The Black-White Wage Gap: How Inequality and Monopoly Amplify Racial Discrimination

Black men’s wages as a percent of White increased rapidly after World War II, only to level off at a bit over 55% after the 1970s. That’s a paradox: If racism causes the Black-White wage gap, how come the gap closed dramatically while Jim Crow laws remained in effect, and then stagnated even as Black education improved and overt racism declined? . . . → Read More: The Black-White Wage Gap: How Inequality and Monopoly Amplify Racial Discrimination

Fighting the Wealth Hoarders with Transparency and Taxes

Over the last five years, from my 5th floor apartment window, I’ve watched a blue spire rise in the distance. Fifteen blocks south of me, 225 West 57th Street has just joined Billionaires’ Row in Manhattan. At 1550 feet it’s now the tallest. Apartments in these buildings have been selling for over fifty million dollars per floor. The windows grant a falcon’s eye panorama of New York, but visitors on a windy day report feeling seasick from the swaying. No matter. These apartments aren’t for living;they’re for hoarding wealth. . . . → Read More: Fighting the Wealth Hoarders with Transparency and Taxes

Taxing More from the Rich Is Difficult. This Is How to Do It.

In the March 1 UK Prospect, economist James Galbraith offers the Brits, and us, two proposals to repair a broken economy. The first, unsurprisingly, is a heavy tax on estates, with a high exemption. The second is a land tax. Yes! This was the preferred tax of the classical economists, the one Adam Smith called “the most equitable of all taxes.” This tax—at the extraordinary rate of 4 shillings to the pound or 20%—launched the British Empire in 1692, by funding the British fleet. A land tax is already part of the ordinary property tax. It could be applied to other publicly-created property rights, such as mineral rights, electromagnetic spectrum, corporate charters, and patents. The One Percent own the bulk of such valuable rights, directly or through corporate shares. . . . → Read More: Taxing More from the Rich Is Difficult. This Is How to Do It.

Review of “Liberty from All Masters,” by Barry C. Lynn

Fifty years ago, my husband and I volunteered to work for Ralph Nader. Unwittingly we helped enable the monopolists who rule America today. . . . → Read More: Review of “Liberty from All Masters,” by Barry C. Lynn

Review of Matthew Desmond’s Evicted

Matthew Desmond, a sociologist, lived for two years among poor renters in Milwaukee, first in a south side trailer park occupied mainly by whites, and then in the north side black inner city. In both places, he interviewed and followed several tenants as they moved through the devastating process of eviction, in some cases multiple times. Evicted, Poverty and Profit in an American City (2016), bestseller and Pulitzer Prize winner, tells their personal stories. Desmond’s people, suffering from poverty, mental or physical illness, addiction, and harsh and arbitrary treatment by public authorities, will also be hardest hit by the coronavirus. . . . → Read More: Review of Matthew Desmond’s Evicted

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

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

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

From Germany to America: A Dialog on Inequality

At a coffee break between sessions at a history of economics meeting, I chatted with a young woman professor of political science at a German university. On hearing that I work on inequality, she immediately challenged me: “I don’t believe in equality. Inequality is just a statistic… What matters are policies to improve citizen’s wellbeing, like health or education, not policies to reduce inequality.” . . . → Read More: From Germany to America: A Dialog on Inequality