Archive for the ‘economics’ Category

John Oliver Plays (With) the Lottery

November 12, 2014

John Oliver Plays (With) the Lottery

Americans spent $68 billion playing the lottery last year, more than they spent on movie tickets, music, professional sports, video games and porn combined.. You can think of state lotteries as a tax on the dreams of the poor, since the poor spend more on these state-sponsored gambling schemes than more well-off people. Lottery ads sell hope, but the odds of winning are hopeless (1 in 176 million).

States sold the lottery concept to voters by saying the money earned would go to good causes like education, but it doesn’t, it merely displaces existing funding instead of supplementing it, so school budgets are flat or reduced.

Lottery winners are notoriously bad with their money. Hey, if they were good with money, would they play the freakin’ lottery in the first place?

John Oliver recently analyzed the lottery on his television program:

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Paul Ryan, Republican Intellectual

October 14, 2014

Paul Ryan, Republican Intellectual

Congressman Paul Ryan (R, WI-1) is running for reelection, and he’s rolled out his Big Ideas:

In the realm Higher Mathematics, he’s figured out how to cut taxes but keep popular tax deductions and government benefits. The method seems to involve lots of sleight-of-hand and wishful thinking. Maybe there’s a secret formula in Atlas Shrugged.

In Climate Science, Mr. Ryan has determined that humans have not contributed to Global Warming, despite decades of research that indicate otherwise with a 97% consensus. This isn’t just a tree-hugger matter; the Pentagon says Climate Change is a threat to National Security.

Related:

“How Paul Ryan Convinced Washington of His Genius,” Alec MacGillis, The New Republic

“Like Newt Gingrich? You’ll Love Paul Ryan.” NotionsCapital.com

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Mind the Gap

October 9, 2014

Mind the Gap

“According to calculations from the Equal Payback Project, American women are owed $29,811,746,430,000 (that’s U.S. dollars, also known as U.S. golden dollars with Sacagawea on them) due to the wage gap.

Working female Sarah Silverman is fund-raising for this exact amount. She promises that if this fund-raising goal is met, each woman in America will receive a check. If not, the money will go the National Women’s Law Center, which advocates for legal and structural changes to support professional women. They’re only trillions dollars away from removing this gap off the list of gaps facing women today.”

– “Sarah Silverman Is Fund-raising 29 Trillion Dollars,” Maggie Lange, New York Magazine

More:

“Sarah Silverman creates provocative new video on women’s salaries and ‘the $500,000 vagina tax,’” Siri Srinivas, The Guardian

“Everything you need to know about the gender wage gap,” Danielle Kurtzleben, Vox

“Pay Equity & Discrimination,” Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

 Video after the jump (NSFW, of course, it’s Sarah Silverman.)

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A Day Without Burgers

September 4, 2014

A Day Without Burgers

Don’t forget to pack a lunch this morning. Fast-food workers across the country are striking for a living wage, so’ll you’ll want to stay out of McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King. Don’t like cold sandwiches? Read this.

More:

“Fast food workers plan biggest US strike to date over minimum wage,” Dominic Rushe, The Guardian

“Fast Food Workers Plan Another Strike in 150 Cities,” Victor Luckerson, TIME Magazine

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Caffè Latte Is Not What You Think It Is

August 23, 2014

Caffè Latte Is Not What You Think It Is

“Perhaps the latte’s most popular association, at least currently, is with a certain level of affluence. Conservatives complain about ‘latte liberals’ who are out of touch with the working class ….

But the notion that lattes are a sign of privilege may be off-base. Kyla Wazana Tompkins, a professor of English and gender and women’s studies … told Op-Talk that ‘the latte, while it may be attached on a certain level to too much upper-class food knowledge and pretension, it really is no longer an upper-class drink.’ She explained: ‘No matter how many kale salads Starbucks puts in their case, Starbucks is a fast-food purveyor.’ The latte, she argued, ‘is a high-calorie food that’s being pushed in an industrialized way largely to working-class people.’ And, she added, ‘it’s important to think about the explosion of all of these industrialized lattes, all these frozen lattes, all the Frappuccinos, as links to a larger problem of creating cheap, high-calorie, low-nutrition food for working-class people.’”

More:

“If You Read This, You Might Never Drink a Latte Again,” Anna North, New York Times

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Image (“Lady with iPad, after Rafael de Penagos”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Karl Marx Cashes In

July 8, 2014

Karl Marx Cashes In

In recent antiquarian book irony financial news: Commodity Fetishism?

“Copy of Das Kapital sells for $40k just as Dow Jones hits record high,” Richard Davies, AbeBooks

Related:

“Give Karl Marx a Chance to Save the World Economy,” George Magnus, Bloomberg View

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Short link: http://wp.me/p6sb6-jw0

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Real Artists Have Day Jobs

June 29, 2014

Real Artists Have Day Jobs

“The biggest myth we are fed as artists is that we need to sustain ourselves solely on our art. This is ridiculous. Every artist has at some point in time had some other job. Some of them kept these jobs their entire lives. In the latter category: William Carlos Williams was a doctor in New Jersey; Henry Darger was a custodian in Chicago; Harvey Pekar was a VA Hospital clerk in Cleveland.

In more temporary capacities: Maya Angelou was a cable-car conductor; Sandra Cisneros was an administrative assistant; JK Rowling was a secretary; Jeremy Renner was a makeup artist (Please read that again: Jeremy Renner was a makeup artist).

Art does not require an MFA. Art does not require a BA. Art does not require a high school diploma. Art does not require any formal education at all.

Art does not need your full-time attention. Art does not demand that you starve in order to afford paint and canvas and brushes.”

– “Real Artists Have Day Jobs,” Sara Benincasa, Medium [links added]

Sara Benincasa’s website

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Image (“Self-Portrait of [Name Withheld], after van Gogh”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com 

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Millionaires Vote Down $10.10 Minimum Wage

May 1, 2014

Millionaires Vote Down $10.10 Minimum Wage

“A broad-based coalition of millionaires converged on Washington today to defeat a bill that would have increased the minimum wage for American workers to $10.10 an hour.

Leaving behind their mansions and yachts, the millionaires were motivated by what they saw as an existential threat to the country, Mitch McConnell, a spokesman for the millionaires, said.

‘This was an extremely diverse coalition,’ McConnell said, noting that everyone from the rich to the very rich to the super-rich united to vote down the bill.”

– “Millionaires Unite to Defeat Minimum Wage,” Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker

More:

“GOP Blocks Minimum-Wage Bill in Senate,” Caitlin Huey-Burns and Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics

Related:

“Which Millionaire Are You Voting For?” Nicholas Carnes, New York Times

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Short link: http://wp.me/p6sb6-jeI

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Chutes & Ladders

March 19, 2014

Chutes & Ladders

“A meritocracy requires more than simply making it possible for people at the bottom to climb the ladder of opportunity. It also involves chutes of accountability for those at the top. These are two sides of the same coin: the skilled must be able to rise, but grandees caught with their snouts in the trough must also come tumbling down. ‘We cannot have a just society that applies the principle of accountability to the powerless and the principle of the forgiveness to the powerful,’ writes Chris Hayes in his sweeping meditation on meritocracy, Twilight of the Elites.‘ And yet: ‘This is the America in which we currently reside.’”

– “There is no meritocracy: It’s just the 1 percent, and the game is rigged,” Thomas Frank, Salon

Related: See the fascinating Wikipedia entry on Snakes and Ladders.

__________________

Short link: http://wp.me/p6sb6-j48

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length

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lnternational Women’s Day

March 8, 2014

March 8, 2014 is International Women’s Day. The century-old observance has its origin in social demonstrations for voting rights and political representation, but the facts of economic inequality were always obvious and acknowledged. That’s why we prefer the IWD video (above) by the nonprofit Kiva microfinance group to the better-known, token Doodle Google (below).

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