Today, April 15, is Tax Day. Most of us will dutifully pay our taxes to a government that no longer represents us. Policy decisions on nearly every issue, regardless of public opinion, are decided in favor of a select few who can afford to write massive checks, host campaign fundraisers, and hire armies of lawyers and lobbyists. That might read as an exaggeration to some, but it's a verifiable fact of the American political system. A new analysis of 1,779 recent policy outcomes by researchers at Princeton and Northwestern found that "economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy," while average citizens -- the people in "We, the People" -- "have little or no independent influence." Why? Money in Politics Is Taxation Without Representation | Josh Silver
The End of the Capitalist Era, and What Comes Next | Jeremy Rifkin This post is excerpted from Jeremy Rifkin's new book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism, published today by Palgrave Macmillan. The capitalist era is passing... not quickly, but inevitably. A new economic paradigm -- the Collaborative Commons -- is rising in its wake that will transform our way of life. We are already witnessing the emergence of a hybrid economy, part capitalist market and part Collaborative Commons. The two economic systems often work in tandem and sometimes compete. They are finding synergies along each other's perimeters, where they can add value to one another, while benefiting themselves.
2014: Investing in a World of Hyper-aggressive Monetary Policy | Janet Tavakoli The growth of the U.S.'s bigger and broader productive economy has been stunted by bad policies and bank bailouts benefiting rent-seeking financiers siphoning off an outsized percentage of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP). Rent-seeking companies lobby Congress for subsidies for activities that do not benefit society.
The Most Disturbing Part Of The JPMorgan News Is That It's Not Shocking At All | Peter S. Goodman No one who has spent more than a little time in China can be shocked by the latest blockbuster from The New York Times about the means through which the family of former Premier Wen Jiabao traded access to power for personal gain. The company at the center of this most recent story makes for particularly compelling reading: JPMorgan Chase, the ultimate "too big to fail" institution, lately embroiled in enough scandals to make Goldman Sachs look like Mother Theresa. The same bank still accounting for its craven abuses in mortgage markets, its London Whale derivatives debacle, and its manipulation of the key index known as Libor now stands accused of essentially funneling funds to Wen Jiabao's only daughter to win business in China, bringing a federal probe.
James Howard Kunstler: The Era of Giant Chain Stores Is Over -- And They've Ruined America Back in the day when big box retail started to explode upon the American landscape like a raging economic scrofula, I attended many a town planning board meeting where the pro and con factions faced off over the permitting hurdle. The meetings were often raucous and wrathful and almost all the time the pro forces won -- for the excellent reason that they were funded and organized by the chain stores themselves (in an early demonstration of the new axioms that money-is-speech and corporations are people, too!). The chain stores won not only because they flung money around -- sometimes directly into the wallets of public officials -- but because a sizeable chunk of every local population longed for the dazzling new mode of commerce. "We Want Bargain Shopping" was their rallying cry.
Megatrends, Game-Changers, Black Swans, Tectonic Shifts, and a World Not That Different From 2012 Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com Think of it as a simple formula: if you’ve been hired (and paid handsomely) to protect what is, you’re going to be congenitally ill-equipped to imagine what might be. And yet the urge not just to know the contours of the future, but to plant the Stars and Stripes in that future has had the U.S. Tom Engelhardt: The U.S. Intelligence Community's New Year's Wish
Bill Maher: Won Direction Cross-posted on HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher site. New Rule: Now that he's been reelected, President Obama must get back at all those right wing hacks who tried to paint him as an angry black man pushing a liberal agenda by becoming an angry black man who's pushing a liberal agenda. Now, I have been mostly holding my tongue about the president this past season, because I didn't want to muddy the waters in a country where you only get two choices, but Mr. President, there are two ways to look at your 51 to 48 percent victory: One is, we love you. The other is, we like you three percent better than Mitt Romney.
The Critical Thinking Crisis Commentary from Stephen Whitley You'd think someone who earns admission into college is ready to handle the work they are assigned. But commentator Stephen Whitley doesn't agree. While driving through the university campus where I attend graduate school and work as the Director of the Writing Center, I saw lots of new students moving into dorms. They come with hopes and dreams and ideas about what a university education will help them achieve. But many of these students are not prepared for the important task of critical thinking and analysis that is required for college level work.
BELLEVUE, Wash. -- To many in the high-tech business, a troll plots his schemes in a white office building on a hill in this leafy suburb of Seattle. This is the home of Intellectual Ventures, which, depending on whom you ask, is either the biggest, most aggressive patent troll on the planet or a pioneering company that's helping inventors get their fair share. The question of "whom you ask" is a big one, of course. Since it was founded in 2000 by Microsoft veterans Nathan Myhrvold and Edward Jung, Intellectual Ventures has -- through $5 billion in investment funds and its own brainstorming efforts -- collected nearly 70,000 "intellectual assets" on technologies ranging from nuclear power to camera lenses. It currently controls about 40,000 intellectual assets. In the process, Intellectual Ventures has become a boogieman for aspiring entrepreneurs and big tech companies alike. Inside Intellectual Ventures, the most hated company in tech | Politics and Law
John R. Talbott: Economics and Business: Tell Your Professors to Speak Up Economists, finance professors, options and derivatives experts and business school professors have dropped the ball completely when it comes to the financial crisis. Not only did less than a handful see it coming, the silence coming from the rest today is deafening as they avoid speaking out on the economy's ills, real bank reform, controlling derivative and systemic risk, the damage that corporate lobbying is doing to our country or the risks to the middle class in the U.S. and Europe of free and unfettered trade with very low wage countries such as China. Of course there are one or two who have carried the load such as Simon Johnson of MIT and Anat Admati of Stanford who have tried their hardest to push congress and regulators to enact meaningful bank reforms, but most professors are laying low so as not to offend the very banks and corporations who pay them for speeches, wine and dine them, employ them in joint ventures, hire them as expert witnesses and fund their universities.
Noam Chomsky: Plutonomy and the Precariat On the History of the U.S. Economy in Decline Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com The Occupy movement has been an extremely exciting development.
This word "fairness" keeps coming up around tax day, particularly in discussions around the Buffett rule. Many have questioned what I and others mean by "fair." I've got five answers. A fair tax system should be: Jared Bernstein: What's Fair? Five (or Six) Principles of Tax Fairness
And Why Taxpayers Shouldn’t Stand for It Any More Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com Along with “fivedollaragallongas,” the energy watchword for the next few months is: “subsidies.” Last week, for instance, New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez proposed ending some of the billions of dollars in handouts enjoyed by the fossil-fuel industry with a “Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act.” It was, in truth, nothing to write home about -- a curiously skimpy bill that only targeted oil companies, and just the five richest of them at that. Left out were coal and natural gas, and you won’t be surprised to learn that even then it didn’t pass. Bill McKibben: Payola for the Most Profitable Corporations in History
The defining political issue of 2012 won't be the government's size. It will be who government is for. Americans have never much liked government. After all, the nation was conceived in a revolution against government. But the surge of cynicism now engulfing America isn't about government's size. It's the growing perception that government isn't working for average people. Robert Reich: The Defining Issue: Not Government's Size, But Who It's For
the free market
Dean Baker: Economic Conflicts With China and Class War in the United States The Commerce Department's release of trade figures last week showed another large deficit with China for October, albeit slightly lower than the record hit the previous month. This figure will renew the calls for stronger action against China. Unfortunately the debate over China is often buried in confusion, leading to a situation that is not conducive to effective action.
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Dylan Ratigan: Bought Justice
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US federal deficit: how much does China own of America's debt? | News
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Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1% | Society
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Trying to understand income inequality, the most profound change in American society in your lifetime. - By Timothy Noah
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Howard Schweber: Laffer Curves and Tax Cuts: What Does It Take to Kill a Zombie?
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Breaking the chain: The antitrust case against Wal-Mart, By Barry C. Lynn