Posts by Nick Cassella

Daily Clips: March 13, 2017

Virginia earns bragging rights — as the best state for illegal gun trafficking:

“Virginia had a law on the books for 19 years limiting gun purchases to one a month, but — despite its success in helping to curtail the illicit gun trade and an appeal from Virginia Tech families — it was repealed in 2012. Efforts to restore the limit — as well as enact other common-sense measures that have popular support, such as universal background checks — have been killed by a General Assembly that is captive to the gun lobby. It is way past time for Virginia to come to its senses and plug this gaping hole in the public safety net. Unless, of course, it enjoys the bragging rights of Virginia as a place for gun runners.”

Minimum wage increases being attacked by businesses:

Opponents of raising the minimum wage give various reasons for wanting to change the new wage laws: Voters didn’t realize what they were voting on; some of the ballot initiatives were unconstitutionally pieced together; others would unconstitutionally affect the state budget. But most of the opponents share a common theme: They don’t think raising the minimum wage is, on the whole, beneficial for their state.

Should Seattle tax sugary drinks?

Trump wants faster growth. The Fed isn’t so sure: 

The rate is expected to remain below 1 percent, and interest rates on consumer and business loans will still be remarkably low by historical standards. But the Fed is moving months earlier than markets had expected at the beginning of the year, precisely because the economy appears to be gaining steam.

Paul Ryan being a moron:

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Daily Clips: March 10, 2017

David Brooks finally realizes that Republicans only ever cared about tax cuts: Truly remarkable that it took him this long.

White evangelicals believe they face more discrimination than Muslims: The false victimization of the Christian Right always astounds me. They are so convinced that they are the persecuted in every situation. It’s bizarre. It’s dangerous. And it shows an incredible lack of empathy.

The economic ‘mess’ Trump says he inherited continues to add jobs: Sigh.

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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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