The passing scene: November 7, 2014

Millennials Aren’t Cheap, They’re Broke by Lynn Stuart Parramore for AlterNet.

Millennials are the generation of Americans born between 1980 and 2000.  There are about 80 million of them, about a quarter of the U.S. population.

A writer in the Atlantic wondered why, compared to previous generations, more of them live with their parents and more of them refrain from making major purchases, such as automobiles.  Lynn Stuart Parramore doesn’t find this hard to understand.

  • Millennials have the highest unemployment rate of any generation.
  • They have more student loan debt than Gen Xers and Boomers did at their age.
  • More millennials live in poverty than previous generations did at the same stage of life.
  • They make up 61 percent of Americans making minimum wage.
  • Having entered the workforce during an economic downturn, the effects on their future wages will likely be permanent, even if the economy bounces back.

The battle for a surgeon general by Rebecca Cooney for The Lancet.

Rebecca Cooney wrote that the reason President Obama appointed Ron Klain, a lawyer, as his Ebola “czar” is that Republicans have blocked Vivek Murthy, his nominee for Surgeon-General.  Republicans in Congress have blocked Murthy on the trivial grounds that he sent Twitter message about a year ago saying that guns are a public health problem.

Point taken.  But this still doesn’t explain why Obama appointed a political supporter rather than a specialist in infectious diseases to head his Ebola team.

Then, too, Cuba is sending trained medical specialists to help in west Africa while the United States is sending troops.  What are the troops supposed to be doing?  Is this security, security theater or something else?

Denton, Texas, Hit With Lawsuits After Landslide Victory on Fracking Ban by Julie Dermansky for DeSmogBlog.  (Hat tip to Bill Harvey)

Texas City’s Fracking Ban Challenged by Energy Group by Andrew Harris and Tom Korosec for Bloomberg News.  (Hat tip to Bill Harvey)

 As usual in the contemporary USA, victory at the ballot box is only the first step.  American courts function as a kind of House of Lords with veto power over laws enacted by democratic vote.

We liberals and progressives have done this as much as conservatives.  I favor abortion rights and gay marriage, for example, but I can’t find anything about either topic in the plain language of the Constitution.  Generating rights out of nothing is a game that two can play.

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3 Responses to “The passing scene: November 7, 2014”

  1. Jim Roth Says:

    I think your reference to “generating rights out of nothing” is overly simplistic. Unless you believe in literal interpretation of the Constitution which would mean it is a static document not intended to allow for progress and change over time. Just because there is no specific reference to something as a “right” in the Constitution does not mean that it cannot evolve over time out of interpretation of the Constitution. American Courts do not function as a House of Lords with veto power. They are empowered to interpret laws and determine whether laws comply with the Constitution. Of course judges are human and their rulings are sometimes imperfect. And, although it is not the purpose of their role, some judges do allow their personal views to influence their rulings.


    • philebersole Says:

      When laws cease to have a fixed and definite meaning, they cease to be laws. When the meaning of a written Constitution can “evolve”, what is the point of having a written Constitution?

      People who don’t agree with the meaning of a law, including Constitutional law, can work to have the law amended. The U.S. Constitution has been amended 27 times.

      There is nothing in the ordinary meaning of the Constitution’s language about corporate rights, but this did not stop the Supreme Court from deciding that corporate campaign contributions are a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment.

      The problem is that the same process of reasoning that can be used to generate new rights can be used to make redefine historic rights—habeas corpus, trial by jury, freedom of speech, free assembly—in a way that makes them meaningless.

      A century of so ago, Finley Peter Dunn’s Mr. Dooley character observed that the Supreme Court follows the election returns. This is even more true today that it was then.

      The problem is that, to the degee this is so, the Supreme Court and even the Constitution cease to be respected. But I guess I am naive to think that things could be otherwise.


    • philebersole Says:

      The Supreme Court’s rulings on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) are another example of it acting like a House of Lords.


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