Categories
Politics

Rate of Growth

“I definitely understand how that would make lots and lots of extremely rich people uncomfortable,” said Mr. Hanauer, co-founder of a Seattle-based venture capital firm and an early investor in Amazon. “But I’m more worried about our democracy.”

“Don’t get me wrong,” he added. “I would prefer 3 percent.” But even at 6 percent, he said, “we would all survive and continue to be rich and fly around in our planes.”

He pointed out that most Americans had been living with meager income growth for decades, while the silk-thin layer at the top shoveled in enormous gains, cumulatively more than 400 percent since 1980.

“All you’re doing is saying to the richest percent of Americans that the rate of growth of your assets and wealth will now match what has happened to other Americans over the last 40 years,” Mr. Hanauer said.

NYT: Warren Would Take Billionaires Down a Few Billion Pegs

Emphasis mine.

Categories
Politics

French Doors

Most recently, the president has insisted the structure be painted black and topped with spikes, while grumbling to aides that the Army Corps contracting process is holding back his ambitions. At the White House meeting Thursday, he said he doesn’t like the current design for the wall’s gates, suggesting that instead of the hydraulic sliding gate design, the Army Corps should consider an alternative, according to an administration official: “Why not French doors?” the president asked.

‘He always brings them up’: Trump tries to steer border wall deal to North Dakota firm

That’s the Washington Post, not the Onion.

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Politics

If You Can’t Win Fairly, Cheat!

“Recent Republican behavior — from the 2016 stolen Supreme Court seat to the legislative shenanigans that followed gubernatorial defeats in North Carolina and Wisconsin to voter suppression efforts across numerous states — suggests a party whose commitment to democratic politics has weakened,” Mr. Levitsky said. “The fact that the Republican Party has grown increasingly authoritarian poses a greater threat to American democracy than Donald Trump.”

Michael Tomasky: Do the Republicans Even Believe in Democracy Anymore?

No, they do not.

Categories
Politics Society

Wrecking the Republic

If you think Donald Trump is wrecking the republic and wonder why so many Americans can’t see that he is, you may be asking the wrong question. What if they see the same thing you do and happen to like what they see?

Garrett Keizer in The New Republic: “Nihilist Nation — The Empty Core of the Trump Mystique”
Categories
New York Politics

Fred and the Trump Family Fraud

The manipulation of values to evade taxes was central to one of the most important financial events in Donald Trump’s life. In an episode never before revealed, Mr. Trump and his siblings gained ownership of most of their father’s empire on Nov. 22, 1997, a year and a half before Fred Trump’s death. Critical to the complex transaction was the value put on the real estate. The lower its value, the lower the gift taxes. The Trumps dodged hundreds of millions in gift taxes by submitting tax returns that grossly undervalued the properties, claiming they were worth just $41.4 million.

The same set of buildings would be sold off over the next decade for more than 16 times that amount.

The most overt fraud was All County Building Supply & Maintenance, a company formed by the Trump family in 1992. All County’s ostensible purpose was to be the purchasing agent for Fred Trump’s buildings, buying everything from boilers to cleaning supplies. It did no such thing, records and interviews show. Instead All County siphoned millions of dollars from Fred Trump’s empire by simply marking up purchases already made by his employees. Those millions, effectively untaxed gifts, then flowed to All County’s owners — Donald Trump, his siblings and a cousin. Fred Trump then used the padded All County receipts to justify bigger rent increases for thousands of tenants.

Trump Engaged in Suspect Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father

Categories
Politics Society

Nine Point Nine

You see, when educated people with excellent credentials band together to advance their collective interest, it’s all part of serving the public good by ensuring a high quality of service, establishing fair working conditions, and giving merit its due. That’s why we do it through “associations,” and with the assistance of fellow professionals wearing white shoes. When working-class people do it — through unions — it’s a violation of the sacred principles of the free market. It’s thuggish and anti-modern. Imagine if workers hired consultants and “compensation committees,” consisting of their peers at other companies, to recommend how much they should be paid. The result would be — well, we know what it would be, because that’s what CEOs do.

There is a page in the book of American political thought — Grandfather knew it by heart — that says we must choose between government and freedom. But if you read it twice, you’ll see that what it really offers is a choice between government you can see and government you can’t. Aristocrats always prefer the invisible kind of government. It leaves them free to exercise their privileges. We in the 9.9 percent have mastered the art of getting the government to work for us even while complaining loudly that it’s working for those other people.

The source of the trouble, considered more deeply, is that we have traded rights for privileges. We’re willing to strip everyone, including ourselves, of the universal right to a good education, adequate health care, adequate representation in the workplace, genuinely equal opportunities, because we think we can win the game. But who, really, in the end, is going to win this slippery game of escalating privileges?

The Atlantic: The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy

Categories
Politics

Tax Cuts Are Not Magic

Today, Republicans extol the virtues of lowering marginal tax rates, citing as their model the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which lowered the top individual income tax rate to just 28 percent from 50 percent, and the corporate tax rate to 34 percent from 46 percent. What follows, they say, would be an economic boon. Indeed, textbook tax theory says that lowering marginal tax rates while holding revenue constant unambiguously raises growth.

But there is no evidence showing a boost in growth from the 1986 act. The economy remained on the same track, with huge stock market crashes — 1987’s “Black Monday,” 1989’s Friday the 13th “mini-crash” and a recession beginning in 1990. Real wages fell.

I helped create the GOP tax myth. Trump is wrong: Tax cuts don’t equal growth.

Categories
Politics Technology

Consequences of Free Speech

“The tech companies should stop censoring users that they politically disagree with or governments should regulate them as public utilities,” Torba’s spokesman Utsav Sanduja said. Last year, Sanduja and Torba founded Gab.ai, an alternative social network for free speech advocates. “Imagine if a private corporation owned all the highways and they decided to close them down whenever they feel like it — that is what it’s like. You cannot deny people a fundamental staple of the Internet.”

The Washington Post: In Silicon Valley, the right sounds a surprising battle cry: Regulate tech giants

It’s more like you claiming that you should be able to take the public highway (the Internet) to a privately owned restaurant, where you spew racist and misogynist bile, and the restaurant staff and other patrons just have to accept your presence and cannot kick you out.

The article goes on to conflate the liberal preference for legally enforced net neutrality (anyone can drive on the highway, but the restaurants along the way can make their own rules) with the desire of these morons to legally prevent private social, payment, and infrastructure networks from kicking people off for using their platforms to espouse hate (the above scenario).

The most hilarious outcome of all this would be if conservatives finally decided to abandon their preference for not using federal government power to break up monopolies, all because some Neo-Nazis got kicked off twitter.

Categories
Politics

Rock Beats Scissors

The white nationalist riot in Charlottesville, a city that boasts “diversity makes us stronger,” made a lot of things clear. One of them is that generic solutions to the racial problem — bland affirmations of inclusiveness, tolerance and “free speech” — will no longer work. Indeed, they have never worked, at least not on their own. The problem of discrimination and equality in America has been far more dynamic, operating like an oversized historical game of paper-rock-scissors. And in such a game, throwing the same thing over and over again is never a good idea.

N. D. B. Connolly: Charlottesville showed that liberalism can’t defeat white supremacy. Only direct action can.

Categories
Politics

Population Concentration

By 2040, 70 percent of Americans are expected to live in the 15 largest states, which are also home to the overwhelming majority of the 30 largest cities in the country. By extension, 30 percent of Americans will live in the other 35 states. That means that the 70 percent of Americans get all of 30 Senators and 30 percent of Americans get 70 Senators.

David Birdsell, Ph. D., Dean of the Baruch College Marxe School of Public and International Affairs

We’re in trouble if a cow in Wyoming has more proportional representation in the Senate than the average Texan or New Yorker.