Commentary

Agnes Mulindwa’s days are packed. The 46-year-old lives in the village of Butale, Uganda, near the northwest coast of Lake Victoria. She raises fifteen children. Five are her own, and ten are nieces and nephews who became her responsibility when her brother passed away.

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Obama gave the country a glimpse of his new pre-K initiative in last night State of the Union address—and reason to hope that he’ll bring the rest of the country toward the national models set by states such as Georgia and Oklahoma.

President Obama delivers his fifth State of the Union Address on Tuesday. Based on White House leaks, the president will emphasize rebuilding the middle class. He will invoke the importance of education, infrastructure, clean energy, and manufacturing.

These are terrific themes, economically and politically. The only problem is that rebuilding the middle class by the public investments that the society needs is out of the question -- because of the downward drag of a budget politics that the president shares.

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Perla Saenz went back sore and exhausted just four weeks after giving birth—and two weeks after the incision from her C-section reopened. She had heard her older child cough in the night and instinctively tried to pick him up, forgetting for a moment her doctor’s warning against lifting anything heavier than ten pounds. Weak and sometimes feverish, she often found herself clutching the counter for support.

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We are suffering from a crisis of faith when it comes to meritocracy. We want badly to believe that our circumstances at birth, family connections and luck are less important in achieving economic success than initiative and hard work. The problem is that the instability and employment insecurity experienced during the recession by many hardworking, hard-driven individuals has turned this assumption on its head.

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Richard Hasen introduces this symposium by asserting the “smart money is on the [U.S. Supreme] court striking down” Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. But I disagree with his framing. The next Voting Rights Act needs both Section 5 and additional voting rights protections.

Unfortunately, Hasen is helping opponents of Section 5. He gives justices allowance to ignore facts and law supporting Section 5, and instead perhaps think: Scholars anticipate our court will invalidate Section 5, so we can invalidate it without seeming too extreme or too political.

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If you thought credit card debt was mostly a young person's problem, think again. In 2012, Americans age 50 and older actually owed more on their credit cards, on average, than younger people in low- and middle-income households carrying credit card debt.

In economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman’s book “End This Depression Now!,” there’s a chapter titled “The Second Gilded Age” in which he describes the extraordinary rise in wealth and power of the very rich during this era of unregulated greed. Since Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980, the top 1 percent of Americans have seen their incomes increase by 275 percent. After accounting for inflation, the typical hourly wage for a worker has increased just $1.23.

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Salon.com
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The new filmPromised Land, focuses on an energy company’s attempt to secure leases for fracking operations in a small rural community. The gas industry reacted stronglyto the film distributing counter fact-sheets and considering leafleting movie viewings or setting up “truth squads” on Twitter.

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Last week, we talked about the infernal revolving door between government and big business and how one person in particular, Liz Fowler, has spun through it so many times she may need to take something for motion sickness. Which makes it a good thing that she’s going back to work as a lobbyist for the health care industry, where presumably she can get a prescription filled.

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