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]
The Mayday SuperPAC.
Yesterday Lawrence Lessig announced
the launch of the Mayday SuperPAC, "The SuperPAC to end all SuperPACs." Its ultimate goal is to achieve constitutional campaign finance reform. They've set out specific funding goals--$1 million in 30 days, $5 million in the next 30--which will be matched by Lessig and other (currently) anonymous funders once achieved. Their initial goal is to influence races in five House districts and if successful they hope to expand in 2016.
VC for the people
- "It's just that people who have options are much more likely to actually find success than people who don't." [more inside]
Gilens and Page analyze
1,779 policy outcomes over a period of more than 20 years. They conclude that “economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”
Average citizens have “little or no independent influence” on the policy-making process? This must be an overstatement of Gilens’s and Page’s findings, no?
Turkey: The Erdogan-Gulen showdown
- "A political fight to the death had just broken out between Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, and his former allies in the movement of Mr Gulen... The prime minister argues that the Gulenists have set up a 'parallel state' within the bureaucracy, following orders from Pennsylvania and pursuing an agenda of their own." [more inside]
Free Money for Everyone
- "A wacky-sounding idea with surprisingly conservative roots may be our best hope for escaping endless, grinding economic stagnation." (via
) [more inside]
What’s gone wrong with Democracy?
It was the most successful political idea of the 20th century. Why has it run into trouble, and what can be done to revive it? Excellent Essay of the Economist.
The return of "patrimonial capitalism": review of Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st century
) - "Thomas Piketty's 'Capital in the 21st century' may be one of the most important recent economics books. It jointly treats theory of growth, functional distribution of income, and interpersonal income inequality. It envisages a future of relatively slow growth with the rising share of capital incomes, and widening income inequality. This tendency could be checked only by worldwide taxation of capital
." [more inside]
The Endgame for Democracy:
A short essay by Bill Moyers. [SLYT]
In 2011, the CIA declassified documents admitting its involvement in the 1953 coup that overthrew Iran's elected government and installed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, details of which were first first disclosed by the New York Times
in 2000. Timeline
. However, they refused to release them to the public
. Today, the National Security Archive research institute has (after a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit) obtained and made the 21 documents public. "Marking the sixtieth anniversary of the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, the National Security Archive is today posting recently declassified CIA documents on the United States' role in the controversial operation. American and British involvement in Mosaddeq's ouster has long been public knowledge, but today's posting includes what is believed to be the CIA's first formal acknowledgement that the agency helped to plan and execute the coup
. [more inside]
Dissent Is the Health of the Democratic State
- "We live in big, complex societies, which means we are thoroughly interdependent on each other, and that we will naturally have different ideas about how our life in common should go, and will have divergent interests. This means that politics we shall always have with us. It also means that political problems are largely ones about designing and reforming the institutions which shape how we interact with each other..." (via
) [more inside]
Has politics gone peer-to-peer?
A rich 90-minute panel discussion with Steven Johnson, author of "Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked World", featuring Yochai Benkler, Susan Crawford and Lawrence Lessig.
Obama won Ohio by two points, and Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown won by five, but Democrats emerged with just four of Ohio’s 16 House seats. In Wisconsin, Obama prevailed by seven points, and Democratic Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin by five, but their party finished with just three of the state’s eight House seats. In Virginia, Obama and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine were clear victors, but Democrats won just three of the commonwealth’s 11 House seats. In Florida, Obama eked out a victory and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson won by 13 points, but Democrats will hold only 10 of the Sunshine State’s 27 House seats. The Revenge of 2010
: How gerrymandering saved the congressional Republican majority
, undermined Obama's mandate
, set the terms of the sequestration fight
, and locked Democrats out of the House for the next decade
. It's not a new problem
. But if the Supreme Court guts the Voting Rights Act
, it could get a whole lot worse
. And the electoral college may
. (What's gerrymandering, you ask? Let the animals explain. Meet the Gerry-mander. Peruse the abused. Catch the movie. Or just play the game. Previously.)
Beautiful Georgia, my adopted state as I finish life’s journey ... my last year ever to vote in a presidential election. I wanted to feel part of this great privilege, wanted to again walk out of my precinct tapping my Georgia Peach voter sticker. Even if the day were dark, gloomy and cold, the sun would be shining. One Georgia nonagenarian's quest for voter ID
"[T]he corrupting influence of money is the first problem facing this nation. That unless we solve this problem, we won’t solve anything else... The Framers, Lessig says, had just one kind of dependence in mind for members of Congress: a dependence on the people. He quotes The Federalist (the then-anonymous essays by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay that are often used as a contemporary account of the Framers’ intentions) to make this point: number 52 describes the House of Representatives as that “branch of the federal government which ought to be dependent on the people alone” (emphasis added).
But in the last two decades, Lessig writes, members of Congress have developed a fearsome dependency: campaign cash. The total amount spent on campaigns by all candidates for Congress in 2010 was $1.8 billion. Fundraising has become a way of life..." (via 3 Quarks Daily)
With the U.S. Presidential election about 3 months away, and voter ID laws headed to court this Wednesday in Pennsylvania
and in other states like Texas and Minnesota, Propublica tells you Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Voter ID Laws.
to a nonproblem
] [more inside]
The Control Revolution And Its Discontents
- "the long process of algorithmisation
over the last 150 years has also, wherever possible, replaced implicit rules/contracts and principal-agent relationships with explicit processes and rules."
The Future of History
] does not often sit well with capitalism
], but Foreign Affairs argues
in its latest issue
that, while the ideological battle was won
in the 20th century, the challenge of 21st is one of implementation -- how to make liberal democracy work. [more inside]
Rethinking the Idea of 'Christian Europe'. Kenan Malik's
essay is awarded 3 Quarks Daily's
Top Quark for politics & social science by judge Stephen M. Walt
: "Soldiers in today’s culture wars believe 'European civilization' rests on a set of unchanging principles that are perennially under siege—from godless communism, secular humanism, and most recently, radical Islam. For many of these zealots, what makes the 'West' unique are its Judeo-Christian roots. In this calm and elegantly-written reflection on the past two millenia, Malik shows that Christianity is only one of the many sources of 'Western' culture, and that many of the ideas we now think of as 'bedrock' values were in fact borrowed from other cultures. This essay is a potent antidote to those who believe a 'clash of civilizations' is inevitable—if not already underway—and the moral in Malik’s account could not be clearer. Openness to outside influences has been the true source of European prominence; erecting ramparts against others will impoverish and endanger us all."
"The political elite have actually no interest in explaining to the people that important decisions are made in Strasbourg; they are only afraid of losing their own power." Jürgen Habermas on the crisis of the European project and how it could be overcome
David Graeber profile
: Meet the anthropologist, activist
], and anarchist who helped transform a hapless rally into a global protest movement
... " 'Most people don't think anarchism is a bad idea. They think it's insane,' says Graeber. 'Yeah, sure it would be great
not to have prisons and police and hierarchical structures of authority, but everybody would just start killing each other. That wouldn't work, right?' Graeber's father, however, had seen it work
Standing up for the little guy. Robert Reich
spoke last night on the steps of Sproul Hall at UC Berkeley -- the epicenter of recent violence
-- as the speaker for the Mario Savio
memorial lecture. Reich
has been making the rounds
, both within corporations
, in the media
, and at Occupy
events, has been lecturing on the dangers of inequality
well before the current income/opportunity disparity crisis. "There is going to come a time when the (inequality) trends we are seeing are going to cause something to snap... There are two kinds of snaps... one is the snap back... and the other is the snap break."
Peter Orszag (previously of Obama's OMB) argues that circumventing democracy is the best way to save it
, but Catherine Rampell isn't sold
, and Uwe Reinhardt points out that technocrats base "science" on moral values
Why A Heterosexual, Married, North Carolinian Father Of Three Cares About LGBT Equality
. Married father of three boys writes eloquently about the reasons why he opposes the proposed constitutional amendment banning any legal relationship recognition for same-sex couples. The amendment goes before voters in May primary election
, when heavy Republican turnout is expected. Meanwhile Senator Goolsby
says that it is all about "empowering voters" "so no activist judge is able to decide on his or her own what marriage is." [original
Anger, Politics and the Wisdom of Uncertainty
- "If there's somebody or even some institution to blame, it turns out people are much more likely to get angry... anger tends to inspire individuals to engage in more political activities than they would otherwise... Without someone to blame, respondents mostly just grow fearful and anxious... A particular danger of anger seems to be closed-mindedness. Research finds that when citizens get angry, they close themselves off to alternative views and redouble their sense of conviction in their existing views. Fear and anxiety, on the other hand, seem to promote openness to alternative viewpoints and a willingness to compromise." (via
) [more inside]
New Hampshire House Republicans are pushing for new laws that would prohibit many college students from voting in the state - and effectively keep some from voting at all. "Voting as a liberal. That's what kids do," [State Speaker William O'Brien] added, his comments taped by a state Democratic Party staffer and posted on YouTube. Students lack "life experience," and "they just vote their feelings."
. Yick Wo
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says the National Guard is prepared to respond to unrest among state workers:
"Gov. Scott Walker says the Wisconsin National Guard is prepared to respond if there is any unrest among state employees in the wake of his announcement that he wants to take away nearly all collective bargaining rights." NY Times offers more reporting on Walker's proposals here.
Notably, Walker is reportedly refusing even to negotiate
with the public employee unions.
Though Walker's carefully worded announcement avoided any specific commitments about how guard troops might be used much beyond noting the Wisconsin Governor's concern that "some union leaders will try to incite their members,"
a look back at the history of the labor movement in the US
reveals that this wouldn't be the first time in US history the National Guard has been called upon
to respond to labor unrest
, and that the results haven't always been pretty
. [more inside]
) - "The sources of American economic inequality
are largely political
– the result of deliberate political decisions to shape markets
in ways that benefit the already-privileged
at the expense of a more-or-less unaware public
." (via bd
) [more inside]
How broken is the Senate? George Packer asks in his New Yorker piece, "The Empty Chamber."
With capitalism in crisis
, can it be sustained
or is it altogether outdated
? As Umair Haque asks though, perhaps a better question is
: "are organizations and markets making decisions that help make people, communities, and society better off in the long run, by allocating their scarce resources to the most productive uses?" [more inside]
As reported a few hours ago in The Australian
, the right wing faction of the Australian Labor Party rolls
on Rudd and a caucus meeting is scheduled for 9 tomorrow morning, where it's predicted that he'll lose the ballot. One senior party source said: "This crypto-facist made no effort to build a base within the party and now his only faction - Newspoll - has deserted him. He is gone."