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Economics Headlines for the Week: 2/28/2011

February 28, 2011

Economics headlines from this week’s news, blogs, and op-eds.

To see the week’s economics headlines click here:

USA Today: Poll: Americans favor union bargaining rights

Its good to see that most Americans still believe in the right to collectively bargain over wages. After all, it was only through the actions of unions and collective bargaining that American workers achieved the 40 hour work week and standards of living taken for granted today.
The Wall Street Journal: Brain Reacts to Cellphones

While the effects are unknown, scientists have found cell phone radiation is strong enough to have an influence on the brain. What was found was that the areas of the brain close to where you hold a cell phone have higher brain activity (as measured by glucose metabolism) than after you’ve used your cell phone. The study was unable to answer whether or not this result indicated the potential for any long-term health consequences. Now, I wonder if any government regulatory bodies will start taking a second look at cell phones.

 

CNN Opinion: Why America’s teachers are enraged

This article brings up a valid point. Namely, over the past few years teachers have been facing increasing attacks over their performance. Personally, I feel that most of the pay for performance plans will distort teachers incentives to focusing on rote learning and children who they think show the most potential for improvement (rather than on the whole class evenly). Furthermore, studies have shown that most privatized schools actually perform worse than public ones. However, I do think that there is potentially more room for increasing public charter schools for low performing students. I think at the end of the day arguments such as those presented in “Waiting for Superman” demonize teachers so that Americans can overlook the unequal funding of public schools, lack of social programs to address the problems of income inequality for children,  and increasing costs of access to higher education in their society.

Aljazeera: Opinion: US economics One big Ponzi scheme

Aljazeera brings up some of the questions surrounding who knew about Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi-scheme (note when I typed this I just realized the irony… Bernie made off). At this moment I don’t think there is enough information to make any strong statements, but I do think there are questions that need to be asked and answered.

Market Watch: Market Crash 2011 It will hit by Christmas

I don’t believe the headline. But its true, the financial press makes money by lying to you. It’s also true that we are living in uncertain economic and fragile financial times. I just don’t see things materializing the way he lays out at the end of the piece. Likely the first bubble to burst will actually be inflationary commodity prices once the activity from Quantitative Easing 2 subsides. We are also facing serious budget concerns in the U.S. that could turn in any direction at any moment (probably come next election cycle), these I believe will be the key drivers of what happens next in the world economy.

Mother Jones: Plutocracy Now What Wisconsin Is Really About

Mother Jones reminds Americans of the important role unions have played in guaranteeing middle class wages. There is a lot of nice economic history here, and I assume most people who are not put off by the liberal bent of Mother Jones will also not mind the references to class in the article that the mainstream media has all but omitted when talking about the financial crisis and the proposed solutions of cutting basic services while lowering taxes on the rich.

 

The Guardian: Wisconsin’s fight for the middle class

Yet outside of the U.S.A. it is clear to most observers that exactly what is occurring here is a war on the poor and middle-class, instigated by the rich. It’s just that most Americans have been taught that talking about class is a naughty business, even when its happening right in front of your eyes.

Business Insider: Why A Reporter’s Prank Call To David Koch Is No Laughing Matter

See, its right in front of your eyes. Ultra-Libertarian, Billionaire, Oil-Oligarchs are funding and influencing Governor Walker’s approach to the unions to further their political goals of destroying the influence of the working class.

Forbes: A Secret Deal Between Gov. Walker And Koch Brothers Buried In State Budget?

And Walker may actually sell off government assets in no-bid contracts to these same backers. Of course now that it’s all been made public the Koch brothers deny any connections to the provision in the bill.

 

Citizens for Tax Justice: U.S. Corporations Are Paying Even Less in Taxes than Recently Reported

The New York Times reported G.E. paid the U.S. government at a rate of roughly 14.3% of its profits in taxes, this organization claims G.E. actually only paid an average of 3.4% of its profits in taxes over a four-year period. If anything, this article should convince you that either way… corporations pay a lot less in taxes than even the riches Americans, despite having all the same rights (as determined by the Citizens United ruling).

 

New York Times: Regulation Lax as Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers

Regulations can be good if you don’t like the taste and toxicity of gas in your drinking water.

To see the week’s economics headlines click here:

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