Rewrite the rules to benefit everyone, not just the wealthy - "If there's one thing Joseph Stiglitz wants to say about inequality, it's that it has been a choice, not an unexpected, unfortunate economic outcome. That's unnerving, but it also means that citizens and politicians have the opportunity to fix the problem before it gets worse." (via) [more inside]
"A BuzzFeed News investigation into Texas judicial practice found that with no public defenders present, traffic court judges routinely flout the law, locking up people for days, weeks, and sometimes even months because they did not pay fines they could not afford. The result is a modern-day version of debtors prison, an institution that was common two centuries ago but has been outlawed since the early ’70s."
FINLAND: New Government Commits to a Basic Income Experiment - "The Finnish government of Juha Sipilä is considering a pilot project that would give everyone of working age a basic income."[1,2,3] (via) [more inside]
"The hurricane lives in a complicated place. Everyone's experience is both communal and personal, obvious and hidden. The memory of the death is everywhere, buried in shallow and temporary graves." (SL Longform ESPN)
"Gentrifiers are people with medium or high incomes moving into low-income neighborhoods, attracting new business but raising rents, and often contributing to tensions between new and long-term residents. Sociologists coined the term, which alludes to the European gentry—and which has only become more loaded at a time of skyrocketing rents and profound demographic changes in American cities. But are you a gentrifier?" [SLSlate]
Joe Stiglitz on Inequality, Wealth, and Growth: Why Capitalism is Failing (video; if you don't have 30m, skip to 20m for discussion of political inequality, wealth, credit and monetary policy) - "If the very rich can use their position to get higher returns, more investment information, more extraction of rents, and if the very rich have equal or higher savings rates, then wealth will become more concentrated... economic inequality inevitably gets translated into political inequality, and political inequality gets translated into more economic inequality. The basic and really important idea here is that markets don't exist in a vacuum, that market economies operate according to certain rules, certain regulations that specify how they work. And those effect the efficiency of those markets, but they also effect how the fruits of the benefits of those markets are distributed and the result of that is there are large numbers of aspects of our basic economic framework that in recent years have worked to increase the inequality of wealth and income in our society... leading to a society which can be better described, increasingly, as an inherited plutocracy." [more inside]
After seven years of litigation, the New York Civil Liberties Union has announced a settlement in Hurrell-Harring v. New York, which will reform the way in which low income criminal defendants are represented in court. [more inside]
What makes for a stable marriage?
About a decade ago, the gossip on everyone’s lips was that “1/2 of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce.” That factoid was later disproven, but it left a lasting impression on the eligible bachelors and bachelorettes of America. In an effort to not become a part of that statistic, I started doing a little research on what makes for a stable marriage in America. [...] What struck me about this study is that it basically laid out what makes for a stable marriage in the U.S. I’ve highlighted 7 of the biggest factors below.The Atlantic points out:
Part of the study echoes what we already know about marriage: That it's increasingly for rich people—who make a lot and can afford honeymoons.[more inside]
The political economy of a universal basic income: "your view of what is feasible should not be backwards looking. The normalization of gay marriage and legalization of marijuana seemed utopian and politically impossible until very recently. Yet in fact those developments are happening, and their expansion is almost inevitable given the demographics of ideology... UBI — defined precisely as periodic transfers of identical fixed dollar amounts to all citizens of the polity — is by far the most probable and politically achievable among policies that might effectively address problems of inequality, socioeconomic fragmentation, and economic stagnation." [more inside]
Millennials Don't Stand A Chance. A terrific debate from Intelligence Squared: "...spotlight is shown on millennials and their use of revolutionary technology while growing up in a time of recession. Some think they are coddled, narcissistic and lazy. Have we let conventional wisdom blind us to the millennial's openness to change, innovation, and optimism in the face of uncertainty, which, in any generation, are qualities to be admired?" (running time ~50:00) [more inside]
- Welfare economics: an introduction
- The perils of Potential Pareto
- Inequality, production, and technology
- Welfare theorems, distribution priority, and market clearing
- Normative is performative, not positive
The American Middle Class Is No Longer the World’s Richest. The American middle class, long the most affluent in the world, has lost that distinction. Comparing income by country. About the data.
In the first two parts of a five-part series, The Atlantic looks at US cities with the highest levels of income segregation and US cities where the poor are segregated from everyone else. (dlTheAtlantic)
Inside the Nightmare Launch of HealthCare.Gov - "Unknown to a nation following the fiasco, McDonough's assignment from the President had boiled down to something more dire than how to fix the site. As the chief of staff remembers his mission, it was 'Can it be patched and improved to work, or does it need to be scrapped to start over? He wanted to know if this thing is salvageable.' Yes, on Oct. 17, the President was thinking of scrapping the whole thing and starting over." (previously) [more inside]
Markers of Gentrification: Mapping Rent as a Share of Income Heatmaps showing median rent as a percentage of median income. Note the heatmap colors are not baselined across the cities displayed in the blog post.
Ask A Native New Yorker: How Guilty Should I Feel About Being A Horrible Gentrifier? Passionate response from a Bushwick native.
"In the past inequality in South Africa was largely defined along race lines. It has become increasingly defined by inequality within population groups as the gap between rich and poor within each group has increased substantially." Is this what's led the BBC to report a growing sense of insecurity among poor (chiefly Afrikaans-speaking) whites? Or are they just blatantly misreading the statistics? [more inside]
Prom spending rising again, average of $1,139 The USA Today story is based on a recent VISA press release about prom spending that comes out every year. The VISA press release breaks down how prom spending is highest among Northeastern families, with Northeasterners averaging $1,528 compared to Midwesterners paltry $722. It also shows a breakdown by income category with families earning less than $50,000 spending an average of $1,245 while those from higher earning families spend $1,129. [more inside]
Inequality and the New York subway. An infographic from the New Yorker: The United States has a problem with income inequality. And it’s particularly bad in New York City—according to recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, if the borough of Manhattan were a country, the income gap between the richest twenty per cent and the poorest twenty per cent would be on par with countries like Sierra Leone, Namibia, and Lesotho.
The African King With A Multi-Billion Dollar Empire RBH functions as a communitybased investment company whose primary investment aim is to generate the income required for the funding of sustainable projects. Income generated from RBH’s commercial interests is invested in infrastructural development, as well as in the members of the Nation itself. Over the past decade, more than R4 billion ($475 million) has been spent on roads, utilities, schools, clinics and other public amenities. This has benefited not only the Bafokeng, but other people living in the North West Province of South Africa, the area which the RBN calls home.
From the mid 40s to the mid 50s Coronet Instructional Films were always ready to provide social guidance for teenagers on subjects as diverse as dating, popularity, preparing for being drafted, and shyness, as well as to children on following the law, the value of quietness in school, and appreciating our parents. They also provided education on topics such as the connection between attitudes and health, what kind of people live in America, how to keep a job, supervising women workers, the nature of capitalism, and the plantation System in Southern life. Inside is an annotated collection of all 86 of the complete Coronet films in the Prelinger Archives as well as a few more. Its not like you had work to do or anything right? [more inside]
Education, Income, and Fertility in America, and What They Mean for the Future of the Country "Since the average American woman has 2.1 children, you might think we aren't experiencing a national fertility crisis. Unlike some European countries whose futures are threatened by low birth rates, Americans, on average, produce just the right number of future workers, soldiers, and taxpayers to keep our society humming... Two new studies bring the contrasting reproductive profiles of rich and poor women into sharp relief. One, from the Guttmacher Institute, shows that the rates of unplanned pregnancies and births among poor women now dwarf the fertility rates of wealthier women, and finds that the gap between the two groups has widened significantly over the past five years. The other, by the Center for Work-Life Policy, documents rates of childlessness among corporate professional women that are higher than the childlessness rates of some European countries experiencing fertility crises."
"Why Is the Teen Birth Rate in the United States So High and Why Does It Matter?" Kearney MS & Levine PB (2012) Journal of Economic Perspectives, 26(2): 141–63. [more inside]
Last week, I wrote about how urban trees—or the lack thereof—can reveal income inequality. After writing that article, I was curious, could I actually see income inequality from space? It turned out to be easier than I expected.
"I can say with confidence that rich people don't create jobs, nor do businesses, large or small," said über-rich venture capitalist Nick Hanauer in a March 1st TEDx talk, which TED is refusing to put on its website. [more inside]
A modest proposal to get rid of income inequality in America: just give every household a $10 million dollar loan.
Visualizing Economics. Catherine Mulbrandon makes visualizations of economic data, including the variation of the top marginal tax rate over time and the high cost of buying a TV on credit.
Your parents have a huge influence on your future career. A single chart from the Journal of Labor Economics shows how much the top 1% benefit from their parent's success and networks (Results are from Canada, but the same is observed elsewhere). Nepotism is a very common phenomenon, and explains part of why income mobility between generations can be such a problem. Beyond the importance of parental networks and money, however, there is evidence that our genes influence our career choices, including whether you become an entrepreneur.
U.S. Poverty Rate, 1 in 6, at Highest Level in Years (NYT) - An additional 2.6 million people slipped below the poverty line in 2010, census officials said, making 46.2 million people in poverty in the United States, the highest number in the 52 years the Census Bureau has been tracking it, said Trudi Renwick, chief of the Poverty Statistic Branch. That represented 15.1 percent of the country. The poverty line in 2010 was at $22,113 for a family of four. (related)
Robert Reich talks at Google about the biggest problem facing the US economy. [SLYT, 57min]
The World Top Incomes Database (click on "Graphics" and select countries, years and other variables) (via)
9 Things The Rich Don't Want You To Know About Taxes - "4. Many of the very richest pay no current income taxes at all: Paulson made himself $9 billion in fees in just two years. His current tax bill on that $9 billion? Zero... 9. Other countries do it better: no one in Germany or the rest of the modern world goes broke because of accident or illness" (via) [more inside]
In Norway, Start-ups Say Ja to Socialism - We venture to the very heart of the hell that is Scandinavian socialism—and find out that it's not so bad. Pricey, yes, but a good place to start and run a company. What exactly does that suggest about the link between taxes and entrepreneurship?
How Private Is 'Private Charity'? Private charity may be more accurately described as "private donations coupled with involuntary, tax-financed public subsidies." And it's not fair: "very low-income people paying only payroll taxes get hardly any leverage for their donations. Very high-income people in states with high income-tax rates – such as New Jersey and New York – can through the tax code virtually double the money funneled to a charity per dollar of their own sacrifice." (previously)
Does a better education really lead to a higher income? Take a map of the USA, overlay census data for high school graduation rates (red), college graduate rates (yellow) and median household income (blue). What do you get? A patchwork map of purples, blues, pinks and greens, that shows the relationship between education and income by county. [more inside]
How much money do you make with that webcomic internet thing? Dorthy Gambrell of Cat And Girl Answers.
Over at Slate magazine, Timothy Noah is doing a multi-part examination of America's growing income gap. The Great Divergence.
"We infer that beyond about $75,000/y, there is no improvement whatever in any of the three measures of emotional well-being." Two social scientists at Princeton, Angus Deaton and Nobelist Daniel Kahneman, have a new paper in PNAS about money and the determinants of happiness. Increased income above $75,000 is not associated with higher subjective happiness, though it is associated with superior scores on measures of overall life satisfaction. Other tidbits: "Religion has a substantial influence on improving positive affect and reducing reports of stress, but no effect on reducing sadness or worry... The presence of children at home is associated with significant increases in stress, sadness, and worry."
Radical Cartography has made a lot more maps since greasy_skillet posted it in 2005, including maps showing housing prices and segregation of all kinds in New York, Chicago, DC and elsewhere, counties named for Presidents, the night sky, the US in agriculture, the US as projected to other spots on the globe, and a physical atlas of the world.
Writers get pirated too - so how can they still earn money? Here are some ideas, but are they workable? [more inside]
Who rules America? Wealth, income and power Next time you hear "Fair and Balanced" Fox News whining about the socialist wealth redistribution agenda of the Obama "regime", refer back to this. Goes a long way towards explaining why 47% of Americans don't pay income tax.
"With job openings scarce for young people, the number of unpaid internships has climbed in recent years, leading federal and state regulators to worry that more employers are illegally using such internships for free labor." (via)
"The conventional wisdom that Africa is not reducing poverty is wrong." [PDF, 339.97 KB] [more inside]
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