Century Marks

Century Marks

Basic pay

What if every adult citizen received a universal basic income—a stipend of $10,000 each year, with a smaller allowance for children? Would people stop working? Would those in poverty use their stipend wisely or foolishly? An experiment along these lines was tried in Manitoba in the 1970s. The quality of life went up, hospitalizations went down, more teens stayed in school, and the rate of work changed very little. Richard Nixon tried to get a universal income bill through Congress. Support for universal income has come from the left and the right. It’s a way to eliminate paternalistic government programs and at the same time reduce poverty and give workers more options and leverage in the marketplace (New Yorker, June 20).

College values

A plethora of recent actions on college campuses have left some professors and administrators wondering if they are educating a coddled generation that doesn’t want its own values challenged. Some Emory students complained of being traumatized by seeing “Trump 2016” chalked on sidewalks around campus. They protested, “Come speak to us, we are in pain!” until the president wrote them a letter saying he would “honor the concerns of these students.” A professor at Oberlin complained, “My students want warning labels on class content” (New Yorker, May 30).

Trump appeal

A survey by the Pew Research Center indicates that racial diversity and concerns about Islam and immigration are drawing voters toward Donald Trump, among Republicans in particular. Economic issues, such as whether the economic system is fair or whether businesses are making excessive profits, are of less interest for people drawn to Trump. Among Republican voters who say that the poor “have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return,” 56 percent have a positive opinion of Trump (Pew Research Center, June 2).

Out the back door

“No religion” is now the single largest group in England and Wales, according to British Social Attitudes data. Consisting of nearly half of the population, this group is twice the size of those who identify as Anglicans and four times the size of the Catholic population. A similar pattern prevails across Europe. The decline of Catholics in Britain would be more severe were it not for Christian immigrants from Africa and Asia. The data show that the church is poor at making converts and at keeping cradle believers. The Anglican and Catholic churches lose at least ten members for every convert (Guardian, May 27).

College plans

In 2014, 6.1 percent of bachelor’s degrees were in the humanities, the lowest level since statistics on college majors started being kept in 1948. Since the recession of 2008, the number of history majors has declined from 2.2 to 1.7 percent. College students often feel pressured by parents and peers to go into fields that are potentially more lucrative. Politicians also feed this trend away from the humanities, from Presi­dent Obama’s ridicule of an art major to Marco Rubio’s remark that welders get paid more than philosophers. Over the long run, many humanities majors do OK financially. A midcareer historian is likely to make as much as someone with a bachelor’s degree in business. And the humanities hone critical thinking skills that are useful in many fields (Los Angeles Times, May 30).