Browsing articles in "Uncategorized"
Feb 14, 2021

Solidarity Dividends

Heather McGee on how the zero-sum narrative results in lose-lose outcomes:

While growing corporate power and money in politics have certainly played a role, it’s now clear that racial resentment is the key uncredited actor in our economic backslide. White people who exhibit low racial resentment against Black people are 60 percentage points more likely to support increased government spending than are those with high racial resentment. At the base of this resentment is a zero-sum story: the default framework for conservative arguments, rife with references to “makers and takers,” “taxpayers and freeloaders.”

In my travels, I also realized that those seeking to repair America’s social divides can invoke this sort of zero-sum framing as well. Progressives often end up talking about race relations through a prism of competition — every advantage for whites, mirrored by a disadvantage for people of color.

In my research and writing on disparities, I learned to focus on how white people benefited from systemic racism: Their schools have more funding, they have less contact with the police, they have greater access to health care. These hallmarks of white privilege are not freedoms that racial justice activists want to take away from white people, however — they’re basic human rights and dignities that everyone should enjoy. And the right wing is eager to fill the gap when we don’t finish the sentence.

For an entire generation of American politics, racist stereotypes and dog whistles have strengthened the hand that beat progressives in the fight against rising inequality. But did white people win? No: Many of them lost good jobs, benefits and social mobility along with the rest of us not born into wealth.

The task ahead, then, is to unwind this idea of a fixed quantity of prosperity and replace it with what I’ve come to call Solidarity Dividends: gains available to everyone when they unite across racial lines, in the form of higher wages, cleaner air and better-funded schools.

Read more here.

Feb 10, 2021

A hard line on the climate

A 90% cut in carbon emissions from fossil fuels over 30 years means reductions of 7.5% per year. (The reductions look steeper at the beginning due to cutting from a larger base – exponential growth in reverse.) If the remaining 10% were sequestered by improved land use management or other means, this would achieve net zero emissions.

This rate exceeds the pace of reductions achieved by any country to date. It also exceeds the rate that would be achieved by pricing emissions at the “social cost of carbon” as conventionally measured: see here and here.

Jan 30, 2021

The end draws nearer … for fossil fuels

General Motors’ announcement that it will go all-electric by 2035 heralds the beginning of the middle of the end:

“We are doing this to build a sustainable business,” Mr. Parker, the company’s chief sustainability officer, said in an interview on Friday. “We want to have a business in 15 years that’s a thriving business.”

G.M. has already committed to spending $27 billion to introduce 30 electric vehicle models by 2025, and is building a plant in Ohio to make batteries for those cars and trucks.

Read more here and here.

Jan 29, 2021

The GameStop game stop

In the end, the old adage “the bigger the bubble, the bigger the pop” will be confirmed yet again. In the meantime, Doug Henwood offers some thoughts about the playpen called the stock market:

It’s funny to see some Wall Streeters complain that there’s something unfair about this action, since these are the sorts of games they play with each other and the general public all the time. They talk up stocks or talk them down, depending on their interests, and plot against what they see as weak or vulnerable players all the time. It’s just that the speculators with names like DeepFuckingValue who are savaging them for now are the wrong kind of people. They don’t live in Greenwich in houses with twenty-car garages.

Read his take here.

Read more here and here.

Jan 9, 2021

Paying the price for offshoring production

Americans should draw a lesson from the pandemic:

In the past two decades, the U.S. economy has been lulled into following a path of offshoring, driven by an ideology celebrating short-term financial gains above everything else. The country, once a manufacturing powerhouse, is populated by corporations that have moved manufacturing overseas and lost their ability to produce domestically, leaving little behind except shell companies that employ relatively few people. The United States no longer produces even the essentials, from personal protective equipment to our smartphones and laptops.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Read more here.

Dec 17, 2020

Tax cuts for the rich – period

A new study from the LSE looks at the effects of tax cuts for the rich in 18 OECD countries over the 50-year period from 1965 to 2015. The conclusion:

We find that major tax cuts for the rich push up income inequality, as measured by the top 1% share of pre-tax national income. The size of the effect is substantial…. Turning our attention to economic performance, we find no significant effects of major tax cuts for the rich. More specifically, the trajectories of real GDP per capita and the unemployment rate are unaffected by significant reductions in taxes.

One more nail in the coffin of “supply-side economics”. Read more here.

Dec 17, 2020

Pollution brutality

The New York Times reports from Delhi:

Air pollution killed more Indians last year than any other risk factor, and Delhi is among the most polluted cities in the country. But the burden is unequally shared.

Read the story of two children here. For more on Delhi’s air pollution as a classic case of environmental injustice, see here.

Dec 11, 2020

Big money and ‘public opinion’

Tom Ferguson writes about a new study that highlights the congruence between public policy, public opinion, and the preferences of the rich:

Surveys of opinion at the level of the [richest] 1 or 2%, especially if they are trying to explain changes in policy, do not typically reflect anything as innocently vaporous as “opinion” at all. Their data are instead noisy by-products of the mobilization of big money with its comet-like trail of social networks, subsidized op eds, subservient think tanks, and journalists seeking applause and better positions. That is how the reality of money-driven political systems shows up in surveys.

This is the crucial point that economics and political science need to absorb. Refining models of voter behavior to take more account of voter ignorance is pointless if you systematically bypass what’s driving the system, especially when money speeds across state lines at the speed of light.

Read more here.

Nov 27, 2020

Some make money while they sleep… while others risk their lives

From a new report called “Billionaire Wealth vs. Community Health”:

As of November 17, 2020, the wealth of 647 U.S.billionaires has increased almost $960 billion since mid-March, the beginning of the pandemic, approaching $1 trillion in wealth increases.

Read more here.

Nov 1, 2020

America’s inequality crisis

Underlying the political crisis is a deeper one:

American inequality has reached a crisis moment. The 60 richest billionaires in America control as much wealth as the bottom 50 percent of Americans, according to the latest Fed data. To Collins, the editor, America is reaching an “oligarchic moment,” where the economy is increasingly hardwired to concentrate wealth and power at the very top. It is urgent to increase taxes on the wealthiest not only to generate revenue, he says, “but to put a brake on accretions of power. It isn’t is a class warfare,” he insists. “This is really, ‘How do you protect against such a levels of extreme inequality that it threatens basic democratic functioning?’”

Source: Tim Dickinson, “How Trump Took the Middle Class to the Cleaners,” Rolling Stone, October 26, 2020.