866. catch-up on articles

Catch-up on lots of articles.

What is remarkable here is the lack of violence and what seems to be protecting the locals, which means not only against drug lords, but against the banks.

Troops occupy Rio slum in "historic" operation

reuters.com • today • 


The political process has no way, it seems, of catching up with this, since money is held in the hands of the parents (of some of them) and there is no political process of reversing this.. No one is to blame, but the systemic effects are of some kind of origin. Inevitability?

US college grads’ salaries in steep decline

Good data.

boingboing.net • 11/12 

How the GOP Became the Party of the Rich

rollingstone.com • 11/12 • 

Preacherlike, the president draws the crowd into a call-and-response. "Do you think the millionaire ought to pay more in taxes than the bus driver," he demands, "or less?"

The crowd, sounding every bit like the protesters from Occupy Wall Street, roars back: "MORE!"

The year was 1985. The president was Ronald Wilson Reagan.

"The Republican Party has totally abdicated its job in our democracy, which is to act as the guardian of fiscal discipline and responsibility," says David Stockman, who served as budget director under Reagan. "They’re on an anti-tax jihad – one that benefits the prosperous classes."

It’s the kind of thinking that only money can buy. "It’s a vicious circle," says Stiglitz. "The rich are using their money to secure tax provisions to let them get richer still. Rather than investing in new technology or R&D, the rich get a better return by investing in Washington."

That only changed in the late 1970s, when high inflation drove up wages and pushed the middle class into higher tax brackets. Harnessing the widespread anger, Reagan put it to work on behalf of the rich. In a move that GOP Majority Leader Howard Baker called a "riverboat gamble," Reagan sold the country on an "across-the-board" tax cut that brought the top rate down to 50 percent. According to supply-side economists, the wealthy would use their tax break to spur investment, and the economy would boom. And if it didn’t – well, to Reagan’s cadre of small-government conservatives, the resulting red ink could be a win-win. "We started talking about just cutting taxes and saying, ‘Screw the deficit,’" Bartlett recalls. "We had this idea that if you lowered revenues, the concern about the deficit would be channeled into spending cuts."

It was the birth of what is now known as "Starve the Beast" – a conscious strategy by conservatives to force cuts in federal spending by bankrupting the country. As conceived by the right-wing intellectual Irving Kristol in 1980, the plan called for Republicans to create a "fiscal problem" by slashing taxes – and then foist the pain of reimposing fiscal discipline onto future Democratic administrations who, in Kristol’s words, would be forced to "tidy up afterward."

For the remainder of his time in office, Reagan repeatedly raised taxes to bring down unwieldy deficits. In 1983, he hiked gas and payroll taxes. In 1984, he raised revenue by closing tax loopholes for businesses. The tax reform of 1986 lowered the top rate for the wealthy to just 28 percent – but that cut for high earners was paid for by closing tax loopholes that resulted in the largest corporate tax hike in history. Reagan also raised revenues by abolishing special favors for the investor class: He boosted taxes on capital gains by 40 percent to align them with the taxes paid on wages. Today, Reagan may be lionized as a tax abolitionist, says Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator and friend of the president, but that’s not true to his record. "Reagan raised taxes 11 times in eight years!"

Once in office, however, Bush moved to bring down the soaring federal deficit by hiking the top tax rate to 31 percent and adding surtaxes for yachts, jets and luxury sedans. "He had courage to take action when we needed it," says Paul O’Neill, who served as Treasury secretary under George W. Bush.

The cuts also juiced irrational exuberance on Wall Street. Giving a huge tax advantage to investment income inflated the dot-com bubble, observed Stiglitz, "by making speculation more attractive." And by eliminating capital gains taxes on home sales, the cuts fueled the housing bubble: A study by the Federal Reserve estimated that the tax giveaways boosted housing transactions by 17 percent through 2007.

Still, those numbers were only a projection. "It’s certainly not money in the bank," Fed chairman Alan Greenspan warned incoming Treasury Secretary O’Neill over breakfast at the Federal Reserve. Yet there was no such note of caution in the White House. The month after Bush took office, the president’s then-budget director, Mitch Daniels, suggested in an internal memo that $5.6 trillion was likely too small a figure. Daniels concluded that Bush’s plan was "so fiscally conservative" that even after cutting $1.6 trillion in taxes, fixing Social Security and setting aside $900 billion in a contingency fund, the government would still have enough money left over to retire $2 trillion in debt. 

So the article continues            in great detail. The key is most of the changes were driven by tax code and this was very insider political, involving much of Cheney and Nordquist. Worth reading it all.           

Through political process it says. How conscious? Looks like very much so.

But there are some difficulties. Foe ample, the article says

                America became a great nation with a prosperous middle class on the strength of a progressive tax code – one that demands the most of those who benefit most from our society. But the Party of the Rich has succeeded in breaking the back of that ideal.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/how-the-gop-became-the-party-of-the-rich-20111109#ixzz1dbjL8Obg

But the shift was not just the tax code, but the underlying technology of work and markets. It wasn’t the tax code that drove us forward, the tax code was rooted in the post war industrial expansion that would have to end sooner or later. The rich took advantage as the downturn started, by policies, such as the FAA, that broke unions and kept wages flat or declining.


Time for an Economic Bill of Rights | Truthout

truth-out.org • 11/12 • 

I’ve maintained for a few years that income for the country  is about 50% interest, which means more than 50% on income for the rich is from interest.. which means just what this article says.

 According to Margrit Kennedy, a German researcher who has studied this issue extensively, interest now composes 40 percent of the cost of everything we buy. We don’t see it on the sales slips, but interest is exacted at every stage of production. Suppliers need to take out loans to pay for labor and materials before they have a product to sell.

The Fed’s own figures show that the money supply has shrunk by$3 trillion since 2008.

We need an Economic Bill of Rights, and we need to end the privatization of the national currency. Only when the privilege of creating the national money supply is returned to the people can we have a government that is truly of the people, by the people and for the people.

The issue of the fed and  it’s creating currency the government then has to pay interest on needs serious revisiting.

Will the End of Oil Mean the End of Growth?

good.is • 11/12 • 

The end of growth is complex.  What if we had green growth replacing grey growth? Then we might have growth, say in the number of transactions, but declining activity in extractions. No growth alone is not a good filter. But  the pressure on growth is worth understanding, since any future will have to respond to the same facts. This article takes another look at limits to Growth.

But here’s the scary thing: The Limits model has been pretty reliable so far. In 2009, two systems ecologists, Charles A.S. Hall and John W. Day, Jr., revisited [PDF] The Limits to Growth, comparing its projected values for things like population, available oil and copper, and industrial output per capita, to actual 2008 data. In their paper, Hall and Day acknowledge problems with the Limits model, but in the end conclude that, “its predictions have not been invalidated and in fact seem quite on target.”

Americans Now Only Have Two Close Friends

theatlanticwire.com • 11/12 •

 Life in America has gotten lonelier over the past 25 years, if a new study is to be believed. That’s because the number of "confidants" the average American has fell from three to two since 1985, according to a recent study published by Matthew Brashears of Cornell University. "Confidants," as defined by Brashears, are "people an individual can discuss ‘important issues’ with," according to theCornell Daily Sun. So you can stop bragging about all the Facebook "friends" you have, because almost none of them are real.

Tools & Data

propublica.org • 11/12 • 

Check every now and then for good muckraking.

 Stealing stuff in Skyrim can be highly amusing

geek.com • 11/11 • 

great character building game.


The King of Human Error

vanityfair.com • 11/11 • 

  “Linda is thirty-one years old, single, outspoken, and very bright,” they wrote. “She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in antinuclear demonstrations.” Then they went around asking people the same question:

Which alternative is more probable?

(1) Linda is a bank teller.

(2) Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement.

The vast majority—roughly 85 percent—of the people they asked opted for No. 2, even though No. 2 is logically impossible. (If No. 2 is true, so is No. 1.) The human mind is so wedded to stereotypes and so distracted by vivid descriptions that it will seize upon them, even when they defy logic, rather than upon truly relevant facts. Kahneman and Tversky called this logical error the “conjunction fallacy.”

 A good view of the Kenman book on thinking. But much more to do, integrating thinking into real thinking. The stuff of science, religion, love, and much more. The stuff of high culture.



columbia.edu • 11/11 • 

 Top Wealth Shares in the United States, 1916-2000: Evidence from Estate Tax Returns

Wojciech Kopczuk, Columbia University and NBER and Emmanuel Saez, UC Berkeley and NBER

1 March 15, 2004   


This paper presents new homogeneous series on top wealth shares from 1916 to 2000 in the United States using estate tax return data. Top wealth shares were very high at the beginning of the period but have been hit sharply by the Great Depression, the New Deal, and World War II shocks. Those shocks have had permanent effects. Following a decline in the 1970s, top wealth shares recovered in the early 1980s, but they are still much lower in 2000 than in the early decades of the century.  [dc: remember it is now 12 years later.] Most of the changes we document are concentrated among the very top wealth holders with much smaller movements for groups below the top 0.1%. Consistent with the Survey of Consumer Finances results, top wealth shares estimated from Estate Tax Returns display no significant increase since 1995. Evidence from the Forbes 400 richest Americans suggests that only the super-rich have experienced significant gains relative to the average over the last decade. Our results are consistent with the decreased importance of capital income at the top of the income distribution documented by Piketty and Saez (2003), and suggest that the rentier class of the early century is not yet reconstituted. The most plausible explanations for the facts are perhaps the development of progressive income and estate taxation which has dramatically impaired the ability of large wealth holders to maintain their fortunes, and the democratization of stock ownership which now spreads stock market gains and losses much more widely than in the past.

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The Shadow Superpower – By Robert Neuwirth

foreignpolicy.com • 11/11 • 

The idea is that the shadow economy, selling stuff in small spaces, usually neither rented not owned, is now 50% of world commerce and moving towards  2/3rds. But this is a consumer detritus market, dependent on the flow of goods. If middle class legitimate  economy collapses, what happens to the grey?

There Is Big Money In The Underground Economy

fastcoexist.com • 11/11 • 

as above, review of Robert Neuwirth’s new book, Stealth of Nations,

 The Drone Threat to National Security

scientificamerican.com • 11/11 •

So obvious that a thirty dollar radio control plane can be flown into things. Didn’t want to mention it, as part of the amplification of the idea, but now it is very public.

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Theory of Capitalism | The Center of Capitalism and Society

capitalism.columbia.edu • 11/9 • 


40 States Show Worsening Trend in Mortgage Delinquencies; $169 Billion and Counting; Taxpayers, the True Lender of Last Resort

globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com • 11/9 • 


World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, IEA warns

guardian.co.uk • 11/9 • 


Wonkbook: What counts as a tax increase?

washingtonpost.com • 11/9 • 


Letters at 3AM: Flash Mob Dance Revolution: Part 1 – Columns – The Austin Chronicle

austinchronicle.com • 11/8 • 


Europe, the International System and a Generational Shift

stratfor.com • 11/8 •


Literature, Philosophy, Criticism

apieceofmonologue.com • 11/8 • 


Samuel Beckett’s Reading List 1941-1956

apieceofmonologue.com • 11/8 • 



What’s the language of the future?

salon.com • 11/7 • 


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Steve Jobs’s Real Genius

newyorker.com • 11/7 • 



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Connecting the science of mind, brain, and spirit with perspectives from the Institute of Noetic Sciences.

noetic.org • 11/7 • 



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Chart of the Day: The Dying of the American Dream

motherjones.com • 11/6 • 



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12 Dozen Places To Educate Yourself Online For Free

marcandangel.com • 11/6 • 


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A Book In Progress [Part 10]: Spinoz’s Ethics

kenanmalik.wordpress.com • 11/6 • 


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A Brief Guide to Embodied Cognition: Why You Are Not Your Brain. | Guest Blog, Scientific American Blog Network

blogs.scientificamerican.com • 11/4 • 



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Economist’s View

economistsview.typepad.com • 11/4 •        



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Five Good Questions for Behavioral Economist Dan Ariely

advisorone.com • 11/3 • 


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Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty (Book Review)

thegatesnotes.com • 11/2 • 



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Peak Oil Perspective

physics.ucsd.edu • 11/2 • 


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The Second Gilded Age: Has America Become an Oligarchy? – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International

spiegel.de • 11/1 •        



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Peter Victor | Capital Institute

capitalinstitute.org • 10/31 •        



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Guest Post: Limits to Growth – Forty More Years? | Capital Institute

capitalinstitute.org • 10/31 •        



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America: Excelling at Mediocrity

blogs.hbr.org • 10/30 •        



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Reinventing Fire Executive Summary

rmi.org • 10/29 •        



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Thinking, Fast and Slow: A New Way to Think About Thinking

brainpickings.org • 10/28 •        



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Gleaming shards of ancient narrative

economist.com • 10/27 •        



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Do Lectures – Talks that inspire action

dolectures.com • 10/27 •        


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