Author Archives: John A. Lippitt

ECONOMIC INEQUALITY IS DUE TO SHIFTS IN POLITICAL AND MARKETPLACE POWER

The debate over the causes of and remedies for growing economic inequality in the US has been in the forefront of the presidential campaign. Economists and most politicians have traditionally argued that economic inequality was the inevitable result of technological change, workers’ education and skill levels, and globalization. However, a stronger and stronger sentiment – […]

A CONSENSUS ON TRADE TREATIES?

Most of the presidential candidates agree that past trade treaties have had negative effects on US workers and that future trade treaties need to take a different approach. This would appear to be bad news for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other trade agreements that are in various stages of negotiation and ratification. Bernie Sanders […]

TAX BREAKS: PROMOTING SAVING FOR RETIREMENT OR PERPETUATING FAMILY WEALTH?

Our income tax system provides incentives to save for retirement. Individuals can contribute up to $5,500 per year to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or $18,000 to an employer-sponsored retirement plan and not pay income tax on the amount saved. (These amounts are $1,000 and $6,000 higher, respectively, for those over 50.) This exemption from […]

ISSUES WITH THE OPERATION OF CHARTER SCHOOLS

SUMMARY: Having looked at problems in our public schools and the problems with student selection, retention, and outcomes in charter schools, let’s take a look at some issues with the operation of charter schools. Charter schools: Divert money, time, and attention from public schools; Lack financial accountability and transparency; Often have high administrative costs and […]

PROBLEMS WITH STUDENTS AND STUDENT OUTCOMES IN CHARTER SCHOOLS

SUMMARY: Having looked at problems in our public schools, let’s take a look at problems in charter schools. One problem has to do with claims of improved student outcomes that are confounded by issues with student selection and retention. Student outcomes at charter schools are no better than those of public schools when similar students […]

THE MASSACHUSETTS EFFORT TO PROVIDE EQUITABLE FUNDING FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS

My previous post described the need for additional funding for schools with high numbers of at-risk children. Current school funding is inequitable because these students require greater resources to be successful than their better-off peers, but the low income communities they tend to live in typically are not able to provide those resources. Massachusetts responded […]

EQUITABLE FUNDING FOR PUBLIC SCHOOL SUCCESS

Schools need the resources to provide the supports and services students need to succeed. However, our public schools are largely locally funded. Therefore, schools in poor communities often lack the necessary resources to meet their students’ needs. These communities typically have many parents with low incomes and low levels of education, i.e., low socio-economic status […]

IMPROVING STUDENT SUCCESS IN OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS

ABSTRACT: Students who are struggling in our public schools are ones who for a variety of reasons are experiencing barriers to learning and to succeeding in the classroom. They should be identified as early as possible, starting at birth, and effective intervention should be provided. For families who have issues that put children’s school success […]

AUSTERITY AGENDA RESULTS IN THE POISONING OF FLINT MICHIGAN

You may have heard that the tap water in Flint, Michigan, has been poisoning its residents and particularly its children. What you may not have heard was that this was caused by the austerity agenda of the Michigan Governor and legislature (the same ones that pushed Detroit into bankruptcy). Moreover, as with Detroit, the residents […]

THE YEAR-END SPENDING BILL: A BIG WIN FOR SPECIAL INTERESTS, WHILE KEEPING GOVERNMENT OPERATING

The year-end spending bill that Congress passed on December 18 was loaded with riders that had nothing to do with the budget. For example, it lifted the 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports from the US, just as the climate summit in Paris concluded that emissions from burning fossil fuels must be lowered to address […]

THE YEAR-END TAX BILL: A BIG WIN FOR CORPORATIONS AND A LITTLE WIN FOR WORKING AMERICANS

Because of the gridlock in Congress, so few bills pass that those that have to pass get laden with special interest provisions and riders like ornaments on a Christmas tree. The recent year-end spending bill (2,009 pages long) and tax legislation (233 pages long) are the latest two examples. There were literally thousands of riders […]

WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS?

SUMMARY: Every child should receive high quality educational experiences that lead to a trajectory of progress and success throughout his or her years in school, as well as in life beyond school. Many children who are educated in public schools in the US are very successful. There are, however, two problems that face US public […]

WHO IS BEHIND THE PUSH FOR CHARTER SCHOOLS?

There are multiple, powerful forces behind the push for charter schools. Some of them like to avoid the spotlight. In no particular order, the four major forces behind the charter school movement are the following: Those who are looking to make a profit by tapping into the funding for public education, which is a good […]

THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP SHOULD BE REJECTED

In addition to the concerns about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty raised in my two previous posts (see list below), it lacks provisions for addressing currency manipulation. This has brought criticism from many parties, including some in the corporate world. Although China (which is not a participant in the TPP) is the most notorious manipulator […]

THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP: CORPORATE POWER GRAB Part 2

With the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty now available, groups espousing environmental and workers’ interests state that the actual text is even worse than what they had expected. Environmental groups note that climate change is not even mentioned in the treaty. Workers’ groups note that the TPP will continue the experience under […]

THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP: CORPORATE POWER GRAB

The full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – a trade treaty and much more – was recently released. It was negotiated over 8 years in secret from the public and even Congress, although corporate executives were routinely involved. The treaty includes 12 countries: the US, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Chile, Singapore, […]

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE SANDERS ON DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders recently gave a speech focused on defining what he means by democratic socialism and why he has identified as a socialist for his entire political career. Our mainstream corporate media can’t seem to cover him or his campaign without labeling him a socialist. The intent seems to be to identify […]

BIG CORPORATIONS BEHAVING BADLY PART 2

In my previous post, I focused on the big Wall St. corporations’ efforts to weaken financial regulations and consumer protections. In this post, I’ll share two much less visible examples of the power of big corporations to tilt the playing field in their favor: H-1B visas Consumer agreements and employee contracts First, large corporations are […]

BIG CORPORATIONS BEHAVING BADLY

FULL POST: One of the themes that runs through many of my blog posts is the prevalence of corporate power in our politics, policies, economy, and lives. The power of large, often multi-national, corporations is evident in: Financial industry regulation (See my posts Protecting our economy and democracy from Wall Street and Government by the […]

STOPPING THE SECRET MONEY IN OUR ELECTIONS

ABSTRACT: Dark money organizations – non-profit, tax exempt groups that do not have to disclose their donors – are spending tens of millions of dollars every year in our election campaigns. This means that when voters go to vote they don’t know who paid for the dark money funded ads, mailings, and other political activity […]

SECRET MONEY FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES

ABSTRACT: The fastest growing and perhaps the most troublesome of the four main avenues for presidential campaign fundraising and spending are the “dark money” organizations. These are non-profit organizations that can accept unlimited amounts of money and keep their donors secret. They are social-welfare groups that are supposed to work exclusively to further the common […]

BIG MONEY FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES

ABSTRACT: Tracking the tons of money already flowing into the 2016 presidential campaign is not easy. There are four main avenues for presidential campaign fundraising and spending today, when as recently as 2008 there was really only one major one – the candidate’s official campaign committee. A candidate’s official committee is limited to donations from […]

GOOD NEWS FOR US WORKERS

ABSTRACT: This Labor Day workers were able to celebrate falling unemployment, increased hiring, improved access to health insurance, and increases in the minimum wage. Expanded eligibility for overtime pay is also in the works. And the US Labor Department has proposed a new regulation that would cover home care workers under minimum wage and overtime […]

WORKING HARD, GAINING LITTLE

FULL POST: We recently celebrated the Labor Day holiday and workers in the US do have some things to celebrate, but in general the outlook is bleak. First, the bad news, and then in my next post the good news. Wages (adjusted for inflation) fell 4% between 2009 (when the recovery officially started) and 2014. […]

SUPPORTING FAMILIES IS AN INVESTMENT IN HUMAN CAPITAL Part 2

ABSTRACT: More than one out of every five American workers is working a non-standard work schedule. This increases stress for parents, hurts their ability to be good parents, and adversely affects child and adolescent outcomes. Providing predictable work schedules for parents and allowing them flexibility to meet parenting responsibilities is good for them and their […]

SUPPORTING FAMILIES IS AN INVESTMENT IN HUMAN CAPITAL Part 1

ABSTRACT: Parents with a child under 18 years of age make up over 22% of the of the US labor force. These parents represent an important part of the human capital of our economy, and their children represent the human capital of our future economy. Therefore, supporting these families with paid leave when a new […]

WHY ECONOMIC INEQUALITY IS A PROBLEM Part 3

The lack of equal opportunity and upward mobility when there are high levels of economic inequality is most dramatically clear when looking at children. Children born and raised in low income families are more likely to have: health problems at birth, worse living conditions including toxins in their environment (e.g., lead and air pollution), worse […]

WHY ECONOMIC INEQUALITY IS A PROBLEM Part 2

Economic inequality is a problem because it undermines our economy and our democracy. High levels of economic inequality make the US economy fragile, and perhaps unsustainable. Our economy is built on consumer spending, which accounts for about two-thirds of our economic activity. However, the rich don’t spend as much of their incomes as those with […]

WHY ECONOMIC INEQUALITY IS A PROBLEM Part 1

Some conservative commentators and politicians argue that economic inequality isn’t a problem. They claim that as long as there’s opportunity and social mobility, inequality in income and wealth doesn’t matter. They’re wrong, because high levels of economic inequality mean that social mobility is limited and opportunity is far from equal. [1] One of the conservatives’ […]

BIG MONEY IN ELECTIONS IS CORRUPTING OUR DEMOCRACY

ABSTRACT: The 2016 elections, for President, Congress, and in the states, will be the most expensive elections ever by far. All the national and gubernatorial candidates (with perhaps a couple of exceptions) will be dependent on wealthy donors and will repay them with access and favors. The policies of the winning candidates will, therefore, reflect […]

MEDICARE FOR ALL WOULD CONTROL COSTS AND IMPROVE OUTCOMES

The health care system in the US is broken. It costs far more per person than other countries’ health care and its outcomes are worse – from infant mortality to life expectancy. Costs are escalating, typically faster than the general inflation in the economy. And millions of Americans don’t have health insurance and millions more […]

HIGH INCARCERATION RATE IN US IS COUNTERPRODUCTIVE

ABSTRACT: The get tough on crime policies of the last 30 – 40 years have been counterproductive. They have swelled our prison population from less than 200,000 in the mid-1970s to 2,500,000 today. Our incarceration rate is the highest in the world and 5 times the world average. This is costing us a fortune – […]

A CARBON TAX IS A WIN-WIN

Air pollution has real costs for all of us, from negative health effects (such as asthma), to climate change, to more severe weather and the damage it creates. We all suffer these effects and pay their costs while the polluters pay nothing. They are allowed to dump their pollution into our air for free. The […]

A FAIR ESTATE TAX WILL REDUCE INEQUALITY

Wealth inequality in the US is even more dramatic than income inequality. The richest 1% of Americans own 42% of all the wealth in the country. And the richest 0.1% (300,000 people) have as much total combined wealth as the combined wealth of the bottom 90% (270 million people). This is the highest concentration of […]

A VOICE FOR WORKERS

Workers need to have a strong voice in the workplace and in our democracy to maintain an equitable balance of power with large, corporate employers. As the voice of labor has weakened over the last 35 years, workers’ pay has barely kept up with the cost of living and has fallen far behind workers’ growing […]

CORPORATE WELFARE IS MAKING US POOR

When we hear the term welfare, we think of public programs to help poor people. However, there are numerous public programs that provide welfare to corporations, most of whom are not poor at all. Corporate welfare occurs through so many subsidies and tax breaks that it is hard to keep track of them all. And […]

IMPORTANT ISSUES FOR THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN

ABSTRACT: There’s no shortage of important issues facing the U.S. today. As candidates announce their intention to run for president, it will be interesting to see which issues they make priorities and which issues the mainstream corporate media decide to cover. Many candidates and the mainstream media are likely to avoid the issues of the […]

EDUCATION FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

We need to reinvent our education system, much of which was designed to train students for an assembly line economy that is no longer with us. Early childhood care and education, K-12 schools, and higher education need to be improved. This is the fifth of the Ten Big Ideas to Save the Economy, presented by […]

PROTECTING OUR ECONOMY AND DEMOCRACY FROM WALL STREET

We need to protect our economy from the risky behavior of the big Wall Street banks and financial corporations. This is the fourth of the Ten Big Ideas to Save the Economy, presented by Robert Reich and MoveOn.org. [1] We need to prevent these Wall St. giants from crashing the financial system and sending our […]

PROVIDING ECONOMIC SECURITY FOR OUR SENIORS

ABSTRACT: We need to improve the economic security of today’s – and tomorrow’s – senior citizens. Strengthening and expanding Social Security is the third of the Ten Big Ideas to Save the Economy. Reliance on Social Security is increasing. Despite its maximum benefit of only $32,000 per year, for one-third of seniors it’s 90% of […]

BIG IDEAS TO HELP WORKING PARENTS

ABSTRACT: Working parents in the U.S. are struggling both to make ends meet and to be good parents. They need to be paid a reasonable wage so that full-time work provides a decent standard of living for their families (as it used to). Furthermore, employers and government should work together to ensure that workplaces are […]

WHY GOVERNMENT DOESN’T GET CREDIT FOR ITS SUCCESSES

ABSTRACT: Government rarely gets credit for its successful programs and initiatives in the media or among the public. On the other hand, government failures or shortcomings get lots of attention. One reason is that denigrating government is at the heart of the political strategy of small government proponents and special interests who want large corporations […]

GOVERNMENT SUCCESSES RARELY GET ATTENTION

ABSTRACT: There are many examples of successful government programs and initiatives but they rarely get much attention in the media or among the public. On the other hand, government failures or shortcomings get lots of attention. The media, and in particular right wing talk radio and Fox, along with “conservative” and libertarian politicians, fan the […]

WHY ECONOMIC INEQUALITY CONTINUES TO GROW AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT

ABSTRACT: Despite many indicators that our economy is strong, most Americans are experiencing economic insecurity. Over half of US households have less than one month’s income in regular savings and median household income continues to decline. Low-wage workers at Walmart, McDonalds, and elsewhere are so poor they are receiving $45 billion in public assistance. This […]

STOP “TRADE” TREATIES THAT FAVOR BIG MULTINATIONAL CORPORATIONS

ABSTRACT: The Obama administration is in the final stages of negotiating two major “trade” treaties. It is pushing for Fast Track approval, which requires Congress to ratify them quickly (only 20 hours of debate on the thousands of pages in each treaty) with no amendments. These “trade” treaties primarily serve to enhance the power and […]

OUR ELECTIONS ARE ALL ABOUT THE MONEY

ABSTRACT: Although the next presidential election is over 20 months away, there is already media attention focused on who can and who is raising the most money. The top lobbyists / bundlers raise over $1 million for candidates’ campaigns. If this isn’t a blatant way of buying influence, I don’t know what is. A Washington, […]

PROGRESSIVE VALUES ARE ALIVE AND WELL IN THE U.S.

ABSTRACT: Despite Republicans taking over control of the U.S. Senate, progressive values are alive and well in the U.S. In a recent poll of likely 2016 voters, over 70% supported the following policies: Medicare should be allowed to negotiate drug prices Student loans should have lower interest rates Pre-kindergarten and Medicare should be available to […]

RECLAIMING AN ECONOMY THAT WORKS FOR EVERYONE, NOT JUST THE WEALTHY

ABSTRACT: We need to reclaim our economy so it works for everyone, not just the wealthy. With different choices and policies that reflect a different set of values, our economy can once again be one where a rising tide lifts all boats, not just the yachts of the wealthiest. The policy changes that are needed […]

THE UNDERMINING OF THE MIDDLE CLASS

ABSTRACT: Senator Elizabeth Warren gave a great speech recently in which she laid out how actions taken by corporations and related policy changes have undermined the middle and working class. She also spelled out what we need to do to change the rules of our economy so it works for everyone, not just the wealthiest. […]

GOVERNMENT BY THE BIG WALL ST. CORPORATIONS

ABSTRACT: The big Wall St. financial corporations just got another big gift. The Federal Reserve announced that it will give Wall St. a year’s delay (to mid-2017) on the implementation of the Volcker Rule, which would ban Wall St. from engaging in risky investments with federally-insured deposits. Many observers believe that this delay will simply […]

CORPORATIONS ARE NOT PEOPLE AND MONEY IS NOT SPEECH

ABSTRACT: Many millions of dollars are being spent by special interest groups on our political campaigns. This level of spending makes it clear that wealthy special interests – individuals, corporations, unions, and non-profit organizations – are taking over our elections. The only way to stop this undemocratic spending is through an amendment to the U.S. […]

SECRETS OF THE FY15 FEDERAL SPENDING BILL

ABSTRACT: Congress recently rushed to pass a 1,700 page, $1.1 trillion spending bill. Such last minute, have-to-pass pieces of legislation are ideal vehicles for enacting laws that wouldn’t withstand the scrutiny of the regular legislative process. In my 12/14/14 post, I wrote about 2 such provisions: the repeal of the ban on banks investing in […]

WALL STREET BAILOUT REVIVED

ABSTRACT: As you probably know, Congress just rushed to pass a $1.1 trillion spending bill that keeps the federal government operating. Such last minute, have-to-pass pieces of legislation are ideal vehicles for enacting laws on unrelated matters that wouldn’t withstand the scrutiny of the regular legislative process. One such provision in this bill repeals a […]

DANGER AHEAD IN DC: CORPORATIONS AND THE WEALTHY POISED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE

ABSTRACT: Some people in Washington, D.C., are taking the election results as an indication that Republican policy priorities are in favor with the public. Furthermore, the Republicans in Congress and the President may want to show that they can work together, get things done, and pass new laws. Senator Elizabeth Warren (Democrat from Massachusetts) warns […]

PROGRESSIVE SUCCESSES IN THE 2014 ELECTION

ABSTRACT: Perhaps surprisingly, in the context of Republican and conservative candidates’ victories in the 2014 election, many ballot initiatives that were decidedly liberal or progressive passed. Democrats running clearly progressive campaigns for the US Senate won in 3 states. The Republican victories in many very close races were made possible by very low voter turnout. […]

2014 ELECTION RETROSPECTIVE PART 1: THE MONEY

ABSTRACT: In the 2014 election, the influx and impact of huge amounts of money was clearly evident and the growth of “dark money” – money where the actual contributor is unknown – was a very significant factor. This was the most expensive non-presidential election ever – estimated at $3.7 billion. Outside spending, that is money […]

AN ALTERNATIVE ECONOMIC MODEL

ABSTRACT: Worker cooperatives, where a business is owned and run by its workers, are gaining attention as a way to provide jobs and better pay for low wage workers. New York City recently established a Worker Cooperative Business Development Initiative and provided $1.2 million in funding for it. According to the US Federation of Worker […]

POLICY INNOVATION IN OUR CITIES

ABSTRACT: With our federal government gridlocked, many cities around the US are taking the lead in policy innovation. Progressive policies are bubbling up in cities from Seattle and Santa Fe to Cleveland. Minneapolis’s new mayor has championed infant health care, universal pre-kindergarten education, closing racial gaps, and new public transit lines to better connect minority […]

VOTING MATTERS

ABSTRACT: Election Day is just over a week away. Although it’s easy to look at the dysfunction in Washington and the huge amounts of money being spent on campaigns and feel that voting and participating in the election doesn’t matter, that would be wrong. There will be lots of close elections this year all across […]

HOLDER’S FAILURE AT JUSTICE

ABSTRACT: As Attorney General Eric Holder leaves office, one of his legacies will be his Department of Justice’s (DOJ) treatment of the major banks and financial corporations. Of particular note is the failure to prosecute any of the senior officers at the banks and financial corporations that caused the 2008 financial collapse. Bill Black calls […]

WHAT IT WILL TAKE TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEMS WE FACE

ABSTRACT: Our country has important problems that need to be addressed. Not only aren’t they being addressed, but serious proposals (let alone efforts) to address them are not even on the table for discussion. These problems include: Stagnating wages and a stagnating economy; Corporations doing very well but employees losing ground and unemployment stubbornly high; […]

THE CORPORATE EDUCATION INVASION Part 2

ABSTRACT: The most recent embodiment of the corporate efforts to capture (i.e., privatize) funding from public K-12 education is the new Common Core national curriculum standards and the testing that accompanies it. Common Core’s implementation will require public school systems to spend billions of dollars on new curriculum materials and on new testing, including software, […]

THE CORPORATE EDUCATION INVASION Part 1

ABSTRACT: Corporations covet public funding streams, especially large and consistent ones. A relatively recent example of a focused effort by corporations to capture public funding is evident in our public schools. These efforts have included an extensive public relations campaign aimed at convincing the public and elected officials that our public schools are failing. This […]

TITLE: CORPORATOCRACY OR DEMOCRACY?

ABSTRACT: Here are three current examples of corporate power and influence. Tax dodging: Burger King is the latest corporation to announce plans to move its legal headquarters to a foreign country as a way to avoid paying taxes in the US; a so-called “inversion.” Corporations suffer no consequences as a person would if he or […]

40 YEARS OF CLASS WARFARE

ABSTRACT: Class warfare has been going on in the US for 40 years, but most people either haven’t realized that it is class warfare, or deny its existence. Inequality between the wealthy, elite class and the middle and working class has grown dramatically. This is the result of policy decisions made by federal and state […]

OBAMACARE IS WORKING!!

ABSTRACT: Obamacare, or more formally the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is working: more people have health insurance. Nationwide, over 20 million people now have health insurance who didn’t before the ACA went into effect. With this and other good news about the ACA, the American public is growing more positive about it, despite continued efforts […]

WHERE O WHERE HAS INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM GONE?

ABSTRACT: Investigative journalism, especially by the mainstream media, is rare these days. Yet it is critical to an informed citizenry, which in turn is critical to a successful democracy. On a recent Bill Moyers TV show, “The lies that lead to war,” Moyers and his guest, investigative journalist Charles Lewis, explore the value of investigative […]

THE BIGGEST LOSERS IN DETROIT’S BANKRUPTCY

ABSTRACT: The biggest losers in Detroit’s bankruptcy appear to be school children, current and former city employees, and poor residents. The emergency plan for Detroit’s public schools calls for increasing class sizes from 38 to 43 students in grades 6 – 12. Spending on classroom instruction has been cut 19% (falling from 58% of the […]

DEMOCRATIZING CAMPAIGN FINANCING

ABSTRACT: We need to change our system of financing political campaigns. Candidates need to be able to run viable campaigns based on the financial support of average voters, and without the support of the small number of wealthy donors who dominate current campaign funding. Many people who would make great elected representatives don’t even run […]

POLITICAL MONEY AND INFLUENCE OF THE WEALTHY GROWS AND GROWS

ABSTRACT: The political money and influence of the wealthy grows and grows. Wealthy donors making large contributions of up to $2,600 directly to Congressional candidates’ campaigns represent the great majority of candidates’ funding. There had been an overall limit of $123,200 on the grand total any individual could contribute in a two-year federal election cycle. […]