progressive economics

progressive economics


America’s Social Safety Net Is Embarrassingly Inadequate

social safety net April 17th, 2020

America was cruising along in the early part of the year, Trump touting the amazingly low unemployment and extremely high Dow Jones Industrial Average. Companies were making profits, and things were moving in that generally-optimistic direction. Infrastructure was being neglected, health insurance was a damnable mess, and Americans were probably more divided that any time since the tumultuous 1960s. Then, a bat’s DNA and some other animal’s DNA combined in a pernicious and horrifying way in some God-forsaken food market in Wuhan, China. All hell broke loose.
Instead of landing in a well-constructed and life-saving social safety net, millions of Americans are out of work, depressed, socially strained, and terribly pessimistic.
This blog features some markers of where we are, economically, in this, the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression.

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A Rich Vein of Quotes About Public Health

quotes about public health April 9th, 2020

I often will sit at my computer, kind of bored and idle and unstimulated. I suppose some of that is not only the life of a writer, but as a mostly-unsuccessful blogger, it’s pretty much the bottom of the barrel of the writing profession. So whereas a writer such as Hemingway or Woolf or Nietzsche, whom you could imagine sitting at the typewriter (or chewing mindlessly on their quill), might experience writer’s block (or a manic work-spree), at least they have the highest-caliber brains and publishers awaiting a quality product. Now, with 1,000,000 books published in any given year, and folks being mostly resistant to being marketed to, the number of writers who probably sit and suffer day in and day out must be legion. But, today, I fell into a rich vein of political, philosophical, and written gold, and I want to share it here. The medium: quotes. The subject: America’s characteristic, predictable, and mixed response to the biggest crisis in a century: the coronavirus pandemic. It is stretching each of us, and our social fabric, and our institutions, to the limit. Here are some trenchant thoughts by three sources that all cohere nicely.

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Progressive Economics: Bernstein & Herman (V&E-4)

progressive economics February 19th, 2020

Unless you’re quite wealthy, you probably feel an economic pinch— a job that’s not keeping pace, a fair amount of debt, insecurity about Social Security. The economic priorities of the Bush administration and Congress are fairly plain to see; the road to fiscal propriety in a more progressive America is not rocket science— it comes down to priorities and discipline. I’m happy to speak with two guests today who have decades of combined experience watching the economy, the media, and the rest of the factors that support it. Thank you for listening; we have to take a quick break, but when I return I will tell you about Jared Bernstein, Ph.D. and, then at the bottom of the hour, I will be speaking with Professor Edward Herman.

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Responsibility for Our Fellow Man

responsibility June 2nd, 2019

My wife and I donated five thousand dollars to a local no-cost medical clinic, the Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic. My visit was amazing. It’s a new building, and is at least as nice as my doctor’s. Probably nicer. It was built recently with 100% donations and grants! For an individual making up to about $25,000 a year or a family of four earning around $50,000 annually, primary care and many other specialties are free. Free. It felt like a wonderful asset to our community, which sits in one of the poorest states in the country. Many folks, however, believe that anything “free” is not only a waste of resources, but morally offensive. That is the cult of the individual, and it runs afoul of an important belief underlying progressive politics and moral decency: the responsibility we have for our fellow man (and woman).

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Economic Inequality and Political Polarization

inequality November 3rd, 2018

The following is a brief piece written by New York Times columnist, David Leonhardt. In it, he asks the question, Race, class or both? He is referring to whether the 2016 election was in large part won by Donald Trump due to Americans’ racism (the white people, that is) or economic insecurity/economic inequality. It is an interesting summary, and it is recommended that the interested reader follow the links herein to the New York Times to read more. I also include a dozen interesting quotes about economics, capitalism, economic justice, and income inequality by scholar and author Steven Pearlstein.

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Quotes About Fiscal Responsibility and Integrity

fiscal responsibility August 31st, 2018

I am going to attempt to demonstrate in this blog that Republicans have not been, at least in my lifetime, the Party of fiscal responsibility. This has a substantial affect on our finances and our lives. To some degree, Dems in Congress have in times-past been kinda spendy and porky. But it seems inarguable to me that Republicans in Congress and in the White House do not have fiscal integrity (or the peoples’ best interests at heart). In general, Republican politicians talk a good game, but when it comes to fiscal responsibility and integrity, they tend to cut taxes and increase spending. It has resulted in over $21,000,000,000,000 of debt. Red state Trump backers need to know that the GOP is not the party of the working class and that it cannot go on unchecked. 

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Democrats Make a Move Toward Progressive Politics

progressive politics August 28th, 2018

Boy, was I angry at the Democratic National Committee’s treatment of Bernie Sanders in 2016. Their chicanery (supporting Clinton for the nominee for patently political reasons) really rubbed me the wrong way. That cynical and corrupt situation plus a lot of Bernie supporters being unenamored with Hilary Clinton probably swung the election, because I believe Sanders would have prevailed in a few of the states Clinton lost. I mean, she didn’t even visit Pennsylvania, and Sanders had a robust following in many of those blue-collar swing states. It all added up to a bunch of crap, if you ask me. We are now enjoying the worst presidency in American history – an embarrassment for us in 2016, since we have so much more information and better education than they did during Pierce’s or Taft’s presidencies. We are supposed to be going in a progressive direction, but at least since 1980 there has been a reactionary counterforce in place, most notably perhaps with Donald Trump. Democrats made a big step a couple days ago that will help this whole country.

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Is Capitalism a Sustainable Economic System?

is capitalism a sustainable economic system? August 23rd, 2018

Is capitalism a sustainable economic system? There are many facts, opinions, and even biases held by countless people. Everyone has heard “Socialism is _______” or “The problem with capitalism is ___________.” This is certainly a question that interests me. I tend to come down on the side of capitalism where it meets democratic socialism. That is, the government (comprised of responsible and accountable citizens) owns some public resources, and individuals and to some degree corporations own the remainder. The amount of money that one can make from profit-seeking ventures is limited by a very progressive taxation scheme. One of the sharpest minds is the liberal author, professor, and former Secretary of Labor, Robert S. Reich, and he wrote a book, Saving Capitalism, that helps to answer the critical and timely questions, Is capitalism a sustainable economic system? Is capitalism just and fair? What can socialism and other approaches offer capitalism to help preserve the planet, care for people, and yet allow profit-making? This blog features Robert Reich quotes from his very readable book, Saving Capitalism.

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Crony Capitalism: Even Worse Than Raw Capitalism

crony capitalism August 15th, 2018

It’s not a novel concept to compare America to Rome, nor is it to see connections between an ailing, sclerotic, corrupt Roman Empire and our own republic. One thing they share is moral decay, foolish financial/military policies, and perhaps above all, political corruption. I am talking about the effect of money on governance. In modern parlance, crony capitalism. It is a thorn in America’s side because it hampers a democratic and horizontal diffusion of capital and resources amongst the tens of millions of small businesses. Worse than unregulated capitalism, crony capitalism claws at the beliefs that America is the land of opportunity and that we’re all in this together, making them myth. Indeed, as Nobel laureate and economist Joseph Stiglitz maintains, “One of the darkest sides to the market economy that came to light was the large and growing inequality that has left the American social fabric, and the country’s economic stability, fraying at the edges: the rich are getting richer while the rest were facing hardships that seemed inconsonant with the American dream.”

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A Case for Socialism in Modern America

socialism August 9th, 2018

There are few topics in the United States that get beat down like a hammer pounding a nail into a board than socialism. It’s as if the very word is a curse or slander of something dear to you. One hears: “Socialism in the US, I’d rather DIE first!”; “You’re a Socialist?? then go live somewhere where you’re wanted!”; “Creeping Socialism is like weeds in a garden; once it gets started, it spreads everywhere!” In this guest blog, economist and author Carl Conrad opines on what socialism is, what it isn’t, and why it is a necessary and useful bulwark against runaway capitalism.

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