James Harden, COVID and Y2K: Thinking About Time and Causality

Sometimes I wonder how the human race as a whole, especially those of us in the so-called advanced countries, can be so unimaginably slow in recognizing the danger of global warming. There are, of course, many examples in history of civilizations and societies that did themselves in by engaging in practices, such as over-farming in ways that leads to the death of or erosion of vital lands. But this has typically happened to civilizations and societies that had no technological capacity to look ahead and see the long-term consequences of what they were doing. We have that capacity. Yet we are moving slowly, and possibly far too slowly to deal with global warming. Obviously, the political interest of the wealthy fossil fuel industry is a major barrier. And so is the anti-government ideology of the far right. But it has occurred to me from time to time that human beings… Continue reading

Day Six

In Christian traditions, and most Jewish ones as well, the story of the Garden of Eden is the story of humankind’s estrangement from God. Jews and Christians differ about how we are to understand that estrangement. Many Christians see the fall as the source of original sin. Jews, on the other hand, typically reject the notion of original sin. Yet the dominant interpretation of Genesis 2 is that, in eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve are rejecting the authority of God. As a result God punishes them, and us. The most troubling circumstances of human life flow from the action of Adam and Eve. And only a return to God, in this world or the next, can free us from our predicament. Against this traditional interpretation of the text I want to pose another, radically different and feminist reading, one that draws on… Continue reading

Why Do Artists and Intellectual Tend to be on the Left?

Why do artists and intellectuals tend to be liberals? Because artistic and intellectual goods are things we can all share. When you enjoy a piece of music, it doesn’t stop me from doing so. When you enjoy a good book, the same. In fact, the more people love the same music and books I do, the more people I have to share in the experience and from whom I can learn more about what I love. That doesn’t mean there are no conflicts in these spheres of life. Once upon a time, there was a conflict over owning these goods. But in the digital world the cost of reproducing music and books is now very close to zero. There are still limited resources for the creation of intellectual and artistic goods. But the more we focus our lives on the pursuit of these goods, the more we devote our resources… Continue reading

The Cost of Banning Abortion in Pennsylvania

By Claire Kovach with Marc Stier Drawing on a few decades of research, this paper shows that banning abortion would severely harm women in the state, especially women of color and women with low incomes. The paper summarizes research showing that the inability to secure an abortion harms women’s physical and mental health, makes it harder for them to secure an education, reduces their prospects for employment and good wages, and is likely to leave them facing hardship and poverty. The paper concludes that the combined direct and indirect effects of a total ban on abortion in Pennsylvania would likely reduce wages in the state by $10 billion a year. <a href=”http:marcstier.com/blog2/wp-content/uplaods/22/09/CostOfAbortionBan-2.pdf” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>Click here to read full screen or print.</a> &nbsp; Continue reading

We Need To Make Time for the Pain

Have you noticed how much pain there is among your friends in real life and and here on social as well? Most of the time I can shut a lot of it it out. I have to do that sometimes. Not always. This week alone I’ve talked to or interacted with people who: -Is watching a young mother die of cancer -Is dealing with a long course of chemotherapy -Just had to change to a new course of chemotherapy -Lost their husband from cancer not long ago -Lost their father from a sudden death not long ago -Is suffering from severe back problems And that’s just the physical suffering. There are also the people: -Struggling with dementia and taking care of those who are. -Hate the hard work they have to do to survive -Are single and worrying about how they are going to care for themselves when they get… Continue reading

Economic Messaging for Progressives

PBPC has long focused not just on what policies to adopt but how we can build support for them. The policy papers we wrote for our We The People–PA campaign and our Roadmap to a New Pennsylvania, as well as the narrative for the campaign, focus on messaging as well as policy. In this piece, we weave together some of that work as well as the poll-tested messaging that is coming from the Race/Class Narrative and the Winning Jobs Narrative efforts, while adapting it for the Pennsylvania context. At the end, we provide some links to polling data to support each theme we highlight here     Continue reading

The Fourth of July and Frederick Douglas

I’ve re-read and posted Frederick Douglas’ essay, What To The Slave is the Fourth of July   every year for the last seven or eight years reasons I explain below. It’s one of the most important pieces of political writing by any American. It’s never been more important as a reminder of the original sin of our country., racism. But this year, I’m sad to say that it’s also never been more questionable because the end of Douglas’s piece is a paean  to the ideals of the Enlightenment and their power to overcome the darkness of racism and bigotry. That power is fading before us. We need to do everything we can to restore it, before it is too late. I’m going to leave the rest of what I usually write about the text here, even though I’m far less confident than I’ve ever been that we can live up to… Continue reading

Statement on Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade Decision

  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 24, 2022 Contacts: Kirstin Snow, snow@pennbpc.org   Statement on Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade Decision By Marc Stier, Director, PA Budget & Policy Center The right to abortion is paramount to the right to personal autonomy. There is no choice as life-defining as that of whether to bring a child into the world. Without the right to have an abortion and access to the procedure, pregnant people are denied the autonomy and freedom to make decisions about their own health, well-being, and the course of their lives. Banning abortion would limit the rights of half the population: women, transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming people, undermining their ability to be full participants in our political, social, economic, and cultural life. And the radical opinion signed by six justices of the Supreme Court not only undermines the right to abortion but is a threat to other kinds of… Continue reading

Statement on the Supreme Court’s Abortion Decision

The right to abortion is paramount to the right to personal autonomy. There is no choice as life-defining as that of whether to bring a child into the world. Without the right to have an abortion and access to the procedure, pregnant people are denied the autonomy and freedom to make decisions about their own health, well-being, and the course of their lives. Banning abortion would limit the rights of half the population: women, transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming people, undermining their ability to be full participants in our political, social, economic, and cultural life. And the radical opinion signed by six justices of the Supreme Court not only undermines the right to abortion but is a threat to other kinds of autonomy we all take for granted. The right to abortion is also critical to equity and economic justice. Restricting abortion harms people unequally. People with higher incomes already… Continue reading

The modern transformation of asceticism and the origins of the culture war

Many of us have responded to the new threat to Roe v. Wade by reminding people that the aim of the right is not to protect unborn children but to control women. However, for some people, accustomed to living in a world in which they expect women to be treated as full participants in our political, social, and cultural lives,  that notion is odd. They don’t understand that control of women means and why it is so important in right wing thought. There are a number of answers but one is that policing abortion is part of the right-wing project of policing sexuality as a whole. And policing sexuality, especially female sexuality, is, for the  right wing mind, critical to ensuring that men carry out their responsibilities to have and take care of children and hold down a job. As is common in political and social life these claims rest… Continue reading