Five Articles Worth Reading · January 2016

February 1, 2017

01 · Capitalism in No Way Created Poverty, It Inherited It "For much of human history, the vast majority of the population was mired in poverty. All too often, the average individual lived in unimaginably wretched conditions. It was only in the nineteenth century, and then only in the West, that the masses started to enjoy prosperity. Keep that in mind when you hear about living and working conditions during the nineteenth century. Because it’s true—by today’s standards, the living and working conditions of the time were often miserable. But by the standards of everything that had come before, they were not. For the men and women working those jobs, they were often a godsend."

02 · The Punctuation of Classic Books Tells a Story All of Its Own "When reading a classic book, we tend to pay attention to the themes, the characters, and the story. We say the words aloud. We notice everything, in fact, except for one crucial thing: the punctuation. That's what scientist and writer Adam J. Calhoun noticed — and so he decided to investigate just how important those pesky dots and dashes can be. And it turns out, when you look at only the punctuation in books, you'll see that punctuation use has changed a lot over the years ..."

03 · If You Want Fewer Stupid Politicians and Voters, Promote Good Reading "I am not being the least bit facetious. Americans often bemoan the diminished condition of our political discourse without recognizing the role that a general decline in literacy is playing in that diminishment. Those outside the world of education, perhaps, do not grasp the reality of that decline, but I am certain that many who work in our schools have witnessed the increasing inarticulateness and limited reading capacities of our students, even the best of them, from year to year. A lack of linguistic competence handicaps a people’s ability to debate their political affairs in an intelligent and constructive manner. Consider only one way in which this decline in literacy has affected our politics recently."

04 · The Art of Homemaking "Housekeeping consists of the laundry, the dishes, the toilets, and floors that need to be scrubbed, but homemaking is something else. Homemaking is the deliberate cultivation of beauty and productivity in family relationships. Homemaking is about helping your family feel loved and comforted. Homemaking is about celebrating each other, and about caring for each other, as well as for your friends and extended families and even the occasional stranger. Anyone can keep house. Not everyone bothers to make a home. Homemaking happens when we fully understand the value of home in our lives. Homemaking happens when we intentionally make home a safe house, a trauma unit, a pep rally, a playground, a school, and more."

05 · Millennials Reject Capitalism in Name, But Socialism in Fact "As I wrote about my anti-capitalistic youth: 'Capitalism was just the word we all used for whatever we didn't like about the status quo, especially whatever struck us as promoting inequality. I had friends propose to me that we should consider the C-word a catchall for racism, patriarchy, and crony corporatism. If that's what capitalism means, how could anyone be for it?' ... So we're back to the idea that capitalism stands for whatever people perceive to be wrong with the economic status quo. That leaves us with the considerable task of explaining how government interventions, not free markets, got us into the current mess, and how only greater economic freedom can get us out."
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