Tag Archives: economics

We’re Not In Kansas Anymore.

25 Feb

Hey, Toto.

2 big blizzards in a couple of weeks. One of the complications of global warming is that the warmed atmosphere holds more water vapor and guess what? More water vapor means heavier snowfalls. Thanks to KansasCity.com

I scanned this piece quickly and did not see any mention of global warming or climate change.

Same thing last week in the mainstream coverage of the snowstorm. Is it irresponsible not to give readers the background information?

Last week was Storm Q (I like the Blizzard of Oz name better). This week is Storm R.

I did spot some coverage that referenced the fact that the last 100 year snowstorm was two years ago when I was scanning the news for mainstream connections to the largest global story – global warming, but I think that coverage did not mention global warming either.

Here is what Yahoo News is running on the second storm in two weeks:

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) — Blizzard conditions slammed parts of the central Plains Monday, forcing the closure of highways in the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles and sending public works crews scrambling for salt and sand anew just days after a massive storm blanketed the region with snow.

National Weather Service officials in Kansas and Oklahoma issued blizzard warnings and watches through late Monday as the storm packing snow and high winds tracked eastward across West Texas toward Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. Forecasters also warned of possible tornadoes further southeast.

Snow covered Amarillo, Texas, where forecasters said up to 18 inches could fall, accompanied by wind gusts up to 65 mph. Paul Braun, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Transport, said whiteout conditions and drifting snow had made all roads in the Texas Panhandle impassable. Interstate 40 was closed from Amarillo to the Oklahoma state line.

Want to read the whole story? Go ahead. Please let me know if they mention global warming.

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New Economics? Is there another way?

29 Sep

I like some aspects of free markets. As a craftsman who has made a living at times in my life building and remodeling houses, I like the idea that I can trade my time and skills in a relatively free manner for money or other goods that I want or need. More and more I find I don’t really want too much stuff. I have a houseful of stuff. It comes and goes. I don’t buy much in the way of new stuff. We are awash in consumer goods in the US and if you turn off regular television and cable and stop reading the newspaper, your consumer programming falls away pretty fast in my experience, so I just am not all that familiar with the stuff that the consumer culture thinks I should be craving.

I think consumer culture and rampant capitalism is the downside of the free market. I like Medicare. I like Social Security. I like public education. I think it should be free and include higher education. I think that means I like socialism.

But try to sell socialism to the US electorate with the consumer capitalists in charge of the media. It’s going to be a tough sell.

I am throwing up this piece by Gar Alperovitz. I will watch it in a day or two. Maybe he has some thoughts about new economic systems that I will find appealing. Maybe you will find something here also. Hope so.

Gar Alperovitz – Our Time in History: The Possibility of Fundamental System Change from New Economics Institute on Vimeo.

Open versus Closed Societies

19 Sep

Let’s assume that a person really wanted to understand a foreign philosophy, a different way of setting up a society. If that was the case, I would recommend listening to Suzanne Guerlac talk about the philosophy of Henri Bergson. Thinking in Time

This is a dense program, but Suzanne is articulate and the interviewer asks probing intelligent questions, so if you have an hour where you really want to listen closely, I heartily recommend this program. It is especially powerful when Suzanne starts talking about how the evolution from a closed society to an open society is not an easy evolutionary transition, that Bergson thought it would take some sort of fundamental change in way of being to occur. Imagining that sort of thing is difficult. Yet those moments occur. Think Solidarity in Poland. Think the fall of the USSR, the sudden destruction of the Berlin Wall. In those moments, I suspect that an open society emerged, however briefly, before a closed society reasserted itself. Fits and starts. Evolution and change may not be orderly.

So, open societies. What would that look like? Listen hard to Guerlac’s discussion of love and livingness as something new, not love that arises with an object that is loved by a subject who loves, but when love arises in reference to all living things. Pretty amorphous stuff. And for those of you who need a lot of structure, this is not going to be your cup of vegan broth. But if you want to stretch a bit, and you want to commit the energy, I think this program will stretch you.

Against the Grain appears to be a wildly intelligent program. My friend Gar Lipow is the latest guest. Gar is talking about climate change and economic exploitation. Suzanne is so last week.

If you make it through the Open Society talk and thinking in time ala Bergson, and you want to think more about open societies, you could check out the mp3s at Audio Anarchy . The Anarchy Tension series is a good place to start if you have an open mind. You may come to the conclusion that this is simple utopian sophistry, that might be true, but it may also be true that if/when an open society emerges, this could be one of the ways that it will happen. This might be the shapeless shape of a certain kind of open society.

See some of you there.

Austerity economics do not turn recessions and depressions around

2 Oct

It’s easy to beat up on Keynsian economics in good times, but in a serious economic downturns, keynsian economics are the way up and out. The push and pull between keynsian economics and free market economics represent a scale and reasonable people will understand that both have their place in large-scale economic, real world applications. Wiki Commons courtesy 84user

Unregulated free markets give you the mortgage crisis economic collapse. The answer? regulate the free market. Regulation does cut into profits. It also prevents rampant corruption in the free market that can create a long term economic downturn in exchange for short term bonus income. Regulate the free economy. It ain’t rocket science. The second tool to create a relatively stable and honest “free” market is a steeply progressive tax schedule that makes short term profit-taking too difficult. It changes the dynamics of corruption, greed, temptation for folks with weak ethical constitutions if they know that the government is going to get the lion’s share of their income if they throw out good sense and choose to enrich themselves at the expense of their businesses and the larger economy.

Well, that’s where we are these days and we are not getting out of the global economic slump without turning to Keynsian economic fixes. They are counter intuitive and they work. The deficits have to increase to get the economy growing again (this would be a good time to spur green economic growth – clean energy? energy independence? move away from internal combustion personal transportation?).

But the free market fundamentalists cannot understand that their end of the economic scheme spectrum cannot bring an economy out of a slump. It’s akin to “the beatings will continue until morale improves,” pulling more money out of the economy in a slump by cutting government spending simply deepens the downturn.

There are different problems that can develop with an economic model that is too tightly regulated, central state economic planning cannot harness the economic engine of fashion, desire, etc. that is like a force of nature. Free market economics knows how to derive growth from the force of nature that is fashion, fad and desire. But we don’t have to worry about too little free market freedom. That is not our problem today.

David Stringer at AP has an article out:

Doubts grow, not economy, under UK austerity drive

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Jobs have been lost, libraries shuttered, sailors sacked and street lights dimmed — Britain is beginning to taste the bitter medicine David Cameron warned was necessary to fix its wounded economy. It’s left some wondering: Is the remedy worse than the symptoms?

This is a badly flawed question. The framing of the question suggests that an austerity program is the remedy to deficits that pile up in an economic downturn. It is not a remedy, it is an expression of free market fundamentalism.

The US free market fundamentalists have a hybrid model, they love government spending that feeds corporations, they have no qualms about government spending as long as the spending is not committed to health care, education, food security. There is a low profit margin in that stuff compared to weapons systems and war profiteering. The “austerity” program of US free market fundamentalists is not about austerity, it is about class warfare. The shift of wealth from the many to the few that has occurred over the past thirty years is not about rewarding the most productive folks in our society, it is about class warfare. Top tax rates of 70% plus did not prevent the US economy from growing and adding jobs. Obama was correct when he said, it’s not class warfare, it’s math. And a little history.

The website of G. William Domhoff (sociology professor, UC Santa Cruz) seems to have a lot of good information. Who rules America? Is that a rhetorical question?

Wiki Commons GNU license

 

hmm.. we are up there in the top three or four countries of income disparity. Brazil, US, and China, UK going for more disparity, Bulgaria, Norway, Mexico trending for less disparity.