Yes, Students at Sarah Lawrence Are Demanding Free Detergent. But There’s More to It Than You Might Think.

Sharon, a junior history major who is part of the Diaspora Coalition, does not fit the trope of a well-to-do Sarah Lawrence student. (She requested that her last name not be used for fear of an online backlash.) Her mother, who died when Sharon was 16, was a maid and a Kmart employee. Her father is a construction worker. She could not have attended Sarah Lawrence, a college she was attracted to because of its small class sizes, if she hadn’t pieced together several scholarships and grants.

Are the Danes Melancholy? Are the Swedes Sad?

That lower G.D.P. number conceals two important points. First, by any measure people in the lower part of the income distribution are much better off in Nordic societies than their U.S. counterparts. That is, there is a lot less misery in Scandinavia — and because everyone has some chance of falling into low income, this reduces the risk of misery for a much larger share of the population

Second, much of the gap in real G.D.P. represents a choice, not a cost. Nordic workers have much more vacation, much more time for family and leisure, than their counterparts in our “no vacation nation.”

.. They aren’t “socialist,” if that means government control of the means of production. They are, however, quite strongly social-democratic: as Exhibit 1 shows, they have high taxes, which finance much more generous social benefits than we have here. They also have policies on wages, working hours, and more that tilt the balance toward workers in a number of dimensions.

.. Clearly, the Nordic economies are better for lower-income families — roughly the bottom 30 percent of the population.

.. But this understates the case, because these data don’t include “in kind” benefits like health care and education. All of the Nordic countries have universal health care — not just single-payer, but for the most part direct government provision (a.k.a. “socialized medicine.”)

Nordic education also lacks the glaring inequality in quality all too characteristic of the U.S. system.

.. Once you take these benefits into account, it’s likely that at least half the Nordic population are better off materially than their U.S. counterparts. But what about the upper half?

.. a large part of the difference — in the case of Denmark, more than all of it — comes from a lower number of hours worked annually per worker. This does not reflect mass underemployment. Instead, it reflects policy: all of the Nordic countries require that employers give workers a minimum of 25 days of paid vacation every year, while the U.S. has no leave policy at all.

.. Once you take vacations into account, Denmark and Sweden basically look comparable in performance to the U.S.

.. The point for welfare comparisons is that while Nordic families at, say, the 60th percentile of the income distribution have lower purchasing power than their American counterparts, they also have much more free time and an arguably better work-life balance. Are they really worse off? You can make a good case that taking all of this into account, the majority of Nordic citizens are actually better off than Americans.

.. The O.E.C.D. publishes measures of self-reported “life satisfaction”; all of the Nordic nations rank above the U.S. Objective measures like life expectancy and mortality rates are also much better in Scandinavia.

 

 

Invisible no more: How advising programs are finding new talent for top colleges

But a growing movement of nonprofit talent hunters and advisers is seeking to raise the ambitions of disadvantaged students and connect them with premier colleges, attacking a widespread problem researchers call “undermatching.” Some are helping eye-catching numbers of students land at colleges with low admission rates, including Georgetown University in Washington.

.. Most disadvantaged students with strong academic credentials “just don’t get why it is that they should be interested in applying to a selective college,” said Caroline M. Hoxby, a Stanford University economist. They take one look at the sticker price of private colleges, often exceeding $60,000 a year, and write them off. They don’t realize financial aid can put schools with small class sizes and high graduation rates within their reach. Instead, Hoxby said, these students focus on community colleges or others they see as accessible, inexpensive and ­convenient.

.. in a 2012 study that at least 25,000 low-income students a year, and probably 35,000, rank in the top 10 percent on SAT or ACT admission test scores and have at least an ­A-minus average. Most of them, Hoxby and Avery found, do not apply to any selective college — rendering them effectively invisible to admissions officers.

.. The Hoxby-Avery study rang alarms. It suggested selective colleges were overlooking legions of deserving students.

Dollars, Cents and Republican Sadism

G.O.P. opposition to programs helping the less fortunate, from food stamps to Medicaid, is usually framed in monetary terms. For example, Senator Orrin Hatch, challenged about Congress’s failure to take action on the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a part of Medicaid that covers nearly nine million children — and whose federal funding expired back in September — declared that “the reason CHIP’s having trouble is that we don’t have money anymore.”

.. the suffering imposed by Republican opposition to safety-net programs isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. Inflicting pain is the point.

.. The federal government would initially pay the full cost, and even in the long run it would pay 90 percent, meanwhile bringing money and jobs into state economies.

Yet 18 states — all of them with Republican-controlled legislatures, governors or both — still haven’t expanded Medicaid. Why?

.. G.O.P. politicians simply don’t want lower-income families to have access to health care and are actually willing to hurt their own states’ economies to deny them that access.

..  the Trump administration declared that it would allow them to do so. But what was driving this demand?

.. The reality is that a vast majority of adult Medicaid recipients are in families where at least one adult is working. And a vast majority of those who aren’t working have very good reasons for not being in the labor force: They’re disabled, they’re caregivers to other family members or they’re students. The population of Medicaid recipients who “ought” to be working but aren’t is very small, and the money that states could save by denying them coverage is trivial.

.. most of the money they could save by kicking people off would be federal, not state, dollars. So what’s this about?

.. The answer, surely, is that it isn’t about saving money, it’s about stigmatizing those who receive government aid, forcing them to jump through hoops to prove their neediness. Again, the pain is the point.

.. In fact, a 10-year extension of CHIP funding would save the government $6 billion.

..  Making lower-income Americans worse off has become a goal in itself for the modern G.O.P., a goal the party is actually willing to spend money and increase deficits to achieve.