This Kansas City neighborhood wrote the blueprint for transforming a community | Grist

Today, the drug-running and dumping are contained, new residents are moving in, and the enclave is considered an example, both regionally and nationally, of how a community can organize itself and choose the future its residents want. Blocks of houses, some old, some renovated, some looking brand new radiate out from the renovated former fire station and boxing gym that’s the headquarters for the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council, which drives the revitalization efforts. Next door is a small park with a playgrou

Source: This Kansas City neighborhood wrote the blueprint for transforming a community | Grist

Who Are The True Builders?

You look in your history-books to see who built Westminster Abbey, who built St Sophia at Constantinople, and they tell you Henry Ill, Justinian the Emperor. Did they? Or, rather, men like you and me, handicraftsmen, who have left no names behind them, nothing but their work?

William Morris, “The Lesser Arts” (1878) quoted in “VISTA – the culture and politics of gardens”

Three Reasons Trickle-Down Tax Cuts Don’t Work

History shows that bad economic ideas almost never die, especially when they serve the wealthy and powerful. There’s no better example of this truth than trickle-down tax cuts. As we write this, the Trump administration is teeing up a tax plan that slashes taxes for the wealthy and the corporate sector, does little for everyone else (repealing the Affordable Care Act actually raises taxes on some with low and moderate incomes), and stiffs the U.S. Treasury to the tune of $6.2 trillion, according to the Tax Policy Center’s estimates.

Source: Three Reasons Trickle-Down Tax Cuts Don’t Work

Top Websites – 2016 | Planetizen: The independent resource for people passionate about planning and related fields

The annual list of the best planning, design, and development websites, representing some of the top online resources for news, information, and research on the built environment.

Source: Top Websites – 2016 | Planetizen: The independent resource for people passionate about planning and related fields

Brexit: This Backlash Has Been a Long Time Coming | naked capitalism

Globalization has winners and losers. Surprise, surprise the losers aren’t happy. Who’d have thunk.

The Brexit vote shows that globalisation leaves people behind – and that ignoring this for long enough can have severe political consequences

Source: Brexit: This Backlash Has Been a Long Time Coming | naked capitalism

Meet the Middle Precariat | naked capitalism

The word Precariat was popularized five or so years ago to describe a rapidly expanding working class with unstable, low-paid jobs. What I call the Middle Precariat, in contrast, are supposed to be properly, comfortably middle class, but it’s not quite working out this way.

There are people like the Floridian couple who both have law degrees—and should be in the prime of their working lives—but can’t afford a car or an apartment and have moved back in with the woman’s elderly mother. There are schoolteachers around the country that work second jobs after their teaching duties are done: one woman in North Dakota I spoke to was heading off to clean houses after the final bell in order to pay her rent.

Many of the Middle Precariat work jobs that used to be solidly middle class. Yet some earn roughly what they did a decade ago. At the same time, middle-class life is now 30 percent more expensive than it was 20 years ago. The Middle Precariat’s jobs are also increasingly contingent—meaning they are composed of short-term contract or shift work, as well as unpaid overtime. Buffeted by Silicon Valley-like calls to maximize disruption, the Middle Precariat may have positions “reimagined.” That cruel euphemism means they are to be replaced by younger, cheaper workers, or even machines.

Source: Meet the Middle Precariat | naked capitalism

Elizabeth Warren Opens Broad Attack Against Rent-Seeking Oligopolists Like Amazon, Apple, Google, Walmart, Comcast | naked capitalism

In a market the size of America’s prices should be lower than in other industrialised economies. By and large, they are not. Though American companies now make a fifth of their profits abroad, their naughty secret is that their return-on-equity is 40% higher at home.

Source: Elizabeth Warren Opens Broad Attack Against Rent-Seeking Oligopolists Like Amazon, Apple, Google, Walmart, Comcast | naked capitalism

Who’s Responsible for the Demise of America’s Public Research Universities? – The Atlantic

America’s great public research universities, which produce path-breaking discoveries and train some of the country’s most talented young students, are under siege. The result may be a significant weakening of the nation’s preeminence in higher education. Dramatic cuts in public spending for state flagship universities seem to be at odds with widespread public sentiment. Americans say they strongly believe in exceptional educational systems; they want their kids to attend excellent and selective colleges and to get good, well-paying, prestigious jobs. They also support university research. After 15 years of surveys, Research! America found in 2015 that 70 percent of American adults supported government-sponsored basic scientific research like that produced by public universities, while a significant plurality (44 percent) supported paying higher taxes for medical research designed to cure diseases like cancer or Alzheimer’s. Nonetheless, many state legislators seem to be ignoring public opinion as they essentially starve some of the best universities—those that educate about two-thirds of American college students.

According to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ recently completed Lincoln Project report, between 2008 and 2013 states reduced financial support to top public research universities by close to 30 percent. At the same time, these states increased support of prisons by more than 130 percent. New York City’s budget office reported in 2013 that incarcerating a person in a state prison cost the city roughly $168,000 a year. California apparently does it on the cheap: It costs roughly $64,000 annually for each prisoner—a bit more than the cost of a year at an Ivy League university (average tuition is $50,000) and far more than at the University of California, Berkeley, ($13,000) or at CUNY ($8,000).

……….

All this amounts, arguably, to a pillaging of the country’s greatest state universities. And that pillaging is not a matter of necessity, as many elected officials would insist—it’s a matter of choice. If Wisconsin’s governor and legislature succeed in eliminating or emasculating tenure for faculty members at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, they can say goodbye to the greatness of that institution of higher learning. If Florida’s governor asks students in the humanities or arts to pay higher tuition than those who major in business or STEM subjects, Florida’s universities are apt to deteriorate in quality. And just so it doesn’t seem like I’m cherry picking, consider what North Carolina’s governor said not long ago: “If you want to take gender studies, that’s fine, go to a private school and take it. But I don’t want to subsidize that if that’s not going to get someone a job.” The consequence of such policy choices, it seems, is that tuition will go up and access for kids from poorer families will go down.

………

Source: Who’s Responsible for the Demise of America’s Public Research Universities? – The Atlantic

How Economics and Race Drive America’s Great Divide | Institute for New Economic Thinking

In the America of haves and have-nots, fewer folks are “movin’ on up” like George Jefferson of the classic sitcom. In a new paper for the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Peter Temin, MIT economist and economic historian, breaks down how it happened and where we’re headed with a powerful model first used by West Indian economist W. Arthur Lewis, the only person of African descent to win a Nobel Prize in economics. Dual economies are common in less developed countries, but Temin argues that America has now diverged into a top thirty percent, where children receive excellent educations and grow up to work in sectors like finance, technology and electronics industries (FTE)— and then there’s the rest, the low-wage folks who live paycheck to paycheck and whose kids have little hope of joining the lucky ones at the top. Temin explains what drives the dual economy, what race has to do with it, how children are hurt, and why our political system can’t seem to fix anything.

Source: How Economics and Race Drive America’s Great Divide | Institute for New Economic Thinking

NYC: Real Estate Tax Breaks for Oligarchs

How nauseating: NYC provides tax support to billionaires:

New York City’s method of assessing property values is so out of whack that the buyer of the most expensive apartment ever sold — a $100 million duplex overlooking Central Park — pays taxes as if the place were worth just $6.5 million.

With controversial tax breaks granted to the One57 condo tower, the total property tax bill for the spectacular penthouse is just $17,268, an effective rate of 0.017 percent of its sale price.

By contrast, the owner of a nearby condo at 224 E. 52nd St. that recently sold for $1.02 million is paying an effective rate of 2.38 percent, or $24,279, according to data compiled for The Post by the Revaluate.com real-estate information website.

(via ZeroHedge)         

 Tax Breaks for Oligarchs: The $100 Million NY Apartment With A Property Tax Rate of o.017%

Income is How You Get Out of Poverty, Assets are How You Stay Out — Rooflines

…income is how you get out of poverty, assets are how you stay out.

While income inequality in the U.S. recently hit its highest peak in 78 years, the wealth gap is even worse. The racial wealth gap—the difference in net worth between households of color and that of their white counterparts—has more than tripled since 1984. Today, African-American and Latino households have less than $1 in assets for every $6 that white households own. This is taking place in the context of a major demographic shift that will only magnify the costs of the racial wealth gap. By the end of the decade, the majority of youth will be people of color, and by 2044, the population majority overall will be people of color.

Assets and ownership are fundamental to economic opportunity and mobility. A child with a savings account in their own name is 2.5 times more likely to complete college than a child without one. That number jumps to 4.5 times more likely if that child is from a low-income household. Homeownership is linked to inheritance and access to credit, while access to credit is based on your income…..

(via Planetizin)      Income is How You Get Out of Poverty, Assets are How You Stay Out — Rooflines.

How Asset Building Tax Subsidies Miss Their Targets

How Asset Building Tax Subsidies Miss Their Targets

Nearly one-third of all federal tax expenditures–$384 billion in 2013 alone– is aimed at various forms of asset building, such as retirement savings, higher education, and home ownership. Yet, according to research by several of my Tax Policy Center and Urban Institute colleagues, these tax breaks do little to help low- and middle-income households build wealth.

Incentives for homeownership represent a bit more than half of these subsidies, special tax treatment for retirement savings nearly 40 percent, and higher education subsidies about 8 percent. Together, they are so big that they’ll inevitably be part of any broad-based tax reform effort. Because they are such a high percentage of tax expenditures, it is effectively impossible to achieve significant tax rate reduction without scaling them back. That’s why they were such an important element in House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp’s tax reform plan.

In both a long paper and in a newly issued fact sheet, Gene Steuerle, Ben Harris, Signe-Mary McKernan, Caleb Quackenbush, and Caroline Ratcliffe conclude that these asset building subsidies are ripe for reform, whether through a broad tax code rewrite or on their own.

Because high income households receive the lion’s share of the benefits of these subsidies, they raise important distributional issues. But, more importantly, they fail to achieve a key goal: To help households boost their assets. They simply don’t work very well.

– See more at: http://taxvox.taxpolicycenter.org/2014/10/07/asset-building-tax-subsidies-miss-targets/#sthash.MFAItClc.dpuf

How Asset Building Tax Subsidies Miss Their Targets

Nearly one-third of all federal tax expenditures–$384 billion in 2013 alone– is aimed at various forms of asset building, such as retirement savings, higher education, and home ownership. Yet, according to research by several of my Tax Policy Center and Urban Institute colleagues, these tax breaks do little to help low- and middle-income households build wealth.

Incentives for homeownership represent a bit more than half of these subsidies, special tax treatment for retirement savings nearly 40 percent, and higher education subsidies about 8 percent. Together, they are so big that they’ll inevitably be part of any broad-based tax reform effort. Because they are such a high percentage of tax expenditures, it is effectively impossible to achieve significant tax rate reduction without scaling them back. That’s why they were such an important element in House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp’s tax reform plan.

In both a long paper and in a newly issued fact sheet, Gene Steuerle, Ben Harris, Signe-Mary McKernan, Caleb Quackenbush, and Caroline Ratcliffe conclude that these asset building subsidies are ripe for reform, whether through a broad tax code rewrite or on their own.

Because high income households receive the lion’s share of the benefits of these subsidies, they raise important distributional issues. But, more importantly, they fail to achieve a key goal: To help households boost their assets. They simply don’t work very well.

– See more at: http://taxvox.taxpolicycenter.org/2014/10/07/asset-building-tax-subsidies-miss-targets/#sthash.MFAItClc.dpuf

| Posted on October 7, 2014, 4:40 pm

Nearly one-third of all federal tax expenditures–$384 billion in 2013 alone– is aimed at various forms of asset building, such as retirement savings, higher education, and home ownership. Yet, according to research by several of my Tax Policy Center and Urban Institute colleagues, these tax breaks do little to help low- and middle-income households build wealth.

Incentives for homeownership represent a bit more than half of these subsidies, special tax treatment for retirement savings nearly 40 percent, and higher education subsidies about 8 percent. Together, they are so big that they’ll inevitably be part of any broad-based tax reform effort. Because they are such a high percentage of tax expenditures, it is effectively impossible to achieve significant tax rate reduction without scaling them back. That’s why they were such an important element in House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp’s tax reform plan.

In both a long paper and in a newly issued fact sheet, Gene Steuerle, Ben Harris, Signe-Mary McKernan, Caleb Quackenbush, and Caroline Ratcliffe conclude that these asset building subsidies are ripe for reform, whether through a broad tax code rewrite or on their own.

Because high income households receive the lion’s share of the benefits of these subsidies, they raise important distributional issues. But, more importantly, they fail to achieve a key goal: To help households boost their assets. They simply don’t work very well.

See more at TaxVox.TaxPolicy.org : Tax subsides for asset building fall short.

Workers Get Lowest Share Of Corporate Income Since 1950 | ThinkProgress

Worker productivity is up but worker share of profits is at an all time low.

Workers aren’t earning less because they’re slacking off — just the opposite. Their productivity increased 8 percent between 2007 and 2012 while their wages actually fell, a trend that has been going on since at least 1979. And they’ve been speeding up since the recession, increasing their productivity last summer at the fastest pace since 2009.

The productivity has helped out corporations. They saw record high profits last year, rising to $1.68 trillion, and they have been rising steadily for some time, more than fully recovering what they lost to the financial crisis. Yet workers are getting little of that money. Profits have risen nearly 20 times faster than workers’ incomes since 2008, and on the whole workers have seen a lost decade of stagnant wage growth.

 

snapshotlaborincome-09-03-2014

 

Workers Get Lowest Share Of Corporate Income Since 1950 | ThinkProgress.

Here’s a Quick, Smart Way Obama Could Raise Worker Wages

A new Demos study finds that federally-supported firms, defined as companies that receive 10 percent or more of the yearly revenue from contracting,employ 6.6 million people. Of these workers, 3.5 million of these workers earn wages at or below 150 percent of the poverty line for a family four (disproportionally minorities and women). And they frequently get lousy treatment from their employers.

A 2010 GAO investigation found that the government frequently awards contracts to companies with wage, safety, environmental, immigration and Medicare violations. Meanwhile, according to a Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee report, firms that do federal contracting made up 30 percent of the companies with the largest penalties for health, safety and wage violations between 2007 and 2012.

Sean McElwee | Thoughts on Economics, Current Events and Philosophy.

Americans: Poorer But Not Wiser

Americans’ median wealth is a mere $44,900 per adult… only good enough for 19th place, below Japan, Canada, Australia and much of Western Europe. ‘Americans tend to think of their middle class as being the richest in the world, but it turns out, in terms of wealth, they rank fairly low among major industrialized countries,” said Edward Wolff…. Super-rich Americans skew average wealth upwards. The U.S. has… 49% of those with more than $50 million in assets…. This schism secures us the top rank in one net worth measure–wealth inequality…. Americans… are having trouble building wealth because wages have stagnated for more than a decade.

Tahmi Luhby: America’s Middle Class: Poorer than You Think

Remember, the median household income rose 20% over those ten years (the Perpetual’s net income rose from $100,000 to $120,000), so the official CPI puts the Perpetual’s household at a $6,500 annual deficit! By using the reality-based CPI, the deficit is truly staggering by a factor of 5x.

Finally…A Reality Based Cost Of Living Index – Seeking Alpha

Economic inequality in the United States has been receiving a lot of attention. But it’s not merely an issue of the rich getting richer. The typical American household has been getting poorer, too.

The Typical Household, Now Worth a Third Less – NYTimes.com.

How the Government Subsidizes Wealth Inequality

These two subsidies will cost the U.S. federal government about $2 trillion over the next 10 years, almost all of which will go to the wealthiest Americans. Past Congresses have repealed both of these subsidies at different points in time, though they were later revived by subsequent legislation.

How the Government Subsidizes Wealth Inequality | Center for American Progress.