"A generation after Ronald Reagan denounced the 'welfare queen,'" writes Dana Milbank in the Washington Post, "the Grand Old Party is evidently on the verge of nominating its first welfare king." Long story short: Donald Trump is likely not releasing his tax returns because he might not be paying any taxes. "There is no shame in being on public assistance," Mr. Milbank also says. "But the corporate welfare Trump receives is nothing to be proud of — not least because Trump has claimed to represent the American worker and has condemned corporate executives who 'make a fortune' but 'pay no tax.'" So what will Trump supporters do when confronted with this information? They'll say he was taking the "good" tax deductions because he was creating jobs. Or they'll say he was sticking it to the man, though "sticking it to the man," when you avoid paying taxes, is really sticking it to yourself and all your countryfolk. Or they'll begin their next sentences with "Well, Hillary." Or they'll stick their fingers in their ears and go "lalalalala."
Surprise, surprise, "risk assessment" software that purportedly predicts a citizen's likelihood to commit future crimes tends to exaggerate the amount of crime blacks go on to commit while underestimating the amount of crime whites go on to commit. In other words, it's racist, if not in intent, then in result, which is more important. It is possible, I suppose, that the software spits out inaccurate results because it takes the fewer economic opportunities available to blacks into account, but judges actually set bonds and sentence folks based on what the software tells them. Judges shouldn't rely on bad information to make such decisions, and doing so here also doesn't show a whole lot of faith in people to rise above their circumstances. We still believe that people can rise above their circumstances in America, don't we?
Sarah Zhang, writing at Wired, suggests that the Ivanpah solar plant in California, ravaged by fire last week, has even bigger problems. Concentrated solar power (which uses mirrors to reflect the sun at a water tower to create electricity) takes its most frequent PR hits from "scorched birds and blinded pilots," but it also requires a lot of not-plentify empty land to work, and photovoltaic solar panels are actually cheaper now, not to mention more scalable. Still, I suspect that a lot of inattentive (or should I say "inattentive"?) "liberal" media punditoids will use the Ivanpah fire to whinge on about how solar power is "dangerous," when it's not the kind of solar power you're likely to have on your rooftop.
Susan Holmberg of the Roosevelt Institute says the best way to stop "short-term thinking" among executives is to limit their pay. She points to the rise of "performance pay" in the mid-'90s as a major factor in the explosion of executive pay packages; "performance pay" typically comes in the form of stock options, but that cuts the value of those stocks (by increasing their number), which leads to stock buybacks to boost the stocks' worth again -- which takes money away from research and development, paying workers, et cetera. All of which suggests that limiting executive pay is also the best job creation program.
Finally, the U.S. Supreme Court lets stand a District Court ruling which had struck down the Virginia legislature's redrawing of legislative districts earlier this decade. But the Court didn't rule on the merits of the District Court's decision, merely saying that the three plaintiffs (three Republican Congressfolk from Virginia, including Rep. Randy Forbes, whose 4th District became very Democratic after the Court ruling) lacked standing to sue, because they could not prove that overturning the District Court ruling would redress any of their grievances, especially considering that Mr. Forbes has now completely abandoned any prospect of running in the 4th. Writer Ian Millhiser reminds us that state legislatures will continue to gerrymander districts as long as it takes several years for the courts to fix them, which is yet another reason we need less partisan redistricting.