Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

It’s a hoax says Limbaugh

Think Progress reports:

Limbaugh did not recant his earlier statements about Irma, and he did not encourage his listeners in the area to evacuate. In fact, Limbaugh seemed to even double down on his earlier views.

“The views expressed by the host of this program [are] documented to be almost always right 99.8 percent of the time,” Limbaugh said right before announcing he would be leaving South Florida for parts unknown. “There is a reason for that because we engage in a relentless and unstoppable pursuit of the truth and we find and proclaim it and that happens to drive people crazy.”

On his show Tuesday, Limbaugh said he was reading the paths of the hurricane and was certain it would curve into the Atlantic, and even if it did so, Limbaugh said “official” meteorologists and the media would have accomplished their goal.

“If it ends up not hitting where you are, hits somewhere else, you might temporarily breathe a sigh of relief, but you’re still gonna think, ‘Man, there might be something to this climate change,” Limbaugh said. “Do not doubt me, with everything being politicized, of course it is an objective of some, not everybody, of course, but some of the people involved here.”

Even Big Water was in on the conspiracy, Limbaugh concluded, as people were stocking up on cases of bottled water for the storm that wouldn’t come when they could just use the water coming out of their taps.

Limbaugh’s hurricane denialism came just a week after Vice President Mike Pence joined Limbaugh on the show to discuss Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, but, at any rate, Limbaugh seems to have stopped believing his own conspiracy.

As CNN security analyst Juliette Kayyem noted, Limbaugh has a large audience—his show reaches 15 million people per week—and many of his listeners believe his theories. While Limbaugh evacuates, others may stay behind in part because he wrote off the storm as a conspiracy.

Limbaugh did not respond to requests for comment about where he will be going.

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Why Economists Don’t Know How to Think about Wealth (or Profits)

by Steve Roth (originally published at Evonomics 2016)

Why Economists Don’t Know How to Think about Wealth (or Profits)

Until 2006, they quite literally weren’t playing with a full (accounting) deck. Most still aren’t.

By Steve Roth

In the next evolution of economics taking shape around us and among us, perhaps no school has been so transformational over recent decades as a loose, worldwide group best described as “accounting-based” economists. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), with its central tenet of “stock-flow consistency” (or stock-flow coherence) is at the center and forefront of this group.

These accounting-based economists more than any others managed to accurately predict our recent Global Great Whatever. And Wynne Godley, rather the pater familias of MMT, predicted the current Euro crisis in amazingly precise and accurate detail — in 1992, before the project was even launched. These economists’ nerdy and businesslike, green-eyeshade and steel-tipped-pen approach gives them unique and accurate insights into the state of the economy, and its likely futures.

Given these decades of focus on national accounts, it’s amazing that almost no economists are aware of a pretty remarkable fact:

Before 2006, the U. S. didn’t even have complete, stock-flow-consistent national accounts. That was the year that the BEA and the Fed released the Integrated Macroeconomic Accounts (IMAs; also presented as the “S” tables at the end of the Fed’s quarterly Z.1 report). They provided annual tables extending back to 1960, based on the latest international System of National Accounts (SNAs). Think: Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP), but for countries. We didn’t get quarterly tables in these accounts until 2012, only four years ago. And even today, we don’t have quarterly tables for subsectors of the financial sector.

In June 2013, the Z.1 report was renamed, from the Flow of Funds Accounts of the United States to the Financial Accounts of the United States, and the IMAs’ comprehensive data has been steadily more fully incorporated throughout the report — notably in the up-front Page i table, “Growth of Domestic Nonfinancial Debt,” which is now “Household Net Worth and Growth of Domestic Nonfinancial Debt.” See also Table B.1, “Net National Wealth,” which was added in the September 2015 release.

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Yet Another Republican President Stabs A South Korean President In The Back

Yet Another Republican President Stabs A South Korean President In The Back

[Able to get on here from my home laptop]

Donald Trump has long had a record of doing things one finds not just unbelievable, but seriously outrageous.  However, we may now have seen him do so in a situation involving a really dangerous foreign policy situation, the threat of a war on the Korean peninsula, a war that could involve nuclear weapons and could involve not just thousands, but possibly millions of people dying. The DMZ that separates North and South Korea is the most heavily armed place on the face of this planet, by a long shot, with most of those armaments piled up on the northern side.  It may be of a lower qualitative technological level than what faces it from the southern side, but it is simply enormous in quantity, and quite capable of inflicting massive damage on metropolitan Seoul, only 30 miles south of the DMZ, whose population in the greater metro area approaches 20 million people, a very large number of sitting ducks.

As it is, the DPRK, or North Korea, has been provocatively testing ever more capable missiles and bombs.  A missile that flew over Japan, more or less freaking them out, supposedly has the ability to hit even the east coast of the US.  Kim Jong-un made noises about firing missiles at Guam and Trump made a lot of loud noises.  That Kim backed down led Trump to brag that he knew how to handle Kim.  Meanwhile, new President Moon Jae-in of the ROK, South Korea, supported engaging in peace negotiations, even though Kim Jong-un has so far made no positive responses to that.  Then over the weekend Kim put the cherry on the top by testing a 100 kiloton device that has been advertised as a fusion H-bomb, a qualitative jump to a much more dangerous type of weapon.  Trump’s response was to tweet that Moon was pursuing “appeasement” in contrast to his tough way of handling things, which he claims works, despite all this glaring evidence to the contrary.  Kim seems not deterred or suppressed in the least.

But the really outrageous move here is on top of this Trump has declared that he is planning to terminate the free trade agreement with South Korea, not even renogiate it, just cancel it.  Really?  The South Koreans do not support this and like the agreement.  Trump claims that the bilateral trade deficit of the US has increased, which was the immediate outcome of the agreement, but over the last year that has turned around with the deficit declining and has now returned to about what it was when the agreement was signed and continues to move in that direction.  But not to put too fine a point on it, Trump is lying about this as well as stabbing Moon in the back just as he denounces Moon for advocating what Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, and pretty much every other leader in the world advocates, and even Trump has said he supports on certain days, ready to talk face to face to Kim under the right conditions. But if Moon says it, well, time to cancel that trade agreement, especially since it was another of those things that Obama did.  So, it must go.  The South Koreans are mystified and simply do not even know how to respond to this outrage.  What can they say?  They need the US alliance, even if the man in the White House is a lunatic, which is what they say he is.

I shall note that this is not the first time a Republican president has stabbed a peace-seeking South Korean president in the back. I have blogged on this previously, but back in March 2001, President Bush killed the peace efforts of then ROK President Kim Dae-Jung.  He came to dinner, thinking that the peace process under way from the previous administration and supported by Secretary of State, Colin Powell, would continue.  He was to have a dinner at the White House. But Cheney and Rumsfeld got to Bush and convinced him that a hard line against the DPRK would bring about regime change, a much better outcome, ha ha!  We can see how that turned out.  Kim Dae-Jung went home humiliated.

Most of the discussion of this now goes on about how the North Koreans cheated on nuclear agreements by enriching uranium.  However, those commentators somehow fail to note that the agreements were only about plutonium, not uranium. But “history” has the North Koreans violating agreements, with everybody forgetting how Bush undercut the agreements (and the US never fulfilled parts of it in terms of supplying DPRK with various items).  Trump’s back stab is worse, but this is not the first time.

Oh, Moon has responded to Trump’s outrageous tweet.  He has pointed out that Korea suffered a “fratricidal war,” which he does not want to see again.  He intends to “pursue denuclearization” on the peninsula “by peaceful means” in agreement “with our allies.”  Sounds reasonable to me, but at the moment reason does not seem to be in charge of what is going on here.  Let us hope for Moon’s view to prevail, somehow or other.

Barkley Rosser

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ACT Scores and Achievement Gaps

The Washington Post has a story on ACT scores:

New results from the nation’s most widely used college admission test highlight in detailed fashion the persistent achievement gaps between students who face disadvantages and those who don’t.

Scores from the ACT show that just 9 percent of students in the class of 2017 who came from low-income families, whose parents did not go to college, and who identify as black, Hispanic, American Indian or Pacific Islander are strongly ready for college.

But the readiness rate for students with none of those demographic characteristics was six times as high, 54 percent, according to data released Thursday.

“That kind of shocked us,” ACT chief executive Marten Roorda said. “We knew it was bad, but we didn’t know it was this bad.”

The analysis of “underserved learners” was a first for the ACT, which is one of two major tests students can take to apply to college. The other is the College Board’s SAT.

In recent years, both tests have found major disparities in college readiness among students in the Washington region and around the country. Roorda lamented that these gaps have persisted despite efforts to improve schools under the banners of No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top and other national initiatives.

“You could argue that those investments should have made a clearer difference,” he said, “and that’s not what we’re seeing.”

Actually, there have been a lot more initiatives, local and national, than those Roorda mentioned, and they go back decades. I remember, for example, when busing was expected to reduce gaps.

More detail appears to be available in this report by ACT..

Since the Washington Post only looks at “underserved learners,” for completeness, it helps to know the entire distribution. Table 2.4 of the ACT report indicates that that Asian students get the top scores, on average, followed by white students, followed by those who decline to state their race, followed by those of two or more races.

I also notice a bit of a gap between males and females – males do better on math and science, females on English and reading. So this report is chock full of the same racist stereotypes we have seen for decades. How do we get rid of this persistent gap in outcomes? And I think we can agree we want to do it in a non-harmful way. For instance, we don’t want to reduce the achievement gap by harming the performance of Asian students. Anyone have any realistic suggestions? A realistic answer will, of course, be one that is implementable, and which doesn’t contradict data that has come up in the decades in which society has been trying to deal with the issue.

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Another Assault on the PPACA/ACA Coming in 2017

The Present

If you thought it was over, it is not. Now that Schumer/Pelosi have removed the debt limit issue in front of Republicans with a Trump agreement, one more impediment to assaulting healthcare has been cleared away. John, I have cancer and have healthcare, McCain has come out to support a bill proposed by Senators Lindsay Graham and Bill Cassidy to repeal Obamacare. Maybe Trump knew and maybe he did not know; but, he did a nice pivot with Schumer and Pelosi with Ryan and McConnell shocked by his abandonment of Republican partisan values. A good friend of Graham, John McCain, who has a guarantee of healthcare anyway he wants it through federal government insurance or the VA, has thrown his support to Graham on healthcare.

The Graham-Cassidy legislation would essentially dismantle much of Obamacare’s federal infrastructure, turning over federal dollars to the states to do with what they wish, though that flexibility at the state level would come at a sharp cost. Judith Solomon, vice president for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told Politico on August 1 that she estimated it would result in 16 percent less federal spending in 2020 versus the Obamacare status quo’s spending on Medicaid expansion and market subsidies.

The Recent Heroics

Who can forget the noble, cancerous Senator from Arizona with a scar above his left eye marching into the Senate to make a deciding vote? Such bravado . . . Unfortunately, it was all about getting even with Trump and supposedly Senate Order for McCain.

“We don’t answer to Trump no matter how much he stomps his foot. We answer to the American people regardless of how much our decisions will impact them. We must be diligent in discharging our responsibility to serve as a check on his power and screw them in our own way. And we should value our identity as members of Congress more than our partisan affiliation.”

That last sentence is priceless. Value your identity as a senator, a step above the citizenry so we do not engage in partisan affiliation. The Republican persona has been about party affiliation “uber alles.” Amongst themselves the Republicans are split along partisan lines and no longer represent the citizenry they lay claim too. McCain is about using a proper order in screwing the constituents in favor of partisanship.

Some History and Procedure

It was Aaron Burr in 1806 who recommended “the Previous Question” Motion (call for a vote or end debate) be discontinued as senators were gentlemen and knew when to end debate and when to move on to the next question. The motion was rarely used. Of course, that was then and today is today. So what happened? The “Previous Question” motion was eliminated and being gentlemen in the Senate without party affiliation died with it as the age of the filibuster came to be. This is want McCain alludes to in his Senate Order comment. It is so far in the Senate past an few senators would understand Aaron Burr’s comment.

Under today’s rule, the Republicans will have to repeal portions of the ACA using Reconciliation; which requires a majority of 51 votes, can only impact budgeting, and not create a deficit 10 years out (think the sunset of the 2001/2003 tax breaks). Unless there is a special session called by Ryan, the House is in session for 12 days in September and this year’s budget ends this month. There can only be one Reconciliation per budget year.

Pessimism

Trump seized the moment to solve the potential debt limit crisis approaching EOM September. It also appears he has resolved some other issues politically with the support of the Democrats and has moved one step closer to his goals of killing the ACA and Tax Reform. The issues remaining on the table are:

1. Revising the ACA in 2017 before EOM September using Reconciliation.
2. Create a 2018 Budget with Reconciliation Rules for Tax Reform.
3. 12 congressional days to accomplish these two tasks.

Democrats gave up an impediment to Republicans, the passage of the debt limit, too early in the remainder of the 2017 budget year. McCain is on board for revising the ACA, the ultra conservatives will support it as it has block grants to states, and it will create the budget surpluses needed to do tax reform. To get Tax Reform in 2018, they need surpluses, which the revision of the ACA will provide and a new budget with Reconciliation Rules.

Can Republicans get both of these tems accomplished in 12 days? I am sure McConnell and Ryan will increase the rowing tempo of the drum this close to the goal. If Republicans pull it off, Democrats are going to look mighty dumb in helping them along.

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Trump and International Finance

by Joseph Joyce

Trump and International Finance

International trade and immigration were flashpoints of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and in his first year he has shown that he intends to fulfill his promises to slow down the movements of goods and people. Last month negotiations over NAFTA began with Canada and Mexico, with the U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer announcing that current bilateral deficits “can’t continue.” The President threatened to shut down the government if Congress does not approve the funding for a wall with Mexico—a threat that seems to have been retracted in view of the need to approve funding for relief funds to Texas. But another aspect of globalization—international financial flows—seems to have escaped the President’s wrath. The reason for this divergence tells us much about the reasons for the President’s opposition to economic globalization.

President Trump has complained about exchange rates, particularly those of China and Germany, insisting that their governments lower the value of their currencies to increase exports to the U.S. But the U.S. Treasury did not label either country a currency manipulator in its latest report, although they made the “watch list.” (How Germany manipulates the euro has yet to be demonstrated.) Similarly, Trump received considerable press coverage during his campaign when he attacked U.S. firms that allegedly transferred U.S. jobs abroad. Recently his indignation seems to have trailed off, and has been replaced by the assertion that lower corporate tax rates will serve as an incentive for U.S. firms to repatriate funds held abroad that they will spend on domestic investments—a claim with little evidence to back it up. The President has rarely voiced any concern about the impact of financial globalization.

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The Othering of “Economic Illiteracy”

Noah Smith has written a column at BloombergView, “Don’t Believe What Jeff Sessions Said About Jobs,” which scolds Attorney General Jeff Sessions for “terrible economics.” That may be a bit like carping about Charles Manson’s hairstyle or critiquing David Duke’s academic integrity. But there is something far more dangerous going on with Smith’s knee-jerk invocation of the lump-of-labor fallacy to rebuke Sessions and, presumably, those who might find Sessions’s claims credible.

In effect, Smith is falsely equating Sessions’s rationale for the expulsion of 800,000 young people who have grown up in the U.S. to Dean Baker’s advocacy of work-sharing. Lest that appear to be hyperbole, here is how Smith described Sessions’s terrible economics: “It’s a classic application of a well-known fallacy called the Lump of Labor  — the idea that there are a fixed number of jobs in the world, and those jobs get divvied up among people.” And here is how Omar al-Ubaydli framed his counterpoint to Dean Baker’s case for shorter workweeks: “Proponents of work-sharing believe an economy requires a fixed amount of work to be performed by a limited number of people.”

But Smith’s is only a relatively tame implementation of the fixed amount of false equivalency racket. Would you believe “collective bargaining = genocide”? Pierre Cahuc and ‎André Zylberberg traversed the obscene false equivalence distance from work-time reduction to genocide in The Natural Survival of Work: Job Creation and Job Destruction in a Growing Economy:

The idea that any country’s economy, and a fortiori the world economy, contains a fixed number of jobs or hours of work that can be parceled out in different ways is false. When used to justify the policies that reduce the length of the individual work week, it may lead to unintended consequences. … It can even be dangerous, as when it leads to the notion that getting rid of “superfluous” manpower (the Jews of Nazi Germany in the past, immigrants from many countries in the present) will give work back to indigenous residents.

Of course the above claim is not only false but absurd in the extreme. Work is “parceled out” all the time. A shift manager at Starbucks fills available hours with interchangeable baristas. The number of jobs or number of hours doesn’t have to be “fixed” to allow them to be parceled out in different ways. Nevertheless, Cahuc and Zylberberg ride their vile hobby horse from the ominous-sounding “unintended consequences” of reducing the work week to the downright dangerous notion of getting rid of unwanted populations, which somehow begins to sound almost benign compared to those terrifyingly vague unintended consequences. The slippery slope only needed to be greased one short step to encompass the principle of collective bargaining. That step was taken by Thomas Cree in  “The Evils of Collective Bargaining in Trades’ Unions” when he described the “economics upside down” that underpinned trade unionism and collective bargaining:

But now, there is a more serious evil than any of the foregoing. It is this, that the power of the union is exercised to enforce regulations which limit production and waste labour. Most workmen believe (and the belief is not confined to workmen) that increase of production per man is an evil. They think they are benefiting their class by doing each as little as possible, so as to make the work go over a greater number; and the desire to relieve the society of out-of-work allowance is a reason for enforcing that view. This is at the root of the demand for an eight hours’ day, and for a say in the management in shops, and also a cause of the objections to piecework. In this view exceptional industry is no longer a virtue—it is a fault to be punished not only by disapproval of fellow-workmen but, in some cases, by penalties. In some trades, if a man earns more than a certain wage he is fined, and his employer is fined as well.

As did many of his fellow dogmatists, Cree felt it instructive to obscure the claim of a false belief in a fixed amount of work by embedding it in the “regulations which limited production” and the supposed impulse toward slacking and shirking. The rationale, however is that “most workmen believe… that increase of production per man is evil”… because they assume that there is only a fixed amount of work to be done and thus if one man does more of it than there will be less left for others. This argument was explicated in David Schloss’s canonical explanation of “the Theory of the Lump of Labour”:

In accordance with this theory it is held that there is a certain fixed amount of work to be done, and that it is best in the interests of the workmen that each shall take care not to do too much work, in order that thus the Lump of Labour may be spread out thin over the whole body of work-people.

Schloss’s “Theory of the Lump of Labour” conformed to a template that already was more than a century old, having been expressed in similar terms in 1780 by the Lancashire magistrate, Dorning Rasbotham, in response to factory riots the previous year. Successive iterations of the complaint against the economic illiteracy of workers, handed down from Rasbotham to Schloss, adhered to what Albert O. Hirschman diagnosed as the “rhetoric of reaction.” Workers enjoyed “the best of all possible worlds.” Any effort on their part to “coerce” employers into paying higher wages or operating shorter hours would inevitably result in — as Cahuc and Zylberberg put it — “unintended consequences” that would make them worse off.

But, in what Noah Smith calls “one case where economists get it absolutely right” the consensus of economists — outside of Econ 101 textbook orthodoxy — is far less unanimous than he presumes. Among those economists who directly refuted the fallacy claim are Maurice Dobb, A.C. Pigou and Robert Hoxie. Economists who indirectly countered the fallacy claim in their analysis include Sydney J. Chapman, John Maynard Keynes, Joan Robinson, Luigi Pasinetti, John R. Commons, Dorothy W. Douglas, John Maurice Clark and Thorsten Veblen. Amazingly, objections and counter-arguments raised by these economists are never mentioned — and obviously never addressed — when the fallacy claim is trotted out. What kind of getting it “absolutely right” is that?

In my view, two of the most effective repudiations of the fallacy claim came from Dobb and Hoxie, both of whom presented alternative explanations for why workers might appear to want to “restrict output.” Dobb argued that what workers were after was not maximizing aggregate earnings but maximizing earnings relative to expenditure of time, effort and bodily “wear and tear.” Hoxie argued that the tactics and strategies of trade unions were not based on some abstract idea of what was happening in the “economy as a whole” but on everyday experience in a local economy. Dobb referred to the “Work Fund” fallacy, which was another name for the lump of labor:

…trade unionists in the nineteenth century were severely castigated by economists for adhering, it was alleged, to a vicious ‘Work Fund’ fallacy, which held that there was a limited amount of work to go round and that workers could benefit themselves by restricting the amount of work they did. But the argument as it stands is incorrect. It is not aggregate earnings which are the measure of the benefit obtained by the worker, but his earnings in relation to the work he does — to his output of physical energy or his bodily wear and tear. Just as an employer is interested in his receipts compared with his outgoings, so the worker is presumably interested in what he gets compared with what he gives. A man who works longer hours or is put on piece-rates, and increases the intensity of his work as a result, may earn more money in the course of the week; but he is also suffering more fatigue, and probably requires to spend more on food and recreation and perhaps on doctor’s bills.

Hoxie re-branded the lump of labor as the “fixed group demand theory” and concluded that this theory, in practice, “is simply the application by the unions of the principle of monopoly, admittedly valid”:

There is much scorn of unionists by economists and employers because of this lump of labor theory with its corollaries. This scorn is based on the classical supply and demand theory and its variants. Supply is demand. Increased efficiency in production means an increase of social dividend and increased shares, which in turn increase production and saving. Therefore, the workers cut off their own noses when they limit output or limit numbers. The classical position is undoubtedly valid when applied to society as a whole, if there is any such thing, and in the long run. But the trouble is that, so far as the workers are concerned, there is no society as a whole, and no long run, but immediate need and rival social groups.

Both Dobb and Hoxie called attention to the central conceit of the economists’ scorn for unionist “theories” — that somehow those who do not embrace the economic orthodoxy must have a view of economics that is “upside down” relative to the “true” theory. which is to say, same-but-different, with difference indicating deficiency. To put it bluntly, othering.

What the hell is “othering”? In a nutshell it is the practice of constituting the self as sovereign Subject by constituting the other as subjugated.

In the seminal text for the analysis of othering, “The Rani of Sirmur: An Essay in Reading the Archives,” Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak presented “three random examples of othering.” I’m not sure how “random” these examples were or even if they were random at all. Maybe she meant random as a kind of joke. At any rate, the first example had to do with s young Captain, Geoffrey Birch, riding through the countryside from Delhi to Calcutta “to acquaint the people who they are subject too.”
Spivak’s second example was General Sir David Ochterlony, a gentleman, who saw in the locals “all the brutality and purfidy [sic] of the rudest times without the courage and all the depravity and treachery of the modern days without the knowledge or refinement.” Her third example concerns some deletions in a letter drafted by the Court of Directors of the East India Company but expunged by the Board of Control. These deletions explicitly spelled out the rationale for withholding technology and knowledge from the natives. The final communique enacted the restrictions without disclosing the reasons.
So what does Spivak’s narrative of power, disparagement and knowledge have to do with the lump of labor fallacy or, for that matter, with the expulsion of colonial subjects “dreamers”? My point is that Noah Smith’s recourse to the bogus lump-of-labor fallacy claim has a much closer affinity to Attorney General Sessions’s remarks blaming “illegal aliens” for denying jobs to Americans than do the latter remarks to Dean Baker’s advocacy of shorter work weeks.
Dorning Rasbotham, Sir David Ochterlony and Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions are reactionary birds of a colonialist feather, along with Thomas Cree,  Pierre Cahuc and ‎André Zylberberg. Sessions’s economics is indeed terrible… as is the economics that opposes to it a fraudulent fallacy claim.

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The single most important fact this Labor Day

(Dan here…lifted from Bonddadd blog; better a little late than miss it)

by New Deal democrat

The single most important fact this Labor Day

On Labor Day, highlighting the single most important secular problem in the US economy:

If there is a silver lining, it is that the hemorrhaging has stopped since the end of the last recession.

But we are long past the point where we need another corporate tax cut. We desperately need to increase Labor’s share of our $17 Trillion economy.

Happy Labor Day!

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Why Are We Not Keeping Track Of The Dead From Hurricane Harvey?

Why Are We Not Keeping Track Of The Dead From Hurricane Harvey?

It is not surprising that as Hurricane Harvey has finally moved off the Atlantic coast and is over, and the flood waters recede in the various places that it caused damage, it is unsurprising that reporting has moved onto the inside pages of papers and even seems on the verge of disappearing.  But somehow a piece of information that I would think is important, and that I have seen reported more substantially in past disasters, is the number who died as a result of the hurricane.  If one googles “dead from Hurricane Harvey,” one gets as the top hits reports from many days ago in which one learns that the number who died is in single digits.

As it is, by digging hard I have found that the number is much higher, but seems unclear, but is only barely being mentioned deep in stories on the event.  After digging hard, I found scattered reports within the last 12 hours.  The number dead are reported to be either 38, 40, 43, 45, 46, or 50.  Those searching through badly flooded buildings, now free from the water, are gradually discovering those who could not escape and drowned.  But somehow these numbers seem to be of little interest.  I remember previous disasters where a few died, and that number would be the big headline, and people would keep track.  But somehow, for reasons I do not understand, the number dead from this event somehow seems to be of little interest to the media, and perhaps even the public. Is this really true, and if so, why?

Somehow I doubt that it is because over 1,200 people have died this season in South Asia from floods as that piece of information has received even less media attention.

Barkley Rosser

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