York, where catching the latest Avengers installment can easily cost $15, they'll come out behind on users who see just one movie a month.

This is not promising arithmetic. But CEO Mitch Lowe, the Netflix co-founder and Redbox executive who took the reins at MoviePass last year, thinks he has a vision to make his low, low price point work. He argues that his company's service gives theaters a big boost to ticket and concession sales, and eventually, theaters will feel compelled to hand MoviePass a slice of the extra profits, or maybe pay them back via advertising.

“There must be some way to make us whole,” Lowe told Variety. “We know we have to prove the value we deliver and, at that point in time, where we’re delivering value to studios and theaters, we can work together with them in a constructive manner so that everybody makes more money.”

That might not be quite as crazy as it sounds. U.S. movie ticket sales have been stagnant for about a decade now, as Americans have come to prefer Netflixing and chilling to sipping $6 Sierra Mists in an air-conditioned cavern full of strangers. At the same time, ticket prices have continually hit record highs, thus chagrining regular filmgoers, along with anybody who has ever suffered the indignity of paying out the nose to see a mediocre summer blockbuster. And while box office totals have edged up slightly over that time, they've failed to keep pace with inflation since 2009. In the era of unlimited TV and tunes, trying to lure Americans to go back to the cinema by cutting prices conceivably seems worth a try.

But it's also easy to guess why a company like AMC would recoil at Lowe's plan. In its statement, the chain argued that MoviePass' pricing was economically unsustainable, and “only sets up consumers for ultimate disappointment down the road if or when the product can no longer be fulfilled.” That's probably a valid concern. But more broadly, AMC can't be happy about the idea of a digital middle-man inserting itself into its industry, ultimately angling for a cut of the profits from each moviegoer even as it puts downward pressure on the price of an individual ticket. (AMC and MoviePass actually launched a pilot program together a few years ago when the startup's subscription prices were much higher, but the relationship has clearly soured.)

The sort of odd thing about MoviePass is that it's trying to become a middle man without asking permission first—or securing any payment for its services. Online ticketers like Fandango strike deals with theaters for the right to sell their seats, then market their service to the public. MoviePass is going to the public first, and hoping to gin up so much business that theaters will eventually strike a deal. The reason it can go that route is that its product is essentially just an app with movie times and a subscription debit card that customers can use to charge tickets to the company's account. Lowe argued to Bloomberg that for AMC to block his service from their theaters, they'd have to start declining Mastercard. Still, he's not going to make any money until he wins them over.

And if he can't? It's possible MoviePass could find other paths to profit. Eventually, it wants to use data on its users' moviegoing habits to sell targeted advertising. (How lucrative that could really be seems like an open question.) Or, it's possible that at $9.95, hordes of would-be film buffs will sign up for the service, then fail to see a movie each month. Milking money from subscribers who don't actually use the service was the company's original plan back when it was founded in 2011 and charged $30 a month, Bloomberg notes. But becoming the AOL of movie tickets doesn't seem like a recipe for long-term success.

It's a rather daring plan, all in all, made slightly less daring by the fact that MoviePass has already offloaded some of the risk: It sold a majority stake to a data-analytics firm on Tuesday to finance the scheme. If it succeeds, Lowe will have pulled off the impressive feat of fixing theaters' business model against their will. If it crashes and burns, at least savvy moviegoers will get a few cheap flicks out of the deal.

Fresh Starts And New-ish Beginnings

Fresh Starts And New-ish Beginnings

by Cate Young @ BattyMamzelle: feminist • pop culture • criticism - Cate Young

 

Well, the secret's out. Welcome to my brand-spanking new website!

Practically speaking, not a lot is changing except my domain. Professionally speaking, I now have a space that functions both as a beautiful portfolio of my writing and a native space for me to blog about the things that matter to me. This is something I've been meaning to do for years now, but haven't been able to afford until now. With the stipend I received from my writing fellowship, I was finally about to work with an amazing designer to put together a space that really works for my needs. I'm incredibly excited to move forward and christen this new space!

It took me ages to finally feel like I had any right to be writing about anything at all. In the last several years I've really honed my voice and gained some confidence when it comes to recognizing myself as an authority. Finally building this website feels like the final step towards legitimizing myself and my writing. I've been blogging in some form or another since I was 14 and this blog has existed in some form or another since my freshman year of college in 2009. Seven years is a long time! I'm so incredibly proud to be able to do this, even if it took me four years to get the funds together. This website is an investment in myself and my career and I'm incredibly proud that it was my writing that helped me do it. 

But onto the business. While I have migrated my blog posts, I'm still working on reformatting them for this new layout so things might be a little messy in the archives for another month or so. I also did not migrate the entirety of my old blog. My college musings on Lady Gaga are of no interest to anyone unfortunately, so they are now lost to the google machine. But all the best stuff is still here. The essays, the rants and the random musings are still meticulously cataloged, even if they won't look very pretty until I finished cleaning up the archive. The original posts are all still living over at Blogger, so feel free to use them for reference when needed. I haven't managed to create redirects yet, so if older posts link you to the original blog, don't panic. It's laziness, not a technical error. 

When it comes to social media, nothing will change except my profile pictures. You can still find me all over the web as @battymamzelle and I hope you'll reach out soon. 

Thanks for taking this journey with me.

 

‘It’s That Easy’: Celebrities Show Support for NFL Players Protesting Against Trump with #TakeaKnee

‘It’s That Easy’: Celebrities Show Support for NFL Players Protesting Against Trump with #TakeaKnee

by Maria Pasquini @ PEOPLE.com

After Donald Trump’s comments on Friday and Saturday about how NFL players — and any professional athletes — who want to protest the national anthem by taking a knee should be fired, his comments inspired a mass “take the knee” protest.

On Saturday, NFL players and celebrities showed their solidarity with athletes like Colin Kaepernick, who made headlines in Aug. 2016 for refusing to stand for the national anthem to protest racial injustice in the United States.

While numerous NFL players kneeled and locked arms during the national anthem during a Sunday game in London, celebrities lent their voices to the movement.

“I just wanna send some blessings and also, you know, some support to all the players in the NFL,” Diddy said on a video he posted on Instagram. “My message to y’all — even though you ain’t asking, so please receive it because I rarely give ‘em in this way — y’all got a chance to do something really, really, really, really, really great tomorrow.”

“If you all do whatever you do in unity, you can’t be stopped. Just do the math, man,” he continued. “Do the math, stick together, stand up for each other, ride with each other because believe me, we’re all we got and it has nothing to do with football or business. Y’all are our stars, y’all represent us, y’all are our strong heroes. So show that strength, please.”

“It’s that easy,” Orange is the New Black actress Uzo Aduba wrote. “#TakeAKnee”

“It’s about damn time black players! Stand with @Kaepernick7 in solidarity against racist Drumpf. #TakeTheKnee #Bend TheKnee,” wrote musician Sāvion Wright.

“I like when people who told me to respect the Confederate Flag las month scream about respecting the US Flag this month. #TakeTheKnee,” added SiriusXM’s Tell Me Everything host John Fugelsang.

“#TakeaKnee,” wrote Jesse Williams alongside a cartoon of angry men telling Kaepernick to stand up because soldiers died for his right to stand, while two soldiers interject that actually they died for his right to sit or stand.

“I’m taking a knee at home,” wrote radio personality Sway Calloway. “Not watching the #NFL 2day. Disruption is necessary. Economic power is key! 3takeaknee #StandWithKap #ImAmerican.”

“Wow…even #Jaguars owner #Khan @TakeAKneeNFL,” wrote actress Rosie Perez.

Actor John Leguizamo shared a message urging anybody who attended an NFL game this weekend to take the knee to not only support athletes, but to protest Trump’s “ruthless targeting of Black athletes and journalists.”

RELATED VIDEO: Exclusive: Natasha Stoynoff Speaks Out: ‘I Don’t Want Women to Feel Afraid’

Stevie Wonder also took time out of his set at Global Citizen Festival in New York City on Saturday to say, “tonight, I’m taking a knee for America.”

“Not just one knee, but I’m taking both knees,” he added. “Both knees in prayer for our planet, our future, leaders of our world and our globe. Amen.”

During a rally speech in Alabama on Friday, Trump stated, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say, ‘Get that son of a b–ch off the field right now. Out, you’re fired.’”

He followed this up by pouring more gasoline on the fire with a series of tweets on Saturday. “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect…our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem,” he wrote. “If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”


Dove's Incredible New PR Campaign Aims To Change Women's Image In Media

Dove's Incredible New PR Campaign Aims To Change Women's Image In Media


Digital Agency Network

To break the unrealistic image of women portrayed in media, Dove and Mindshare Denmark have teamed up to create an amazing campaign called Image_Hack.

Lyft Drivers Are Upset They May Be Asked to Take Riders to Taco Bell

Lyft Drivers Are Upset They May Be Asked to Take Riders to Taco Bell

by Kate Taylor @ Slate Articles

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

When Taco Bell announced a service that allows Lyft users to push a button to have their driver take them to a Taco Bell drive-through, most taco lovers' reaction was to celebrate. However, many Lyft drivers—who found out about the new service at the same time as the rest of the world—had a different response.

Drivers immediately called out Lyft on Twitter, questioning why drivers would want to take the time of going through a Taco Bell drive-thru without additional compensation. Typically, Lyft drivers are paid by the mile—meaning that they aren't earning any cash when cars are stopped at the drive-thru under the current system. And, that's not even getting into the potential messes that a car full of Doritos Locos tacos could create.

"That Lyft might go ahead and do this—encourage riders to do something most drivers dislike doing—without offering drivers an incentive or otherwise communicating to us what the plan is is pretty bold," one Lyft driver told Business Insider.

"This is Uber type behavior, and I don't think even Uber does stuff like this anymore," he continued. "I wonder if it occurs to Taco Bell that drivers don't like going through the drive-through."

The same driver also emailed Business Insider a snarky, satiric corporate statement from "Lyft," reading: "A representative for the Los Angeles-based Southern California Rideshare Drivers Association said, 'Although drivers make very little money sitting in the drive through line, and many feel that Lyft and Taco Bell are encouraging riders to take advantage of the awkward situation this puts drivers in, the upside is this provides a great new revenue stream source for the drivers in the form of cleaning fees.'"

Lyft clarified on Twitter that drivers' participation in "Taco Mode," which is launching as a test in Orange County, California on Thursday, is completely optional. The company, which did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment, also said it plans to "gather and evaluate feedback from both drivers and passengers and use this to inform Taco Mode moving forward."

Taco Bell will test Taco Mode in Orange County, California, from July 27 to 29 and August 3 to 5, with plans to expand the service across the US in 2018. In addition to providing passengers the ability to order drive-through Taco Bell, Taco Mode also includes a custom in-car menu, free Doritos Locos tacos, and what the company calls a "taco-themed car."

"We realized that for every person who has asked their Lyft driver to make a pit stop at Taco Bell—and we've seen many—there are likely those who weren't sure if this was possible," Taco Bell CMO Marisa Thalberg said in a statement. "With the advent of this fantastic partnership with Lyft, we will erase any lingering uncertainty and celebrate the ability to 'ride-thru' in Taco Mode."

Republicans Are Taking One Last Shot at Repealing Obamacare, and It’s Their Most Extreme Bill Yet

Republicans Are Taking One Last Shot at Repealing Obamacare, and It’s Their Most Extreme Bill Yet

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

There is pretty much one thing you need to understand about the last-minute Obamacare repeal bill Republicans are currently attempting to pass before a drop-dead deadline at the end of September. Of the three major pieces of health care legislation the GOP has considered this year, this one appears to be the most extreme—the closest the party could come to ending the Affordable Care Act without actually replacing it.

The GOP’s past two repeal plans—the American Health Care Act, which passed the House, and the Better Care Reconciliation Act, which failed in the Senate—followed the same broad outline. When it came to the individual market, the bills looked like severely degraded versions of Obamacare, offering relatively meager tax credits designed to buy cheap private insurance while allowing states to opt out from at least some of the Affordable Care Act’s most popular consumer protections. Both also rolled back the ACA’s Medicaid expansion while capping spending on traditional Medicaid for the first time. (On that last front, the Senate bill was notably more draconian.)

Both bills would have made it harder for many older, sicker, and poorer Americans to buy health coverage, potentially leaving tens of millions uninsured while dealing a historic blow to the government’s single largest health care program by enrollment. Some ideas that wormed their way into these bills—like the Cruz amendment—likely would have thrown the insurance markets into outright disarray. Some of the regulatory waivers may have been ripe for abuse. But at the very least, you could say they left in place a default system of support to help lower-income Americans to buy health plans, however measly it may have been.

The new Republican plan, put forth by Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, is different and in many ways more frightening. It repeals Obamacare but does not replace it in any meaningful sense. Instead, the bill would take the money that the government currently spends on the ACA’s premium subsidies and Medicaid expansion and dispenses it back to states in the form of block grants that they could use to fund their own health care experiments, whatever those might be. These grants would likely grow more slowly than the cost of insurance or medical care, thus cutting federal health spending by $239 billion over a decade. The law would also give states the right to waive most of Obamacare’s key regulations, including those that prevent insurers from charging more to people based on their health, so long as they explain their plan to “maintain access to adequate and affordable health insurance coverage for individuals with pre-existing coverage.” (It’s not clear if that plan has to be realistic.)

Some liberal states might try to preserve a system similar to Obamacare in a Graham-Cassidy world—like how Massachusetts had Romneycare before the country had Obamacare. But it would be hard, if not impossible, to replicate the real thing. That’s because the bill’s funding formula is designed not only to shrink federal spending on health care but to shift dollars from predominantly Democratic states that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare to predominantly Republican states that did not. It’ll be a smaller pie overall, and places like New York and California that are inclined to expand health coverage will be getting a smaller slice.

As for states that are generally tight-fisted about safety-net spending? Who knows what they’ll do. Graham-Cassidy lists six different ways states can use their block grant money—but the spending categories are purposely broad, and it’s entirely conceivable that an Alabama or Mississippi would use its money to supplant some of their existing state spending or patch budget holes. This has been a chronic problem with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which turned cash welfare into a block grant program in the 1990s, and may be the closest parallel to what Republicans are now angling to do to Obamacare.

All told, Graham and Cassidy aren’t really offering a health care proposal. Instead, they’re offering states a meager slush fund.

Worse yet, it’s a slush fund with a self-destruct function. Graham-Cassidy does not appropriate any money for its block grants after 2026. The cash just disappears. Cassidy has tried to write off this bizarre detail of the law as a mere technicality, claiming, according to Politico, that “budget restrictions prevent him from funding the block grants beyond 2026” and reassuring reporters that “Congress would keep the money flowing in the same way it’s continually agreed to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program.” That is not a convincing excuse. The budget reconciliation rules—which Republicans are relying on to pass repeal with just 50 votes—only bar legislation that raises the long-term deficit. Since Graham-Cassidy’s block grants would actually cut federal spending, it should be possible to make them permanent. The fact that the senators apparently don’t want to is fairly ominous.

Finally, all of this is paired with a cap-and-cut approach to traditional Medicaid that is just as draconian as what the most recent Senate bill proposed.

The current version of Graham-Cassidy has only been out for about a week, meaning experts haven’t had a ton of time to digest the bill’s language. The deeper you wade into it, though, the more worrying some of the details seem to be. Edwin Park at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities pointed out to me that Graham-Cassidy’s formula might actually penalize states for trying to help their residents buy more generous coverage. “It’s pretty crazy,” he told me. “You’re not only encouraging states to cover fewer people, but also to provide them worse coverage.” Unfortunately, Senate Republicans need to pass a bill before the Sept. 30 deadline, when their reconciliation vehicle expires. We should get a Congressional Budget Office score before then, but not with enough time to properly digest a piece of legislation that would remake much of the U.S. health care system.

But what we know about the bill already is frightening enough. And in many ways, it’s the perfect capstone to the entire Obamacare repeal process, in which Republicans have struggled to find any sort of coherent substitute for the health care law they want to dismantle. Republicans promised to repeal and replace Obamacare. By lining up behind Graham-Cassidy, they’ve essentially shrugged and said, “Let’s not and say we did.”

A Bargain at $5.3 Billion

A Bargain at $5.3 Billion

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

The competition for the 2024 Summer Olympics came to a very un-Olympian finish this week: Gold medals for everyone! One went to Paris, the last city standing in the hunt for the 2024 Games. Los Angeles, too, has been draped in gold after agreeing to host the 2028 Games instead. And let’s go ahead and give a gold medal to the International Olympic Committee, for obtaining not one but two commitments to host its quadrennial spectacle of debt. (And from democracies, no less!)

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The IOC still needs to formalize these agreements at its summit in Lima, Peru, in September, but for L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and his Parisian counterpart Anne Hidalgo, confidence runs high:

The settlement turns a coin toss between Paris and L.A. into a “win-win-win,” IOC President Thomas Bach said on Monday. The decision to award two Olympiads at once was framed as a reflection of “the exceptional circumstances and unique opportunities” presented by the two cities. But if you think the IOC decided to forgo its usual bribe-fueled dog-and-pony show because Paris and L.A. were both so grand, I’ve got a billion-dollar aquatics center to sell you.

In reality, the IOC is making the most of a bad hand. In the wake of the scandal that was Sochi and the ongoing debacle in Rio de Janeiro, the committee has been buffeted by a near-total lack of interest in the 2022 Games, which were awarded to Beijing, and a string of stinging repudiations from voters in Oslo, Vienna, and Hamburg. Boston, Rome, and Budapest all dropped out of the 2024 sweepstakes due to a lack of popular enthusiasm. In 2014, the IOC approved a 40-point plan of repentance, but the details of its arrangements with host cities are yet to be hammered out. Well, now’s the chance.

Paris is determined to showcase a once-in-a-generation infrastructure project to unite Paris with its suburbs via the construction of 68 new metro stations. Like Los Angeles, it has a history hosting mega-events—the Olympics twice, the World Cup in 1998, and the European Cup last summer—and will rely largely on temporary and repurposed venues to cut the cost. The city will also outsource elements of the competition to other French cities, making the soccer competition national and holding sailing races in Marseille. Back in 2005, Paris put in for the 2012 Games with a modest, low-cost bid that lost out to London’s gargantuan investment. Now that Olympic fashions have caught up, it will have its turn.

But it’s Los Angeles, deferring its bid to 2028, that has the more radical Olympic idea: Build almost nothing. The organizers propose a handful of temporary venues and four new permanent venues, some of which will be privately funded and each of which has a documented future use. The city has also dropped plans for a brand-new Olympic Village, instead proposing to house athletes in existing and already-planned dormitories at the University of Southern California and University of California, Los Angeles. All in all, the city projects the games will cost $5.3 billion—not even half the cost of Rio, and in a much more expensive place to build. Not quite an “austerity Olympics,” as the 1948 London Games were known, but a welcome rebuke to the bloated spectacles of the past. Only $1.2 billion is budgeted for infrastructure upgrades. That wouldn’t even cover one NFL stadium. And while every megaproject always features cost overruns, there’s not much “project” in the L.A. Olympic budget. Most of the money goes toward operations, technology, and workforce, with another $177 million for the opening and closing ceremonies.

The recent bad run for Olympic hosts began with Athens, in 2004, where the games wound up costing 10 times the initial $1.6 billion bid and double the project’s final budget. Most facilities were left abandoned and unused. That investment wasn’t the cause of the country’s subsequent debt-fueled debacle, but for Greeks upset with a vengeful international order, it did become a symbol. Sensitive to that association, then–IOC President Jacques Rogge went so far as to suggest the games had actually helped abate the nation’s economic crisis. “Had Athens still been outmoded, the economy would have been much worse probably than it is today,” he said in 2010.

This week’s IOC decision comes as Rio undergoes the traditional year-after Olympic check-in, with the usual results: The city and state are broke, the venues have been abandoned and the apartments remain unsold, and it’s hard to see any long-term benefits from the $13.1 billion investment. The Associated Press reports that the IOC has refused to help Rio pay off its creditors, after the Rio 2016 organizing committee attempted to do so with used air conditioning units, electrical cables, and other leftover games hardware. On Monday, the Rio de Janeiro State University announced it would suspend the start of the semester indefinitely because the state—which backed the organizing committee’s credit and is, along with the city, inheriting its debts—has no money to pay teachers and other employees.

It’s not that there’s no money to be made in sports. Sponsorships and television deals continue to bring in billions and account for more than 90 percent of the IOC’s direct revenue. Between 2009 and 2012, the IOC took in nearly $4 billion from broadcast rights and nearly another billion from sponsors. In the following four years, that revenue was up to $5.6 billion. The IOC says it redistributes 90 percent of revenue to promote and operate the games and keeps 10 percent. Even if that’s true—and the IOC is a notoriously corrupt organization—the IOC is taking home hundreds of millions on each games and sticking host cities with all the risk.

In some ways, the current state of play recalls the run-up to the 1984 Olympics. Then too, Los Angeles was the only bidder. And then too, it used that position as leverage in negotiations with the IOC, ensuring a lucrative television deal and a profit-sharing arrangement that wound up funding youth sports programs for years to come. As I wrote in 2015, nifty adjustments in urban management showed the kind of city Los Angeles could be and, to some extent, the city it has become:

Congestion fell by 60 percent as commercial deliveries were made at night, employers let employees work from home, and streets reversed their flows to smooth traffic. But most of all, what made the 1984 Games go was a specially devised Olympic bus network, which, when it was rolled out, became (on its own) the fourth-largest transit system in the state of California.

How much of that is possible now, working with an IOC that has tightly guarded its Olympic moneymaking capacity? The answer ought to be: a lot.

We know Los Angeles has already negotiated some concessions with the IOC, including an $180 million advance to cover committee costs and fund youth sports in the city. The bid includes a contingency budget of nearly $500 million, which, if unspent, will revert entirely to the city rather than partly to the IOC as has been customary. The IOC will contribute at least $1.8 billion, and possibly more than $2 billion, thanks to a new arrangement that allows the city to sell domestic sponsorships that IOC corporate partners don’t want. (The initial arrangement called for the IOC to share $1.3 billion with the city.) That suggests Garcetti and the bid committee have pushed hard, and the city council—which will have to review and approve public expenditures—should add its own demands.

One mark Los Angeles can make on the games: shredding the red carpet that host cities typically roll out for the IOC. Part of the pitch for L.A. is that the city, ever a disappointment to tourists, has the opportunity to introduce the world to its new self-image as the polyglot American metropolis—with a newly built subway network! That means it’s time to stop pampering a group that my colleague Ben Mathis-Lilley once described as “a notoriously ridiculous organization run by grifters and hereditary aristocrats.”

When Oslo rejected the Winter Games, it was in part after a list of demands from IOC members leaked to the press. That list specified:

  • The IOC members should have separate entrances and exits to and from the airport.
  • IOC members get to meet the king prior to the opening ceremony.
  • IOC members shall be greeted with a smile when arriving at their hotel.
  • Seasonal fruit (in Norway, in February)

Seasonal fruit might be easier in Los Angeles; finding a king will be a challenge.

No public works endeavor in the United States should have room for those kind of riders, nor for another gift that’s currently included in the L.A. plan: “a robust and free-flowing Olympic Route Network [on which] ... drive-times to and from almost all competition and non-competition venues will be less than 30 minutes.”

UCLA to the Coliseum in 23 minutes? If the city can’t make that possible for everyday commuters, it shouldn’t shut down highway lanes to grant those perks to the stewards of the Olympic movement. This will have to be a people’s Olympics if it’s going to be any success at all.

CEOs Are Running Out of Reasons Not to Bail on Trump

CEOs Are Running Out of Reasons Not to Bail on Trump

by Daniel Gross @ Slate Articles

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CEOs of large public companies have faced something of a conundrum in the age of Trump. On the one hand, here was a historically unpopular president who lost the popular vote, who is actively hostile to many of the values to which their companies are committed—diversity, inclusion, reckoning with climate change, globalization, free trade, and all the other Davos virtues. Put aside whatever their feelings as individuals are. As leaders of companies with huge global operations and large employee bases, CEOs of large firms have to be careful not to publicly side with someone who is openly antagonistic to their modus operandi.

On the other hand, the federal government—as a policymaker, as a procurement agency, as a customer, as a dispenser of favor and tax breaks, as a rule- and standard-setter—has a great ability to impact the short-term fortunes of many companies. Trump has been in favor of much of what businesses generically want, from lower taxes to lighter regulation. And this window in which Republicans control the White House and Congress presents a rare opportunity for achieving some long-desired goals. (Global companies would really, really like to be able to repatriate all the profits they’re holding overseas on a tax-favored basis.) So the general consensus of CEOs was to not take any rash or immediate action. While it might anger their employees or spouses or children, publicly breaking with and attacking Trump wouldn’t pay any immediate dividends.

There was another reason that CEOs were circumspect. If you run a large, publicly held company, there are norms about the types of things you say. Everyone deserves a chance. We respect the office. When the president of the United States calls and asks you to come to a meeting or to serve on an advisory board, you show up. It’s part of being a public statesman or stateswoman. And with a president who insulted his way to an election victory, there was an extra reason to show up. Those who cross him are likely to be targets.

So you can understand why CEOs like Ken Frazier of Merck and Elon Musk of Tesla and so many others agreed to serve on Trump’s advisory council on manufacturing. They all had specific—and general—needs and asks. Trump would almost certainly be the president for at least the next four years. As one Trump-hostile billionaire put it to me, “He’s got the gavel now.”

But seven months into the Trump administration, we’re seeing that showing up and uttering pro forma support may not be a viable PR, business, or personal strategy for CEOs who want to lead their companies while being true to themselves.

Some CEOs have discovered that mouthing even anodyne support for Trump can have a really negative impact on their business relationships and stock price. In February, Kevin Plank, the CEO of apparel-maker Under Amour and a member of the manufacturing council, said "to have such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset to this country." In response, some of the company’s leading endorsers, including Stephen Curry, expressed their anger, customers rebelled, and the stock was ultimately downgraded.

Other CEOs have discovered that while the policies of Trump and the GOP may be theoretically good for “business,” they are really bad for their particular business. Duh. Musk was the first to bail from Trump’s manufacturing council after Trump announced the U.S. would pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Meanwhile, companies are coming to two collective realizations. First, while the Trump administration is delivering favorable policy to energy companies, Wall Street, and for-profit colleges, the prospects for broad-based tax reform (or even tax cuts) aren’t particularly good. Second, given Trump’s unpopularity, his power to inflame the public against any single company has diminished.

Still others have concluded that, regardless of whatever pressure their business might come under, they simply can’t abide sitting quietly while Trump rampages his way through his term. That was the conclusion that Ken Frazier, the CEO of drug giant Merck, apparently reached over the weekend, as a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned deadly and Trump condemned the violence only in broad, ambiguous terms. On Monday morning, Frazier announced over Twitter that he was resigning from the manufacturing council.

Why? “Our country’s strength comes from its diversity and the contributions made by men and women of different faiths, races, sexual orientations and political beliefs. America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal. As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscious, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”

Frazier’s move—and note that this is precisely the statement that Trump should have made on Saturday—now puts the other CEOs on the manufacturing council in a tough spot. Each will likely face questions as to what they think about Trump’s response to last weekend’s events and why they remain on the council now that its only black member has resigned.

Frazier has given them all an out if they want it. Sure, Trump responded in typical fashion, immediately attacking Frazier and his company on Twitter:

But it’s not likely Frazier or his firm will suffer any immediate damage. In early trading Monday morning, Merck’s stock was up .8 percent.

Ignore the Viral Tweets. Airlines Aren’t Really Gouging People Ahead of Irma.

Ignore the Viral Tweets. Airlines Aren’t Really Gouging People Ahead of Irma.

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

With Hurricane Irma swirling its way toward Florida, the internet has been filling up with angry accounts of airline price gouging, complete with pictures of thousand-dollar-plus fares that (of all people) Perez Hilton has been collecting. An Arizona PR exec racked up more than 30,000 retweets when she posted a screengrab showing a Delta ticket that had supposedly shot up from $547.50 to $3,258.50. The Miami Herald tracked down an absurdly sympathetic woman who wanted to fly “her mother, adult cousin, 71-year-old grandmother, [and] 11-year-old sister to New York” but could only find a flight that cost $1,318.80 per person. The issue is even getting some attention from the Sunshine State’s politicos: Florida’s attorney general says her office’s newly opened price-gouging hotline has been getting a stream of complaints about airlines, and her staff has been calling carriers about the issue.

Many of these horror stories are obviously real—I’ve found a few $1,000-plus tickets myself. But overall, the rage seems maybe a little excessive. Airfares do appear to be rising in advance of Irma, but generally not by absurd amounts. Meanwhile, some airlines have even responded to the storm by increasing flights and capping fares in order to make sure people can get to safety.

According to an analysis by the travel-booking website Kayak, people looking to fly out of South Florida within a day last week could expect to pay somewhere in the “mid-$300s.” As of yesterday, those prices were up by more than 25 percent. This is not surprising. Airlines set their prices automatically via algorithms that account for the number of seats available, demand, timing, and a whole host of other factors. Last-minute tickets can be especially expensive. When half a metro area suddenly decides to evacuate because a deadly hurricane is bearing down on it, you can expect prices to rise. “Situations such as these drive pricing anomalies due to an instantaneous imbalance between demand and supply,” airline industry consultant Bob Mann of R.W. Mann & Company told me in an email. “Same occurred to United returns to Houston, post-Harvey, and to NY-DC fares after the Amtrak crash eliminated thousands of seats daily.”

Of course, this is not necessarily a good thing. It’s the flying equivalent of Uber failing to turn off surge pricing during Hurricane Sandy, which plenty of people found ethically grotesque.

But a 25 percent bump in last-minute fares is not exactly the equivalent of a $99 case of bottled water, nor are those surges the rule. JetBlue will only charge up to $99 for flights out of Florida to help more families get out of the storm’s path. Delta is capping fares at $399 out of South Florida while adding flights on larger planes in order to provide more seats leaving the area. For what it’s worth, I’ve been able to find sub-$300 tickets along with some obvious rip-offs while searching travel sites. If anything, it seems fair to criticize airlines for being slow-footed and failing to pre-empt their normal pricing strategies before the pre-storm panic set in. But this doesn’t strike me as an example of capitalism at its most rapacious either. As far as fixes go, Mann told me one option would be for airlines to automatically flag rapid fare jumps “for a prompt manual review” by an employee.

Meanwhile, some of the gouging stories may not be what they seem. When I asked Delta spokesman Anthony Black about the $3,258 ticket that caught Twitter’s attention on Tuesday, he pointed out that the screengrab was actually from Expedia. “It wasn’t posted on our site,” he told me. And once Dow checked with Delta, it apparently addressed her issue.

Are you connecting the digital and physical world?

by Roger Hurni @ 52nd & Madison

Hey Siri. Ok Google. Alexa? Is anyone there? Hello? Companies are betting big that we want our real world connected... Read more »

The post Are you connecting the digital and physical world? appeared first on 52nd & Madison.

The Devilish Magic of Halo Top

The Devilish Magic of Halo Top

by Heather Schwedel @ Slate Articles

This has been the summer of Wonder Woman, of “Despacito,” of rosé and brosé and frosé, of Game of Thrones spoilers, and of near-weekly red weddings at the White House. But more than all of those things, it’s been the summer of Halo Top. The low-calorie ice cream–maker, which didn’t exist before 2012, has given the ice-cream industry a brain freeze, forcing its competitors to remake their strategies in the mold of its success.

Between 2015 and 2016, Halo Top’s sales soared by 2,500 percent, and in 2017 the brand gained a foothold in major chains like Walmart and launched its first national advertising campaign. Taste reported last month that after Walmart started carrying seven flavors of Halo Top in April, it quickly started outselling every other ice cream the megastore carried. Just within the past few weeks, Halo Top passed legacy brands like Ben & Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs to take the title of America’s best-selling pint. And now Reuters reports that Halo Top is exploring a sale and that it’s already been valued at as much as $2 billion. On top of all that, more flavors are on the way.

That we are all now living in Halo Top’s world is reason to celebrate if you, like me, have picked up on the brand’s particular compulsion-scratching attraction and decided you love the stuff anyway. But Halo Top’s ascent also reflects some of the more fraught trends in diet-adjacent dining these days: It speaks the language of “healthy” food—but draws its power from the unhealthiest of eating habits.

Halo Top’s main selling point is that an entire pint of the stuff contains about as many calories (240 to 350) as other ice creams might contain in a single serving or serving and a half. But unlike other “healthy” ice creams that came before it, Halo Top doesn’t taste like expired yogurt. It tastes pretty good, in fact, at least once you get used to its mousselike texture, a constant reminder that what you’re eating isn’t exactly regular ice cream. It varies from flavor to flavor, sure, and not everyone likes it, but still: A whole pint of ice cream that’s only 240 calories—that’s living the dream.

How does Halo Top do it? The ice cream’s secret weapons are stevia and prebiotic fiber (which replace the sugar and fat of typical ice cream) and … air. Yup, air. Halo Top has more air whipped into it than other ice creams, meaning it weighs just 256 grams to the 428 grams of a Ben & Jerry’s pint, as Time has pointed out. Much of the brand’s success can be attributed to good timing: When founder and CEO Justin Woolverton began messing around with his personal ice-cream maker circa 2010–11, he told Taste, so-called natural sweeteners like stevia were relatively new, so there weren’t many manufacturers experimenting with them on a large scale. He got in early.

If you look at the nutrition label on each pint of Halo Top, the serving size is still the typical half-cup, but the brand plays up the “go ahead and eat a whole pint” idea. Each pint’s label lists its total calorie count in big, central type—bigger type than even is used for the flavor’s name or the Halo Top logo. Marketing and packaging materials encourage customers to eat the whole thing. Seals say things like, “Stop when you hit the bottom” and “No bowl, no regrets.”

The more times a person decides to eat a whole pint instead of stretching one out into several servings, the more pints Halo Top sells. The brand is well aware of this phenomenon: Early wholesale customers had trouble keeping the stuff in stock because “it became very apparent on our end that people were eating Halo Top five times a week, or 10 times a week, which is far more than any supermarket expects customers to eat ice cream,” the company’s president told Taste.

If you’re a calorie counter, you get this. If not, well, it’s hard to explain what a life-changer this product feels like for people who routinely log their meals in MyFitnessPal. It’s magic, a hall pass, a get-out-of-jail-free card. All any dieting person really wants—and I am extrapolating from personal experience here—is to eat a whole container of something. Preferably that thing will taste good or at least not bad, but what’s crucial, in the end, is getting to eat all of it. What Halo Top does so brilliantly is tap into Americans’ love of bingeing. And if the thinking behind Halo Top seems like the thinking of disordered eating, I don’t blame the company for that: The warped mindset of disordered eating seems to underlie pretty much all conversations about food and weight and dieting these days.

Halo Top would never use the word fat in its branding, but that’s what you see when you imagine someone eating a whole pint of ice cream, right? Fat, sad, alone, female. In addition to the stevia, the prebiotic fiber, and the air, a great deal of Halo Top’s success surely comes from the company’s branding, which decouples an ugly, unfair association from a self-indulgent habit. With its poppy, millennial-targeting packaging, Halo Top just doesn’t look like a diet ice cream. It’s managed to brand itself the “healthy” ice cream and recontextualize the pathetic act of eating a pint of ice cream in one go. As Taffy Brodesser-Akner argued recently in the New York Times Magazine, “dieting” has become tacky in the popular culture, so the makers of “diet” products have had to find a new script. Halo Top’s Instagram-friendly aesthetic announces it as something cool, not a diet-diet product and certainly not for fat people. (Though the word fat itself is also fraught, and whether it’s OK to say it or not is constantly in flux.) Because “losing weight” is now tacky, too, Halo Top’s promise of extra protein is perfect for getting “strong.” If you squint, its “natural” ingredients aren’t so far from “eating clean,” another favorite code phrase of modern health foods. When you dig into a Halo Top pint, you imagine you’re part of a legion of fitness models indulging in a guilty pleasure, not one of countless Americans who struggle with weight.

As Brodesser-Akner argued in her piece, our culture continues to talk around the reality that, wellness trend and body-acceptance movements be damned, actually losing weight and keeping it off can be nearly impossible. We receive the mixed messages that we shouldn’t want to lose weight and should accept our bodies as they are, but also that we would be healthier if we took up less space, which is why we should find a diet and stay on it forever. It all adds up to a lot of cross-talk, wasted energy, and precious little progress, in terms of both pounds lost and happiness gained.

In this light, eating “healthy” ice cream doesn’t make sense, but nothing about bingeing or America’s culture of dieting really does. Why don’t Halo Top’s fans just eat a little bit of real ice cream that tastes good and has a normal mouthfeel? Asking that is like asking why I don’t just start eating a plant-based diet or start exercising for 30 minutes a day, five times per week, like Michael Pollan and the American Heart Association have been telling me to do for years. If it were that easy, wouldn’t we be doing it already? Halo Top’s reputation as the “healthy” ice cream has inspired more than a few publications to ask questions like, “Is Halo Top Ice Cream Good for You?” or explain that, actually, “Low-Cal Ice Cream Like Halo Top Could Be Making You Fat.” Time went so far as to write, “Unlike fruits and vegetables that are naturally full of nutrients, Halo Top is a processed dairy product with sugar and sweeteners.” Shocker: This ice cream is not a thing that grows on organic farms. Of course Halo Top isn’t good for you. It may get called “healthy” ice cream, but at this point healthy has almost lost all meaning. Halo Top is healthier than traditional ice cream, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy, that there’s anything healthy about eating an entire pint of ice cream, or that ice cream in general is getting healthier. But it’s how a lot of people eat, and Halo Top has realized that and capitalized on it.

Other brands are joining the fray. In recent weeks, Breyers rolled out its Halo Top competitor, Breyers Delights, pints of ice cream that give the most prime real estate on their labels over to advertising their sub-350 calorie counts. More are sure to follow.

That’s fine—I’m eager for more companies to embrace stevia. Maybe Häagen-Dazs will iterate and fix Halo Top’s texture problem. Maybe the food industry will figure out how to remove three-fourths of the calories from every type of food. No matter what, we can cheer America’s ice cream aisles becoming healthier, if not exactly healthy.

But when they do, it will also be a troubling outgrowth of our twisted relationship with dieting. And that’s a problem even stevia can’t solve.

Your City Will Lose the Contest for Amazon’s New HQ

Your City Will Lose the Contest for Amazon’s New HQ

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

For decades, American cities and states have been competing to dismantle the high-tax postwar social model to win increasingly mobile jobs from their peers. This practice leaves the losers smarting from a diminished sense of self—hello, Hartford, Connecticut—while the winner loads the tax burden of its new prize pig onto existing citizens and businesses. It rewards corporations for being flighty, faithless partners to cities and punishes small and local businesses that cannot make credible threats to secure their own incentive packages.

The news that Amazon needs a second headquarters, announced on Thursday, will set off a competition like we have never seen for mayors and governors to pimp out their cities to the Seattle-based supercompany.

It is a one-of-a-kind, six-week sweepstakes, with a $5 billion HQ up for grabs. Nothing like this has ever happened before. At 8.1 million square feet, constituting nearly 20 percent of Seattle’s Class A office space, Amazon’s Seattle campus simply has no parallels in U.S. cities. The next biggest single urban corporate presence is Citi in New York, with 3.7 million square feet; the next biggest by percentage is Nationwide in Columbus, Ohio, which occupies 16 percent of the city’s office space.

In short, Amazon’s Seattle HQ is an outlier any way you slice it, and it’s about to build the same thing again. Corporate relocations tend to involve low-paying jobs moving south (back-office jobs or manufacturing work relocating to the Sun Belt); small numbers of white-collar jobs (General Electric’s 2015 move from Connecticut to Boston); or merger-driven relocation, which usually involves a slow exodus of executives from one city to another. Amazon’s proposal is numerically elite: 50,000 workers in a secondary headquarters is more than twice as many workers as Bank of America, the country’s second-largest bank, employs at its primary HQ in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The odds hinge in part on what Amazon is looking for. The notion of a company with two separate U.S. headquarters is basically unique; when Charlotte’s NationsBank merged with San Francisco’s BankAmerica (now Bank of America) in 1998, to take one example, the company quickly consolidated corporate control in Charlotte. But Amazon has indicated that this will not be a back office; with up to 50,000 employees and an average salary of more than $100,000, these people will not be handling your Squatty Potty return. (Disclosure: Slate is an Amazon affiliate; when you click on an Amazon link from Slate, the magazine gets a cut of the proceeds from whatever you buy.)

Let’s assume that virtually every city and state will roll out a carpet of tax breaks, plum real estate, and other local incentives. (All for a company dedicated to undermining the local businesses that will pay taxes to support the services Amazon uses.) Even if Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos already has a strong favorite in mind, a municipal race to the bottom will ensure he gets his company the best deal. And since the scale of the economic impact appears to surpass what is promised for the Summer Olympics, the packages may include anything up to and including expensive new transit infrastructure. (Mass transit, Amazon has said, is a requirement for its site.)

But how many cities really­ have a chance? Amazon may be powerful enough to command sumptuous bids from every mayor’s office in thrall to the growth machine, but cities’ limitations are as firm as the company’s needs. It’s time for some corporate-relocation theory.

Size and Talent

The first limiting factor is size: Amazon says it needs a metro area with more than 1 million people, but in reality, that is the bare minimum. In a city like Pittsburgh, as Bloomberg’s Conor Sen points out, Amazon would need to hire 1 in every 20 people in the labor force to reach full staffing. This is also a problem with Nashville, Tennessee, and Austin, Texas. If Amazon makes Seattle (regional population: 3.7 million) feel like a company town, you can only imagine the role it would play in a metro half the size.

Size, in this case, is largely a proxy for a talented labor pool—another Amazon requirement—but there’s still a large variance in educational attainment in big cities. Of the 25 metros larger than Pittsburgh, for example, several rank near the bottom in the percentage of residents with bachelor’s degrees—shorthand for a well-developed labor force. By this metric, Sun Belt cities like San Antonio, Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Phoenix, and Riverside, California, are near the bottom. If Amazon were transferring thousands of workers, they might have a chance. But hiring locally? They’re probably off the list.

Cost

The single biggest difference between the remaining cities is cost: We already know that New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington have excelled at attracting companies thanks to top-notch cultural amenities, high quality of life, solid transit systems, and excellent universities. But they’re also among the most expensive places to live in the United States, with jampacked central cities where the only thing harder to place than 100 acres of offices would be 50,000 new housing units. (This is also a problem for Toronto—sorry, John Tory.)

That doesn’t mean these cities wouldn’t go out of their way to clear out space and bid for Amazon’s HQ2—or that Bezos won’t consider them strong contenders. (San Jose, California, is in, baby!) As Richard Florida points out, the best guide of corporate relocation is CEO preferences—and Bezos already owns the biggest house and the biggest newspaper in Washington. Proximity to the federal government would be an advantage for a company with a stake in virtually every sector of the economy.

You can understand why a company like Apple would be reluctant to leave Silicon Valley (even if it meant building a white elephant headquarters with 11,000 parking spaces). But relocations to high-cost areas tend to be small (as in Aetna’s move to New York), because they’re expensive. The $75,800 annual mean wage in San Jose gets the average worker just $62,100 in purchasing power, which can be had for a $58,800 wage in Durham­–Chapel Hill, North Carolina. A $17,000 per-worker premium is OK for a few hundred executives; it gets costly for 50,000 employees.

On the low-cost end, that leaves Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and St. Louis. Houston has its own issues to deal with right now. Detroit has no mass transit system to speak of; Charlotte isn’t far ahead and, further, lacks a strong university system. There are political risks, too: Detroit gives Amazon the potential to play savior but comes with sky-high property taxes, abysmal public schools, and a dysfunctional regional government. Charlotte is at the mercy of the reactionary North Carolina Legislature.

Location, Location, Location

What’s left are some self-similar cities in three regions: Atlanta, Dallas, and Denver are among the faster-growing, more recently developed U.S. metropolises—low-cost, low-tax cities with weaker universities and more auto-dependent transportation patterns. Of the three, Denver stands out for its massive investment in regional rail, super-high education levels, and high quality of life. Still, a second HQ in Denver wouldn’t bring the company much closer to the Eastern Seaboard.

Of the older Midwestern cities, it’s hard to imagine Chicago does not have an edge on Minneapolis and St. Louis for its sheer size, excellent universities, massive international airport, and high-quality transit system. The city’s and state’s financial problems are serious, though, and could ward off a cautious search committee.

And then on the East Coast are a pair of dark-horse candidates: Baltimore and Philadelphia. Baltimore has stellar cultural institutions, proximity to Washington without the housing costs, acres of open land, and a city government ready to play ball with big developers. Philadelphia has the same assets with a better regional transit system and easy access to New York.

The problem for the shrinking cities—Philly, Chicago, and Baltimore—may be political. As I’ve written before, the problem for those cities is not that housing is too expensive but that people don’t make enough money. Those cities tried everything to get companies to stay in the ’50s and ‘60s. But that doesn't mean that low-income tenants today won’t see a corporate giveaway as an unethical use of resources. (Which, fundamentally, it is.)

In spite of it all, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, and Philly are probably the most compelling choices for Amazon. But that doesn’t mean the company might not blow off its interest in higher education or mass transit to procure a low-cost campus in the suburbs of Dallas or Atlanta.

Greenfield vs. Infill

The differences between those cities is fodder for endless debate. But what may ultimately be more consequential is where Amazon decides to locate its headquarters within those cities. For all the talk about millennials abandoning car ownership, the biggest determinant of transportation choice is job location. In Seattle, Amazon has established an urban corporate paradigm that serves as a desperately needed counterpoint to the suburban campuses of Apple, Facebook, and Google in Silicon Valley. Amazon reports that 55 percent of Seattle employees walk, bike or use mass transit to get to work.

With its new headquarters, the company has the opportunity to tip the balance of an entire region toward or away from mass transit. The deck is stacked against infill development. But with cities scrambling to put together the pieces for Amazon, expect at least some of the proposals to double as downtown revitalization efforts. Entire cities have been built on less.

POWERFUL: Dove Tells Women “You Are More Beautiful Than You Think” In New Campaign

POWERFUL: Dove Tells Women “You Are More Beautiful Than You Think” In New Campaign


HelloBeautiful

Dove is empowering women to see themselves in “a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety.” In a new ad, as part of Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches campaign, the pers…

Dove’s Real Women campaign - SheThePeople TV

Dove’s Real Women campaign - SheThePeople TV


SheThePeople TV

Dove’s Real Women campaign (Pic Credit: nikitamendiratta)

Best of BattyMamzelle: Top 5 Essays of 2015

Best of BattyMamzelle: Top 5 Essays of 2015

by Cate Young @ BattyMamzelle: feminist • pop culture • criticism - Cate Young

 

Third time's a charm! As I'm stepping into 2016, I want to take some time to look back at what I produced last year, and to take stock of the issues that matter to me. I didn't do nearly as much writing as I would have liked last year because I was back on a 9-5 schedule, but I still manage to produce essays that I'm proud of, two of which helped me get that Bitch Media Fellowship! So here they are in descending order: the 5 essays I'm most proud of writing this year.

 

5. #ShameOnShonda Is Bullshit: On Black Women, Mental Health And Intersectionality

"In this episode, Shonda presents these two women, these two mothers and contrasts the way their mental well-being and mental health is approached. The black mother, who had been exhibiting signs that something might be medically wrong for some time, was treated to scorn, disdain and judgement, even by the doctors who were supposed to be treating her. The white mother, who had just received devastating news about her unborn child, was immediately coddled to the point of condescension in the rush to ensure that she was okay."

4. Rape, Consent and Race in Marvel's #JessicaJones

"On the other hand, the treatment of people of colour in Jessica Jones is often anti-intersectional and openly anti-black. Vulture's year end "Best of Television" list cites the show as demonstrating "a racially diverse cast, heavy on women," a construction that belies that for many people, diversity means "add black men and stir." To me, it is borderline disrespectful to call the show racially diverse when the only significant, named woman of colour character is dead before the narrative begins and never speaks a word, while the black male characters are all subjected to incredible violence in service of the white female protagonist. This force frames feminist representation as the representation of white women and yet again, erases women of colour from our popular narratives."
  

3. Viola Davis, Cultivation Theory and the 2015 #Emmy Awards

"And these women? These beautiful dark-skinned women with broad noses and big lips and kinky hair? It wasn't them. It was strategically not meant to be them. They were purposefully removed from the definition of womanhood much less anything else. So these wins? These statues? This acknowledgement of talent? It matters. It shows that when you even the playing field just a little bit; when you actually allow people of colour to compete with whiteness by creating opportunities for them to show what they can do? They win."

2. How To Be A Bad Bitch Who Recognizes The Intersections Of Amber Rose's Feminism

"Why is it so hard for us to imagine that this book may not be for us? That is speaks to an experience than many of us may never have? We who are lucky enough to be safe and warm with access to education and employment we enjoy? Why doesn't it occur to us that all those women that we look down on need someone to look to, to help them navigate the realities that many of us refuse to even acknowledge exist? Is it really still this difficult to understand that different women are empowered by different things and that everyone's feminism is different? Why are we so determined to find ways to create a hierarchy within the movement that values some women over others?"
  

1. I'm Sick To Death Of Talking About Rape Tropes In Fiction

"What did that scene add that we didn't already know? Did the writers think that cutting Theon's penis off was too subtle to indicate Ramsay's sadism? Did they think the brutal murder of her mother and brother were not strong enough motivators for Sansa to want revenge against the Boltons? Could they not conceive of a single other way in which Theon might be able to mentally recenter himself? What about this particular rape scene added such probative narrative value that it had to be transposed from one character to another even as the original victim is excised from the story? All it was is more rape on a show already replete with rape, for the sake of having rape. None of this is new information."

Last year, I wanted to get my voice heard online and I think I succeed. I was quoted in the LA Times, I was a guest on the Black Girl Dangerous Podcast, I was republished at Bitch Flicks, and by some miracle I  received the Bitch Media Writer's Fellowship. For 2016, I hope to finish up grad school, write amazing things under the tutelage of the Bitch Media editors, and to get to New York to meet all the amazing writers I've learned so much from online. Here's to a productive new year.

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Graham-Cassidy Was Supposed to Do One Nice Thing for Poor People. But Someone Took It Out of the Bill.

Graham-Cassidy Was Supposed to Do One Nice Thing for Poor People. But Someone Took It Out of the Bill.

by Jordan Weissmann @ Slate Articles

When Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy revealed their Obamacare repeal bill last week, there appeared to be one (and pretty much only one) somewhat comforting thing about it. Their plan cut government health care spending drastically, yes. But its design seemingly encouraged states to spend what pittance they received from the feds on insurance for some of their lowest-income residents. The bill was bad for the poor, to be sure. But it didn’t ignore them entirely.

At least, that was the impression one got from reading the official summary documents that accompanied the legislation when it debuted. But the bill’s actual text tells a very different story.

The issue has to do with Graham-Cassidy’s elaborate formula for awarding health care funding to states. The bill would take the pot of money Washington currently spends on Obamacare’s insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion, then redistribute it as block grants that states can use to set up their own insurance schemes. This is supposed to give Alabama and Texas the “freedom” and “flexibility” to come up with appealing, innovative health care solutions for their residents—something Republicans in Washington have themselves proven incapable of doing.

Eventually, each state’s block grant is supposed to be based on their share of America’s low-income population (which, according to Graham-Cassidy, means households that earn between 50 and 138 percent of the poverty line). Then in 2024, according to Graham and Cassidy’s summary, the government will start tilting its funding toward the states that do a better job enrolling those poor—and borderline-poor—families in coverage. Here’s how they described the plan, just so you know I’m not making anything up:

Starting in 2024, a state’s base amount changes from being based solely on percent of eligible individuals and becomes partially based on percent of eligible individuals enrolled in credible coverage in the previous year. This is defined as “State’s enrolled population” (SEP) and is compared to the total number of eligible individuals enrolled in credible coverage.

Rewarding states for making sure poor people have health insurance is a decent—though certainly not foolproof—way to make them do it. Health care analysts took note. In a report released on Wednesday, Chris Sloan, a senior manager at the health care consultancy Avalere, pointed out that the formula might even drive states to spend their money on poor residents rather than the working class insurance shoppers who typically buy coverage on Obamacare’s exchanges today.

“The bill creates a financial incentive for states to direct coverage to very low-income residents near or below the poverty line, potentially at the expense of lower-middle-income individuals who currently receive exchange subsidies,” Sloan noted. Such a feature could prove to be an important nudge for states with traditionally thin safety nets like Texas and Mississippi, encouraging them to cover a population they’ve typically ignored.

Again, this was by far the most generous gesture toward the poor in a proposal that, otherwise, amounts to a historic blow against the health safety net. There’s just one problem: The provision doesn’t actually seem to be in the bill. The legislative text, which is a bit convoluted, says it will dole out block grants to states based on their share of the country’s low-income population, but does not factor in coverage rates. States will be rewarded for having lots of poor people. They won’t be rewarded for getting them insured. That bit just isn’t there.

That was the conclusion I came to after talking to Matt Broaddus, a research analyst, at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and Avalere’s Sloan, who generously spent a good chunk of time scouring the bill’s relevant text with me this afternoon. It’s not clear the bill Graham and Cassidy actually posted ever included bonuses for states that signed up more of their poor; according to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, that section of the text doesn’t seem to have changed since it was first published on Sept. 13. I’ve emailed Cassidy’s office requesting comment, but haven’t heard back.

Judging from the summary documents they put out, it appears that Graham and Cassidy at least briefly considered gearing their legislation toward helping the poor. Then, for whatever reason, they changed their minds.

Dove “Real Beauty” Campaign ft. Shannon, Tyler, and Myself

by cmf5638 @ Christie's Comm100 Blog

The sense of innocence is something that is very highly valued in America. The color white like freshly fallen snow, babies or new beings, virgins, and the bird the dove are all representations of this innocence. The Dove Find Your Scents of Confidence 2013 campaign wanted to highlight this light hearted innocence that Dove already […]

New Fidget Spinner Safety Guidelines Prove We Can’t Have Nice Things

New Fidget Spinner Safety Guidelines Prove We Can’t Have Nice Things

by Nick Thieme @ Slate Articles

Along with “decline of civilization,” add “danger” to the list of reasons fidget spinners are bad for the youth: Two recent incidents reveal the mindfulness tool and classroom distraction can burst into flames and explode.

Michelle Carr of Fenton, Michigan, told an NBC outlet in May that her Bluetooth fidget spinner caught fire while it charged on her bookshelf. Another incident in June in Gardendale, Alabama, ended with a screaming child dousing a flaming fidget spinner in the sink. Like the Samsung Galaxy Note 7s of flammable products past, the culprit seems to be the batteries: In both cases, the spinners were Bluetooth-enabled and were charging when they caught fire.

On Thursday, Ann Marie Buerkle, acting chairwoman of the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission, released a statement addressing reports of “fires involving battery-operated fidget spinners” and providing guidelines for usage. The regulations recommend being present when the batteries are charging, only using the charger provided with the spinner, and unplugging the spinner as soon as the batteries are fully charged—the “do not look into the sun” of safety recommendations. If their recommendations on the obsolescing toy seem uninspired, well, we’ve been here before.

The CPSC has also released guidelines in response to reports of children choking on nonbattery spinners. The most notable of these accidents happened in May, when a 10-year-old girl from Texas needed surgery to remove a bearing from her throat. The CPSC reasonably recommends not putting fidget spinners in your mouth. You can imagine the eyeroll that accompanied the writing of that sentence.

Fires and choking kids undoubtedly give ammunition to humbugs and culture critics. But the CPSC disagrees, noting “they can be fun to use,” and giving a list of ways to stay safe. Maybe instead of knocking fidget spinners, pick one up and let loose. Just make sure not to mistake it for a snack.

Dove Real Beauty Pledge includes South African in world campaign

Dove Real Beauty Pledge includes South African in world campaign


Womandla

Dove has announced its Real Beauty Pledge, which aims to help women to realise their personal beauty potential and create a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety. As part of the…

Failing Charter Schools Have a Reincarnation Plan

Failing Charter Schools Have a Reincarnation Plan

by Annie Waldman @ Slate Articles

This story was co-published with ProPublica.

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

This past June, Florida’s top education agency delivered a failing grade to the Orange Park Performing Arts Academy in suburban Jacksonville for the second year in a row. It designated the charter school for kindergarten through fifth grade as the worst public school in Clay County and one of the lowest performing in the state.

Two-thirds of the academy’s students failed the state exams last year, and only one-third of them were making any academic progress at all. The school had four principals in three years, and teacher turnover was high, too.

“My fourth-grader was learning stuff that my second-grader was learning—it shouldn’t be that way,” said Tanya Bullard, who moved her three daughters from the arts academy this past summer to a traditional public school. “The school has completely failed me and my children.”

The district terminated the academy’s charter contract. Surprisingly, Orange Park didn’t shut down—and even found a way to stay on the public dime. It reopened last month as a private school charging $5,000 a year, below the $5,886 maximum that low-income students receive to attend the school of their choice under a state voucher program. Academy officials expect all of its students to pay tuition with the publicly backed coupons.

The Rev. Alesia Ford-Burse, an African Methodist Episcopal pastor who founded the academy, told ProPublica that the school deserves a second chance because families love its dance and art lessons, which they otherwise couldn’t afford. “Kids are saying, ‘F or not, we’re staying,’ ” she said.

* * *

While it’s widely known that private schools convert to charter status to take advantage of public dollars, more schools are now heading in the opposite direction. As voucher programs across the country proliferate, shuttered charter schools like the Orange Park Performance Arts Academy have begun to privatize in order to stay open with state assistance.

A ProPublica nationwide review found that at least 16 failing or struggling charter schools in five states—Florida, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and Georgia—have gone private with the help of publicly funded voucher programs, including 13 since 2010. Four of them specialize in the arts, including Orange Park, and five serve students with special needs.

“The voucher just is a pass through in order to provide additional funding for private schools to thrive and to continue to work,” said Addison Davis, superintendent of schools in Clay County. Changing a school’s status “isn’t going to stop the process where we continue to see kids who are declining academically and not being able to demonstrate mastery and proficiency.”

Two key factors underlie these conversions. The number of voucher and voucher-like programs across the country has more than tripled over the past decade from 16 to 53. And charter schools, which became popular as a way to spur educational innovation with reduced regulation, have increasingly faced more stringent oversight. Jeanne Allen, founder and CEO of the Center for Education Reform and a longtime supporter of charter schools, lamented in a recent op-ed that increased government regulation is turning them into “bureaucratic, risk-averse organizations fixated on process over experimentation.”

“Why not just be a private school if the kids qualify for the scholarships?” said Christopher Norwood, a consultant for the Orange Park school, in an interview. “With 90 percent fewer regulations, schools can be independent and free, and just deal with the students.”

As private schools, the ex-charters are less accountable both to the government and the public. It can be nearly impossible to find out how well some of them are performing. About half of the voucher and voucher-like programs in the country require academic assessments of their students, but few states publish the complete test results or use that data to hold schools accountable.

While most states have provisions for closing low-quality charter schools, few, if any, have the power to shut down low-performing voucher schools.

“Public money is being handed out without oversight,” said Diane Ravitch, a New York University education historian and public schools advocate who served as assistant secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush. “The fundamental voucher idea is that parents are choosing the schools and they know better than the state. If they want to send their kids to a snake-charming school, then that’s their choice.”

* * *

The type of voucher program that rescues failed charter schools like Orange Park in Florida may soon be replicated nationwide. Visiting a religious school in Miami last April, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos praised the state’s approach as a possible model for a federal initiative.

Typically, voucher programs are directly funded with taxpayer dollars. Florida’s largest program pursues a different strategy. Its “tax-credit scholarships” are backed by donations from corporations. They contribute to nonprofit organizations which, in turn, distribute the money to the private schools. In exchange, the donors receive generous dollar-for-dollar tax credits from the state. This subsidy indirectly shifts hundreds of millions of dollars annually from the state’s coffers to private schools. More than 100,000 students whose families meet the income eligibility requirements have received the tax-credit coupons this year.

Of the nearly 2,900 private schools in Florida, over 1,730 participated in the tax-credit voucher program during 2016–2017, according to the most recent state Department of Education data. On average, each school received about $300,000 last year.

While more than two-thirds of these schools are religious, the roundabout funding approach protects the vouchers against legal challenges that they violate the separation of church and state. Earlier this year, the state Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit by the Florida Education Association, a teachers union, challenging the constitutionality of the voucher program.

In an education budget proposal from May, DeVos detailed her voucher plans, pitching a $250 million plan to study and expand individual state initiatives. She has since suggested that the administration may also create a federal tax-credit voucher scheme through an impending tax overhaul.

School choice advocates like DeVos have long contended that vouchers improve educational opportunities for low-income families. They reason that competition raises school quality and that parents, given more options, will select the best school for their children.

A growing body of research, though, casts doubt on this argument. It shows voucher-backed students may not be performing better than their public school counterparts—and may do worse.

A recent U.S. Department of Education study compared students who attended private schools with vouchers in Washington, D.C., from 2012 through 2014 with those who qualified for the program but were turned down due to a lack of available slots. The private schoolers performed significantly worse than their public school peers in math and no better in reading.

According to a February 2017 analysis by Martin Carnoy, a Stanford University education professor, most studies of voucher programs over the past quarter-century found little evidence that students who receive the coupons perform better than their public school peers.

The lack of evidence on the benefits of vouchers, Carnoy wrote, “suggests that an ideological preference for education markets over equity and public accountability is what is driving the push to expand voucher programs.”

* * *

Across the Florida panhandle from Orange Park, another troubled charter school for the arts has reinvented itself as a voucher-funded private school.

Founded in 2010, the A.A. Dixon Charter School of Excellence had the worst academic record in Escambia County, and the school board raised questions about its financial accounting.

“Every month they came before the board and there was a problem,” said Jeff Bergosh, a school board member at the time, adding that he supports school choice. “They tried to make it work, but they didn’t. There were serious issues that jeopardized student safety, like sanitation issues and not having supervision [for the students].”

After Dixon received two failing grades from the state—which triggers termination of a school’s charter under Florida rules—the Rev. Lutimothy May, a Baptist pastor who chaired its board, appealed to state education authorities. They allowed the school to operate for at least one more year, but he began to seek other options.

Around the same time, a local beverage distributor, David Bear of the Lewis Bear Company, told May that he was considering contributing to the state tax-credit program. If the Dixon school privatized, Bear told May, donations could help save it. In 2013, May turned the charter, which had recently been renamed the Dixon School of the Arts, into a private Christian arts academy located inside his church. Nearly all current students at Dixon receive the tax-credit vouchers, bringing the school more than $500,000 a year, according to the most recent data from the state’s department of education.

“Our goal is still the same,” but the conversion has “untied some of the strings on education,” May said.

* * *

Some of the untied “strings” to which May referred were state educational requirements. By converting from a charter to private status, Dixon and other schools largely shield themselves from accountability.

For instance, while Florida requires all private schools to test students who receive vouchers, the schools face no consequences for weak academic performance. The University of Florida publishes an annual report analyzing the test scores of students that receive vouchers, but data from only a small fraction of the schools is made public. The report excludes many schools that don’t have test results for enough students in consecutive years.

The latest report released the academic performance of only 198 schools in 2014–15, out of the more than 1,500 schools that that enrolled voucher-funded students that year. Most Florida families that receive vouchers do not have access to test data on their schools. The Dixon data was not published. Dixon’s principal, Donna Curry, maintained that the school has improved since its conversion from charter status but declined to provide exam results to ProPublica, saying they were “for internal use.”

Curry added that state test results are not necessarily reflective of student success. “I will not accept the fact that our children are not learning because they are not normalized on the state test,” she said. Her staff “knows more than what the test evaluates.”

The state also has little control over how private voucher-funded schools foster learning. There are no requirements on curriculum or teacher certification other than the criminal background checks that are required for personnel at all private schools.

Because Dixon receives more than $250,000 in voucher money, it does have to file a financial accountability report. Only about 40 percent of all voucher-funded schools met this threshold to undergo such an audit in 2016. The reports, including Dixon’s, aren’t publicly posted.

Even an official at Step Up For Students, the largest nonprofit distributor of voucher money to Florida’s private schools, acknowledges the need for closer supervision of educational quality. “As the program matures, and more students are enrolled, and as inevitably we see some schools continue to have what most people would consider to be poor performance year-in and year-out, we will be having more and more discussions about whether there should be some kind of regulatory accountability mechanisms to respond to that,” said Ron Matus, the organization’s director of policy and public affairs.

* * *

Indiana’s largest voucher program, unlike Florida’s, is directly backed by taxpayer dollars and has stricter accountability requirements. A private school that accepts vouchers can be sanctioned if its performance dips low enough. Last year, 10 schools lost their access to new vouchers, according to Adam Baker, the spokesman for the Indiana Department of Education.

The tighter supervision, though, didn’t deter Padua Academy in Indianapolis. Originally a private Catholic school, Padua had become a “purely secular“ charter in 2010 under an unusual arrangement between the local archdiocese and the mayor’s office. The school initially performed well, but soon sank from a solid A-rating to two consecutive F-ratings.

“These performance issues sounded alarm bells at the mayor’s office,” said Brandon Brown, who led the mayor’s charter office at the time. Leadership issues with the school’s board and at the archdiocese, he added, caused the school to falter. After receiving $702,000 from a federal program that provided seed money for new charter schools, the school’s board relinquished its charter.

In the meantime, Indiana had established a voucher program. So, instead of shutting down, the school rebranded itself as St. Anthony Catholic School, nailing its crucifixes back onto the walls and bringing the Bible back into the curriculum. Last year, more than 80 percent of its students were on vouchers, from which the school garnered at least $1.2 million.

Its academic performance has improved but still lags behind the state average. Only 25 percent of St. Anthony students passed both math and reading assessments this year, versus about half of all publicly funded students on average at both private and public schools, according to the state’s education data from 2017. Last year, the state gave St. Anthony a “C” grade.

Gina Fleming, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, said through a spokesman that “significant staff turnover” at St. Anthony’s “made for a difficult start these past two years.” As a result, the archdiocese “has been studying ways in which we can recruit, retain, and reward high-quality teachers and leaders.” It has also “made shifts in scheduling, resources, diagnostic analyses and personnel to better accommodate the learning needs of our students.”

In Fort Wayne, Indiana, two other charter schools went private. Both Imagine MASTer Academy and Imagine Schools on Broadway were associated with a national for-profit charter chain, Imagine Schools, which has been under scrutiny elsewhere. In 2012, the Missouri Board of Education shut down all six Imagine charter schools in St. Louis for financial and academic woes. In response to such setbacks, Imagine Schools has moved toward “an even deeper commitment to increasing the consistency of our network-wide performance,” said Rhonda Cagle, a spokeswoman for the chain.

The two Fort Wayne schools performed well initially, but by the time their charters were up for renewal, they had some of the worst test results in the area, said Robert Marra, executive director of the charter office at Ball State University, which was responsible for the schools’ oversight. ImagineMASTer received a “D” grade, and Imagine Schools on Broadway an “F,” from the state in 2013.

The data for the two schools “showed clear room for improvement but indicated consistent growth,” Cagle told ProPublica.

In 2013, Imagine merged its two failing charters with a local parochial school, Horizon Christian Academy. Since then, the Christian academy’s enrollment has soared from 23 students to 492. About 430 students paid their tuition with the help of state vouchers last year, totaling about $2.4 million in public funds.

While some of Imagine’s students and staff have stayed on, Cagle said that Imagine has no involvement in the merged academy other than owning the building.

“We could have allowed the buildings to just be empty, but we felt like if there was an interest by another entity for the purposes of education, that would be doing the right thing,” she said. Imagine “does not utilize vouchers for any of our schools,” she added.

Academically, Horizon Christian is far below average. Only 7 percent of its students passed both state exams this year, according to state data. One of its campuses received a “D” grade last year, and its other two campuses failed. The academy did not respond to questions.

“Low-performing operators in Indiana and elsewhere have skirted accountability by converting their charter schools to private schools either right before or right after a charter revocation or nonrenewal,” said Brown, the former Indianapolis official. “I can say unequivocally that any attempt to keep a low-performing school open by evading rigorous accountability is not good for students, families, or the broader school choice movement.”

* * *

As it awaits its first infusion of voucher funds later this month, the Orange Park Performing Arts Academy is strapped. The district has repossessed most of the former charter school’s instructional supplies, including 200 Chromebooks, 34 laptops, 27 iPads, and hundreds of textbooks. The arts—the school’s core mission—have been cleaned out: 10 easels, nine digital pianos, eight heartwood djembes, and four conga drums, all gone. Once lined with silver bleachers, the walls of the cavernous gym are now bare.

Many children have left, too. While the school had about 170 students last year, only 94 enrolled this fall. At least one-quarter are kindergarteners who didn’t attend the charter school. Tanya Bullard, who pulled her three daughters out of Orange Park, predicted it would slide further as a private school because there will be “no one to keep an eye on it and issues will be swept under the rug.”

The school’s new principal, Kelly Kenney, isn’t deterred. She said that she has already made significant strides to separate the school from its failed days as a charter. Most of the teachers and administrators are new hires, although half of the teachers are uncertified. Kenney plans to get the school accredited and strengthen the board of directors. “It can’t be a board of friends,” she said. She has been working with each teacher individually to raise standards and improve curriculum.

“Most people would have been defeated,” Kenney said. “Sometimes when you’re knocked down the hardest, you come back the hardest. And so for parents that have been skeptical, I’m like ‘This will be the best year of education your child will ever have. We’re going to be looking at every detail of their progress, every detail of their learning gap to make sure that we’re closing it.’ ”

Even though it’s not required, Kenney intends to publish her students’ performance data on the school’s website. “It’s important for us to show how we did compared to last year,” she said.

To recruit students this past summer, Kenney went door-to-door in nearby apartment complexes, hosting information sessions in laundry rooms. Believing that they couldn’t afford a private school, many families were reluctant to send their children to Orange Park—until Kenney told them about vouchers. For weeks, she and her staff have worked around the clock to sign up all the students in the voucher program, even helping them organize, fill out, and fax in the necessary paperwork.

Bria Joyce is a loyalist. When her son started kindergarten at the local public school, she says he was “bumping heads” with classmates and she worried that he wasn’t receiving enough attention from teachers. She transferred him to the Orange Park charter school where he took piano lessons and played Grandpa Joe in a production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

When Joyce heard that the school was converting to a private school, she was nervous that she wouldn’t be able to afford the tuition. But the school reached out to her immediately and walked Joyce through the voucher process. Now Joyce’s son is starting fourth grade there.

“They were prepared and made it as easy as they could, considering everything,” she said. “I believe in what they’re trying to get done.”

The Journey of The Indian Woman: A Brief Timeline

by STP Editor @ SheThePeople TV

The modern woman of the twenty-first century is slowly becoming a rapid movement to keep up with. But let us(...)

The post The Journey of The Indian Woman: A Brief Timeline appeared first on SheThePeople TV.

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On "Only" Representations of Women In Pop Culture

by Cate Young @ BattyMamzelle: feminist • pop culture • criticism - Cate Young

 

When it comes to women in pop culture, it's often hard to find the right balance. There are so few female characters being written into the media that we consume that inadvertently, each individual female character becomes an avatar for every other woman in that universe. She's the only one, therefore she's every one. But eradicating the smurfette principle altogether isn't all that difficult. There's an easy fix:

 

If you don’t want your female character to represent all women, then she can’t be the only woman around. If you want your female character to make stereotypical mistakes and avoid accusations of misogyny, then you have to have other female characters around not making those mistakes.

It's such a simple idea, and yet so many pop culture products still seem to struggle with it. And the curious thing is that it applies to all underrepresented groups in fiction. When you have several different variations of the way that men are allowed to exist in your universe and only one way that women are allowed to exist, criticisms will necessarily fall on that character, because she is now tasked with being everything to everyone looking to see themselves in that piece of media.

It's reflective of the backlash to the characterization of Black Widow in 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron, and the implication that she was was also a "monster" because she was infertile. While Black Widow's feelings about her forced sterilization and her guilt over her time as a spy are valid and reasonable, they become the representative way that all women in that universe are meant to view romance and fertility because she is the only female Avenger, and the most significant female character in the film and the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Another example is the discussion surrounding Claire Dearing in 2015's Jurassic Park and the fact that she wore high heels throughout the entire film, despite being chased by (literal) dinosaurs. In the context of the film, the fact that nothing is said of her trekking through the jungle and running from a T-Rex in 5 inch heels makes her character seems silly and prideful. And that doesn't take into account the shaming that she endured throughout the film for not being able to relate well to her two young nephews, or to make a relationship work with the cocky hero. It's implied that Claire, is silly, prideful, frigid and a terrible mother, and no other significant female characters exist in the film to individualize that supposition. Contrast this with the Ilsa Faust character in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. While running away from a gunman across a rooftop with hero Ethan Hunt, she specifically asks him to help her get her heels off so that their getaway is not compromised.

In the end, it all comes down to the danger of a single story. As author Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche said in her famous Ted Talk, the problem isn't that stereotypes are not true, but rather that they are not the whole truth, and they don't give us a full picture of the complexities of the people around us. When you only have one of something, or in this case, someone, everything about them becomes the default of their kind, simply by virtue of being alone. It's why diversity in media is important from the top come down. When you have more than one female character, each of them becomes an individual with their own quirks and personalities that stand apart from other women. The weight of expectation is lifted, and it allows for some of them to fail, or be clichés, because there are other characters that can contradict that characterization.

A great example? Last year, two shows starring black women were cancelled: Minority Report and Extant. And while I will miss both of those shows, I'm not worried about seeing myself onscreen, because other, complex black women still exist on television on Scandal, Sleepy Hollow, How to Get Away With Murder, Empire and Blackish. Because neither of these characters is the only one, we're able to get diverse representations of black women, from severely damaged lawyers with compromised ethics, to FBI agents battling the paranormal, to loud, brash music executives who just want to leave their mark on the world. None of them is telling the only story.

California Cities Are Trying to Shun the Companies That Build Trump’s Wall

California Cities Are Trying to Shun the Companies That Build Trump’s Wall

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

Overmatched in Congress by gerrymandering, rural bias, and clustering, blue cities and states have little power in Washington to stop President Trump’s border wall.

Back at home, however, they issue billions of dollars in procurement contracts to some of the same construction companies that are bidding to build the wall along the U.S-Mexico border. Maybe it’s there, politicians reason, that they could make their voice heard.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted to draw up a law to require firms bidding for city contracts to disclose their role in the border wall. Oakland and Berkeley have already said they will not do business with companies involved in design and construction of the wall. Similar efforts have been proposed in San Francisco and New York, and California state legislators have taken aim both at contracting with companies who work on the wall and using state pension funds to invest in them.

The first question that has to be asked about these efforts is: What wall?  Trump’s signature promise hasn’t exactly been coming along as planned. In May, after a rushed bidding process characterized by being open-ended in some ways (the wall should perhaps have solar panels, the president said) and extremely specific in others (the wall must be transparent so Americans can’t be hit by 60-pound packages of drugs, the president said), DHS announced a group of finalists had been selected.

But in July, the Trump administration said that a planned showcase of prototypes from those finalists had been postponed, after a complaint about the bidding process from the Penna Group, a Fort Worth, Texas-based contractor. Michael Evangelista-Ysasaga, Penna’s chief executive officer, told me that his company’s bid had been rejected because the government misunderstood the terms of the paperwork. “Any time there’s a rush, mistakes are made,” Evangelista-Ysasaga says.

The wall model display in San Diego that was supposed to be under construction by June has now been delayed twice, first to the end of the summer, and now until November.

Meanwhile, a leaked transcript of Trump’s January phone call with Mexican President Enrique Peña-Nieto revealed that the commander in chief was not nearly as determined to have Mexico pay for the wall as he had been on the campaign trail.*

With all that in mind, threats from local jurisdictions may not be the preeminent hold-up for the wall. If the project goes forward according to Trump’s promises (which it won’t), it would constitute one of the largest nonmilitary contracts in the United States. Senate Democrats say the wall would cost $70 billion to build. Probably worth the cost of being shut out of California procurement, in other words.

Still, the outrage around the wall has been successful so far in dissuading several high-profile companies from participating in the bid process. When the bids are finally revealed, the opprobrium could stick to some of those companies in ways that extend beyond what’s prescribed by local or state law. When it comes time for blue states to award corporate subsidies, for example, firms might find their enthusiasm for the wall becomes a political liability.

The gestures are reminiscent of the movement to divest from private prison companies. New York City’s pension funds decided in May to sell stock and bonds in a trio of prison companies. Architects have also moved to stop their peers from designing prison projects.

Unfortunately for municipal legislators, the problem with the wall (which, again, won’t happen) is that the profit motive is so large, it’s probably worth forfeiting your company’s right to supply steel to California public works projects. Another reason why this border-spanning, solar panel-encrusted nightmare won’t quite die yet.

*Correction, Aug. 10, 2017: This post originally misspelled Enrique Peña-Nieto’s last name.

The Delicate Art of the Amusement Park Caricature

The Delicate Art of the Amusement Park Caricature

by Benjamin Frisch @ Slate Articles

 

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

I was scheduled that day to draw caricatures in the Italian-themed section of Busch Gardens, an amusement park in my hometown of Williamsburg, Virginia. The caricature stand was sandwiched between the giant spinning teacups and the train that runs the perimeter of the park. A few hours after opening, a middle-aged woman approached the stand pushing a heavy-duty wheelchair occupied by a disabled teenager. She asked that I draw a $10 sketch of the boy’s face, black and white, no body.

I asked the boy if he would look straight at me, and he didn’t respond. The seat of the wheelchair was tilted back, and his head was cocked slightly to the side, so I saw it from a ¾ view rather than the usual straight-ahead perspective. He didn’t smile when I asked, but he had an expression that I read as contented. The drawing took longer than usual, as I was being extra careful. I drew what I saw. It was a pretty good likeness and a friendly representation of this teenager, neither exaggerating his disability nor “correcting” for it.

As I tore the sheet from the easel, I showed it to the boy, who didn’t respond. Then I showed it to his caretaker. Her breathing quickened.

The caricature artist, like every employee at a theme park, is in the business of customer service. But our relationship with the customer is more charged than that of the ride operator or the cotton candy vendor. A caricature is a symbolic representation of a person’s face. Through cartooning, a caricaturist reduces the features of a person to simplified shapes and reorders them to create an image that represents the person. It’s not a portrait of the person; it’s a portrait of the idea of the person. When you ask for a caricature, you are asking to be confronted by your own appearance or the appearance of your loved one. Drawing caricatures that were both good and benign is a somewhat unnavigable problem.

Caricaturing takes place on a battlefield between our physical appearance as observed by others, our often dysmorphic view of our own appearance, how we wish we appeared, and societal standards of what is “beautiful.” Theme park caricatures tend to smooth over the rough edges in the interest of pleasing the customer, but conflicts are unavoidable due to the nature of the form. Some people have big noses, long necks, and ears that stick out enough to threaten the likeness if removed. I also believe it’s condescending to assume people should automatically be ashamed of certain aspects of their face. Were a caricature artist to reduce the size of my strong nose, she wouldn’t be doing me any favors.

But not everyone feels the same way, and it’s the artist who must guess, based on the demeanor of the subject and his companions, how far to push. Pleasing children is easy; they aren’t very self-conscious, and kids look much more alike than people realize. But parents project their neuroses onto their children, so not only must you draw the child well, but you must also navigate the parent’s idealized idea of what that child looks like.

Adults are much more difficult. Adults have a lifetime of societal judgments drilled into their self-image, and their faces vary dramatically in proportion. Generally, more exaggerated caricatures are better caricatures, they look more like a person, but they are also dangerous. The more exaggerated, the more likely someone will find something to object to.

There is nothing inherently cruel about the process of caricaturing. There’s a misconception that caricaturists simply choose a feature to exaggerate arbitrarily (a big nose on this one!) and then draw around that exaggeration, but in reality it’s more complicated. Caricaturing is mostly a game of proportion, seeing what parts of a face exist in larger or smaller proportion to the rest of the face, and pushing those proportions via exaggeration. It’s not exactly objective, but the rules of resemblance are fairly reliable, and it’s very easy to ruin a likeness with a poorly placed hairline or set of cheekbones.

Sometimes clients would tell me outright, “Don’t draw me with freckles” or “Don’t exaggerate my chin.” Once the instructions I received were blessedly clear: As I sat down to draw a boy with Down syndrome, his mother leaned in and told me warmly, “It’s OK if you draw him like he has Down’s. We know what he looks like.” The implication was that they’d had a previous bad experience in which a caricaturist had changed his face to look more “typical.” The advice gave me confidence in my artistic choice; I breathed a little easier and drew the boy riding a choo-choo train.

That day by the spinning teacups was different. When I handed the boy’s caretaker his caricature, she refused to make eye contact, and yelled, “You’re a terrible artist and a horrible person!” She pulled the boy’s wheelchair from the stand and stormed away. I was still a junior artist, so getting rejected was a common occurrence, but this was especially bruising. I still don’t know what caused her to reject the sketch; I assume she believed I was belittling the boy somehow, but I’ll never know. Perhaps she thought the very act of exaggeration could be upsetting to a child whose differences might have been mocked by others.

I caricatured for four summers as a teenager. It was a good job and paid well (when people liked my work). I wonder, though, if the moral responsibility of managing people’s self-image issues was the healthiest activity for a teenage artist who was already deeply insecure in his artwork. I wasn’t stung by being called a horrible person; I felt confident enough in my ethical approach to caricaturing to feel that wasn’t the case. But being called a terrible artist, the only time in my life someone has said that to my face, felt far more cruel.

After she left the stand that day, I spent a lot of time looking at the sketch they left behind. I can picture it more easily than any other caricature I’ve ever drawn. In truth, I believe my failure was a customer-service failure, not an artistic one. I certainly should have asked more questions, or she could have been more specific in her requests. Such communication might have helped me better understand what she was hoping for or undercut any unconscious bias I might have brought to the task. But I don’t think either of us were prepared for the ethical quandary at the heart of it, which was particularly thorny this time but fundamentally the same as the one every caricaturist faces when she puts pen to paper: People put faces in your hands, and your job is to make them more themselves than they are in real life. Can you bridge the gulf between what they dream of and what you see?

Malls and Restaurants Schedule Workers at the Last Minute. Oregon Just Made That Illegal.

Malls and Restaurants Schedule Workers at the Last Minute. Oregon Just Made That Illegal.

by Henry Grabar @ Slate Articles

As the Democratic Party continues to flail over what besides resistance to Donald Trump it stands for (what’s the health care plan, anyway?), they can look for inspiration to Oregon, where Democratic Gov. Kate Brown signed the country’s first statewide employee scheduling law on Tuesday.

Want to listen to this article out loud? Hear it on Slate Voice.

Starting in July 2018, Oregon will require big companies in retail, hospitality, and food service to give employees schedules at least a week ahead of time, and offer stress pay to workers who don’t get a 10-hour break between shifts. By 2020, employers covered by the law will have to hand out schedules two weeks in advance.

Oregon is the first state to pass such a law, which grows out of a vibrant municipal movement to humanize low-wage fast food and mall jobs that can no longer be thought of as stopgap positions, if they ever were. The median age of a retail employee, for example, is 39. According to a New York state study, most retail workers are breadwinners. It's hard to spend time with your family if you never know when you get off work.

San Francisco, Seattle, and New York City all have similar policies in place. The Oregon bill may be a sign that the movement is about to jump from cities to states. In December, the Illinois attorney general announced that a group of large retailers including Aeropostale and Disney would stop using on-call scheduling after an investigation. A handful of other blue-state AGs are also looking into it. In 2015, Elizabeth Warren introduced a fair scheduling bill in the Senate.

Conservative states have rallied against the movement, drafting pre-emption bills to prevent cities from passing their own ordinances. Georgia, Arkansas, Iowa, Michigan, and Tennessee have such laws on the books. But voters seem to generally approve of protections for low-wage workers: In November, deep-red Arizona voted by referendum to mandate paid sick days, in a rebuke to the Legislature's broad anti-worker pre-emption bill.

The bigger pictures is that scheduling laws are the latest addition to a slate of state-level progressive policies, inspired by city-level reforms, to help the largely ignored 25 million Americans who work in retail and food service. Those include:

  • Paid sick leave laws
  • Bans on noncompete agreements (yes, even Jimmy John’s and Amazon warehouses have forced workers to relinquish their value on the labor market)
  • Minimum-wage hikes

It’s adding up to something like a platform. Want to be the party of workers? Go to where the jobs are.

In that sense, it could be a particularly salient counterpoint to Donald Trump’s inane quest to resuscitate the tiny, tiny coal-mining industry, with its immoral effects on both workers and the environment. Retail work is flagging in some sectors but remains an enormous section of the labor force (16 million workers), and warehouse employment is skyrocketing to keep pace with e-commerce demand. Restaurants have created more jobs since January than health care, construction, or manufacturing.

That reflects a structural change in American life. In 2016, for the first time ever, Americans spent more money at restaurants and bars than on groceries. We’ve been eating out more since the ’70s, when female labor force participation was rising dramatically. But even as that rate has plateaued and slowed, the trend toward restaurant spending has increased as young people delay marriage and household formation. It also helps that the supermarket is cheaper than ever, meaning we can spend more money away from home. (It’s not just that Americans are trading TV dinners for Chipotle; it’s also that we are spending less on groceries—down from 8.3 percent of disposable income in 1982 to 5.7 percent in 2011.) By 2020, Derek Thompson writes at the Atlantic, restaurant work will surpass manufacturing.

In short, there is nothing niche about improving the quality of retail and restaurant work.

Why don’t we pay as much attention to retail and restaurant jobs? Demographics are partly to blame. The retail jobs that have been hardest hit by job loss tend to be held by females and an above-average share of minorities. The female employment share in restaurant work is two points above the BLS average; the black-American share is two points above, and the Hispanic share is nine points above. This translate to a perceived lack of value, Slate’s Jamelle Bouie wrote in April:

Work is gendered and it is racialized. What work matters is often tied to who performs it. It is no accident that those professions dominated by white men tend to bring the most prestige, respect, and pay, while those dominated by women—and especially women of color—are often ignored, disdained, and undercompensated.

But the problem is also that restaurant and retail jobs just aren’t that good. They pay, on average, just over half as much as manufacturing jobs. They don’t provide the routine shifts of punch-in, punch-out factory work.

Make the jobs better, and people will care more about them—both politicians and the workers who hold them. Fair scheduling is a more bulletproof policy than the progressive stalwart Fight for $15. (There are early signs that the rising-to-$15-wage has caused low-income workers to take home less as a group, even in booming Seattle.) Ensuring that workers have predictable, human schedules could be easily implemented across rich and poor cities, and it doesn’t need to cost a dime.

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Dove Nutritive Solutions Daily Moisture, Shampoo and Conditioner Duo Set, 40 Ounce Pump Bottles
$24.90
Dove Men + Care Body & Face Wash, Sensitive Shield 13.50 oz (Pack of 3)
$20.70
Dove Go Fresh Revive Anti-Perspirant Deodorant Stick for Unisex, 2.6 Ounce
$6.69
Dove Men + Care Extra Fresh Non-irritant Antiperspiration 5 Pack
$24.99
Dove Invisible Dry Anti White Marks Anti-Perspirant Deoderant
$5.12
(Duo Set) Dove Damage Therapy Intensive Repair, Shampoo & Conditioner, 12 Oz. bottles
$13.19
Dove Men+Care Body and Face Wash, Clean Comfort 18 oz
Dove Damage Therapy Daily Moisture Shampoo, 2.8 Pound
$14.99
Dove Men Care Non-Irritant Antiperspirant Deodorant, Extra Fresh - 2.7 Ounce (5 in Pack)
$22.47
Dove Nutritive Therapy, Nourishing Oil Care, DUO Set Shampoo + Conditioner, 12 Ounce, 1 Each
$12.98
Dove Men+Care Post Shave Balm, Hydrate+ 3.4 oz (Pack of 2)
$12.65
Dove Beauty Bar, Pink 4 oz, 14 Bar
$17.99
Dove Original Beauty Cream Bar White Soap 100 G / 3.5 Oz Bars (Pack of 12) by Dove
$16.99
Dove Shave Gel Sensitive 7 oz. (Pack of 3)
$17.26
Dove Cotton Soft Anti-Perspirant Deodorant Spray Dry 48 Hour Protection (Pack of 6) 150 Ml by Dove
$20.98
Dove Clinical Protection Anti-Perspirant Deodorant Solid, Revive 1.70 oz(Pack of 2)
$13.48
Dove Shampoo, Dryness & Itch Relief 12 oz
$5.59
Dove Body Wash Deep Moisture 24 oz, Pack of 3
$15.16
Dove Purely Pampering Body Wash, Coconut Milk (24 fl. oz., 3 pk.)
$24.09
Dove go sleeveless Antiperspirant, Beauty Finish 2.6 oz, 2 Pack
$4.99
Dove Beauty Bar, White 4 oz, 2 Bar
Dove Men + Care Revitalize Face Cream Lotion 1.69oz (Quantity 1)
$4.97
Dove Oxygen Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner Set 12 Ounce
$13.85
Sensitive Skin Unscented Moisturizing Cream Beauty Bar By Dove, 12 Count 4 Oz Each
$19.99
Dove Beauty Bar, Sensitive Skin 4 oz, 6 bar
$12.99
Dove Regenerative Nourishment Shampoo and Conditioner Set, 8.45 FL OZ each
$15.99
Dove Purely Pampering Shea Butter Beauty Bar with Vanilla Scent Soap 3.5 Oz / 100 Gr (Pack of 12 Bars)
$17.48
Dove Antiperspirant Deodorant, Powder 2.6 Ounce, (Pack of 6)
$21.36
Dove Body Wash Deep Moisture 24 oz, Pack of 3
$15.16
6 Cans of Dove Men+Care Invisible Dry 150ml Anti-Perspirant Anti-Transpirant Spray
$18.72
Dove Clinical Protection Antiperspirant Deodorant, Cool Essentials 1.7 oz
$7.72
Dove Sensitive Skin Nourishing Body Wash, 12 Ounce (2 Pack)
$19.33
Dove Men+Care Body Wash, Extra Fresh 23.5 Ounce (Pack of 2)
$20.45
Dove Men + Care Face Wash, Hydrate, 5 Oz (Pack of 3)
$18.40
Dove Men+Care Body Wash, Extra Fresh 13.5 oz, Twin Pack
$16.99
Dove Hs Srength/Shine Xho Size 7z Dove Hs Srength/Shine Xhold 7z
$8.77
Dove Dry Shampoo Refresh and Care Volume and Fullness, 5 Ounces, 3 Pack
$16.80
Dove Men+Care 2 in 1 Shampoo and Conditioner, Fresh and Clean 25.4 oz
Dove Sensitive Skin Unscented Hypo-Allergenic Beauty Bar 4 oz, 2 ea (Pack of 2)
$11.14
Dove Men + Care Body & Face Wash, Clean Comfort 13.50 oz ( Pack of 3)
$16.10
Dove Men + Care Fortfying Shampoo+conditioner 2 in 1 32fl Oz
$16.05
Dove Go Fresh Cucumber & Green Tea Scent, Antiperspirant & Deodorant Stick, 1.4 Oz / 40 Ml (Pack of 4)
$9.98
Dove Body Wash, Sensitive Skin Pump, 34 Ounce (Pack of 2)
$27.33
Dove Body Lotion, Cream Oil Intensive, 13.5 Ounce (Pack of 3)
$23.49
Dove Damage Therapy Cool Moisture Shampoo (12 oz) and Conditioner (12 oz)
$11.99
Dove Go Fresh Antiperspirant & Deodorant, Cool Essentials - 2.6 oz - 2 pk
$12.99
Dove Go Fresh Antiperspirant Deodorant, Restore, 2.6 Ounce (Pack of 2)
$9.11
Dove Men+Care Body and Face Bar, Deep Clean 4 oz, 6 Bar
$9.39
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