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Gospels of Giving for the New Gilded Age | The New Yorker
"Are today’s donor classes solving problems—or creating new ones?"



"
We live, it is often said, in a new Gilded Age—an era of extravagant wealth and almost as extravagant displays of generosity. In the past fifteen years, some thirty thousand private foundations have been created, and the number of donor-advised funds has roughly doubled. The Giving Pledge—signed by Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Michael Bloomberg, Larry Ellison, and more than a hundred and seventy other gazillionaires who have promised to dedicate most of their wealth to philanthropy—is the “Gospel” stripped down and updated. And as the new philanthropies have proliferated so, too, have the critiques.

Anand Giridharadas is a journalist who, in 2011, was named a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. The institute is financed by, among other groups, the Carnegie Corporation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Gates Foundation. The fellowship, according to its Web site, aims to “develop the next generation of community-spirited leaders” by engaging them “in a thought-provoking journey of personal exploration.”

Giridharadas at first found the fellowship to be a pretty sweet deal; it offered free trips to the Rockies and led to invitations from the sorts of people who own Western-themed mansions and fly private jets. After a while, though, he started to feel that something was rotten in the state of Colorado. In 2015, when he was asked to deliver a speech to his fellow-fellows, he used it to condemn what he called “the Aspen Consensus.”

“The Aspen Consensus, in a nutshell, is this,” he said. “The winners of our age must be challenged to do more good. But never, ever tell them to do less harm.” The speech made the Times; people began asking for copies of it; and Giridharadas decided to expand on it. The result is “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World.” “I hadn’t planned to write a book on this topic, but the topic chose me,” he writes."



"Inside Philanthropy is a Web site devoted to high-end giving; its tagline is “Who’s Funding What, and Why.” David Callahan is the site’s founder and editor. If Giridharadas worries that the super-wealthy just play at changing the world, Callahan worries they’re going at it in earnest.

“An ever larger and richer upper class is amplifying its influence through large-scale giving in an era when it already has too much clout,” he writes in “The Givers: Wealth, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age.” “Things are going to get worse, too.”

Part of the problem, according to Callahan, lies in the broad way that philanthropy has been defined. Under the federal tax code, an organization that feeds the hungry can count as a philanthropy, and so can a university where students study the problem of hunger, and so, too, can a think tank devoted to downplaying hunger as a problem. All these qualify as what are known, after the relevant tax-code provision, as 501(c)(3)s, meaning that the contributions they receive are tax deductible, and that the earnings on their endowments are largely tax-free. 501(c)(3)s are prohibited from engaging in partisan activity, but, as “The Givers” convincingly argues, activists on both sides of the ideological divide have developed work-arounds.

As a left-leaning example, Callahan cites Tim Gill, who’s been called “the megadonor behind the L.G.B.T.Q.-rights movement.” A software designer, Gill became rich founding and then selling a company called Quark, and he’s donated more than three hundred million dollars toward promoting L.G.B.T.Q. rights. While some of this has been in the form of straight-up political contributions, much of it has been disbursed by Gill’s tax-exempt foundation, which has financed educational efforts, message testing, and—perhaps most important—legal research. “Without a doubt, we would not be where we are without Tim Gill and the Gill Foundation,” Mary Bonauto, the attorney who argued the 2015 Supreme Court case that legalized gay marriage, told Rolling Stone last year.

On the right, Callahan points to Art Pope, the chairman of a privately held discount-store chain called Variety Wholesalers. Pope has used his wealth to support a network of foundations, based in North Carolina, that advocate for voter-identification—or, if you prefer, voter-suppression—laws. In 2013, pushed by Pope’s network, the North Carolina state legislature enacted a measure requiring residents to present state-issued photo I.D.s at the polls. Then the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law—another Pope-funded group—led the effort to block challenges to the measure. (The I.D. law was struck down, in 2016, by a federal appeals court that held it had been “passed with racially discriminatory intent.”)

It is difficult to say what fraction of philanthropic giving goes toward shaping public policy. Callahan estimates that the figure is somewhere around ten billion dollars a year. Such an amount, he says, might not sound huge, but it’s more than the annual contributions made to candidates, parties, and super-pacs combined. The result is doubly undemocratic. For every billion dollars spent on advocacy tricked out as philanthropy, several hundred million dollars in uncaptured taxes are lost to the federal treasury.

“It’s not just that the megaphones operated by 501(c)(3) groups and financed by a sliver of rich donors have gotten louder and louder, making it harder for ordinary citizens to be heard,” Callahan notes. “It’s that these citizens are helping foot the bill.” That both liberals and conservatives are exploiting the tax code is small consolation.

“When it comes to who gets heard in the public square, ordinary citizens can’t begin to compete with an activist donor class,” Callahan writes. “How many very rich people need to care intensely about a cause to finance megaphones that drown out the voices of everyone else?” he asks. “Not many.”"



"
Critiques of “The Gospel of Wealth” didn’t have much impact on Andrew Carnegie. He continued to distribute his fortune, to libraries and museums and universities, until, at the time of his death, in 1919, he had given away some three hundred and fifty million dollars—the equivalent of tens of billions in today’s money. It is hard to imagine that the critiques of the new Carnegies will do much to alter current trend lines.

The Gates Foundation alone, Callahan estimates, will disburse more than a hundred and fifty billion dollars over the next several decades. In just the next twenty years, affluent baby boomers are expected to contribute almost seven trillion dollars to philanthropy. And, the more government spending gets squeezed, the more important nongovernmental spending will become. When congressional Republicans passed their so-called tax-reform bill, they preserved the deduction for charitable contributions even as they capped the deduction for state and local tax payments. Thus, a hundred-million-dollar gift to Harvard will still be fully deductible, while, in many parts of the country, the property taxes paid to support local public schools will not be. It is possible that in the not too distant future philanthropic giving will outstrip federal outlays on non-defense discretionary programs, like education and the arts. This would represent, Callahan notes, a “striking milestone.”

Is that the kind of future we want? As the latest round of critiques makes clear, we probably won’t have much of a say in the matter. The philanthropists will decide, and then it will be left to their foundations to fight it out."
philanthropicindustrialcomplex  charitableindustrialcomplex  2018  elizabethkolbert  charity  philanthropy  inequality  andrewcarnegie  gildedage  inequity  disparity  wealth  inheritance  hughpricehughes  society  williamjewetttucker  patronage  ethics  wealthdistribution  exploitation  billgates  warrenbuffett  michaelbloomberg  larryellison  anandgiridharadas  aspenconsensus  georgesoros  socialentrepreneurship  laurietisch  darrenwalker  change  democracy  henrykravis  billclinton  davidcallahan  power  taxes  thinktanks  nonprofit  activism  timgill  publicpolicy  politics  economics  us  influence  artpope  votersuppression  law  superpacs  donaldtrump  equality  robertreich  nonprofits  capitalism  control 
august 2018 by robertogreco
POLITICAL THEORY - Karl Marx - YouTube
"Karl Marx remains deeply important today not as the man who told us what to replace capitalism with, but as someone who brilliantly pointed out certain of its problems. The School of Life, a pro-Capitalist institution, takes a look.



FURTHER READING

“Most people agree that we need to improve our economic system somehow. It threatens our planet through excessive consumption, distracts us with irrelevant advertising, leaves people hungry and without healthcare, and fuels unnecessary wars. Yet we’re also often keen to dismiss the ideas of its most famous and ambitious critic, Karl Marx. This isn’t very surprising. In practice, his political and economic ideas have been used to design disastrously planned economies and nasty dictatorships. Frankly, the remedies Marx proposed for the ills of the world now sound a bit demented. He thought we should abolish private property. People should not be allowed to own things. At certain moments one can sympathise. But it’s like wanting to ban gossip or forbid watching television. It’s going to war with human behaviour. And Marx believed the world would be put to rights by a dictatorship of the proletariat; which does not mean anything much today. Openly Marxist parties received a total of only 1,685 votes in the 2010 UK general election, out of the nearly 40 million ballots cast…”"
karlmarx  marxism  capitalism  2014  work  labor  specialization  purpose  alienation  disconnection  hierarchy  efficiency  communism  belonging  insecurity  economics  primitiveaccumulation  accumulation  profit  theft  exploitation  instability  precarity  crises  abundance  scarcity  shortage  productivity  leisure  unemployment  freedom  employment  inequality  wealth  wealthdistribution  marriage  relationships  commodityfetishism  feminism  oppression  ideology  values  valuejudgements  worth  consumerism  materialism  anxiety  competition  complacency  conformity  communistmanifesto  inheritance  privateproperty  banking  communication  transportation  eduction  publiceducation  frederickengels  generalists  specialists  daskapital 
january 2017 by robertogreco
James Meek · Robin Hood in a Time of Austerity · LRB 18 February 2016
"How like the Middle Ages, if it were so. Behind the twisted rhetoric of a hardworking majority oppressed by a welfare-mad government, a modern version of the medieval world has been constructed, one where the real poor are taxed more heavily than the rich; where most of those who are not rich are burdened by an onerous roster of fees and monopolies levied by remote, unaccountable private landlords; and where many of us live out our lives shackled to an endless chain of private debt.

Since the Thatcher revolution in 1979, British governments have boasted of how they’ve lowered taxes. And they have, except for one section of society: the poorest 20 per cent. In 1977, the least well-off fifth of households paid 37 per cent of their gross income in direct taxes (like income tax) and indirect taxes (like VAT), against 38 per cent for the richest fifth. In 2014, the tax take from the poorest group had gone up to 37.8 per cent, while the taxes paid by the richest had gone down to less than 35 per cent.

Not only does this understate the extent of tax cuts for the top 1 per cent; it shows only part of the burden borne by the least well off. Piketty writes that ‘modern redistribution does not consist in transferring income from the rich to the poor, at least not in so explicit a way. It consists rather in financing public services and replacement incomes that are more or less equal for everyone, especially in the areas of health, education and pensions.’ This is a very cautious definition of the modern social state. Health, education and social security make up the lion’s share of public spending, but they’re intimately linked to a wider set of networks that includes energy, water and transport and, some would argue, should include housing. What these networks have in common is that society has decided they’re essential, and therefore should be universal – that is, we think everyone should have access to them, all the time. The significance of this is that, on the one hand, society takes on itself the obligation to give its poorest members access to these networks, which they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford; and, on the other, payment to use these networks, if it isn’t funded out of general taxation, becomes in itself a tax, particularly when that network is a monopoly. In Britain, many of these universal networks, such as electricity and water, have been privatised, often twice – once to put them on the stock market, once to put them into the hands of overseas owners. Bills for these services have increased faster than inflation, and take little account of people’s ability to pay. It is the poorest, then, who as well as paying the heaviest combination of indirect and direct taxation bear the brunt of such hybrid public-private taxes as the water tax and the electricity tax.

Other universal networks, such as health and education, haven’t been privatised, but have been through another process that makes them ripe for the introduction of flat fees for usage in future. This process really got going under Labour, and it is a sign of the liberal left’s failure to recognise what it has done that there isn’t a name for it. One word to describe it might be ‘autonomisation’ – the process by which state-run bodies continue to be funded by the state but are run autonomously on a non-profit basis. So state secondary schools become academies, NHS hospitals become NHS foundation trusts, and council estates are transferred to housing associations. The British state is in a condition of rolling abdication, leaving behind a partly privatised, partly autonomised set of universal networks, increasingly run by absentee landlords in the form of global companies and overseas corporate investors, that is disproportionately funded by the poorest payers of taxes, fees and duties, many of whom are also deep in debt.

There is a cynical view which says that as long as the majority of the population feel they’re doing all right, a democratically elected government is safe to squeeze the poor and pamper the rich. But cynicism is a risky thing to rely on when a government is simultaneously cutting spending and shedding control of the universal networks on which its entire population relies. As Hobsbawm writes in Bandits, ‘concentration of power in the modern territorial state is what eventually eliminated rural banditry, endemic or epidemic. At the end of the 20th century it looks as though this situation might be coming to an end, and the consequences of this regression of state power cannot yet be foreseen.’ We’re a long way from the return of the literal outlaw to Nottinghamshire. But we need to remember the insight given our ancestors when they saw through the illusion of the Robin Hood myth, when they saw that the strongbox of silver coins wasn’t just money stolen from each of them individually, but power robbed from them collectively, and that they needed to wield that power collectively as much as they needed their money back. For sure, freedom to choose is a grand thing, and the market will try to help you exercise it. With a bit of money in the bank, a middle-class family might choose to send their child to private school, provided by the market; but that same family can’t choose to build and maintain a universal education network by itself, and the market won’t provide it. With money, you can choose to buy a car, and the market will provide it; but you can’t choose, all by yourself, to build and maintain a universal road network, and the market won’t provide it. To make and keep universal networks requires the authority of the state, an authority that has been absent; and it’s hard to see where that authority might come from if the people don’t find a way to assert their kingship."
2016  jamesmeek  capitalism  politics  policy  welfare  poor  class  rich  wealthdistribution  inequality  taxes  taxation  health  education  thomaspiketty  neoliberalism  autonomization  housing  uk  finance  davidcameron  margaretthatcher  ronaldreagan  stephenharper  us  canada  australia  marcorubio  georgeosborne  power  money  economics  labor  erichobsbawm  government  markets  universalnetworks  infrastructure  via:anabjain 
april 2016 by robertogreco
The Thriving World, the Wilting World, and You — Medium
"We are a community branded as leaders living through this revolutionary moment, living through this extreme winning and extreme losing. It falls on us to ask the tough questions about it.

But we here in Aspen are in a bit of a tight spot.

Our deliberations about what to do about this extreme winning and losing are sponsored by the extreme winners. This community was formed by stalwarts of American capitalism; today we sit in spaces named after Pepsi (as in the beverage) and Koch (as in the brothers); our discussion of Martin Luther King and Omelas is sponsored by folks like Accenture, David Rubenstein and someone named Pom; we are deeply enmeshed and invested in the establishment and systems we are supposed to question. And yet we are a community of leaders that claims to seek justice. These identities are tricky to reconcile.

Today I want to challenge how we reconcile them. There is no consensus on anything here, as any seminar participant knows. But I believe that many of our discussions operate within what I will call the “Aspen Consensus,” which, like the “Washington Consensus” or “Beijing Consensus,” describes a nest of shared assumptions within which diverse ideas hatch. The “Aspen Consensus” demarcates what we mostly agree not to question, even as we question so much. And though I call it the Aspen Consensus, it is in many ways the prevailing ethic among the winners of our age worldwide, across business, government and even nonprofits.

The Aspen Consensus, in a nutshell, is this: the winners of our age must be challenged to do more good. But never, ever tell them to do less harm.

The Aspen Consensus holds that capitalism’s rough edges must be sanded and its surplus fruit shared, but the underlying system must never be questioned.

The Aspen Consensus says, “Give back,” which is of course a compassionate and noble thing. But, amid the $20 million second homes and $4,000 parkas of Aspen, it is gauche to observe that giving back is also a Band-Aid that winners stick onto the system that has privileged them, in the conscious or subconscious hope that it will forestall major surgery to that system — surgery that might threaten their privileges.

The Aspen Consensus, I believe, tries to market the idea of generosity as a substitute for the idea of justice. It says: make money in all the usual ways, and then give some back through a foundation, or factor in social impact, or add a second or third bottom line to your analysis, or give a left sock to the poor for every right sock you sell.

The Aspen Consensus says, “Do more good” — not “Do less harm.”

I want to sow the seed of a difficult conversation today about this Aspen Consensus. Because I love this community, and I fear for all of us — myself very much included — that we may not be as virtuous as we think we are, that history may not be as kind to us as we hope it will, that in the final analysis our role in the inequities of our age may not be remembered well.

This may sound strange at first, because the winners of our disruptive age are arguably as concerned about the plight of the losers as any elite in human history. But the question I’m raising is about what the winners propose to do in response. And I believe the winners’ response, certainly not always but still too often, is to soften the blows of the system but to preserve the system at any cost. This response is problematic. It keeps the winners too safe. It allows far too many of us to evade hard questions about our role in contributing to the disease we also seek to treat."



"Now, a significant minority of us here don’t work in business. Yet even in other sectors, we’re living in an age in which the assumptions and values of business are more influential than they ought to be. Our culture has turned businessmen and -women into philosophers, revolutionaries, social activists, saviors of the poor. We are at risk of forgetting other languages of human progress: of morality, of democracy, of solidarity, of decency, of justice.

Sometimes we succumb to the seductive Davos dogma that the business approach is the only thing that can change the world, in the face of so much historical evidence to the contrary.

And so when the winners of our age answer the problem of inequality and injustice, all too often they answer it within the logic and frameworks of business and markets. We talk a lot about giving back, profit-sharing, win-wins, social-impact investing, triple bottom lines (which, by the way, are something my four-month-old son has).

Sometimes I wonder whether these various forms of giving back have become to our era what the papal indulgence was to the Middle Ages: a relatively inexpensive way of getting oneself seemingly on the right of justice, without having to alter the fundamentals of one’s life.

Because when you give back, when you have a side foundation, a side CSR project, a side social-impact fund, you gain an exemption from more rigorous scrutiny. You helped 100 poor kids in the ghetto learn how to code. The indulgence spares you from questions about the larger systems and structures you sustain that benefit you and punish others: weak banking regulations and labor laws, zoning rules that happen to keep the poor far from your neighborhood, porous safety nets, the enduring and unrepaired legacies of slavery and racial supremacy and caste systems.

These systems and structures have victims, and we here are at risk, I think, of confusing generosity toward those victims with justice for those victims. For generosity is a win-win, but justice often is not. The winners of our age don’t enjoy the idea that some of them might actually have to lose, to sacrifice, for justice to be done. In Aspen you don’t hear a lot of ideas involving the privileged and powerful actually being in the wrong, and needing to surrender their status and position for the sake of justice.

We talk a lot here about giving more. We don’t talk about taking less.

We talk a lot here about what we should be doing more of. We don’t talk about what we should be doing less of.

I think sometimes that our Aspen Consensus has an underdeveloped sense of human darkness. There is risk in too much positivity. Sometimes to do right by people, you must begin by naming who is in the wrong.

So let’s just come out and say the thing you’re never supposed to say in Aspen: that many of the winners of our age are active, vigorous contributors to the problems they bravely seek to solve. And for the greater good to prevail on any number of issues, some people will have to lose — to actually do less harm, and not merely more good.

We know that enlightened capital didn’t get rid of the slave trade. Impact investing didn’t abolish child labor and put fire escapes on tenement factories. Drug makers didn’t stop slipping antifreeze into medicine as part of a CSR initiative. In each of these cases, the interests of the many had to defeat the interests of the recalcitrant few.

Look, I know this speech won’t make me popular at the bar tonight. But this, for me, is an act of stepping into the arena — something our wonderful teacher-moderators challenged us to do.

I know many of you agree with me already, because we have bonded for years over a shared feeling that something in this extraordinary community didn’t feel quite right. There are many others who, instead of criticizing as I do, are living rejections of this Aspen Consensus — quitting lucrative lives, risking everything, to fight the system. You awe me: you who battle for gay rights in India, who live ardently among the rural poor in South Africa, who risk assassination or worse to report news of corruption.

I am not speaking to you tonight, and I know there are many of you. I am speaking to those who, like me, may feel caught between the ideals championed by this Institute and the self-protective instinct that is always the reflex of people with much to lose.

I am as guilty as anyone. I am part of the wave of gentrification and displacement in Brooklyn, one of the most rapidly gentrifying places in America. Any success I’ve had can be traced to my excellent choice in parents and their ability to afford incredibly expensive private schools. I like good wine. I use Uber — a lot. I once stole playing cards from a private plane. I want my new son to have everything I can give him, even though I know that this is the beginning of the inequality I loathe.

I often wonder if what I do — writing — is capable of making any difference.

When I entered this fellowship, I was so taken with that summons to make a difference. But, to be honest, I have also always had a complicated relationship to this place.

I have heard too many of us talking of how only after the IPO or the next few million will we feel our kids have security. These inflated notions of what it takes to “make a living” and “support a family” are the beginning of so much neglect of our larger human family.

I walk into too many rooms named for people and companies that don’t mean well for the world, and then in those rooms we talk and talk about making the world better.

I struggled in particular with the project. I couldn’t figure out what bothered me about it for the longest time. I wasn’t very good at coming up with one or getting it done.

And I realized, through conversation with fellows in similar dilemmas, what my problem was. Many people, including some being featured later tonight, are engaged in truly extraordinary and commendable projects. We are at our best when our projects take the system head on. But I wrestled with what I perceived to be the idea behind the project, of creating generous side endeavors rather than fighting to reform, bite by bite, the hands that feed us. I felt the project distracted us from the real question: is your regular life — not your side project — on the right side … [more]
anandgiridharadas  capitalism  change  cooperation  aspeninstitute  philanthropy  climatechange  inequality  virtue  competition  inequity  elitism  power  systemschange  privilege  finance  wealth  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  wealthdistribution  davos  riggedgames  goldmansachs  indulgence  handwashing  via:tealtan  risk  stackeddecks  labor  employment  disruption  work  civics  commongood  abstraction  business  corporatism  corporations  taxes  government  socialgood  virtualization  economics  politics  policy  speculation  democracy  solidarity  socialjustice  neoliberalism  well-being  decency  egalitarianism  community  indulgences  noblesseoblige  absolution  racism  castes  leadership  generosity  sacrifice  gambling  gender  race  sexism  emotionallabor  positivity  slavery  socialsafetnet  winwin  zerosum  gentrification  stewardship  paradigmshifts  charitableindustrialcomplex  control 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Hyperemployment, or the Exhausting Work of the Technology User - Ian Bogost - The Atlantic
"Feeling overwhelmed online? Maybe it’s because you’re working dozens of jobs"



"When critics engage with the demands of online services via labor, they often cite exploitation as a simple explanation. It’s a sentiment that even has its own aphorism: “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.” The idea is that all the information you provide to Google and Facebook, all the content you create for Tumblr and Instagram enable the primary businesses of such companies, which amounts to aggregating and reselling your data or access to it. In addition to the revenues extracted from ad sales, tech companies like YouTube and Instagram also managed to leverage the speculative value of your data-and-attention into billion-dollar buyouts. Tech companies are using you, and they’re giving precious little back in return.

While often true, this phenomenon is not fundamentally new to online life. We get network television for free in exchange for the attention we devote to ads that interrupt our shows. We receive “discounts” on grocery store staples in exchange for allowing Kroger or Safeway to aggregate and sell our shopping data. Meanwhile, the companies we do pay directly as customers often treat us with disregard at best, abuse at worst (just think about your cable provider or your bank). Of course, we shouldn’t just accept online commercial exploitation just because exploitation in general has been around for ages. Rather, we should acknowledge that exploitation only partly explains today’s anxiety with online services.

Hyperemployment offers a subtly different way to characterize all the tiny effort we contribute to Facebook and Instagram and the like. It’s not just that we’ve been duped into contributing free value to technology companies (although that’s also true), but that we’ve tacitly agreed to work unpaid jobs for all these companies. And even calling them “unpaid” is slightly unfair, since we do get something back from these services, even if they often take more than they give. Rather than just being exploited or duped, we’ve been hyperemployed. We do tiny bits of work for Google, for Tumblr, for Twitter, all day and every day.

Today, everyone’s a hustler. But now we’re not even just hustling for ourselves or our bosses, but for so many other, unseen bosses. For accounts payable and for marketing; for the Girl Scouts and the Youth Choir; for Facebook and for Google; for our friends via their Kickstarters and their Etsy shops; for Twitter, which just converted years of tiny, aggregated work acts into $78 of fungible value per user.

Even if there is more than a modicum of exploitation at work in the hyperemployment economy, the despair and overwhelm of online life doesn’t derive from that exploitation—not directly anyway. Rather, it’s a type of exhaustion cut of the same sort that afflicts the underemployed as well, like the single mother working two part-time service jobs with no benefits, or the PhD working three contingent teaching gigs at three different regional colleges to scrape together a still insufficient income. The economic impact of hyperemployment is obviously different from that of underemployment, but some of the same emotional toll imbues both: a sense of inundation, of being trounced by demands whose completion yields only their continuance, and a feeling of resignation that any other scenario is likely or even possible. The only difference between the despair of hyperemployment and that of un- or under-employment is that the latter at least acknowledges itself as an substandard condition, while the former celebrates the hyperemployed’s purported freedom to “share” and “connect,” to do business more easily and effectively by doing jobs once left for others competence and compensation, from the convenience of your car or toilet.

Staring down the barrel of Keynes’s 2030 target for the arrival of universal leisure, economists have often considered why Keynes seems to have been so wrong. The inflation of relative needs is one explanation—the arms race for better and more stuff and status. The ever-increasing wealth gap, on the rise since the anti-Keynes, supply-side 1980s is another. But what if Keynes was right, too, in a way. Even if productivity has increased mostly to the benefit of the wealthy, hasn’t everyone gained enormous leisure, but by replacing recreation with work rather than work with recreation? This new work doesn’t even require employment; the destitute and unemployed hyperemployed are just as common as the affluent and retired hyperemployed. Perversely, it is only then, at the labor equivalent of the techno-anarchist’s singularity, that the malaise of hyperemployment can cease. Then all time will become work time, and we will not have any memory of leisure to distract us. "
labor  2013  ianbogost  employment  economics  johnmaynardkeynes  leisurearts  work  leisure  hustling  wealth  income  incomeinequality  wealthdistribution  anxiety  hyperemployment  unemployment  time  artleisure 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Against Meritocracy | Gerry Canavan
"Basically all liberal interventions in the name of fairness intervene too late, and thus intensify rather than diminish class difference.

And of course the "merit" paradox goes all the way to the level of the gene, and is thus totally irresolvable under liberalism.

The only choice is a world where all people have decent lives regardless of any fantasy of "merit" or "desert."

Determinisms (genetic, epigenetic, environmental) are together such decisive disproofs of liberal meritocracy that they can't be discussed.

Class is a miracle solvent for "merit": it boosts abilities of the rich while muting disadvantages, while doing exact opposite for the poor."
liberalism  neoliberalism  determinism  meritocracy  gerrycanavan  2013  class  economics  advantages  disadvantages  fairness  poverty  education  wealth  wealthdistribution  politics 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Was America’s Economic Prosperity Just a Historical Accident?
"What if everything we’ve come to think of as American is predicated on a freak coincidence of economic history? And what if that coincidence has run its course?"



“There are many ways in which you can interpret this economic model, but the most lasting—the reason, perhaps, for the public notoriety it has brought its author—has little to do with economics at all. It is the suggestion that we have not understood how lucky we have been. The whole of American cultural memory, the period since World War II, has taken place within the greatest expansion of opportunity in the history of human civilization. Perhaps it isn’t that our success is a product of the way we structured our society. The shape of our society may be far more conditional, a consequence of our success. Embedded in Gordon’s data is an inquiry into entitlement: How much do we owe, culturally and politically, to this singular experience of economic growth, and what will happen if it goes away?”



“TED’s audience is so primed for optimism about the future that Gordon… knew before he began that he’d [Gordon] lost the room.”



“Brynjolfsson let a long beat elapse. “Growth is not dead,” he said casually, and then he grinned a little bit, and the audience laughed, and the tension that had lingered after Gordon’s pessimism dissipated. Brynjolfsson had the aspirational TED inflection down cold: “Technology is not destiny,” he said. “We shape our destiny.””



"In 2007, Mexicans stopped emigrating to the United States. The change was not very big at first, and so for a few years it seemed like it might be a blip. But it wasn’t. In 2000, 770,000 Mexicans had come across the Rio Grande, but by 2007 less than 300,000 did, and by 2010, even though violence in Mexico seemed ceaseless, there were fewer than 150,000 migrants. Some think that more Mexicans are now leaving the United States than are coming to it. “We’re never going to get back to the numbers we had in the late nineties,” says Wayne Cornelius, a political scientist at UC–San Diego who has spent the past 40 years studying this cross-border movement. A small part of this story is the increase in border protection, but the dominant engine has been the economic shifts on both sides of the border—it has become easier for poor Mexicans to improve their quality of life in Mexico and harder to do so in the United States. Because migrants from a particular Mexican village often settle in the same American place, they provide a fast conduit of economic information back home: There are no jobs in construction or housing. Don’t come. The Pew Hispanic Center has traced the migration patterns to economic performance in real time: a spike of migration during 1999 and 2000, at the height of the boom; a brief downturn in border crossing after the 2001 stock-market crash followed by a plateau; then the dramatic emptying out after the housing industry gave way in 2006. We think of the desire to be American as a form of idealism, and sometimes it is. But it also has something to do with economic growth. We are a nation of immigrants to the extent that we can make immigrants rich."
cyborgs  economics  humanity  jobs  progress  sustainability  history  technosolutionism  benjaminwallace-wells  2013  robertgordon  ted  tedtalsk  optimism  pessimism  erikbrynjolfsson  labor  prosperity  wealthdistribution  industrialrevolution  capitalism  growth  demographics  immigration  migration  us  mexico  society  socialchange  upwardmobility  classmobility  future 
july 2013 by robertogreco
The Charitable-Industrial Complex - NYTimes.com
"Philanthropy has become the “it” vehicle to level the playing field and has generated a growing number of gatherings, workshops and affinity groups.

As more lives and communities are destroyed by the system that creates vast amounts of wealth for the few, the more heroic it sounds to “give back.” It’s what I would call “conscience laundering” — feeling better about accumulating more than any one person could possibly need to live on by sprinkling a little around as an act of charity.

But this just keeps the existing structure of inequality in place. The rich sleep better at night, while others get just enough to keep the pot from boiling over. Nearly every time someone feels better by doing good, on the other side of the world (or street), someone else is further locked into a system that will not allow the true flourishing of his or her nature or the opportunity to live a joyful and fulfilled life.

And with more business-minded folks getting into the act, business principles are trumpeted as an important element to add to the philanthropic sector. I now hear people ask, “what’s the R.O.I.?” when it comes to alleviating human suffering, as if return on investment were the only measure of success. Microlending and financial literacy (now I’m going to upset people who are wonderful folks and a few dear friends) — what is this really about? People will certainly learn how to integrate into our system of debt and repayment with interest. People will rise above making $2 a day to enter our world of goods and services so they can buy more. But doesn’t all this just feed the beast?

I’m really not calling for an end to capitalism; I’m calling for humanism.

Often I hear people say, “if only they had what we have” (clean water, access to health products and free markets, better education, safer living conditions). Yes, these are all important. But no “charitable” (I hate that word) intervention can solve any of these issues. It can only kick the can down the road.

My wife and I know we don’t have the answers, but we do know how to listen. As we learn, we will continue to support conditions for systemic change.

It’s time for a new operating system. Not a 2.0 or a 3.0, but something built from the ground up. New code.

What we have is a crisis of imagination. Albert Einstein said that you cannot solve a problem with the same mind-set that created it. Foundation dollars should be the best “risk capital” out there.

There are people working hard at showing examples of other ways to live in a functioning society that truly creates greater prosperity for all (and I don’t mean more people getting to have more stuff).

Money should be spent trying out concepts that shatter current structures and systems that have turned much of the world into one vast market. Is progress really Wi-Fi on every street corner? No. It’s when no 13-year-old girl on the planet gets sold for sex. But as long as most folks are patting themselves on the back for charitable acts, we’ve got a perpetual poverty machine.

It’s an old story; we really need a new one."

[via: http://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/56603683692/philanthropy-has-become-the-it-vehicle-to-level ]
[A response from Robinson Meyer: http://yayitsrob.tumblr.com/post/56618708680/peter-buffett-the-son-of-warren-buffett-writes and another http://mayhap.tumblr.com/post/56607917480/a-few-years-ago-zizek-wrote-charity-is-the ]
charitableindustrialcomplex  charity  philanthropy  us  society  capitalism  power  control  wealthdistribution  inequality  via:ayjay  2013  peterbuffett  humanism  change  robinsonmeyer  philanthropicindustrialcomplex 
july 2013 by robertogreco
‘Reducing the Cost of Taking a Risk’ | Voice of San Diego
"An audience member, John McDonald, assessed the diversity of the group gathered for the conversation — and the topics we’d explored — and found it lacking representation from different socioeconomic levels in San Diego. Many social apps and tech companies don’t address needs for the vast majority of the people in the world and in this country, he said.

“What I want to hear is what’s the model for bringing innovation, collaboration, resources to those people that (are affected by) the income disparity in this country … that will continue to grow?” McDonald said. “What the hell is going to be the real answer to this question? You’re not answering the social problem.”

The speakers agreed any answer is elusive. Technology increases productivity but can kill jobs, Jackson and Walshok agreed. Google’s self-driving cars have potential to upend the trucking industry, for example. But Google’s shareholders grow their wealth at the same time.

McDonald said aside from redistributing wealth, he hopes to learn how to redistribute the tools needed for innovation.

“But this town doesn’t think about that dimension,” Walshok said. She invoked some examples of what’s possible, like Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank, winners of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for work to enable small loans to upstart businesspeople in developing countries.

“More organizations, like EvoNexus, Connect and others should be showcasing (ideas like) this,” Walshok said.

McDonald pointed out that he wasn’t just talking about finding solutions for global poverty, but trying to find ways to fight poverty in San Diego.

“You’re right on,” Walshok said. “And there just needs to be some momentum built, and a vehicle. Because it ends up creating wealth and jobs, just like these things do. But in a different part of society.”"

[See also: http://voiceofsandiego.org/2013/07/10/carlsbads-modern-day-land-grant/ and http://biotechnbeyond.com/ ]
sandiego  kellybennett  2013  innovation  inequality  collaboration  openstudioproject  wealthdistribution  evonexus  technology  economics  biotechandbeyond 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Trevor Paglen: Turnkey Tyranny, Surveillance and the Terror State - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics
"A few statistics are telling: between 1992 and 2007, the income of the 400 wealthiest people in the United States rose by 392 percent. Their tax rate fell by 37 percent. Since 1979, productivity has risen by more than 80 percent, but the median worker’s wage has only gone up by 10 percent. This is not an accident. The evisceration of the American middle and working class has everything to do with an all-out assault on unions; the rewriting of the laws governing bankruptcy, student loans, credit card debt, predatory lending and financial trading; and the transfer of public wealth to private hands through deregulation, privatization and reduced taxes on the wealthy. The Great Divergence is, to put it bluntly, the effect of a class war waged by the rich against the rest of society, and there are no signs of it letting up."



"…the effects of climate change will exacerbate already existing trends toward greater economic inequality, leading to widespread humanitarian crises and social unrest. The coming decades will bring Occupy-like protests on ever-larger scales as high unemployment and economic strife, particularly among youth, becomes a “new normal.” Moreover, the effects of climate change will produce new populations of displaced people and refugees. Economic and environmental insecurity represent the future for vast swaths of the world’s population. One way or another, governments will be forced to respond.

As future governments face these intensifying crises, the decline of the state’s civic capacities virtually guarantees that they will meet any unrest with the authoritarian levers of the Terror State. It won’t matter whether a “liberal” or “conservative” government is in place; faced with an immediate crisis, the state will use whatever means are available to end said crisis. When the most robust levers available are tools of mass surveillance and coercion, then those tools will be used. What’s more, laws like the National Defense Authorization Act, which provides for the indefinite detention of American citizens, indicate that military and intelligence programs originally crafted for combating overseas terrorists will be applied domestically.

The larger, longer-term scandal of Snowden’s revelations is that, together with other political trends, the NSA’s programs do not merely provide the capacity for “turnkey tyranny”—they render any other future all but impossible."
trevorpaglen  surveillance  terrorism  2013  edwardsnowden  climatechange  authoritarianism  thegreatdivergence  disparity  wealth  wealthdistribution  tyranny  global  crisis  society  classwar  class  deregulation  privatization  taxes  taxation  unions  debt  economics  policy  politics  encarceration  prisons  prisonindustrialcomplex  militaryindustrialcomplex  socialsafetynet  security  terrorstate  law  legal  secrecy  democracy  us  martiallaw  freedom  equality  fear  civilliberties  paulkrugman  environment  displacement  socialunrest  ows  occupywallstreet  refugees 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Ten Responses to the Technological Unemployment Problem | THE DECLINE OF SCARCITY
"On the internet and in the media there has been growing discussion of technological unemployment. People are increasingly concerned that automation will displace more and more workers—that in fact there might be no turning back at this point. We may be reaching the end of work as we know it.

What happens if vast numbers of people can no longer make money by selling their labor? How should society respond? What follows is a list of possible responses to technological unemployment. This list may not be complete. If I have missed anything, or misrepresented anyone’s views please say so in the comments below. Also these responses are not meant to be mutually exclusive; many of them can overlap with each other quite nicely."
futurism  politics  economics  snarkmarketseminar  2013  scarcity  abundance  universalbasicincome  technology  unemployment  employement  labor  artleisure  decentralization  capitalism  automation  socialism  incentives  motivation  wealthdistribution  wealth  wealthredistribution  policy  education  innovation  libertarianism  machines  leisurearts  ubi 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Britain can no longer afford to bankroll the rich | Nick Cohen | Comment is free | The Observer
"The Anglo-American model works for the few, not the many. We have yet to come to terms with how strange as well as unjust it has become.

In most recessions, societies become more equal. Unemployment may rise and wages stagnate. But the gap between the top and the rest narrows as those with the most to lose lose the most. In our time, the gap is widening, and I am tired of hearing lectures on how we can do nothing about it from supporters of the status quo, who have been wrong about everything for years.

The rise of the plutocracy is not the inevitable result of irresistible global forces. Politicians and central bankers have decided of their own free will to create a world in which the majority is left behind. I'll pass over the catastrophe of the eurozone – what is there left to say about it, after all? – and concentrate on Britain."



"The unstoppable march of the wealthy has two consequences we should talk about more. When rich parents can buy internships for their children at school auctions, the elite becomes closed to outsiders. Chrystia Freeland, an observant chronicler of the plutocracy, said last week that the political power of the top 1% will grow as inequality increases and its reactionary views will become ever more influential."



"The real charge against a future dominated by the super-rich, however, is not that it will be as asinine as Tudor Jones or that it will be cruel and immoral – although it will be all those things – but that it won't work.

Joseph Stiglitz and others have been arguing to the point of exhaustion that the working and middle classes are more likely to spend to keep the economy moving and hence to produce jobs for the abandoned young. More wealth for the wealthy generates more frequent and more severe booms and busts. This is not a future worth having but it is the future we are getting. The experience of the west since the crash has taught us that the rich are always with us. The novel question for today is: can the rest of society afford them?"
nickcohen  josephstiglitz  economics  2013  uk  us  wealth  wealthdistribution  recessions  trickledowneconomics  trickledown  disparity  inequality  plutocracy  power  politics  taxation  taxes  booms  busts 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Wealth Inequality in America - YouTube
"Infographics on the distribution of wealth in America, highlighting both the inequality and the difference between our perception of inequality and the actual numbers. The reality is often not what we think it is."
inequality  incomeinequality  wealth  us  wealthdistribution  video  2012  infographics  perception  fairness  income  economics  finance  reality 
march 2013 by robertogreco
PandoMonthly: A Fireside Chat With Sarah Lacy And Chris Sacca - YouTube
[via http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4965041 relating to http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/07/23/a-self-made-man-looks-at-how-he-made-it/ ]

[Once specific portion https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViHuU6-CFDo ]

"I think, sometimes, like, arguing with libertarians can be really frustrating because, I think, it can be, um..., I think it can be intellectually lazy. And I think it can be convenient, and, in the same way that, um, you know when everything is going right it's easy to attribute it to your own success and when things are going wrong, it's because you got fucked or because you were unlucky etc., like, I think sometimes, like, the libertarian point of view can be, um..., can be rooted in a limited set of circumstances where you give yourself a little more credit than, um.., than you want, or than you are due, probably."
problemsolving  money  optimism  buckminsterfuller  wealthdistribution  incomegap  entrepreneurship  gambling  finance  decisionmaking  incentives  motivation  employment  elitism  regulation  government  traviskalanick  uber  politics  startups  women  gender  pandomonthly  sarahlacy  paternalism  economics  society  venturecapital  venturecapitalism  capitalism  2012  chrissacca  libertarianism  sharingeconomy 
december 2012 by robertogreco
How VCs Turned My Startup Into A Nightmare
"In the twenty-odd years of its existence, the Web has become the province of virtual monopolies (and the U.S. has become stuck at over 8 percent unemployment) for this exact reason: the inability of those in charge to realize the interconnectedness of the culture. Particularly, the false conviction among the rich that the middle class needs them more than they need the middle class, culminating, perhaps, in the ravings of Edward Conard and his cockamamie trickle-down-on-steroids theories.

So long as we continue to measure "success" — and allocate cultural and political influence — in dollars, we will remain at the mercy of those suffering the curse of Midas — the special gift of paralyzing all they touch through their thirst for gold."
middleclass  wealthdistribution  class  monopolies  finance  capitalism  money  success  edwardconard  venturecapital  venturecapitalism  vc  startups  technology  business  2012  mariabustillos 
december 2012 by robertogreco
Poor Students Struggle as Class Plays a Greater Role in Success - NYTimes.com
"Four years later, their story seems less like a tribute to upward mobility than a study of obstacles in an age of soaring economic inequality. Not one of them has a four-year degree. Only one is still studying full time, and two have crushing debts. Angelica, who left Emory owing more than $60,000, is a clerk in a Galveston furniture store.

Each showed the ability to do college work, even excel at it. But the need to earn money brought one set of strains, campus alienation brought others, and ties to boyfriends not in school added complications. With little guidance from family or school officials, college became a leap that they braved without a safety net."
2012  class  sociology  highereducation  highered  poverty  wealthdistribution  incomegap  universities  colleges  education 
december 2012 by robertogreco
Tax Cuts Don't Lead to Economic Growth, a New 65-Year Study Finds - Derek Thompson - The Atlantic
"In short, the study found that top tax rates don't appear to determine the size of the economic pie but they can affect how the pie is sliced, especially for the richest households.

The paper is a good reminder to be humble about taxes as a tool for growing the economy. They remain, above all, a tool for collecting revenue and tweaking incentives for specific economic behavior. Congress has cut tax rates repeatedly over the last 60 years, while the country and the global economy have undergone considerable changes that probably had a greater effect on growth. For years after World War II, the U.S. was a singular economic powerhouse with an enormous manufacturing base that employed nearly 40% of the economy. For the last decade-plus, the economy has grown at a considerably slower pace and the gains have accrued to a smaller and more elite share of the economy."
economicgrowth  taxpolicy  policy  wealth  wealthdistribution  incomegap  growth  statistics  history  taxcuts  taxrates  taxes  us  economics 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Half an Hour: The Robot Teachers
"There is an ongoing and incessant campaign afoot to privatize education. In the United States, education is almost the last bastion of public expenditure. In Canada, both health care and education face the forces of privatization and commercialization.

The results are wholly predictable. In all cases, the result will be a system that favours a small moneyed elite and leaves the rest of the population struggling to obtain whatever health and education they can obtain with their meagre holdings. As more wealth accumulates in the hands of the corporations and the wealthy, the worse health and education outcomes become for the less well-off in society.

(Indeed, from my perspective, one of the greatest scams perpetrated by the wealthy about the education system is that it has a liberal bias. …)"

But here's where the challenge arises for the education and university system: it was designed to support income inequality and designed to favour the wealthy."
via:tealtan  economics  policy  politics  schooling  oligarchy  wealth  wealthy  sorting  tonybates  liberalbias  criticalthinking  higherorderskills  texas  california  corporations  corporatism  bias  corruption  influence  wealthdistribution  poverty  inequity  disparity  capitalism  adaptivelearningsystems  mitx  udemy  coursera  learninganalytics  programmedlearning  universalhealthcare  healthcare  deschooling  publiceducation  onlinelearning  canon  cv  technology  scriptedlearning  robotteachers  democracy  highereducation  highered  moocs  pedagogy  hierarchies  hierarchy  inequality  schools  education  privatization  privilege  us  canad  2012  stephendownes  mooc 
september 2012 by robertogreco
BBC News - How Americans view wealth and inequality
"Rawls said that "a just society is a society that if you knew everything about it, you'd be willing to enter it in a random place". And it's really a beautiful definition.

He called it a veil of ignorance, because if you're very wealthy, you might want the wealthy people to have lots of money and the poor to have very little; and if you are very poor, you might want the poor to have more money and the wealthy to have less.

But in Rawls' definition, you don't know where you'll end up, you have to consider all the different options and therefore you have to think about what is good for society as a whole."

"And it turns out people created a society that is much more equal than any society on Earth. It was much more equal than Sweden."
sweden  psychology  class  wealth  wealthdistribution  justice  justsociety  2012  johnrawls  us  society  philosophy  economics  money  inequality 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Isolated and Under-Exposed: Why the Rich Don't Give - Neighborhoods - The Atlantic Cities
"Turns out lower giving among the rich likely has much more to do with where they live and who they live near.

As this accompanying article from the journal notes, when the rich are highly concentrated in wealthy enclaves, they're less likely to give as compared with the rich living in more economically diverse neighborhoods. The report found that in neighborhoods where more than 40 percent of taxpayers reported earning $200,000 or more, the average giving was just 2.8 percent of discretionary income.

In other words, concentration of wealth is also isolation from the less fortunate."
proximity  generosity  diversity  wealthdistribution  wealth  philanthropy  2012  research  isolation  charity  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism  power  control 
august 2012 by robertogreco
matthew gallaway - A Few Notes On Overgentrification
"The piece also fails to address the problems that really afflict neighborhoods in NYC and elsewhere around the world undergoing similar transformations. In West Chelsea, the problem is clearly not the High Line, but rather the effects of an unfettered system — at local and federal levels — that has allowed an arguably unprecedented concentration of wealth in our country, which (yes) makes it all but impossible for those without millions of dollars to afford to live (or at least buy) in those neighborhoods now being populated by those who have — let’s just call it — too much money. At the same time, however, the solution is not to stop the development of parks or to whine about gas-station/auto-shop leases not being renewed; the solution is rather (and this is hardly revolutionary or at least revelatory) to tax the rich, both individuals and corporations, and to distribute the money to the less-than-rich, in ways that are reasonably fair and equitable. That’s what government is for…"
society  urbanplanning  wealthdistribution  policy  taxes  us  wealth  highline  manhattan  brooklyn  nyc  2012  gentrification 
august 2012 by robertogreco
But the city has, to its credit, lavished money on... - more than 95 theses
"The greening of New York, and to a far lesser extent other cities, has indeed been wonderful to see. But a city can’t “lavish money” it doesn’t have. Bruni needs to acknowledge that all this beautification has resulted from (a) the concentration of more and more wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer people, and (b) the increasing preference for urban living among the super-rich. Again, I love the new New York, but more than ever before it’s a city run by rich people for rich people."
beautification  urbanism  urban  cities  disparity  wealthdistribution  2012  wealth  power  green  brooklyn  nyc  alanjacobs 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Tim Carmody spells it out. (with tweets) · maxfenton · Storify
"…after WW2, a professional managerial class figured out they could trade benefits tomorrow for real money today across the workforce.

Early on, this didn't cost them much, because the workforce was young, health care was cheap, & most of it was just paper promises.

Then when the economy got a little tougher, these industries laid off workers & stopped kicking in funds for pensions. Profits still high.

Now, every single one of those industries are laying off even more workers, reducing benefits & weaseling out of those old promises.

What we're seeing is much less global industrial disruption than it is a bad check, a ponzi scheme, a bald-faced transfer of wealth.

A transfer of wealth across classes and generations, coupled with a villainization of the very employees who've been defrauded.

This is no accident of history. This is a fully planned and executed heist. This makes Ocean's Eleven look like a botched stickup…

[one more here]

This is how you murder the future."
industry  labor  inequity  wealthdistribution  wealth  ponzischemes  pensions  2012  finance  economics  history  timcarmody 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Economic Inequality Is Linked To Biased Self-Perception - Association for Psychological Science
"The researchers looked at the correlations between evidence of self-enhancement and the individualism or collectivism of a country, its “power distance”—the preference for an autocratic hierarchy versus relative equality of power—and its level of economic inequality.

What they found: Virtually everywhere, people rate themselves above average. But the more economically unequal the country, the greater was its participants’ self-enhancement."
self-image  power  hierarchy  economicinequality  incomegap  disparity  wealthdistribution  economics  perception  psychology  research  inequality 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Fear of a Slacker Revolution | Possible Futures
"When the right attacks OWS as a bunch of countercultural slackers and as the vanguard of class warfare, they very presciently apprehend the significance of a moment in which the capitalist work ethic and the artificially perpetuated scarcity it’s predicated on are being roundly rejected. One in which the utopian demand for cultural freedom joins the labor movement’s push for a more robust share of the spoils of capitalism. One in which old lefties singing Woody Guthrie tunes join rappers decrying “the man” and burly union dudes standing up to profitable corporations demanding concessions from their workers join hippie drum-circle groovers insisting that “the beginning is near.” The history of the movement is being written before our eyes. So far, there is one thing that many among the Occupiers and their opponents seem to agree on—all signs point to Occupy unfolding as a continuation of the unfinished project of the slacker revolution of the 1960s."
ows  occupywallstreet  2011  labor  utopianthinking  revolution  deschooling  capitalism  leisurearts  culturalfreedom  freedom  history  class  classwarfare  inequality  disparity  incomegap  wealthdistribution  us  society  protest  unions  slackers  banking  finance  repression  greatrecession  1960s  activism  afl-cio  artleisure 
december 2011 by robertogreco
Nothing Grows Forever | Mother Jones
"Handled correctly, this could bring about an explosion of free time that could utterly transform the way we live, no-growth economists say. It could lead to a renaissance in the arts and sciences, as well as a reconnection with the natural world. Parents with lighter workloads could home-school their children if they liked, or look after sick relatives—dramatically reshaping the landscape of education and elder care."
economics  growth  sustainability  ecology  environment  petervictor  clivethompson  johnstuartmill  adamsmith  globalwarming  population  2011  thomasrobertmalthus  history  well-being  happiness  france  netherlands  unemployment  employment  leisure  leisurearts  art  science  dennismeadows  hermandaly  keynes  motivation  psychology  capitalism  no-growththeory  wealthdistribution  standardofliving  us  europe  homeschool  unschooling  deschooling  productivity  post-industrial  post-development  work  labor  uneconomicgrowth  artleisure 
october 2011 by robertogreco
Zbigniew Brzezinski Receives Jury du Prix Tocqueville Prize | Center for Strategic and International Studies
"Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize winning economist, recently drew attention to the fact that Alexis de Tocqueville correctly perceived the major source of the peculiar genius of American society: its respect for what the French observer called “self-interest properly understood.” Stiglitz noted that everyone is motivated by self-interest in its narrow sense, but that de Tocqueville’s emphasis on self-interest “properly understood” was his recognition that early Americans uniquely also cared for everyone else’s self-interest. In other words, they instinctively understood that respect for the common welfare is in fact the precondition for one’s own ultimate well-being."
economics  josephstiglitz  2011  inequality  wealthdistribution  society  self-interest  alexdetocqueville  policy  politics  gridlock  us  government  democracy  globalization  zbigniewbrzezinski  self-interestproperlyunderstood 
october 2011 by robertogreco
Parsing the Data and Ideology of the We Are 99% Tumblr | Rortybomb
"The people in the tumblr aren’t demanding to bring democracy into the workplace via large-scale unionization, much less shorter work days and more pay. They aren’t talking the language of mid-twentieth century liberalism, where everyone puts on blindfolds and cuts slices of pie to share. The 99% looks too beaten down to demand anything as grand as “fairness” in their distribution of the economy. There’s no calls for some sort of post-industrial personal fulfillment in their labor – very few even invoke the idea that a job should “mean something.” It’s straight out of antiquity – free us from the bondage of our debts and give us a basic ability to survive."
occupywallstreet  ows  the99%  tumblr  us  economics  policy  politics  2011  liberalism  wealthdistribution  socialism  unemployment  capitalism  via:bettyannsloan  democracy  labor  work  survival  inequality  disparity 
october 2011 by robertogreco
The Blog : How to Lose Readers (Without Even Trying) : Sam Harris
"Many of my critics pretend that they have been entirely self-made…seem to feel responsible for their intellectual gifts…freedom from injury & disease…fact that they were born at a specific moment in history. Many appear to have absolutely no awareness of how lucky one must be to succeed at anything in life, no matter how hard one works. One must be lucky to be able to work. One must be lucky to be intelligent, to not have cerebral palsy, or to not have been bankrupted in middle age by the mortal illness of a spouse.

Many of us have been extraordinarily lucky—& we did not earn it. Many good people have been extraordinarily unlucky—& did not deserve it. & yet I get the distinct sense that if I asked some of my readers why they weren’t born w/ club feet, or orphaned before the age of 5, they would not hesitate to take credit for these accomplishments. There is a stunning lack of insight into the unfolding of human events that passes for moral & economic wisdom in some circles."

[via: http://lukescommonplacebook.tumblr.com/post/9573656199/ ]
culture  economics  policy  money  taxes  politics  samharris  objectivism  libertarianism  luck  unlucky  life  illness  bankruptcy  society  religion  belief  selfishness  wisdom  class  wealth  incomegap  wealthdistribution  warrenbuffett  2011  sharing  socialism  democracy  goodfortune  morality  success 
august 2011 by robertogreco
World of Class Warfare - Warren Buffett vs. Wealthy Conservatives - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - 08/18/11 - Video Clip | Comedy Central
"Warren Buffett's op-ed is a thoughtful treatise on the advantages the super-wealthy currently enjoy at the hands of the tax code, or to put it another way, "class warfare."<br />
<br />
"World of Class Warfare - The Poor's Free Ride Is Over: The government could raise $700 billion by either taking half of everything earned by the bottom 50% or by raising the marginal tax rate on the top two percent."<br />
<br />
[That's from the second part here: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-august-18-2011/world-of-class-warfare---the-poor-s-free-ride-is-over ]
classwarfare  humor  dailyshow  jonstewart  warrenbuffett  poverty  us  foxnews  budget  debt  wealthdistribution  wealth  2011  policy  taxes 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Ten theories why most northern cities stayed calm last week | UK news | guardian.co.uk
"2. The less ostentatious wealth gap. Leeds, Sheffield & Newcastle all have big disparities, as do Hull & Bradford although wealth has perhaps moved further out in their cases. But is it less in-your-face than, certainly London, & perhaps also Manchester which has the Cheshire/footballer phenomenon?…<br />
<br />
8. Diversity. The history of violent protest in the UK overwhelmingly involves groups of people who feel they are missing out or are targeted because of their perceived distinctiveness. This, rather than racism, makes an exploration of the relationship between trouble & the presence of different & fairly distinct communities worth exploring. It's interesting and encouraging that potential inter-communal trouble in Birmingham & Leeds seems to have been held at bay by impressive restraint &, no doubt, thousands of unsung initiatives over the years. Another fertile field for research."
diversity  wealthdistribution  incomegap  disparity  2011  london  riots  uk  leeds  birmingham  racism  via:preoccupations 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Political essay by 93-year-old tops Christmas bestseller list in France | World news | The Guardian
"Proving that age is no boundary to publishing success, the French book world has been taken by storm by a surprise Christmas bestseller: a political call to arms by Stéphane Hessel, 93.<br />
<br />
The unlikely publishing sensation is a former resistance hero whose 30-page essay, Indignez-vous!, calls on readers to get angry about the state of modern society.<br />
<br />
Launched in October by Indigène…tiny first print-run, 6,000…sold for €3, unprecedentedly cheap in a country where book prices are regulated & kept high by the law.<br />
<br />
Hessel's success has stunned France. After two months on the bestseller lists, the book has spent five weeks at number one…has sold 600,000 copies & – publishers predict it will reach a million…<br />
<br />
 argues that French people should re-embrace the values of the French resistance, which have been lost, which was driven by indignation, and French people need to get outraged again…calls for peaceful and non-violent insurrection…"
stéphanehessel  books  publishing  longform  writing  culture  society  politics  2010  insurrection  resistance  life  qualityoflife  france  immigration  outrage  indignation  frencresistance  inequality  disparity  wealthdistribution 
august 2011 by robertogreco
The Great Splintering - Umair Haque - Harvard Business Review
"a social contract's been torn up…bedrock of an enlightened social contract is, crudely, that rent-seeking is punished, & creating enduring, lasting, shared wealth is rewarded & that those who seek to profit by extraction are chastened rather than lauded. Today's world of bailouts, golden parachutes, sky-high financial-sector salaries — while middle incomes stagnate — seems to be exactly the reverse…The eye of this perfect storm is extreme income inequality that makes the Glided Age look Leninist…rule of law is visibly, easily flouted by the rich, it usually ends up being seen as laughable by the poor. London's become a city where many young people feel they're finished before they start…social upheaval's spreading…Our institutions are failing…We're going to have to build shelter: more resilient, less dysfunctional institutions that can deliver on the promise of real human prosperity that matters, lasts, and multiplies."
society  economics  uk  world  capitalism  eudaemonia  umairhaque  2011  inequality  wealthdistrubution  socialcontract  change  collapse  looting  riots  london  greatsplintering  wealthdistribution 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Marcel Claude - Wikipedia
"Marcel Claude (n. 26 de febrero de 1957) es un economista y activista político socialista chileno. Ingeniero Comercial, Licenciado en Ciencias Económicas y Magíster en Ciencias Económicas de la Facultad de Economía y Negocios de la Universidad de Chile; Master of Arts y Doctor de la Universidad Católica de Lovaina, Bélgica.

Se desempeña como director del Área de Estado, Economía y Gestión de la Universidad Academia de Humanismo Cristiano, académico en la Escuela de Gobierno y Gestión Pública de la Universidad de Chile y como consultor y asesor sindical en temas económicos y ambientales. Destaca por su labor como activista ciudadano en materias como el ejercicio de las libertades públicas, la ampliación de la democracia en Chile, el uso racional de los recursos naturales, y la promoción de la implantación del llamado Estado de Bienestar en Chile, y por tanto crítico del sistema económico Chileno implantado desde el Golpe de Estado del 11 de septiembre de 1973."
marcelclaude  chile  politics  policy  economics  socialism  socialists  ecology  environmentalism  well-being  education  wealthdistribution 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Marcel Claude en la UC - Resumen on Vimeo
"Aquí les dejo un pequeño resumen de lo que fue la conferencia del economista Marcel Claude el pasado viernes 1 de julio en la Casa Central de la UC. Actividad organizada por la Asamblea de Estudiantes Movilizados."
2011  chile  politics  policy  economics  marcelclaude  protests  education  healthcare  socialism  history  copper  industry  wealth  poverty  inequality  naturalresources  wealthdistribution  wealthdistrubution 
august 2011 by robertogreco
These riots reflect a society run on greed and looting | Seumas Milne | Comment is free | The Guardian
"David Cameron has to maintain that the unrest has no cause except criminality – or he and his friends might be held responsible"; "While bankers have publicly looted the country's wealth & got away with it, it's not hard to see why those who are locked out of the gravy train might think they were entitled to help themselves to a mobile phone. Some of the rioters make the connection explicitly…Most have no stake in a society which has shut them out or an economic model which has now run into the sand. It's already become clear that divided Britain is in no state to absorb the austerity now being administered because three decades of neoliberal capitalism have already shattered so many social bonds of work and community. What we're now seeing across the cities of England is the reflection of a society run on greed – and a poisonous failure of politics and social solidarity. … We're starting to see the devastating costs of refusing to change course."
politics  uk  poverty  crime  inequality  2011  london  riots  wealth  greed  davidcameron  economics  neoliberalism  society  banking  finance  wealthdistribution  wealthdistrubution 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Profits must no longer go to the few at the top | Simon Hughes | Comment is free | The Observer
"Activity, training and employment has to be on offer in every region of the country"

"A responsible economy is necessary for a responsible society. Building local, regional and national economies which provide the opportunity for all to participate in for fair reward will build much stronger communities. This will counter the appeal of the gangs and the get-rich-quick merchants. Other people and activity must now capture the energies and abilities of a generation that has greater potential than any we have had before."
simonhughes  employment  unemployment  disparity  wealth  uk  london  2011  riots  politics  policy  economics  greed  via:preoccupations  training  education  inequality  equality  society  wealthdistribution  wealthdistrubution 
august 2011 by robertogreco
These Guys Will Stop You From Killing Your Boss | Mother Jones
"So why have top execs (and/or their boards) become such security nuts? One factor involves the need to do business in the developing world—WPG claims it can provide services in 70 countries—but that doesn't explain the domestic demand. Ferraro chalks it up to paranoia. "I get the calls," he says. "They say, 'Oh my God, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal, the sky is falling!'" The tendency of business leaders to "think over the horizon and anticipate problems" is causing them to act like they're in Mexico City or Baghdad, Ferraro says. Besides, why not play it safe when shareholders are picking up the tab? Since 2006, when publicly traded companies began disclosing corporate perks, spending on CEO security has increased an average of 15 percent a year. (Michael Dell's compensation package, for instance, includes $1.2 million for security.)"
class  security  inequality  executiveprotection  wealth  2011  superrich  thecominginsurrection  middleagesallaroundus  wealthdistribution  wealthdistrubution 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Contract for the American Dream
"We, the American people, promise to defend and advance a simple ideal: liberty and justice . . . for all. Americans who are willing to work hard and play by the rules should be able to find a decent job, get a good home in a strong community, retire with dignity, and give their kids a better life. Every one of us – rich, poor, or in-between, regardless of skin color or birthplace, no matter their sexual orientation or gender – has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is our covenant, our compact, our contract with one another. It is a promise we can fulfill – but only by working together…

I. Invest in America's Infrastructure
II. Create 21st Century Energy Jobs
III. Invest in Public Education
IV. Offer Medicare for All
V. Make Work Pay
VI. Secure Social Security
VII. Return to Fairer Tax Rates
VIII. End the Wars and Invest at Home
IX. Tax Wall Street Speculation
X. Strengthen Democracy"
2011  petitions  government  us  policy  infrastructure  taxes  socialsecurity  inequality  medicare  health  healthcare  education  jobs  employment  unemployment  money  work  change  democracy  wealthdistribution 
august 2011 by robertogreco
There is a context to London's riots that can't be ignored | Nina Power | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
"As Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett point out in The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone, phenomena usually described as "social problems" (crime, ill-health, imprisonment rates, mental illness) are far more common in unequal societies than ones with better economic distribution and less gap between the richest and the poorest. Decades of individualism, competition and state-encouraged selfishness – combined with a systematic crushing of unions and the ever-increasing criminalisation of dissent – have made Britain one of the most unequal countries in the developed world."
london  uk  violence  politics  policy  riots  2011  ninapower  inequality  society  crime  imprisonment  mentalillness  equality  disparity  wealth  selfishness  individualism  competition  unions  wealthdistribution  mentalhealth 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Students Pressure Chile to Reform Education System - NYTimes.com
"Segments of society that had been seen as politically apathetic only a few years ago, particularly youth, have taken an unusually confrontational stance twrd government & business elite, demanding wholesale changes in education, transportation & energy policy, sometimes violently…

last Friday, Mr. Piñera noted Chileans were witnessing a “new society”…people “feel more empowered & want to feel they are heard.”…rebelling against “excessive inequality” in country…[w/] highest per capita income in Latin America but also…one of most unequal distributions of wealth…

…protests leaders are also pushing for constitutional change to guarantee free, quality education from preschool through high school & a state-financed university system that ensures quality & equal access…

“For many years our parents’ generation was afraid to demonstrate, to complain, thinking it was better to conform to what was going on. Students are setting an example without the fear our parents had.”
chile  politics  reform  education  equity  equality  disparity  sebastiánpiñera  2011  protest  protests  activism  change  apathy  engagement  empowerment  income  incomegap  wealth  latinamerica  access  policy  energy  transportation  wealthdistribution 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Why the Wealthiest Americans Are the Real 'Job-Killers' | Economy | AlterNet
"None of this is particularly complex. In 1978, the top 1 percent of the ladder took in just under 9 percent of the nation's income, leaving a bit more than 91 percent for the rest of us. In 2007, the year before the crash, they took in 23.5 percent, leaving just 76.5 percent for the rest of the population to split up.
They banked most of that income, whereas we would have spent it. The fact that we're broke means that businesses are facing less demand for their goods and services than they otherwise would, and have less need to hire a bunch of employees. And that dynamic explains why it's the wealthiest Americans who are the real “job killers.”"
greed  wealth  economics  jobs  wealthdistribution  savings  us  taxes  2011  jobcreation  unemployment  consumption 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Why the Wealthiest Americans Are the Real 'Job-Killers' | Economy | AlterNet
"None of this is particularly complex. In 1978, the top 1 percent of the ladder took in just under 9 percent of the nation's income, leaving a bit more than 91 percent for the rest of us. In 2007, the year before the crash, they took in 23.5 percent, leaving just 76.5 percent for the rest of the population to split up.<br />
They banked most of that income, whereas we would have spent it. The fact that we're broke means that businesses are facing less demand for their goods and services than they otherwise would, and have less need to hire a bunch of employees. And that dynamic explains why it's the wealthiest Americans who are the real “job killers.”"
greed  wealth  economics  jobs  savings  us  taxes  2011  jobcreation  unemployment  consumption  wealthdistribution 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Society | Vanity Fair — Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%
"The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn. Too late."
society  politics  economics  psychology  money  history  inequality  disparity  wealth  via:preoccupations  josephstiglitz  2011  opression  classwarfare  income  inequity  greed  alexisdetocqueville  self-interest  concentrationofwealth  policy  power  control  revolt  taxes  wealthdistribution 
july 2011 by robertogreco
¿En qué país vivimos los chilenos? | CIPER Chile CIPER Chile » Centro de Investigación e Información Periodística
"El 10% de los chilenos tiene ingresos promedio que superan los de Noruega, mientras que los ingresos del 10% más pobre son similares a los de los habitantes Costa de Marfil. La gran mayoría tiene, en promedio, menos ingresos que los angoleños. Pese a que el PIB de Chile superó los 200.000 millones de dólares el año pasado, los niveles de desigualdad demuestran que no basta con el crecimiento para alcanzar el desarrollo."
chile  politics  inequality  disparity  incomegap  incomes  wealth  2011  poverty  policy  economics  wealthdistribution 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Economist's View: Increasing Taxes on the Wealthy is Unfair???
"The immorality is based upon the idea that the wealthy earned every penny they received and it would be immoral to take it away and give it to those who didn't toil as hard, as effectively, or at all (you know, the people whose wages have not kept up with their productivity). The arguments against the idea that pay at the top reflects merit alone are well known -- the contention hardly passes the laugh test -- and I won't repeat them here. But anyone who thinks the reward for crashing the financial sector ought to be unimaginable wealth should rethink their ideas."
taxes  budget  debt  2011  morality  right  left  income  wealth  policy  politics  trickledowneconomics  economics  money  society  wealthdistribution 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Boston Review — David Bollier and Jonathan Rowe: The 'Illth' of Nations
"Current beliefs about economic freedom emerged in West during 17&18th centuries…entrepreneurs were challenging the remnants of feudalism, & private property stood as a symbol of freedom against arrogant royal rule. …yesterday’s answer became today’s problem. Today it is private property, as embodied in corporation, that has become arrogant…solution is not all-encompassing state—authoritarian “we” that has been the reactive refuge of Left. Regulation there must be; but there must also be a different kind of property—common property—that exists alongside the market, providing a buffer against its excesses & producing what the corporate market can’t.

As market culture intrudes ever-deeper into daily life—from public spaces to the inner lives of kids— there is a yearning for space that is beyond the reach of buying & selling. People might not use the word “commons;” but they seek increasingly what it represents—community, freedom, & the integrity of natural & social processes."
economics  anarchism  marxism  via:javierarbona  davidbollier  freedom  jonathanrowe  illth  growth  property  perspective  commons  privateproperty  we  autoritarianism  left  politics  policy  commonproperty  excess  scarcity  abundance  future  wealth  culture  society  progress  community  intefrity  social  distribution  markets  marketfundamentalism  local  gdp  work  prosperity  well-being  affluence  income  incomegap  redistribution  taxes  taxation  wealthdistribution 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1% | Society | Vanity Fair
"Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1% of the people take nearly a quarter of nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret."

"Of all the costs imposed on our society by top 1%, perhaps the greatest is this: the erosion of our sense of identity, in which fair play, equality of opportunity, & a sense of community are so important. America has long prided itself on being a fair society, where everyone has an equal chance of getting ahead, but statistics suggest otherwise: the chances of a poor citizen, or even middle-class citizen, making it to the top in America are smaller than in many countries of Europe. The cards are stacked against them. It is this sense of an unjust system w/out opportunity that has given rise to conflagrations in Middle East: rising food prices and growing and persistent youth unemployment simply served as kindling."

[via: http://scudmissile.tumblr.com/post/4314478188/of-all-the-costs-imposed-on-our-society-by-the-top ]
inequality  politics  economics  government  wealth  josephstiglitz  2011  society  insecurity  revolution  rebellion  instabiity  us  protests  wealthdistribution  instability 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Tax the Super Rich now or face a revolution Paul B. Farrell - MarketWatch
"1. Warning: Super Rich want tax cuts, creating youth unemployment… 2. Warning: rich get richer on commodity prices, poor get angrier… 3. Warning: Global poor ticking time bomb targeting Super Rich… 4. Warning: Next revolution coming across ‘Third World America’… 5. Warning: Super Rich must be detoxed of their greed addiction… 6. Warning: Politicians infected by Super-Rich Delusion, revolution"
politics  economics  taxes  us  superrich  wealth  2011  thirdworldamerica  poor  poverty  unemployment  disparity  incomegap  global  rich  youth  revolution  paulfarrell  greed  instabiity  greatdepression  greatrecession  greatrepression  commodities  food  wealthdistribution  instability 
april 2011 by robertogreco
'Remigration' Imagines a City With No Workers | Art Beat | PBS NewsHour | PBS
"Imagine a city occupied exclusively by the upper class. High rents and property costs have pushed out construction workers, public school teachers, subway operators and other middle- and lower-wage earners.

'Remigration,' a short film which can be viewed online as part of ITVS' 'Futurestates' series, imagines how this scenario might play out in San Francisco in the not-too-distant future.

Director Barry Jenkins explores this idea of extreme gentrification from the point of view of a couple who have been forced to move inland from San Francisco after a job loss and family illness. The city seeks out Kaya and his wife, Helen, to test a new program that entices working-class laborers back to the city with fair wages and the promise of a college scholarship for their young daughter -- in exchange for taking up blue collar work.

"Futurestates" asks filmmakers to imagine how current events could play out 20-30 years from now and to explore that idea through short narrative film…"
gentrification  fiction  future  futurism  hypergentrification  migration  barryjenkins  sanfrancisco  via:bldgblog  remigration  futurestates  cities  urban  urbanism  class  society  wealth  segregation  globalwarming  labor  2011  wealthdistribution 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Robert Reich (How Democrats Can Become Relevant Again (And Rescue the Nation While They're At It))
"Republicans offered Democrats two more weeks before the doomsday shut-down. Democrats countered with four. Republicans held their ground. Democrats agreed to two.

This is what passes for compromise in our nation’s capital.

Democrats have become irrelevant. If they want to be relevant again they have to connect the dots: The explosion of income and wealth among America’s super-rich, the dramatic drop in their tax rates, the consequential devastating budget squeezes in Washington and in state capitals, and the slashing of public services for the middle class and the poor."
2011  democrats  neoliberalism  robertreich  class  wealth  budget  wisconsin  policy  politics  economics  disparity  incomegap  society  unions  power  education  wealthdistribution 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Robert Reich (The Republican Shakedown)
"You can’t fight something with nothing. But as long as Democrats refuse to talk about the almost unprecedented buildup of income, wealth, and power at the top – and the refusal of the super-rich to pay their fair share of the nation’s bills – Republicans will convince people it’s all about government and unions."
politics  economics  us  money  policy  axes  wealth  rich  robertreich  2011  republicans  democrats  government  unions  disparity  incomegap  wealthdistribution 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Plutocracy Now: What Wisconsin Is Really About
"It's not clear how this will get turned around. Unions, for better or worse, are history…

And yet: The heart & soul of liberalism is economic egalitarianism. Without it, Wall Street will continue to extract ever vaster sums from the American economy, the middle class will continue to stagnate, & the left will continue to lack the powerful political & cultural energy necessary for a sustained period of liberal reform.…

Over the past 40 years, the American left has built an enormous institutional infrastructure dedicated to mobilizing money, votes, & public opinion on social issues, & this has paid off with huge strides in civil rights, feminism, gay rights, environmental policy, and more. But the past two years have demonstrated that that isn't enough. If the left ever wants to regain the vigor that powered earlier eras of liberal reform, it needs to rebuild the infrastructure of economic populism that we've ignored for too long."
politics  left  us  policy  plutocracy  wealth  power  income  finance  wallstreet  unions  future  egalitarianism  history  reform  change  wisonsin  2011  disparity  stagnation  society  taxes  incomegap  labor  middleclass  wealthdistribution 
february 2011 by robertogreco
When Democracy Weakens - NYTimes.com
"As the throngs celebrated in Cairo, I couldn’t help wondering about what is happening to democracy here in the US. I think it’s on the ropes. We’re in serious danger of becoming a democracy in name only.

While millions of ordinary Americans are struggling with unemployment & declining standards of living, the levers of real power have been all but completely commandeered by the financial & corporate elite. It doesn’t really matter what ordinary people want. The wealthy call the tune, & the politicians dance.

So what we get in this democracy of ours are astounding & increasingly obscene tax breaks & other windfall benefits for wealthiest, while bought-&-paid-for politicians hack away at essential public services & social safety net, saying we can’t afford them. One state after another is reporting that it cannot pay its bills. Public employees across the country are walking the plank by the tens of thousands…Medicaid…is under savage assault from nearly all quarters."
bobherbert  policy  us  politics  wealth  disparity  egypt  democracy  oligarchy  standardofliving  poverty  class  2011  revolution  budget  budgetcuts  government  corruption  power  elite  money  wealthdistribution 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Income Inequality and the 'Superstar Effect' - NYTimes.com
"CAPITALISM relies on inequality…pay disparities steer resources [people] to where they would be most productively employed.

In poor economies, fast economic growth increases inequality…Inequality spurs economic growth by providing incentives …pulls best & brightest into most lucrative lines of work, where most profitable companies hire…

Yet increasingly outsize rewards accruing to nation’s elite…threaten to gum up incentive mechanism. If only a very lucky few can aspire to a big reward, most workers are likely to conclude it's not worth effort to try…odds aren’t on their side.

Inequality has been found to turn people off…measurably less satisfied w/ jobs…more likely to look for another…winner-take-all games tend to elicit much less player effort & more cheating…

…How much inequality is necessary?…economy grew even faster 1951-80, when inequality declined…

US is rich country w/ most skewed income distribution…Americans are less economically mobile…"
economics  disparity  wages  labor  growth  us  capitalism  incentives  motivation  wealth  elite  elitism  winnertakeall  work  inequality  mobility  finance  sports  wealthdistribution 
december 2010 by robertogreco
When Did Teachers Become Bums? | CommonDreams.org
"It’s pretty hard to teach a kid who has been raised by the television, when he hasn’t eaten breakfast, when the family has been kicked out of their home, when he has to work a job to help feed the siblings, when the parents have just gotten divorced or lost both of their jobs, when no-one at home speaks English, or when their most alluring role models are dope dealers, pimps, or gangsta rappers. Imagine, then, trying to teach a room full of such trauma cases…<br />
<br />
If you want better schools, work for more stable incomes, families and neighborhoods. Get involved in your schools. Fire the few bad teachers but support the overwhelming number of good ones. And don’t be suckered by those peddling venom in the guise of altruism. Your children are products to them, pieces of meat on an assembly line whose only purpose is to produce profits. We can be better than that."
education  policy  2010  learning  middleclass  disparity  wealth  incomegap  income  poverty  society  teaching  schools  us  rttt  forprofit  reform  wealthdistribution  charterschools 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Matthew Yglesias » Poor People Are Much Poorer Than You Think [via: http://scudmissile.tumblr.com/post/1230275595/abbyjean-actual-represents-the-actual]
"Via Tim Noah, a striking chart from Daniel Ariely and Michael I. Norton’s paper (PDF) “Building a Better America One Wealth Quintile at a Time”: [graph here]<br />
<br />
Actual represents the actual distribution of wealth. Estimated is what people think the distribution of wealth is. I agree with Noah that the methodology that generated the “ideal” numbers is a bit odd so I’ll ignore it.<br />
<br />
Both Noah and Ariely & Norton focus on what this shows us about the top twenty percent, but I don’t think that’s news. We already know from polling that the median voter supports “soak the rich” tax policies far beyond what the right people who run the Democratic Party are prepared to propose. What’s interesting here is the extent to which the public vastly overestimates the prosperity of lower-income Americans. The public thinks the 4th quintile has more money than the median quintile actually has. And the public thinks the 5th quintile has vastly more wealth than it really has."
matthewyglesias  inequality  us  wealth  taxes  policy  politics  myths  misconception  wealthdistribution 
october 2010 by robertogreco

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