Sentences to Ponder: Brooks, Journalism, Unequal and Happy, Chetty


1. David Brooks

He is less enthusiastic about politics in general, though, in keeping with the new book’s inward turn. “I just find talking to politicians less interesting than I used to,” he says. “I used to find it fascinating, what all the little subterfuges going on in the construction of the immigration bill were. But I just can’t get my interest up any more. There’s a lot more action sociologically, psychologically, morally than politically, these days.”

2. Journalism

If you split the news into three basic baskets — the “what”, the “so what” and the “now what” … the mainstream media has since, well, forever, spent most of its time, money and brainpower on the “what”. This happened, here’s what people say about it. The “so what” (why does this matter) and the “now what” (what comes next) have tended to be the sort of thing that columnists dealt with … we didn’t prize the “so what” and the “now what” baskets nearly as much as the “what.”

3. Unequal yet happy

All of the wage gains since the downturn ended in 2009 have essentially gone to the top 1 percent, yet the proportion of Americans who say they are “thriving” has actually increased… Money may not buy happiness in the long run, but consumer choice has gone a long way in keeping most Americans reasonably content, even if they shouldn’t be.

4. Clinton listens to Chetty 

The research Chetty and his team have done shows that children who grow up in parts of the country with less segregation, less income inequality, stronger schools, more social capital, and stable families are more likely to improve their social standing as adults. He and his colleagues are preparing to release policy prescriptions in coming months.

Note: Chetty’s most famous edu study links value-add scores to life outcomes.

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