Is growth always good?

It seems to be almost axiomatic these days to think of economic growth as an unfettered good. But must it always be so? Johann Hari in the April 2010 of The Progressive magazine wrote in a review of a book about John Maynard Keynes, whose influential work has been used to fuel growth, about what that famous economist thought about when we might know that it might be time to call a halt to growth.
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Call for higher taxes on the rich

Today is tax day in the US, the deadline for filing one’s returns. Reader Norm sent me this short clip by Robert Reich where he explains how it can be that the rich and super-rich pay taxes at a much lower rate than do the middle and classes, thanks to a whole bunch of measures that have been thoughtfully inserted into the tax code by the people they purcahsed, also known as the members of Congress.
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The super-wealthy’s rise

The Occupy movement did us the valuable service of focusing attention of income inequality and giving rise to the meme of the 1% vs. the 99%. While that is catchy, the reality is that it is what is going on with the top 0.1% that is really telling. The class struggle that is intensifying is no longer between the wealthy and the rest of us, but between the super-wealthy and the rest.
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Living hand-to-mouth while being well off

Many people live in a state of economic insecurity from paycheck to paycheck, where any sudden financial hit (illness, loss of job, major car or home repair) can cause serious hardship. Such people are nowhere close to meeting the rule of thumb of having at least eight month’s living expenses available in the form of liquid assets to meet such emergencies.
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The war on poorer retirees

There has been a concerted effort by the wealthy class in the US to get the media to think that cutting the debt is the biggest issue facing the nation and that there is only one way to do that and that is by cutting earned benefits. Peter G. Peterson, the billionaire former commerce secretary and co-founder of the Blackstone private equity group, is one of the leaders of this movement.
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The new gilded age

Jon Perr displays ten graphs that chart various economic measures over the last century or so. These include the share of total income by the top income brackets, CEO-to-worker compensation ratios, marginal tax rates for the highest income levels, effective tax rates, average incomes, and more. The graphs are spectacular in their clarity even if depressing in their implications. I reproduce just one because it is illustrative of a point that I wish to make.
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The return of Karl Marx

Karl Marx is one of the major influences in the whole field of political economy. Even those who think he is the embodiment of evil have to acknowledge how much his analyses of capitalism has shaped the way we view things and structure our socieities. But some of his most publicized predictions were spectacularly wrong, chief among them that the communist revolution would first occur in advanced industrial societies like Germany during his time. The fact that it happened in the more backward feudal and agrarian country of Russia, plus the collapse of the Soviet Union and the shift of so many formerly Communist nations such as those in Russia, Eastern Europe, and China to more market-based economies were widely portrayed by his critics as conclusively demonstrating failure of his entire theory of political economy and seemed the occasion to bury Marx’s ideas for good. [Read more...]