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

How Colonies Can Liberate Themselves by Taxing Real Estate

A colony is an area of land belonging mostly to outsiders, who extract more than they put in, hold good property underused, and control local politics. Greece, Haiti and Puerto Rico are colonies. Given the political will, and absent military intervention, colonies can liberate themselves by taxing the land. . . . → Read More: How Colonies Can Liberate Themselves by Taxing Real Estate

Putting Land and Power Back into Economics

Rethinking the Economics of Land and Housing, by three British economists, puts land and power back into economics, by recognizing–as did the classical economists–that ownership natural resources conveys wealth and political power. It also provides an enlightening history of British postwar housing policy, which has gone from building inexpensive rental housing for the working class, to pumping up property values for the ownership class. . . . → Read More: Putting Land and Power Back into Economics

The Democrats Confront Monopoly

At a June 2016 event organized by Barry Lynn of the Open Markets Institute, Elizabeth Warren delivered a stunning speech on the damage of monopoly and the importance of reviving antitrust. Shortly afterwards, I attended a New York presentation by Alan Blinder, Hillary Clinton’s economic policy advisor. He focused on Hillary’s positions on issues vis-à-vis Trump’s and those of the median voter, complete with graphs. He suggested that Bernie had pulled her away from that median voter—a bad idea. One issue Blinder didn’t have on the list was antitrust, so I raised my hand and asked. “Oh,” Blinder said, “that’s not a priority at present, but maybe after her first two years…” . . . → Read More: The Democrats Confront Monopoly

What’s the Matter with Wisconsin?

In 2016 BT (before Trump) Professor Katherine Cramer of U. Wisconsin explored how upstate Wisconsin – which later voted heavily for Trump – passionately hates the downstate cities of Madison and Milwaukee, and government at all levels. Read my review of The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker from Dollars & Sense, March/April 2017. . . . → Read More: What’s the Matter with Wisconsin?

The 7 Secrets of the Prolific

If you’re like me, you always wanted to be a writer—but obligations came first: family, friends, bosses, students, bills, good causes. Recently, I grumbled about my lack of productivity to my editor Chris Sturr at Dollars & Sense magazine. He sent me The 7 Secrets of the Prolific: The Definitive Guide Overcoming Procrastination, Perfectionism, and Writer’s Block by Hillary Rettig. . . . → Read More: The 7 Secrets of the Prolific