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How Racist Fiction Shaped US Drug Policy

Cocaine Race Policy

The Article: How the Myth of the ‘Negro Cocaine Fiend’ Helped Shape American Drug Policy by Carl L. Hart in The Nation.

The Text: Negro Cocaine “Fiends” Are a New Southern Menace. That was the headline of an article I came across while doing research for my PhD in 1996. It involved trying to understand the neurobiological and behavioral effects of psychoactive drugs like cocaine and nicotine. So I read everything that seemed relevant.

The provocatively headlined article had appeared in The New York Times on February 8, 1914. I was surprised by the title, although I knew it was once acceptable to print such blatantly racist words in respectable papers. But what really shocked me was how similar it was to modern media coverage of illegal drugs and how, from early on, the racialized discourse on drugs served a larger political purpose.

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Income Inequality: A Problem No One Wants to Fix

Greed

The Article: Income Inequality: A Problem No One Wants to Fix by Paul Buchheit in The Contributor.

The Text: Inequality is a cancer on society, here in the U.S. and across the globe. It keeps growing. But humanity seems helpless against it, as if it’s an alien force that no one understands, even as the life is being gradually drained from its victims.

The recent Oxfam report on global wealth inequality reveals some of the ugly extremes that have divided our world. It also directs our attention to the Global Wealth Report compiled by Credit Suisse, and the companion Databook, which offer a shocking testament to the severity of U.S. and global inequality.

1. The 30 Richest Americans Own as much as Half of the U.S. Population

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Why Abortions Are Down

Pro Life

The Article: Why Abortions Are Down by William Saletan in Slate.

The Text: The abortion rate has fallen again. It’s at its lowest level since 1973, the year Roe v. Wade was handed down. What’s causing the decline? Should we be happy about it? Can we learn anything from it?

The answer to the first question isn’t entirely clear. But the answers to the next two are yes and yes. Pro-lifers are right that the decline is a good thing. And pro-choicers are right that what’s causing the decline—and will keep it going, if we’re smart—is women making these decisions on their own.

The numbers were reported Monday by two researchers from the Guttmacher Institute. They show a 13 percent drop in the abortion rate from 2008 to 2011, continuing a long-term decline that seemed to have stalled. Some pro-lifers don’t believe the numbers. But the National Right to Life Committee does, and is happy to take credit for them.

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Why Do The Super-Rich Keep Comparing Obama To Hitler?

Tom Perkins

The Article: Why Do the Super-Rich Keep Comparing Obama to Hitler? by Matthew O’Brien in The Atlantic.

The Text: First, they came for the bailed-out bankers’ bonuses, and I did not speak out, because I wasn’t a banker.

Then they came for the hedge fund managers’ tax loophole, and I did not speak out, because I wasn’t a hedge fund manager.

Then they came for novelist Danielle Steel’s hedges, and finally I did speak out, because I know her, and I’m a knight—a literal knight of the Kingdom of Norway—so I thought I’d get on my high horse and charge forth in her defense.

This is the Ballad of Tom Joad Perkins, Silicon Valley’s legendary venture capitalist. He had to speak out after he saw the appalling way the San Francisco Chronicle disparaged his ex-wife Ms. Steel’s plots, prose, and shrubbery.

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The Case For Socialized Law

Lady Justice

The Article: The Case For Socialized Law by Noam Scheiber in The New Republic.

The Text: Maintain and refine, maintain and refine. That’s how progressives talk about the welfare state these days. After nearly a century of expanding government with programs like Social Security, Medicaid, and food stamps, suddenly the best the left can come up with are relative stutter-steps like universal pre-K. Liberal Democrats all but concede that Obamacare marked the end of their activist ambitions. Hereafter, we will all take vigorous walks and watch prestige dramas on HBO.

But there’s still at least one major social-welfare project the left must see through before anyone considers its mission accomplished. The issue is the vast injustice that arises from the way the law is applied to different classes of citizens.

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