Michelle Goldberg led off her July 1 column:

Say this for Donald Trump. He may be transforming American politics into a kleptocratic fascist reality show and turning our once-great country into a global laughingstock, but at least he’s humiliating John Bolton in the process.

Who could fail to read on?

That same day — I am so far behind! — Paul Krugman gave us The Moochers of Middle America.

The first two-thirds are definitely worth reading — the Democrats aren’t radical, he argues, Republicans are — but the final third is must reading:

. . . Last but not least, if your view is that the progressive agenda is morally wrong, that people shouldn’t receive more in government benefits than they pay in taxes, you should be aware how many Americans are already “takers,” “moochers,” whatever. In fact, we’re talking about a vast swath of the heartland that includes just about every state that voted for Donald Trump.

I’ve been reading a recent Rockefeller Institute report on states’ federal “balance of payments” — the difference for each state between what the federal government spends in that state and what it gets back in revenue.

The pattern is familiar: Richer states subsidize poorer states. And the reasons are clear: Rich states pay much more per person in federal taxes, while actually getting a bit less in federal spending, because Medicaid and other “means-tested” programs go disproportionately to those with low incomes. But the magnitudes are startling.

Take the case of Kentucky. In 2017, the state received $40 billion more from the federal government than it paid in taxes. That’s about one-fifth of the state’s G.D.P.; if Kentucky were a country, we’d say that it was receiving foreign aid on an almost inconceivable scale.

This aid, in turn, supports a lot of jobs. It’s fair to say that far more Kentuckians work in hospitals kept afloat by Medicare and Medicaid, in retail establishments kept going by Social Security and food stamps, than in all traditional occupations like mining and even agriculture combined.

So if you really believe that Americans with higher incomes shouldn’t pay for benefits provided to those with lower incomes, you should be calling on “donor” states like New Jersey and New York to cut off places like Kentucky and let their economies collapse. And if that’s what you mean, you should let Mitch McConnell’s constituents know about it. . . .

In a recent post, I asked whether any of you had tried Sweet Defeat.

Dr. Richard Feinberg: “I was so curious about Sweet Defeat that I ended up trying it. As far as the biochemistry, it really works the way they say it does. Right after I chewed one pill, I could not stand the taste of anything sweet. And at least for some period of time, I did not have cravings for anything sweet just because I did not want to have any more of the yucky taste.

“Now the hard part . . does the biochemistry of Sweet Defeat translate to an effective approach to weight loss? I really can’t say. However, based on just my own experience plus prior work with many patients who wanted to lose weight, I am somewhat doubtful. I don’t believe that this is some sort of magic elixir and that all you have to do is just take a few of these every day and voila  . . the pounds just melt away. There is so much more involved in weight loss. Unless some of the motivational factors, movement and exercise, and psychological issues are able to be integrated into a weight loss program, I feel quite sure saying that Sweet Defeat will not work for most obese individuals. Things like a rebound effect are bound to occur in which people don’t take any pills during a part of the day or night in order to gorge out on sweets.

“This doesn’t mean that it won’t work for folks who want to lose, say 20 pounds or less. I have not tried using Sweet Defeat over a longer period of time with the express purpose of shedding some pounds. I would still think the more one includes other relevant factors and develops a realistic self-help program with tracking, the better the chances of success.”

→ For a lot of folks, help losing five or ten pounds could be worth looking into.  (Full disclosure: I own none of this, but the lead investor is a friend.)



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