Worth Reading - 5/25

1. What happened following the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan? This is a multi-part, long post, but it is an interesting history.

At the center of a diamond formation of Secret Service agents, Ronald Reagan stepped from the secure VIP exit of the Washington Hilton and onto the damp sidewalk. When a small crowd yelled greetings from across T Street, his movie-star smile instinctively materialized.
The new president crossed the pavement to a Lincoln parade car and heard the familiar voice of ABC White House correspondent Sam Donaldson rise above the din: “What’s the latest on Poland, Mr. President?”

It was 2:27 p.m. on March 30, 1981, and the Soviet Union was poised to invade Poland to suppress a labor uprising.

Reagan merely turned toward the press line and waved.

Next to Donaldson, a 25-year-old man in a trench coat flexed his knees and raised his hands in a marksman’s stance. With a revolver he had purchased at a Dallas pawnshop, John W. Hinckley Jr. fired six shots.

It was the 70th day of the Reagan presidency.

Accounts of the afternoon tend to be dominated by the sensational storyline of Secretary of State Alexander Haig’s declaration that “I’m in control here.” But Vice President George H.W. Bush’s pitch-perfect reaction to the crisis lies largely unexplored in the shadow of history. He had only recently been Reagan’s energetic opponent, a fact that was fresh in the memories of Reagan loyalists. The steady hand he showed after the assassination attempt would linger in the minds of his admirers as one of the defining moments of his public career.

2. This post is years old, but it presents a thoughtful discussion on homeschooling, particularly the accusation (which surfaces periodically) that homeschool parents are being selfish by not using the government funded institutions to educate their children:

By withdrawing from the larger culture, homeschoolers aid and abet the culture’s failings—or so, at least, the charge goes. Christians have a responsibility to be not “of the world,” but, we are told, they also have a responsibility to be “in the world.” And therefore it’s our duty to send our children to public school. After all, Jesus calls us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, and how can we possibly be those things if we stay at home all day?

According to this logic, we are called not only to witness, via our children, to a diverse population of people but also somehow to salvage public education itself, as if this would right everything that’s out of whack in our society. To decline to do so is, in this view, both personally selfish and culturally destructive.

Though at this stage in my life I have a hard time understanding why I should feel a greater sense of responsibility to a government institution than I do to my children, I must confess that it has not always been so. Our oldest daughter spent four years in an English working-class neighborhood school, where she was conspicuous not only for being American but also for having parents who were actually married to each other and actually both the parents of all children in our home. Aside from the Bangladeshi Muslims who comprised roughly a third of the school population, ours was the only family with any discernable religious orientation whatsoever.

3. People often blame capitalism, or the free market system, for income inequality. This author explores the possible link between the breakdown of marriage in society and income inequality:

A consequence of this marked decline in traditional family households is that household wages significantly understate job market gains. For instance, when a couple who each earns $50,000 per year gets separated or divorced, their incomes often remain the same, but their average household income drops from $100,000 to $50,000. In cases where only one spouse earns income, his or her earning power may decline due to the added responsibilities of single parenthood, and this single income may be split among two households due to alimony payments.

The effects of these family dynamics are evident in the Gini index, which is widely recognized by monetary institutions, economics textbooks and academic journals as the most common measure of income inequality. Since 1967, which is as far back as the Census Bureau provides this data, the Gini index for households has consistently risen, prompting the Huffington Post (and others) to report that income inequality is at a “record high.” That claim, however, is deceptive, because the Gini index for persons has been generally level throughout this period (hat tip: Political Calculations and Ivan O. Kitov)
One of the earliest known copies of the Ten Commandments was written in soot on a strip of goatskin found among the trove of biblical material known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, widely considered to be one of the great archaeological finds of the 20th century.

Penned on parchment by an unknown scribe more than 2,000 years ago, the scroll fragment is one of humanity’s most precious documents — and so fragile that its custodians rarely permit it to be moved from the secure vault where it rests in complete darkness.

But for 14 days over the next seven months, the Ten Commandments scroll, known to scholars as 4Q41, will make a rare public appearance at the Israel Museum as part of a new exhibit called “A Brief History of Humankind,” a show based on the international best-selling book by Israeli polymath Yuval Noah Harari.