On the Commons

5 Worst Republican Lies About Income Inequality

Back in 2012, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney was asked asked whether people who question the current distribution of wealth and power are motivated by “jealousy or fairness.” In response, Romney insisted, “I think it’s about envy. I think it’s about class warfare.” Romney's opinion is far from unique—in fact, it comprises a clear distillation of the GOP's position on income inequality.

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How the Private Sector Is Destroying Our Personal Space

This article originally appeared at On the Commons, and is reprinted here with their permission.

The natural tendency of the private sector, when unrestrained, is to strip us of our personal physical and psychic space. The clearest examples may be found in the air travel and broadcasting industries. When it comes to air travel, private airline companies’ profits depend on maximizing revenue per cubic inch of space inside a plane.

Fifty years ago, when regulated airlines competed primarily on service rather than price expanding personal space was part of their strategy for attracting customers. As the Wall Street Journal reports seats on the first Boeing 707 were 17-inches wide, a dimension based on the width of a U.S. Air Force pilot’s hips. In the 1970s and 1980s seat width increased to 18 inches and in the early 2000s, seats on the new Boeing 777 and Airbus 380 were widened still further to 18.5 inches.

But the increased concentration resulting from airline deregulation reversed this dynamic. Today just four airlines control 85 percent of the national market. In many major airports, a single company may account for 80 percent of the flights. Their near monopoly power has allowed airline companies to boost revenue by adding a seat in every row and in some cases adding rows too. This is achieved by shrinking seat width and pitch and narrowing aisles.

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Airline Deregulation: How Ideology Triumphed Over Evidence in the U.S. Airline Industry

This article originally appeared at On the Commons, and is reprinted here with their permission.

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Five Steps to Save America's Incredible Shrinking Post Office

In July 2011 the United States Postal Service (USPS) management announced it would rapidly close 3600 local post offices and eventually as many as 15,000.  And shutter half the nation’s mail processing centers.

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Hidden Power Grab Stops Communities From Deciding Their Own Futures

In his 1996 State of the Union Address Democratic President Bill Clinton famously declared, “the era of big government is over.” And during his tenure he did everything he could to make that true—deregulating the telecommunications and the financial industries; enacting a free trade agreement severely restricting the authority of the federal government to protect domestic jobs and businesses; and abandoning the 75-year old federal commitment to the poor.

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4 Recent Victories for the Common Good

I’m not saying it’s time to break out the champagne and start chanting, “The people united will never be defeated”. But the past few weeks have brought us some heartwarming demonstrations that the popular will still has a bite.

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The South Has Been at Civil War for 150 Years

Lincoln is a magnificent movie. But as I left the theatre, to echo Paul Harvey, the late radio commentator, I wanted to know “the rest of the story.”

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I Might Be Disillusioned About Election 2012, But the Stakes for the Country Are Still Huge

As the presidential campaign reaches fever pitch—with Super Pac attacks appearing constantly on TV and both candidates sharpening their debate zingers—I feel guilty about my growing obsession with it all.

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Citizens United, Obamacare -- The Roberts Court Is Just Getting Started

In a democracy the majority wins. Which makes minority groups vulnerable. At the dawn of the Republic John Adams warned about “the tyranny of the majority.”

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The Sky Is Now Legally Protected, Thanks to a Texas Judge

“Texas judge rules atmosphere, air is a public trust”, reads the headline in the Boston Globe.  A tiny breakthrough but with big potential consequences.  And as we continue to suffer from one of the most extended heat waves in US history, as major crops wither and fires rage in a dozen states, we need all the tiny breakthroughs we can get.

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