80-20 PAC, R.I.P.

I’m in total shock right now. ChineseMom just informed me that the 80-20 PAC is closing down. I was there when they first started, and…wow…I’m in shock. From their website:

Q1: Why has 80-20 PAC chosen death rather than hanging on?

80-20 has seen many similar AsAm organizations providing negative service to our community. 80-20 PAC could one day become a negative-service organization. So it is better to cease operations than struggle to hang on.

Q2: Negative service? Could you give an example?

Child support and no free lunch

A week and a half ago, I wrote about Walter Scott’s murder at the hands of a White police officer. His murder was wrong and immoral. I and most of the rest of the world condemned the murder.

Yesterday, the NY Times published an article about Walter Scott’s child support. The article helped answer the question on many people’s minds: why did Walter Scott run? It turns out that Scott had been in and out of jail because of a failure to pay child support. He had four children altogether, and he had lost jobs because of his failure to pay child support to two women–the woman who was raising his first two children, and an ex-wife who was raising his third and fourth children. The article is about the cycle of poverty that child support imposes on poor men, where their failure to pay child support becomes worse because of imprisonment.

Obama backs down on proposal to get rid of 529 plans

Obama’s plan to gut the 529 college plan has evidently hit some hard opposition from both parties, and he has decided to drop that effort. I was actually surprised when I learned that he was trying to do away with 529’s. His rationale is that wealthy Americans get a lot more in tax savings than non-wealthy people. From the NY Times:

Of the roughly seven million existing 529 plans, about 80 percent of the tax benefits go to households above $150,000, supporters of the Obama proposal say; 70 percent go to households with incomes over $200,000. That is because those people have the most money invested and can contribute $14,000 a year or more without worrying about reaching federal gift tax limits. Investment gains can then be used for education expenses without a capital-gains tax.

GOP takes the Senate

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Mitch and Elaine, Photo credit: Reuters/John Sommers II

It’s a historic day. For the first time ever, we’ve got an Asian woman married to a Majority leader, and they’re Republicans. Maybe now they can help put some good laws into place to stop affirmative action from discriminating against Asian kids! And cut government spending! In other news, Tim Scott became the first African American Senator to win an election in the South since Reconstruction. He’s also the first African American in history elected to both the House and the Senate. He’s a Republican.

Gary Hart, the personal lives of politicians, and the death of nuance

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There’s a great article in the NY Times Magazine about Gary Hart, written by Matt Bai: How Gary Hart’s Downfall Forever Changed American Politics. I remember how Hart’s fall was a big thing. I remember the old joke: What do Gary Hart and Chinese people have in common? They both like Rice.  The article itself is interesting because it seems clear that Hart had no idea that the entire media’s relationship to politics was about to change–before his scandal, it was never a big deal. He expected it never to be a big deal. And then everything came down.

No such thing as a free lunch

Over the next week or two, I’d like to discuss some principles behind reasonable arguments and what the preconditions of a reasonable argument are. I think many on the far extremes of the political spectrum tend to prefer emotion over logic and fact. Many people get emotional during debates, of course, but a principled debater will rarely let his or her emotions get the best of him. It is possible to use logic while engaged in a heated debate.

Every story can always get more interesting

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Photo credit: Channel 9 60 Minutes/Associated Press

I first heard about the story while driving in the car and hearing it on the radio: an Australian couple had abandoned their biological baby who had come from a surrogate mother in Thailand because the baby had Down Syndrome. I thought that maybe it was an example of Western exploitation, a case in which rich Western parents had hired a poor Asian surrogate and then jumped at signs of trouble.