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The marriage of poverty and inequality | Al Jazeera America

The marriage of poverty and inequality | Al Jazeera America | Political Economy News | Scoop.it

Who is responsible when people don't have enough?

Shamus Khan is an associate professor of sociology at Columbia University.

Poverty and inequality are inextricably linked. That's because poverty is not a personal attribute such as hair color or height, but a relationship between poor people and the society in which they live. The experiences and behaviors of the affluent — the wages they take home, the bonuses they receive, the price they pay for basic goods, the amount of taxes they pay, and the political policies they support — all help constitute what it means to be poor.

 

And yet many rich people insist that their fast-increasing wealth has nothing to do with the fact that others are poor, and everything to do with merit and just desserts. A number of politicians and pundits have recently given credence to this position, seeking to divorce the fight against poverty from the push for greater equality. In arguing that poverty and inequality are unrelated, they suggest that to help the poor, we must focus on addressing the attributes of people that make them poor in the first place. This is called an “attributionalist” stance.

 

One of the best representatives of this point of view is New York Times columnist David Brooks, who recently suggested that the uneducated poor “can’t control their impulses, can’t form attachments, don’t possess resilience and lack social and emotional skills.” He’s not alone: other so-called experts point to divorce and teen pregnancy rates among the poor to illustrate the moral failings of irresponsible behavior and sexual promiscuity — failings that lead to cycles of poverty wherein parents transfer their immorality to their children, creating generation after generation of poverty.

 

This attributionalist stance is false and misleading. It is seductive because it offers a convenient excuse for elites who benefit from today's extreme levels of inequality in America.


Read more: http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/2/the-marriage-of-povertyandinequality.html

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The Trans Pacific Partnership is in trouble on Capitol Hill. Here’s why.

The Trans Pacific Partnership is in trouble on Capitol Hill. Here’s why. | Political Economy News | Scoop.it


by Ed O'Keefe, the Washington Post

The trade agreement, known as the Trans Pacific Partnership, has been in the works for nearly a decade and would more closely align the economies of the U.S., Canada, Mexico and nine other countries in South America and Asia. The deal would eliminate tariffs on goods and services and generally harmonize dozens of regulations that can often complicate doing business across borders.


Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/02/19/why-the-trans-pacific-partnership-is-in-trouble-on-capitol-hill/

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Surprise: liberals are just as morally righteous as conservatives

Surprise: liberals are just as morally righteous as conservatives | Political Economy News | Scoop.it

A new study suggests that contrary to cliche, those on the left are just as morally driven as those on the right.

By Chris Mooney, Mother Jones


From the Moral Majority to the Tea Party, we tend to think of those on the political right as driven by deep moral convictions. Much of the reason involves the right's strong connection with fundamentalist religiosity, and the accompanying rhetoric about "moral values." Indeed, conservatives have made a habit of accusing liberals of being "moral relativists," even as psychological research paints liberals as more tolerant of uncertainty and nuance than conservatives, and more open to new experiences and ideas. That certainly doesn't sound like the psych profile of a moral crusader.

Maybe, though, the moral motivations of liberals have been underestimated. That's the upshot of a new political psychology study by Linda Skitka of the University of Illinois-Chicago and two colleagues. The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 21 separate studies examining the differing moral investments of the left and the right. And they found that overall, liberals showed just as much moral conviction as conservatives—albeit on very different political issues.

Read more: http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/02/liberals-conservatives-morality-zeal-conviction

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G8 New Alliance condemned as new wave of colonialism in Africa

G8 New Alliance condemned as new wave of colonialism in Africa | Political Economy News | Scoop.it

Critics say landmark initiative to boost agriculture and relieve poverty favours big business to the detriment of small farmer

by Claire Provost, Liz Ford and Mark Tran, The Guardian

A landmark G8 initiative to boost agriculture and relieve poverty has been damned as a new form of colonialism after African governments agreed to change seed, land and tax laws to favour private investors over small farmers.


Ten countries made more than 200 policy commitments, including changes to laws and regulations after giant agribusinesses were granted unprecedented access to decision-makers over the past two years.


The pledges will make it easier for companies to do business in Africa through the easing of export controls and tax laws, and through governments ringfencing huge chunks of land for investment.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/feb/18/g8-new-alliance-condemned-new-colonialism?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

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Sauce For the Gander

Sauce For the Gander | Political Economy News | Scoop.it

How should liberals feel about their own billionaires trying to buy elections?

by Paul Waldman February 18, 2014

Today's New York Times has a story about Tom Steyer, a retired hedge fund billionaire who is planning to spend $100 million ($50 million of his own, and $50 million of other people's) in the 2014 election to support action on climate change, which in practice means electing Democrats.

Read more: http://prospect.org/article/sauce-gander

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US support for regime change in Venezuela is a mistake

US support for regime change in Venezuela is a mistake | Political Economy News | Scoop.it

Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C. He is also President of Just Foreign Policy ( www.justforeignpolicy.org ).

"When is it considered legitimate to try and overthrow a democratically-elected government? In Washington, the answer has always been simple: when the US government says it is. Not surprisingly, that's not the way Latin American governments generally see it." 

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/18/venezuela-protests-us-support-regime-change-mistake

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The Changing Face of Christian Politics

The Changing Face of Christian Politics | Political Economy News | Scoop.it

Michael Wear is senior vice president of Values Partnerships. He previously led faith outreach for President Obama’s 2012 campaign and served in the White House faith-based initiative.

"Looking back, 2013 is likely to be remembered as the final collapse of the old, confrontational Religious Right in favor of a less partisan, more pragmatic approach."

"For Christians, this research confirmed what they were experiencing in their own lives: an open antagonism in the culture toward Christian ideas and doctrine; a sudden change in conversations when they mentioned their faith; the assumption of their politics that came with a knowledge of their faith; the sudden need to make clear that they were "not that kind of Christian." Pastors increasingly found that a partisan politics was pushing people away from faith  and causing tension among those in their churches. Things had to change."

Read more: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/02/the-changing-face-of-christian-politics/283859/

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Venezuela protests end in violence

Venezuela protests end in violence | Political Economy News | Scoop.it


At least three people are killed in deadly clashes during anti-government student protests in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas.

The violence broke out after some 10,000 demonstrators had gone home following a mainly peaceful rally.

Two people died after gunmen on motorbikes opened fire on the remaining crowd. A third died in later clashes.

The march was the latest in a series of mass protests against the policies of President Nicolas Maduro.

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-26166094



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Ethical Capitalism - Worth a Try?

Ethical Capitalism - Worth a Try? | Political Economy News | Scoop.it

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is a Geneva-based non-profit organization best known for its Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, the Annual Meeting of New Champions in China (Summer Davos) and the Summit on the Global Agenda in Dubai. It also releases research reports such as the Competitiveness Reports and Risk Reports and engages with its members in sector-specific initiatives.

Ethical Capitalism - Worth a Try?

Capitalism lifted 1 billion people out of poverty in 20 years but, today, society is discontent. Some believe the neo-liberal capitalist model needs shaking up, and that regulators, supervisors and corporate governance managers have failed those they are meant to protect. Western economic and social crises are pointing to the bankruptcy of the capitalist model. Yet the question remains: What is the alternative?


Speakers: Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Martin Sorrell, Muhammad Yunus, Jasmine Whitbread, Stanley M. Bergman, Ignazio Visco, Zanny Minton Beddoes

Watch: http://www.weforum.org/events/world-economic-forum-annual-meeting-2014/player?p=1&pi=1&a=52675

Connie Vogel's insight:

Watch activists and entrepreneurs tackle the subject of ethical capitalism at Davos:
http://www.weforum.org/events/world-economic-forum-annual-meeting-2014/player?p=1&pi=1&a=52675

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Governors won’t save the Republican Party | Al Jazeera America

Governors won’t save the Republican Party | Al Jazeera America | Political Economy News | Scoop.it

People subjected to the small-government austerity at the heart of the contemporary conservative consensus sometimes simply do not like it.

by Daniel Denvir, a reporter at the Philadelphia City Paper and a contributor to The Guardian, Salon, and The New Republic

Last year the Republican National Committee conducted an official autopsy after the defeat of presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. It came to the somewhat comfortable conclusion that the party’s biggest problem was its image. “Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes,” it wrote, while “many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country.” The solution touted by the RNC? Practical Republican governors — “America’s reformers in chief” — who would save a party dominated by right-wing crazies in Washington.

Read more: http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/2/governors-won-t-savetherepublicanparty.html

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Pelosi Puts Obama Trade Powers on Slow Track - Washington Wire - WSJ

Pelosi Puts Obama Trade Powers on Slow Track - Washington Wire - WSJ | Political Economy News | Scoop.it

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi rejected a bill that would help the Obama administration ease the passage of trade agreements with foreign partners.

 

by William Mauldin, The Wall Street Journal

 

The top Democrat in the House of Representatives rejected outright a bill that would help the Obama administration ease the passage of trade agreements with foreign partners, dealing a further blow to ongoing negotiations with Asia-Pacific and European countries.


Read more:  http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2014/02/12/pelosi-puts-obama-trade-powers-on-slow-track/

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The Rise (and Rise and Rise) of the 0.01 Percent in America

The Rise (and Rise and Rise) of the 0.01 Percent in America | Political Economy News | Scoop.it
The average 1 percenter is quite rich. But she lives in a state of relative poverty compared to the astronomical wealth of "the 1 percent of the 1 percent."

 

By Derek Thompson, The Atlantic 

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Senate Dems push IRS to be tougher on political groups

 

Senate Democrats facing tough elections this year want the Internal Revenue Service to play a more aggressive role in regulating outside groups expected to spend millions of dollars on their races

 

by Alexander Bolton, The Hill

 

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American unions membership declines as public support fluctuates

American unions membership declines as public support fluctuates | Political Economy News | Scoop.it

Though unions retain much public support, the share of American workers who actually belong to one has been falling for decades and is at its lowest level since the Great Depression.

Drew DeSilver is a Senior Writer at the Pew Research Center.

Read more: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/02/20/for-american-unions-membership-trails-far-behind-public-support/

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Change the Rules on Secret Money


The I.R.S. should ignore protests on the right and left and crack down on abuse of the tax code

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD of the New York Times

In November, when the Internal Revenue Service finally stirred itself to propose a modest crackdown on the abuse of the tax code by political groups, it was immediately attacked by tax-exempt nonprofit groups on the right. That wasn’t too surprising; secret donations from conservatives to these groups are the principal reason American politics is now dominated by those with huge bank accounts.


But now liberal tax-exempt groups are also raising their voice in protest over the I.R.S.’s plans, afraid that they will be caught in the same crackdown, and will be unable to engage in political activity. The best thing the I.R.S. can do is to ignore both sides and proceed swiftly ahead, making its proposed rules even stronger to squeeze the influence of money out of politics.


Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/19/opinion/change-the-rules-on-secret-money.html?hp&rref=opinion&_r=2

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The Increasingly Unequal States of America: Income Inequality by State, 1917 to 2011

The Increasingly Unequal States of America: Income Inequality by State, 1917 to 2011 | Political Economy News | Scoop.it

The rise in inequality experienced in the United States in the past three-and-a-half decades is not just a story of those in the financial sector in the greater New York City metropolitan area reaping outsized rewards from speculation in financial markets. Rising inequality and increases in top 1 percent incomes affect every state.

by Estelle Sommeiller and Mark Price, Economic Policy Institute

Economic inequality is, at long last, commanding attention from policymakers, the media, and everyday citizens. There is growing recognition that we need an inclusive economy that works for everyone—not just for those at the top.


While there are plentiful data examining the fortunes of the top 1 percent at the national level, this report examines how the top 1 percent in each state have fared over 1917–2011, with an emphasis on trends over 1928–2011 (data for additional percentiles spanning 1917–2011 are available at go.epi.org/top-incomes). In so doing, this analysis finds that all 50 states have experienced widening income inequality in recent decades.


Read more: http://www.epi.org/publication/unequal-states/

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Liberals Need to Think Beyond the Minimum Wage

Liberals Need to Think Beyond the Minimum Wage | Political Economy News | Scoop.it

A new report from the Congressional Budget Office says a hike would help the working class, but less than many might hope

by Jordan Weissmann, The Atlantic

Today's Congressional Budget Office report on the raising the minimum wage is a bit of a Rorschach test. Whether or not you support a hike, it contains new ammo for your old argument.


On the one hand, the government's chief number-crunchers conclude it's probably a job killer. Increasing the minimum to $10.10 an hour, as Democrats have proposed, would eliminate about 500,000 jobs.


On the other hand, they also find it would pull 900,000 people out of poverty, and put around $19 billion into the pockets of low- and middle-income families. About 16.5 million workers would get a pay bump.  Wealthier families see their real income drop a bit, as business profits slip and prices rise somewhat.


Read more: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/02/liberals-need-to-think-beyond-the-minimum-wage/283916/

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Barons of Broadband

Barons of Broadband | Political Economy News | Scoop.it

by Paul Krugman 

"So let me ask two questions about the proposed deal. First, why would we even think about letting it go through? Second, when and why did we stop worrying about monopoly power?"

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/17/opinion/krugman-barons-of-broadband.html?_r=0

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Welfare Program Tripled in Cost with No Money to Fund It

Welfare Program Tripled in Cost with No Money to Fund It | Political Economy News | Scoop.it

Stephen Moore is chief economist at the Heritage Foundation.

"Astoundingly, if all this spending were simply sent in the form of a check to every household in America living below the poverty level, we could raise each of these family’s incomes not just above the poverty line, but double that level, according to Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation. Every poor family of four could have a cash income of $44,000 a year — which in most countries would be princely."

Is it time for a basic income with no strings attached for every adult U.S. citizen regardless of income level or filing status?

Read more: http://blog.heritage.org/2014/02/17/welfare-program-tripled-cost-money-fund/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social

 

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When Culture Eclipses Class

When Culture Eclipses Class | Political Economy News | Scoop.it

How the UAW could organize NYU grad students and not Chattanooga, Tennessee auto workers

By Harold Meyerson 

America is where class struggle gets derailed by culture wars. It’s happened throughout our history. It happened again last week in Chattanooga.

Read more: http://prospect.org/article/when-culture-eclipses-class ;

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Why the Comcast-Time Warner Deal Is Far More Dangerous Than You Think | Wired Business | Wired.com

Why the Comcast-Time Warner Deal Is Far More Dangerous Than You Think | Wired Business | Wired.com | Political Economy News | Scoop.it

The merger would go beyond the cable TV, commercial broadband, and telephone industries to impact satellite TV, television programmers like ESPN and Fox, online video providers like NetFlix and YouTube, and the massive networks at the very heart of the internet.

By Cade Metz, the editor of Wired Enterprise

The Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal is bigger than you think.

In agreeing to pay $45 billion for Time Warner Cable, Comcast hopes to create not only an enormous cable TV provider, but the largest broadband internet provider in the United States and a company that controls about half of all “triple play” services, which bundle cable TV and broadband alongside internet-based telephone connections.

And that only begins to describe the magnitude of the deal.


Read more: http://www.wired.com/business/2014/02/comcasts-45bn-time-warner-buy-change-everything/


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US companies have no idea what to do with all their money

US companies have no idea what to do with all their money | Political Economy News | Scoop.it


By Matt Phillips @MatthewPhillips February 12, 2014

It's getting ridiculous. In the wake of the financial crisis, US companies have socked away a record $1.93 trillion in cash or liquid securities.

Read more: http://qz.com/176476/us-companies-have-no-idea-what-to-do-with-all-their-money/

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A Welcome Surprise: There Are More States Working to Expand Voting Rights than to Restrict Them

A Welcome Surprise: There Are More States Working to Expand Voting Rights than to Restrict Them | Political Economy News | Scoop.it

In 2013, 46 states introduced 237 bills designed to make voting easier, while restrictive measures were introduced in only 33

 

Sue Sturgis wrote this article for Facing South, a project of the Institute for Southern Studies.

 

Before the 2012 election, there were numerous efforts in the states to restrict voting. But now the pendulum appears to be swinging in the other direction, giving voting-rights advocates cause for cautious optimism.

Read more: http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/more-states-working-to-expand-voting-rights-than-to-restrict-them?utm_source=FB&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=20140214

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All eyes on Chattanooga: VW’s workers are deciding the future of unions in the South

All eyes on Chattanooga: VW’s workers are deciding the future of unions in the South | Political Economy News | Scoop.it

If they vote to join the United Auto Workers and form a German-style "works council," many more could follow

 

by Lydia DePillis, The Washington Post

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- Employees at the Volkswagen auto plant here will vote Friday on whether to join the United Auto Workers union, marking the end of a fevered battle between national conservative groups and labor leaders over the future of the right-to-work South.

Read more:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/02/13/all-eyes-on-chattanooga-vws-workers-are-deciding-the-future-of-unions-in-the-south/?tid=sm_fb

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Global inequality is about power, not just wealth

Global inequality is about power, not just wealth | Political Economy News | Scoop.it
Corporate influence over policy-making damages human rights. Nick Buxton considers the impact of Davos.
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