Browsing articles in "Articles"
Jul 28, 2013

Time for new code

Peter Buffett, co-chair of the NoVo Foundation, writing in the Times on the limits of philanthropy:

As more lives and communities are destroyed by the system that creates vast amounts of wealth for the few, the more heroic it sounds to “give back.” It’s what I would call “conscience laundering” — feeling better about accumulating more than any one person could possibly need to live on by sprinkling a little around as an act of charity…

It’s time for a new operating system. Not a 2.0 or a 3.0, but something built from the ground up. New code.

Read more here.

Jul 28, 2013

Who’s afraid of rooftop solar?

Wanting to preserve the centralized electric power system and guaranteed returns of 10%, the nation’s electric utilities are ramping up to quash the threat posed by rooftop solar panels, writes Diane Caldwell in the New York Times:

For years, power companies have watched warily as solar panels have sprouted across the nation’s rooftops. Now, in almost panicked tones, they are fighting hard to slow the spread.

 

Read more here.

Jul 25, 2013

Greed today, gone tomorrow

Lynn Parramore, writing for Alternet, explains why investment in innovation has declined in America:

There’s a motto on Wall Street: “I.B.G.-Y.B.G.” or “I’ll Be Gone, You’ll Be Gone.” As long as you’re making money right now, what happens tomorrow is not your problem.

It’s everyone else’s problem. Witness the decline in the number and quality of jobs, the middle class evaporating, and the financial instability that brought about the Great Recession.

Read more here.

Jul 23, 2013

Student loan profiteering

Senator Elizabeth Warren stands up for students:

Making billions and billions in profits off the backs of students is obscene.

 

Read more here. Senator Bernie Sanders weighs in here.

Jul 22, 2013

Bankrupt politics hits Detroit

Robert Reich breaks down the local politics behind the Detroit bankruptcy:

Much in modern America depends on where you draw boundaries, and who’s inside and who’s outside. Who is included in the social contract? If “Detroit” is defined as the larger metropolitan area that includes its suburbs, “Detroit” has enough money to provide all its residents with adequate if not good public services, without falling into bankruptcy. Politically, it would come down to a question of whether the more affluent areas of this “Detroit” were willing to subsidize the poor inner-city through their tax dollars, and help it rebound. That’s an awkward question that the more affluent areas would probably rather not have to face.

In drawing the relevant boundary to include just the poor inner city, and requiring those within that boundary to take care of their compounded problems by themselves, the whiter and more affluent suburbs are off the hook. “Their” city isn’t in trouble. It’s that other one – called “Detroit.”

Read his blogpost here.

Jul 20, 2013

Big farm tribute

James Stewart writes in The Times about the latest economic travesty to come out of the U.S. House of Representatives:

It’s hard to imagine a more widely reviled piece of legislation than the nearly $1 trillion farm bill. Its widely ridiculed handouts to wealthy farmers and perverse incentives have long united liberals concerned about the environment, conservatives upset about the deficit and market-distorting subsidies, and just about everyone concerned about basic fairness.

Just about everyone, that is, except the powerful farm lobby and its allies in Congress, which every five years or so since the Depression has managed to fight off any meaningful reforms and actually increase farm subsidies.

And now they’re doing it again…. many of the same legislators up in arms about government spending and welfare abuse nonetheless voted for an increase in federal subsidies to wealthy farm interests.

Read more here.

Jul 14, 2013

Bankers resist stronger capital requirements

Gretchen Morgenson writes in today’s Times:

OUR nation’s largest banks have grown accustomed to regulators who are respectful, deferential and mindful of these institutions’ needs and desires. So, last week, when federal financial overseers unveiled a potent new weapon against too-big-to-fail banks, it seemed as if — just maybe — the winds in Washington were shifting.

Read more here.

Jul 11, 2013

Killer economics

“Econ 101 is killing America,” write Robert Atkinson and Michael Lind:

Even though most economists know better, they present to the public, the media and politicians a simplified, vulgar version of neoclassical economics — what can be called Econ 101 — that leads policymakers astray. Economists fear that if they really expose policymakers to all the contradictions, uncertainties and complications of “Advanced Econ,” the latter will go off track — embracing protectionism, heavy-handed “industrial policy” or even socialism.

Read their take on the myths of Econ 101 here.

Jul 7, 2013

Tax students, or polluters?

From Robert Reich’s blog:

A basic economic principle is government ought to tax what we want to discourage, and not tax what we want to encourage.

For example, if we want less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, we should tax carbon polluters. On the other hand, if we want more students from lower-income families to be able to afford college, we shouldn’t put a tax on student loans.

Read his post here.

Jul 2, 2013

Blame the unemployed?

Think about it: if labor supply exceeds labor demand – in other words, there are people who want to work but can’t find jobs – is the solution to expand labor supply? How could that help if there’s already excess labor supply?? Yet some politicians think that people aren’t working because unemployment benefits are too generous. Their solution: cut benefits, then the lazy bums will get out of their hammocks and look for work. And then we’ll get …  hmm … more people looking for work and not finding it.

Paul Krugman breaks it down in his New York Times column:

The war on the unemployed isn’t motivated solely by cruelty; rather, it’s a case of meanspiritedness converging with bad economic analysis.

 

Read his piece here.