Daily Clips: April 21, 2017

Trump tax plan to rely on future US growth to fund cuts

Republicans believe major tax reform would drive annual U.S. economic growth above 3 percent. But if anticipated improvement fails to materialize, the strategy could rob the Treasury of tax revenue and saddle the economy with bigger deficits and higher debt burdens.

Bill Nye Saves the World brings us an updated, unapologetically political science guy

Does the government subsidize low-wage employers?

America is regressing into a developing nation for most people

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray proposes income tax for city’s ‘high-end’ households

The end of men? Not in the retail sector

Daily Clips: April 20, 2017

Happy 4/20. Here’s a quote from Carl Sagan:

The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.

Blacks and whites use pot at about the same rate, but blacks get arrested for pot possession a lot more

A new high: 61 percent of Americans believe weed should be legalized

Nobel Prize-Winning Economist: We’re Headed for Oligarchy

Pesticide maker tries to kill risk study

The jobless economy

Why has growth been so slow? This too is a topic in itself but there are several reasons.

One, popular among mainstream economists, is that very deep recessions, like the 2008–9 affair, have historically left deep scars that make recovery slow and difficult. Another, less orthodox, way of interpreting those “scars” is that a very deep recession is itself a sign of serious structural problems beyond the normal ups and downs of capitalist economies.

Daily Clips: April 19, 2017

After using n-word in front of black colleagues, Fla. state senator faces calls to resign

New election analysis: Yes, it really was blatant racism that gave us President Donald Trump

Sean McElwee, a policy analyst for Demos and a frequent contributor to Salon, published a statistical analysis last week, based on data collected by the American National Election Studies, that demonstrates clearly that racism, rather than economic insecurity, was the primary factor that helped push Trump over the top.

Fighting child poverty with a universal child allowance

It might seem naive that a universal child allowance could be adopted this year. But with support from both sides of the aisle, it is now a viable policy alternative.

Cary Moon is running for Seattle mayor

What Trump’s H-1B visa executive order actually does

Daily Clips: April 17, 2017

Morgan Stanley’s CEO says repealing Dodd-Frank would be a mistake

Are sectorial unions the way of the future?

Sectoral bargaining is certainly getting more attention in legal academic and labor law policy debates,” Benjamin Sachs, a professor at Harvard law school and former practicing labor lawyer, says. ‘The way I would think about it is that there’s an existential panic about what will happen to the labor movement. That’s not new, it’s just getting worse … If we need unions for economic and political equality as I think we do, we have to do something to stop that downward spiral.’

Why don’t all jobs matter?

While we can’t stop job losses from happening, however, we can limit the human damage when they do happen. We can guarantee health care and adequate retirement income for all. We can provide aid to the newly unemployed. And we can act to keep the overall economy strong — which means doing things like investing in infrastructure and education, not cutting taxes on rich people and hoping the benefits trickle down.

Tax cuts don’t work the way trickle downers think:

Tax cuts that go to high-income taxpayers generate less growth than…cuts for low and moderate income taxpayers.

Why the 101 model doesn’t work for labor markets:

Labor is a crucial input in so many markets that it really needs to be dealt with in general equilibrium – in other words, by analyzing all markets at once – rather than by treating it as a single market in isolation. That makes the basic Econ 101 partial-equilibrium model pretty useless for analyzing labor.

WA passes Student Loan Transparency Act: 

Starting next year, Washington college students who take out student loans will get an email or letter from their school telling them how much they owe and how much their monthly loan payments will be after graduation.

Wow, what an amazing step forward. Now when students take out tens of thousands of dollars in loans they’ll know how much they’ll need to repay. I am so sick of all this winning! WA is so progressive!

Daily Clips: April 13, 2017

“We live, work, shop, and travel under a system of grossly asymmetric power relationships”

Alabama set to allow church to create its own police force: The constitutionality argument with this issue is not as black and white as you might first think.

The British warned us about Trump-Russia connections:

Members of the British intelligence agency GCHQ knew about “suspicious” contact between associates of President Donald Trump and Russian operatives as early as 2015, the Guardian reported on Thursday, citing a source with links to British intelligence.

Homeless camp cleared under Seattle’s Spokane Street Viaduct: Pictures of the “clearing.”

WA state’s student-achievement guru knows college isn’t for everyone; here’s what he proposes instead:

Q: The word “college” causes some confusion — I hear lots of readers say, well, not everyone needs to go to college. And the phrase “postsecondary credential” doesn’t resonate the same way.

A: I got exactly that reaction when I went around talking about this (in Connecticut). So I started using the phrase “something after high school.” I had conversations with people where they said, “Not everybody should go to college,” and I said, I agree with you, if you mean Yale, or the University of Connecticut. What I’m talking about is something after high school, and people would go, right away, “Yes, I agree with that.”

Daily Clips: April 12, 2017

Doing free college correctly:

That said, as we celebrate the Cuomo Administration’s commitment to New York’s students and families, New York’s plan isn’t without its warts. Naming them can get us toward a Unified Theory of Free College, and provide a model when the federal policy window on college affordability opens once again. Here are a few thoughts for what might make for a powerful, progressive, free college proposal.

Two WA streams make America’s most endangered rivers list:

A pair of scenic Western Washington river systems, the South Fork Skykomish near Stevens Pass and the Green and Toutle rivers near Mt. St. Helens, got flagged on an annual list called America’s Most Endangered Rivers by the environmental group American Rivers.

San Bernardino reels from elementary school shooting two years after terrorist attack: It’s just another day in America.

Jacksonsonian history:

Jackson likened indigenous people to “savage dogs” and boasted as a general that “I have on all occasions preserved the scalps of my killed.” The Indian Removal law would ultimately be responsible for the deaths of over four thousand Cherokees on the Trail of Tears.

Embattled United CEO accepts responsibility for treatment of passenger: Finally.

Daily Clips: April 10, 2017

How California hopes to undo Trump:

California is the Trump administration’s most formidable adversary, not only on matters of immigration, but on damn near everything. No other entity—not the Democratic Party, not the tech industry, surely not the civil liberties lobby—has the will, the resources, and the power California brings to the fight. Others have the will, certainly, but not California’s clout.

How the fight for a $15 minimum wage in Baltimore fell apart: Surprisingly, businesses said they’d have to move or cut jobs.

Keynesian economics is hot again:

Someday, when economists have a better handle on the basics of why people consume and businesses invest, macroeconomic models won’t have to be rethought every time a big recession happens.

Right-wing nationalism vs. one-percent oligarchy: In the war between Bannon and Kushner, Trump agrees with both:

The president shares Bannon’s idea that the country is collapsing and can only be saved with toughness, strength and power. In Jared and Ivanka, Trump sees a golden future for his progeny, building the family wealth and securing his legacy. That’s the Trump worldview, perfectly embodied in his two top advisers.

The gig economy’s false promise: “Instead of freedom, workers at companies like Uber have encountered low wages and coercion.”

United Airlines, Economic Inequality, and First-Class Privilege

Fly the horrific skies.

Fly the horrific skies.

You’ve probably by now seen the video of the doctor who was physically beaten and removed from a United flight because United wanted the seat for its employees. If you haven’t, here it is. Be warned: it’s an incredibly disturbing video:

And here’s the story, from Lucas Aulbach at the Courier-Journal:

Bridges said the man became “very upset” and said that he was a doctor who needed to see patients at a hospital in the morning. The manager told him that security would be called if he did not leave willingly, Bridges said, and the man said he was calling his lawyer. One security official came and spoke with him, and then another security officer came when he still refused. Then, she said, a third security official came on the plane and threw the passenger against the armrest before dragging him out of the plane. The man was able to get back on the plane after initially being taken off – his face was bloody and he seemed disoriented, Bridges said, and he ran to the back of the plane. Passengers asked to get off the plane as a medical crew came on to deal with the passenger, she said, and passengers were then told to go back to the gate so that officials could “tidy up” the plane before taking off.

This is a horrifying story, and it’s still unfolding on social media. I’ve noticed something about the reaction to United. People have been making jokes about the incident on Twitter. Which is okay! Jokes are part of the news cycle. They’re how we process things as a culture. And particularly in this case, the jokes are very telling. This one is a perfect example of the tone and tenor of the comedy I’ve been seeing:

Then there’s the business world’s response to the news, which is the exact opposite of everyone else’s response to the news:

And then the content mines immediately chimed in with their hot-take-clickbait. The most horrifying example of the form is this Yahoo Finance story by Ethan Wolff-Mann, headlined “How to reduce the chances of getting dragged off your United flight.” An excerpt:

In plain language under Rule 25—on page 35 if you print it out—the agreement says exactly what happens if the flight is oversold. “If there are not enough volunteers, other Passengers may be denied boarding involuntarily,” the language reads. (Of course, the deplaned man was not denied boarding, he was already boarded.) The language continues however, shining light on how these “other Passengers” are chosen. It’s not random, it’s “in accordance with UA’s boarding priority.” That means that if you have a higher fare class, have a complex itinerary, have status (e.g. gold or platinum), have checked in early, or are a frequent flier, you are less likely to be asked to take the next flight. Even if it’s just a frequent flier card that you never use, it might save you from being forcibly dragged off a plane. Any kind of priority is better than no priority, when it comes to not getting forcibly removed from a plane.

So we’ve got the jokes about air travel being a hellish dystopia for anyone not in first class. We’ve got Wall Street cashing in on the metrics while ignoring the human horror of the story. And we’ve got “helpful” news stories explaining that in order to not have this happen to you, it’s wise to exercise some sort of privilege. It should be clear to anyone who’s paying attention that this story is not about customer service. It’s about income inequality. Helaine Olen posted a very good thread on Twitter about this:

When you get down to it, like everything else in America today, this is about the haves and the have-nots. If you’re in first class, you don’t need to worry about shock troops coming and beating you until you get out of the seat that you bought. If you’re not in first class, you’re on your own. If you’re in the top one percent on Wall Street, you turn a tidy profit off the whole ordeal. This is what class warfare looks like.

I wrote about this topic last month. Visit any department store in America and you’ll see that the corporatization of America has led to a ghastly pursuit for profits over all else. Big Box retailers aren’t interested in providing customer service anymore, they’re interested in profits. This is why shopping at corporate chains has become an awful experience where you have to answer six obnoxious questions about email lists and company credit cards every time you try to check out. You won’t be arrested for refusing to sign up for a Macy’s card, but you will be treated like garbage. Only people who can afford to shop at high-end stores—or people lucky enough to live in quality economies like Seattle that support independent retailers—get to enjoy real customer service anymore.

The situation is heightened on airlines for a couple of reasons. The first, obviously, is the security state that ballooned in size after 9/11. But the other reason is deregulation. Phillip Longman and Lina Khan wrote a great piece for Washington Monthly in 2012 about what trickle-down policies like deregulation have done to the airline experience for non-wealthy passengers:

But now we find ourselves at a moment when nearly all the promises of the airline deregulators have clearly proved false. If you’re a member of the creative class who rarely does business in the nation’s industrial heartland or visits relatives there, you might not notice the magnitude of economic disruption being caused by lost airline service and skyrocketing fares. But if you are in the business of making and trading stuff beyond derivatives and concepts, you probably have to go to places like Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Memphis, St. Louis, or Minneapolis, and you know firsthand how hard it has become to do business these days in such major heartland cities, which are increasingly cut off from each other and from the global economy.

And it’s about to get worse. Despite a wave of mergers that is fast concentrating control in the hands of three giant carriers, the industry remains essentially insolvent. Absent any coherent outcry, the directors of these private corporations remain free to respond to the crisis in the manner of an electrical utility company that, when it runs short of money, simply cuts off power to the neighborhoods of its own choosing.

The video that made its way across the internet today is what “getting worse” looks like. Here’s the thing: when you support trickle-down economic policies that put people before profits, this is what you get. Low-wage jobs, deregulation, and tax cuts for huge corporations result in a culture in which businesses enjoy a tremendous amount of power over ordinary citizens.

So what can we do about this? I wish I had easy answers for you, but it’s pretty obvious that an online petition isn’t going to resolve the United situation—especially since Wall Street views it as a net win and is rewarding United for its overbooking situation. No, it’s going to take a lot of work to put the power back in the hands of the people.

We must support middle-out policies like higher wages for everyone, higher taxes for corporations and the wealthy, and sensible regulations on business. If every American feels like they have a hand in America’s success, we’ll see less tolerance for intolerable actions like what happened on that United flight. Then, when we’ve moved the balance more toward something resembling equity, we can talk about commonsense ideas like breaking up monopolies and penalizing malicious businesses like United for harming Americans who do everything right and play by the rules.

Maybe the worst thing about that video is how completely believable it was for anyone who’s flown over the last few years. We’ve all experienced the awfulness of flying, and we recognize it as maybe the most literal manifestation of America’s current class situation: the few sit up front in comfort while the many experience more and more discomfort in the back of the plane. We lose inches of legroom, we’re charged more and more for our carry-ons, and we’re offered less and less in return. This situation isn’t going to get any better until we stand up and demand that things change. This isn’t about one airline—hell, it’s not even about air travel. It’s about class in America, and it’s time to demand our fair share.