Does Art Help The Economy?

Drowning Ophelia

The Article: Does Art Help The Economy? by Kyle Thetford in The Atlantic.

The Text: An unexpected upshot in the wake of Britain’s latest spending review was the fate of the culture budget — it avoided a pummeling. What might be considered an easy target in a time of austerity emerged relatively unscathed, with only a 5 percent decrease in funding from £472 million to £451 million.

The arts world had already been hit by a 30 percent cut meted out in the 2010 budget and had been waiting to find out whether they might be granted a reprieve at this latest round of belt-tightening.

This time, advocates for arts funding breathed a collective sigh of relief, with the budget reduction described as a “best-case scenario” — they had been bracing for much larger cuts.

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Why Liberals Don’t Get Texas

Liberals Texas

The Article: Liberals Don’t Understand Texas by Abby Johnston in Salon.

The Text: I am an eighth-generation Texan, and if my accent doesn’t give me away, that is the first fact I will volunteer about myself in conversation. Name me another state where eight generations win you immediate legitimacy. But I’m also liberal. And this makes me no less proud of my home state.

Let me explain. You’d be hard-pressed to find a state with more pride, unsurprising for a territory that was once a sovereign nation. Texas is diverse and sprawling, born of many different backgrounds and melded together with its own swagger. Our bouffant-haired culture and hospitality have seen many portrayals in the media, but it’s hard to describe our peculiarly accented je ne sais quoi to someone who doesn’t understand why Texas Monthly needs a barbecue editor or hasn’t seen the landscape change from forest, to desert, to mountains in a day’s drive.

I’ve since adopted Austin as my home, seeking refuge in the liberal oasis and protected by its bubble of progressive ideology. Left-leaning politics are not an anomaly in Texas’ capital city, but the six weeks of debates that led to the passage of restrictive abortion legislation were a painful reminder of the ideology that lay outside of Austin’s city limits. Gov. Rick Perry called two special sessions to ram through the controversial bill, which will all but guarantee the closure of 42 abortion clinics, leaving only five designated as ambulatory service centers to accommodate a state larger than France.

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McDonalds Proves How Much Its Minimum Wage Salaries Suck

McDonalds

The Article: McDonalds’ suggested budget for employees shows just how impossible it is to get by on minimum wage by Robyn Pennacchia in Death and Taxes.

The Text: McDonald’s has partnered with Visa to make a website dedicated to showing its employees how to properly budget their meager peasant salaries. However, what it actually does is illustrate the fact that it is nearly impossible to get by on minimum wage, as shown in this “example” budget chart:

Budget 1

Yeah– now, when I first saw that, I assumed that the top line was for a part-time McDonald’s employee. Then I got out my calculator– that is actually what you would make if you were working full-time at McDonald’s. 1,105 dollars a month.

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We’re Not a Christian Nation

America Christian Nation

The Article: We’re Not a Christian Nation by Fred Rich in The Daily Beast.

The Text: Most Americans saluting the flag this Independence Day grew up being taught that the nation for which that flag stands is a constitutional democracy. As Lincoln put it, the United States was conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. But a significant number of your fellow citizens have a very different vision as they hoist the flag. They were raised to believe—or have now been convinced—that our Founding Fathers gave us what they call a “Christian Nation.”

On this July 4, 2013, we live in a country where our fellow citizens have a dazzling diversity of religious beliefs (and non-belief), and most of them do not present any threat to our democracy. But one influential strain of Christian fundamentalism, which insists most loudly that we are a “Christian Nation,” has a vision for America that is profoundly theocratic. So if you want to engage in a small but meaningful patriotic act this Independence Day, you might want to educate yourself about what the “Christian Nation” movement means, and what our country might look like if the “Christian Nation” vision were to be realized.

It’s tempting to think that those who call America a “Christian Nation” simply mean that Christianity historically has been the majority religion and the basis for many elements of our national culture, which of course is true. But that is not what they mean. Evangelical preachers and conservative politicians calling for America to be a “Christian Nation” mean something very different: a country uniquely favored by the Judeo-Christian God, founded to create a “Godly Kingdom” in the new world, and destined, as the shining “city upon a Hill” envisioned by the Puritans, to be a just and pious land dedicated to drawing all the nations of the world to the redemptive message of Jesus. And some of them believe that realization of this destiny is a condition for the second coming of Christ.

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Whatever Happened to “Green Jobs”?

Green Jobs

The Article: Whatever Happened to “Green Jobs”? by Chris Mooney in Mother Jones.

The Text: If you watched President Obama’s major speech on climate change, you may have noticed a recurrent phrase: “our children.” The president said the word “children” fifteen separate times in the speech. He also spoke repeatedly about “future generations” and how a sweltering planet imperils them. The threat of climate itself, meanwhile, garnered considerable scientific detail in the speech, replete with references to dangerous and destructive impacts that are already occurring—from rising seas to parched land and torched forests.

“I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing,” the president said.

When you stop and think about it for a minute, the messaging change here is pretty extraordinary. After all, four years ago the administration’s central talking point on climate change did not mention climate change. Rather, the idea was that greening our economy would confer a major benefit in the form of a profusion of green jobs. “It’s ironic that the administration, which helped launch ‘don’t talk about climate change, talk about economics and jobs,’ has flipped to ‘let’s talk about climate change and frame it in moral terms,'” says Joe Romm, a former Clinton administration clean energy official and editor of the leading climate blog Climate Progress. Meanwhile, as the Google Trends search above shows, interest in “green jobs” peaked early in Obama’s first term and has been declining ever since.

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