Daily Digest - October 24: Redefining Corporate Goals Could Rein in CEO Pay

Oct 24, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Understanding the CEO Pay Debate: A Primer on America's Ongoing C-Suite Conversation (Roosevelt Institute)

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Understanding the CEO Pay Debate: A Primer on America's Ongoing C-Suite Conversation (Roosevelt Institute)

In their primer, Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Holmberg and Campus Network member Michael Umbrecht suggest a shift away from shareholder primacy to reduce incentives for high CEO pay. 

One-Third of Top Websites Restrict Customers’ Right to Sue (NYT)

Jeremy B. Merrill reports on major consumer websites that restrict customers' ability to take legal action, even when the companies engage in harmful activity like conspiring to fix hotel room prices.

Majority of Bank Risk Managers Are Worried About the Wealth Gap (WSJ)

Nick Timiraos looks at a new study on bank risk managers' concerns regarding the health of our financial system. Only 14 percent think inequality doesn't pose any threat at all.

This City Came Up With a Simple Solution to Homelessness: Housing (The Nation)

Kara Dansky profiles Salt Lake City's shift to a Housing First model, which recognizes that long-term housing for the homeless is cheaper than standard interventions like shelters and emergency services.

The Terrifying Idea That the Economy Might Stay Stuck Forever Just Got More Terrifying (WaPo)

Matt O'Brien lays out a new study's model for secular stagnation -- i.e., a potentially never-ending economic slump -- in the U.S., and explains what will be needed to break the cycle.

Fed’s Loan Scrutiny Leaves Banks Passing on Buyout Deals (Bloomberg News)

Christine Idzelis and Alex Sherman report that the big banks' decision to pass on high-scrutiny deals is opening up opportunities for their smaller competitors.

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The Phenomenology of Google's Self-Driving Cars

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal says that driving requires some unconscious and reflexive learning that artificial intelligence just can't duplicate, and that will create an obstacle for driverless cars.

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The Phenomenology of Google's Self-Driving Cars

Oct 23, 2014Mike Konczal

(image via NYPL)

Guess what? I’m challenging you to a game of tennis in three days. Here’s an issue though: I don’t know anything about tennis and have never played it, and the same goes for you.

In order to prepare for the game, we are each going to do something very different. I’m going to practice playing with someone else who isn’t very good. You, meanwhile, are going to train with an expert. But you are only going to train by talking about tennis with the expert, and never actually play. The expert will tell you everything you need to know in order to win at tennis, but you won’t actually get any practice.

Chances are I’m going to win the game. Why? Because the task of playing tennis isn’t just reducible to learning a set of things to do in a certain order. There’s a level of knowledge and skills that become unconsciously incorporated into the body. As David Foster Wallace wrote about tennis, “The sort of thinking involved is the sort that can be done only by a living and highly conscious entity, and then it can really be done only unconsciously, i.e., by fusing talent with repetition to such an extent that the variables are combined and controlled without conscious thought.” Practicing doesn’t mean learning rules faster; it means your body knows instinctively where to put the tennis racket.

The same can be said of most skills, like learning how to play an instrument. Expert musicians instinctively know how the instrument works. And the same goes for driving. Drivers obviously learn certain rules (“stop at the stop sign”) and heuristics (“slow down during rain”), but much of driving is done unconsciously and reflexively. Indeed a driver who needs to think through procedurally how to deal with, say, a snowy off ramp will be more at risk of an accident than someone who instinctively knows what to do. A proficient driver is one who can spend their mental energy making more subtle and refined decisions based on determining what is salient about a specific situation, as past experiences unconsciously influence current experiences. Our bodies and minds aren’t just a series of logic statements but also a series of lived-through meanings.

This is my intro-level remembrance of Hubert Dreyfus’ argument against artificial intelligence via Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology (more via Wikipedia). It’s been a long time since I followed any of this, and I’m not able to keep up with the current debates. As I understand it Dreyfus’ arguments were hated by computers scientists in the 1970s, then appreciated in the 1990s, and now computer scientists assume cheap computing power can use brute force and some probability theory to work around it.

But my vague memory of these debates is why I imagine driverless cars are going to hit a much bigger obstacle than most. I was reminded of all this via a recent article on Slate about Google's driverless cars from Lee Gomes:

[T]he Google car was able to do so much more than its predecessors in large part because the company had the resources to do something no other robotic car research project ever could: develop an ingenious but extremely expensive mapping system. These maps contain the exact three-dimensional location of streetlights, stop signs, crosswalks, lane markings, and every other crucial aspect of a roadway [...] But the maps have problems, starting with the fact that the car can’t travel a single inch without one. [...]

Because it can't tell the difference between a big rock and a crumbled-up piece of newspaper, it will try to drive around both if it encounters either sitting in the middle of the road. [...] Computer scientists have various names for the ability to synthesize and respond to this barrage of unpredictable information: "generalized intelligence,” "situational awareness,” "everyday common sense." It's been the dream of artificial intelligence researchers since the advent of computers. And it remains just that.

Focus your attention on the issue that the car can’t tell the difference between a dangerous rock to avoid and a newspaper to drive through. As John Dewey found when he demolished the notion of a reflex arc, reflexes become instinctual so attention is paid only when something new breaks the habitual response. Or, experienced human drivers don’t see the rock, and then decide to move. They just as much decide to move because that forces them to see the rock. The functionalist breakdown, necessary to the propositional logic of computer programming, is just an ex post justification for a whole, organic action. This is the "everyday common sense" alluded to in the piece.

Or let’s put it a different way. Imagine learning tennis by setting up one of those machines that shoots tennis balls at you, the same repetitive way. There would be a strict limit in how much you could learn, or how much that one motion would translate into you being able to play an entire game. But by teaching cars to drive by essentially having them follow a map means that they are playing tennis by just repeating the same ball toss, over and over again.

Again, I’m willing to sustain the argument that the pure, brute force of computing power will be enough - stack enough processors on top of each other and they’ll eventually bang out an answer on what to do. But if the current action requires telling cars absolutely everything that will be around them, instead of some sort of computational ability react to the road itself, including via experience, this will be a much harder issue. I hope it works, but maybe we can slow down the victory laps that are already calling massive overhauls to our understanding of public policy (like the idea that public buses are obsolete) until these cars encounter a situation they don't know in advance.

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(image via NYPL)

Guess what? I’m challenging you to a game of tennis in three days. Here’s an issue though: I don’t know anything about tennis and have never played it, and the same goes for you.

In order to prepare for the game, we are each going to do something very different. I’m going to practice playing with someone else who isn’t very good. You, meanwhile, are going to train with an expert. But you are only going to train by talking about tennis with the expert, and never actually play. The expert will tell you everything you need to know in order to win at tennis, but you won’t actually get any practice.

Chances are I’m going to win the game. Why? Because the task of playing tennis isn’t just reducible to learning a set of things to do in a certain order. There’s a level of knowledge and skills that become unconsciously incorporated into the body. As David Foster Wallace wrote about tennis, “The sort of thinking involved is the sort that can be done only by a living and highly conscious entity, and then it can really be done only unconsciously, i.e., by fusing talent with repetition to such an extent that the variables are combined and controlled without conscious thought.” Practicing doesn’t mean learning rules faster; it means your body knows instinctively where to put the tennis racket.

The same can be said of most skills, like learning how to play an instrument. Expert musicians instinctively know how the instrument works. And the same goes for driving. Drivers obviously learn certain rules (“stop at the stop sign”) and heuristics (“slow down during rain”), but much of driving is done unconsciously and reflexively. Indeed a driver who needs to think through procedurally how to deal with, say, a snowy off ramp will be more at risk of an accident than someone who instinctively knows what to do. A proficient driver is one who can spend their mental energy making more subtle and refined decisions based on determining what is salient about a specific situation, as past experiences unconsciously influence current experiences. Our bodies and minds aren’t just a series of logic statements but also a series of lived-through meanings.

This is my intro-level remembrance of Hubert Dreyfus’ argument against artificial intelligence via Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology (more via Wikipedia). It’s been a long time since I followed any of this, and I’m not able to keep up with the current debates. As I understand it Dreyfus’ arguments were hated by computers scientists in the 1970s, then appreciated in the 1990s, and now computer scientists assume cheap computing power can use brute force and some probability theory to work around it.

But my vague memory of these debates is why I imagine driverless cars are going to hit a much bigger obstacle than most. I was reminded of all this via a recent article on Slate about Google's driverless cars from Lee Gomes:

[T]he Google car was able to do so much more than its predecessors in large part because the company had the resources to do something no other robotic car research project ever could: develop an ingenious but extremely expensive mapping system. These maps contain the exact three-dimensional location of streetlights, stop signs, crosswalks, lane markings, and every other crucial aspect of a roadway [...] But the maps have problems, starting with the fact that the car can’t travel a single inch without one. [...]

Because it can't tell the difference between a big rock and a crumbled-up piece of newspaper, it will try to drive around both if it encounters either sitting in the middle of the road. [...] Computer scientists have various names for the ability to synthesize and respond to this barrage of unpredictable information: "generalized intelligence,” "situational awareness,” "everyday common sense." It's been the dream of artificial intelligence researchers since the advent of computers. And it remains just that.

Focus your attention on the issue that the car can’t tell the difference between a dangerous rock to avoid and a newspaper to drive through. As John Dewey found when he demolished the notion of a reflex arc, reflexes become instinctual so attention is paid only when something new breaks the habitual response. Or, experienced human drivers don’t see the rock, and then decide to move. They just as much decide to move because that forces them to see the rock. The functionalist breakdown, necessary to the propositional logic of computer programming, is just an ex post justification for a whole, organic action. This is the "everyday common sense" alluded to in the piece.

Or let’s put it a different way. Imagine learning tennis by setting up one of those machines that shoots tennis balls at you, the same repetitive way. There would be a strict limit in how much you could learn, or how much that one motion would translate into you being able to play an entire game. But by teaching cars to drive by essentially having them follow a map means that they are playing tennis by just repeating the same ball toss, over and over again.

Again, I’m willing to sustain the argument that the pure, brute force of computing power will be enough - stack enough processors on top of each other and they’ll eventually bang out an answer on what to do. But if the current action requires telling cars absolutely everything that will be around them, instead of some sort of computational ability react to the road itself, including via experience, this will be a much harder issue. I hope it works, but maybe we can slow down the victory laps that are already calling massive overhauls to our understanding of public policy (like the idea that public buses are obsolete) until these cars encounter a situation they don't know in advance.

Follow or contact the Rortybomb blog:
 
  

 

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Daily Digest - October 23: A Complex Financial System Begets Complex Regulations

Oct 23, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Dodd-Frank Spawns Software to Comprehend Dodd-Frank (Marketplace)

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Dodd-Frank Spawns Software to Comprehend Dodd-Frank (Marketplace)

Sabri Ben-Achour speaks to Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal and others about the complexity of the Volcker Rule. Mike says the scrutiny of the courts has made some rules clunkier than necessary.

Unions Keep Pushing Emanuel to Challenge Interest Rate Hedges (Crain's Chicago Business)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Brad Miller has joined the push to convince the Chicago Board of Education to seek legal remedies for some bad financial transactions, writes Greg Hinz.

The Big Bank Backlash Begins (ProPublica)

Jesse Eisinger reports on the banks' take on current regulatory practices, after attending a conference where their lawyers discussed strategies for dealing with tough regulators.

Should the Poor Be Allowed to Vote? (The Atlantic)

Peter Beinart says voter ID laws are part of a long and unfortunate American tradition of distrusting poor people's ability to make reasoned political choices.

America's Middle Class Knows It Faces a Grim Retirement (LA Times)

Michael Hiltzik looks at a scary set of survey results from Wells Fargo, and says that expanding Social Security is the best option to ensure that retirement is possible for the middle class.

The Sharing Economy’s ‘First Strike’: Uber Drivers Turn Off the App (In These Times)

In what some are calling the first labor strike in the sharing economy, Uber drivers in five cities stopped picking up rides yesterday, reports Rebecca Burns.

Can Student Credit Unions Solve the College Affordability Problem? (The Nation)

Helene Barthelemy reports on a Columbia University group's attempt to open a fully student-run credit union on campus, with broad goals that include offering lower rate student loans.

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Daily Digest - October 22: Taking Organized Labor Beyond Collective Bargaining

Oct 22, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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The Seeds of a New Labor Movement (TAP)

Harold Meyerson profiles David Rolf of SEIU and his work to push labor organizations beyond collective bargaining to incorporate minimum wage fights and other organizing work.

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The Seeds of a New Labor Movement (TAP)

Harold Meyerson profiles David Rolf of SEIU and his work to push labor organizations beyond collective bargaining to incorporate minimum wage fights and other organizing work.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch's report lays out policy ideas for reinvigorating the labor movement.

Holiday Shopping Season Kicks Off With Temp Workers Who Have No Rights (The Guardian)

Siri Srinivas says Amazon's annual hiring of thousands of temp workers to staff its warehouses during the busy holiday season highlights the lack of protections for U.S. workers.

States Ease Laws That Protected Poor Borrowers (NYT)

Michael Corkery reports on recent efforts by the consumer loan lobby to permit higher interest rates on riskier loans. These changes are opposed by many, including military leaders.

America’s Ugly Economic Truth: Why Austerity is Generating Another Slowdown (Salon)

David Dayen says that our economic October surprise, which includes stock market slumps and interest rate drops, is indicative of a larger global problem caused by austerity politics.

Ebola Galvanizes Workers Battling to Join Unions, Improve Safety (Reuters)

For workers exposed to bodily fluids, like those who clean airplane bathrooms, lack of clarity around Ebola safety has kicked union organizers into overdrive, writes Mica Rosenberg.

Republicans Trying to Woo, or at Least Suppress, Minority Vote (NY Mag)

Jonathan Chait looks at the Republican Party's split strategy, which simultaneously attempts to convince minority voters to vote for them while pushing laws that make it more difficult to vote.

Federal Reserve Officials Scold Bankers, Again (Buzzfeed)

Matthew Zeitlin reports on statements by the New York Federal Reserve president at a conference on Monday, where he questioned whether large banks can be managed effectively.

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Daily Digest - October 21: Pregnancy Is Not a Performance Issue

Oct 21, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Baby on Way, Worker Gets Her Job Back (NYT)

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Baby on Way, Worker Gets Her Job Back (NYT)

Angelica Valencia was fired when doctor's orders limited her from overtime during her pregnancy, but was helped by New York City's Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, writes Rachel Swarns.

Work-Sharing: A Socialist Alternative to Layoffs? (The Nation)

Michelle Chen looks at government-supported work-sharing, in which many workers' hours are cut and the government subsidizes their lost wages, as a fix for underemployment.

Can Homeless People Move Into Baltimore's Abandoned Houses? (The Atlantic)

Alana Semuels reports on activists' push to create affordable housing for Baltimore's homeless. Their plan involves buying abandoned properties with a community land trust.

Yes, the Federal Reserve Can Reduce Inequality. (WaPo)

Jared Bernstein says that by doing its job right -- which means fighting unemployment, reducing bubbles and busts, and initiating important research -- the Fed will reduce inequality.

Republicans Say Minimum Wage Hikes Hurt Job Growth. Here's What the Evidence Says. (TNR)

A new study on job growth among low-wage workers shows that states that increased their minimum wage saw very slightly stronger job growth, writes Danny Vinik.

Good Jobs No Longer an Afterthought in Awarding Lavish Transit Contracts (AJAM)

Haya El Nasser explains a new coalition's efforts to ensure companies competing for transit contracts hire American workers, with a goal of rewarding better employers.

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Daily Digest - October 20: Charity Never Helped Every Person in Need

Oct 20, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Iowa’s Tea Party Disaster: Joni Ernst’s Shocking Ideas About the Welfare State (Salon)

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Iowa’s Tea Party Disaster: Joni Ernst’s Shocking Ideas About the Welfare State (Salon)

Elias Isquith references Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal's Democracy Journal article on voluntarism to explain why Ernst is so wrong about the place of charity in the social safety net.

Policymakers Slowly Acknowledge What Marketers Have Known for Years: Millennials Exist (Fusion)

Emily DeRuy reports on Millennials Rising, quoting Roosevelt Institute Vice President of Networks Taylor Jo Isenberg on why Millennials feel disconnected from policymaking.

Amity Shlaes: If Being Wrong About the Economy Is Wrong, I Don’t Wanna Be Right (NY Mag)

Jonathan Chait responds to Amity Shlaes's defense of a 2010 letter warning the Fed about inflation that never came. He points out the need to balance that risk with the reality of unemployment.

Rising Inequality: Janet Yellen Tells It Like It Is (New Yorker)

John Cassidy discusses the importance of the Federal Reserve Chair's Friday speech, which questioned whether rising inequality threatens American values of opportunity.

Amazon’s Monopsony Is Not O.K. (NYT)

The current fight between Amazon and Hachette proves that Amazon is abusing its power, writes Paul Krugman, who compares Amazon's business practices to Standard Oil.

The Epic Struggle Over Retirement (AJAM)

Susan Greenbaum says that allowing Wall Street to attempt to fix pensions by turning them into defined contribution plans managed by Wall Street would be disastrous.

Workers Bring $15 Hourly Wage Challenge to Walmart (The Nation)

Michelle Chen reports on recent demonstrations by Walmart workers fighting for a better workplace. Walmart's willingness to "end minimum-wage pay" isn't enough to bring workers out of poverty.

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Daily Digest - October 17: The False Prophets of the Invisible Hand

Oct 17, 2014Tim Price

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What Markets Will (NYT)

Many economic analysts talk about the market as a kind of divine force, writes Paul Krugman, but they're only using it as an excuse to justify their own desire for more human sacrifice.

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What Markets Will (NYT)

Many economic analysts talk about the market as a kind of divine force, writes Paul Krugman, but they're only using it as an excuse to justify their own desire for more human sacrifice.

AbbVie Board Ditches Planned $55 Billion Shire Acquisition (Reuters)

The pharmaceutical company has abandoned plans to shift its tax base to the U.K., reports Ben Hirschler, because new rules make it harder to dodge U.S. taxes through such inversion schemes.

How the Fed Is Trying to Fill in the Gaps of Monetary Policy (WaPo)

Janet Yellen met with nonprofits and community developers in Chelsea, MA yesterday to discuss how Federal Reserve policy can better support working-class cities, reports Ylan Q. Mui.

Even Red-State Voters Want to Raise the Minimum Wage (The Nation)

Minimum wage increases will be on the ballot this fall in some states that lean heavily Republican, writes John Nichols, despite opposition from the top leadership of the party.

$10.10 Minimum Wage Would Save The U.S. Government $7.6 Billion A Year (HuffPost)

A new study from the Economic Policy Institute shows that a higher minimum wage would allow 1.7 million workers to stop relying on public assistance programs, reports Kevin Short.

Companies Warn That Income Inequality Is Hurting Their Business (ThinkProgress)

An analysis of corporate filings finds that many of the largest U.S. retail companies are concerned that their customers are not earning enough money to support sales, writes Alan Pyke.

The Volcker Rule: How a Simple Idea to Rein In Banks Got Supersized (Bloomberg View)

A straightforward proposal to ban proprietary trading has ballooned to hundreds of pages, leading some to call for the return of Glass-Steagall as an alternative, writes Yalman Onaran.

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Daily Digest - October 16: Can a Nobel Change the FCC's Tactics?

Oct 16, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Nobel-Winning Message for the FCC (Bloomberg View)

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Nobel-Winning Message for the FCC (Bloomberg View)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford asks whether Jean Tirole's new Nobel Prize might convince the Federal Communications Commission to reconsider his work on regulating communications utilities.

Retail Group's Report Aims to Counter Wage 'Misperceptions' (Chicago Tribune)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Annette Bernhardt tells Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz that the National Retail Federation's report is "an astonishing exercise in tautology" that ignores the industry's bad jobs.

Nurses Union: ‘We’ve Been Lied To’ About Ebola Preparedness (MSNBC)

National Nurses United is accusing the Centers for Disease Control of insufficiently training nurses for the front-line work needed to fight this potential epidemic, reports Ned Resnikoff.

Wall Street Might Know Something the Rest of Us Don’t (NYT)

Neil Irwin suggests that current drops in the stock market need not be seen as a sign of another crisis brewing: more likely, the market is falling back in line with the rest of the economy.

When the Workday Never Really Ends (The Nation)

Michelle Chen looks at new research on how so-called flexible scheduling disrupts the lives of low-income workers with "normal unpredictability" in already-precarious industries.

What’s the Punishment for Ripping Off Consumers? (Medium)

The typical regulatory response to large financial institutions lying to customers is a fine, and Felix Salmon says these fines aren't high enough to be an actual punishment or force change.

Gar Alperovitz on Why the New Economy Movement Needs to Think Big (Yes Magazine)

Scott Gast reviews Alperovitz's new book, What Then Must We Do?, in which he lays out the possibility of a new economic system built up from worker cooperatives.

New on Next New Deal

Threat of Ebola Highlights Problems in the U.S. Public Health System

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Senior Fellow for Health Care Emily Cerciello says the two cases of Ebola transmitted in the U.S. prove the need for improved public health infrastructure and guidelines.

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Threat of Ebola Highlights Problems in the U.S. Public Health System

Oct 15, 2014Emily Cerciello

It is likely that Ebola will be contained in the United States, but errors in Texas show we have room for improvement in responding to public health emergencies.

It is likely that Ebola will be contained in the United States, but errors in Texas show we have room for improvement in responding to public health emergencies.

On October 15, the second case of Ebola transmitted in the United States was confirmed in Texas between patient Thomas Eric Duncan and a health worker. Even more frightening, perhaps, is the sequence of events leading up to the transmission, and the many questions it generates about the preparedness of the U.S. in responding to public health emergencies.

Six days after Duncan arrived in the United States  – having passed a screening for fever at a Liberian airport – his symptoms progressed and he sought care at a Texas hospital, where he was promptly sent home with antibiotics.

The hospital claimed his early discharge was the fault of the electronic health record (EHR) for not communicating the patient’s travel history, but soon issued a correction saying his history was “available to the full care team…there was no flaw in the EHR.”

No matter who or what is at fault for letting Duncan fall through the cracks, we cannot let this huge breach in protocol happen again.

More than a week later, and several days after the patient was confirmed to have Ebola, the apartment at which he was staying with four individuals remained unsterilized. The quarantined family had the responsibility of arranging clean bedding until a waste management company agreed to clean the apartment. When they arrived, contractors wore no protective equipment and used power washers to sanitize – a practice which is likely not the most effective method of treating infectious surfaces.

And then, on October 12, the CDC confirmed that a nurse who had worn full protective gear while treating Duncan had contracted Ebola due to a yet unknown breach in protocol. On, October 15, another nurse who treated Duncan was confirmed to have the virus, showing symptoms just one day after boarding a commercial flight returning from Cleveland to Dallas.

These events point to several issues in the U.S. public health infrastructure: who is in charge when high-stakes infectious diseases spread? How should the U.S. prevent diseases originating in other countries? What can we learn from this case to prevent other errors in the system?

First, we need to decide who, or which agency, is in charge when a public health emergency occurs. Larry Copeland, a reporter at USA Todayagrees. Currently, the CDC provides assistance and guidelines to states and educates providers about how to prepare for Ebola. The choice to enact these protocols and successful operation of these procedures remains with the states. The CDC also issues guidelines to prohibit practitioners who have treated Ebola patients from boarding commercial flights. Separately, the Department of Homeland Security controls issues of air travel, including providing guidance to airlines and calling for symptom screenings at high-profile airports.

So there is no single entity leading the public health response to Ebola. While the CDC may fall into this role, it is up to individual hospitals and practitioners to respond promptly and effectively. Unfortunately, in Texas, several errors – including sending the patient home while infected, delaying sanitation of the patient's apartment, and developing two more confirmed cases – showcase how disorganization in public health can lead to unfavorable outcomes.

And how should the U.S. prevent diseases originating in other countries? Experts agree that closing borders of West African countries would worsen the crisis. Unfortunately, the issue of Ebola as it relates to air travel has become politicized by conservatives, prompting CDC Director Tom Frieden to speak out strongly against a travel banConservative Republicans have even attempted to relate Ebola to anti-immigration reform by claiming that migrants from Central America could bring Ebola through the southern U.S. border (despite the fact that no outbreak of Ebola has ever occurred in Latin America).

In a press conference, Dr. Frieden assured that strong core public health functions could stop the spread of Ebola. Although the CDC and public health workers successfully tracked close contacts of Duncan and isolated those at high risk, those steps could not stop the first incorrect diagnosis or the spread to front-line health workers – arguably the most important role in stopping the epidemic.

The implications of public health slipups cannot be understated. We need to start a conversation about the relationship between federal, state and local public health authorities. We need to simplify and communicate protocols to hospitals and ensure that providers and communities are enacting preparations for infectious diseases. Valuing the field of public health as much as we do individual appointment-based care is essential to stopping an epidemic. We need to organize authority and mobilize an informed and efficient workforce to improve the preparedness of the U.S. health system in responding to public health emergencies.

Emily Cerciello is the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Senior Fellow for Health Care, and a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Daily Digest - October 15: "Fifteen and a Union" Goes Beyond Fast Food

Oct 15, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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America’s Fastest-Growing Profession is Joining a Very Public Fight for Higher Wages (WaPo)

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America’s Fastest-Growing Profession is Joining a Very Public Fight for Higher Wages (WaPo)

Lydia DePillis looks at the differences in home health aides' fight for "15 and a union" when compared to fast food workers. For one, most home health aides are paid by Medicaid.

Gov. Scott Walker on the Minimum Wage: "I Don't Think It Serves a Purpose" (MoJo)

Andy Kroll places the Wisconsin governor's comments in context with his other remarks opposing the minimum wage, and his state's strong support for an increase.

Can Rehabilitating Prisoners Repair Wall Street’s Broken Reputation? (Buzzfeed)

Matthew Zeitlin questions whether financial products that fund social services are more than just a charm offensive meant to make Wall Street look nicer to the public.

Americans Face Post-Foreclosure Hell as Wages Garnished, Assets Seized (Reuters)

An uptick in "deficiency judgements," in which banks go after debt that wasn't covered by a foreclosure sale, is preventing people from moving forward after the Recession, writes Michelle Conlin.

When the Guy Making Your Sandwich Has a Noncompete Clause (NYT)

Neil Irwin says the noncompete clauses for "sandwich artists" at Jimmy John's typify the trend toward practices and procedures that leave low-wage workers even worse off.

Walmart’s Cuts to Worker Compensation Are Self-Defeating (AJAM)

By raising workers' share of insurance premiums, David Cay Johnston says that Walmart and other companies are only ensuring their own customers have less to spend.

The Real World of Reality TV: Worker Exploitation (In These Times)

David Dayen explains the difficult working conditions of the writers and editors who create "unscripted" reality television in light of one staff's recent push for unionization.

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