Browsing articles in "Uncategorized"
Jun 25, 2023

Beyond ‘deliverism’

The widespread assumption among progressives that the way to win robust support is simply to deliver economic improvements in people’s lives – an assumption reminiscent of commodity fetishism – is fatally flawed. It’s not that economic improvements aren’t important, it’s just that people need something more:

Solving the authoritarianism challenge requires a progressive program and organizing strategy that speak directly and persuasively to the wave of unhappiness and despair and are rooted in the texture of everyday life—what people actually talk about, care about, and worry about. Such an approach will continue to foreground economic security and rights, but it must also affirm other aspects of human flourishing that have long been emphasized by diverse social movements, including the importance of collective care, community, belonging, and solidarity. The task for progressives at this historical juncture is not to find the magic message or to deliver more popular policies. Rather, it is to offer a compelling, energizing, persuasive vision of the good life and to organize mass-based organizations through which people shape and live out those values in the here and now.

Read more here.

Jun 14, 2023

Another good reason to end fossil fuel addiction

Those with the oil make (and break) the rules:

President Biden vowed during his quest for the White House to make the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, a “pariah” over the killing and dismemberment of a dissident. He threatened the prince again last fall with “consequences” for defying American wishes on oil policy.

Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator, called Prince Mohammed, the oil-rich kingdom’s de facto ruler, a “wrecking ball” who could “never be a leader on the world stage.” And Jay Monahan, the head of golf’s prestigious PGA Tour, suggested that players who joined a rival Saudi-backed league betrayed the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — carried out by hijackers who were mostly Saudi citizens.

Now, their words ring hollow.

Mr. Biden, visiting Saudi Arabia last year, fist bumped Prince Mohammed when they met and regularly dispatches officials to see him — including his secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, this past week. Senator Graham grinned next to the prince — known by his initials M.B.S. — during a visit to Saudi Arabia in April. Also this week, Mr. Monahan jolted the world of professional golf by announcing a planned partnership between the PGA and the upstart Saudi-backed LIV Golf league, suddenly giving the kingdom tremendous global influence over the sport.

“It just tells you how money talks because this guy sits on top of this oil well and all this money, so he can basically buy his way out of everything,” said Abdullah Alaoudh, the Saudi director for the Freedom Initiative, a rights group in Washington and a vocal opponent of the monarchy.

Read more here.

Jun 10, 2023

The benefits of immigration

Idrees Kahloon reviews the literature in The New Yorker:

Although the dismal science is rife with disagreement on many topics—from microeconomists butting heads about the irrationality of human preferences to macroeconomists arguing about how to quell inflation—there is a broad consensus that immigration is largely beneficial to migrants and their hosts alike. In 2017, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine released a mammoth report titled “The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration.” It found that, although immigrants tend to earn less than native-born workers and are therefore a bit more costly to governments, their children exhibit unusually high levels of upward mobility and “are among the strongest economic and fiscal contributors in the population.”

Read more here.

May 29, 2023

Firefighters conference afraid to mention water

Rutger Bregman calls out the hypocrisy of ultra-rich “philanthropists” in Davos:

Read about it here.

May 25, 2023


This isn’t “wage push” inflation – it’s pushed by profiteering. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Inflation has proved more stubborn than central banks bargained for when prices started surging two years ago. Now some economists think they know why: Businesses are using a rare opportunity to boost their profit margins….

Usually, economists would expect any business that raised its prices to lose customers to competitors that don’t, or not by as much. But these aren’t normal times. In rare situations—such as an economy’s reopening after a pandemic—widespread knowledge that costs are rising allows businesses to raise their prices knowing that their competitors will act in the same way, according to a paper by Isabella Weber, assistant professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and her colleague, Evan Wasner.

Read more here (if you can get past the WSJ paywall). The paper by Weber and Wasner is here.

May 15, 2023

Pandemic inequalities

As the pandemic lifts, its unequal costs become ever clearer: the kids suffered in the name of protecting grown-ups, and – as usual – the poor were hit far harder than the rich:

Read the sad and infuriating story here.

May 8, 2023

Best books on the political economy of the environment

Recommendations from Econ4’s James K. Boyce:

Read about them here: Shepherd’s Best Books.

May 6, 2023


Time for some good news:

On a warm late winter morning, Antonio Lancellotta, a 35-year-old farmer, shows me around one of his family’s unorthodox 1.8-acre (7,280 square metre) greenhouse in Scalea, southern Italy. Rows of lush citron trees (Citrus medica), heavy with white flowers fill the space. Yet, above the trees, at about 12.5ft (3.8m) above the ground, alternating lines of transparent plastic sheets and photovoltaic panels roofed the field. The Lancellotta family was one of the first in Italy to experiment with “agrivoltaics”, where crops are grown underneath solar panels.

“Look at the quality of this citron,” Lancellotta says, holding a large heart-shaped yellow fruit. “Perfect.”

Read more here.

Apr 30, 2023

Land for whom?

Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement has an answer:

They arrived just before midnight, carrying machetes and hoes, hammers and sickles, with plans to seize the land.

When the 200 activists and farm workers got there, the ranch was vacant, overgrown with weeds, and the farm headquarters empty, except for a stray cow.

Now, three months later, it is a bustling village. On a recent Sunday, children rode bicycles on new dirt paths, women tilled soil for gardens and men pulled tarps onto shelters. About 530 families live at the encampment in Itabela, a town in northeast Brazil, and they have already joined together to plow and plant the field with beans, corn and cassava.

Read more here.