Friday, May 9, 2014

Quick Hits

That one paragraph or factoid that sums up the essence of the article:
"Hayek contended in The Road to Serfdom that even democratic forms of state planning were bound to end in the totalitarianism of a Stalin or a Hitler. But 70 years later, there is not a single case of social democracy leading to dictatorship, while there are dozens of tragic episodes of market excess destroying democracy."

Karl Polanyi Explains It All (Prospect)

"Everyone knows the rich receive special treatment in this country, especially in court. But Taibbi concludes that the government now offers a sliding scale of civil and criminal protection to U.S. residents. At one end of the spectrum, the very rich are virtually beyond accountability, no matter how massive and destructive their crimes may be. At the other end, the nation’s most vulnerable residents face unremitting investigation and prosecution by bureaucracies determined to find them guilty of something."

The Divide (TruthDig)

"In a scathing analysis, the progressive Institute for Policy Studies has calculated that a law allowing corporations to deduct executives’ stock options and other so-called “performance pay” from their income taxes, without limits, costs taxpayers some $232 million in the last two years — based on just 20 large companies in the restaurant industry."

"At the same time, the new report notes, large restaurant chains often pay their low-level workers "so little that many of them must rely on Medicaid and other taxpayer-funded anti-poverty programs." The Institute for Policy Studies says the 20 companies in its report are all members of the National Restaurant Association, which is fighting efforts to raise the minimum wage."

Taxpayers Hit Twice by Fast-Food Pay Practices (Fiscal Times)

"Al Qaeda (Bin Laden’s organization, if it still exists in meaningful form) is a threat to America. A greater threat are our CEO’s, some of whom who have discovered discovered a formula to vast personal wealth: leverage the company up (borrow), use those funds to buy back stock (boosting earnings per share), cut capital expenditures (capex) to boost short-term profits, pay most of the profits in dividends — all of which disguises massive payouts to senior managers (via salary, benefits, pensions, golden parachutes, grants of stock and stock options, etc). They’re strip-mining away America’s future."

Watch corporations strip-mine their future (and ours) (Fabius Maximus)

"An estimated $1 trillion of America's $6 trillion in annual federal, state, and local government spending goes to private companies."

The Privatization Backlash (The Atlantic)

"Wranglers in the US west who have for decades cashed in on the allure of getting on a horse and setting out on an open trail say they have had to add bigger horses to their stables to help carry larger tourists over the rugged terrain."

"The ranches say they are using draft horses, the diesels of the horse world, in ever greater numbers to make sure they don't lose out on income from potential customers of any size who come out to get closer to the west of yesteryear."

"Even though a person might be overweight, or, you know, heavier than the average American, it's kind of nice we can provide a situation where they can ride with their family," said wrangler T James "Doc" Humphrey."

Big riders mean bigger horses on US's western trails (The Guardian)

"Though recently American leisure time has appeared to rise, the averages are skewed by undereducated and lower-income men, who are likely “unemployed or underemployed,” as the Washington Post has noted. Work-life balances are abominable when compared to other developed countries. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the “average American” is actually working “one month” more a year than he or she was in 1976."

Are Sundays Dying? (Pacific Standard)

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