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by Umair Haque | 2:36 PM July 28, 2011 The monsters, they say, come out at night. And right now, we're in a long, dark night of the economy. So to a stage crammed with the now familiar-pantheon of modern-day monsters — the clueless chairmain of the board , the narcissistic chief executive , the proudly sociopathic investor , the servile, principle-less politician — let me introduce a minor new setpiece: the playhouse for the super-rich (which can easily cost more than the average income of the people formerly known as "the middle class"), as described in an eyebrow-raising New York Times piece , beginning:
Last week Tom Ricks offered us his "Top Ten list" of books any student of military history should read.
A 2×2 Grid to Understanding Some of the Ideological Concerns of Privatization, Especially as it Pertains to ParkingLA Magazine has a big profile of Donald Shoup , the economist who has been writing about the pricing and allocation of parking spaces. Matt Yglesias summarizes Shoup’s approach, and Peter Frase has sharp, additional comments about pricing parking for the left and left neoliberals to consider. I took a copy of Shoup’s The High Cost of Free Parking out from the New York Occupy Wall Street library a week before Bloomberg raided and destroyed the library, so it looks like I’ll have the time to really dig into it in 2012. But there’s interesting implications about Shoup’s experiment for privatization and the allocation of government services we should discuss now. I have a longer essay on privatization that’ll eventually see the light of day, but for now I want to contrast two different parking space pricing regimes and turn them into a grid that can help us understand the issues at play.
Last week I posted on our more active university blog about how subsidized capitalism damages both the funding and popular understanding of the central role of public services in building economies and societies. The post was just a first poke for the new year into a huge hole in Anglo-American capitalism's theory of itself. This theory ignores the extent to which it has spent the conservative 1980-2010 period absorbing public resources into its own revenues. Most of this theory's public apologists denounce public spending, which has helped massively reduce their tax obligations -- tax avoidance has become a major profit strategy -- while justifying private appropriation as putting public money to better use. The New York Times has a good example of the problem .
AS PROTESTS against financial power sweep the world this week, science may have confirmed the protesters' worst fears. An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies , mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy. The study's assumptions have attracted some criticism, but complex systems analysts contacted by New Scientist say it is a unique effort to untangle control in the global economy. Pushing the analysis further, they say, could help to identify ways of making global capitalism more stable.
A Tesco worker collecting trolleys outside a store in London. Photograph: Graeme Robertson The first time I heard the phrase "state-subsidised corporate super-profits" was last June, at a conference of the pressure group Compass, in a discussion about meeting child poverty targets by 2020 (the title was intended as a bleak joke, I think). Someone in the audience said that the very existence of "in-work benefits" was evidence of the government subsidising the bloated profits of huge corporations. This was underlined by the arcane terminology – a "working family tax credit".