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]
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?
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]
In China, there are certain "bad notes" that frighten people and are refused as legal tender. Why?
How The Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio
 actually makes a case against austerity
 and for redistribution, but also for money printing
(and, arguably, for bailouts), while stressing the need to keep making productivity-improving public
investments. However, it could be equally entitled: How The Industrial Age Political-Economy Doesn't Work Anymore
, viz. Surviving Progress (2011)
... [more inside]
Economists and the theory of politics
- "why unions were often well worth any deadweight cost" [more inside]
Start Your Own Currency
- "In the Catalonia region of Spain, a restaurant and a community garden are part of an experiment in alternative cash--they are accepting a home-grown currency called the Eco
as well as the Euro
. gated article
. The Wörgl Experiment
"[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)
In Praise of Leisure
- "Imagine a world in which most people worked only 15 hours a week. They would be paid as much as, or even more than, they now are, because the fruits of their labor would be distributed more evenly across society. Leisure would occupy far more of their waking hours than work. It was exactly this prospect that John Maynard Keynes conjured up in a little essay published in 1930 called 'Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren
.' Its thesis was simple. As technological progress made possible an increase in the output of goods per hour worked, people would have to work less and less to satisfy their needs, until in the end they would have to work hardly at all... He thought this condition might be reached in about 100 years — that is, by 2030." (via
) [more inside]
In the wake of ever deeper budget cuts, public schools have begun charging students for basics
, such as registering for honors or elective classes.
Out of thin air?
"Have you ever said something like 'Let me buy you a beer next week'? I'm sure you have. We all issue promises of this sort. And we frequently use such promises as a form of currency... I have just described a simple credit exchange. Societies rely heavily on promising-making and promise-keeping. It is the foundation of all financial markets. I'd like to point out something about the promises you make. They are made 'out of thin air.' " [more inside]
Patsy Campbell has been fighting her foreclosure in Florida courts for the past 25 years
. She has not made a mortgage payment since 1985 while foiling the efforts of several banks to evict her from her home in Okeechobee, Florida.
) - "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]
For almost 20 years, Art Williams, Jr.
was one of the country's eminent currency counterfeiters. His greatest achievement: counterfeiting the new (at the time) $100 bill (PDF link)
. [more inside]
Basicland vs. Sorrowland
A parable about how one nation came to financial ruin by Charles Munger
. For extra colour there's... [more inside]
Hard up for cash? Roll your own
:P [more inside]
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank
gave a bank, whose capital ratio equaled only 1.88% of assets at the bank, versus a desired level of about 6%, TARP money after heavy lobbying. Frank inserted into the bill a provision to give special consideration to banks that had less than $1 billion of assets, had been well-capitalized as of June 30, served low- and moderate-income areas, and had taken a capital hit in the federal seizure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (WSJ link) [more inside]
TARP, SSFIP, EESA, CPP, TALF, MMIFF... Are you feeling overwhelmed by all the new acronyms coming out of the US Treasury Department lately? Here's a handy PDF reference guide
to untangling the US government efforts to rescue banks, financial corporations, and other companies.
HowISpentMyStimulus.com In January, Congress approved $152 billion in economic stimulus checks for millions of American households, intended to boost the economy and avert a recession. Just how this money will be spent remains to be seen. We hope this website helps shed some light on where the stimulus money is going.
The Pentagon's $1 Trillion Problem.
Even as the Defense Department prepares to send Congress its $481.4B FY2008 budget request
, it also prepares to admit -- for the 18th year in a row -- that its finances are in such poor shape that it is effectively impossible to audit or account for over a trillion dollars in past expenses. [more inside]
Albania to get more corruption, and duct-tape expert-- ... As much as Ridge's security expertise, Berisha wants him to also bring to Albania his "success story" as Governor of Pennsylvania on education, the judiciary, information technology, agriculture and money laundering. ...
A daily intelligence brief on Iraq,
prepared by a private contractor for the U.S. military and companies working in Iraq--SOC-SMG Inc
--paints a grim picture of life in Baghdad. The information in large sections of the brief? It came from this blog: Iraq the Model
The other religious riots.
While much of the world's press has covered the Muslim cartoon riots, not nearly as much ink has been spilled over the continuing violence in Nigeria. A good analysis of underlying factors here
A Shell report
points to oil as a proximate cause of violence as well. For oil companies, this may not be a bad thing
(If I was more interested in trolling, I'd have framed this as "Christian Leaders Fail to Condemn Religious Violence." The real world's a little more complex).
The Price of Payola and Fake News? 1.6 billion dollars for just 2003-5 alone.
The GAO's new report lays it out. That's how much seven federal departments spent from 2003 through the second quarter of 2005 on 343 contracts with public relations firms, advertising agencies, media organizations and individuals, according to a new Government Accountability Office report. ... The new report reveals that federal public relations spending goes far beyond "video news releases."
(full report is a PDF download from there)
And there's another scandal coming, if Wonkette has it right.
The Rendon Group
-- covert perception managers
using our taxpayer money to start wars. ... the product of a clandestine operation -- part espionage, part PR campaign -- that had been set up and funded by the CIA and the Pentagon for the express purpose of selling the world a war. ... it was hired by the CIA to help "create the conditions for the removal of Hussein from power." Working under this extraordinary transfer of secret authority, Rendon assembled a group of anti-Saddam militants, personally gave them their name -- the Iraqi National Congress -- and served as their media guru and "senior adviser" as they set out to engineer an uprising against Saddam. ...
Rolling Stone thoroughly documents the way we pay to be lied into war and one of the people who do it. From Noriega and Panama through to Chalabi, Miller, al-Haideri, Bush, and you.
The Pimping of the President
--Jack Abramoff and Grover Norquist Billing Clients for Face Time with G.W. Bush: ...He had just concluded his work on the Bush Transition Team as an advisor to the Department of the Interior. He had sent his personal assistant Susan Ralston to the White House to work as Rove’s personal assistant. He was a close friend, advisor, and high-dollar fundraiser for the most powerful man in Congress, Tom DeLay. Abramoff was so closely tied to the Bush Administration that he could, and did, charge two of his clients $25,000 for a White House lunch date and a meeting with the President. ... Jack Abramoff,
in the news due to his shady dealings with DeLay, and Grover Norquist
, and the White House. Norquist has not responded to inquiries about using the White House as a fundraiser.
Free Annual Credit Reports The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003
goes in to effect today. One of the major provisions of the bill, is that consumers now have the right to one free report from each of the three major credit bureaus every 12 months. [more inside]
Just how large is 87 billion dollars exactly? It's this large
, about the size of three costco warehouses by the looks of it.
Bush Wants $60B for 2004 Fed IT Budget
. It's the only area aside from defense that is going to have an increase in spending when Bush releases his budget on 2/3. Mitchell E. Daniels said federal IT projects contain "tons of overlap and redundancies" and "far too many plans for which we do not have good business cases." And here I thought that was just the proper definition of our government.