The case for an American social wealth fund

The ownership of American wealth is hideously unequal: The top 10 percent owns about 79 percent of it, and the top 1 percent alone owns about 39 percent — while the bottom half owns virtually nothing. And while that discrepancy used to be smaller back in the more equal New Deal days, it was still huge. The top tenth or so of society has always accounted for the overwhelming bulk of American wealth.

One proposal for equalizing this situation is to build up a social wealth fund, as I have proposed before, and Matt Bruenig lays out in a recent worked-out paper. The idea is for the government to accumulate a significant fraction of all the national wealth, and pay out the ensuing capital income with an annual dividend to all adult citizens.

Mike Konczal of the left-leaning Roosevelt Institute argues that this is an unnecessary and bad idea. Meanwhile, Kevin Drum has a more conservative objection, asserting without evidence that “government-run enterprises are almost inevitably run badly and government-controlled paychecks are almost inevitably corrupt beyond all imagining.”

These objections fail. A social wealth fund is a good idea.

First of all, when talking about “wealth” we’re talking about all assets: stocks, bonds, real estate, buildings, and so forth. Thomas Piketty et al. calculate that U.S. wealth is worth $71 trillion as of 2015, while the Federal Reserve puts it at $90 trillion today. Norway provides one example of how a fraction of this kind of wealth can be wielded for the benefit of everyone. The country has slowly built up a social wealth fund worth over $1 trillion (or over $190,000 per Norwegian) over the years. Through that and its state-owned enterprises, the Norwegian state now …read more

Source:: The Week – Politics


Taliban: Founder of Haqqani terror network dies in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The Taliban say the Afghan Haqqani network founder, Jalaluddin Haqqani, an ex- U.S. ally turned fierce enemy, has died after years of ill health.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Tuesday that Haqqani died on Monday inside Afghanistan.

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The elderly founder of Afghanistan’s outlawed Haqqani network had been paralyzed for the past 10 years.

The Haqqani network was declared a terrorist organization by the United States in 2012.

Haqqani had not been heard from in several years, and reports of his death had been widespread in 2015.

In announcing Haqqani’s death Tuesday, Mujahed called him a religious scholar and exemplary warrior.

…read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Trump renews attack on Sessions, says he hurt GOP ahead of midterms

By Josh Dawsey

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department on Monday in connection with the indictments of two GOP congressmen on corruption charges, saying they could hurt the Republican Party in the midterm elections.

“Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department,” he said on Twitter. “Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time.”

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“Good job Jeff……” he added, in a sarcastic comment. Calling the agency the “Jeff Sessions Justice Department” is the president’s ultimate insult, Trump advisers say.

Trump did not address the charges themselves or name the congressmen, but the tweet was apparently referring to the indictments this summer of Reps. Chris Collins of New York and Duncan D. Hunter of California, the president’s two earliest congressional endorsers.

Collins was charged with insider trading, accused by federal prosecutors of tipping off his son about a biotechnology company’s failed drug trial to avoid significant investment losses. The alleged tip-off took place not during the Obama administration, as Trump’s tweet suggests, but in 2017, after Trump had become president.

Hunter was charged with using more than $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses, including family vacations, school tuition and theater tickets.

Collins has suspended his reelection campaign, while Hunter is running for reelection, alleging political bias by the Justice Department.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., criticized the president’s tweet. “The United States is not some banana republic with a two-tiered system of justice — one for the majority party and one for the minority party. These two men have been charged …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Facing outrage, New Yorker drops plan to interview Bannon at festival


NEW YORK (AP) — Facing widespread outrage, The New Yorker has dropped plans to interview Steve Bannon during its festival next month.

New Yorker editor David Remnick told The Associated Press in a statement shared Monday with the magazine’s staff that he had changed his mind. The former Donald Trump aide and ex-chairman of Breitbart News was supposed to be a featured guest during a prestigious gathering that over the years has drawn some of the world’s most prominent artists and public figures. This year’s guests include Emily Blunt, Zadie Smith and Sally Yates, who Trump fired as deputy attorney general after she refused to back his initial ban on travelers from Muslim countries. The ban was advocated by Bannon, a senior White House adviser at the time.

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“I’ve thought this through and talked to colleagues — and I’ve re-considered,” Remnick, who has repeatedly denounced Trump and his administration, wrote of his decision on Bannon. “There is a better way to do this. Our writers have interviewed Steve Bannon for The New Yorker before, and if the opportunity presents itself I’ll interview him in a more traditionally journalistic setting as we first discussed, and not on stage.”

Remnick also acknowledged that festival guests, unlike those interviewed on radio or for a print story, are paid an honorarium, along with money for travel and lodging.

The New Yorker’s announcement on Bannon came earlier Monday and was denounced by Roxane Gay, Jessica Valenti and many others. Gay tweeted that “the intellectual class doesn’t truly understand racism or xenophobia. They treat it like an intellectual project, where perhaps if we ask ‘hard questions’ and bandy about ‘controversial’ ideas, good work is …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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