Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Disability Boom: America’s De Facto Welfare System

After a half of year of investigation, Planet Money’s Chana Joffe-Walt reports a disturbing trend in the American economy-the constantly increasing number of of Americans receiving federal disability payments. The number Americans on disability has doubled in the last fifteen years. Currently, there are fourteen million people receiving disability payments, nearly a quarter of all adults in some towns and counties. The Planet Money team argues that the disability system has become a de facto welfare system and an economically inefficient one at that. The causes of this startling trend include the changing economy, lawyers, and, surprisingly, kids.
The results of Joffe-Walt’s findings will be on NPR all week this week. The full story was the focus of This American Life (59:17 minutes). A preview of the story is available on the Planet Money Podcast (13:38 minutes). The Planet Money website includes some fairly startling graphs about the problem. Finally, parts of the story will also be featured on All Things Considered.

Leave a comment

March 26, 2013 · 3:33 pm

High School Football Star Exonerated After 5 Years in Prison

Last night on 60 Minutes, CBS correspondent James Brown reported the story of Brian Banks, a former high school football star who was falsely convicted of rape and kidnapping.   Banks went from recieving a call from Pete Carroll and being recruited play football for USC to Chino State Penitentiary.  After five years in prison, Bank’s accuser, Wanetta Gibson, admitted to fabricating the accusations. 


March 25, 2013 · 10:15 am

Should Genetically Engineered Babies Be Banned?

That was the proposition being debated Intelligence Squared (approximately 50 minutes). Sheldon Krimsky (Professor, Tufts University and Chair, Council for Responsible Genetics) and Lord Robert Winston (Professor of Science and Society and Emeritus Professor, Fertility Studies, Imperial College) argue for prohibition, Dr. Nita Farahany (Professor of Law and Philosophy and Professor of Genome Sciences & Policy, Duke University) and Lee Silver (Professor, Princeton University and Author) argue against it. 

Leave a comment

March 24, 2013 · 7:54 pm

Larry David v. Jury Duty

In this short clip (1:15) from Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David takes an innovative approach to shirking jury duty.

Leave a comment

March 23, 2013 · 6:26 pm

Sequester Disaster

Our political leaders “lack courage” and have let government go “off the rails,” so says conservative commentator Ben Stein. According to Stein, the sequester represents how ideological rigidity has led to Washington dysfunction. Stein quotes two great Americans, Mick Jagger and Abraham Lincoln, along the way and concludes with the homage to Larry the Cable Guy:

“Senators, Congressmen and women, Mister President, get back to Washington D.C., and get to work. Compromise. Work like you love America.

And get it done”

This brief (2:30) video was part of the weekly commentary segment on CBS Sunday Morning.

Text of the commentary is available here.

Leave a comment

March 22, 2013 · 10:31 am

The Vanishing American Dream

New Republic editor Timothy Noah discusses the origin of the term “American Dream” and how inequality is frustrating social mobility in America.  This brief (2:15) video was part of the weekly commentary segment on CBS Sunday Morning.  

Leave a comment

March 21, 2013 · 5:40 pm

Navigating the Battlefield to Navigating Red Tape

Are we failing to meet our commitments to veterans? Yes, says journalist Aaron Glantz (Center for Investigative Reporting).  Despite President Obama’s proposals to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs by streamlining veteran’s claims, the reality has not lived up to the rhetoric.  To the contrary, things have gotten worse during the Obama presidency, with veterans waiting, on average, 273 days to access their benefits.  With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan coming to a close and the VA now recognizing new Agent Orange-related  illnesses, the number veterans making claims has increased.  Meanwhile, the VA remains radically understaffed.  

Glantz spoke with Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. Their conversation runs 32:16 minutes. 

Leave a comment

March 20, 2013 · 8:31 am