“Opponents of minimum-wage laws have long argued that companies have only so much money and, if required to pay higher wages, they will employ fewer workers.
Now there is evidence that such concerns, never entirely sincere, are greatly overstated.
Over the past five years, a wave of increases in state and local minimum-wage standards has pushed the average effective minimum wage in the United States to the highest level on record. The average worker must be paid at least $11.80 an hour — more after inflation than the last peak, in the 1960s, according to an analysis by the economist Ernie Tedeschi.
And even as wages have marched upward, job growth remains strong. The unemployment rate at the end of 2019 will be lower than the previous year for the 10th straight year.
The interventions by some state and local governments, however, do not obviate the need for federal action. To the contrary. Millions of workers are being left behind because 21 states still use the federal standard, $7.25 an hour, which has not risen since 2009 — the longest period without an increase since the introduction of a federal standard in the 1930s.”
“A decade ago, the world was living in the aftermath of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. Financial markets had stabilized, but the real economy was still in terrible shape, with around 40 million European and North American workers unemployed.
Fortunately, economists had learned a lot from the experience of the Great Depression. In particular, they knew that fiscal austerity — slashing government spending in an attempt to balance the budget — is a really bad idea in a depressed economy.
Unfortunately, policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic spent the first half of the 2010s doing exactly what both theory and history told them not to do. And this wrong turn on policy cast a long shadow, economically and politically. In particular, the deficit obsession of 2010-2015 helped set the stage for the current crisis of democracy.
Why is austerity in a depressed economy a bad idea? Because an economy is not like a household, whose income and spending are separate things. In the economy as a whole, my spending is your income and your spending is my income.”
“Senator Elizabeth Warren has unveiled her vision for how to pay for “Medicare for all” — a daunting mountain of new taxes and fees.
Thanks for providing us, Ms. Warren, with yet more evidence that a Warren presidency is a terrifying prospect, one brought closer by your surge in the polls.
Left to her own devices, she would extend the reach and weight of the federal government far further into the economy than anything even President Franklin Roosevelt imagined, effectively abandoning the limited-government model that has mostly served us well.
Ms. Warren may call herself a capitalist, but her panoply of minutely detailed plans suggests otherwise. She would turn America’s uniquely successful public-private relationship into a dirigiste, European-style system. If you want to live in France (economically), Elizabeth Warren should be your candidate.”
David Lindsay: I love Steve Rattner’s writing, but this is the weakest thing I’ve ever read by him. I don’t oppose Elizabeth Warren because she is wrong, she isn’t. I oppose her because I don’t think she would beat Trump in the electoral college, which is the only game in town for me.
Here are the two most liked comments in the NYT. Rattner’s piece isn’t rubbish, but it is off, and both comments have merits:
This piece is rubbish and I say this as somebody with a PhD and an advanced understanding of economics. Our current economic system has built into its very design the perpetuation and worsening of inequality (read Piketty, Stiglitz, Saez, please) and the complete destruction of the climate system. Marginal efforts to address either will achieve just that—marginal effects. Warren’s plans can and will be tweaked but she’s got the basic right—fix equity and climate change through the redesign of capitalism, or face waaaaaay higher costs in the very near future, not to mention an unlivable planet.
What’s more disruptive, foreclosing on millions of Americans during the housing crash, or protecting them from Wall Street predators? What’s more disruptive, suing patients for unaffordable medical bills, and charging privately-insured patients ten times the cost of care, or covering all Americans with Medicare? Is it really “free enterprise” when the hospital contract is, essentially, “your money or your life”? What’s more radical, leaving corporations with more than $1 billion in charge of our government, or asking them to act responsibly? I am so sick and tired of hearing moderate Democrats charge Warren with being a radical who wants disruptive change when we are enduring radical and disruptive change and she it just trying to fix it.
“Iraq has been caught for years in a tug of war between its two most powerful patrons, the United States and Iran. In recent months, public opinion began to tilt against Iran, with street protests demanding an end to Tehran’s pervasive influence.
But American airstrikes that killed two dozen members of an Iranian-backed militia over the weekend have now made Washington the focus of public hostility, reducing the heat on Tehran and its proxies.
Iraqi leaders accused the United States on Monday of violating Iraq’s sovereignty and expressed fear that increasing tensions between the United States and Iran could escalate into a proxy war on Iraqi soil.
“BAGHDAD — Protesters broke into the heavily guarded compound of the United States Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday and lit fires inside to express their anger over American airstrikes that killed 24 members of an Iranian-backed militia over the weekend.
The men did not enter the main embassy buildings and later withdrew from the compound, joining thousands of protesters and militia fighters outside who chanted “Death to America,” threw rocks, covered the walls with graffiti and demanded that the United States withdraw its forces from Iraq.
The situation remained combustible, with protesters vowing to camp outside the compound indefinitely. Their ability to storm the most heavily guarded zone in Baghdad suggested that they had received at least tacit permission from Iraqi security officials sympathetic to their demands.”
“There are 363,000 federal workers in the greater Washington, D.C., area. In the first week of September, history turned in the office of one of them. The intelligence analyst who blew the whistle on President Donald Trump had just gotten off the phone with the Inspector General’s office. One of a handful of people who had read the analyst’s report alleging that Trump had solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election, the Inspector General had found the analyst’s concerns “urgent” and “credible.” But there was a problem: higher-ups in the intelligence community had spoken to the White House. Both were blocking the IG from sending the complaint to Congress.
There is a particular kind of silence in the offices of the intelligence community. The buildings have multipaned windows with special protective coatings that prevent eavesdropping so virtually all exterior noise is blocked. There are few conversations in the carpeted hallways—people mind their own business—and everyone ensures their phone calls cannot be overheard. Amid the ambient hum of HVAC systems and the occasional ringing of an elevator bell, the atmosphere is one of monastic isolation. Sitting alone in that silence, the analyst asked, “What do I do now?”
The law provides one answer. In 2014, Congress added a paragraph to the statute that created the role of intelligence community Inspector General. “An individual who has submitted a complaint or information to the Inspector General,” it reads, “may notify any member of either of the Congressional intelligence committees, or a staff member of either of such committees.”
But multiple people had told the analyst that during a July 25 phone call, the President had “sought to pressure” his Ukrainian counterpart to dig up dirt on political rivals and pursue a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 election. The analyst believed that Trump was using the sovereign power of the American presidency in an attempt to stay in office. It was an affront to democracy, the whistle-blower decided. There was only one ethical choice—going to Congress and telling the truth.”
“We can’t just continue living as if there was no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow,” she says, tugging on the sleeve of her blue sweatshirt. “That is all we are saying.”
It’s a simple truth, delivered by a teenage girl in a fateful moment. The sailboat, La Vagabonde, will shepherd Thunberg to the Port of Lisbon, and from there she will travel to Madrid, where the United Nations is hosting this year’s climate conference. It is the last such summit before nations commit to new plans to meet a major deadline set by the Paris Agreement. Unless they agree on transformative action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the world’s temperature rise since the Industrial Revolution will hit the 1.5°C mark—an eventuality that scientists warn will expose some 350 million additional people to drought and push roughly 120 million people into extreme poverty by 2030. For every fraction of a degree that temperatures increase, these problems will worsen. This is not fearmongering; this is science. For decades, researchers and activists have struggled to get world leaders to take the climate threat seriously. But this year, an unlikely teenager somehow got the world’s attention.
“Thunberg began a global movement by skipping school: starting in August 2018, she spent her days camped out in front of the Swedish Parliament, holding a sign painted in black letters on a white background that read Skolstrejk för klimatet: “School Strike for Climate.” In the 16 months since, she has addressed heads of state at the U.N., met with the Pope, sparred with the President of the United States and inspired 4 million people to join the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, in what was the largest climate demonstration in human history. Her image has been celebrated in murals and Halloween costumes, and her name has been attached to everything from bike shares to beetles. Margaret Atwood compared her to Joan of Arc. After noticing a hundredfold increase in its usage, lexicographers at Collins Dictionary named Thunberg’s pioneering idea, climate strike, the word of the year.
The politics of climate action are as entrenched and complex as the phenomenon itself, and Thunberg has no magic solution. But she has succeeded in creating a global attitudinal shift, transforming millions of vague, middle-of-the-night anxieties into a worldwide movement calling for urgent change. She has offered a moral clarion call to those who are willing to act, and hurled shame on those who are not. She has persuaded leaders, from mayors to Presidents, to make commitments where they had previously fumbled: after she spoke to Parliament and demonstrated with the British environmental group Extinction Rebellion, the U.K. passed a law requiring that the country eliminate its carbon footprint. She has focused the world’s attention on environmental injustices that young indigenous activists have been protesting for years. Because of her, hundreds of thousands of teenage “Gretas,” from Lebanon to Liberia, have skipped school to lead their peers in climate strikes around the world.”
“The rivers of Chilean Patagonia cascade from snow-capped mountains through sheer rock facades and rolling hills, radiating bright turquoise, deep blues and vivid greens. The Puelo. The Pascua. The Futaleufú. Each is as breathtaking and unique as the landscape it quenches.
But these rivers, like many worldwide, have been threatened by dam projects that aim to provide power for distant cities and mining operations. Only one-third of the world’s 177 longest rivers remain free flowing, and just 21 rivers longer than 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) retain a direct connection to the sea.
If we are to arrest global climate change, prevent the toxifying of freshwater sources and do right by all those who depend on rivers for survival, we must return more rivers to their natural state.
For decades, rivers have been an afterthought in global climate talks, like the ones that concluded in Madrid this month. New streams of climate finance, like the Climate Bonds Initiative, may soon be available to large-scale hydropower projects. While renewable energy and its financing are an important part of climate solutions, hydropower dams are not the answer.
Hydropower is not a clean, green technology. Rivers help regulate an increasingly volatile global carbon cycle by transporting decaying organic material from land to sea, where it settles on the ocean floor. This draws an estimated 200 million tons of carbon out of the air each year.
As an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scientist, Philip Fearnside, has documented, large dams, especially on tropical rivers like the Amazon, are “methane factories,” emitting in some cases more greenhouse gases than coal-fired power plants. This month in Madrid, 276 civil society groups attending the United Nations climate talks called on the Climate Bonds Initiative to exclude hydropower from climate financing.
Hydroelectric dams, when they are built, flood large areas of vegetation. This fuels decomposition and releases carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Considered as a whole, hydroelectric dams emit a billion tons of greenhouse gases per year. This is comparable to the aviation industry, which emitted over 900 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2018.”
“Why would a seemingly respectable, semiretired lion of the Washington establishment undermine the institutions he is sworn to uphold, incinerate his own reputation, and appear to willfully misrepresent the reports of special prosecutors and inspectors general, all to defend one of the most lawless and corrupt presidents in American history? And why has this particular attorney general appeared at this pivotal moment in our Republic?
A deeper understanding of William Barr is emerging, and it reveals something profound and disturbing about the evolution of conservatism in 21st-century America.
Some people have held that Mr. Barr is simply a partisan hack — willing to do whatever it takes to advance the interests of his own political party and its leadership. This view finds ample support in Mr. Barr’s own words. In a Nov. 15 speech at the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention in Washington, he accused President Trump’s political opponents of “unprecedented abuse” and said they were “engaged in the systematic shredding of norms and the undermining of the rule of law.”
It is hardly the first time Mr. Barr stepped outside of long-established norms for the behavior of attorneys general. In his earlier stint as attorney general, during the George H.W. Bush presidency, Mr. Barr took on the role of helping to disappear the case against Reagan administration officials involved in the Iran-contra affair. The situation demonstrated that “powerful people with powerful allies can commit serious crimes in high office,” according to Lawrence Walsh, the independent prosecutor in that case. According to some critics, Mr. Barr delivered the partisan goods then, as he is delivering them now.”