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Monday, March 16, 2009

Monday links, mostly political.

* Thirty years of political misrule have eviscerated the social safety net in this country. These stories from Georgia are unbelievable, and they are not unique.

What Clark didn't know was that Georgia, like many other states, was in the midst of an aggressive push to get thousands of eligible mothers like her off TANF, often by duplicitous means, to use the savings elsewhere in the state budget. Fewer than 2,500 Georgia adults now receive benefits, down from 28,000 in 2004—a 90 percent decline. Louisiana, Texas, and Illinois have each dropped 80 percent of adult recipients since January 2001. Nationally, the number of TANF recipients fell more than 40 percent between then and June 2008, the most recent month for which data are available. In Georgia last year, only 18 percent of children living below 50 percent of the poverty line—that is, on less than $733 a month for a family of three—were receiving TANF.
* British academics telling us what we already know to be true: social problems stem from economic inequality. More at MeFi.

* 3% of DC is HIV positive. I know the disease remains a serious epidemic, especially in poorer communities, but I would have never put the number that high. That's astounding, and horrible.

* The nonreligious are now the third biggest grouping in the US, after Catholics and Baptists, according to the just-released American Religious Identification Survey. According to the article, the molestation scandal has hit the Catholic Church especially hard.

Given his background, I thought this from Sullivan was striking:
It is impossible to know where this is heading, but the latest survey is a reminder to exercise a little scepticism when you hear of America’s religious exceptionalism. Yes, America is far more devout than most of western Europe; but it is not immune to the broader crises facing established religion in the West. The days when America’s leading intellectuals contained a strong cadre of serious Christians are over. There is no Thomas Merton in our day; no Reinhold Niebuhr, Walker Percy or Flannery O’Connor. In the arguments spawned by the new atheist wave, the Christian respondents have been underwhelming. As one evangelical noted in The Christian Science Monitor last week, “being against gay marriage and being rhetorically pro-life will not make up for the fact that massive majorities of evangelicals can’t articulate the Gospel with any coherence”.
* Language Log on the perverse career incentive not to write. I wonder often whether the blogging I began two years before entering graduate school killed me dead before I started.

* Science and public policy: a lecture on climate change, public misinformation, and actually existing media bias from Stanford's Stephen Schneider. Via MeFi.