Update and Links

It’s been far too long since I’ve updated this blog. It’s been a fast five months and I plan on keeping this site updated much better in the future with articles I’ve written and hopefully some original content here as well. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I moved from Business Insider to The New Republic in mid-February after a few months at BI. At TNR, I’m working with Nora-Caplan Bricker on a soon-to-be-launched (and yet unnamed) policy vertical under Jon Cohn. I’m focusing on the economy and economic policy, but have also written pieces on a host of other issues.

If you want to check out some of my work from Business Insider, you can do so here. I’m going to consistently update this site with links to my writing at TNR. In addition, I’m debuting a weekly newsletter this week that will contain links to all of my work and any radio or TV appearances. (Those are infrequent at this point.)

Here’s a short list of what I wrote at TNR this past week:

Top 3

1. Renegade Rancher Cliven Bundy is Nothing Like Mahatma Gandhi. I rebut an article by National Review‘s Kevin Williamson in which he compared Bundy, the rancher in Nevada who refuses to recognize the federal government and took up arms against federal officials last week, to Gandhi. Williamson’s point, which he made better on Twitter, is well taken: At times, breaking the law is okay. But Bundy’s actions were not one of those times. He has broken the law for two decades by grazing his cattle for free on federal lands, the federal government finally cracked down on him, and he nearly attacked federal agents for doing so. That’s nowhere near the same realm as Gandhi.

2. The Real Reason Liberals Support Higher Taxes on the Rich. In a recent article for Slate, Zachary Karabell made the same mistake that most conservatives do when they argue against more redistribution. They believe liberals are looking to just tear down the rich, instead of to help everyone else. Instead, liberals want to use the revenue from higher taxes on the rich to fund expansions of the Earned Income Tax Credit and other programs targeted at low-income households. The higher taxes are a means to do so, not an end in and of themselves.

3. Janet Yellen is Looking Out for the Long-Term Unemployed. Here, I look at two recent speeches by Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen. She has reiterated her belief that an improving economy will lead to greater employment opportunities for the long-term unemployed. In doing so, she has made clear that she intends to keep the Fed’s current policy path and not prematurely tighten policy as many inflation hawks wants the committee to do.

What Else?

  • There is no reason we need to simplify the number of tax brackets in the tax code. In the digital age, we can make an infinite number and it’s not an issue.
  • The tax code leaves childless workers behind.
  • An interview with Robert Shiller on his idea to insure against catastrophic income inequality in the future.
  • A Pew chart on the changing demographics in the U.S. and the political risk that poses to the Republican Party.
  • A chart of the counties that pay the most and least federal income taxes.
  • And a map of the current unemployment rate in all 50 states.

That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading and check back often!


Personal Announcement

Some personal news: I’m joining Business Insider as a political reporter starting Monday and I’m very excited for the move. I’ll be doing a combination of the same blogging I’ve been doing at this site plus additional in-person reporting. 

Political Algebra isn’t going anywhere, but I will no longer be writing new posts here. I’ll try to update every so often with a selection of my favorite pieces over at BI. Definitely check there frequently for new content from me and the many all-star writers at the site. I’ve had a tremendous amount of fun writing here and I’m very grateful for everyone who has commented and interacted with me, either on the blog or via Twitter. Gaining blog views is difficult with the sheer amount of content readily available across the web so I’m also very thankful for everyone who spread my work. It’s been a privilege to contribute to political and policy conversations from this blog and I am looking forward to continuing to do so at Business Insider. Thanks for reading!

Introducing A New Blog Title: Political Algebra

Some news about the blog today. The title “Across All Sports” is a thing of the past. I’m a bit sad to change it, as “Across All Sports” was a great representation of my work for many years. But those years are long gone as I rarely write about sports. The “Across All Sports” title just confused potential readers about the content of the blog.

So today, I’m retiring the title and introducing a new one: Political Algebra. It may not make sense at first, but let me explain a little bit. I was a math nerd in school and algebra was possibly my favorite subject. I loved solving for multiple variables using multiple equations. I found a beauty in taking complex equations and deriving answers from them.

In politics and policy, I see many similarities to algebra. The political world involves a number of complicated moving parts. Every Congressman, lobbyist and adviser has his or her own strategy and goals. Each one is a complicated equation with many variables. I can examine different bills – such as the immigration bill – and analyze which House members will vote for it, what could potentially switch their votes, and what that means for the odds of the bill’s passage. It’s certainly not an exact science – I can’t just line up two equations like in my algebra class – but it’s more than just guesswork.

As for the policy world, algebra matches up even better. When I look at different proposed policies, I evaluate them in two ways. First, in an ideal world, what’s the best solution to the given problem? Second, given the political constraints, is this solution feasible and if not, what is the best solution within those constraints? The two answers are rarely the same. But in both situations, I take complex topics and look at the theoretical models, academic research and empirical evidence on them. In this way, both policy analysis and algebra are academic exercises with concrete solutions. Algebra is just numbers and variables. There are no outside influences or biases involved – and that’s the standard I hold myself to in this blog as well.

Unfortunately, not every equation has a simple solution. You can’t always solve for every variable. The same is true in the political and policy worlds. I try to narrow down competing ideas and political analyses to simple, unbiased facts. Sometimes, those answers will be neat and clear-cut. Other times, they’ll be complicated and messy.

So, that’s the story of the new blog title. I hope it gives a better understanding to how I approach each issue and the goals of my blog posts. I’m also adding in a background to the site that will be up shortly – please let me know what you think of it, especially if it’s inhibiting your reading in anyways.

Lastly, I’m officially a DC resident full-time and am looking forward to delivering some first-hand reporting here. I’m very excited to get going so check back often to Political Algebra!