Showing posts from May 6, 2014

Robert Reich: The 4 biggest right-wing lies about income inequality

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[Former labor secretary explains why we're headed for a new Gilded Age -- and why conservatives offer no solutions. *RON*]

Robert Reich, Slate, 6 May 2014

Even though French economist Thomas Piketty has made an airtight case that we’re heading toward levels of inequality not seen since the days of the nineteenth-century robber barons, right-wing conservatives haven’t stopped lying about what’s happening and what to do about it.

-Herewith, the four biggest right-wing lies about inequality, followed by the truth.

Lie number one: The rich and CEOs are America’s job creators. So we dare not tax them.

The truth is the middle class and poor are the job-creators through their purchases of goods and services. If they don’t have enough purchasing power because they’re not paid enough, companies won’t create more jobs and economy won’t grow.

We’ve endured the most anemic recovery on record because most Americans don’t have enough money to get the econom…

The Era of Financialization

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[A good piece on how capitalism is increasingly driven by finance and the concept of "profiting without producing". *RON*]
By Staff, Dollars & Sense and Triple Crisis, Truthout, Tuesday, 06 May 2014
These are the first two parts of a four-part interview with Costas Lapavitsas focusing on the Era of Financialization and the transformations at the “molecular” level of capitalism that are driving changes in economic performance and policy in both high-income and developing countries. Lapavitsas is a professor of economics at SOAS, University of London, and the author of Financialised Capitalism: Expansion and Crisis (Maia Ediciones, 2009) and Profiting Without Producing: How Finance Exploits Us All (Verso, 2014). The interview is being serialized at our sister blog Triple Crisis; look for the rest of the interview at Triple Crisis and here in the coming weeks.

Part 1

Dollars & Sense: Over the past few years we’ve heard more and more …

The 10 Highest Paid Hedge Fund Managers Made $21.5 Billion Last Year

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[Salaries measured in billions of dollars is mind-boggling to me. *RON*]
Amanda Macias, Business Insider, 6 May 2014

Despite most hedge fund managers fell short on the market's returns last year, the top 25 highest-earning hedge fund managers in the U.S. pocketed a combined $21.15 billion, according to an annual ranking by Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine.

In fact, their multibillion-dollar payday is the highest since 2010, according to the report.

In the last five years, David Tepper, 56, founder of Appaloosa Management, has made the 'Alpha's Rich List' and in the last two years he has topped it.

Known as a distressed investor who got his start investing in junk bonds, Tepper brought home $3.5 billion in 2013.

Steven Cohen of SAC Capital Advisors and John Paulson of Paulson & Company came in 2nd with $2.4 billion and $2.3 billion, respectively.

The $2.7 trillion hedge fund industry has sought billions of dollars from the …

Wall Street makes naked attempt to jack up electricity prices in New England

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[An important story - Enron 2.0. I haven't seen this being covered in mainstream media. You'd think regulators and the public would remember how badly Californians were burned by Enron's energy price gouging and be anxious to prevent a repeat in New England. Evidently not. *RON*]

by David Cay Johnston, Al Jazeera America, 2 May 2014

The price of electricity would soar under the latest scheme by Wall Street financial engineers to game the electricity markets.

If regulators side with Wall Street — and indications are that they will — expect the cost of electricity to rise from Maine to California as others duplicate this scheme to manipulate the markets, as Enron did on the West Coast 14 years ago, before the electricity-trading company collapsed under allegations of accounting fraud and corruption.

The test case is playing out in New England. Energy Capital Partners, an investment group that uses tax-avoiding offshore investing techniques…

The Reformation: Can Social Scientists Save Themselves?

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[A good piece that helps explain why we are having such a hard time finding definitive scientific evidence on many "hot button" topics today. *RON]

By Jerry Adler Pacific Standard - The Science of Society, April 28, 2014

An intellectual crisis in the age of TED talks and Freakonomics.

Academic hoaxes have a way of crystallizing, and then shattering, the intellectual pretensions of an era. It was almost 20 years ago, for instance, that a physicist named Alan Sokal laid siege to postmodern theory with a Trojan horse. You may remember the details: Sokal wrote a deliberately preposterous academic paper called “Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity.” He filled it with the then trendy jargon of “critical theory,” and submitted it to a prominent journal of cultural studies called Social Text. Amid worshipful citations of postmodern theorists and half-baked references to complex scientific work, …

Fair Elections Act: Federal Lawyers Tell Top Court Existing Voter ID Laws Are Effective

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[The voter identification issue is important, but the media's insistence on focusing exclusively on this issue has drawn the public's limited attention away from the equally important issue of campaign financing, which has consequently fallen by the wayside. *RON*]

By Bruce Cheadle, CP / Huffington Post, 05/05/2014

OTTAWA - A previous round of Conservative voter identification rules enacted in 2007 effectively met Parliament's need for electoral integrity without being too strict, federal lawyers argue in a brief to the Supreme Court.

The attorney general's submission to the country's top court comes as the Harper government moves to further tighten voting restrictions under its controversial Fair Elections Act.

The legislation — also known as Bill C-23 — marks the second time the Conservatives have moved on what they perceive to be an issue of voter fraud, and it comes while their first round of reforms is still being legally c…

Temporary Foreign Workers Taking Jobs Where Canadians Available: HRSDC

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[The Harper government knew two years ago that Temporary Foreign Workers were being hired in areas where Canadians in the same occupation were collecting EI. *RON*]

The Huffington Post Canada, 05/05/2014

A cabinet minister in the Harper government was warned two years ago that jobs were going to temporary foreign workers even in areas where there were Canadians available to do them, according to internal documents.

In notes prepared for then-Human Resources Minister Diane Finley, HRSDC warned of a "disconnect between the Temporary Foreign Worker program” and Employment Insurance payouts.

“Evidence suggests that, in some instances, employers are hiring temporary foreign workers in the same occupation and location as Canadians who are collecting EI regular benefits,” the document stated.

It was evidently prepared by HRSDC ahead of a meeting between Finley and P.E.I. Innovation Minister Allan Roach in May, 2012.

The documents were obtained by …