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Review of Break ‘Em Up by Zephyr Teachout

It’s tough being a chicken farmer. Three processors, Tyson, Pilgrim’s Pride, and Perdue, have divvied up the American chicken market between them. Chicken farmers must sell to the one who “owns” their geographical area. That processor dictates where they get their chicks, how they build their chicken houses, what feed and medications they give, when they deliver their fattened birds, and what prices they receive on delivery. They are banned, on pain of being cut off, from comparing prices and conditions with other chicken farmers. In short, they lead the lives of medieval serfs, but at least the serfs could complain to each other about the lord! As Zephyr Teachout reports in her chilling new book, Break ‘Em Up, chickenization isn’t just for agriculture; it’s also how giants like Walmart, McDonalds, Uber and Amazon exploit their suppliers and workers. Meanwhile, monopoly profits flow into their dark money political PACs. . . . → Read More: Review of Break ‘Em Up by Zephyr Teachout

Review of Thomas Frank’s “The People, No”

The pundits love to denounce populists. They are the ignorant people who rally to the standards of foreign far-right fascists. In the US, they are Donald Trump’s loyal “deplorables” or Bernie Sanders’s “Bernie Bros.” They’re a major threat to democracy. In The People, No, Thomas Frank proposes that anti-populists are the real threat. . . . → Read More: Review of Thomas Frank’s “The People, No”

Mason Gaffney, October 18, 1923-July 16, 2020

My old friend and mentor, Mason Gaffney, died last week at his home in Redlands, California. I thank David Cay Johnston for a warm and insightful obituary in the New York Times. I also thank Wyn Achenbaum and Nic Tideman and the Schalkenbach Foundation for an extraordinary tribute with excerpts from his writing. Especially check . . . → Read More: Mason Gaffney, October 18, 1923-July 16, 2020

Webinar with Richard Vague, author of A Brief History of Doom, May 17, 2020

In A Brief History of Doom, Two Hundred Years of Financial Crises, Richard Vague simultaneously fills in a gap in Henry George’s economic model, and torpedoes the conventional Keynesian model of the business cycle. . . . → Read More: Webinar with Richard Vague, author of A Brief History of Doom, May 17, 2020

Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity, by Charles Marohn Jr.

Post WW II single family subdivisions have proved a fiscal disaster. At first, they generated substantial tax revenues, making cities eager to encourage and subsidize more of them by extending utilities. But because all the utilities and houses in a subdivision were built at the same time, they all aged at the same rate. After 25 years or so of fiscal surplus, costs began to rise steeply for repairing infrastructure. When city maintenance lagged, those residents who could afford it moved to newer subdivisions further out, leaving shabby houses on crumbling streets inhabited by ever poorer and often minority residents. This happened first in Detroit, where huge areas now lie abandoned. It is now happening in inner suburbs around the nation. Yet as inner suburbs crumble, towns pursue the same old financial fix: subsidizing brand-new subdivisions on raw land. . . . → Read More: Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity, by Charles Marohn Jr.

The Poverty Industry: How state and local service agencies scam both the federal government and their intended beneficiaries

In The Poverty Industry, Daniel L. Hatcher explains how the austerity following the 2008 financial crisis has induced state and local public service agencies to scam both the federal government and their intended beneficiaries. . . . → Read More: The Poverty Industry: How state and local service agencies scam both the federal government and their intended beneficiaries

The Big Bean Bubble

In the mini-economy of Beanland, reckless bank lending has caused a crash. Hardly anybody has money to buy beans. The price of beans plummets. To the farmers it looks like there’s a bean surplus. Actually, there’s a deficit in demand for beans. . . . → Read More: The Big Bean Bubble

Review: A Brief History of Doom by Richard Vague

A Brief History of Doom: Two Hundred Years of Financial Crises is the most important economics publication to come along in years. The author, Richard Vague, a retired banker, documents how a necessary and sufficient explanation for a boom and bust cycle is an episode over several years of excessive private sector lending, typically triggered by an exciting innovation. . . . → Read More: Review: A Brief History of Doom by Richard Vague

Garlic, Cancer, and the Public Funding of Scientific Research

Four years ago, in The Mouse That Wouldn’t Die, I described how my husband’s colleague Zheng Cui found some mice in his lab that were naturally immune to cancer. Astonishingly, transferring special white blood cells, granulocytes, from immune mice killed cancer in non-immune mice. It turned out that some humans are also super-immune to cancer. . . . → Read More: Garlic, Cancer, and the Public Funding of Scientific Research

How the U.S. Military Protects and Enriches Multinational Speculators

At a 1972 economics conference, at the height of the Vietnam war, Mason Gaffney presented an invited paper blandly entitled “The Benefits of Military Spending.” The paper so shocked the conference organizer that he refused to include it in the conference volume. Gaffney couldn’t find another publisher willing to touch it. Now, only 46 years later, here’s that paper (draft version), updated by Cliff Cobb, and published in the American Journal of Economics and Sociology (March 2018). What so offended the economics establishment? . . . → Read More: How the U.S. Military Protects and Enriches Multinational Speculators