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Showing posts from December 28, 2015

It's official — benefits and high taxes make us all richer, while inequality takes a hammer to a country's growth

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[Take a bow from beyond the grave, Maggie and Ronnie. *RON*]

Lee Williams, The Independent, 10 December 2015

The sickening theory of laissez-faire capitalism finally died with the recent report from one of the West’s leading think tanks. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has found that income inequality actually hampers economic growth in some of the world’s wealthiest countries, while the redistribution of wealth via taxes and benefits doesn't.

In a nutshell: the reality of what creates and reverses growth is the exact opposite of what the current right-wing, neo-liberal agenda has been espousing ever since its rise to power under Thatcher and Reagan in the eighties. Perhaps worst of all, the report showed evidence that the UK would have been 20 per cent better off if the gap between the rich and poor hadn’t widened since the eighties.

To those of us who have only just survived the credit crunch and recession, t…

How drug companies are gaming an old law for greater profits

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[What gets passed off as 'creativity' and 'ingenuity' on the part of corporations would be called what it really is - despicable cheating - if it was tried by, say, welfare recipients. "In the 1980s, a law was passed to persuade pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs for small populations, but now that rule is being used to reclaim old "orphaned" drugs in order to raise prices and profits." *RON*]
Gwen Ifill and Sabrina Tavernise, PBS News Hour, 25 December 2015


GWEN IFILL: We now turn to a story that continues to worry and to anger consumers, soaring drug prices, even sometimes for new versions of old drugs.

The latest case involves a drug that helps treat a rare autoimmune disorder. Until recently, its manufacturer often offered it at minimal or no cost at all. But now another pharmaceutical company, Catalyst, says it wants the FDA to approve a modified, and likely more expensive, version of the drug.

I recor…

How 19 Big-Name Corporations Plan to Make Money Off the Climate Crisis

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[The horsemen of the corporatocalypse. According to some of the world's biggest companies, future disasters could also present lucrative business opportunities. Nestlé says that the end of the world could boost sales of "refreshing products such as ice creams and bottled water." *RON*]
Mother Jones, Huffington Post, 22 December 2015

This story originally appeared on Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Climate change will have some pretty terrifying consequences. Experts have predicted everything from deadly heat waves and devastating floods to falling crop production and even increased political instability and violence. But according to some of the world's biggest companies, these future disasters could also present lucrative business opportunities.

In a remarkable series of documents submitted to a London-based nonprofit called CDP, big-name corporations describe global warming as a chan…

Clinton, Sanders, and the “Progressive Give-Up” Formula (with Clinton’s Warning of a “Grand Bargain” to Come)

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[And yet, however hopeful Beinart is in his piece on Why America Is Moving Left, I still find myself agreeing more strongly with Lambert Strether, who argues that (however much she has been forced to add a left-wise spin to her political pitch) Clinton still channels Wall Street and GHW Bush's "Read my lips: No new taxes." *RON*]
By Lambert Strether  of Corrente, posted on Naked Capitalism, 28 December 2015

This will be a short post, with the point essentially made in the headline. Let’s start by quoting Clinton from the last Democratic debate, the one that nobody saw because the DNC’s Debbie Wasserman Schultz scheduled iton the weekend before Christmas, when everybody was either partying, watching football, or both.[1] Not that, in this case, The Wasserman Schultz’s machinations matter all that much, as we shall see. Back to Clinton in debate; here’s how she frames her response to the Sanders single payer heatlh care proposal:

CLINTO…

Why America Is Moving Left

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[Beinart basically argues that centrists succeed after periods of extremism. So, according to Beinart, Obama succeeded in creating a centrist-left shift that was equivalent to the centrist-right shift created by Reagan in the 1980s. Obama was a big disappointment to me, but this narrative contains elements of truth. Now, for example, "the Occupy-Warren-Sanders axis [and Black Lives Matter, and Millennials] influenced Clinton’s own economic agenda, which is significantly further left than the one she ran on in 2008." *RON*]
Peter Beinart, The Atlantic, Jan/Feb 2016 Iussue
Over roughly the past 18 months, the following events have transfixed the nation.

In July 2014, Eric Garner, an African American man reportedly selling loose cigarettes illegally, was choked to death by a New York City policeman.

That August, a white police officer, Darren Wilson, shot and killed an African American teenager, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri. For …

Why Big Oil Should Kill Itself

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["...managements of leading energy companies must face economic reality and abandon their wasteful obsession with finding new oil... This has been one of the greatest misallocations of capital in history... For Western oil companies,the rational strategy will be to stop oil exploration and seek profits by providing equipment, geological know-how, and new technologies such as hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to oil-producing countries. But their ultimate goal should be to sell their existing oil reserves as quickly as possible and distribute the resulting tsunami of cash to their shareholders until all of their low-cost oilfields run dry." *RON*]
Anatole Kaletsky, Project Syndicate, 23 December 2015

LONDON – Now that oil prices have settled into a long-term range of $30-50 per barrel (as described here a year ago), energy users everywhere are enjoying an annual income boost worth more than $2 trillion. The net result will almost certainly

'Bad' inequality on the rise, Stanford scholar says

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["It is important to distinguish between 'good' and 'bad' inequality, with good inequality arising from fair and open competition, and bad inequality arising from market failure in the form of corruption and sweetheart deals that benefit those at the top, and various labor market bottlenecks at the bottom that prevent poor children from fairly pursuing opportunities... inequality-generating institutions have come to be codified in law and practice and then represented – through an ingenious sleight of hand – as laissez-faire capitalism." *RON*]

By Clifton B,. Parker, Stanford Report, 26 December 2015

Rising inequality is primarily driven by market and institutional forces, not tax policy, Stanford sociologist David Grusky says. He suggests that changes in areas like education and labor markets can produce fair and open competition, thus reducing income and wealth inequality.

In the United States, income and wealth inequali…

A major investment bank just broke down the world's astonishing, warped distribution of wealth

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[0.7% of people own 45.2% of the world's wealth. Half of the world's ultra-wealthy (>USD $50m) are from the US. *RON*]

Ben Moshinsky, Business Insider, 13 December 2015

The distribution of global wealth is getting more unequal every year, according to a huge study by Credit Suisse.

The bank has compiled statistics to show that just 0.7% of the world's adult population owns almost half of the world's wealth, while the bottom 71% have less than $10,000 (£6,500) each.

That poorest two-thirds of the population own a 3% sliver of the world's wealth, and inequality is rising, according to the analysts at Credit Suisse.

Here's what they had to say (emphasis ours):

This year, the number of High Net Worth individuals fell for the first time since 2008. However, the share of wealth owned by HNW individuals continued to rise as it has done every year since 2002, except for the setback in 2007–2008.

And here's what that wealth …