Dollars and Sense

12 Rules For Spitting on the Poor

Self-help books have no politics. Indeed, in self-help books, there is, to quote Margaret Thatcher out of context, “No such thing as society.”

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Trump's Upside Down Approach to Empire

In the early months of the Trump administration, high-profile White House visits from foreign leaders from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East garnered headlines about the changing role of the United States in the world. In the context of political and economic upheaval around the globe, observers worry that, under Trump, the United States is abandoning the global leadership role it has played for decades. But the Trump administration’s response to various crises—Brexit, North Korea, Syria—paints a chaotic and often incoherent picture. Looking instead to a region long assumed to be firmly in the grasp of U.S. hegemony—Latin America—can help us understand the contours of the changes underway. It’s true that Latin America has generally been a low priority for the new president: he did recently move to roll back Obama-era changes in the relationship with Cuba, but while he made Mexico a central focus of his campaign, promising to build a border wall and tear up NAFTA, there has been little action on either front. Despite the relative disinterest in the region, however, White House visits by three Latin American heads of state—Argentina’s Mauricio Macri, Peru’s Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, and Colombia’s Juan Manuel Santos—reveal three broad ways in which U.S empire is being reconfigured under Trump.

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Even Trump's Infrastructure Plan Is a Thinly Veiled Neo-Fascist Scheme

Infrastructure investment: it’s that economic policy sweet spot that everyone loves to love.

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The Odds That the Beer You Drink Is Actually 'Craft' Are Getting Smaller and Smaller Each Year

When major beer label Budweiser announced they would rename their product “America” through the 2016 U.S. election, it raised droll hackles from a variety of observers. George Will suggested in the conservative National Review that the beer was less than fully American because it was produced by a foreign-owned firm, an irony also observed in the more liberal Washington Post. John Oliver’s HBO staff did what most US media did in 2016, and took the opportunity to give more TV time to the Trump campaign, in this case to mock Trump’s taking credit for the name change. Most commenters counted themselves clever for being aware the Bud label is foreign-owned, but all of them missed the real point: It’s not that “America” is foreign-owned, but that it’s owned by a brand-new global semi-monopoly that perfectly represents the power-mongering of neoliberal capitalism.

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It Can Happen Here

On November 8 the rise of a right-wing nationalist regime in the United States became a realistic possibility, if not now then in the coming years. Such regimes stress nationalist and patriotic themes, play upon and intensify fear of minority ethnicities and/or religions and/or other long-oppressed groups, promise to resolve festering economic problems of ordinary people, and direct the blame for such problems at a convenient scapegoat such as foreigners or immigrants rather than the real causes. Such regimes, if consolidated, invariably restrict long-established individual rights and introduce, or intensify, the use of extra-legal violent methods at home and abroad. This possibility has sent shock waves throughout U.S. society, including in the long-ruling establishment, creating a sense of chaos in which it seems anything can happen.

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Nativism: As American as Rotten Apple Pie

Why should the Palatine Boors be suffered to swarm into our settlements, and by herding together establish their languages and manners to the exclusion of ours? Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our language or customs, any more than they can acquire our complexion?
—Benjamin Franklin, “Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind” (1751)

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Enforcement of Puerto Rico’s Colonial Debt Pushes Out Young Workers

At least 23 of the 49 people killed in the mass shooting that took place at Pulse nightclub in Orlando on June 12 were born in Puerto Rico. While the horrendous hate crime targeted LGBT people of all ethnicities, the large proportion of island-born casualties is not surprising, as the central Florida city has become a preferred destination of Puerto Rican migrants over the past two decades. Steadily growing since the onset of the island’s current “fiscal” crisis in 2006, yearly out-migration from Puerto Rico now surpasses that of the 1950s. The island’s total population has begun to decline for the first time in its history.

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It Pays to Be White

By every socioeconomic measure, there is an undeniable race-based hierarchy in the United States—with black Americans sitting at or near the bottom. In 2014, the share of black adults (at least 25 years old) with bachelor’s or advanced degrees (22 percent) is notably lower than their white counterparts (32 percent). The official unemployment rate for black workers is persistently double that of white workers: in 2015, 9.7 percent vs. 4.3 percent. Also in 2015, the African-American poverty rate (26.2 percent) stood at more than double that among white Americans (10.1 percent). Black Americans account for 38 percent of the prison population, nearly three times their share of the U.S. population. White Americans, in contrast, account for 59 percent of U.S. prisoners, under-representing their 77 percent population share.

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Krugman Attacks on Bernie's Agenda Called 'Highly Misleading' by a Leading Progressive Economist

In his recent New York Times opinion column, "Sanders Over the Edge" (4/8/16), economist Paul Krugman offers his readers a basketful of misinformation on important economic matters about which he should - and probably does - know better. The column contains a large number of snipes and a great deal of innuendo against Bernie Sanders and his supporters, but here I focus on his claims about "Too Big To Fail" (TBTF) banks, their role - non-role, according to Krugman -  in the financial crisis, and Sanders' understanding of the policy tools available to deal with them. Krugman's claims about these issues are misleading, almost certainly wrong, and, in my view, call into question the credibility of his New York Times column as a source of economic information and analysis.

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Here's How 7 of Bernie's Economic Proposals Would Radically Improve the Majority of Americans' Lives

No one should be surprised by the popular support that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has attracted in his run for president as a democratic socialist. Nor should we be surprised that he has drawn attacks charging that his policies will bankrupt the United States. Sanders’ proposals for infrastructure, early-childhood education, higher education, youth employment, family leave, private pensions, and Social Security would total over $3.8 trillion over 10 years. While this is a large number, it would be barely 6% of federal spending for 2017-2026.

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