Links May 16, 2017

Designers on acid: the tripping Californians who paved the way to our touchscreen world

Outclassed: how your neighbor’s income might affect your happiness

Like Thorstein Veblen before them, academics like the British researchers I mentioned earlier found that contentment is indeed relative – it’s dependent on how you see yourself in comparison with those you view as genuine peers. Even if you are middle class according to national averages, if you dwell in the hyper-wealthy areas of this country (all the richer thanks to inequality), you will probably find yourself struggling materially and emotionally. The fact that you know all too well that you should be grateful for what you have only makes it worse.

This is the real culprit behind the dangers of income inequality, not deprivation per se.

California Leads U.S. Economy, Away From Trump: Matthew Winkler

To justify his executive orders nullifying policies protecting people from climate change, hazardous working conditions and persecution because of their religion or citizenship status, President Donald Trump during a Feb. 16 press conference said: “To be honest, I inherited a mess. It’s a mess. Jobs are pouring out of the country.” He later told the Conservative Political Action Conference that regulations are “crushing our economy.”

That’s a claim worth exploring. Look at California, which is one-eighth of the U.S. population with 39 million people and one-seventh of the nation’s gross domestic product of $2.3 trillion. Far from being a mess, California’s economy is bigger than ever, rivaling the U.K. as No. 5 in the world, when figures for 2016 are officially tabulated.

Ellie Kemper Doesn’t Understand 3/4 of the Jokes on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Aetna fully exits Obamacare exchanges with pull-out in two states

Republicans plan massive cuts to programs for the poor

Under enormous internal pressure to quickly balance the budget, Republicans are considering slashing more than $400 billion in spending through a process to evade Democratic filibusters in the Senate, multiple sources told POLITICO.

The proposal, which would be part of the House Budget Committee’s fiscal 2018 budget, won’t specify which programs would get the ax; instead it will instruct committees to figure out what to cut to reach the savings. But among the programs most likely on the chopping block, the sources say, are food stamps, welfare, income assistance for the disabled and perhaps even veterans benefits.

If enacted, such a plan to curb safety-net programs — all while juicing the Pentagon’s budget and slicing corporate tax rates — would amount to the biggest shift in federal spending priorities in decades.

Republicans are abandoning any pretense of caring about the less fortunate. It’s sort of a relief in a weird way. None of us have to deny reality anymore.

“Motivated ignorance” is ruining our political discourse

This is a key point that many people miss when discussing the “fake news” or “filter bubble” problem in our online media ecosystems. Avoiding facts inconvenient to our worldview isn’t just some passive, unconscious habit we engage in. We do it because we find these facts to be genuinely unpleasant. And as long as this experience remains unpleasant, and easy to avoid, we’re just going to drift further and further apart.

Back when the internet was relatively fresh and new I sometimes forced myself to read political opinions I knew I would hate. At the time, it was probably an unhealthy habit, more masochistic than edifying, but I think in the long run it helped with my intestinal fortitude. I don’t fear opinions different from my own.

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