How Donald Trump Could Build an Autocracy in the U.S. – The Atlantic

Frankly frightening.

Those citizens who fantasize about defying tyranny from within fortified compounds have never understood how liberty is actually threatened in a modern bureaucratic state: not by diktat and violence, but by the slow, demoralizing process of corruption and deceit. And the way that liberty must be defended is not with amateur firearms, but with an unwearying insistence upon the honesty, integrity, and professionalism of American institutions and those who lead them. We are living through the most dangerous ch

Source: How Donald Trump Could Build an Autocracy in the U.S. – The Atlantic

How One of the World’s Densest Cities Has Gone Green

Picture of SuperTrees at Gardens by the Bay

Symbol of Singapore, these “Supertrees” belong to a display at the 250-acre Gardens by the Bay. The high-tech structures range from 80 to 160 feet and collect solar energy to power a nightly light show. They have a softer side too: their trunks are vertical gardens, laced with more than 150,000 living plants.

Source: How One of the World’s Densest Cities Has Gone Green

Republican bill to privatize public lands is yanked after outcry

It seems like the Republicans hate nature – especially national parks and anything unspoiled. Especially if there a way to make money while destroying the environment.

 

 

Last weekend, more than 1,000 sportsmen, outdoor business owners, and public lands supporters joined Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) in Helena, Montana. Wednesday afternoon, a rally in New Mexico drew hundreds more people, all protesting congressional attempts to sell off or privatize public lands. The outcry was prompted in part by Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s (R-UT) introduction of a bill to sell off 3.3 million acres of public lands — an area the size of Connecticut.

Source: Republican bill to privatize public lands is yanked after outcry

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

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

Andrea Leadsom could be PM in weeks, and these telling discoveries prove she’d be a disaster | The Canary

Aside from the issues raised in the article, Ms. Leadsom was on the BBC when the Brexit win was announced. Her response – now is the time to take a deep breathe and think about the next steps. Right, jump off the cliff and then think about the parachute. Maybe her campaign symbol should be the Coyote from the Road Runner cartoons.

Evidence that damages her bid to become next PM

Source: Andrea Leadsom could be PM in weeks, and these telling discoveries prove she’d be a disaster | The Canary

Our global financial system is broken. Here’s a plan for fixing it | World Economic Forum

The result is what has been called secular stagnation, new normal, ugly deleveraging, balance sheet recession and Japanification. I call it “QE infinity”: a prolonged period of low growth and low interest rates, where policy-makers persist in implementing policies that won’t fix the problem. They won’t ever say they’re out of ammunition, but central bankers are starting to look like naked emperors. “Is monetary policy by itself going to create growth, employment? You seem to give a lot of responsibilities to the European Central Bank. Can monetary policy create growth by itself? The answer is no. Monetary policy can create the economic conditions for growth,” ECB President Mario Draghi told the European Parliament last year. Put differently, there is only so much monetary policy can do to re-start growth: it is an anaesthetic, not a cure. to the European Central Bank. Can monetary policy create growth by itself? The answer is no. Monetary policy can create the economic conditions for growth,” ECB President Mario Draghi told the European Parliament last year. Put differently, there is only so much monetary policy can do to re-start growth: it is an anaesthetic, not a cure.

Source: Our global financial system is broken. Here’s a plan for fixing it | World Economic Forum

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

A Small City with a Big Vision: Chattanooga’s New Form-Based Code – Form-Based Codes Institute : Form-Based Codes Institute

Chattanooga’s form-based code is part of an innovative vision for the city’s economic, environmental and cultural future. Following a recent visit to Chattanooga, Bruce Katz wrote in a Brookings Institute blog, “Something special is happening in Chattanooga.” As Katz points out, too often venture capitalists “pay too little attention to small and mid-sized cities with …

 

Chat. 2

 

Source: A Small City with a Big Vision: Chattanooga’s New Form-Based Code – Form-Based Codes Institute : Form-Based Codes Institute

Canada willingly makes tax deals with tax havens | Toronto Star

Billions of dollars are moving out of Canada – nearly all tax free – with 92 tax treaties signed.

“I think those of us who warned, 35 years ago, that one of the consequences of this would be, ‘those who have the most would end up paying the least and those with the least would end up paying the most’ — we’ve been proven right. ”

Source: Canada willingly makes tax deals with tax havens | Toronto Star

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

Panama papers: “an old tradition of English piracy” | openDemocracy

Looking at the documents leaked from Mossack Fonseca and one thing is clear: Britain’s network is once again at the core. More than half of the companies listed in the documents are registered in the UK or its Overseas Territories, and Hong Kong plays a huge role.

Of course, this shouldn’t be surprising. Britain has for for a while now been thought to be the global capital for money laundering. And it’s no shock that nothing has been done about it. In 2010, two years after they crashed the global economy, the City paid for more than half of the Conservative party’s election campaign, helping (along with the aforementioned Lord Ashcroft) them limp them over the line, with a Lib Dem shaped crotch. Though, of course, Labour did little to regulate in the previous 13 years.

If we want to understand modern Britain, first we need to realise that our primary economic function in the world is probably our network of tax havens. After all, around $21tn is estimated to sit in offshore accounts, of which Britain’s territories are said to make up by far the biggest part. Our own GDP is only around $3tn.

Second, we need to get to grips with the serious claims about our role as the global money laundering capital: a function which pushes up the price of the pound, making other exports unaffordable (bye bye steel), and drives up the cost of houses in London and the South East, fuelling a vast speculative bubble which sucks investment out of the rest of the economy.

And third, we need to think about how this gradually dawning economic reality interacts with our politics: not through the obvious corruption of direct bribery, but through revolving doors between government and civil service, through old boy’s networks and friendship groups, through perfectly legal election donations and media domination.

Source: Panama papers: “an old tradition of English piracy” | openDemocracy

Massive leak reveals offshore accounts of world leaders | Center for Public Integrity

PANAMA PAPERS

An investigation published today by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and its media partners reveals the hidden workings of a secretive industry that banks and lawyers use to hide the financial holdings and dealings of powerful clients, including prime ministers, parliamentarians, plutocrats and criminals, according to a trove of leaked documents.

The files, known as the Panama Papers, exposes the offshore holdings of 12 current and former world leaders and reveals how associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin secretly shuffled as much as $2 billion through banks and shadow companies, according to the joint investigative project conducted by ICIJ, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 other news organizations around the globe. ICIJ is the international arm of the Center for Public Integrity.

The files — which total more than 11.5 million documents — contain new details about major scandals ranging from England’s most infamous gold heist in 1983, an unfolding political money laundering affair in Brazil and bribery allegations currently convulsing FIFA, the body that rules international soccer and is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.

Source: Massive leak reveals offshore accounts of world leaders | Center for Public Integrity

Bernie v. the Macro-Economists’ Hubris

The next time you read about macro-economists’ authoritative statements on forecasting the economy under Bernie’s programs, remember the following two charts and how well the macro-economists at the IMF did on projecting World Growth and China’s Growth. Doesn’t make him right, makes you think.

Source: When The Hockeystick Breaks: The IMF Gives Up On China Growth | Zero Hedge

Bernie Sander’s Plan to Tame Wall Street Riles Team Clinton

Sanders points out: “Three out of the 4 largest financial institutions (JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo) are nearly 80 percent bigger than before we bailed them out. Incredibly, the six largest banks in this country issue more than two-thirds of all credit cards and more than 35 percent of all mortgages. They control more than 95 percent of all financial derivatives and hold more than 40 percent of all bank deposits. Their assets are equivalent to nearly 60 percent of our GDP. Enough is enough.”

Source: Bernie Sander’s Plan to Tame Wall Street Riles Team Clinton | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

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

Punish the Bankers! | Foreign Policy

Timely article given recent article in NY Times (An S.E.C. Settlement With Citigroup That Fails to Name Names) wherein Citi agrees to pay a $180 million settlement plus $726 million in investor compensation and yet the SEC not only doesn’t hold any individual responsible – it doesn’t even name them. Talk about moral hazard.

The sentencing of the trader Tom Hayes for his part in the Libor scandal caused many a sharp intake of breath on London’s Canary Wharf.…

Source: Punish the Bankers! | Foreign Policy