The Melting Away of North Atlantic Social Democracy

Plutocrats and their ideologues like to claim that too equal an income distribution destroys incentives to work and turns us into a “nation of takers.” But a return to the inequality levels of the 1960s would not turn us into Maoist China. In the relevant range of levels of inequality, it is much more likely that higher inequality will slow growth by depriving the non-rich of the resources to invest in themselves, their children, and their enterprises; It will further slow growth by focusing effort on helping the rich keep what they have at the cost of squelching the development of the new.
-J. Bradford Delong


You can’t build the new thing when you’re fighting for survival.

New Report Reveals Just How Badly Black Women-Led Startups Are Being Underfunded |Co.exist

Black women lead just .04% of the total number of women-led tech startups in the U.S., according to a newly released report by Digital Undivided’s #ProjectDiane—a research study evaluating 88 tech companies led by black women. Of that group, only 11 had raised $1 million or more. The remaining 77 raised an average of just $36,000, a gaping discrepancy compared to the average of $1.3 million raised for all startups—led by mostly white, male founders—who have historically received over 97% of all venture capital funding.

Source: New Report Reveals Just How Badly Black Women-Led Startups Are Being Underfunded | Co.Exist | ideas + impact

This is atrocious. We ought to be ashamed…if not surprised.

Let’s get to fixing this.

You don’t have a career. You have a life |

Professionalism has become a destructive myth. Ditch it. You don’t have a career. You have a life.

What would happen if we took her advice? If we let our beliefs shape our work, doing only what we actually think is right? Answer. It would change the world. Nothing would be the same – our cities, our mines, our jails, our legislatures, our detention centres.

We’re pretty good, most of us, at operating decently in our personal lives – stopping at red lights, not stealing the neighbour’s chooks, beating up puppies (or anyone most of the time). In our personal lives we’re pretty conscious. But our working lives are different.

Our working selves look away, tolerate injustice, further the interests of the mega-ruthless and undermine both common good and common decency to a degree that would make us ashamed were it not for a single concept. Professionalism.


What would you start doing differently if you learned you only had one life to live?

Gates Foundation under scrutiny for “skewed” development agenda

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is widely recognised around the world as a powerful force for good, addressing hunger and poverty in many developing countries. But a new report has now claimed that its initiatives may in fact be detrimental to economic development and global justice.

In a 56-page study launched on January 20 and titled Gated Development – Is the Gates Foundation always a force for good?, United Kingdom non-profit Global Justice Now calls into question the philanthropic foundation’s programmes, saying that its development agenda is “skewed towards promoting private corporate interests” and marred by a lack of oversight in how its wealth and influence is managed.

Source: Gates Foundation under scrutiny for “skewed” development agenda | News | Eco-Business | Asia Pacific

Why do we allow so few people to have so much influence?

Technology has created more jobs than it has destroyed, says 140 years of data | Business | The Guardian

A study by economists at the consultancy Deloitte seeks to shed new light on the relationship between jobs and the rise of technology by trawling through census data for England and Wales going back to 1871.

Their conclusion is unremittingly cheerful: rather than destroying jobs, technology has been a “great job-creating machine”. Findings by Deloitte such as a fourfold rise in bar staff since the 1950s or a surge in the number of hairdressers this century suggest to the authors that technology has increased spending power, therefore creating new demand and new jobs.

-Katie Allen

Source: Technology has created more jobs than it has destroyed, says 140 years of data | Business | The Guardian

I wonder if the author of this article, and the Deloitte economists, would be so “unremittingly cheerful,” if technology had pushed them out of their current roles, and into bar staff or hairdressing careers?

Markets in the next system – The Next System Project

It wasn’t until hundreds of years after Marco Polo’s travels that the dramatic transformation of the system of production began—and in a curious place. Wood demonstrates that the capitalist “laws of motion” did not emerge in urban commercial centers, as is normally supposed, but in the countryside. Specifically, the English countryside. English landholding was inordinately concentrated, so “an unusually large proportion of land was worked not by peasant-proprietors but by tenants,” as Wood explains. For most of the feudal age, English tenancies were “Freehold leases,” with rents fixed by a legal or customary standard, but by the sixteenth century, a growing number were “Copyhold leases,” auctioned by landlords to the highest bidder, their rental value set at whatever the market would bear. The more competition there was in the market for rental land, the more notice landlords and their surveyors began to take of the “value above the oulde Rentes” that could be extracted through this market. And so England underwent great waves of land enclosure, separating the masses from direct access to the means of their own subsistence

-Jesse A. Myerson

 Source: Markets in the next system – The Next System Project

This needs reading.

The Corporate Tax Dodge Continues – NYT Editorial

Johnson Controls, an industrial and auto parts supplier headquartered in Milwaukee, announced this week that is was selling itself to Tyco International, a maker of fire safety products based in Ireland. The deal will let Johnson Controls pass itself off as Irish and, in the process, cut its taxes in the United States by at least $150 million a year.

Johnson Controls is not the first American company to avoid taxes by merging with a smaller company in a low-tax nation, and it won’t be the last. Nor is it the biggest. That distinction goes to Pfizer, which is in the process of becoming Irish, having merged last year with a smaller company based in Dublin.

Johnson Controls is, however, the latest and quite possibly the most brazen tax dodger. The company would not exist as it is today but for American taxpayers, who paid $80 billion in 2008 to bail out the auto industry. Johnson Controls’s president personally begged Congress for the bailout, which came on top of huge tax breaks that the company has received over the years, including at least $149 million from Michigan alone from 1992 to 2009, according to The Times.

Source: The Corporate Tax Dodge Continues – The New York Times

This is not good business. It’s anti-society and anti-humanity, and it will continue to accelerate until we demand that it’s stopped.

With this ‘mirage of a marketplace’, Uber is taking its customers for a ride | John Naughton

The crassness of neoliberalism lies in its insistence that markets represent the only way of making them. Hence the belief that one can make organisations such as the NHS or the BBC more “efficient” by introducing “internal markets” of the kind that John Birt tried in the BBC during his tenure as director general, with results that were sometimes beyond parody.In that sense, the evangelical neoliberal is like the mythical tradesman who only possesses a hammer and is therefore condemned to treating everything as if it were a nail.

-John Naughton

Source: With this ‘mirage of a marketplace’, Uber is taking its customers for a ride | John Naughton | Opinion | The Guardian


Too big to fail, and only getting bigger | Oxfam: Politics of Poverty

I’ve been learning a lot about the U.S. financial sector recently and was surprised to realize that the five largest U.S. banks – JP Morgan Chase Bank, Bank of America, Citibank, Wells Fargo Bank, and US Bank – control nearly half of all assets in the U.S. banking sector. For those who have been working in this field for some time, this news may not be surprising. But what is perhaps most distressing is that this trend was not stopped – or even really slowed – by the financial crisis, and the five biggest banks continue to grab hold of a larger and larger share of total banking assets over time.

-Stephanie Fontana

Source: Too big to fail, and only getting bigger | Oxfam America The Politics of Poverty Blog

What should we expect to happen when the next bubble pops?

Pando: Bright Young Flacks: “Cameron’s Cronies” now drive Silicon Valley’s most sinister propaganda machine

But let’s be clear: Plouffe’s departure (and it is a departure) to be replaced by Rachel Whetstone is an absolutely fascinating, and important, story. To Brits like me, it’s also a story that telegraphs clearly how Uber intends to get more, not less, aggressive and shady in its dealings with both lawmakers and the media. If you were worried about Uber’s power under Plouffe, you should be shitting yourself at what they’ll be capable of under Whetstone. The problem is, to tell the story properly one needs to

Source: Pando: Bright Young Flacks: “Cameron’s Cronies” now drive Silicon Valley’s most sinister propaganda machine