Gregory Clark in A Farewall to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World.
Those last couple sentences, though.
Goddamn. I highly endorse home ownership over renting if possible.
Hey so in Canada the debate over whether to own a house depends mostly on how much you think the price of the house is going to increase between now and resale time (plus whatever psychological benefit you get from owning it). But in the US, things are totally different, because you get a tax deduction for paying interest on your mortgage. As far as I know it’s the only country in the world with this deduction, and it’s a HUGE subsidy to owning houses.
Seeing as the subsidy totals hundreds of billions of dollars per year (askbox me if you want data) and it really only hits the richer half of the population and there’s no evidence it makes much difference in terms of promoting homeownership, virtually every economist of every political bent thinks it’s the worst and most expensive consumer subsidy in the United States, but obviously it’s also incredibly popular so there’s zero impetus to repealing it even among the socialist and Tea Party edges of elected officialdom.
Incidentally, this is probably the one really strong argument in favour of subprime mortgages. The US government spends billions of dollars per year in perks for people with mortgages, and if subprime mortgages let poorer people get those perks, then is that really such a bad thing? I mean, yes, it’s a bad thing because it causes the entire financial system to collapse and so on, but there’s a tradeoff I think.
Justine Tunney suggests this would take one million dollars. Assuming she’s sincere about wanting to stay nonviolent (so, e.g., not posting snipers in nearby hotels and apartment buildings), is this enough money to shut down Wall Street?
Like, I can’t imagine you’re going to be able to pay people less than $100/day after administrative expenses and stuff. (This neglects any kind of cost to train protesters.) Assuming you need to shut things down for at least a work week (which is super conservative) that’s only two thousand paid protesters! The largest Occupy protests in the US were two or three times that size, and they accomplished nothing in terms of shutting down Wall Street. Denver, Chicago, and Pittsburgh all had around that many protesters. You could argue that these two thousand protesters would be way more vocal and presumably try harder to resist arrest, but I don’t see how the police couldn’t deal with them all very quickly. And a one-day protest is going to have zero effect whatsoever, and then you’ve blown a million dollars, so now what?
If you legitimately wanted to buy a privately-funded mass protest to bring down Wall Street (not a coup, not an armed insurrection, just a bunch of people waving signs and chanting) it seems to me that a more reasonable number would be around $25-30 million. At this point, you could realistically have 50-60 thousand people shutting down Wall Street. And that’s not a huge sum of money (plenty of individuals in the US are worth ten times that, and spend comparable amounts of money influencing politics anyway) but $1 million is almost definitely not in the right ballpark.
Mass protests like this take a ton of people. Like, in the last five years Europe has seen a couple protest marches with hundreds of thousands of people but none of these have seriously changed the way the government or the financial system operates in any of the protesters’ countries? Formenting revolution without either guns or some kind of influence at the top is incredibly difficult.
Probably should note that I’m not convinced that shutting down Wall Street is the best way to proceed, as opposed to squeezing as much money out of it as possible and regulating away the aspects that the present the greatest hazard in terms of future crashes. But hey, I’m not the highly-paid Google engineer who can make any of this happen.
one of the problems with big minimum wage hikes is that we really don’t have much data on what happens
Like, with minimum wage increases of 10% or 20%, it’s pretty clear the employment situation doesn’t change much. Unfortunately 10%-20% doesn’t translate to a substantial increase in a lot of places so there’s I think more support for a more drastic increase (like going from $9.32 to $15 for Seattle)? And yeah anyone who tells you they’re sure this doesn’t mean a big uptick in layoffs for minimum wage workers is entirely lying, because there’s no good data on increases that large.
What in the goddamn fuck is this back-alley abortion of an article
Okay seriously though how can you read this whole article as anything other than wealthy Americans thinking out their own fears about their future viability in terms of the Ukraine? The argument here is “oh no, the zillionaires have been able to sponsor every right-wing and left-wing and terrifying fascist candidate in every election in the last twenty years, which has meant that everyone has tacitly agreed not to challenge their power, but now there’s a small chance the new government will consist of people those zillionaires haven’t thoroughly bought” which seems like a clear analogy for anxieties in the United States were there ever a successful protest movement. And it’s actually super instructive to see how those wealthy Americans apparently think they can maintain their societal supremacy - apparently, via high-profile donations to visible institutions in large cities.
In fairness, this was a strategy that worked quite admirably and preserved the political / social / financial power of several American families to even today
Really, the tone is more like “Ugh, we’re going to have to build some libraries AGAIN.”
Yes EXACTLY there’s apparently a legitimate fear that someday the US and other rich industrialized countries will elect politicians who actually threaten the established interests of the wealthy. And the suggested response is building a new opera theatre or whatever which suggests that whoa they have no real handle on how to address the indefinite future of more and more unemployed or underemployed disaffected people with nontrivial organizing capacity. So I’d suggest that this is actually a super informative article in terms of how Businessweek’s target readership thinks about these things.