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
By David French – We usually place outsized emphasis on elections that define our politics and too little emphasis on the values that define our culture.
But it was the nomination of Kavanaugh and the wrenching debate about core cultural and constitutional values that dominated American discourse these past few weeks. It’s a debate that illustrated the fundamentally different ways in which conservatives and progressives view the world, and it unlocked not just an intellectual response but an emotional response that has radicalized otherwise reasonable and temperamentally moderate individuals into believing that the other side hates even the good people in their own tribe.
And so when Ford came forward, it’s as if her allegations landed in two different countries. The good-faith residents of Redworld were skeptical and said, “Prove it.” The good-faith residents of Blueworld believed Ford and said, “Finally, she has a chance for justice.” The presumptions were diametrically opposite, and everything that followed turned on those different presumptions. more>
Posted in Business, CONGRESS WATCH, Economy, Education, History, Leadership, Media, Regulations
Tagged Business, Congress Watch, Government, Leadership, Regulations, Supreme Court, United States Congress
By Simon Wren-Lewis – Private banks were happy to lend to the Greek government because they mistakenly believed their money was as safe as if they were lending to Germany.
Other governments first delayed and then limited Greek default because they were worried about the financial health of their own banks. They replaced privately held Greek debt with money the Greek government owed to other Eurozone governments.
From that point voters would always want all their money back. In an effort to achieve that the Troika demanded and largely achieved draconian austerity and a vast array of reforms.
The result was a slump which crippled the economy in a way that has few parallels in history. Most economists understand that in situations like this it is ridiculous to insist that the debtor pays all the money back. For basic Keynesian reasons this insistence just destroys the ability of the debtor to pay: it is not a zero sum game between creditor and debtor. This is why so much of German debt was written off after WWII.
By July 2015 the Greek government was able to pay for its spending with taxes, so all it needed was loans rolled over. The Troika would only do that if the Greek government started running a large surplus to start paying back the debt i.e. further austerity. more>
Posted in Banking, Business, CONGRESS WATCH, Economy, Education, History, Leadership, Media
Tagged Business, Capital, Congress Watch, Debt, Government, Greek, Leadership