Jordan Weissmann responds to McArdle’s criticisms of his criticisms of Paul Ryan’s anti-poverty plan:

If your overriding policy goal is to shrink federal spending over time, then yes, drastically redesigning an enormous chunk of the safety net in order to (maybe) move a relatively small group of people who seem to be stuck in intractable poverty toward work might make sense. But if your policy goal is, instead, simply to design a safety net that works for most Americans who come into contact with it, and cost isn’t your No. 1 worry, then burning down and replacing the one we have is just rash. …

To completely redesign programs that already work well (such as food stamps), while forcing every single person who needs a hand through a rough patch to submit to a new and intrusive bureaucratic regime, is simply overkill. Doing so might not even move many people out of poverty and could have any number of unintended consequences. (Would anybody be shocked if having to sign a life contract scared off some poor parents from trying to get benefits that they really needed?) Looking for specific places where the safety net is weak, and then fixing it in a targeted way, is the more responsible choice.

Ross, on the other hand, defends the plan from critics who call it paternalistic:

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Faces Of The Day

Jul 30 2014 @ 6:17pm

Hindu Women Celebrate Teez

Girls with mehandi design their hands during Teej festival celebrations at Dilli Haat in Janakpuri in New Delhi, India on July 30, 2014. Teej is the Hindu festival marked by fasting of women who pray to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati seeking their blessings for marital bliss. It is a three-day festival that occurs on the third day of “Shukla Paksha”, or bright fortnight of the moon, in the Hindu month of Shravana or Sawan, which falls during the Indian monsoon season. By Subrata Biswas/Hindustan Times via Getty Images.

Boehner’s Border Bill

Jul 30 2014 @ 5:42pm

The House has introduced a bill to deal with the migrant children crisis, offering far less money than the $3.7 billion Obama had requested and focusing mainly on tightening border controls:

The House bill attempts to relieve backlogged immigration courts by allowing those Central American children to be treated as if they were Mexicans, who are screened more quickly by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid oppose changing that provision, arguing it would grant the unaccompanied minors fewer legal protections and that there are other ways of speeding up immigration cases. The Obama Administration supports the policy change.

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers broke down the House bill into three pots of funding: border control, temporary housing and foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The majority of the money, $405 million, is set aside to boost the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Another $197 million would be allocated for the Department of Health and Human Services, which is charged with taking care of the migrant children until their family members or guardians can be found while the minors’ immigration cases are handled. There’s also $22 million in funding to hire judges and speed up judicial proceedings, $35 million to send the National Guard to the border and $40 million to support uniting the families in the aforementioned Central American countries. The bill would cover the costs through the end of September.

But with anti-immigration hardliners like Ted Cruz and Jeff Sessions pushing for the bill to include language blocking deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA), Sargent questions whether even this bill can pass the House:

GOP leaders are resisting the inclusion of such language. But it needs to be stated once again that Cruz, King, and Sessions are not outliers in this debate. Broadly speaking, their position on this crisis — and on immigration in general – is the GOP position writ large.

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Juan Vidal shares his:

My favorite place to read is in a dark bar mid-day. Although I can read almost anywhere, we’re each allowed our preferences and mine is so. Coffee shops feel pretentious, the gym is freaking weird. Libraries are fine but there’s so much candy and I can’t handle it all calling my name. The last thing I read was The Conversations by Cesar Aira, and I devoured it in this quaint little dive up the road from my house. Aira’s stuff is super meandering and detailed and it requires all of my senses working in unison; the bar is always close to empty when I go, so it’s everything I need.

Bars, especially the ones I read in, are gifts. They’re warm and brooding, and if you go early enough, it can be just you, a bartender, and enough open space to react to plot twists without judgment. All that’s happening is the cleaning and the setting up shop for the lunch crowd. And so I’ll sit with a book. Sometimes I’ll even stand a while, which I did through part of the closing section of Wise Blood.

(Photo by John Stephen Dwyer)

Rachel Feintzeig flags a recent study that “found that women and non-whites executives who push for women and non-whites to be hired and promoted suffer when it comes to their own performance reviews”:

A woman who shepherds women up the ranks, for example, is perceived as less warm, while a non-white who promotes diversity is perceived as less competent. Both end up being rated less highly by their bosses, according to the paper, which is set to be presented at an Academy of Management conference next month. … Often, having women or minorities atop a company is perceived as a marker of progress for diversity efforts, but [David] Hekman’s research suggests their presence might not have a large impact on the rest of the organization. If they believe it’s too risky to advocate for their own groups, it makes sense that successful women and non-white leaders would end up surrounded by white males in the executive suite, he said.

The study also discovered that “White men, on the other hand, actually got a bump in their performance review scores from valuing diversity.” Amanda Hess considers why “white male managers who promote women and people of color aren’t penalized”:

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Mental Health Break

Jul 30 2014 @ 4:20pm

The Onion has all you e-book readers figured out:

Trophy Children, Ctd

Jul 30 2014 @ 4:00pm

Lots of reader pushback on Molly Knefel’s case for participatory trophies:

Instead, that kid [who doesn't get a trophy] is supposed to get the message: If you didn’t score a lot of points, no one gives a shit about you. And if that makes you sad, or if you feel that it’s not fair, get used to it. The world is a sad and unfair place. Score more goals next time. This message has always felt at odds, to me, with the equally ubiquitous platitude that children are the future. If children are the future, then why are we so gung ho about preparing them to be treated unfairly?

I don’t know, maybe because the world IS unfair and we’re realists and not delusional purveyors of utopian fantasy?

So kids who ARE good at something have to live with the satisfaction that scoring a goal is enough, but the kid who sucks (like me) NEEDS a trophy to keep him from feeling bad about himself more than the kid scoring the goal? NO. Why can’t we celebrate the exceptional? When a kid does something well we’re supposed reinforce it by telling him it’s just what’s expected so don’t get too excited because there’s no awards in life for being exceptional? But, um … there are. From the Oscars to the Olympics to the Nobel Peace Prize.

Another adds, “Knowing that life is not fair, and that your achievements are not handed to you, makes earning them sweeter.” Another key point:

Giving trophies to everyone is practically like giving away none, because with the ubiquity comes devaluation.

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Chart Of The Day

Jul 30 2014 @ 3:37pm

Capital Flight

Tim Fernholz wonders whether sanctions are increasing capital flight from Russia:

Russia’s had a real problem with capital flight in recent years, as its wealthiest citizens and corporations have moved assets to tax havens and wealthy economies to avoid instability and political interference in Russia. (The erstwhile shareholders of Yukos, the oil company that the Kremlin seized and broke up in the mid-2000s, just won a $50 billion compensation claim in the Hague.) That left Putin plaintively asking oligarchs to bring back their cash, please. No dice: Capital flight has increased this year, already exceeding each of the last two years in preliminary data for the first two quarters of 2014. Is that the fault of the sanctions? In part—few investors want their money to be trapped if a new iron economic curtain is raised.

Jason Koebler offers a primer on the new bill that has tech companies and some civil libertarians excited:

On Tuesday, Sen. Patrick Leahy introduced the USA Freedom Act, a bill that would completely end mass surveillance under Section 215 of the Patriot Act – a loophole in the law that effectively let NSA agents scoop up metadata and other information about American citizens. If this sounds at all familiar, it’s because earlier this summer, the House of Representatives also passed the USA Freedom Act – after a House committee completely gutted any teeth it had and also added in new loopholes that would let bulk surveillance continue unscathed. Leahy’s bill looks much closer to the one that many civil liberty groups initially endorsed before the House had at it, and it’s expected to go straight to the Senate floor, where it will have less chance of being ruined by back room White House dealings or in closed committee hearings.

Andrea Peterson details the bill’s contents:

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Frederic Wehrey cautions against buying into the conventional wisdom about what’s going down in Libya:

Outside observers are often tempted toward a one-dimensional reading of Libya’s turmoil. It is easy to trace Libya’s breakdown as a political struggle between Islamists and liberals: The Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Justice and Construction Party and more rejectionist, jihadi factions like Ansar al-Sharia versus the “liberals” under the National Forces Alliance (NFA). Another level of conflict seems to be regional: A contest between the towns of Zintan and Misrata for economic power and political leverage in Tripoli, or amongst federalists and their opponents in the long-marginalized east. Yet an additional layer is between remnants of the old order – ex-security men, long-serving and retired officers, former Gaddafi-era technocrats – and a newer, younger cadre of self-proclaimed “revolutionaries,” often Islamists, who were either exiled and/or imprisoned during the dictator’s rule.

Elements of all these dimensions are at play, but none of them alone has sufficient explanatory power. At its core, Libya’s violence is an intensely local affair, stemming from deeply entrenched patronage networks battling for economic resources and political power in a state afflicted by a gaping institutional vacuum and the absence of a central arbiter with a preponderance of force. There is not one faction strong enough to coerce or compel the others.

Meanwhile, Friedersdorf lays into the hawks who supported our role in overthrowing Qaddafi:

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