Learning Change

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Rich People’s Movements: Grassroots Campaigns to Untax the One Percent

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On tax day, April 15, 2010, hundreds of thousands of Americans demonstrated with signs demanding lower taxes on the richest one percent. Where do protest movements like this come from? Rich people are an unpopular minority with plenty of political influence. Why would rich people need to demonstrate in the streets to demand lower taxes-and why would anyone who wasn’t rich join in the protest on their behalf? Such rich people’s movements are hardy perennials of American politics. Ever since the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment in 1913, they have emerged whenever public policies are perceived to threaten the property rights of rich people. The protesters on behalf of the rich have picked up the protest tactics of the poor and powerless because they have been organized and led by activists who have acquired their skills and protest techniques from other social movements, from the Populists and Progressives of the early twentieth century to the feminists and anti-war activists of the mid-twentieth century. At times when conservative Republicans are in power, rich people’s movements have helped to bring about some of the biggest tax cuts for the rich in American history. This is the untold story of the tax clubs and Tea Parties that have shaped American politics and policy for the last hundred years.

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Written by learningchange

17/10/2013 at 11:59

The Rich See a Different Internet Than the Poor

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Imagine an Internet where unseen hands curate your entire experience. Where third parties predetermine the news, products and prices you see—even the people you meet. A world where you think you are making choices, but in reality, your options are narrowed and refined until you are left with merely the illusion of control.

This is not far from what is happening today. Thanks to technology that enables Google, Facebook and others to gather information about us and use it to tailor the user experience to our own personal tastes, habits and income, the Internet has become a different place for the rich and for the poor. Most of us have become unwitting actors in an unfolding drama about the tale of two Internets. There is yours and mine, theirs and ours.

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Written by learningchange

16/10/2013 at 13:43

Posted in Internet, Poor, Rich

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Oligarchy and Democracy

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It is a confounding moment in American political history. On the one hand, evidence of democratic possibilities is undeniable. In 2008, millions of Americans helped catapult a man of half-African descent into the White House long before observers thought the nation was “ready.” Democratic movements have won major victories in recent decades, spreading civil rights, improving the status of women and ending unpopular wars. This is the continuation of a trend with deep roots in American history, reaching back at least to the Jacksonian era, of extending the equality principle into American culture at large.

On the other hand, democracy appears chronically dysfunctional when it comes to policies that impinge on the rich. Despite polls consistently showing that large majorities favor increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans, policy has been moving for decades in the opposite direction. Reduced taxes on the ultra-rich and the corporations and banks they dominate have shifted fiscal burdens downward even as they have strained the government’s capacity to maintain infrastructure, provide relief to children and the poor, and assist the elderly.

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Written by learningchange

29/10/2011 at 19:06

Posted in Democracy, Rich, Wealth

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Review: Winner-Take-All Politics

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This is a transformative book. It’s the best book on American politics that I’ve read since Before the Storm. Not all of it is original (the authors seek to synthesize others’ work as well as present their own, but provide due credit where credit is due). Not all of its arguments are fully supported (the authors provide a strong circumstantial case to support their argument, but don’t have smoking gun evidence on many of the relevant causal relations). But it should transform the ways in which we think about and debate the political economy of the US.

The underlying argument is straightforward. The sources of American economic inequality are largely political – the result of deliberate political decisions to shape markets in ways that benefit the already-privileged at the expense of a more-or-less unaware public.

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Read also: Here’s What’s the Matter With Kansas

Winner-take-all politics: how Washington made the rich richer-and turned its back on the middle class

Why the Rich Are Getting Richer

Written by learningchange

12/10/2011 at 08:54

Winner-take-all politics: how Washington made the rich richer-and turned its back on the middle class

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A groundbreaking work that identifies the real culprit behind one of the great economic crimes of our time–the growing inequality of incomes between the vast majority of Americans and the richest of the rich. We all know that the very rich have gotten a lot richer these past few decades while most Americans haven’t. In fact, the exorbitantly paid have continued to thrive during the current economic crisis, even as the rest of Americans have continued to fall behind. Why do the “have it- alls” have so much more? And how have they managed to restructure the economy to reap the lion’s share of the gains and shift the costs of their new economic playground downward, tearing new holes in the safety net and saddling all of us with increased debt and risk? Lots of so-called experts claim to have solved this great mystery, but no one has really gotten to the bottom of it–until now. In their lively and provocative Winner-Take-All Politics, renowned political scientists Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson demonstrate convincingly that the usual suspects–foreign trade and financial globalization, technological changes in the workplace, increased education at the top–are largely innocent of the charges against them. Instead, they indict an unlikely suspect and take us on an entertaining tour of the mountain of evidence against the culprit. The guilty party is American politics. Runaway inequality and the present economic crisis reflect what government has done to aid the rich and what it has not done to safeguard the interests of the middle class. The winner-take-all economy is primarily a result of winner-take-all politics.

Written by learningchange

04/10/2011 at 22:40

Why the Rich Are Getting Richer

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Read also:  Winner-take-all politics: how Washington made the rich richer-and turned its back on the middle class

Increasing inequality in the United States has long been attributed to unstoppable market forces. In fact, as Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson show, it is the direct result of congressional policies that have consciously — and sometimes inadvertently — skewed the playing field toward the rich.

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.

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.

Written by learningchange

04/10/2011 at 22:31

Posted in Rich, Wealth

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