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Arts Stimulus Funding & the Art Economy Part 2: Talking to the House Arts Caucus Co-Chairs
Jul 8, 2009 Art21 | Arts writer Hrag Vartanian interviews Congressional Arts Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Rep. Todd Russell Platts (R-PA) about federal funding for the arts.  Among their responses is the revelation that early education is their primary focus, not for art’s sake, but because arts educated citizens are supposedly hired more frequently.  Elsewhere, Artnet News gives their two cents on the haphazard distribution of NEA emergency funds, calling it random, but “welcome, if nothing else than for the symbolism that art matters to the government.”  —James David Morgan

White House Open to Deal on Public Health Plan
Jul 7, 2009 Wall Street Journal | We reported on Senator Kent Conrad’s proposal of nonprofit health cooperatives (competing with private insurers) as an alternative to President Obama’s initial instinct in favor of a public plan.  Now word comes from the White House that the President is open to the nonprofit coops idea as a means of getting a politically palatable version of health care reform through Congress.  Has anyone done any analysis that looks at the experience of the various nonprofit health insurance plans that decided to opt for for-profit status leaving us with a mixed bag of health conversion foundations?  As Santayana said, we paraphrase, those who cannot remember the past will be condemned to repeat it.  We shouldn’t ditch a public plan in the name of political feasibility if the result is the nonprofit health insurance plans that so many of us remember with less than warm and fuzzy feelings.  Rick Cohen

Are Summer Jobs ‘Going Out of Business?
Jul 6, 2009; Fox Business | You have to look very carefully at the sources of information in order to spot hidden agendas.  This report from the Employment Policies Institute contains what might be good information on the teen unemployment rate of 24% and nearly 38% for African-American teens.  But this organization ascribes a part of the cause to the rise in the minimum wage level, which increased from $5.85 in the summer of 2007 to $6.55 in 2008 to $7.25 in July of this year.  Astronomical, no?  No.  But the Employment Policies Institute has long campaigned against increasing the minimum wage, long campaigned against living wage standards, criticized paid sick leave (as putting “legislative preferences ahead of individual preferences), and apparently obsessed over ACORN’s anti-big-business agenda.  The summer jobs question is serious, and there may be some useful information in this EPI report, but do take note of the longstanding ideological bias there to blame the minimum wage.  —Rick Cohen

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