Archive for Economy
Our friends on the right get almost gleeful whenever they see an opening to use their superior command of economics to explain to liberals how the world really works.
Yet, the basic concept they themselves have trouble wrapping their brains around is “no free lunch.”
Gov. Sam Brownback’s tea party-driven economic experiment in Kansas is taking a toll. The latest poll shows him trailing his Democratic opponent, Paul Davis, by 8 points. The Kansas City Star says Brownback is “paying a political price for bold leadership.” This is what bold leadership looks like:
Brownback has slashed income taxes, cut thousands off welfare, curbed abortion rights, tried gaining control of judicial appointments and made a failed attempt to cut arts funding.
When the moderate wing of his party stood in the way, Brownback successfully campaigned for conservatives more in step with his political philosophy so he could exert a tighter grip on the statehouse.
The result? His state’s economy is headed into the tank after slashing income taxes at Brownback’s urging, with more cuts scheduled and growth below projections. Standard & Poors downgraded Kansas’ credit rating in August. Davis charges that another Brownback term will bring cuts to Kansas schools.
Five hundred women from across the state gathered last week at the Taking Back Kansas convention in Wichita, put on by Women for Kansas and chaired by Lynn Stephan. The bipartisan group aims to turn out Brownback, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, and U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts in November. Most of the candiidates they support are Democrats.
“Women in this state are scared,” Stephan said. “We’re going broke” under the leadership of Brownback’s tea-party fiscal ideas. Schools and hospitals in some small towns may have to close, she said, and then “the town will dry up and blow away.”
Although she considers herself a moderate Republican, Stephan said that “the Republican party abandoned me 10 years ago.”
That’s about two decades after the party abandoned reality for the magical thinking of trickle down economics and started worshipping the Market as a deity.
As much as conservatives discuss curtailing entitlements, many of them behave as if they are entitled to kick ass on any country they feel is stepping out of line, and to doing so without paying for it. They feel entitled to beat their chests about how exceptional America is, and entitled to the public infrastructure their parents and grandparents built with their taxes and sweat in making it a world power. Yet they seem to have no sense of pride in maintaining it. Not their responsibility. They’re taxed enough already.
They complain their taxes are too high, and all the while the country is running a budget deficit that proves they are not paying enough to cover its costs and to keep it from crumbling. A report last year ranked U.S. highways 18th in the world, behind Korea, Luxembourg, and Saudi Arabia.
Point this out, and conservatives insist that the problem is government is spending too much. That we need to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse — the bane of Republicans’ perpetual motion economy.
See, America could maintain its infrastructure, fund top-notch schools, and support a costly global empire indefinitely without raising taxes just by eliminating the friction of waste, fraud, and abuse.
And by installing this simple device — one that big oil companies have tried to suppress — your car can get 500 miles per gallon. Order now!
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)
Chattanooga is a reminder that the best solutions are often local…
A lot of commonalities here with Asheville:
Loveman’s department store on Market Street in Chattanooga closed its doors in 1993 after almost a century in business, another victim of a nationwide decline in downtowns that hollowed out so many US towns. Now the opulent building is buzzing again, this time with tech entrepreneurs taking advantage of the fastest internet in the western hemisphere.
In large part the success is being driven by The Gig. Thanks to an ambitious roll-out by the city’s municipally owned electricity company, EPB, Chattanooga is one of the only places on Earth with internet at speeds as fast as 1 gigabit per second – about 50 times faster than the US average.
The tech buildup comes after more than a decade of reconstruction in Chattanooga that has regenerated the city with a world-class aquarium, 12 miles of river walks along the Tennessee River, an arts district built around the Hunter Museum of American Arts, high-end restaurants and outdoor activities.
What was it the Cowardly Lion asked?
The Zero Hour’s RJ Eskow interviews Stephanie Kelton, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Her blog, New Economic Perspectives, is here.
Low-budget retailing is growing:
Dollar Tree, a discount retailer known for selling everything for $1, said Monday it plans to buy Matthews-based Family Dollar for $8.5 billion, weeks after an activist investor started pushing the company to sell itself.
Billionaire investor Carl Icahn did not think Family Dollar was profitable enough. Retail analyst Howard Davidowitz, an investment banker, told NPR’s Sonari Glinton why low-end retailing is expanding:
DAVIDOWITZ: The story is the growth of the sector and that mirrors where America is.
GLINTON: So what I’m curious about is, while the dollar stores are doing well, then there’s the Sears, the JC Penney.
DAVIDOWITZ: Are getting destroyed because they’re middle-class stores.
GLINTON: Put the dollar stores?
DAVIDOWITZ: The dollar stores are doing better because they have more and more customers who are trading down. If you look at the reality, you will see what’s happening in the economy. And it doesn’t look too pretty.
Bad economic news for America is good business for low-end retailers such as NC state budget director Art Pope, who owns Variety Retailers. He’s expanding into groceries.
Art Pope’s Variety Wholesalers has purchased the vacant Kroger store in Southeast Raleigh with plans to establish the company’s first standalone grocery in an area that badly needs one.
The company, which owns Roses, Maxway and other discount stores, bought the property on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard last week for $2.57 million – well below its assessed tax value of $5.65 million.
Pope plans to split the store into a Roses and a separate grocery store. It’s a neighborhood where over half the families earn less than $35,000 per year, according to the News and Observer.
The NAACP has picketed one of Pope’s local Maxway stores “accusing Pope of using store profits to support conservative causes and candidates.”
Before becoming Ronald Reagan’s vice-president, George H.W. Bush called trickle down theory voodoo economics. He was wrong about that. Zombie economics is more accurate. Trickle down won’t die and stay dead.
“Private wealth creation requires huge investments in commonwealth,” David Cay Johnston told Chris Hayes last night on “All In.” Tax cut after tax cut — primarily favoring the entrepreneurial class — were sold on the premise that they would spur investment and hiring by the entrepreneurial class and lift all boats, as it were. Those tax cuts have instead cut into public investments over the last decade-plus, costing the average family a lot of money, says Johnston.
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina government now faces a $445 million revenue shortfall when the fiscal year ends June 30, state budget analysts estimated Friday, raising more hurdles to Republicans’ efforts to give pay raises to all teachers and state employees.
In fact, Gov. Pat McCrory may already have created a structural deficit.
Rachel Maddow last night explored how Kansas’s massive tax cut has not worked out so well, either. That — “surprise” — if you cut out all the revenue, it leaves a big hole in the state’s budget for funding needful things like the public schools mandated by the state constitution. And — “surprise” — citizens in deep-red Kansas are not so keen on the GOP agenda now that they’re saddled with it. Looking on from next door, neighboring Missouri is thinking the same thing, Maddow reports. In addition, Gov. Sam Brownback’s miracle cure for the Kansas economy seems to have created a structural deficit.
Brownback’s biggest cheerleader is a Missouri version of North Carolina’s Art Pope.
If you’ve been following the nasty, divisive “makers vs. takers” meme promoted on the right, Fox News in particular, add this to what makers “make.”
Some of those makers — you know, job Creators (it is capitalized, right?) — are wheeling and dealing and spending millions on technology to shave milliseconds of high-speed trades. That is, they are investing in speed — milliseconds — digitally running ahead of a stock order to buy it first and sell it to the buyer at a markup when the order arrives. Something like “The Wire” in the movie, “The Sting.” Speculators are boring through mountains between New York and Chicago to put in straighter, shorter fiber-optic cables to make this con work.
Paul Krugman this morning:
What are we getting in return for all that money? Not much, as far as anyone can tell. Mr. Philippon shows that the financial industry has grown much faster than either the flow of savings it channels or the assets it manages. Defenders of modern finance like to argue that it does the economy a great service by allocating capital to its most productive uses — but that’s a hard argument to sustain after a decade in which Wall Street’s crowning achievement involved directing hundreds of billions of dollars into subprime mortgages.
What this game shows is how finance has become a game not of job creation or productively allocating financial resources, but of playing small-time investors for suckers. This is what the so-called makers are in the business of making. And Fox thinks you’re the parasite.
At least Newman and Redford ran The Big Con with more panache.
What’s the matter with eastern Washington state? asks Danny Westneat in his Sunday column at the Seattle Times. It seems that out east of Seattle people really hate their government. Even though the region received far more stimulus money than any other in the country — eight times more per person than the national average.
Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA 4th District) has spilled a lot of ink railing against the “reckless spending” that benefited his voters. He wrote, “Central Washingtonians know that the way to grow the economy is not to grow the federal government.”
Do they? Because of the top 10 employers in the Tri-Cities, six are the federal government, while the other four rely heavily on federal grants or subsidies. The stimulus meant more than 3,000 jobs at the Hanford nuclear reservation alone and, during the darkest days of 2009, propped up the economy there. When the Tri-Cities finally took a hit from the recession, it was because the stimulus ended.
Hastings’ district is basically a company town — with that company being Uncle Sam.
Dave Neiwert from Seattle-based Orcinus blog comments on Facebook,
I think there is a simple answer to Danny’s question: People on the east side of the mountains have such a deep-seated animus toward all things Seattle (excepting, of course, the Seahawks) and anything associated with its liberalism that they would be willing to cut their own throats to defy it. They don’t understand, or don’t care, that they thrive when Seattle does.
With a little help from Uncle Sam, of course.
Hey Dave, you should visit Asheville. You’d feel right at home.
At Hullabaloo, David Atkins pens more strategy advice for the American left:
If we ever want a country that operates on different ideological footing, we won’t just need to defeat the conservative opposition. We need to change our own tactics–and our own ideas.
Atkins and others are responding to Adolph Reed’s essay in Harper’s Magazine and interview with Bill Moyers. Reed believes that the Left has put too much faith in electing political personalities at the expense of building movement and infrastructure to hold them accountable.
Neoliberals, Atkins contends, buy into progressive ideas on social issues while promoting conservative ones on economic policies and chasing the same big-donor money as the right. This has turned national Democrats into a party “whose organizing principle is that society will be perfected when even a transgendered racial and religious minority can also become a plutocrat or head of state, so long as not too many people are dying on the street …”