Browsing articles in "Articles"

Inequality of opportunity

Nov 21, 2014   //   by boyce   //   Articles, Media Library  //  No Comments

Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz writes:

A rich country with millions of poor people. A country that prides itself on being the land of opportunity, but in which a child’s prospects are more dependent on the income and education of his or her parents than in other advanced countries. A country that believes in fair play, but in which the richest often pay a smaller percentage of their income in taxes than those less well off. A country in which children every day pledge allegiance to the flag, asserting that there is “justice for all,” but in which, increasingly, there is only justice for those who can afford it. These are the contradictions that the United States is gradually and painfully struggling to come to terms with as it begins to comprehend the enormity of the inequalities that mark its society.

Read more here.

More on Ebola and profit-guided health care

Nov 5, 2014   //   by boyce   //   Articles  //  No Comments

Unusually blunt words from World Health Organization Director Margaret Chan:

Ebola emerged nearly four decades ago. Why are clinicians still empty-handed, with no vaccines and no cure?

Because Ebola has historically been confined to poor African nations. The R&D incentive is virtually non-existent. A profit-driven industry does not invest in products for markets that cannot pay. WHO has been trying to make this issue visible for ages. Now people can see for themselves.

Read her speech here. See press coverage here.

Why no Ebola vaccine?

Oct 24, 2014   //   by boyce   //   Articles, Media Library  //  No Comments

When the availability of health care is guided by corporate profit and state security, poor Africans just don’t count:

Almost a decade ago, scientists from Canada and the United States reported that they had created a vaccine that was 100 percent effective in protecting monkeys against the Ebola virus. The results were published in a respected journal, and health officials called them exciting. The researchers said tests in people might start within two years, and a product could potentially be ready for licensing by 2010 or 2011.

It never happened. The vaccine sat on a shelf. Only now is it undergoing the most basic safety tests in humans — with nearly 5,000 people dead from Ebola and an epidemic raging out of control in West Africa.

Its development stalled in part because Ebola is rare, and until now, outbreaks had infected only a few hundred people at a time. But experts also acknowledge that the absence of follow-up on such a promising candidate reflects a broader failure to produce medicines and vaccines for diseases that afflict poor countries. Most drug companies have resisted spending the enormous sums needed to develop products useful mostly to countries with little ability to pay.

Read more here.

Standard & Poor's hits impact of inequality on state tax revenues

Sep 15, 2014   //   by boyce   //   Articles  //  No Comments

S&P makes another important connection:

Extending our analysis to public finance, we find that income inequality is undermining the rate of state tax revenue growth.

For the report, see here.

For press coverage, see here.

 

Standard & Poor's hits U.S. income inequality

Sep 15, 2014   //   by boyce   //   Articles  //  No Comments

From an August 2014 report by S&P:

  • At extreme levels, income inequality can harm sustained economic growth over long periods. The U.S. is approaching that threshold.
  • Standard & Poor’s sees extreme income inequality as a drag on long-run economic growth. We’ve reduced our 10-year U.S. growth forecast to a 2.5% rate. We expected 2.8% five years ago.

For the report, see here.

For press coverage, see here.

Dividends for all?

Sep 1, 2014   //   by boyce   //   Articles  //  No Comments

From Peter Barnes on PBS Newshour, discussing his new book With Liberty and Dividends for All:

Dividends from common wealth, by contrast, unite society by putting all its members in the same boat. The income everyone receives is a right, not a handout. This changes the story, the psychology and the politics.

Read more here.

The carbon dividend

Aug 8, 2014   //   by econ4org   //   Articles  //  No Comments

Econ4′s James Boyce writes on newly introduced climate legislation:

A major obstacle to climate policy in the United States has been the perception that the government is telling us how to live today in the name of those who will live tomorrow. Present-day pain for future gain is never an easy sell. And many Americans have a deep aversion to anything that smells like bigger government.

What if we could find a way to put more money in the pockets of families and less carbon in the atmosphere without expanding government? If the combination sounds too good to be true, read on.

Read his oped piece in the New York Times here. Read more about the new bill here.

Banking on tax avoidance

Aug 8, 2014   //   by econ4org   //   Articles  //  No Comments

When corporations avoid taxes, investment banks take their cut:

Investment banks are estimated to have collected, or will soon collect, nearly $1 billion in fees over the last three years advising and persuading American companies to move the address of their headquarters abroad (without actually moving). With seven- and eight-figure fees up for grabs, Wall Street bankers — and lawyers, consultants and accountants — have been promoting such deals, known as inversions, to some of the biggest companies in the country, including the American drug giant Pfizer.

Just last week, President Obama criticized these types of transactions, calling the companies engaged in them “corporate deserters.” “My attitude,” he said, “is I don’t care if it’s legal. It’s wrong.”

Read more here. Read President Obama’s remarks on “corporate deserters” here.

Sadomonetarism

Jul 12, 2014   //   by boyce   //   Articles  //  No Comments

Krugman on the political roots of sadistic monetary policy:

Before the financial crisis, many central bankers and economists were, it’s now clear, living in a fantasy world, imagining themselves to be technocrats insulated from the political fray. After all, their job was to steer the economy between the shoals of inflation and depression, and who could object to that?

It turns out, however, that using monetary policy to fight depression, while in the interest of the vast majority of Americans, isn’t in the interest of a small, wealthy minority. And, as a result, monetary policy is as bound up in class and ideological conflict as tax policy.

The truth is that in a society as unequal and polarized as ours has become, almost everything is political. Get used to it.

Read more here.

Inequality versus democracy

Jun 4, 2014   //   by boyce   //   Articles  //  No Comments

Quiz for the day: Who said this?

The 85 richest people in the world, who could fit into a single London double-decker, control as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population– that is 3.5 billion people….

A greater concentration of wealth could—if unchecked—even undermine the principles of meritocracy and democracy. It could undermine the principle of equal rights proclaimed in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Pope Francis recently put this in stark terms when he called increasing inequality “the root of social evil”.

And this:

Some of the greatest problems, still outstanding today, lay with the so-called too-big-to-fail firms. In the decade prior to the crisis, the balance sheets of the world’s largest banks increased by two to four-fold. With rising size came rising risk—in the form of lower capital, less stable funding, greater complexity, and more trading.

This kind of capitalism was more extractive than inclusive. The size and complexity of the megabanks meant that, in some ways, they could hold policymakers to ransom. The implicit subsidy they derived from being too-big-too-fail came from their ability to borrow more cheaply than smaller banks—magnifying risk and undercutting competition.

Answer: IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, in a speech to a conference on “inclusive capitalism” on May 27. See the transcript of her speech here. For more on changing spirits of the times, see here.

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