ALEC Policies Sell ‘Snake Oil to the States’

By: Tuesday February 19, 2013 6:32 pm

Three national organizations offered a scathing criticism of policies endorsed by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, in a conference call with reporters last week. Their findings strike a stake in the heart of ALEC claims that its view of the world — lower taxes, fewer workplace protections, and diminished public investments — is good for the public.

Forgetting the Poor While Arguing About the Rich

By: Saturday December 29, 2012 9:00 am

All the handwringing over the fiscal cliff has centered on the “job creators” and the “middle class,” but the last time I checked, there was a non-trivial segment of the US population that falls into neither of these categories: the poor.

And yet, the DC chattering class doesn’t notice the difference between these two, nor address the separate needs of these two goups.

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Danny Dorling, The No-Nonsense Guide to Equality

By: Sunday September 2, 2012 1:59 pm

Modern democratic society requires basic equality. Our Founding Fathers understood this point when they drafted the Declaration of Independence with the radical statement, in its time: “All men are created equal.” Citizens must feel that they have a say in political decisions, that they are represented in some way. Citizens must also feel that they have an opportunity to “win” sometime in the future, even if their causes and candidates “lose” today. The opportunity to change government and policy based on citizen interests is central to democracy, and it requires a foundation in interpersonal equality.

Danny Dorling’s provocative book expands upon these insights. He argues that “human beings are happier and healthier the more equal they are.

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Paul Krugman, End This Depression Now!

By: Saturday May 19, 2012 1:59 pm

It is an honor and a pleasure to have Paul Krugman at the Lake this afternoon for a conversation on End This Depression Now! Dedicated “To the unemployed, who deserve better,” the book is a condemnation of the policies and mind-set that have produced the worst economic depression since the 1930s. And unlike the Great Depression, which contemporaries did not understand, we know what to do; the current depression is entirely self-inflicted. The broken homes and ruined lives are not attributable to acts of God or the inscrutable logic of the market, but are the direct consequence of public decisions that have amplified the inherent risk of private credit by deregulating financial operations and the attempt to balance the budget when aggregate private demand is collapsing. The central message is that none of this suffering is necessary, and none of it is justified.

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Katherine Porter, Broke: How Debt Bankrupts the Middle Class

By: Sunday March 25, 2012 1:59 pm

Katherine Porter’s book, Broke: How Debt Bankrupts the Middle Class, is a group of essays based on the 2007 Consumer Bankruptcy Project. The 2007 CBP collected basic information on substantially all Chapter 7 (liquidation) and Chapter 13 (partial repayment plans) cases filed for five consecutive weeks in early 2007, and selected 1000 cases per week for detailed study. The researchers collected data from a) the petitions filed by the debtors, which contain enormous detail about their financial condition; b) other court records; c) questionnaires from about half of the cases; and d) interviews of about 20% of the filers. That is a wonderful cross-section of Americans whose finances were destroyed just before the Great Crash.

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Bruce Bartlett, The Benefit and The Burden: Tax Reform-Why We Need It and What It Will Take

By: Sunday January 29, 2012 1:59 pm

The Benefit and the Burden begins with a short history of American taxation and a description of the core issues in the definition of income. It follows with some discussion of the principal economic arguments that have flowed around the relationship between taxes, growth and fairness, and then proceeds to examine the issues surrounding preferences in our tax code – for housing, for charitable contributions, for capital gains, and the problem of taxing corporate profits. It ends with a discussion of reform proposals, and Bruce makes his case for a VAT to close the revenue gap and fund the government that we will need, among other things, to support an increasingly elderly population.

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Arne Kalleberg, Good Jobs, Bad Jobs: The Rise of Polarized and Precarious Employment Systems in the United States, 1970s to 2000s

By: Sunday November 20, 2011 1:59 pm

Kalleberg’s solution requires rethinking the social contract, a tough sell in individualistic America. He refers to the European concept of “flexicurity,” which seeks to combine employer flexibility with worker security. Doing so requires rethinking the relationship between public and private. The essential elements of such a model require universal, affordable, portable health insurance which ideally should be separated from employment. It also requires a more secure and portable pension system, more generous unemployment insurance, and greater opportunities to acquire new skills and education over the course of a lifetime. If employment is more transient and employers invest little in their workers, then a revitalized social safety net needs to fill in the gaps.

Americans Not Better Off Than They Were 2 1/2 Years Ago

By: Tuesday September 13, 2011 2:35 pm

Since January of 2009, when President Obama took office, the American people as a whole are noticeably worse off financially. This is a serious problem for the Obama campaign, and why they desperately need strong economic growth between now and the election.

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Jeff Madrick, Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present

By: Sunday July 3, 2011 1:59 pm

Age of Greed offers a long survey of the rise of regulation liberated financial markets and actors. The historical sweep is artful and well presented. The text argues for a return to more caged financial markets and actors. The steady and mounting pressures on the American middle class are correlated with the rising excesses, fortunes and missteps of financiers and their vehicles.

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