Posts by Nick Cassella

Daily Clips: December 11th, 2015

Daily Clips: December 11th, 2015

I’ll never get sick of watching Colbert and Stewart together. Long live the dynamic duo. A brokered convention? Here’s an interesting discussion between FiveThirtyEight’s team on the likelihood of the GOP turning to a brokered convention  (if you are unsure what that means, click on the link). Nate Silver puts the odds of such a convention at 10%, while their senior political writer, Harry Enten, says “the Eagles had only a 12 percent shot to beat the Patriots last week, according to our Elo ratings . I put a contested convention on about the same plane as that.” Jeb!’s tax plan loses trillions and worsens inequality:  Jared Bernstein looks at the Tax Policy Center’s analysis of Jeb Bush’s proposed tax cuts, pointing out that “the bad stuff in the plan far outweighs the good.” The Bush plan: Lowers tax rates on both individuals and businesses (on both earnings and investment income) Repeals the estate tax Increases the Earned Income Tax Credit The bulk of the tax cuts go to the wealthy (surprise): 39 percent to the 1 percent, 10 percent to the middle fifth, and 2 percent to the bottom fifth. In other words, regressive. US consumer spending gauge rises strongly:  It’s the most wonderful time of the year…According to Reuters, “retail sales excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services increased 0.6 percent after gaining 0.2 percent in October.” “It dismisses any concerns of a potential slump in household spending after a couple of weaker months in August and September,” said Steve Murphy, U.S. economist at Capital Economics in Toronto.

Daily Clips: December 10, 2015

Daily Clips: December 10, 2015

The middle class is no longer the majority:  As you can see the in the graphic below, the American middle class has eroded significantly since 1971, while the lower and upper classes have ballooned in size. Something something the pitchforks are coming If voting were mandatory, America would shift to the left:  You’ve probably heard this argument before, but it bares repeating. In a recent study, mandatory voting was found to cause “stronger support for leftist, redistributive policy, for example, bills that proposed stricter market regulation and expanded welfare programs.” Putting a price tag on gun violence:  A Mother Jones analysis claims that the yearly cost of gun violence is $229 billion per year, which represents 1.4 percent of GDP.Gun suicides outnumber gun homicides in this country, yet “the overwhelming majority of the direct costs of gun violence come from homicides and assaults.” This is mostly due to the cost of imprisoning the perpetrators of such violence. For a variety of reasons, this article states that Mother Jones’ estimate might be too high, but nonetheless shows that gun violence does leave us with quite a bill. Stock buybacks enrich the bosses even when businesses sag:   As corporate America engages in an unprecedented buyback binge, soaring CEO pay tied to short-term performance measures like EPS is prompting criticism that executives are using stock repurchases to enrich themselves at the expense of long-term corporate health, capital investment and employment. “We’ve accepted a definition of performance that is narrow and quite possibly inappropriate,” said Rosanna Landis Weaver, program manager of the executive compensation initiative at As You Sow, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit that promotes corporate responsibility. Pay for performance as it is often structured creates “very troublesome, problematic incentives that can potentially drive very short-term thinking.”

Daily Clips: December 9th, 2015

Daily Clips: December 9th, 2015

Imagine if Steve Jobs’ Dad was turned away because he was Syrian:  In Nick Hanauer’s latest piece, he talks about the best way to ensure economic prosperity for all. At the core of his thesis is the principle of inclusion. From here, Hanauer claims, “America has succeeded primarily because it has an unbeatable record of inclusion.” He argues, “The more cognitive diversity we have — the more people simultaneously approaching the same problem from as many different backgrounds and perspectives as possible — the greater the rate of innovation. It’s not how hard you try; it’s how many different ways you try to solve a problem that leads to success.” It is an abomination, Hanauer claims, both morally and economically, that our leaders are “pulling up the welcome mat and barring the doors to the worshippers of the fastest-growing religion in the world.” What these racist leaders don’t understand, is that they “aren’t just failing the moral test — though they certainly are doing that — they’re also harming our economy.” Well said, boss. Better schools, better economies:  A new study found that “local economies flourish when there are more skilled and productive workers.” Fascinatingly, “Using data from other countries and from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the authors built a model that predicts the economic effects of improving education. According to their model, if all students in the U.S. could be brought up to basic mastery as defined by NAEP, the U.S. GDP would increase by $32 trillion, or 14.6 percent.” Cruz spearheads anti-science push:  Idiotic. Moronic. Depressing. These are words that came to mind while watching Ted Cruz speak at aa Senate subcommittee hearing (he convened) on the validity of climate change. Best headline of the day: “VW says CO2 emissions scandal not as bad as feared”

Daily Clips: December 8th, 2015

Daily Clips: December 8th, 2015

Hillary talks Wall Street:  In a New York Times Op-Ed,  Hillary Clinton lays out a three point plan that will “rein in Wall Street” (a dubious political proposition, but a great one-liner). She states that “the proper role of Wall Street is to help Main Street grow and prosper.” How does she plan on achieving this? Firstly, “we need to further rein in major financial institutions.” How would we do this? Among other things, her “plan proposes legislation that would impose a new risk fee on dozens of the biggest banks – those with more than $50 billion in assets – and other systemically important financial institutions to discourage the kind of hazardous behavior that could induce another crisis.” While that all sounds good, we all know there’s no way in hell such legislation would ever pass through Congress. Secondly, Clinton “would appoint tough, independent regulators and ensure that both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission are independently funded — as other critical regulators are now — so that they can do their jobs without political interference.” Finally, she claims “no one should be too big to jail. I would seek to extend the statute of limitations for major financial crimes to 10 years from five and enhance rewards for whistle-blowers.” (This coming from the woman who said Edward Snowden’s whistle-blowing helped terrorists .) All in all, it’s a pretty generic, bland, and pandering op-ed. My favorite tweet of the day (so far): I’ll admit that “5% unemployment and $38 oil will bring about our nastiest politics” wasn’t my expectation in 2011-12. — Conor Sen (@conorsen) December 7, 2015 The US is a low-tax country:  You’d never guess, seeing as Republicans spend 10% of their time complaining about how tax-burdened we are (the other 90% of their time is spent hating on other types of people.) In fact, “we’re an outlier, and you would never know
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No, Raising the Minimum Wage Isn’t a Socialist Experiment

No, Raising the Minimum Wage Isn’t a Socialist Experiment

In a delightfully deluded letter to the editor , a citizen of Maine, Douglas Papa, rails against a higher minimum wage and its effects on the local economy. He warns his fellow Mainers that there should be “no influence to determine a higher minimum wage from people who do not own a business with staff paid hourly.” (By this logic, no citizen can participate in a policy discussion unless it directly affects them. How ridiculous.) He perpetuates the myth that “every time the minimum wage goes up, available jobs disappear.” Yet, a quick fact-check by The Associated Press shows that this “supposed” negative employment effect “usually doesn’t happen.” In fact, according to Al Jazeera’s Gregg Levine , “if you go back to the late 1970s,  four of the five times an increase in minimum wage was followed by job losses came during recessions , when higher unemployment is part of the general economic picture. And that fifth time came only months after the end of the 1990 downturn.” But historical facts be damned! Papa warns his legislators that “there will be no socialist revolution that will divide people into bullying employers to increase their starting wages.” (I wonder if he would have thought government was “bullying employers” when the US government said “no more” to child labor and enforced a series of workplace safety standards?) He goes onto claim that Maine possesses an unemployment rate of 4.3 percent precisely because the minimum wage is at $7.50. But Maine’s unemployment rate is only 0.9 percent lower than Washington state’s unemployment rate of 5.2 percent and our minimum wage is currently the highest in the nation at $9.47 per hour. How can that be if Papa’s thesis is correct? And for Seattle, where “forced socialism” is “shoving us” to a higher minimum wage? Well, Seattle’s minimum wage is currently on its way to $15 an hour and our unemployment rate sits at an incredible 3.8 percent . But let’s be honest here folks: numbers will never convince people like Papa
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Daily Clips: December 7th, 2015

Daily Clips: December 7th, 2015

Bernie Sanders wins readers’ poll for TIME’s Person of the Year:  Sanders’ legion of supporters made a fantastic choice for the 2015 POTY. While the readers’ poll is important, the final decision for POTY will ultimately be decided by TIME’s editors. Rest assured, if Bernie doesn’t get the nod, his fans will point to the billionaire class trying to suppress his appeal. Fun fact about TIME’s POTY: “No presidential candidate has been named Person of the Year prior to the end of the campaign.” US chooses gun rights over public safety: What a depressing headline. This country is so backward in so many ways. Jeb!’s Super Pac releases a 15 minute video on his life: In a desperate plea to GOP primary voters, Jeb Bush’s campaign…I mean, Super Pac, released a video which hoped to humanize Veto Corleone. The problem? Jeb is a super boring, plastic individual. The video is full of empty platitudes, relying on the viewer to actually like Jeb. Moreover, this video comes across as desperate. Stuck at 3% in national polls, Jeb! simply isn’t a good candidate (or at least the right candidate for this time). No number of lame videos or TV ads can help him this cycle. Majority says Trump is hurting GOP brand:  According to a new MSNBC/Telemundo/Marist poll, only 58 percent of adults say Trump is hurting the Republican party’s image. How the hell is that number so low? Who are these people that think he’s not hurting the GOP’s brand?

Daily Clips: December 7th, 2015

Daily Clips: December 7th, 2015

Bernie Sanders wins readers’ poll for TIME’s Person of the Year:  Sanders’ legion of supporters made a fantastic choice for the 2015 POTY. While the readers’ poll is important, the final decision for POTY will ultimately be decided by TIME’s editors. Rest assured, if Bernie doesn’t get the nod, his fans will point to the billionaire class trying to suppress his appeal. Fun fact about TIME’s POTY: “No presidential candidate has been named Person of the Year prior to the end of the campaign.” US chooses gun rights over public safety: What a depressing headline. This country is so backward in so many ways. Jeb!’s Super Pac releases a 15 minute video on his life: In a desperate plea to GOP primary voters, Jeb Bush’s campaign…I mean, Super Pac, released a video which hoped to humanize Veto Corleone. The problem? Jeb is a super boring, plastic individual. The video is full of empty platitudes, relying on the viewer to actually like Jeb. Moreover, this video comes across as desperate. Stuck at 3% in national polls, Jeb! simply isn’t a good candidate (or at least the right candidate for this time). No number of lame videos or TV ads can help him this cycle. Majority says Trump is hurting GOP brand:  According to a new MSNBC/Telemundo/Marist poll, only 58 percent of adults say Trump is hurting the Republican party’s image. How the hell is that number so low? Who are these people that think he’s not hurting the GOP’s brand?

Daily Clips: December 4th, 2015

Daily Clips: December 4th, 2015

Why today’s jobs report is a big deal for the economy:  The economy added 211,000 jobs – a whopping 20,000 more jobs than expected this month. These numbers suggest that the Fed will indeed raise interest rates this month. 3 conclusions from today’s job report: While the above article does a nice job of outlining the basic implications of today’s jobs report, this Bloomberg column goes into more detail. Certainly worth a read. Oh no, Jeb! You’re at 3% in the latest poll!  It must be hard for Jeb! to look at the latest polls and rationalize why he still needs to be in this race (other than the copious amounts of money he has stored up). I still cannot get over how far Jeb! has fallen. I was convinced going into this cycle that it would be Clinton v. Bush. I seriously underestimated the GOP’s appetite for outsiders, racism, and delusional leadership. Everyone who has ever worked for Ted Cruz despises him: In most jobs, references from past work plays a huge role in whether or not you get the position. Thankfully for Ted Cruz, this is not necessarily the case for POTUS, because almost everyone who has ever encountered Cruz…hates him. From his freshman roommate at Princeton to his time on the 2000 Bush campaign, colleagues have found Cruz to be a nightmare. Are you surprised?

Daily Clips: December 3rd, 2015

Daily Clips: December 3rd, 2015

Brady Walkinshaw to take on Jim McDermott in next year’s WA House race:  State Rep Brady Walkinshaw confirmed yesterday that he will be running for McDermott’s seat. Walkinshaw stressed he has “incredible respect and admiration” for McDermott, but said it’s time for a change. “I believe this region is ready for its next progressive leader,” he said.  The “welfare state” is a terrible name for an essential system:  “‘Welfare’ has two main meanings: general well-being, and, in some circles, government handouts. Welfare, though, is not designed with either of those meanings in mind—it’s a system of programs, including Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment insurance, that automatically props up consumer spending during recessions by making sure workers are getting by. Yes, an individual who receives money when unexpected, uncontrollable events stop him or her from working is getting help from the government. But it also helps on the level of the economy, as it makes sure that aggregate demand stays high during labor-market slumps. In this sense, the welfare state stabilizes capitalism.” New York Daily News cover: Perfection. An early look at tomorrow’s front page… GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS: https://t.co/eKUg5f03ec pic.twitter.com/j4gEFg9YtJ — New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) December 3, 2015

Marco Rubio and the Marketization of College

Marco Rubio and the Marketization of College

If you haven’t heard yet, Marco Rubio has come up with a strategy to address the high costs of college. And like always, his answer is to  marketize public goods . Specifically, Rubio’s college-cost proposal is backing “ indentured servitude .” Paula Dwyer at Bloomberg delves into the details : The new method, called income sharing, typically involves a “loan” (I’ll explain the quotation marks later) from investors to students. Instead of paying the money back with interest, students contract to pay their investors a set percentage of income for a fixed number of years after graduation. This concept owes its origin to Milton Friedman (who else?), and as Dwyer points out, many critics of this idea find “the concept of investing in human assets creepy.” You don’t say. I appreciate that Rubio is trying to solve the massive issue of high college costs – a topic which evades the attention of many Republican candidates. But trusting the market to on every single issue, from subsidizing low wages to ensuring paid family leave  is intellectually dishonest. Moreover, it leads our nation in a dangerous direction. As Professor Michael Sandel has warned us : If you look at it, we have drifted over the last three decades from having a market economy, to becoming a market society. A market economy is a valuable and effective tool for organising productive activity. But a market society is a place where everything is up for sale. It’s a way of life, where market values reach into every sphere of life. That can be everything from family life in personal relations, to health, education, civic life, and civic duties. This has happened with relatively little debate. Part of the appeal of market faith is that it seems to spare us the need, as citizens, to deliberate, reason together, or argue together, about how to value goods. Markets seem to be a neural way of sorting it out. But it’s a mistake to see markets that
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