Posts by Nick Cassella

Daily Clips: September 7th, 2016

Daily Clips: September 7th, 2016

Government cash handouts won’t help families:  Noah Smith takes issue with Tyler Cowen’s policy proposal of “sending people cash” instead of government-mandated paid parental leave. Smith claims that “giving cash is a favorite solution of many economists…but in this case, I see two reasons why paid parental leave is probably better than cash.” His reasons are as follows: 1) “mandated benefits like parental leave tend to distort the economy less than giving people cash” and 2) “if the government mails parents a check instead of mandating that they get time off to spend with their children, the parents may squander the money, instead of staying at home spending quality time with those kids.” Goldman Sachs bans employees from donating to Trump:  I think this headline actually helps Trump convince his supporters that he represents the 99%. So, in other words, Goldman Sachs’ policy seems counterproductive. The geography of US inequality:  Beautiful graphs and analysis from The Upshot. Why are men leaving the workforce?   Tweet of the day: QCEW (big lag) shows King Cnty, WA #2 of 345 in wage growth Q1 15-Q1 16. Damn you, min wage. @ritholtz @NickHanauer pic.twitter.com/mJgInFzGv3 — Invictus (@TBPInvictus) September 7, 2016

Daily Clips: September 6th, 2016

Daily Clips: September 6th, 2016

Construction worker shortage weighs on hot US housing market:  After the 2008 financial crisis it was estimated that “30 percent of construction workers [went] into new fields.” Now, with the housing market back in business, homebuilders are having a hard time finding enough labor. David Brooks lies on health care: Today he wrote a column that attacked Obamacare, because, you know, it’s not like there is a deranged imbecile one election away from being the most powerful man in the world! Brooks also lied by saying that Obamacare’s exchanges “means less coverage.” He’s such a moderate conservative thinker. How Obama’s economic record stacks up: A nice read with strong explanations of indicators chosen. Gary Johnson isn’t a viable option for Democrats:  He is no friend of the Left, no legitimate vessel for carrying forward any kind of progressive political revolution. He remains, at heart, the teenager who thinks economics can be taught in one lesson, and that freedom means protecting the liberty of the propertied. Think that’s enough of an indictment? Read this: After inaugurating New Mexico’s use of private prisons, Johnson made it his top political priority to install a school voucher system (an effort that failed because of the legislature’s opposition). He also annulled public employees’ collective-bargaining rights, slashed funding for social programs, reduced taxes for the wealthy, implemented one of the country’s strictest welfare-reform programs, and pushed for harsher sentencing laws. America’s bars and restaurants are hiring like crazy:  Thanks, Obama. Tweet of the day: Clinton & her PACs received $201,119 from @GoldmanSachs in the 2016 cycle, per OpenSecrets. https://t.co/PxBk4iJCZ0 pic.twitter.com/ZxxnkUvUIt — Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) September 6, 2016

Daily Clips: September 2nd, 2016

Daily Clips: September 2nd, 2016

Your tax money is subsidizing Wall Street bonuses At a time when Congress claims there isn’t even the money to fund an emergency federal response to the outbreak of the Zika virus in the United states, the top 20 Wall Street firms claimed over $725 million in tax benefits since 2012—enough to fund about 70 percent of the Zika package that failed in the Senate earlier this summer. Brooks criticizes Donald Trump for running on identity politics Human beings are too complicated to be defined by skin color, income or citizenship status. Those who try to reduce politics to these identities do real violence to national life. Where was this condemnation of identity politics thirty years ago, one wonders? Presidential debate moderators announced : 1) Lester Holt 2)  Martha Raddatz and Anderson Cooper and 3) Chris Wallace. All in all, a very milquetoast lineup for Donald Trump. U.S. employers added a modest 151,000 jobs in August; jobless rate remains the same : Not terrible, not great. Both parties can spin this data in self-serving ways.  Tweet of the day:   

Daily Clips: September 1st, 2016

Daily Clips: September 1st, 2016

Trump flip-flops on immigration:  A truly flexible candidate. Robots, growth, and inequality:  An amazing read—the authors do a thorough job of attacking the basic assumptions made around robots and growth. As many of our readers know, this is a subject that is near and dear to us (listen to our podcast episode here ). Minimum-wage hikes go straight to the ballot:  Arizona, Colorado, Washington, and Maine will all have ballot initiatives that will seek to raise the wage—an incredible success for the movement. Advocates believe that all four measures will pass this November. Georgetown panel urges university to apologize for its role in slavery:  Read the panel’s report here. Tweet of the day: New @ppppolls show huge support for $15/hr min wage in battleground statesAZ 60%MO 57%NC 62%NH 63%OH 60%PA 62%WI 63% #RaiseTheWage — AU For Change (@AU4Change) September 1, 2016

Daily Clips: August 31st, 2016

Daily Clips: August 31st, 2016

Why is Mexico’s president sitting down with Trump?  I’m surprised Barry O hasn’t picked up the phone and called President Enrique Peña Nieto. Why is he inserting himself into American politics? It really doesn’t make sense to me. The Atlantic‘s conclusion is probably the closest to the truth: The visit confirms an essential truth about politicians: Unpopular leaders will try all sorts of risky maneuvers to improve their standing. Democrats really might have a shot at taking the House:  Vox’s analysis indicates that if Hillary Clinton wins by 6 percentage points that victory would put 50 Republican-held House seats in play. Why is hatred of government most intense among people who need government services most? This is the central question of Arlie Hochchild’s new book,  Strangers in Their Own Land . She travels to Louisiana and there she talks to “people who identify with the Tea Party and its implacable hostility to ‘big government.'” Share buybacks are down:  Some intriguing facts here. U.S. company stock buybacks are down 21 percent in the first seven months of 2016 compared to the same period a year earlier, according to TrimTabs Investment Research, a fall driven in part by five consecutive quarters of year-over-year earnings declines among S&P 500 stocks. Tweet of the day: The American people need their legislators to be dedicated to solutions, not obstruction. #DoYourJob pic.twitter.com/mrTXe8sti6 — Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 31, 2016

No, Paid Sick Leave Isn’t “Government Intervention”

No, Paid Sick Leave Isn’t “Government Intervention”

Bloomberg View usually offers economics-heavy reporting with right-of-center viewpoints. Today, Tyler Cowen continued this trend. He takes issue  with Hillary Clinton’s chief economist, Heather Boushey, and her reliance on government-mandated solutions. After reading Boushey’s “thoughtful and intelligent book” ( buy it here ), Cowen believes she has some troubling remedies for rebalancing the work-life conflict. He thinks her policy proposals, like “paid sick leave, paid parental leave, subsidized child care and better care for the elderly” are “an extensive set of government interventions.” (In the interest of full disclosure, Heather is a friend of Civic Skunk Works and has appeared on one of our podcast episodes .) Think about how Cowen frames these, let’s be honest, pretty generic policies. Interventions. Just reading it makes me think of a greedy government bureaucrat coming for my private property. But how can someone genuinely call policies like paid sick leave an intervention? If you were to say that in any other developed country, you’d be laughed out of the room (as we pointed out in our latest podcast —  listen to it !). These interventions are merely acts by government to fix problems that the free market hasn’t touched. That’s what FDR addressed with the Fair Labor Standards Act, where he intervened and imposed dreadful policies like the minimum wage and limiting child labor. Just like then, it’s not as if Americans today haven’t given the market enough time to deal with these issues. The market clearly just doesn’t care. How else can you explain why 40% of private sector workers don’t have access to paid sick leave? Note to Cowen: sometimes the government needs to set a minimal standard so that the market cannot continue to undermine the best interests of our society. Whereas Cowen thinks Boushey “holds too much faith in mandated and centralized solutions,” the same can be said for Cowen and the free market. He
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Daily Clips: August 30th, 2016

Daily Clips: August 30th, 2016

Don’t be scared of a health-insurance public option:  Noah Smith provides a thorough investigation of the public option, noting the good and the bad. One downside he focuses on, in particular, caught my eye: A downside of government health care would be higher taxes. Currently, small business can claim a tax credit for giving their employees health insurance; if government took over, the effective tax rate on these businesses would rise. That’s a good point and one I had not considered before. Donald Trump’s tax proposals could double the trade deficit:  What? You mean cutting taxes for our wealthiest citizens leads to a bigger deficit? In defense of Chicago University:  Jonathan Chait takes a long look at the variety of responses to  Chicago University’s “safe spaces” letter. He does an excellent job of questioning people on his “own political team”, as he puts it. Amazon is looking at 30-hour work weeks:  It will be interesting to see if this experiment works out. Tweet of the day:  Chris Christie just vetoed a bill that would have gradually increased minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021. 975,000 would've benefited — igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) August 30, 2016

Daily Clips: August 29th, 2016

Daily Clips: August 29th, 2016

Trickle down is on its way to history’s dustbin:  So tax cuts for the rich, deregulation for the powerful, and wage suppression for the 99% aren’t winning the economic battle anymore. That much is clear. And that’s great. But what is filling the economic void in America? According to Felicia Wong and Dorian Warren: The emerging  progressive economic agenda , which calls for rebalancing power at the top, strengthening our labor market by creating strong floors of standards and greater access for the most vulnerable workers at the bottom, and investing in public goods and economic security through a more robust role for the state, is the antidote to neoliberal tax-cutting.   Solid US consumer spending boosts prospect of Fed rate hike:  US consumer spending increased for the fourth straight month. An interest rate hike looks more and more likely, as a result. The snooze economy: Gotta say, catchy headline there, Robert J. Samuelson. His analysis is less praiseworthy, but its always intriguing to see how right-of-center thinkers view the economy. I like how he points out that “if you’re not confused [about the economy], you’re not paying attention.” Tweet of the day: Remember: Senate Republicans are holding a Supreme Court seat open for Donald Trump to fill. — Matt O'Brien (@ObsoleteDogma) August 29, 2016

Daily Clips: August 26th, 2016

Daily Clips: August 26th, 2016

Want economic prosperity? Go to a Democratic state:  An excellent overview from the NYT on economic indicators of individual states. Here’s one of their conclusions: Red states dominated by Republicans embrace cut and extract. Blue states dominated by Democrats do much more to maintain their investments in education, infrastructure, urban quality of life and human services — investments typically financed through more progressive state and local taxes. And despite what you may have heard, blue states are generally doing better. Americans are embracing transgender rights: Wow – a recent poll found 72 percent of Americans favor laws that protect LGBTQ people from discrimination. Most welfare dollars don’t go directly to poor people anymore:  Ugh. Yellen says case for rate hike has “strengthened in recent months”:  I plead ignorance over whether or not this is sage judgement. David Brooks is a moron:  He lectures Clinton on her lack of “grace”, but doesn’t say a word about…oh, you know…the white nationalist representing his party. What the f*** is he thinking? Tweet of the day: 6 in 10 WA #minimumwage workers are women. On #WomensEqualityDay let's find ways to lift up women– #YesOn1433 is one pic.twitter.com/HoH4mRnH8A — Raise Up Washington (@Raise_Up_WA) August 26, 2016

Daily Clips: August 25th, 2016

Daily Clips: August 25th, 2016

The Federal Reserve needs new thinking:  When the Wall Street Journal starts questioning the status quo, you know economic thinking is in flux. Democratic women can take the Senate back:  “In five of the seven states where Democrats have a strong chance of picking up seats, the candidates are women.” The plight of the over-worked nonprofit employee:  Here at Civic Skunk Works we feel quite strongly about overtime pay—by that I mean, we think it’s a basic labor right. Crazy, I know. Not everyone shares this view with us, however. Many nonprofits think they should be exempt from Obama’s new overtime rule. But that seems…odd. Listen to how a nonprofit veteran explains the situation: Too often, I have seen the passion for social change turned into a weapon against the very people who do much—if not most—of the hard work, and put in most of the hours…Because they are highly motivated by passion, the reasoning goes, they don’t need to be motivated by decent salaries or sustainable work hours or overtime pay.” Tweet of the day: A sneak peek at cover of WA Voters' Pamphlet you'll receive about Oct. 8. Online version also avail. #BeReady16 pic.twitter.com/h6V6koPGRf — Secretary of State (@secstatewa) August 25, 2016