Daily Clips: March 9, 2017

The misunderstanding at the core of economics:

In the 1950s, Arrow and others proved a theorem that, many economists believe, put a rigorous mathematical foundation beneath Adam Smith’s idea of the invisible hand. The theorem shows — in a highly abstract model — that producers and consumers can match their desires perfectly, given a particular set of prices. In this rarified atmosphere of “general equilibrium,” economic activity might take place efficiently without any central coordination, simply as a result of people pursuing their self-interest. It’s an insight that economists have used to argue for de-unionization, globalization and financial deregulation, all in the name of removing various frictions or distortions that prevent markets from achieving the elusive equilibrium.

Yes, stocks are up. But 80 percent of the value is held by the richest 10 percent: Important to remember.

EPA chief Scott Pruitt says carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to global warming: Laughable.

Uber and Airbnb are not the future of capitalism:

Even the three best-known “sharing economy” companies have found there are limits to peer-to-peer sharing. Asking early adopters to share is a great way to bootstrap a new online business. But beyond a certain point, continued growth often requires professionalization.

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Daily Clips: March 8, 2017

How to beat the robots: Terrific article in NYT. Here’s a paragraph I particularly enjoyed

The problem, at least for now, is not that there isn’t enough work — there is, but it is very different from the kind of work technology is displacing. Manufacturing and warehousing jobs are shrinking, while jobs that provide services (health care, child care, elder care, education, food) are growing. “We are far from the end of work, but face a big challenge redeploying people toward addressing our society’s very real needs,” Mr. Brynjolfsson said.

The GOP’s plan is basically a $600 billion tax cut for rich Americans: We live in a very troubling time. But…

AARP comes out against House GOP health care bill: At least we have old people on our side!

The Republicans’ $370 billion cut to Medicaid:

According to a new estimate, the House Republican health plan could lead to $370 billion in lost federal support for Medicaid over the next decade. Unless states came up with that money themselves—and the fair assumption is that they wouldn’t—millions of low-income people would lose their coverage.

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Daily Clips: March 7, 2016

NYT Editorial—Muslim Ban Lite: 

The new order no longer bans citizens of Iraq. It also exempts people from the remaining six countries who have a valid American visa. The revised ban includes no mention of religious preferences and makes the ban on Syrian refugees temporary. Like the initial order, the new one reduces the number of refugees the United States is willing to admit this year to 50,000, down from last year’s ceiling of 110,000.

Democrats urge EPA not to reopen vehicle fuel efficiency rules:

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and 11 other Democrats said on Tuesday it was “critical” that the Trump administration leave in place new vehicle fuel efficiency rules, saying the higher standards were achievable.

Solar power growth leaps by 50% worldwide thanks to US & China: Amazing.

Study—Statewide legal same-sex marriage reduced suicide attempts for gay, bisexual youth: Including people leads to better results, folks.

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Daily Clips: March 6, 2017

Americans are confused on climate, but support cutting carbon pollution: Fun fact about the climate—it doesn’t care what we think!

4 Washington state firms interested in building Trump’s border wall: Nope.

Fed is likely to raise this month: Very interesting and very controversial decision.

The myth of the fiscal conservative:

Take boots, for example. [Vimes] earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was … on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles. But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

A party not ready to govern: Krugman has been so good the last couple of years—I often take his perceptions for granted. Today he delivers another great piece.

But the broader Republican quagmire — the party’s failure so far to make significant progress toward any of its policy promises — isn’t just about Mr. Trump’s inadequacies. The whole party, it turns out, has been faking it for years. Its leaders’ rhetoric was empty; they have no idea how to turn their slogans into actual legislation, because they’ve never bothered to understand how anything important works.

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Daily Clips: March 3, 2017

Retailers had a dismal Christmas: Interestingly, in an article which bemoans lack of consumer expenditure, these authors somehow find a way demean the very policy…that would put more money in people’s pockets.

Retailers are getting hammered on multiple fronts. States have been passing minimum-wage increases that are putting pressure on labor costs.

Huh. Maybe increasing a minimum wage isn’t always a net loss to retailers. Just a thought.

Sessions steps back from campaign probes:

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Thursday he would stay out of any probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election but maintained he did nothing wrong by failing to disclose he met last year with Russia’s ambassador.

David Brooks reckons secularism made America worse:

There used to be social conservatives, who believed that the moral fabric of the country had been weakened by secularism and the breakdown of the family.

Rethinking mass incarceration in America:

The fact is that whether crime is high or low, prison is not the most efficient way to respond to it, and I think we need to start telling a story that there are better ways—even if violent crime is rising, say, “Look, even if this is a real upward trend, prison is not what is going to rein it in. We can do this much better, much more smartly, in a much less costly way by focusing on well-established interventions that are good at disrupting violence.”

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Daily Clips: March 2, 2017

Jeff Sessions said that people who commit perjury must be removed from office: Because American politics was getting too boring.

U.S. initial jobless claims drop to lowest in almost 44 years:

The latest tally marked 104 straight weeks of claims below 300,000, the level economists consider consistent with a healthy labor market. The 161-week period that ended in April 1970 was the longest such streak in records back to 1967.

No soda tax for diet sodas?

Many researchers now say that drinking diet soda does not help with weight loss, and could in fact contribute to obesity and type 2 diabetes, just like regular sodas. There are more questions than answers regarding the long-term effects of consuming these artificial sweeteners, but there is enough concern for the Harvard School of Public Health to conclude: “Diet soda may not be a healthy substitute for sugary soda.”

Wells Fargo v Seattle:

If the city really wants out, the bank will sever its contract with the city immediately, with no penalty, and will help the city find a replacement, Phillip Smith, head of government and institutional banking for Wells Fargo, stated in a letter delivered to Murray and council members Tuesday.

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Daily Clips: March 1, 2017

The three failures of Trump’s speech: David Frum, a speechwriter for George W. Bush, provides an in-depth analysis of Trump’s completely vague and ridiculous speech. I cannot believe that the media is eating his bullsh** up. Pathetic.

Only 6.6 percent of the cost of Trump’s campaign tax plan goes to cuts for the middle fifth of taxpayers , 47.3 percent goes to the top 1 percent.

The fictitious economy that’s hiding how the economy really works:

If you can make people use a vocabulary and concepts that make it appear that when the 1% gets richer, the whole economy is getting richer – or when GDP goes up, everybody is improving – then the people, the 95% who did not improve their position from 2008 to 2016 somehow can be made to suffer from the Stockholm syndrome. They’ll think, “Gee, it must be my fault. If the whole economy is growing, why am I so worse off? If only we can give more money to the top 5% or the 1%, it’ll all trickle down. We’ve got to cut taxes and help them so they can give me a job because as Trump and other people said, Well, I never met a poor person who gave me a job.”

Graphic of the day:


Moving Forward Together to Address Seattle’s Homelessness Crisis

I’ve been asked recently, by reporters, stakeholders and individuals why I’m participating in the call for a measure on homelessness to address the issue in Seattle. Let me be super clear – people are dying on the streets of Seattle. Our homeless crisis is dangerous and not improving fast enough. That’s why I’ve joined Mayor Ed Murray and many other political and civic leaders in working to craft a bold proposal for the August ballot to urgently address our city’s homelessness emergency.

Mayor Murray’s administration and my team have come together in pursuit of this shared goal. I am proud of this partnership, and honored to be appointed by the Mayor to co-chair his advisory committee.

Seattleites agree—this is a time for bold action, a time to save lives and protect public health and safety. Mayor Murray has been taking action to address the crisis and talking publicly for months about the potential need to go to the ballot to get the resources we need to fill the gaps in our fragmented homelessness services system, and we here at Civic Ventures saw this as a perfect opportunity to apply our unique ability to work outside the normal “Seattle Process” to help catalyze change.

But of course when you try to shake up established systems, some defenders of the status quo will get offended. The Seattle Times this week published a story that questioned my motives and obfuscated what has been, to date, a streamlined and drama-free process. The story ignored Mayor Murray’s calls for action and implied that I had forced him into committing to an August ballot measure on homelessness. That is plainly and simply not the case.

But let’s focus on what actually matters:  The need to quickly and effectively move people off the streets and into permanent housing is too urgent to be distracted by politics as usual.

I cannot tell you how honored and excited I am to be standing with Mayor Murray in leading this critical effort, and I invite anyone who shares our passion and focus to join our campaign—we will need volunteers and grassroots donors and door knockers and phone callers to make this campaign a success.  But to make progress on this issue we need to recognize that it is larger than any of us, and humbly set to work.

That’s my commitment, and I know our allies—good people in City Hall, the stakeholder advisory committee assembling this package, and service providers who address the humanitarian crisis on our streets every day— feel the same way.  Let’s not lose focus on what matters.  For the sake of the homeless people on our streets, let’s make sure we continue to put people before politics.