Archive for Economy
G: What I think is really interesting as well is that we’ve seen a separation in capitalism. There is the traditional capitalism of the worker and the factory owner, but now what we’ve seen is the rise of a financial class, which is even harmful to the traditional capitalists themselves.
Prof. H: That’s right. Instead of industrial capitalism, if you look at writers from the 19th century, everybody from Marx to business school professors expected the destiny of industrial capitalism to be to bring finance out of the medieval period into the modern period. The idea was to make banks serve the industrial system. That’s what the Saint Simonians advocated in France. They were the idealists of the 19th century. They developed the idea of investment banking that the Reichsbank and the large German banks did most effectively. It’s what Japan did after WW2, simply because they didn’t have any other source of money except by their ability to create their own credit through industrial banking.
Nobody expected that finance capitalism would dominate and ultimately stifle industrial capitalism. But that’s what’s happening.
All the futurists, even socialists, were optimists about capitalism. They thought it was going to evolve naturally into socialism, with an increasing government role in the economy to provide infrastructure, including banking. Instead, you have governments being carved up. That’s what neoliberalism is. It’s really neofeudalism. It’s a dismantling of democracy in favor of a financial oligarchy, to rule by appointing proconsuls and technocrats such as you have in Italy under Monti or in Greece under Papademos. You have a rolling back of history, and of the Enlightenment. If your college curriculum, your religion and the popular press doesn’t even talk about the enlightenment and about the history of economic thought, you’re not going to realize that what’s happening is a rolling back of the last 500 years.
And based on what’s happening in North Carolina, you thought we were only rolling things back 50 years.
That was the original title for this essay generously published in the Mountain Xpress this week. Click through to read the whole thing. Excerpts:
I’m proud to be a part of a city where people care about each other. One recent study cited Asheville as one of the most generous cities in America, whose residents volunteer lots of time and money to make the world a better place. This is a community that knows we’re all in it together, and that’s why we’re going to be able to rise to the challenges facing us today.
We love living here, but we’re acutely aware of the fact that Asheville has a very high cost of living and very low median household income. Helping us get that median wage up are Living Wage Certified businesses that have made human value and dignity central to their business models. Great businesses like New Belgium Brewing, Linamar and PLI are helping too. The sad fact, however, is that too many employers here pay low wages for an honest day’s work. No one who works a full-time job ought to live in poverty. The city, county, Economic Development Coalition and Chamber of Commerce are working hard and all rowing in the same direction: toward better paying jobs. Asheville is examining our economic-incentive policies to better support homegrown entrepreneurs who pay living wages.
Asheville aspires to be a city of equal opportunity for all. Increasing incomes and offering affordable transportation options are two parts of a three-pronged approach to ensure a thriving city for generations to come.
The third leg of that three-legged stool is affordable housing, defined as spending no more than 30 percent of your income on housing costs. We all want a vibrant city where economically mobile citizens can get a leg up, and where the elderly and disabled can live in dignity. We want an Asheville where residents can save money toward homeownership, business startups, tuition and increased opportunities for their children. Without affordable housing, a big part of our Asheville family struggles just to stay afloat.
When the NC General Assembly political advertisements rain down upon us later this year, you’ll be hearing a lot about the tax cuts being peddled as good for the little guy. Yes, the cuts will further reduce resources for education, mental health, and other important services. Yes, the cuts will give the wealthiest North Carolinians some nice wallet padding, some of which will trickle down into campaign coffers. The thing that NC Policy Watch wants everyone to know is that these tax cuts are actually a tax increase on most of us. Please bookmark this post – you will need it to counter the coming disinformation campaign from the ruling party.
66—percentage of tax cut passed by the 2013 General Assembly that will go to the wealthiest one percent of North Carolinians (“Final tax plan puts at risk what makes North Carolina great,” N.C. Budget & Tax Center, August, 2013)
940,000—amount in dollars of annual income of wealthiest one percent of North Carolinians (Ibid)
80—percentage of North Carolina taxpayers—the bottom 80 percent—who will pay more under the tax plan approved by the General Assembly this summer that also allows the state Earned Income Tax Credit expire for low-wage workers (Ibid)
2,898—amount in dollars of tax INCREASE for married non-elderly couple with two kids with a small business income of $80,000 (Ibid)
262—amount in dollars of tax INCREASE for married couple with two children with an annual income of $20,000 (N.C. General Assembly Fiscal Research Division)
2,318—amount in dollars of the DECREASE in taxes for a married couple with two children with an annual income of $250,000 (Ibid)
23—number of days since state tax deductions ended for retirement income, small businesses, unreimbursed job expenses and college 529 savings plans, all part of the 2013 tax plan passed by the General Assembly
David Simon on America as a Horror Show
We’ve changed and we’ve become contemptuous of the idea that we are all in this together. This is about sharing and about, you know, when you say sharing there’s a percentage of the population (and it’s the moneyed percent of our population), that hears socialism or communism or any of the other -isms they want to put on it. But ultimately we are all part of the same society. And it’s either going to be a mediocre society that, you know, abuses people or it’s not…
And that once they’re in that situation, they’re not only marginalized, they’re abused. I mean, we are the country that jails more of our population than any other state on the globe. More than totalitarian states we put people in prison. We’ve managed to monetize these irrelevant people in a way that allows some of us to get rich.
Now, we’re all paying for it as taxpayers for having this level of incarceration in American society which is unheard of in the world. But we let some people, you know, get a profit off of it. The monetization of human beings like that, you know, anybody tells you that the markets will solve everything, the libertarian ideal.
I can’t get past just how juvenile the thought is that if you just let the markets be the markets, they’ll solve everything.
The economic “Force” is one, harsh mistress. Peter Sith … uh, Schiff schools Samantha Bee and the “poors” in the ways of the Dark Side.
Dismalist nerds like Shiff should be playing with action figures instead of people’s lives.
Compassion for America’s poor and the long-term unemployed is audibly absent among many of the well-to-do, their on-air groupies, and politicians who once upon a news cycle tried to rebrand themselves as compassionate conservatives. A caller to a progressive radio show this week asked when heartlessness became fashionable in America.
As states cut back on unemployment for the long-term unemployed, North Carolina leads the way. From Bloomberg’s opinion section:
Across the country, the unemployed will lose from 14 to 47 weeks of insurance when the extension ends. Five other states will join North Carolina in providing fewer than 26 weeks of payments — the standard in the U.S until this year. What’s happened in North Carolina since July is an indication of what will happen nationwide. The picture is troubling.
The federal extension expires on January 1, 2014. North Carolina got a head start last summer when it cut the maximum benefit length and reduced the payments.
As intended, presumably, the number of North Carolinians receiving unemployment benefits has collapsed. It’s down by 45,000, or 40 percent, since last year. Expiring benefits aren’t the only reason for this. Far fewer are filing a claim in the first place. Initial claims are running at about half last year’s rate. Unemployment insurance is a thinner safety net than it has been in decades.
In addition, North Carolina’s labor force began to shrink. The state is experiencing the largest labor-force contraction it’s ever seen –77,000 fewer people were working or searching for work this October than a year ago. This should, but won’t, settle a partisan debate. Cutting unemployment insurance apparently hasn’t encouraged the unemployed to look harder for work: It has caused them to drop out of the labor force altogether. [Emphasis mine.]
That’s understandable, in part because nationwide there were still three job seekers per job as of May.
Food pantries are stretched, becoming, as Alan Briggs, executive director of the North Carolina Association of Food Bank suggested, “the safety net of the safety net.”
Please help out your local food banks this season. Decision after decision by the legislature in Raleigh seems aimed at worsening the situation for struggling North Carolinians.
Art Pope has protesters picketing his Variety Wholesaler stores across North Carolina. Yesterday, protesters picketed one of his Roses stores in Weaverville, NC. The Institute for Southern Studies explains,
An informational picket campaign focused on Maxway, Roses and other stores owned by Republican donor Art Pope is attracting new followers and generating fresh scrutiny of Pope’s political network in North Carolina.
In North Carolina, Art Pope’s rise as a conservative political kingmaker — including his appointment this year as Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget director — was fueled in large part with money from his business Variety Wholesalers, a retail chain and the owner of Maxway, Roses and other dollar-type stores.
Part of the NC NAACP and Forward Together Movement, the AFL-CIO announcement for the event stated that protesters would “hand out information on Budget Director and Roses-owner Art Pope and the extremist and regressive Legislative policies he supports. These policies hurt the very people who franchise his stores and supply a large share of his income.” Millions of dollars of Pope money, allowed by the Citizens United decision, appeared as campaign attack ads aimed at unseating Democrats across the state in 2010, and helped Republicans take over both houses of the state legislature.
After a week of protests, Pope responded to NAACP President Rev. William Barber, writing, “I am shocked that you and your allies would demand any public official to support your political positions, by threatening a business which is not part of state government.”
A self-described believer in “public-choice theory” and promoter of free-market economics, Pope is finding out what it’s like to face having an informed public choose to shop elsewhere. In a free Market, customers will punish a businessman who is corrupt, unethical, or not responsive to consumer demands. It’s all fun and games until you’re that businessman, isn’t it Art?
Pope Francis last week issued Evangelii Gaudium, or Joy of the Gospel, an “apostolic exhortation.” Less than an encyclical on church doctrine, Evangelii Gaudium nonetheless stamps papal authority across Francis’ recent speeches. The National Catholic Reporter likened it to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
For conservative pundits it’s more of a nightmare:
Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. 
Commenters looking for moral wiggle room at Free Republic debated the accuracy of the translation — not of the whole document, just the passage above. A National Review critic argued that nobody said markets were sufficient to bring down poverty. Still, people working sweat shop jobs in developing nations are less impoverished. Those who lost jobs in this hemisphere? Well, those are the breaks.
Wisconsin and Minnesota provide a nice side-by-side comparison of Republican and Democratic economic policies in action. They’re next door to each other and share similar demographics.
Three years into [GOP Gov. Scott] Walker’s term, Wisconsin lags behind Minnesota in job creation and economic growth. As a candidate, Mr. Walker promised to produce 250,000 private-sector jobs in his first term, but a year before the next election that number is less than 90,000. Wisconsin ranks 34th for job growth. Mr. Walker’s defenders blame the higher spending and taxes of his Democratic predecessor for these disappointments, but according to Forbes’s annual list of best states for business, Wisconsin continues to rank in the bottom half.
Along with California, Minnesota is the fifth fastest growing state economy, with private-sector job growth exceeding pre-recession levels. Forbes rates Minnesota as the eighth best state for business. Republicans deserve some of the credit, particularly for their commitment to education reform. They also argue that Minnesota’s new growth stems from the low taxes and reduced spending under Mr. Dayton’s Republican predecessor, [GOP Gov. Tim] Pawlenty. But Minnesota’s job growth was subpar during Mr. Pawlenty’s eight-year tenure and recovered only under [Democratic Gov. Mark] Dayton.
It is a little early to assess NC Gov. Pat McCrory. In spite of McCrory’s and the NCGOP’s refrain that the state is “broken” owing to one hundred years of Democratic dominance, North Caroilna consistently ranks as one of the top ten best states to do business. But it has lost ground since last year on one survery, falling from first place to second behind Georgia. This, of course, leaves McCrory with not much of anywhere to go except down.