Last weekend's This American Life included a great Planet Money segment about GiveDirectly, a charity that gives poor Kenyans not food or equipment or livestock or training but cash. The idea is that, whatever risks or downsides exist in just giving people money, these are outweighed by a) extremely low overhead, and b) the fact that the poor actually know best what they need.
Some news in the world of sustainable food: Chipotle is responding to beef supply shortages by considering looser standards. Instead of aiming to avoid all beef treated with antibiotics, the burrito chain and sustainable ag advocate may start accepting cows treated for illness, while still avoiding those given antibiotics as a matter of routine.
Ezra Klein’s work at the Washington Post is indispensable; he brings much insight to the task of making domestic policy accessible to those of us who only follow it part time. But I’m not buying this one:
There’s a tendency among some on the left and, with the “libertarian populists,” some on the right, to portray the interests of corporate American and the interests of low-income Americans as directly opposed to each other. That’s not true. They can conflict, of course — it’s easy enough to imagine a proposal to raise taxes on corporations in order to fund a low-income tax cut — but they’re not always in tension. Sometimes they’re even in concert.
Boy, "In Christ Alone" just will not stay out of the churchy news. A few weeks ago it was standing in for all hymnody ever in the face of the chorus-singing horde; now it's standing in for confessional evangelicals' valiant defense against the liberal horde. Coming soon: "In Christ Alone" as a symbol of resistance to common-cup communion, or missional-everything fervor, or preaching from your iPad.
On Sunday I visited a church that's majority white but not overwhelmingly so. After worship, I stuck around for a planned conversation about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. Here the demographics were flipped: a slight majority of African Americans.
But the white folks did their share of the talking.
Greg Sargent reports on how those GOP House members who want to pass comprehensive immigration reform intend to get enough of their caucus on board to do it. He includes their re-exploration of this doozy: keep the rough outline of the Senate’s path to citizenship, but require people to admit their guilt—and instead of calling the middle category “legal status,” call it “probation.” Problem solved: we’re still Tough on Crime!
"Dolphin Michael, 61, who retired from the Detroit fire department after 38 years, said he saw it coming, and took action. 'A couple weeks ago, I withdrew all my pension money and put it into a private account,' he said."
In theory, splitting up the farm bill to deal separately with farm policy and nutrition assistance makes a lot of sense.
Farm subsidies used to go mostly to actual farmers who could use the help. So while the pairing of farm aid and food aid was always politically motivated, it also made some sense: the farm bill was safety-net legislation, and food stamps fit right into that. As agriculture has changed, agricultural policy has become more and more of a mess of corporate welfare that's against the public interest. And one big thing protecting this status quo has been the fact that liberals can't vote against a business-as-usual farm bill, because it's also how hungry people get fed.