Archive for Economy
But Carlyle labeled the science “dismal” when writing about slavery in the West Indies. White plantation owners, he said, ought to force black plantation workers to be their servants. Economics, somewhat inconveniently for Carlyle, didn’t offer a hearty defense of slavery. Instead, the rules of supply and demand argued for “letting men alone” rather than thrashing them with whips for not being servile. Carlyle bashed political economy as “a dreary, desolate, and indeed quite abject and distressing [science]; what we might call … the dismal science.”
Today, when we hear the term “the dismal science,” it’s typically in reference to economics’ most depressing outcomes (e.g.: on globalization killing manufacturing jobs: “well, that’s why they call it the dismal science,” etc). In other words, we’ve tended to align ourselves with Carlyle to acknowledge that an inescapable element of economics is human misery.
I live in Trump’s America, where working-class whites are dying from despair. They’re dying from alcoholism, drug addiction and suicide, trying to take away the pain of a half century’s economic and cultural decline. In the foothills of Appalachia, Wilkes County, North Carolina, is second in the nation in income lost this century, where the number of manufacturing jobs decreased from 8,548 in the year 2000 to about 4,000 today, according to Stateline.
If the color coding on the Stateline map of income decline appears less dire for Appalachia proper, it is because once at the bottom there is no further down to go. Near-ghost-towns dot southwest Virginia and West Virginia. Small but once prosperous from logging or coal, they hug hillsides along what are barely
secondary roads. And that’s what their people feel like: secondary. Voters have been forgotten in towns where over 20 percent live in poverty and a quarter never finished high school, Cooper explains:
They lost their influence, their dignity and their shot at the American Dream, and now they’re angry. They’re angry at Washington and Wall Street, at big corporations and big government. And they’re voting now for Donald Trump.
My Republican friends are for Trump. My state representative is for Trump. People who haven’t voted in years are for Trump. He’ll win the primary here on March 15 and he will carry this county in the general.
His supporters realize he’s a joke. They do not care. They know he’s authoritarian, nationalist, almost un-American, and they love him anyway, because he disrupts a broken political process and beats establishment candidates who’ve long ignored their interests.
This is the America where the unemployed and underemployed still line up for free health care each year at the fairgrounds in Wise, Virginia and in smaller places. They are “poorer, less educated citizens who are fiscally liberal and socially conservative,” Cooper believes, and both parties have ignored them for years. In part, because they tend not to vote. But they are voting now, now that Trump has given voice to their grievances.This year’s primaries are like a real-life exercise in those old Verizon Wireless ads. America’s forgotten working class left behind and discarded by globalization, automation, and deindustrialization has found an unlikely voice in Donald Trump, if not really a champion. Independent Bernie Sanders too is finding traction there, as his Michigan win this week proved. In primary after primary, the American worker is asking party elites, “Can you hear me now?”
It is not clear yet that they have.
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)
My point is that there's a certain enduring appetite among a sizable minority of the country for a businessman to get in and fix it.
— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) February 25, 2016
Interesting conversation last night on All In with Chris Hayes. Hayes spoke with Donald Trump voters in Las Vegas during this week’s caucuses. Supporters see Trump as aggressive, strong, and bold, and they like what they see. Ted Cruz? He cheated. Marco Rubio is an “establishment shill.”
Ideology, class, etc., according to one researcher Hayes cited, has “no statistical bearing” on support for Trump, but rather an inclination towards authoritarianism. In the segment with Jess McIntosh (Emily’s List), Sam Seder (Majority Report), and Nick Confessore (New York Times), Hayes’guests noted that Trump voters tend to compartmentalize Trump the performer from Trump the prospective president. They look past Trump’s bombast, the cursing and slurs and see someone genuine, as suggested by one woman who had voted for Obama twice. “I go past it,” she said. She doesn’t take the wild statements seriously. She could be in for a big surprise.
This exchange from Star Trek: First Contact always fascinated me:
Captain Jean-Luc Picard: The economics of the future are somewhat different. You see, money doesn’t exist in the 24th century.
Lily Sloane: No money? You mean, you don’t get paid?
Captain Jean-Luc Picard: The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force of our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity.
What a concept. A society not organized around money. Thomas Paine floated the idea of a citizen’s stipend in Agrarian Justice (1797). His ideas for reorganizing the economy were a bit ahead of his time. And while the 24th century may be bit far off yet, it seems several European cities are taking Paine’s 18th century idea out for a test drive:
An experiment to give away money as “basic income” is underway in Germany. In 2014, Michael Bohmeyer, a 31-year-old German entrepreneur, launched “My Basic Income” (“Mein Grundeinkommen”), and this month, the project, made possible through crowdfunding, issued $1,100 checks to 26 people to use however they want.
Leftists in Germany tend to support the idea of basic income while others in the country say the idea might take away incentives for people to work.
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) December 16, 2015
While GOP presidential candidates screeched and pulled each other’s hair in last night’s debate over who would kill terrorists (and their families) longer, higher and deeper, the U.S. House managed to do something. It pulled together a budget deal:
Congressional negotiators have wrapped up a sprawling deal to keep the U.S. government operating through next September while setting new policies ranging from repealing a 40-year-old ban on oil exports to making many business tax breaks permanent, according to Republican lawmakers.
House Speaker Paul Ryan told GOP lawmakers late Tuesday, urging support for the legislation that delivers GOP wins but also includes many Democratic priorities. The deal would eliminate any possibility of government shutdowns until at least next October, according to lawmakers present.
Because as Charlie Pierce observed yesterday, “America is the greatest country ever invented to be completely out of your mind,” we’re suffering a little insanity overload this morning.
Daily Show host Trevor Noah’s emergency appendectomy gave him a chance to experience America’s “best in the world” health care system this week. Raw Story:
The host said he periodically fainted from the pain of a perforated appendix, but the nurse told him he was not allowed to faint in the waiting area and should instead go to triage to lose consciousness.
“You’re telling me where I can and cannot faint?” he said.
Noah was finally taken, trembling with pain, to another room for treatment — where he was followed by the same nurse, who brought still more forms and asked how he would be paying for treatment of his life-threatening condition.
“With my life, clearly,” he said.
She decided because she recognized Noah from the billboards that he could pay whether or not he had insurance.
How far down the rabbit hole have we gone that Republican candidates for president think they are entitled to a list of demands from networks hosting debates (and I use that term reservedly) that would make rock bands blush? (Remember, no brown M&Ms.) The Washington Post obtained the list. Here are just a few:
- Will there be questions from the audience or social media? How many? How will they be presented to the candidates? Will you acknowledge that you, as the sponsor, take responsibilities for all questions asked, even if not asked by your personnel?
- Will there be a gong/buzzer/bell when time is up? How will the moderator enforce the time limits?
- Will you commit that you will not:
- Ask the candidate to raise their hands to answer a question
- Ask yes/no questions without time to provide a substantive answer
- Allow candidate-to-candidate questioning
- Allow props or pledges by the candidates
- Have reaction shots of members of the audience or moderators during debates
- Show an empty podium after a break (describe how far away the bathrooms are)
- Use behind shots of the candidates showing their notes
- Leave microphones on during the breaks
- Allow members of the audience to wear political messages (shirts, buttons, signs, etc.). Who enforces?
- What is the size of the audience? Who is receiving tickets in addition to the candidates? Who’s in charge of distributing those tickets and filling the seats?
- What instructions will you provide the audience about cheering during the debate?
- What are your plans for the lead-in to the debate (Pre-shot video? Announcer to moderator? Director to Moderator?) and how long is it?
- What type of microphones (lavs or podium)?
- Can you pledge that the temperature in the hall be kept below 67 degrees?
Dude, can I get on the “guest list” and a backstage pass to hang out with the band?
“Now, I’ll tell you what, my friend,” said Scrooge, “I am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer. And therefore,” he continued, leaping from his stool, and giving Bob such a dig in the waistcoat that he staggered back into the Tank again; “and therefore I am about to raise your salary!”
CEOs who don’t act like CEOs are a rare breed, and newsworthy. Even more so when they are not fictional. Susie Madrak highlighted one the other day at Crooks and Liars. Seems this guy found out it paid off to double the salary of his entry-level employees. Blasphemy! Rush Limbaugh branded him a socialist. Need we say more?
In April, Dan Price, CEO of the credit card payment processor Gravity Payments, announced that he will eventually raise minimum pay for all employees to at least $70,000 a year.
The move sparked not just a firestorm of media attention, but also a lawsuit from Price’s brother and co-founder Lucas, claiming that the pay raise violated his rights as a minority shareholder.
But six months later, the financial results are starting to come in: Price told Inc. Magazine that revenue is now growing at double the rate before the raises began and profits have also doubled since then.
On top of that, while it lost a few customers in the kerfuffle, the company’s customer retention rate rose from 91 to 95 percent, and only two employees quit. Two weeks after he made the initial announcement, the company was flooded with 4,500 resumes and new customer inquiries jumped from 30 a month to 2,000 a month.
From Europe to the Pacific rim, capitalism marches on. Right over democracy. Guess what? People don’t like it. You remember people? They’re the ones, as Pope Francis suggested, the economy is supposed to serve, not rule:
Hundreds of thousands of people marched in Berlin on Saturday in protest against a planned free trade deal between Europe and the United States that they say is anti-democratic and will lower food safety, labor and environmental standards.
The organizers — an alliance of environmental groups, charities and opposition parties — said 250,000 people were taking part in the rally against free trade deals with both the United States and Canada, far more than they had anticipated.
Opposition to the so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has risen over the past year in Germany, with critics fearing the pact will hand too much power to big multinationals at the expense of consumers and workers.
“What bothers me the most is that I don’t want all our consumer laws to be softened,” Oliver Zloty told Reuters. “And I don’t want to have a dictatorship by any companies.”
Yet that is what it appears we have. We are moving towards “authoritarian capitalism” like China and Singapore, says Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek:
Which brings up massive tax cuts that pay for themselves. Sen. Marco Rubio expects Republican primary voters will fall for it again. Ezra Klein explains the Rubio tax plan succinctly at Vox:
The basic idea here is that massive tax cuts boost growth so much that they pay for themselves, and so there’s no actual trade-off between lower taxes and balanced budgets. In this telling, eating your cake leads your body to burn calories so fast that it’s like you end up thinner than you started!
Basically no serious economists believe this. Careful efforts to quantify whether tax cuts boost growth have led to estimates that they have a modest negative effect, a modest positive effect, or not much effect at all, depending on what assumptions you use. Mankiw, the former Bush adviser, described the idea that cuts boost growth so much that they pay for themselves as the province of “cranks and charlatans” in his economic textbook.
What is more amazing is that Cranks and Charlatans is not already the name of a popular Washington, D.C. watering hole. (Have at it.) Maybe near the offices of the Tax Foundation. Klein continues: