Editor's note

The Senate approved the Republican tax plan late last night, and the House is set to follow suit later today after a procedural hiccup forced a second vote. This means the president will likely sign the bill into law in time for Christmas as promised. For the American middle class, however, it’s hardly a present, writes Colorado State’s Steven Pressman. It’s more like a lump of coal. The economist chronicles the rise and accelerating fall of the U.S. middle class and argues that the new law will only make things worse.

To get the needed votes to pass, the tax bill opened up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling, a long-sought objective that will certainly please Alaskans and other proponents of domestic drilling. Scott Montgomery of the University of Washington explains how this pristine patch of land embodies a complex – and seemingly intractable – set of conflicts over resource development and wilderness conservation.

And a trio of consumer psychologists sum up their new theory about why shoppers who want to steer clear of brands associated with child labor and other bad baggage may find that they can’t remember which ones to avoid. “Maybe consumers forget,” the scholars write, “when products are made unethically so they can buy what they want without feeling (as) guilty.”

Bryan Keogh

Economics + Business Editor

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A big part of that check is being drawn from middle-class accounts. AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

GOP tax plan doubles down on policies that are crushing the middle class

Steven Pressman, Colorado State University

The American middle class has been on a rocky ride during the 20th century, surging after World War II but falling since the 1980s. The Republican tax plan may be its death knell.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is home to a great diversity of wildlife – one reason environmentalists oppose oil and gas drilling. US Fish and Wildlife Service

Why Americans will never agree on oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Scott L. Montgomery, University of Washington

Alaska and oil proponents are cheering a move to open up an ecologically sensitive part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling -- a position environment supporters can't abide.

You probably don’t remember the Kathie Lee sweatshop scandal of the mid-1990s. What about the more recent debacles? AP Photo/Michael Schmelling

Untrustworthy memories make it hard to shop ethically

Rebecca Walker Reczek, The Ohio State University; Daniel Zane, The Ohio State University; Julie Irwin, University of Texas at Austin

People who see themselves as conscientious consumers often buy items made by companies that violate their values because it's hard to keep that information in mind.

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  • What Kwanzaa means for black Americans

    Frank Dobson, Vanderbilt University

    For the African-American community, Kwanzaa is not just any "black holiday. " It is a recognition that knowledge of black history is worthwhile.

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