Browsing articles in "Articles"
Mar 17, 2018

An economic Bill of Rights

It’s time to revive an idea floated by Franklin D. Roosevelt, write Mark Paul, Sandy Darity and Darrick Hamilton in the American Prospect:

Many may question in this time of “resistance,” if this is the right time to fight for an expansion of economics rights, but no one wins anything of consequence by simply playing defense.

Read more here.

Jan 29, 2018

The fossil-free future

The clean energy transition has turned a corner, writes Bill McKibben:

The fossil-fuel industry is no longer minting money. It’s been underperforming the rest of the economy—and no wonder. Sun and wind are ultimately free, and that puts remarkable price pressure on the stuff you have to dig up and burn. Every single day, the electric car moves further along the path from novelty to normal… The question now is not whether big oil is going down; the question is how fast—and how we make sure the transition is a just one.

Read more here.

Jan 13, 2018

Why equity-minded foundations are losing the war

In a thought-provoking analysis of the failure of equity-oriented foundations to reverse widening inequality, David Callahan of Inside Philanthropy writes:

Over the past few years, many foundations have put equity front and center in their work….

But guess what? Here in early 2018, economic stratification only seems to be getting worse in America. A new tax law just went into effect that economists say will increase inequality and likely lead to cuts in government safety net programs down the line. And around the U.S., governors and state legislatures are engaged in their own efforts to shift wealth upwards and cut social programs. Meanwhile, even as unemployment drops to near-record lows, millions of working Americans still can’t make ends meet, while the top 1 percent—which owns half of all stocks and mutual funds—grow ever richer from a historic bull market. In many gentrifying cities, boom times have made it harder for low-income households to get by, not easier, by driving up housing prices. And the only thing rising faster than housing prices, it seems, are healthcare premiums and college tuition.

In short, those funders working for equity and against inequality are getting their butts kicked. Why is that?

… here, in a nutshell, is why grantmaker efforts tend to yield so little success: Because equity-minded foundations keep failing to zero in on the all-important sphere of political economy. Inequality mainly stems from how the U.S. economy works and, critically, the range of public policies and power arrangements that govern economic life. Yet, instead of focusing laser-like on this fundamental reality, funders embrace overly diffuse, often localized strategies that yield few larger systemic gains. They win battles here and there, while losing the war.

Read more here.

Jan 11, 2018

Economic theory of relativity

Writing in the New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert describes recent research on the human aversion to inequality:

As any parent knows, children watch carefully when goodies are divvied up. A few years ago, a team of psychologists set out to study how kids too young to wield the word “unfair” would respond to unfairness. They recruited a bunch of preschoolers and grouped them in pairs. The children were offered some blocks to play with and then, after a while, were asked to put them away. As a reward for tidying up, the kids were given stickers. No matter how much each child had contributed to the cleanup effort, one received four stickers and the other two. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children shouldn’t be expected to grasp the idea of counting before the age of four. But even three-year-olds seemed to understand when they’d been screwed. Most of the two-sticker recipients looked enviously at the holdings of their partners. Some said they wanted more. A number of the four-sticker recipients also seemed dismayed by the distribution, or perhaps by their partners’ protests, and handed over some of their winnings. “We can . . . be confident that these actions were guided by an understanding of equality, because in all cases they offered one and only one sticker, which made the outcomes equal,” the researchers reported. The results, they concluded, show that “the emotional response to unfairness emerges very early.”

Read more here.

Jan 7, 2018

Union made

It ain’t rocket science, folks:

Dec 31, 2017

Trickle up

From the new World Inequality Report:

Income shares of the top 1% versus bottom 50% in the United States

Read all about it here.

Dec 7, 2017

Connect these dots

Act 1: Let’s cut taxes!

Act 2: Look at that terrible deficit!

Act 3: Let’s cut Medicare and Social Security!

Now playing at a circus near you:

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Wednesday that congressional Republicans will aim next year to reduce spending on both federal health care and anti-poverty programs, citing the need to reduce America’s deficit. “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” Ryan said…

Ryan’s remarks add to the growing signs that top Republicans aim to cut government spending next year. Republicans are close to passing a tax bill nonpartisan analysts say would increase the deficit by at least $1 trillion over a decade. Trump recently called on Congress to move to cut welfare spending after the tax bill, and Senate Republicans have cited the need to reduce the national deficit while growing the economy.

“You also have to bring spending under control. And not discretionary spending. That isn’t the driver of our debt. The driver of our debt is the structure of Social Security and Medicare for future beneficiaries,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said last week.

Read more here.

Nov 12, 2017

Land of opportunity?

From a new report on wealth inequality in America:

The three wealthiest people in the United States — Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett — now own more wealth than the entire bottom half of the American population combined, a total of 160 million people or 63 million households.

Read it here.

Oct 21, 2017

The human & economic costs of pollution

A new report identifies the #1 cause of death worldwide: pollution.

Environmental pollution — from filthy air to contaminated water — is killing more people every year than all war and violence in the world. More than smoking, hunger or natural disasters. More than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

One out of every six premature deaths in the world in 2015 — about 9 million — could be attributed to disease from toxic exposure, according to a major study released Thursday in the Lancet medical journal. The financial cost from pollution-related death, sickness and welfare is equally massive, the report says, costing some $4.6 trillion in annual losses — or about 6.2 percent of the global economy.

Read more here.

Sep 3, 2017

DNA for a new economy

Econ4’s David Bollier writes in The Nation:

The energy for serious, durable change will originate, as always, on the periphery, far from the guarded sanctums of official power and respectable opinion. Resources may be scarce at the local level, but the potential for innovation is enormous: Here one finds fewer big institutional reputations at stake, a greater openness to risk-taking, and an abundance of grassroots imagination and enthusiasm.

Beyond the Beltway’s gaze, the seeds of a new social economy are being germinated in neighborhoods and farmers’ fields, in community initiatives and on digital platforms. A variety of experimental projects, innovative organizations, and social movements are developing new types of local provisioning and self-governance systems. Aspiring to much more than another wave of incremental reform, most of these actors deliberately bypass conventional politics and policy. In piecemeal fashion, they unabashedly seek to develop the DNA for new types of postcapitalist social and economic institutions.

Read more here.