More than three decades ago, the classic American television show “Mister Rogers” explained the “logic” of arms races – and their social cost – to children. The tapes, lost for years, just resurfaced:
Last week, someone mysteriously uploaded a series of lost episodes of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood to YouTube. The episodes, called the “conflict series,” originally aired on PBS at the height of Cold War tensions in 1983 and sought to teach children about the dangers of stockpiling weapons.
Read more here. (The “Neighborhood of Make-Believe” clip begins at the 15:25 mark in the YouTube video embedded in the story.)
Check it out, kids.
Here are the 50 states, ranked from “most shortchanged” to “least shortchanged” by the U.S. government. The ranking is based on an index combining: (i) votes in the Electoral College per state resident and (ii) benefits received per tax dollars paid to the federal government.
Source: New York Times.
When I first saw this, I thought it must be a typo. Incredibly, it’s not.
[T]he Defense Department’s inspector general found more than $6.5 trillion “wrongful adjustments to accounting entries” in the Army’s general fund in 2015 alone. It’s a number that’s difficult to wrap your head around. First of all, it’s much larger than the entire annual federal budget. But that sum represents not only current spending, but a lot of money from previous years that can’t be accounted for either. The sheer scope of the malfeasance is so staggering that the question that comes to mind isn’t “Why?” but “How?”
You can download the Inspector General’s report that uncovered the mess here.
The drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan, is a wake-up call, writes Econ4’s James Boyce:
The tragic crisis in Flint, Michigan, where residents have been poisoned by lead contamination, is not just about drinking water. And it’s not just about Flint. It’s about race and class, and the stark contradiction between the American dream of equal rights and opportunity for all and the American nightmare of metastasizing inequality of wealth and power.
Read his post for the Institute for New Economic Thinking here.
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.
… inequality makes the IMF sing a new tune:
[T]he newfound attention to income inequality isn’t just another facet of a more liberal, Keynesian economic worldview. The fund’s economists have been producing research that suggests that inequality could make the world economy less stable.
Read more here.
Demystifying the federal budget:
Jeffrey Sachs writes that investing in our future will require new tax revenues, along with reined-in war spending and real health care reform:
Much as conservatives hate to admit it, the landslide election of Bill de Blasio as mayor of New York City may prefigure the start of a new swing of the national political pendulum as well. He won a resounding victory, in part by calling for a small rise in taxes to fund preschool education, a major reform that would help relieve the disadvantages faced by poorer children. The recent meeting of mayors at the White House may give a hint of possible local pressures for increased public investments and public services. We’ve been on a thirty-year course of diminished public investments in our future. The dismal results are plain to see.
Read his piece here.
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.
Stephen Colbert skewers the Harvard economists whose flawed research underpins austerity politics:
Check out Colbert’s interview with UMass-Amherst economics graduate student Thomas Herndon, who showed that austerity’s emperors have no clothes: