September 2013 Archives

celebration

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

David Badash mentions that today is International Celebrate Bisexuality Day, honoring what LGBTQ Nation calls an "invisible majority" among the larger LGBT community:

Often referred to as the "invisible majority," several studies indicate that self-identified bisexuals make up the largest single population within the LGBT community in the United States. In each study, more women identified as bisexual than lesbian, and fewer men identified as bisexual than gay.

In a 2010 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that among adults (5,042 respondents), 3.1 percent self-identified as bisexual, compared to 2.5 percent who self-identified as either gay or lesbian.

The Advocate discusses why we need Bi Pride Day:

I was a 14-year-old outspoken, feminist extrovert, but I somehow allowed other people to tell me how I felt or tell me that my sexual orientation was of less value. I let myself believe that bisexuality wasn't real or was greedy or that coming out was pointless, because other gay and straight people believed it. But at the very least, the anger that I still feel over this is what drives me to wake up and come to work at this publication every day. [...]

So, if you were wondering, that's why we must have Bi Pride Day. So that actual bisexual people can own their sexual orientation and feel like we're not just sitting on a fence or can't decide or that we're disappointing someone. Bi Pride Day exists so that some teenage kid who doesn't quite get what she's feeling can see that she's not crazy and she's not going through a phase.


update (5:45pm):
On a related note, thanks to Andrew Sullivan for mentioning the celebration-worthy literary tryst between Oscar Wilde and Walt Whitman:

Oscar desperately wanted to meet Walt Whitman, whom he and many others considered to be America's living poet...Whitman's poetry spoke of the potency of friendship and love between men, particularly between working-class men, and positively oozed homoeroticism. Indeed, the 'Calamus' section of Whitman's great poetic cycle Leaves of Grass was so intensely homoerotic that it gave rise to the short-lived term 'calamite' to denote a man who loved men. Swinburne was to denounce 'the cult of the calamus' and 'calamites.' [...]

Oscar was suitably humble in the presence of Whitman, greeting him with the words, 'I have come to you as one with whom I have been acquainted almost from the cradle.' The contrast between the two poets could not have been more marked. Oscar was young, tall, slender and clean shaven. Whitman was in his early sixties, but looked much older. He was shorter than Oscar and wore a long, bushy white beard. Oscar was highly educated, cultivated and still in his languid Aesthetic phase. Whitman was self-taught, and robustly masculine in manner. [...]

Stoddart tactfully left the two poets alone. 'If you are willing - will excuse me - I will go off for an hour or so - come back again - leaving you together,' he said. 'We would be glad to have you stay,' Whitman replied. 'But do not feel to come back in an hour. Don't come for two or three.' Whitman opened a bottle of elderberry wine and he and Oscar drank it all before Whitman suggested they go upstairs to his 'den' on the third floor where, he told Oscar, 'We could be on 'thee and thou' terms.'

The next day, Whitman told the Philadelphia Press that the two of them had a "jolly good time" together. Did he get more specific? He did, reader. He did:

One of the first things I said was that I should call him 'Oscar.' 'I like that so much,' he answered, laying his hand on my knee. He seemed to me like a great big, splendid boy. He is so frank, and outspoken, and manly. I don't see why such mocking things are written of him.

Later, this tidbit emerges:

Oscar told [his friend George] Ives that there was 'no doubt' about Whitman's sexual tastes. 'I have the kiss of Walt Whitman still on my lips,' he boasted.

For more, see Neil McKenna's book The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde: An Intimate Biography (pp. 31-33).

a Threeper Citadel

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

In the pages of The Nation, Leonard Zeskind and Devin Burghart look at the rising militia movement--in particular, "A proposed walled city of 'patriots,' [sic] known as The Citadel [...] in mountainous Benewah County, Idaho," where a twenty-acre plot of land serves as "a starter base-camp" for the like-minded. "Whether or not the Citadel is built," the article observes, "the gathering itself is important:"

...it could become the most significant turning point in the militia and survivalist world since Timothy McVeigh bombed the Oklahoma federal building in 1995 and the FBI crackdown on armed paramilitaries that followed.

The gun nuts' activity abated somewhat during the Bush II era, but it was not to last:

After the election of President Obama, small local militias began popping up again, as the Southern Poverty Law Center and others have documented. SPLC counted 1,360 active patriot [sic] groups in 2012, many of them militias. One militia at a Georgia military base has allegedly already left two dead. In Minnesota, a militia plot allegedly included plans to bomb the National Guard armory. In Pennsylvania, a police chief created a militia and then posted two videos of himself shootng a string of weapons while yelling a string of vulgarities at Democratic Party political figures. A new generation of local survivalists is preparing for a doomsday they feel is certain to come. They do not yet constitute a movement, however. [...]

During this period of right-wing revival, in the political space created by the Tea Parties and the militias, a tendency known as the Threepers emerged into public view on March 19, 2010, when one of its principal leaders, Alabamian Mike Vanderboegh, declared on his blog: "To all modern Sons of Liberty: THIS is your time. Break their windows. Break them NOW."

The piece suggests that the Threepers "intend to be the armed wing of a larger movement of Tea Partiers and patriots [sic again]," which leads us back to their Citadel compound:

It was to be a walled city, with an outer wall and inner walls. Entry and exit are through one main gate. Three different neighborhoods are shown, along with schools, a town center, farmers market and a firearms museum. [...]

The Citadel looks like anybody's vision of a small-town utopia- except for the III Arms Company that makes up the one absolutely necessary ingredient of the whole enterprise.

"The future of the Citadel cannot be fully known at this point," the article concludes, but fear remains a strong motivator:

Much depends on Kerodin's ability to attract enough financing to buy the huge tracts of land necessary beyond the initial twenty acres already purchased. It is also not certain that building contractors, craftsmen and entrepreneurs will move to a walled city, and unclear whether county and state zoning officials and regulators will give the necessary permits. There is ample room for skepticism about this project's ultimate prospects.

What is certain, however, is that Kerodin and his fellow militiamen are building a dangerous movement of zealots, with appeals laced with predictions of violence. The gun-manufacturing operation at the center of this movement is a development without precedent in the post-World War II era. The possibility of future violence rises in direct proportion to the proliferation of weapons.

AlterNet's racism and conservatism piece is an excerpt from Avi Tuschman's book Our Political Nature; The Evolutionary Origins of What Divides Us. In it, Tuschman writes that "In relation to the political spectrum, tribalism breaks down into three components:"

(1) ethnocentricity, (2) religiosity, and (3) sexual (in)tolerance. High measures of ethnocentricity, religiosity, and sexual intolerance are commonly associated with one another. Individuals with this cluster of traits tend to have political views on the right. On the other end of the spectrum, attraction to out-groups (xenophilia), secularism, and higher sexual tolerance are well correlated with one another and with political views on the left. [...]

What is the logic between these three components of tribalism? The more ethnocentric, religious, and sexually intolerant people are, the more likely they are to reproduce with a mate from their own in-group. Moreover, conservatives are more likely to emphasize group values, such as prioritizing the reproduction and defense of their ethnic group, over other possible competing interests (e.g., personal pleasure, and education or career choices made at the expense of family).

On the other hand, more xenophilic, secular, and sexually tolerant people are more likely to see equal (or even greater) value in out-groups, and to reproduce with them. Thus, liberals place relatively greater importance on individualism and less on in-group values.

"In every country," he continues, "the right is more ethnocentric than the left:"

Conservatives have more positive feelings toward members of their in-group... [...] In America, the modern political era began when the Civil Rights Movement pushed the race issue squarely into the politics of the 1960s. During this decade, opposition to civil rights was a cornerstone of American conservatism.

[This has been true from Barry Goldwater to Rand Paul, one might add...]

Hard statistical studies repeatedly find that there is no better way to predict ethnocentrism than to measure political conservatism. Stanford University's Paul Sniderman is a world expert on the political psychology of race. He once asked 659 nonblack individuals how many negative stereotypes of black people they would accept. Self-placed political conservatism predicted the acceptance of the negative stereotypes more than three and a half times better than family income did.

Speaking of racism, ThinkProgress lauded the study "The Persistent Legacy of American Slavery" (PDF) on the persistence of racist attitudes in the South:

We show that contemporary differences in political attitudes across counties in the American South trace their origins back to the influence of slavery's prevalence more than 150 years ago. Whites who currently live in Southern counties that had high shares of slaves population in 1860 are less likely to identify as Democrat, more likely to oppose to affirmative action policies, and more likely to express racial resentment toward blacks. [...] The results suggest that political attitudes were at least in part determined by the local prevalence of slavery and the political and economic incentives that emancipation created for Southern whites. In turn, these attitudes have been passed down from one generation to the next.

"Our core hypothesis," the study noted, "is that the more conservative nature of the Black Belt is in part a direct consequence of the historical prevalence of slavery in this area."

Addicting Info's look at 10 preposterous conservative myths points out that "Conservatives are notorious for clinging to, and repeating, myths and falsehoods long after they have been debunked:"

Although an exhaustive list of myths that conservatives cling to would be longer than space permits here, below are ten things that many conservatives believe that "just ain't so."

  1. President Obama is spending the United States into the poor house.
  2. Obamacare changed federal policy on abortion and permits federal funding for abortions on demand.
  3. Social Security is going bankrupt.
  4. Ronald Reagan tried to cut spending and balance the budget, but Democrats in congress wouldn't let him.
  5. We were attacked on September 11, 2001, by people who "hate our freedoms."
  6. Bush did a better job of protecting our embassies than Obama is doing.
  7. Scientists still disagree on whether climate change is taking place and if human activities are responsible.
  8. The U.S. government gives away free 'Obamaphones' to undeserving welfare recipients
  9. Non-union power crews were turned away from New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy.
  10. America is a conservative country, and most Americans consider themselves to be conservatives.

Paul Krugman suggests that "the widening 'wonk gap'" between the parties is due to "the G.O.P.'s near-complete lack of expertise on anything substantive:"

Health care is the most prominent example, but the dumbing down extends across the spectrum, from budget issues to national security to poll analysis. Remember, Mitt Romney and much of his party went into Election Day expecting victory.

Although he mostly pillories "conservative 'experts,' who have been offering a steady stream of misinformation," he also notes that "Political conservatism and serious policy analysis can coexist, and there was a time when they did:"

But that was then. Modern conservatism has become a sort of cult, very much given to conspiracy theorizing when confronted with inconvenient facts. Liberal policies were supposed to cause hyperinflation, so low measured inflation must reflect statistical fraud; the threat of climate change implies the need for public action, so global warming must be a gigantic scientific hoax. Oh, and Mitt Romney would have won if only he had been a real conservative.

It's all kind of funny, in a way. Unfortunately, however, this runaway cult controls the House, which gives it immense destructive power -- the power, for example, to wreak havoc on the economy by refusing to raise the debt ceiling. And it's disturbing to realize that this power rests in the hands of men who, thanks to the wonk gap, quite literally have no idea what they're doing.

Krugman's "stubborn mastery of facts" undermines the GOP:

If the data fails to support the G.O.P. platform and the liberalism of economists like Paul Krugman has been proven to encompass solid policy as well as human empathy (imagine!), why then have the failed ideas of the modern Republican Party been so difficult to banish from our discourse?

AlterNet's tale of Teabaggers versus libraries is another example of this anti-intellectualism. "In September 2012 the Library Board of Pulaski County, Kentucky raised property taxes $1 per year for a typical homeowner to maintain the existing level of services in its five libraries." What did the Teabaggers do? They petitioned to dissolve the library. As ignorant of history as they tend to be, they evidenced little respect for the "radical, uniquely American concept [of] a taxpayer-supported library:"

All town residents, regardless of income, had the right to freely share the community's stored knowledge. Their only obligation was to return the information on time and in good condition, allowing others to exercise that same right.

By 1910 all states had a public library network. Today 9,000 central buildings plus about 7,500 branches have made public libraries one of the most ubiquitous of all American institutions. Campbell County's 63,000 residents possess almost 30,000 library cards. Kenton County's library system's million annual visitors not only borrow books and DVDs; they use its computers and its meeting rooms and rely on librarians to help them do their homework or ferret out information about jobs and government services.

The Tea Party argues that a library tax increase of any size, no matter how trivial, is unwarranted because of economic hardship. A far more compelling argument is that times of economic distress demand a larger, not as smaller information commons.

"According to the FCC," the piece observes acidly, "cable companies raised their prices at twice the rate of inflation from 1995 to 2010, boosting the average household's bill by an astonishing $400 a year:"

The Tea Party circulated no petitions. Its members filed no lawsuits.

But if a library raises taxes by $1 a year the Tea Party's pitchforks appear, the Declaration of Independence is waved, the founding fathers invoked, an American-as-apple-pie institution forcefully attacked.

Dean Baker's look at the 'second Great Depression' myth bursts a few bubbles, observing that "if we allowed the magic of the market to do its work, we would have seen an end to Wall Street as we know it:"

The major banks would be in receivership. Instead of proferring economic advice to the president, the top executives of these banks would be left walking the streets and dodging indictments and lawsuits.

This was when they turned socialist on us. We got the TARP and infinite money and guarantees from the Fed, FDIC, and Treasury to keep the Wall Street crew in their expensive suits. All the politicians told us how painful it was for them to hand out this money to the wealthy, but the alternative was a Second Great Depression.

"But suppose," he wonders, "we hadn't opened the government's wallet and instead let the banks drown in their own greed. Would we have faced a decade of double digit unemployment?"

From an economic standpoint there would be no reason for concern. We know from the last Great Depression, the key to recovery from a period of weak demand is to have the government spend lots of money. We eventually got of the Great Depression by spending huge amounts of money on World War II. To get the economy jump-started this time we could have had massive spending on education, child care, rebuilding the infrastructure and making the economy more energy efficient.

"The prospect of a second Great Depression was not a warning," he concludes, "it was a threat."

Anthropologist Rachel Caspari of Central Michigan University suggests that
old age made us human, writing that during the Upper Paleolithic period about 30,000 years ago, "there were twice as many adults who died after age 30 as those who died young:"

The Upper Paleolithic is also when modern humans really started flourishing. That's one of the times the population boomed and humans created complex art, used symbols, and colonized even inhospitable environments.

The change was not in our genes, but in our culture, Slate continues:

Something about how people were living made it possible to survive into old age, maybe the way they found or stored food or built shelters, who knows. That's all lost--pretty much all we have of them is teeth--but once humans found a way to keep old people around, everything changed.

Old people are repositories of information, Caspari says. They know about the natural world, how to handle rare disasters, how to perform complicated skills, who is related to whom, where the food and caves and enemies are. They maintain and build intricate social networks. A lot of skills that allowed humans to take over the world take a lot of time and training to master, and they wouldn't have been perfected or passed along without old people. "They can be great teachers," Caspari says, "and they allow for more complex societies." Old people made humans human.

The question, "What's so special about age 30?" is answered by the observation that "That's when you're old enough to be a grandparent:"

Studies of modern hunter-gatherers and historical records suggest that when older people help take care of their grandchildren, the grandchildren are more likely to survive. The evolutionary advantages of living long enough to help raise our children's children may be what made it biologically plausible for us to live to once unthinkably old ages today.

"We're now on the other side," it continues, "of the second great demographic change in human evolutionary history:"

The main reason lifespan doubled in the past 150 years is that infant mortality plummeted. Just as having old people around changed human culture profoundly 30,000 years ago, having infants and children survive has fundamentally changed modern society.

Parents knew they couldn't expect infants to live. [...] But overall, parents' relationships with their children were fundamentally different than they are in much of the world today.

"Children were the focus of many early public health drives," the piece continues--and of much legislation today:

After the increase in child survival, the other major demographic change to come from the doubling of average human lifespan is a robust population of old people. In 1850, the proportion of people age 60 or older in the United States was about 4 percent. Today they account for about 20 percent of the population.

Economists fret about declining birth rates in the developed world and the challenge of financially supporting large elderly populations. But old people are awesome. Having a high ratio of older to younger people isn't just a consequence of living in peace and prosperity--it's also the foundation of a civilized society.

"Things go horribly wrong," the piece notes, "in societies composed largely of young people:"

Old people aren't merely less bellicose and impulsive than young people. They're also, as a group, wiser, happier, and more socially adept. They handle negative information better, have stronger relationships, and find better solutions to interpersonal conflicts than younger people do.

NSA

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Der Spiegel explains in detail how the NSA spies on smartphones:

For an agency like the NSA, the [smartphone] data storage units are a goldmine, combining in a single device almost all the information that would interest an intelligence agency: social contacts, details about the user's behavior and location, interests (through search terms, for example), photos and sometimes credit card numbers and passwords.

The piece denigrates "enthusiastic Apple customers and iPhone users" as "zombies," but admits that "there are no indications that the companies cooperated with the NSA voluntarily:"

The [NSA] document notes that there are small NSA programs, known as "scripts," that can perform surveillance on 38 different features of the iPhone 3 and 4 operating systems. They include the mapping feature, voicemail and photos, as well as the Google Earth, Facebook and Yahoo Messenger applications.

What other options are there? The article observes that "BlackBerry is faltering and is currently open to takeover bids:"

Security remains one of its top selling points with its most recent models, such as the Q10. If it now becomes apparent that the NSA is capable of spying on both Apple and BlackBerry devices in a targeted manner, it could have far-reaching consequences.

TPM notes that the NSA also spied on Google, Brazilian oil company Petrobas, and international funds-transfer organization SWIFT.

Cory Doctorow suggests using a dead-man's switch "to help fight back in the war on security:"

This service would allow you to register a URL by requesting a message from it, appending your own public key to it and posting it to that URL.

Once you're registered, you tell the dead man's switch how often you plan on notifying it that you have not received a secret order, expressed in hours. Thereafter, the service sits there, quietly sending a random number to you at your specified interval, which you sign and send back as a "No secret orders yet" message. If you miss an update, it publishes that fact to an RSS feed.

Such a service would lend itself to lots of interesting applications. Muck-raking journalists could subscribe to the raw feed, looking for the names of prominent services that had missed their nothing-to-see-here deadlines. Security-minded toolsmiths could provide programmes that looked through your browser history and compared it with the URLs registered with the service and alert you if any of the sites you visit ever show up in the list of possibly-compromised sites.

"The deliberate sabotage of computers," he continues, "is an act of depraved indifference to the physical security and economic and intellectual integrity of every person alive:"

If the law is perverted so that we cannot tell people when their security has been undermined, it follows that we must find some other legal way to warn them about services that are not fit for purpose.

Ars Technica asks, how does the NSA break Internet crypto? and author Dan Goodin purports to list "some of the more plausible scenarios." One way would be a backdoor "in a widely used design, say, in the cryptographic libraries included in Microsoft's Windows or Web server software, or the OpenSSL package that enables cryptographic functions in Apache and other Web servers."

"Another way to easily break encryption," he continues, "is to obtain the keys that encrypt and decrypt data [through] a combination of court orders, persuasion or threats to coerce them out of the holder [or] hack into the servers of large companies and steal them:"

Snowden and Schneier have both counseled people to trust the math that underlies cryptography. Of course, the challenge is ensuring that the software, hardware, or people implementing that math haven't been compromised, and that's becoming increasingly hard to gauge in this post-Snowden era.

Mark Russell & Shannon Wheeler's God Is Disappointed in You is reviewed by BigThink as possibly the first honest Bible:

Written by Mark Russell with illustrated by New Yorker cartoonist Shannon Wheeler, God Is Disappointed in You cuts to the heart of the matter, and sometimes down to the funny bone, to translate the Bible into terms that allow a modern reader to understand the wild, weird, and wonderful "essence" of the Good Book.

vulnerabilities

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

FDL links to two pieces on the NSA and crypto vulnerability. The first is a Forbes article on a "terrifying search engine" called http://www.shodanhq.com/ Shodan:

Shodan crawls the Internet looking for devices, many of which are programmed to answer. It has found cars, fetal heart monitors, office building heating-control systems, water treatment facilities, power plant controls, traffic lights and glucose meters.

John Matherly has a database of 1.5 billion connected devices:

Matherly originally thought Shodan would be used by network behemoths like Cisco, Juniper or Microsoft to canvas the world for their competitors' products. Instead, it's become a crucial tool for security researchers, academics, law enforcement and hackers looking for devices that shouldn't be on the Internet or devices that are vulnerable to being hacked.

"Rather than be prosecuted," Forbes continues, "Matherly should be rewarded for calling attention to the incredibly stupid mistakes that gadget companies make when configuring their products and the inattention of consumers to the security of the products they buy:"

Everything that connects to the Internet should be password-protected, and many aren't. Nor should these devices ship with a default user name and password, yet many do.

I was totally unprepared for today's bombshell revelations describing the NSA's efforts to defeat encryption. Not only does the worst possible hypothetical I discussed appear to be true, but it's true on a scale I couldn't even imagine. I'm no longer the crank. I wasn't even close to cranky enough.

The second piece is from cryptographer Matthew Green, who notes that "If you haven't read the ProPublica/NYT or Guardian stories, you probably should:"

The TL;DR is that the NSA has been doing some very bad things. At a combined cost of $250 million per year, they include:

  1. Tampering with national standards (NIST is specifically mentioned) to promote weak, or otherwise vulnerable cryptography.
  2. Influencing standards committees to weaken protocols.
  3. Working with hardware and software vendors to weaken encryption and random number generators.
  4. Attacking the encryption used by 'the next generation of 4G phones'.
  5. Obtaining cleartext access to 'a major internet peer-to-peer voice and text communications system' (Skype?)
  6. Identifying and cracking vulnerable keys.
  7. Establishing a Human Intelligence division to infiltrate the global telecommunications industry.
  8. And worst of all (to me): somehow decrypting SSL connections.

"If any commercial vendor is weakening encryption systems," he observes, "Microsoft is probably the most likely suspect:"

And this is a problem because Microsoft IIS powers around 20% of the web servers on the Internet -- and nearly forty percent of the SSL servers! Moreover, even third-party encryption programs running on Windows often depend on CAPI components, including the random number generator. That makes these programs somewhat dependent on Microsoft's honesty.

Green is aghast as seeing "compelling evidence that at least one NIST cryptographic standard could have contained a backdoor:"

Unfortunately, we're highly dependent on NIST standards, ranging from pseudo-random number generators to hash functions and ciphers, all the way to the specific elliptic curves we use in SSL/TLS. While the possibility of a backdoor in any of these components does seem remote, trust has been violated. It's going to be an absolute nightmare ruling it out.

His one silver lining is that "these revelations may also help to spur a whole burst of new research and re-designs of cryptographic software:"

We've also been saying that even open code like OpenSSL needs more expert eyes. Unfortunately there's been little interest in this, since the clever researchers in our field view these problems as 'solved' and thus somewhat uninteresting.

What we learned today is that they're solved all right. Just not the way we thought.


update (2:17pm):
[Note: Green was ordered to delete his NSA-related posts.]

The Guardian looks at the failure and fortune of bailed-out CEOs, wondering "shouldn't we be asking companies' boards of directors to tighten the rules on CEOs to make sure they don't fail at such an astounding rate?"

And what better way than tying it to their pay packets? And if the boards won't do this, could government step in, if only to save the companies from their own CEOs abject levels of failure?

One of the simplest reforms that shareholder activists have lobbied for is a report by companies to shareholders comparing CEO compensation to that of their worst paid worker. This has been mandated by the US Congress under the 2010 Dodd-Frank legislation but companies have fought tooth and nail against this being implemented.

The article cites a study showing that "the CEOs are still getting away with outrageous pay packages [although] these CEOs aren't that talented - since they are failing at an incredibly high rate." The paper "Executive Excess" (PDF) notes that "nearly 40 percent of the CEOs on these highest-paid lists were eventually "bailed out, booted, or busted." Here's how it describes those categories:

  • The Bailed Out: CEOs whose firms either ceased to exist or received taxpayer bailouts after the 2008 financial crash held 22 percent of the slots in our sample.
  • The Booted: another 8 percent [received] golden parachutes valued at $48 million on average.
  • The Busted: CEOs who led corporations that ended up paying significant fraud-related fines or settlements comprised an additional 8 percent of the sample.

When considering potential remedies, the paper identifies "Three pending reforms [that] strike us as particularly urgent:"

  • CEO-worker pay ratio disclosure
  • Pay restrictions on executives of large financial institutions
  • Limiting the deductibility of executive compensation

The perversity of the Bible verse of this post's title [Matthew 25:29] is nowhere more evident than in the manner in which we treat those at the other end of the economic spectrum. ThinkProgress observes that living in poverty has the IQ-lowering effect of pulling an all-nighter:

The mental strain of living in poverty and thinking constantly about tight finances can drop a person's IQ by as much as 13 percent, or about the equivalent of losing a night of sleep, according to a new study. It consumes so much mental energy that there is often little room to think about anything else, which leaves low-income people more susceptible to bad decisions.

"Poverty has other negative impacts," the piece continues:

The chronic stress of growing up in poverty has been found to impair children's brains, particularly in working memory. A study of veterans found that poverty is a bigger risk factor for mental illness than being exposed to warfare. The mental stress of being poor is also a major reason for why low-income people tend to have negative health outcomes like high blood pressure and cholesterol or elevated rates of obesity and diabetes.

Poverty takes its toll on health in a number of other critical ways: It prevents people from buying healthy food, makes people more likely to smoke, means they are more likely to live in areas with poor air quality, and can cause health problems that begin in the womb.

Science also notes this impediment to cognitive function, pointing out that "The poor often behave in less capable ways, which can further perpetuate poverty:"

This cannot be explained by differences in time available, nutrition, or work effort [...] it appears that poverty itself reduces cognitive capacity. We suggest that this is because poverty-related concerns consume mental resources, leaving less for other tasks.

If we weren't bailing out the rich, perhaps we would have more resources available to help the poor.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from September 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

July 2013 is the previous archive.

October 2013 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives

Pages

  • About
  • Contact
OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID
Powered by Movable Type 5.031