Category Archives: Economics

What Kind of a F#&*ing Person Does This?!

 

Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of the Puerto Rico recovery effort. He has also signed legislation to completely undermine The Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare). At the same time, he is threatening North Korea, and is going to decertify the Iran Nuclear Deal.

To say that Trump is unhinged would be an understatement.

On Tuesday night, General Barry McCaffrey told Brian Williams that he thinks we are headed unavoidably toward war with North Korea. Yesterday Nicholas Kristof, who just returned from North Korea thinks that they, too, are gearing up for an inevitable war with the United States. How can ‘cooler heads’ prevail when the biggest hot-head is in the Oval Office? For years, we have had a stand-off with North Korea. But we have had presidents, of both parties, who understood that we must remain calm. Trump could start a nuclear war with the same emotional storm in which he starts his Twitter-tantrums.

This is a man who is willing to hold 800,000 young people hostage (the DACA program) in order to build his “wall”—which even Republicans know is a cost-benefit disaster.

Everything about Trump can be understood as “undo everything that Obama accomplished”. Obama wanted better health care for millions—undo that. Obama wanted a nuclear treaty with Iran—undo that. Obama is a humanitarian—Trump is the opposite. Obama wanted peace…this is getting scary. From clean energy, environmental protection, affordable health care, treaties with other countries… Trump will do the opposite. We can use child psychology to understand Trump, but we cannot control him. He is unhinged and is leading us inevitably toward war, and even some in his own party now recognize this.

He has done nothing about the opioid crisis, except to appoint Invisible Jared to head up something (nobody knows). This has gone nowhere while America is in a drug crisis manufactured by our own pharmaceutical companies.

What, if anything, is it going to take for his supporters to admit that they have been conned?  His tax plan focuses on the Estate Tax, which benefits him and his billionaire friends. He has not even proposed an infrastructure plan, except as a surreptitious tax-cut for corporations which will supposedly ‘stimulate’ private spending.

He, and his minion Betsy DeVos, are trying to destroy public education. But for his Chief Strategize Steve Bannon, who now works for him outside the White House, even this isn’t far enough. Bannon wants to destroy even more, threatening to push the Republican Party even further to the right.

If America is lucky we will avoid a disaster for the next 18 months. But if the Democrats don’t get their shit together and turn out the vote, if we cannot take back the House and Senate in next year’s election, then we are going to pay the price for decades.

Democrats have one main job for the next year—get out the vote!

Three Arguments for Open Borders: Part III – Impartial Rights

What if you didn’t get to choose your parents? Well, I guess you didn’t. But, who you are born to will greatly dictate your life. Such luck seems incredibly unjust.

Lottery

We have already explored two other arguments for open borders (the greatest good for the greatest number and libertarianism). We are now at our final argument – the argument from impartial rights. I ask for your patience; this one is a bit complex, but I believe it to be by far the most important, powerful, and profound.

John Rawls thought we should think of society as a group of people who want to cooperate for mutual advantage. To ask what justice requires is to ask what sort of hypothetical contract would free and equal persons agree to as the terms of cooperation. This is our tool for figuring out what justice demands.

But contracts are apt to be unfair in favoring one of the parties because of either ignorance or a superior bargaining position. That is why, when asking what contract we would agree to, we should imagine ourselves behind the “veil of ignorance.”

Behind this veil, we do not know who we will be in the hypothetical society – so we don’t know our race, wealth, health, intelligence, religion, gender, age, etc. We could be anyone in the society we create.

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Three Arguments for Open Borders: Part I – The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number

Whatever you think about the current immigration debate, you have likely never questioned our country’s right to dictate who can, and cannot enter our borders. But, what if we are all wrong about that?

Undocumented border crossing.

This is the first part of a series of blogs concerning arguments for open borders. However crazy this sounds, I will give three separate arguments for open borders, each from a very different ethical perspective – the greatest good for the greatest number, libertarianism, and from the perspective of impartial rights – which should cover most of my readers.

These arguments were originally conceived by Joseph Carens, in his groundbreaking paper, “Aliens and Citizens: The Case for Open Borders.” All I will do is reformulate and simplify his arguments in order to call into question one basic assumption we all share – countries have a right to prevent people from crossing their borders.

This first argument concerns utilitarianism. This is the ethic of bringing about the greatest good for the greatest number of people. The idea is that we should pursue policies that provide for the greatest overall level of well-being for everyone affected by the policies.

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The Hidden War on Public Education

We must not turn our backs on public education – it must not become a for-profit business.

Marco Rubio

In a recent opinion piece, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) championed a Florida program that provides tax dollars for low-income children to go to private schools. Such programs, in which the government gives people a “voucher” that they can use to pay tuition at a private school, have become a popular talking point, especially among libertarians.

However, such voucher programs are fundamentally flawed in that they miss the point of the problem. Supporters argue that children in low-income neighborhoods are forced into schools that cannot offer them a good education. This is assuredly true. Their solution is that we must get our kids out of these schools, and into the capable hands of private institutions. This, though, is the wrong conclusion.

Imagine that one of the walls of your house has fallen in. Your house is really no longer doing its full job as a house. Sure, it keeps the rain off of your head, but it lets in bugs and wind, and a big hole is of little deterrence to would-be burglars. So, what should you do about your broken house? Fix the wall, obviously. What you do not do is buy a new house.

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Is the Pay Gap a Result of Sexist Men, or Something Much Deeper?

How is there still a pay gap between women and men despite the fact that we have progressed so far concerning women’s rights? Our immediate response is that there are still too many sexist men running companies. I, however, think this is a mistake. Overt sexism is not the problem.

Equal Pay Protest

Yes, perhaps some hiring and compensation decisions are a result of old, sexist men, but this is too small a problem to account for the dramatic pay gap we see today. In a recent Yale study, 127 scientists were given an identical CV (a resume for academics), except that they were randomly assigned either female or male names. Overall, the male candidates were rated as deserving $4,000 more than female candidates. Interestingly, this held true even when the person reviewing the CV was herself a woman.

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The Battle for a Living Wage Heats Up: What We Can Learn from the Past

Thursday morning, in over 100 cities across the country, fast food workers hit the streets to demand a raise in the minimum wage. Of course, as protests often do, there have been many arrests.

 photo protestarrest_zpsd832f86d.jpg
Image by @masseydaniel

Across the country, these low wage workers, who are demanding a $15 minimum wage, have had to resort to blocking traffic in order to garner the public’s attention. This civil disobedience has obviously led to arrests.

Whatever the merits of this particular protest, and their particular tactics, it is impossible not to see historical parallels in this dramatic move by fast food workers.

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