By Sanjukta Paul – Where does economic power come from? Does it exist independently of the law?
It seems obvious, even undeniable, that the answer is no. Law creates, defines and enforces property rights. Law enforces private contracts. It charters corporations and shields investors from liability. Law declares illegal certain contracts of economic cooperation between separate individuals – which it calls ‘price-fixing’ – but declares economically equivalent activity legal when it takes place within a business firm or is controlled by one.
Each one of these is a choice made by the law, on behalf of the public as a whole. Each of them creates or maintains someone’s economic power, and often undermines someone else’s. Each also plays a role in maintaining a particular distribution of economic power across society.
Yet generations of lawyers and judges educated at law schools in the United States have been taught to ignore this essential role of law in creating and sustaining economic power.
Instead, we are taught that the social process of economic competition results in certain outcomes that are ‘efficient’ – and that anything the law does to alter those outcomes is its only intervention.
These peculiar presumptions flow from the enormously powerful and influential ‘law and economics’ movement that dominates thinking in most areas of US law considered to be within the ‘economic’ sphere.
Bruce Ackerman, professor of law and political science at Yale University, recently called law and economics the most influential thing in legal education since the founding of Harvard Law School.
The Economics Institute for Federal Judges, founded by the legal scholar Henry Manne, has been a hugely influential training program in the law and economics approach. more>
Posted in Banking, Book review, Broadband, Business, CONGRESS WATCH, Economic development, Economy, Education, History, How to, Net, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, Capital, Congress Watch, Government, Inequality, Internet, Law
By Umair Irfan – Humans are pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at an accelerating rate. But climate change is a cumulative problem, a function of the total amount of greenhouse gases that have accumulated in the sky. Some of the heat-trapping gases in the air right now date back to the Industrial Revolution. And since that time, some countries have pumped out vastly more carbon dioxide than others.
The wonderful folks at Carbon Brief have put together a great visual of how different countries have contributed to climate change since 1750. The animation shows the cumulative carbon dioxide emissions of the top emitters and how they’ve changed over time.
What’s abundantly clear is that the United States of America is the all-time biggest, baddest greenhouse gas emitter on the planet.
That’s true, despite recent gains in energy efficiency and cuts in emissions. These relatively small steps now cannot offset more than a century of reckless emissions that have built up in the atmosphere. Much more drastic steps are now needed to slow climate change. And as the top cumulative emitter, the US bears a greater imperative for curbing its carbon dioxide output and a greater moral responsibility for the impacts of global warming.
Yet the United States is now the only country aiming to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. more>
Posted in Business, CONGRESS WATCH, EARTH WATCH, Education, Energy, Energy & emissions, History, Media, Nature, Science, Technology
Tagged Business, Capital, Climate change, Congress Watch, Government, Leadership, Super regions, Technology
By Steve Denning – The judicial review of multiple ethics complaints against Justice Kavanaugh continued on its Gilbert-And-Sullivan trajectory with a 6-1 decision by the 10th Circuit last Friday that that court does not have jurisdiction to consider the complaints, even though Chief Justice Roberts explicitly requested the 10th Circuit to assess them.
Some 83 ethics complaints had been filed against Judge Kavanaugh alleging not only false statements under oath during hearings on his nominations to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2004 and 2006, but also, more flagrantly, misconduct at the nomination hearing for the U.S. Supreme Court itself in 2018, including making inappropriate partisan statements and treating senators with disrespect.
The complaints were not made without legal basis. More than 2,400 law professors concluded that during the Senate confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh has “displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court.” Unlike the allegations of lying about events that happened many years ago, there was no question of fact as to whether Kavanaugh’s conduct at the Senate hearings actually took place: it was visible for the whole country to see on national television.
Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens also stated that Judge Kavanaugh has demonstrated bias and is “not fit for the Supreme Court.” Former Justice Stevens, in remarks to retirees in Boca Raton, Fla, declared that Kavanaugh’s statements on September 27 revealed prejudices that would make it impossible for him to do the court’s work. “They suggest that he has demonstrated a potential bias involving enough potential litigants before the court that he would not be able to perform his full responsibilities.” more>
Posted in Business, CONGRESS WATCH, Economy, Education, History, Leadership, Media
Tagged Business improvement, Congress Watch, Donald Trump, Government, Leadership, United States
When intellectual and moral arguments align, the global climate can change quickly. That’s what’s happening with the US tax debate.
By Atanas Pekanov and Miriam Rehm – Policy proposals by lawmakers in the United States have spurred a hotly contested debate on taxation among economists in recent weeks. The Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez argued that the US needed to raise additional revenue by going back to marginal top-income tax rates of up to 70 per cent to fund social programs and a Green New Deal, while the Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren proposed a wealth tax of up to 3 per cent on the richest.
While opponents and some commentators have deemed such proposals radical or ideological, both are buttressed by economic research. Economists largely seem to agree on some basic facts: inequality within the US has been rising and the benefits of growth have accrued largely to the top 1 per cent, while the real incomes of what in America is called the middle class have stagnated over the past three decades.
There is also consensus that the progressivity of the income-tax system has been eroded in many countries since 1980 and that wealth is currently much more unequally distributed than income.
The recent economic debate has thus revolved around whether higher taxes on top incomes or for very wealthy people should be deployed to counteract these trends. American progressives argue that higher revenues are needed if the US aspires to become more like the role-model European welfare state, with more inclusive social systems and better public services, financed by top marginal income-tax rates of above 40 per cent (in most EU countries) and/or some form of wealth tax. While some have misrepresented these ideas, they would only burden very wealthy individuals. more>
Posted in Business, CONGRESS WATCH, Economic development, Economy, Education, History, How to, Leadership, Media, Net, Regulations
Tagged Business improvement, Capital, Government, Jobs, Leadership, Taxation