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ROBERT B. REICH is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fourteen books, including the best sellers “Aftershock”, “The Work of Nations,” and"Beyond Outrage,“ and, his most recent, "Saving Capitalism.” He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, INEQUALITY FOR ALL.
Updated: 2 hours 43 min ago
TAKE BACK THE SENATE!
Amid all the focus on the presidential race it’s also important to keep in mind Democrats have a fighting chance to take back the Senate in November. There are at least 12 races in play. Win five, and Democrats are in control regardless of the outcome of the presidential election.
Many of of the Democrats on the ballot this year are progressives who have been fighting to raise the minimum wage, expand Social Security, provide paid sick leave and paid parental leave. Many are women and people of color who will make the Senate look more like the rest of America.
Win five of these races and we’d have a chance for a Supreme Court that would prioritize the rights and needs of average Americans rather than big corporations and overturn Citizens United!
Win five of these races and we’d put Senate oversight of the government back into the hands of people who care that government actually works.
We’d strengthen the ranks of progressives like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Jeff Merkley, Sherrod Brown, and others – who we are counting on in the fight to get big money out of politics, reduce income and wealth inequality, confront devastating climate change, and push a progressive foreign policy.
A Democratic Senate would also give us a line of defense, a countervailing power in budget showdowns, foreign policy lock downs, and threatened government shutdowns.
If Hillary Clinton becomes president, a Democratic Senate will help push her positive agenda, and hold her accountable if she veers away from it. If Donald Trump becomes president – well, let’s just say we’ll need a Democratic Senate more than ever.
So please remember what’s at stake. And Vote on November 8th!
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Why We’ll Need a Universal Basic Income
Imagine a little gadget called an i-Everything. You can’t get it yet, but if technology keeps moving as fast as it is now, the i-Everything will be with us before you know it.
A combination of intelligent computing, 3-D manufacturing, big data crunching, and advanced bio-technology, this little machine will be able to do everything you want and give you everything you need.
There’s only one hitch. As the economy is now organized, no one will be able to buy it, because there won’t be any paying jobs left. You see, the i-Everything will do … everything.
We’re heading toward the i-Everything far quicker than most people realize. Even now, we’re producing more and more with fewer and fewer people.
Internet sales are on the way to replacing millions of retail workers. Diagnostic apps will be replacing hundreds of thousands of health-care workers. Self-driving cars and trucks will replace 5 million drivers.
Researchers estimate that almost half of all U.S. jobs are at risk of being automated in the next two decades.
This isn’t necessarily bad. The economy we’re heading toward could offer millions of people more free time to do what they want to do instead of what they have to do to earn a living.
But to make this work, we’ll have to figure out some way to recirculate the money from the handful of people who design and own i-Everythings, to the rest of us who will want to buy i-Everythings.
One answer: A universal basic income – possibly financed out of the profits going to such labor replacing innovations, or perhaps even a revenue stream off of the underlying intellectual property.
The idea of a universal basic income historically isn’t as radical as it may sound. It’s had support from people on both the left and the right. In the 1970s, President Nixon proposed a similar concept for the United States, and it even passed the House of Representatives.
The idea is getting some traction again, partly because of the speed of technological change. I keep running into executives of high-tech companies who tell me a universal basic income is inevitable, eventually.
Some conservatives believe it’s superior or other kinds of public assistance because a universal basic income doesn’t tell people what to spend the assistance on, and doesn’t stigmatize recipients because everyone qualifies.
In recent years, evidence has shown that giving people cash as a way to address poverty actually works. In study after study, people don’t stop working and they don’t drink it away.
Interest in a basic income is surging, with governments debating it from Finland to Canada to Switzerland to Namibia. The charity “Give Directly” is about to launch a basic income pilot in Kenya, providing an income for more than 10 years to some of the poorest and most vulnerable families on the planet. And then rigorously evaluate the results.
As new technologies replace work, the question for the future is how best to provide economic security for all.
A universal basic income will almost certainly be part of the answer.
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WHY CORPORATE TAX DESERTERS SHOULDN’T GET THE BENEFITS OF BEING AMERICAN CORPORATIONS
Apple is only the latest big global American corporation to use foreign tax shelters to avoiding paying its fair share of U.S. taxes. It’s just another form of corporate desertion.
Corporations are deserting America by hiding their profits abroad or even shifting their corporate headquarters to another nation because they want lower taxes abroad. And some politicians say the only way to stop these desertions is to reduce corporate tax rates in the U.S. so they won’t leave.
Wrong. If we start
trying to match lower corporate tax rates around the world, there’s no end to it.
Instead, the President should use his executive power to end the financial incentives that encourage this type of corporate desertion. President Obama has already begun, but there is much left that could be done.
In addition, corporation that desert America by sheltering a large portion of their profits abroad or moving their headquarters to another country should no longer be entitled to
the advantages of being American.
1. They shouldn’t be allowed to influence the
U.S. government. They shouldn’t be allowed to contribute to U.S. political
campaigns, or lobby Congress, or participate in U.S. government agency
rule-making proceedings. And they no longer have the right to sue foreign
companies in U.S. courts for acts committed outside the United States.
2. They shouldn’t be entitled to generous
government contracts. “Buy American” provisions of the law should be
applied to them.
3. Their assets around the world shouldn’t any longer be protected by the U.S. government. If their factories and equipment are expropriated somewhere around the world, they shouldn’t expect the United States to negotiate or threaten sanctions, or use our armed forces to protect their investments. And if their intellectual property – patents, trademarks, trade names, copyrights – are disregarded, that’s their problem too. Don’t expect any help from us.
In fact, their
interests should be of no concern to the U.S. government – in trade
negotiations, climate negotiations, international treaties reconciling
American law with the laws of other countries, or international disputes over
access to resources.
They don’t get to be represented by the U.S. government because they’re no longer American.
It’s simple logic. If corporations want to desert America in order to pay less in taxes, that’s their business. But they should no longer have the benefits that come with being American.
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THE REALITY OF FREE TRADE DEALS
Free trade is figuring prominently in the upcoming presidential election. Donald Trump is against it. Hillary Clinton has expressed qualms.
Economists still think free trade benefits most Americans, but according to polls, only 35% of voters agree.
Why this discrepancy?
Because economists support any policy that improves efficiency and they typically define a policy as efficient if the people who benefit from it could compensate those who lose from it and still come out ahead.
But this way of looking at things leaves out 3 big realities.
1. Inequality keeps growing. In a society of widening inequality, the winners are often wealthier than the losers, so even if they fully compensate the losers, as the winners gain more ground, the losers may feel even worse off.
2. Safety nets keep unraveling. As a practical matter, the winners don’t compensate the losers. Most of the losers from trade, the millions whose good jobs have been lost, don’t even have access to unemployment insurance. Trade adjustment assistance is a joke. America invests less in jobs training as a percent of our economy than almost any other advanced nation.
3. Median pay keeps dropping. Those whose paychecks have been declining because of trade don’t make up for those declines by having access to cheaper goods and services from abroad. Yes, those cheaper goods help but adjusted for inflation, the median hourly pay of production workers is still lower today than it was in 1974.
So if we want the public to support free trade, we’ve got to ensure that everyone benefits from it.
This means we need a genuine reemployment system – including not only unemployment insurance, but also income insurance. So if you lose your job and have to take one that pays less, you get a portion of the difference for up to a year.
More basically, we’ve got to ensure that the gains from trade are more widely shared.
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