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The Discourse Report: May 5, 2023
Welcome to DiscRep, Berny Belvedere’s daily guide to the public discourse for Arc members. Got something you think I should include in a future entry? Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. To discuss any of today’s items, post a comment below.
The Equity Wars by Andrew Prokop in Vox
The equity agenda has generated intense attention — and backlash. Fierce controversies are unfolding across the country over how equity is being applied in many areas, from criminal justice policy to selective school admissions to a host of other contexts.
Critics claim equity is too often elevated at the expense of other priorities or values. Many on the right, and some on the center and the left, feel uncomfortable about the social justice movement’s prioritization of historically disadvantaged race and gender groups in all things. Some argue that equity is selectively applied by liberals — deployed as a justification for policies they favor, ignored when it could point toward policies they don’t.
Equity is a mindset, a signaling device, a guide to policy, and a lens through which many liberals now view politics and society. Arguments over equity are arguments over just whose problems aren’t getting enough attention, and whose are getting too much.
The Only Way Out of the Child-Gender Culture War by Helen Lewis in The Atlantic
In the United States … the debate around child gender medicine has split along partisan lines: Left-leaning activist groups and the White House regularly describe child transition as “lifesaving” and raise the specter of suicide if care is withdrawn. Meanwhile, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and former President Donald Trump have called medical transition “child abuse.” If the most extreme red-state bills go ahead, both parents and doctors could face prosecution for giving a child access to treatment.
I believe that these bans on child transition are unhelpful, illiberal, and in many cases disturbingly punitive—and I say that as someone with serious reservations about the most influential model of child gender care in America.
Biden’s Vaccine Project Needs to be More Like Operation Warp Speed by Alec Stapp and Arielle D'Souza in The Washington Post
President Biden’s new $5 billion public-private partnership known as Project Next Gen is meant to accelerate the development of new coronavirus vaccines and treatments, much as Operation Warp Speed created some of the first vaccines against the coronavirus. To succeed as well, however, the project will need to muster as much administrative discipline as Warp Speed demonstrated and avoid mission creep.
Before covid-19, the record for fastest vaccine creation had been four years. Yet Operation Warp Speed delivered multiple safe and effective vaccines against the coronavirus in less than one year. By accelerating the development and rollout of the vaccines, Warp Speed saved an estimated 140,000 American lives during the first five months the shots were available and provided a $1.8 trillion boost to the U.S. economy in the first six months. The operation succeeded because it focused exclusively on speeding up the production of vaccines, spending billions of dollars and streamlining regulations across dozens of government offices to make it happen.
Another Bank Under Pressure. How Worried Should We Be About a Financial Crisis? by Amit Seru in The New York Times
Rapidly rising interest rates create perilous conditions for banks because of a basic principle: The longer the duration of an investment, the more sensitive it is to changes in interest rates. When interest rates rise, the assets that banks hold to generate a return on their investment fall in value. And because the banks’ liabilities — like its deposits, which customers can withdraw at any time — usually are shorter in duration, they fall by less. Thus, increases in interest rates can deplete a bank’s equity and risk leaving it with more liabilities than assets. So it’s no surprise that the U.S. banking system’s market value of assets is around $2 trillion lower than suggested by their book value. When the entire set of approximately 4,800 banks in the United States is examined, the decline in the value of equity is most prominent for midsize and smaller banks, reflecting their heavier bets on long-term assets.
How Lower Court Rulings Get to the Supreme Court (The Washington Post)