And it all started with Reagan

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In recent decades, by contrast, only very affluent families — those in roughly the top 1/40th of the income distribution — have received such large raises. Yes, the upper-middle class has done better than the middle class or the poor, but the huge gaps are between the super-rich and everyone else.

The basic problem is that most families used to receive something approaching their fair share of economic growth, and they don’t anymore.

pub. 08/2017

When for-profit loan companies partner with “government by the people, for the people”

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“There is an uncanny resemblance between the foreclosure crisis and our student default dilemma,” said Chopra, the Consumer Federation senior fellow.

He and others said that in both instances, loan servicers did not act in the best interest of borrowers, directing them into more expensive payment options, providing them with misleading information and mishandling paperwork — all with the aim of driving up borrowers’ costs and the servicers’ own income.

pub. 07/2017

Connecticut as casualty and cautionary tale

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Despite being the richest state in the country, by per-capita income, Connecticut’s budget is a mess. Its pensions are woefully under-funded. Its deficit is projected to surpass $2 billion, or 12 percent of its total annual tax revenue. Hartford is approaching bankruptcy. Conservatives look at Connecticut and see a liberal dystopia, where high taxes have ruined the economy. Liberals, on the other hand, see a capitalist horror show, where the rich dwell in gilded mansions, ensconced in sylvan culs-de-sac, while nearby towns face rising poverty and bankruptcy. Why is America’s richest state floundering?

pub. 07/2017

The delicate balance of running a government by libertarian principles

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For a city, like the country at large, that was hurting economically, Steve Bach seemed like a man with an answer. What he promised sounded radically simple: Wasteful government is the root of the pain, and if you just run government like the best businesses, the pain will go away. Easy. Because he had never held office and because he actually had been a successful entrepreneur, people were inclined to believe he really could reinvent the way a city was governed.

pub. 07/2017

How the Netherlands became a corporate tax haven

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And that disparity is entirely unjustified, because far more untaxed American profit hides out in the Netherlands than in Bermuda. Since 2005, nearly half a trillion (!) dollars in American profit has been safely stored in the Netherlands by companies such as Nike, General Electric, Heinz, Caterpillar, Time Warner, Foot Locker – the list goes on and on. Half a trillion dollars: it’s an unfathomable amount of money, nearly twice the country’s entire budget.

pub. 06/2017

Psst–and to bring it back home:

If history is any guide, the US government will eventually swing legislation back in your company’s favor.

In 2005, for example, Congress passed a law that allowed American multinationals to bring home their foreign profits at a temporarily low rate of 5.25% – a mere one-sixth of the regular tax rate. Some $362 billion flowed back into the US as a result. A quarter of that – a whopping $90 billion – had been cached in the Netherlands.

The promise was that the law would create American jobs. But it didn’t, revealed an analysis conducted by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. Nonetheless, another profit repatriation tax break will probably take effect soon. Trump’s proposed tax plan includes a temporarily reduced rate of 10% on overseas earnings that are returned to American soil.

And so Trump, for all his MAGA rhetoric, reinforces American companies’ biggest lesson: earn your money in other countries and you’ll pay less tax.

Philosopher Peter Singer on global capitalism and revolution

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The French Revolution was both bloody and world-altering enough that it is still inspiring new books today. More recently, the Cuban revolution showed how socialist idealism can devolve into dictatorship. In both cases, many innocent civilians lost their lives in pursuit of a greater cause. Yet a utilitarian like Singer—judging actions by their collective impact on all living things over time—says that even those messy revolutions may be justifiable. “The question is, do they have to go wrong? Is it inevitable? Is it part of human nature that they go wrong?” he asks. “Maybe in spite of all the bloodshed and things that went wrong, the revolution did lead to the spread of greater equality, of civil rights, of the rule of law throughout Europe. And that was undoubtedly a good thing. Chou En Lai was famously asked whether he thought the French revolution was a good thing and he said ‘It’s too early to tell.’ I’d be prepared to hazard a guess and say it was a good thing.”

pub. 10/2016