In the World
Steve Thorngate on public life and culture
It’s pretty clear that vaccination views don’t break down on partisan lines. Elizabeth Stoker Breunig is no doubt right that good old American individualism motivates many people’s refusal to take major risks to other people as seriously as minor risks to themselves. But not all of them. (It’s hard to generalize about anti-vaxxers.) And individualism itself of course exists across much of the political spectrum. Nor is support for specifically mandatory vaccines found mostly just among us liberals, with our comparative comfort with statism. And some of the best things I’ve read on this have been by right-leaning commentators.
A report released today by the Children’s Defense Fund details how the U.S. could reduce child poverty by 60 percent. Specific targets are important in anti-poverty work, and this is an ambitious one (though less ambitious than the report’s title, Ending Child Poverty Now). CDF’s policy proposals include a larger Earned Income Tax Credit and (not or) a higher minimum wage, along with expanded housing subsidies, child care subsidies, and food stamps. Add some more generous rules for tax credit refunds and child support recipients’ federal benefits—along with a new subsidized jobs program—and the whole thing starts to sound pretty expensive.
One baker doesn’t want to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Another baker doesn’t want to decorate a cake with the words “God hates gays.” Are the two cases comparable? The differences may be obvious, but they’re also complex.
I was a strict vegetarian for 10 years. Now I'm a sort of sometimes-meat-avoider: my wife and I keep a meatless kitchen but eat whatever when someone serves it to us and sometimes when we're out. As I've written before, the virtuous identity marker "vegetarian" is less important to me than it used to be. But I still think eating way less meat is the single biggest bit of lifestyle "greening" most Americans could do. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's dietary guidelines restrict their official purview to nutrition; they don't address the other considerations that go into food choices. But last week, AP reported that this year's update to the USDA guidlines might include a focus on environmental sustainability—specifically, as a reason to eat less meat.