The War on Normal People Highlights

I read Andrew Yang's The War on Normal People: The Truth About America's Disappearing Jobs and Why Universal Basic Income Is Our Future almost a year ago. Here are my highlights from way back when:

"Today 40 percent of American children are born outside of married households, due in large part to the crumbling marriage rate among working-class adults, and overdoses and suicides have overtaken auto accidents as leading causes of death."

"You might have seen some of the stories about financial insecurity in the United States. A Bankrate survey in 2017 found that 59 percent of Americans don’t have the savings to pay an unexpected expense of $500 and would need to put it on a credit card, ask for help, or cut back for several months to manage it. A similar Federal Reserve report in 2015 said that 75 percent of Americans could not pay a $400 emergency expense out of their checking or savings accounts."

"Voltaire wrote that “Work keeps at bay three great evils: boredom, vice, and need."

"The real test is 'Will there be millions of new jobs for middle-aged people with low skills and levels of education near the places they currently reside?'"

"There will be an army of slender, highly cultivated products of Mountain View and the Upper East Side and Bethesda heading to elite schools that has been groomed since birth in the most competitive and rarefied environments with very limited exposure to the rest of the country."

"Many entrepreneurs have experienced the difference between being part of a growing company and being part of one that is shrinking and failing. In a growing organization, people are more optimistic, imaginative, courageous, and generous. In a contracting environment, people can become negative, political, self-serving, and corrupt. You see the lesser side of human nature in most startups that fail. The same is true for communities, only amplified."

"A study showed that one out of every 550 patients started on opioid therapy died of opioid-related causes a median of 2.6 years after their first opioid prescription."

"Drug cartels have begun to sell heroin laced with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that increases both the high and the addiction level and is cheaper than heroin, and carfentanil, an elephant tranquilizer so powerful that simply touching it can cause an overdose when it is absorbed through the skin."

"Rates of disability track areas of joblessness, forming “disability belts” in Appalachia, the Deep South, and other regions. In a couple of counties in Virginia, fully 20 percent of working adults ages 18–64 are now receiving disability benefits. West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Mississippi are the top five states for disability beneficiaries, with 7.9–8.9 percent of the workforce receiving income replacement."

"The biggest growth categories of disability are “mental disorders” and “musculoskeletal and connective tissue,” which together now comprise about 50 percent of disability claims, nearly double what they were 20 years ago. These diagnoses are also the hardest to independently verify for a doctor."

"One judge who administers disability decisions said that 'if the American public knew what was going on in our system, half would be outraged and the other half would apply for benefits.'"

"The fund for disability insurance recently ran out and was combined with the greater Social Security fund, which is itself scheduled to run out of money in 2034."

'inferior good'—the poorer you are, the more of it you consume."

"Sam Altman, the head of the technology firm Y Combinator, is giving 100 households in Oakland approximately $1,000 to $2,000 per month for about a year to measure the impacts on recipients. The goal is to roll out a larger five-year trial afterward."

"We should recognize that the majority of high school students will not go to college, and that their ability to function should be independent of further education. Grit, persistence, adaptability, financial literacy, interview skills, human relationships, conversation, communication, managing technology, navigating conflicts, preparing healthy food, physical fitness, resilience, self-regulation, time management, basic psychology and mental health practices, arts, and music—all of these would help students and also make school seem much more relevant. Our fixation on college readiness leads our high school curricula toward purely academic subjects and away from life skills."

"11.4 million single mothers raising 17.2 million children in the United States, 40 percent of whom live in poverty. Single mothers make up more than 82 percent of single parents, and 40 percent of them work in low-wage jobs[.]"

"Only 6 percent of American high school students were enrolled in a vocational course of study in 2013, compared to 42 percent in the United Kingdom, 59 percent in Germany, and 67 percent in the Netherlands."

"There is no real measure of the effectiveness of college; it’s not like they give you the SAT again and see how much better you got at it."

"One way to change this would be a law stipulating that any private university with an endowment over $5 billion will lose its tax-exempt status unless it spends its full endowment income from the previous year on direct educational expenses, student support, or domestic expansion. This would spur Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, MIT, Penn, Northwestern, and others to spend billions each year directly on their students and expansion within the United States. There could be a Harvard center in Ohio or Michigan as well as the new one they just opened in Shanghai. This would also induce investment from schools that approach the $5 billion threshold, such as Dartmouth and USC, who would want to stay below this level. Another possible approach would be to simply tax rich universities’ endowments and use the proceeds to subsidize students at community colleges and public schools, which has been advocated by at least one progressive group. One could also mandate that they spend a certain percentage—say 6 to 8 percent—of their endowments each year."

"We also need to amend or ignore the U.S. News and World Report college rankings. At present, the rankings reward colleges for accepting more rich students by including measures like financial strength, student-to-teacher ratio, and alumni giving. Perhaps not surprisingly, Yale and Princeton admit more children from the top 1 percent than from the bottom 60 percent combined."

"It’s insane that the rankings of a single publication shape the behavior and policies of dozens of billion-dollar organizations against the public interest."

"Are we the opiated masses, the elites in our enclaves, careening toward a conjoined bleak destiny that we are powerless to stop?"

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site last updated: Mon Nov 11 21:23:36 2019