Kenneth Arrow, Nobel prize winning economist, passed away February 21, 2017 at the age of 95 at his home near Stanford University where he was Professor Emeritus. He was the youngest person ever to win the Nobel prize. Dr. Arrow made many academic contributions, but chief among them was his Impossibility Theorem. [Read more…]
Globalization’s Dirty Little Secret
One giant container ship can emit almost the same amount of cancer and asthma-causing chemicals as 50 million cars. Globalization and the offshoring of American jobs is directly responsible not only for good paying jobs leaving the US, but also for massive amounts of pollution put into the environment leading to increased global warming. These mammoth machines guzzle fuel at a rate of 16 tons per hour — equivalent to nearly 400 tons a day. They consume 86% of the oil exported from Saudi Arabia. So not only would bringing these jobs back home bolster the middle class and decrease the economic divide between the 99% and the 1%, but it would also forestall climate change.
Confidential data from the maritime industry shows that just 15 of the world’s biggest ships may now emit as much pollution as all the world’s 760 million cars. In addition to getting fossil fuel burning cars off the road, we need to be concerned about getting container ships off the seas. [Read more…]
Profits Can Stay In State, Provide Local Funding
Alarmed by the corruption and greed of Wall Street, many US cities and states are studying the feasibility of establishing public banks. Public banks are owned by cities, states or other jurisdictions and serve to keep funds local instead of being deposited on Wall Street. The funds are then used to support local economic activities like small business loans and student loans.
Washington state has already cut its ties with Wells Fargo because they funded DAPL. Now they want to get rid of Wall Street as a place to park their money making use of the local economy and profiting the people of Washington instead of the bankers of Wall Street. Bills were introduced on January 18 in both the House and Senate of the Washington State Legislature that add Washington to the growing number of states now actively moving to create public banking facilities. [Read more…]
Amazon Go is the latest job destroyer by virtue of the fact that it is a grocery store with no check-out lines. High tech devices will monitor every item you put in your high tech grocery basket so you just load up and go. Your credit card will be charged the correct amount. It isn’t clear if a robot will bag your groceries or if you’ll do that yourself. This feat of automation is only the harbinger of things to come. With artificial intelligence and robots, jobs will be automated out of existence except for a few software engineers who will design the various systems.
So far there is only one store open and that’s in Seattle, but soon … soon check-out cashiers can kiss their jobs good-bye. By the same token, truck drivers will be losing their jobs to self-driving trucks. [Read more…]
2016 Breaks 2015’s Record Which Broke 2014’s Record
For the third year in a row planet Earth has set records for hottest year as the planet warms due to global warming. It is the first time in the modern era of global warming data that temperatures have blown past the previous record three years in a row. Meanwhile, President Trump took down the White House climate change website. He has called global warming a hoax and a Chinese plot, and staffed his administration with global warming deniers.
The heat extremes were especially noticeable in the Arctic region where temperatures are running 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. Sea ice is melting at a rapid pace and coastal communities are dealing with rapid beach erosion. Polar bears are losing their habitat and starving. [Read more…]
Ignoramus-In-Chief Is OK With Allies Who Sponsor Terrorism
Why did Trump try to impose tighter vetting on 7 nations in the Middle East without including Saudi Arabia and Egypt? Could it be that it’s because Saudi Arabia which is a hotbed of terrorism is also an ally of the US and an enemy of Iran?
Fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers were Saudis. Osama bin Laden was a Saudi. The machete wielding attacker at the Louvre recently was Egyptian. Neither Egypt nor Pakistan nor Afghanistan were included on the so-called President’s list. Pakistan harbored bin Laden. Afghanistan is the home of the Taliban. If Trump had wanted to keep terrorists out of the US, surely he should have included these countries in his ban. But terrorism is more about US alliances than it is about morality or human rights. [Read more…]
Not the Kind That Bombed Hiroshima
In Washington there’s such a thing known as the nuclear option which means changing the rules of the Senate to get rid of the filibuster. The Democrats shied away from this during the Obama administration even though Republicans effectively killed or watered down most of Obama’s initiatives by means of the filibuster. The Democrats could have changed the rules, but they were too nice, too traditional. Republicans just go for raw power. So now we’re at the pass where Trump says “If we end up with that gridlock, I would say, ‘If you can, Mitch, go nuclear.’” He’s talking to Mitch McConnell, the Senate leader.
The Junk Food That Is an American Tradition
Remember when Twinkies went out of business and people mourned the loss of such a time-honored treat? How could such a sorry state come to pass? Weren’t Twinkies profitable any more? Were people consuming less of them because they were mostly sugar and not good for you? Wrong and Wrong.
As it turns out, it was all about some hedge fund shananigans designed to make the wealthy even wealthier while sacrificing the jobs and pensions of loyal workers. It’s called financial engineering, and it creates profits by destroying jobs. [Read more…]
“Repeal and Replace” Just a Slogan
Republicans were fine with the way it was for the health care system before Obamacare went into effect. So why not just go back to the good old days when a pre-existing condition was enough to let an insurance company reject you from coverage? The good old days when price gouging by insurance companies was the order of the day. The good old days when pharmaceutical corporations could charge whatever they want for life saving drugs. Oh, that part is still true under Obamacare.
The “Repeal and Replace” mantra was always nothing more than a slogan. Republicans have had 8 years to suggest a different system or enhancements to the one currently in effect. [Read more…]
Taking a page out of the Bernie Sanders playbook, Governor Andrew Cuomo, with Bernie Sanders standing by his side, proposed free university tuition in New York state for residents making less than $125,000 a year. New York on the east coast and California on the west are taking the lead in preserving and advancing progressive values in the Trump era which will probably see conservative values extolled at the Federal level. But Democrats like Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren and others will do all they can to block Republican efforts to shred the safety net for poor and middle Americans. Meanwhile, state and local governments in progressive states will do all they can to advance the cause of values that benefit average Americans. [Read more…]
Restocking the Swamp
Trump’s new pick for Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, his top campaign fundraiser, was a Goldman Sachs executive. Mnuchin spent 17 years working at Goldman Sachs where he became a partner. He also worked for hedge fund manager George Soros, founded a hedge fund of his own and was the lead investor in IndyMac, a failed subprime lender that turned into a “foreclosure machine” during the housing crisis.
As the financial crisis worsened, Mnuchin was looking to make a profit off of homeowners who couldn’t pay their mortgages. In 2009, he got together with a group of billionaire investors and bought a failed California-based bank, IndyMac, which had been taken over by the FDIC after its portfolio went bust. Mnuchin and his partners bought IndyMac on the condition that the FDIC agree to pay future losses above a certain threshold. They renamed the bank OneWest Bank and, after running it for six years, they sold it last year for a profit, estimated at close to $1.5 billion. [Read more…]
The Safety Net Will Soon be in Shreds
The Trump administration will take over in a couple weeks. Essential benefits for tens of millions of low-and moderate-income Americans are in danger of being phased out or canceled immediately. These include the Affordable Care Act, the Medicaid health-insurance program for the poor and further reduction of already squeezed funding for scores of other important programs serving the most vulnerable Americans such as rental vouchers for low-income families, programs to fight homelessness, job training, funding for poor school districts, Head Start for young children and Pell grants to help low-income students afford college.
Republicans are all about cutting non-defense discretionary spending, and that means any program that helps the poor and middle class. After Trump showers tax cuts on the rich and corporations, the Republican Congress will attempt to balance the budget on the backs of the poor. It’s what they’ve been trying to do for years, but Obama stood in their way. Now they have a green light. In the House GOP’s most recent budget plan, 62 percent of a stunning $6 trillion in budget cuts over 10 years would come from programs to help the poor. [Read more…]