How does ObamaCare affect you? Please take this poll

Taking America's pulse and heartbeat

Taking America’s pulse and heartbeat

Answers cannot be traced by me, by the way; answer accurately, with abandon.

Crossposted from Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub; answers given at this site are tallied on the same spreadsheet.

 

Current economics: Robert C. Lieberman, “Why the Rich Are Getting Richer: American Politics and the Second Gilded Age”

What? You missed this, on February 20, 2011? Well, here it is again. Please pay attention this time.

The U.S. economy appears to be coming apart at the seams. Unemployment remains at nearly ten percent, the highest level in almost 30 years; foreclosures have forced millions of Americans out of their homes; and real incomes have fallen faster and further than at any time since the Great Depression. Many of those laid off fear that the jobs they have lost — the secure, often unionized, industrial jobs that provided wealth, security and opportunity — will never return. They are probably right.

Cover of Winner-Take-All Politics, by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson

Cover of Winner-Take-All Politics, by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson

And yet a curious thing has happened in the midst of all this misery. The wealthiest Americans, among them presumably the very titans of global finance whose misadventures brought about the financial meltdown, got richer. And not just a little bit richer; a lot richer. In 2009, the average income of the top five percent of earners went up, while on average everyone else’s income went down. This was not an anomaly but rather a continuation of a 40-year trend of ballooning incomes at the very top and stagnant incomes in the middle and at the bottom. The share of total income going to the top one percent has increased from roughly eight percent in the 1960s to more than 20 percent today.

This what the political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson call the “winner-take-all economy.” It is not a picture of a healthy society. Such a level of economic inequality, not seen in the United States since the eve of the Great Depression, bespeaks a political economy in which the financial rewards are increasingly concentrated among a tiny elite and whose risks are borne by an increasingly exposed and unprotected middle class. Income inequality in the United States is higher than in any other advanced democracy and by conventional measures comparable to that in countries such as Ghana, Nicaragua, and Turkmenistan.

Robert C. Lieberman, reviewing the book Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer — and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class, by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, Simon and Schuster, 2010, 368 pages. $27.00.; review appears in Foreign Affairs, January/February 2011, pp. 154-158.

More:

Two years later, even more:

This post is borrowed, with express permission, from Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.

‘Commanding Heights’ home page

For economics research, to find example of economics principles and to understand economic history, there are few better sites than the home page of the PBS series based on Daniel Yergin‘s history of economics in the 20th century, “Commanding Heights.”  Go see.

Image for Commanding Heights video series

You may view segments, or the entire series.

You can read up on the people, or the countries.  You can follow specific ideas.

There is a good glossary of economic terms There are essays on key concepts, in addition to the material in the book and the series.

One might wish all websites were so thorough.

President Obama’s fourth State of the Union Address, January 25, 2012

In case you missed the broadcast, the good folks at the PBS NewsHour recorded it for you, and for history:

How did you make out with your State of the Union Bingo card?  Generally, the longer these things go, the more likely you’ll fill in the whole thing.

What did you think about the speech?

 

Quote of the moment: Robert Kennedy on what really matters in economies

Found this at the blog (on economics!) of Harry Clarke (made a few minor corrections in the text):

Robert F. Kennedy speech at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, March 18, 1968

Robert F. Kennedy speech at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, March 18, 1968 - Photo by George Silk, Time-Life Pictures/Getty Images

RFK said this in 1968. In a speech I heard today it was quoted and it stirred me.

Too much and for too long, we seem to have surrendered personal excellence and community value in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over eight hundred billion dollars a year, but that GNP — if we judge the United States of America by that — that GNP counts air pollution and cigarette advertising and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and it counts nuclear warheads, and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

Yet the Gross National Product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.

Then-Sen. Robert F. Kennedy delivered these words in an address at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, on March 18, 1968, near the beginning of his too-short run for the presidency, and a few days before President Lyndon Johnson announced he would not be running for another term.  This was just more than two weeks before the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Here’s a video production from the Glaser Progress Foundation which includes an audio recording of the speech:

More resources:

This post originally appeared at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.  It is used here with express permission.