ISA HOPKINS

Raconteur. Adventurer. Kimchi Enthusiast.

Between Renting & Owning

Between Renting & Owning I’m always suspicious of issues framed in binary terms: we live in such a diverse and variegated world, and if an explicit dichotomy seems to exist than it’s usually because we’re not thinking deeply enough (even biological sex, the ultimate either/or, is blurrier than most people will acknowledge).  It’s interesting to learn about models of residential living which seek to combine the strengths of both renting and owning in.. Read More

Irrationality

Most of this post is drawn from an old draft that I just rediscovered and edited to share. I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge this story, discussing how credit card spending boosts self-esteem.  It’s something I’ve experienced, most notably when I was doing Americorps and received food stamp benefits.  After a long morning spent at the San Francisco Department of Social Services, I — who generally hate shopping — was.. Read More

Corporatism

Corporatism Very interesting, particularly in its comparison of the US to Germany.  Presently — particularly given the whole “Tiger Mother” hooha, plus Obama’s constant SOTU references — America loves to compare itself to China.  Invariably, we find our workforce comes up short when stacked against a nation with a population of over a billion-plus, where low costs of living, nonexistent safety or environmental regulations, and an artificially depressed currency all combine to keep.. Read More

Re-Thinking

Hey!  How about deconstructing one of the foundational myths surrounding contemporary American race relations and urban theory?  Turns out white kids do more drugs than black kids!  A lot more.   In other cases of factual-divergence-from-widely-accepted-social-narratives, we’ve got: direct federal assistance (aka welfare) as the foundation of the American middle class; a criminal justice system in which evidence is often flawed and punitive measures fundamentally unsound; and state budget imbalances owed more to steep.. Read More

Living Luxe

The current issue of The Atlantic has a lengthy essay about “Davos Man”: that is, the new class of super-rich elite who are, we are told, more meritocratic and philanthropic than their predecessors, but also more likely to concentrate those philanthropic efforts elsewhere, who care little for America’s domestic troubles.  There’s some interesting reaction pieces, too.  The whole thing got me thinking about my own experiences rubbing shoulders with elites, particularly as, in.. Read More

Just Desserts

Part two to my previous post about income inequality. The corollary to the promotion of cheapness as a virtue to the working classes is the enabling of privilege — six-hundred-dollar flat-screen TVs as a consolation prize for stagnating wages and ever-increasing concentration of wealth.  Education is one of the greatest tools for social mobility, but as this (slightly old but still highly relevant) series demonstrates, the privilege of a top-tier education is being.. Read More

Separate but Unequal

Kevin Drum offers two excellent posts on income inequality, particularly as it relates to the financial sector.  What does he have to say about Wall Street as a vehicle for the creation and maintenance of distributed wealth and national prosperity?  As my cousin and his drunken friends once chanted at Natalie Portman at a Harvard party: OH-VER!  RAY-TED!  What’s interesting, though, is how deeply we cling to our economic myths.  (I realized I’ve.. Read More

Direct Democracy Fail

One meme that seems to have made its way into the various national election post-mortems is that California escaped the Democratic bloodbath; that, in spite of the failure of Prop 19, we remain so staunchly liberal that we are replacing the Governator with Governor Moonbeam.   Really, though, what analysts forget is that the California electorate doesn’t need to express its populist anger by sweeping out incumbents every two years.  California already has.. Read More

A Dose of Healthcare Reality

(Aren’t healthcare puns the best??) This post, at The Incidental Economist, is the introduction to a ten-part series that I cannot recommend enough — each part is very short, direct, and easily digestible, so don’t let the length intimidate you.  Essentially, it is a point-by-point breakdown of the specific areas in which the American healthcare system is overspending (and, in one post, underspending) according to our GDP.  It is a useful and quantitative.. Read More

Labor Day Laboring

As promised, a couple of good Labor Day reads: From The New Republic, we’ve got this personal essay reflecting upon the cultural loss we’ve suffered in our weakened labor movement. From The American Prospect, there’s this article detailing why a strong labor movement matters.  I’ll highlight my favorite paragraph for you now: “A good job means one that pays enough to allow a family to buy or rent a decent home, put food.. Read More