Jul 24, 2019

School segregation in the USA

Nikole Hannah-Jones dissects the renewed controversy about “busing” in the effort to break apart America’s educational caste system:

I was one of those kids bused to white schools… Starting in second grade and all the way through high school, I rode a bus two hours a day. It was not easy, but I am perplexed by the audacity of people who argue that the hardship of a long bus ride somehow outweighs the hardship of being deprived of a good education.

Read more here.

Jul 22, 2019

Big Plastic

The plastic industry has an image problem:

Read about the industry’s spin control efforts here.

Jun 25, 2019

New left economics

Interesting piece in The Guardian on new thinking about the economy:

There is a dawning recognition that a new kind of economy is needed: fairer, more inclusive, less exploitative, less destructive of society and the planet. “We’re in a time when people are much more open to radical economic ideas,” says Michael Jacobs, a former prime ministerial adviser to Gordon Brown….

This “democratic economy” is not some idealistic fantasy: bits of it are already being constructed in Britain and the US. And without this transformation, the new economists argue, the increasing inequality of economic power will soon make democracy itself unworkable.

Read more here.

Jun 25, 2019

“Time to tear up our economics textbooks”

“”I don’t care who writes the nation’s laws – or crafts its advanced treaties – if I can write its economic textbooks.” – Paul Samuelson

In the Washington Post, Robert Samuelson (no relation) writes:

The modern era in economics textbooks began in 1948 with the publication of Samuelson’s first introductory edition. We now are at a similar moment. We need to tear up the existing texts and start over, adding what is relevant and discarding what is outdated or unimportant….

The role of introductory textbooks is not to educate the next generation of economists. They will take many courses. For most of us, the purpose of studying economics is more modest. It is to make the world a little more understandable and, with luck, to force us to acknowledge what’s realistic and what’s not. But to play this constructive role, the textbooks must be up to date.

Read his piece here.

May 18, 2019

Not so fantastic

What do the plastics industry and the tobacco industry have in common? More than you might think:

For decades … the industry cast doubt on marine plastic problems or dodged responsibility. At the 1989 International Conference on Marine Debris (which the industry-funded Council for Solid Waste Solutions co-sponsored), for instance, the society issued an official statement claiming that most plastic pollution was “beyond the ‘control’ of the plastics industry.” In 2008, Joseph, the industry attorney, wrote in a court filing that “there is no evidence that plastic bags are a continuing significant problem for marine animals or seabirds.”

Read “Pushing Plastic,” investigative reporting from the Center for Public Integrity, here.

May 12, 2019

Stiglitz on Adam Smith & democratic socialism

Joe Stiglitz in the Washington Post:

Adam Smith, the founder of modern economics, recognized how, if unregulated, businesses would conspire against the public interest by raising prices and suppressing wages. Yet he also suggested that at times markets would lead, as if by an invisible hand, to the well-being of society. Now we understand why markets often fail to deliver on their promise and why Smith’s invisible hand often seems invisible: because it simply isn’t there. Modern theories of industrial organization have taught us how firms construct barriers to entry to enhance their market power. Twenty years into this new century, the empirical evidence is overwhelming: There is increasing market concentration in sector after sector, with increasing profits and increasing markups in prices….

A key component to the democratic socialist agenda is democracy. Democracy is more than having elections every four years. It includes systems of checks and balances — ensuring that no one, not even a president, has unbridled power — and a deep belief that no one can be above the law. It also includes protections of the rights of minorities, and a Congress and a healthy news media holding everyone to account. But it also embraces fair representation, because a system of voter suppression, gerrymandering and money-dominated politics, where the views of the minority can dominate the majority, is antidemocratic.

Read more here.

Apr 25, 2019

New Consensus

“The World Needs a New Worldview.” Right on.

A truly beautiful world is possible—one without poverty or pollution, and with prosperity and dignity for everyone. Humanity has everything it needs to build that world in a single generation: billions of creative, hard working people, technology that already can allow us to make a comfortable living safely and sustainably, and unlimited energy from the sun that we can now harness to power that technology.

So begins the opening statement from New Consensus, a bold new group that’s helping to spark the New Green Deal. Read more here.

And check out their reading list here.

Apr 24, 2019

Solar power + people power

Bill McKibben strikes a hopeful note:

We have two relatively new inventions that could prove decisive to solving global warming before it destroys the planet. One is the solar panel, and the other is the nonviolent movement.

Read more here.

Mar 16, 2019

Youth climate action

Historic youth action from around the world:

See more here.

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