Archive for economics

ICYMI: NOW with Alex Wagner on December 26th

It appears that Republicans are suffering from political amnesia as the year-end deadline for Congress to reach a budget agreement approaches. Instead of relying on knee-jerk ideology, we must make an honest assessment of our economic history and current predicaments. Do current economic policies serve the interests of our citizens and promote the nation’s well-being? Are these policies faithful to our political ideals?

On Wednesday, I joined Ari Melber, Jonathan Chait, Joy-Ann Reid, Nick Confessore, and John Harwood on NOW with Alex Wagner to discuss budget negotiations in Congress, gun control, and Chuck Hagel’s Secretary of Defense nomination. Watch the videos below for highlights from our discussion and share your thoughts.

From NOW w/ Alex Wagner

Where were we before Boehner’s Plan B?
The NOW panel – including New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait, the Grio’s Joy-Ann Reid, the New York Times’ Nick Confessore, CNBC’s John Harwood and author Catherine Crier – discusses the latest in the fiscal cliff proceedings.

Gun regulation: One step forward, many steps back
Will new concern about gun control after the Sandy Hook massacre spur legislators into action, or will people’s concern dwindle with the media’s coverage? Nicholas Confessore, Joy-Ann Reid, Jonathan Chait, and Catherine Crier discuss the NRA’s agenda and whether or not they’ve artificially frozen the debate on gun control.

 

Cabinet caution: Does Chuck Hagel stand a chance?
By opposing George W. Bush’s 2007 Iraq surge, former Senator Chuck Hagel endeared himself to anti-war Democrats but lost a lot of Republican support. Now Hagel, potentially President Obama’s pick for the next Secretary of Defense, is getting flak from Republicans and even some Democrats for his views on Israel, Iran, and his previous comments on gay rights.

NOW’s Best Moments of 2012
From angry attack muffins to fetching holiday sweaters and how to get your “wag’ on, a look back at the year at NOW.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Frank Luntz: NRA not listening to public

Banning the ownership of assault and semi-automatic weaponry DOES NOT infringe upon the Second Amendment right to bear arms. NRA members polled by GOP strategist Frank Luntz suggest that a majority of gun owners are in favor of more sensible laws.

The NRA’s lobbying efforts are designed to protect the interests of gun manufacturers, not the public. When will capital-R Reason surmount the influence of big business?

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From The Huffington Post

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Highly Secretive Trade Agreement Designed to Exempt Multinational Corporations from Domestic Law

Leaked documents coming out of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations need greater public exposure before it is too late. Over the past two years, the United States has been meeting behind closed doors with eight Pacific nations, drafting an agreement designed to exempt multinational corporations from legal recourse if they violate domestic laws. If the leaks are anything at all representative of Trans-Pac’s final outcome, this agreement will set a dangerous precedent for government abdication of national interests to global corporatism.

We know that ‘hard to explain’ stories are sometimes ignored by mainstream media, but this could be a major game changer for the future of democratic self-governance, Rule of Law, and the ability of US citizens and political representatives to protect our national sovereignty. If you’re not getting more information on this story from sources you trust, you must demand a thorough investigation into how this dangerous trade agreement will limit our ability to hold foreign corporations accountable for activities on U.S. soil.

EFF created this infographic to capture the most problematic aspects of TPP, and to help users, advocates and innovators from around the world spread the word about how this agreement will impact them and their societies.

From Alternet

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Guns reduce and restrict liberty; they do not ensure our way of life.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower saw the national security implications of corporate influence on government, democracy, and civil society. He echoed Lincoln’s warnings in his farewell address to the nation on January 17, 1961:

A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction…

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.

The following New York Times op-ed written by Firmin Debrabander is right on the money. Guns reduce and restrict liberty; they do not ensure our way of life.

From The New York Times

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Fracking Research at UT Austin Withdrawn Following Independent Review

Finally, a major university recognized a major bias in its science. An independent review by science administrators found that the head of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas received money from a firm involved in hydraulic fracturing for shale gas prior to releasing a report on its potential environmental impacts. After the review was recently made public, the paper was finally withdrawn, and the head of the Energy Institute accepted full responsibility and resigned.

Today, public education is under familiar economic pressures to conform to narrow standards and offer subjective knowledge. Interest groups are clamoring to insert their agenda’s into both the classroom and scientific studies. Steps such as those taken by the University of Texas at Austin might serve as a guideline for how ethical issues in our public institutions can be addressed justly without compromising the public’s trust.

From Andrew Revkin’s Dot Earth

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Corporate Profits Reach Highest Percentage of GDP On Record as Total Wages Fall to Record Low

What’s good for corporations is not always good for the country, its people, or the capitalist system we allegedly defend; it’s time we make the distinctions. A little more than two years after the 2008 financial crisis, corporate profits were hitting record highs and our gross domestic product was growing again.

Today, our nation’s fiscal health depends more on increased consumption than on the production of goods and services. But average real wages for most workers have stagnated or fallen over the last thirty-five years, and good jobs are disappearing. Just look at the Commerce Department’s latest GDP report, which shows corporate profits have hit their highest percentage of GDP on record at the same time as total wages have fallen to a record low. Without employment or income, what’s the key to our economic recovery?

The Commerce Department's latest GDP report shows corporate profits have hit their highest percentage of GDP on record at the same time as total wages have fallen to a record low

From CNNMoney

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Infrastructure Spending Produces Big Returns for All Americans

Our public dollars are well spent creating platforms on which private enterprise can prosper. With interest rates at nearly zero, low labor costs, and the construction industry with all its suppliers scrambling for work, we should be pouring stimulus dollars into our schools, roads, and bridges. We should be building a new energy grid and sending wireless technology into every corner of the land. These are the measures that will produce big returns for all Americans.

With the economy recovering slowly and our nation’s roads and bridges crumbling, a new study from the San Francisco Federal Reserve found that making investments into infrastructure has substantial short- and medium-term benefits for the economy. Read their findings here or look below for a quick recap of the study and share your thoughts.

From Business Insider

STUDY: Every $1 Of Infrastructure Spending Boosts The Economy By $2

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BP Pleads Guilty to Criminal Misconduct, Negligence in Gulf Oil Spill

More than two years after the explosion of Deepwater Horizon, which killed 11 workers and released 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, BP has plead guilty and settled all claims with the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission for $4.5 billion, which amounts to the largest criminal fine in U.S. history. The settlement will take the existing charge against earnings up $3.9 billion to nearly $42 billion.

Corporations must pay the real costs of their operations—what they use and abuse on the taxpayer’s dime. Supporting free enterprise is more than loosening the reins; it includes tightening them when private power acts in ways that are harmful to the nation. What do you think about this afternoon’s BP oil spill settlement?

Two men who worked for BP during the 2010 Gulf oil spill disaster have been charged with manslaughter and a third with lying to federal investigators, according to indictments made public Thursday, hours after BP announced it was paying $4.5 billion in a settlement with the U.S. government over the disaster.

From The Huffington Post

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Our Multinational Fast Food Corporations are Dodging Billions in Taxes

Not only is the overconsumption of fatty, salty, and sugar-laden foods literally killing us, our multinational fast food corporations are dodging billions in taxes; earning enormous profits through franchising fees, then diverting the profits to overseas operations where they can’t be taxed by the U.S.

Consumerism is the mantra; insidious marketing is everywhere. Fast food chains providing cheap food stuffs to Americans who can afford little more ignore both the physical welfare of our citizens and the fiscal health of our country. Read the following articles and share your thoughts.

Fast food companies are dodging billions of dollars in taxes by registering their products as "intellectual property" and by diverting profits offshore. So the next time you're biting into a Big Whopper, know that you're making their headquarters in Switzerland very happy! | Susie Madrak, Crooks and Liars

From Crooks and Liars

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The Rise and Fall of the Venetian Oligarchy

In November of 2006, Warren Buffett sat down with Ben Stein to discuss the U.S. tax code and how much the rich pay as a percentage of what they can afford to pay. “There’s class warfare, all right,” he said, “But it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

Almost six years later, the divide between the rich and poor—actually between the top 10 percent and the rest of the country—is greater than it has ever been. Take a look at Chrystia Freeland’s latest op-ed, in which she draws similarities between the 14th-16th century Venetian oligarchy and the rise of a new, global class of super-rich individuals, and share your thoughts below.

It is no accident that in America today the gap between the very rich and everyone else is wider than at any time since the Gilded Age. Now, as then, the titans are seeking an even greater political voice to match their economic power. Now, as then, the inevitable danger is that they will confuse their own self-interest with the common good. The irony of the political rise of the plutocrats is that, like Venice’s oligarchs, they threaten the system that created them.

From The New York Times

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