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Vox Sentences: The best economic news America’s had in a decade

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what's happening in the world, curated by Dara Lind and Dylan Matthews. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

Basically everybody but the wealthiest Americans got wealthier in 2015; Breadxit, explained; Donald Trump's child care plan.


Really, really, really, really good news

Census bureau chart Census Bureau
  • The median income for US households jumped 5.2 percent from 2014 to 2015. That represents the biggest one-year increase since the Census Bureau started tracking this data in 1968. [NYT / Binyamin Appelbaum]
  • Benefits were felt across the board. Americans in the 10th percentile of income saw their biggest increase ever. So did Americans in the 20th, and 30th … all the way up to 80th. [Justin Wolfers via Twitter]
  • As a result, over 3 million Americans rose out of poverty in 2015 — making the biggest relative gains on poverty since 1999. [Reuters / Lucia Mutikani and Susan Heavey]
  • It's extremely difficult to overstate how big a deal this is. The Great Recession ended years ago, but economists have worried that prosperity has been slow to return to most Americans. This is a huge step forward. [Huffington Post / Jonathan Cohn]
  • Gains aren't being evenly distributed in every respect. Rural areas, for example, have been left behind. [Vox / Timothy B. Lee]
  • But the improvement is certainly widespread enough to cast certain economic concerns — like the question of why fewer young men are in the workforce — in a less than dire light. [The Atlantic / Derek Thompson]

Telly rolls

BBC photo of Great British Bake Off hosts BBC
  • The Great British Bake Off is leaving its home on the BBC for Channel 4 (another publicly-owned, free-access channel, but with ads), and it's losing its hosts, Sue and Mel, in the move. [BBC]
  • You may not understand what a BFD this is. Let's put it this way: During the premiere of its latest season last month, half of all UK televisions were tuned to the program. [Hollywood Reporter / Michael O'Connell]
  • It also has a cult of appreciation in the US (where only older seasons are available). I (Dara) have never seen it but Dylan and our colleague Libby Nelson are ardent fans. [Vox / Libby Nelson]
  • Sadly for the BBC, it was so popular that rights to future seasons simply got too expensive to afford — at least without the additional ad revenue that Channel 4 has to enrich its coffers.
  • This is a serious defeat for the BBC, and one that suggests it's being deliberately diminished in its scope by the current UK government. [The Conversation / Des Freedman]
  • The minority Labour Party is all too eager to lay the blame for "Breadxit" at the feet of the Conservative government — they say the BBC couldn't afford to keep the GBBO because it's started having to pay for the TV licenses of older Brits (something that used to be tax-funded directly). [The Independent / Adam Lusher]
  • The BBC is definitely on hard times. Its director resigned Tuesday. The licensing setback was cited as a reason for her departure; Breadxit, somehow, was not. [The Guardian / Jane Martinson and Rowena Mason]
  • And while the Tories have given up their plans to privatize Channel 4 entirely, they're still considering selling stakes in the network. [The Guardian / Mark Sweney]
  • In the end, the move is something like the decamping of Sesame Streetfrom PBS to HBO earlier this year. If Sesame Street had also lost Big Bird and Cookie Monster. [The Verge / Ben Popper and Dan Seifert]

Government-paid child care: almost as European as fear of immigrants!

Donald Trump speaking Matt McClain/ The Washington Post via Getty Images
  • Donald Trump is expected to unveil his proposal for guaranteed maternity leave for all American workers at a speech Tuesday night. [ABC News / Candace Smith]
  • This is the first time a Republican presidential candidate has proposed that parental leave — something research has shown is beneficial to both children and parents — be guaranteed and paid for by the government. [CNN / Kelly Wallace and Jen Christensen]
  • Some details of the plan are out in advance (and even though this is Trump, he tends to stick to the script at times like this). It's a broad, but thin, program that would offer some relief to struggling families, but maybe not enough to make a real difference. [CNN / Jeanne Sahadi]
  • The problem: paying for it. The campaign initially suggested they'd fund maternity leave by getting rid of fraud in unemployment insurance — which gets them, at best, 20 percent of the way there. [Vox / Libby Nelson]
  • For the rest, it's insisting that Trump's previously-proposed tax overhaul would generate the needed revenue — by spurring economic growth. This is something of an underpants-gnome proposal. [NPR / Scott Detrow and Domenico Montenaro]
  • Ivanka Trump, whose career brand is caring about working women and mothers, is undeniably the force behind the childcare proposal (her father characterized it as her begging "Daddy" to release a plan). [WSJ / Michael D. Bender]
  • But Ivanka's career is independent of her father's. It's worth watching Trump's proposal closely as a potential trial balloon for what "Ivanka-ism" — a middle-class, work-centered feminism — might look like as a policy agenda. [Vox / Libby Nelson]

Miscellaneous

  • You can see the Pittsburgh renaissance everywhere except in literally every statistic [Bloomberg / Justin Fox]
  • Nelly owes $2.4 million in back taxes. That can be paid back through 287 million Spotify streams of "Hot in Herre." Get on it. [NY Mag / Brian Feldman]
  • One simple way to increase attendance at schools serving low-income communities: offer washing machines. [CityLab / Mimi Kirk]
  • An elite high school's beloved theater teacher was forced out after multiple allegations of sexual abuse. Many parents thought it was long overdue. Many kids, particularly queer students, thought it was a homophobic witch hunt. [NY Mag / Suzy Khimm]
  • The top four finishers in the Paralympics' 1500-meter race for visually impaired athletes all finished faster than the Olympic gold medalist. [CNN / Danielle Rossingh]

Verbatim

  • "The underpants are everywhere at 'Sir Sunday,' Washington’s first all-male burlesque brunch … 'It’s September 11!' a woman tells her sister. 'Honestly, though, what a great way to celebrate America.'" [Washington Post / Jessica Contrera]
  • "On November 10, 1898, a coup d’état took place on United States soil. It was perpetrated by a gang of white-supremacist Democrats in Wilmington, North Carolina, who were intent on reclaiming power from the recently elected, biracial Republican government, even if, as one of the leaders vowed, 'we have to choke the Cape Fear River with carcasses.'" [New Yorker / Lauren Collins]
  • "When President Obama took office, two-thirds of his top aides were men. Women complained of having to elbow their way into important meetings. And when they got in, their voices were sometimes ignored. So female staffers adopted a meeting strategy they called 'amplification': When a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author. This forced the men in the room to recognize the contribution — and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own." [Washington Post / Juliet Eilperin]
  • "According to a 2013 estimate, the assets of Ukraine’s fifty richest individuals make up more than forty-five per cent of the country’s G.D.P., compared with less than twenty per cent in Russia (and less than ten per cent in the United States)." [New Yorker / Joshua Yaffa]
  • "imagine a day in the life of a typical American and ask: How long does it take for her to interact with a market that isn’t nearly monopolized? She wakes up to browse the internet, access to which is sold through a local monopoly. She stocks up on food at a superstore such as Walmart, which owns a quarter of the grocery market. If she gets indigestion, she might go to a pharmacy, likely owned by one of three companies controlling 99 percent of that market." [The Atlantic / Derek Thompson]

Watch this: Products that promise “detox” are a sham. Yes, all of them.

Humans have worried about toxins since Ancient Egypt. We can relax. [YouTube / Christophe Haubursin, Julia Belluz]