How some of the tax plans compare

Economist Gabriel Zucman has compared what the average tax rates will be depending on your income, based on the various plans offered by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, and under Donald Trump. It should come as no surprise that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren go easy on the bottom 99% and start taxing the richest 1% very heavily, with Sanders really socking it to them. Joe Biden and Donald Trump tax the 99% more than the other two plans, tax the top 1% a lot less, and greatly reduce the tax rates of the top 400 individuals.

The story of money

The radio program On The Media had a fascinating episode on money: what it is, how it came to be, why it has value, and what its purpose is. It started with a story of someone I had not heard of before, an artist named J. S. G. Boggs, who made detailed drawings of currency notes with some slight imperfections deliberately inserted, and then exchanged those notes for goods with people who accepted them at face value as a work of art and even gave him change in regular currency, knowing that they were not notes issued by the government.
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The real purpose of the 70% marginal tax proposal

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal to raise the marginal income tax rate for incomes over $10 million to 70% has sparked a huge amount of interest in general and also alarm among the wealthy. Much of the discussion has focused on how much revenue it might raise. But as Vanessa Williamson writes, the main purpose of such a tax is not to raise revenue but to reduce inequality, and that those who focus on the former are missing the point.
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Trust Amazon to act like a jerk

Amazon is a retail behemoth has been reviled for overworking and underpaying its workers, forcing them to depend on the government social services to supplement their income, as well as using its power in the retailing world to drive many small local firms out of business. Recently it got some good publicity by saying that it would pay all its workers at least the minimum living wage of $15/hour. But it turns out that there is a catch, that what Amazon gave with one hand, it partially took away with the other.
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Trump’s obsession with Canadian milk

We know by now that Donald Trump’s bonnet has a very large number of bees. Several of his unshakeable beliefs relate to economics and all of them are highly dubious. One is that budget deficits are bad (unless they are caused by tax cuts for the wealthy) and another is that any trade deficit with any country is bad. He also seems to think that there is close relationship between the two. He also seems to believe that if any country has a trade surplus with the US, it must be because they are indulging in unfair trade practices such as currency manipulation, or providing subsidies for their domestic manufacturers and producers so that they can undercut the prices of US producers, or they are imposing tariffs to make US goods more expensive.
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Taking advantage of young people’s passions

The world of professional sports takes great advantage of young people’s desire to be part of its glamor. The most egregious example is the way that so many colleges make so much money off student athletes while the students themselves never see any of it and often get a rotten education as well. The latest US Supreme Court decision striking down the bans on betting on sports is going to open the floodgates for a lot more money and plenty of groups are going to want a slice of that action and the only people who will be shut out are the student athletes. The problem is that there are many young people who love sports so much or hope to someday be part of the tiny minority who make it in the professional leagues that there is no shortage of people who can be exploited.
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Universal basic income

The idea of providing everyone with a guaranteed universal basic income (UBI) is something that is being increasingly discussed. One reason is that as automation increases, the need for human beings may decrease or their jobs may shift to ones that are low-skilled and thus pay less. Finland is one country that is trying out the idea of a universal basic income, with a pilot program that gives $587 a month tax-free to 2,000 residents, regardless of their job status or wealth with “the only caveat is that recipients had to have been receiving an income subsidy from the state.”
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John Oliver tries to explains cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin has been much in the news recently, along with new words like ‘cryptocurrency’ and ‘blockchains’. When bitcoin first appeared some years ago, I was intrigued by the idea of a currency that was not issued by any government and tried to learn what it was about and even downloaded the software that supposedly enabled people to ‘mine’ the currency. I soon lost interest and gave up because I lacked the motivation. I am not really driven by the desire for money and the process seemed to be so complicated and boring that it did not have any intellectual appeal for me either
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Only the stock market matters for the oligarchy

I was listening to a news report this morning on a special election for congress in southwest Pennsylvania to be held on March 13 to replace a Republican congressman Tim Murphy who had been forced to resign in disgrace due to (what else?) a sex scandal. The district is heavily Republican but the party is nervous that that the current turmoil in the White House might put that seat in danger and they are pulling out all the stops. The Republican candidate was giving a speech and his main pitch was how well the stock market was doing since Trump was elected. That, for him, meant that everything was just peachy in the country, whatever else might be going on.
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Neoliberalism explained

I frequently use the label ‘neoliberal’ to describe a certain political stance that is common among Democrats. I use it in a pejorative way and on occasion commenters have said that the term itself is meaningless and is used as a gratuitous slur. Via reader Jeff Hess, I learned about this long essay titled Neoliberalism: the idea that swallowed the world by Stephen Metcalfe that explains in detail what the neoliberalism economic philosophy is and who its creator Friedrich Hayek was. Metcalfe says that those who say that it is a meaningless label that used mainly to attack so-called ‘centrists’ are wrong. He says that neoliberalism represents a particular economic and political view that has proven to be seriously damaging and that is why those who are described as neoliberals are the ones who most angrily shy away from the label.
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