Nicholas Kristof | Can Biden Save Americans Like My Old Pal Mike? – The New York Times

“. . .  So what went wrong with Mike?

“He didn’t want to work,” Stephanie told me. She is angry at Mike for abandoning his kids and failing to pay $68,000 in child support, but then the anger passes and she wistfully refers to him as “the love of my life.”

Perhaps Mike was lazy, but there’s more to the story. Everyone agrees that Mike had mental illnesses that were never treated, and in any case, this wasn’t one person’s stumble but a crisis for an entire generation of low-education workers. Mike and his cohort weren’t dumber or lazier than their parents or grandparents, but their outcomes worsened.

So, sure, we can have a conversation about personal responsibility. But let’s also talk about our collective responsibility: If the federal minimum wage of 1968 had kept pace with inflation and productivity, it would now be more than $22 an hour, rather than $7.25. We also underinvested in our human capital, so high school graduation rates stagnated beginning in the 1970s along with blue-collar incomes, even as substance abuse soared and family structure for low-education workers collapsed.

One consequence is that an American dies a “death of despair” — from drugs, alcohol or suicide — every two and a half minutes. Long after the coronavirus has retreated, we will still be grappling with a pandemic of despair.

Credit…Lynsey Addario

The United States has a mental health crisis that is largely untreated and arises in part from high levels of inequality. Researchers find that poverty causes mental illness, and mental illness in turn exacerbates poverty. It’s a vicious cycle, and 20 million Americans, mostly poorly educated, describe every one of the last 30 days as “bad mental health days,” according to David G. Blanchflower, a Dartmouth economist.

I also know this: Taxpayers spent large sums jailing Mike, whose arrest record runs 14 pages (mostly for drug offenses). That money would have been better spent at the front end, with early childhood programs and mentoring to support Mike and help him finish high school and get a job.

Yet politicians have mostly been AWOL. In the 2020 Democratic primaries, the presidential candidates had healthy discussions about increasing college access but largely ignored the reality that one in seven American children don’t even graduate from high school. The term “working class” is rarely mentioned by politicians, who prefer to appeal to people a notch higher, in the middle class. And many government programs that are nominally for the benefit of the middle class — such as the mortgage interest deduction, 529 college savings plans, state and local tax deductions and “middle-class tax cuts” — actually primarily benefit the rich.

We fret about competitive challenges from China, but the best way to meet them is to elevate our capabilities at home. China built new universities at the rate of one a week, while the number of colleges in the United States is now shrinking — and as many Americans have criminal records as have college degrees. “Holding hands, Americans with arrest records could circle the earth three times,” according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

America cannot succeed when so many Americans are failing.

Credit…Nicholas Kristof/The New York Times

Joe Biden has a fighting chance to make progress on these issues. Partly that’s because he’s impossible to mock as a wild-eyed socialist, partly because he and his team understand that we have a better chance of making progress if we frame the issue less as one of “inequality” — a liberal word — and more as one of “opportunity” and “dignity.” “

Bravo, and thank you Nicholas Kristof.  Here are two of many fabulous comments”

Rich D
Tucson, AZFeb. 14
Times Pick

Thank you, Mr. Kristof, for telling the story of your old pal, Mike. Rest in peace, Mike. You earned that. And as sad as Mike’s story is, at the end of the day, he perhaps had a more successful life than most of us will by offering up lessons in humility, gratitude and kindness despite his station in life. As an alcoholic and addict approaching 35 years of continuous sobriety, I am Mike’s brother in addiction. My fate was very different than his. I too was once homeless and ate at the free soup kitchen at St. Vincent de Paul. Once sober, my life continued with perilous and almost insurmountable challenges, including crushing poverty that meant living in a skid row tenement while sober, full of alcoholics and drug addicts, because that is all I could afford and riding a bicycle everywhere for transportation for years. Giving up, to live a life like Mike’s, crossed my mind so many times I could not count them. By the grace of God and luck and a ridiculously stubborn perserverance and the help and encouragement of many in A.A., my life got better and then very much better. Eventually I became the CEO of a successful midsize company and have been happily married for a couple of decades now. Without the helping hand of a publicly funded 30 day treatment program for the indigent, I am absolutely certain I would have perished decades ago. On that subject I know, Mr. Kristof, that you are correct. Alcohol and drug treatment saves lives – it did mine.

2 Replies554 Recommended

 
BHW commented February 13

BHW
eastern washingtonFeb. 13

I’m about the same age as Mr. Kristof, worked in the Cascades, and still do. It’s important to note that by the 1970s, 90% of the old growth was gone, and so were 90% of the jobs in logging; environmentalists didn’t cause that. Mill jobs left because of whole-log exports; environmentalists didn’t cause that. And capital in the timber industry moved to the southeast, where trees grow faster and unions don’t exists; environmentalists didn’t cause that. The spotted owl as a scapegoat doesn’t really play.

2 Replies522 Recommended

Nicholas Kristof | Trump Incites Rioters – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Roberto Schmidt/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

” “If the Democratic Party wants to stand with anarchists, agitators, rioters, looters and flag burners, that is up to them. But I as your president will not be part of it. The Republican Party will remain the voice of the patriotic heroes who keep America safe.”

— Donald Trump, Aug. 28, 2020

Wednesday was a horrifying and shameful moment in American history. I’ve covered attempted coups in many countries around the world, and now I’m finally covering one in the United States.

Trump and his enablers talk a good game about patriotism. They denounced President Barack Obama for sometimes not wearing a flag lapel pin. They criticized Colin Kaepernick for protesting police brutality by taking a knee rather than standing during the national anthem — and then Trump incited a mob on Wednesday to invade the United States Capitol. The rioters encountered a minimal police response, not the kind that Black Lives Matter protesters received.

ImageDemonstrators at the Capitol in June protested the killing of George Floyd.
Credit…Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

Many of those pro-Trump rioters probably dispute the idea of white privilege. But the fact that they were allowed to overrun the police and invade the Senate and House chambers was evidence of that privilege.

Opinion | Trump Wants to ‘Reopen America.’ Here’s What Happens if We Do. – The New York Times

“President Trump says he wants the United States “raring to go” in two and a half weeks, on Easter, with “packed churches all over our country.” He and many other political conservatives suggest that we are responding to something like the flu with remedies that may be more devastating than the disease.

We created this interactive model with epidemiologists to show why quickly returning to normal could be a historic mistake that would lead to an explosion of infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

Instead, health experts advise giving current business closures and social distancing a month to slow the pandemic, buying time to roll out mass testing and equip doctors with protective equipment. Then, depending on where we are, we can think about easing up — while prepared for a new burst of infections that will then require a new clampdown.

Play with this model below by moving the slider to change the length of time that controls are in effect, and you’ll see the impact on lives lost.”

Opinion | An American 13-Year-Old- Pregnant and Married to Her Rapist – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“Dawn Tyree was 11 years old when a family friend began to molest her. A bit more than a year later, she became pregnant from these rapes, and her parents found out what had been going on. But they didn’t go to the police; instead, they found another solution.

“It was decided for me that I would marry him,” Tyree recalled.

So Tyree, then 13, was married to her rapist, then age 32. She became one of the thousands of underage American girls who are married each year, often sacrificing their futures to reduce embarrassment to their parents. Statutory rape is thus sanctioned by the state as marriage, and the abuser ends up not in handcuffs but showered with wedding gifts.

Our State Department protests child marriage in Africa and Asia (worldwide, a girl 14 or younger is married every 11 seconds, according to Save the Children), but every state in America allowed child marriages. That has finally changed. Last month Delaware became the first state to ban all child marriages, without exception.”

Opinion | Was Kevin Cooper Framed for Murder? – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“Soon sheriff’s deputies were swarming all over the Ryen house in affluent, suburban Chino Hills, east of Los Angeles, that day in June 1983. Several signs, including Josh’s personal account, pointed to three white attackers, and blond or brown hairs were found in the victims’ hands, as if torn off in a struggle.

Sheriff’s deputies were also contacted by the woman whose boyfriend was a convicted murderer, recently released from prison, whom she suspected of involvement in the Ryen killings. She not only gave deputies his bloody coveralls but also told them that his hatchet was missing from his tool rack and resembled one of the weapons reportedly used in the attacks.

But instead of testing the coveralls for the Ryens’ blood, the deputies threw them away–and pursued Cooper. After a racially charged trial, he was convicted of murdering the Ryens and Chris Hughes and is now on death row at San Quentin Prison.

Gov. Jerry Brown is refusing to allow advanced DNA testing that might finally resolve the question of who committed the murders, even though Cooper’s defense would pay for it. Brown refuses to allow even advanced testing of the blond or brown hairs  that were found in the victims’ hands.”

 

David Lindsay:

Thank you Nicholas Kristof. I just sent an email to Governor of CA Jerry Brown, using the link at the end of this hair-raising story.
“Kevin Cooper apparently needs you to authorize advanced DNA testing.
The only reason I can imagine your refusing, is if you are part of the frame up that has been described in the NYT.

“But instead of testing the coveralls for the Ryens’ blood, the deputies threw them away–and pursued Cooper. After a racially charged trial, he was convicted of murdering the Ryens and Chris Hughes and is now on death row at San Quentin Prison.

Gov. Jerry Brown is refusing to allow advanced DNA testing that might finally resolve the question of who committed the murders, even though Cooper’s defense would pay for it. Brown refuses to allow even advanced testing of the blond or brown hairs that were found in the victims’ hands.

This is the story of a broken justice system. It appears that an innocent man was framed by sheriff’s deputies and is on death row in part because of dishonest cops, sensational media coverage and flawed political leaders — including Democrats like Brown and Kamala Harris, the state attorney general before becoming a U.S. senator, who refused to allow newly available DNA testing for a black man convicted of hacking to death a beautiful white family and young neighbor. This was a failure at every level, and it should prompt reflection not just about one man on death row but also about profound inequities in our entire system of justice.”

Really, is this what you want to be remembered for?
David Lindsay Jr, Hamden CT

Furthermore, Learning that Kamala Harris participated in this lynching is a disappointing surprise.

Obama’s Death Sentence for Young Refugees, by Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

“If I’m sent back, they will kill me,” says Cristóbal, who is staying temporarily at a shelter for unaccompanied migrant kids in Mexico. He says he was forced to work for the gang as a cocaine courier beginning at age 14 — a gun was held to his head, and he was told he would be shot if he declined. He finally quit and fled after he witnessed gang members murder two of his friends. Now the gang is looking for him, he says, and it already sent a hit team to his home.Yet he may well be sent back under a policy backed by Obama and Peña Nieto. I admire much about the Obama administration, including its fine words about refugees, but this policy is rank with deadly hypocrisy.

Source: Obama’s Death Sentence for Young Refugees – The New York Times

I really wanted to weigh in and disagree with Nicholas Kristof here, but the comments were closed. Luckily, and to my amazement, someone wrote a comment with my three main points, so I completely endorse the following comment:

Matthew Carnicelli

is a trusted commenter Brooklyn, New York 1 day ago

“Nick, I refuse to fault Obama here inasmuch as this is clearly one of those scenarios where a President is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

The furor over uncontrolled immigration is one of the factors driving the Presidential candidacy of an American fascist – and yet you see fit to blame Obama for not doing more.

The human rights situation in Mexico is a horror story as is, as drug cartels and criminal gangs wreak havoc across that nation, largely, if not exclusively, because our American appetite for narcotics is unacceptable to our moral elite. And yet you expect Mexico to do even more for us, by providing sanctuary to these children.

The reality is that we need a comprehensive economic and cultural strategy for the Americas if we ever hope to address this problem – and part this strategy must involve the decriminalization of narcotics. Another part of this strategy must involve real world grassroots economic development for Mexico and Central America, so that these governments have a prayer of dissuading their youth from choosing a life of crime and violence. There’s no reason but sheer corporate greed that these nations can’t be hubs of manufacturing for the Americas – with their workers being paid FAIR WAGES (not serf wages) for the work done.

Nick, what you propose is a band-aid – but what’s required is a greater vision, a truly American vision.”

Terrorists, Bathtubs and Snakes. Nick Kristof – The New York Times

“Our visceral fear of terrorism has repeatedly led us to adopt policies that are expensive and counterproductive, such as the invasion of Iraq. We have ramped up the intelligence community so much that there are now seven times as many Americans with security clearances (4.5 million) as live in Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, Donald Trump responded to the Brussels attacks with crowd-pleasing calls for torture or barring Muslims that even Republican security experts agree are preposterous.On the same day as the attacks, a paper by James E. Hansen and other climate experts was released arguing that carbon emissions are transforming our world far more quickly than expected, in ways that may inundate coastal cities and cause storms more horrendous than any in modern history. The response? A yawn.”

Source: Terrorists, Bathtubs and Snakes – The New York Times

‘Every Parent’s Nightmare’ by Nick Kristof – The New York Times

“We as a society derided the Roman Catholic Church as an accessory to child sexual abuse, and we lambasted Penn State for similar offenses. Yet we as a society are complicit or passive in a similar way, by allowing a popular website called Backpage.com to be used to arrange child rape. Consider what happened to a girl I’ll call Natalie, who was trafficked into the sex industry in Seattle at age 15.“It was every parent’s nightmare,” Natalie’s mother, Nacole, told me. “It can happen to any parent. Fifteen-year-olds don’t make the best choices. I dropped her off at school in the morning, I was expecting to pick her up after track practice in the afternoon, and then I didn’t see her for 108 days.” The girl ran off to a bus station, was found by a pimp, and within days was being sold for sex on Backpage.
»Backpage has classified ads for everything from antiques to boats, but it makes its money on escort ads. It has about 80 percent of the U.S. market for online sex ads in America, mostly for consenting adults but many also for women who are forcibly trafficked or for underage girls. Children in at least 47 states have been sold on Backpage, by one aid group’s count.“We were an everyday, average family,” Nacole said. “Our children were involved in sports. She played the violin. She was on the soccer team. And she made a stupid decision one day that forever changed her life. And Backpage facilitated it.” ”

Source: ‘Every Parent’s Nightmare’ – The New York Times

After Super Tuesday, Bracing for a President Trump – Nick Kristof, The New York Times

“The general election campaign may have already begun.From Our AdvertisersIn the aftermath of Super Tuesday election results, betting markets show Hillary Clinton with more than a 90 percent chance of becoming the Democratic nominee, and Donald Trump with at least a 75 percent chance of emerging as the Republican nominee.This is the most astonishing presidential election since at least 1968, at the height of the Vietnam War. The G.O.P. front-runner is reviled not only by Democrats, but also by many prominent Republicans, and has less government experience than any president in history.Only two presidents — William Howard Taft and Herbert Hoover — lacked background in major elective office or in the military, and both had held cabinet posts. In short, a Trump presidency would be unprecedented not only for his bizarre policy positions and propensity to insult women and minorities, but also because of his staggering lack of relevant experience or knowledge.Nicholas KristofHuman rights, women’s rights, health, global affairs. The Killing Field The Party of ‘No Way!’ My Friend, the Former Muslim Extremist America’s Stacked Deck Are You a Toxic Waste Disposal Site?See More »Trump has shrewdly manipulated the news media and has proved a much more accurate reader of the electorate than we pundits. Yet I’ve never met a national politician so ill informed, so evasive, so bombastic and, frankly, so puerile.According to Dana Milbank of The Washington Post, most Republican candidates spoke at a high-school or middle-school level in the last G.O.P. debate, based on the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Index. Meanwhile, Trump spoke at a third- or fourth-grade level. After the Nevada caucuses, Ted Cruz spoke at a ninth-grade level, Clinton at a seventh-grade level — and Trump at about a second-grade level! (I checked Trump’s victory speech on Super Tuesday evening, a more moderate speech that seemed to reach for the center, and Trump had raised his rhetoric to a sixth-grade level.)”

Source: After Super Tuesday, Bracing for a President Trump – The New York Times

Here is a coherent comment, that contradicts my opinion that Trump will be easier for Hillary to beat than one of the other Rrepublicans.

Mark Thomason is a trusted commenter Clawson, Mich 19 hours ago

“Trumps’ speech patterns are deliberate, honed on reality TV. Make fun of that, make fun of reality TV, but it works. I don’t have to like it or admire it to see it.

Trumps policy positions are obscure. He clearly wants it that way. Again it is reality TV — everything for everyone, and keep up the suspense, make it emotional, give them hope for anything.

This is design, not “ill informed, so evasive, so bombastic and, frankly, so puerile.” He knows what he’s doing, because it works, and he’s consistent. That is a lot more dangerous than would be just ill-informed and puerile.

Trump is aiming at a group in both parties who have much reason to be dissatisfied.

Bernie aims at much of the same group, with sanity and organized thought and higher language levels. He can win over many who otherwise would vote for Trump.

Hillary represents everything that dissatisfies those voters. She has been an important part of government for decades. She has been a focus of attention in government for decades. She can’t pretend now she isn’t part of it all.

She is linked to all the powers-that-be in government over that time, trade agreements and the Washington Consensus, wars and the Serious People of Washington who demand and get them, Wall Street and the bankers who ruined those voters and bailed out only themselves, and the steady export of jobs.

Those are exactly what those voters reject, and exactly what Trump (and Bernie) promise to change.

Hillary is Trump’s ideal target.”

I still disagree with this analysis. The Republican hate machine will probably shred Bernie Sanders as an out of touch, Jewish Socialist and communist revolutionary. Not true, but they will create the narrative. I think analytically, that Trump will be easier for Hillary to beat than one of the other three remaining. Only Kasich is not a light-weight, deceiving puppet of big oil and gas money.

America’s Stacked Deck Voters are right to be angry and demand change, but scapegoating isn’t the answer. nytimes.com|By Nicholas Kristof

Saint Nick: “It seems to me to make more sense to target solutions than scapegoats, but sense is often in short supply in politics. After a characteristically brilliant speech by Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic nominee for president in 1952 and 1956, a supporter is said to have bellowed, “Every thinking American will vote for you!”

Legend has it that Stevenson shouted back: “That’s not enough. I need a majority!”

In the solutions domain, a starting point should be to reduce the influence of money in politics.

The pharmaceutical industry, for example, has used its lobbying heft — it spent $272,000 in campaign donations per member of Congress last year, and it has more lobbyists than there are members of Congress — to bar the government from bargaining for drug prices in Medicare. That amounts to a $50 billion annual gift to pharmaceutical companies.”

Voters are right to be angry and demand change, but scapegoating isn’t the answer.
nytimes.com|By Nicholas Kristof