Benghazi. IRS. Boston Marathon “False Flags”. AP. These are a few of the “scandals” that get a tremendous amount of airplay and, judging from opinion polls, mostly yawns. Why do they get so much coverage? It’s only because of the push behind them, not the relative truth or fiction within.
They are, indeed, a matter of policy. The Heritage Foundation, lobbying arm of the supposedly non-partisan Heritage Foundation, circulated a letter to House Republicans stating “… it would be imprudent to do anything that shifts the focus from the Obama administration to the ideological differences within the House Republican Conference. … Legislation such as the Internet sales tax or the FARRM Act which contains nearly $800 billion in food stamp spending, would give the press a reason to shift their attention away from the failures of the Obama administration to write another ‘circular firing squad’ article.”
While the constant barrage of scandals is draining, it’s best to not confront it too directly. Here’s what progressives and other Americans interesting in getting things done need to concentrate on.
“Too Big To Fail” (TBTF) is the standard for socialized risk and privatized profits. The biggest banks enjoy an implied bailout under Dodd-Frank regulations that give them a tremendous advantage over smaller banks. The complex weave of financial innovations that are their signature is impossible for anyone to understand, making the risk we have taken on as taxpayers almost impossible to quantify.
What can be done about it? Try TBTF – the “Terminating Bailouts for Taxpayer Fairness” Act of 2013.
This legislation, introduced by Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, and David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, cuts through the complexity, levels the playing field among banks, and ends “Too Big To Fail” once and for all. What chance does it have? Actually, a very good one because of some terrific politics.
There is an awful lot going on in the world right now. It’s hard to find any one thing that is worth writing about, given all of the news. So let’s run down everything all at once.
The time was a year before the Euro launched, the place was the tiny town of Burghausen, Germany. Busloads of people from their sister city in France were welcomed with fluttering tricolors silently proclaiming liberty, equality, and brotherhood. It was declared “French Week” through the town as menus in German gave way to French and the whole town celebrated unity.
I asked Herr Mitterer, the owner of the Hotel Post, if this grand “Eurozone” idea was going to work. “It has to,” he replied, “We’ve seen the alternative.”
Underneath the giddy celebrations at the end of a long period of expansion, the Euro was launched in 1999. It was always a forced marriage, a necessity blessed like any marriage with talk of happiness and great times ahead. But at the first sign of trouble the cracks are showing. Fourteen years on it is at a turning point – move closer or forget the whole thing?
Two years ago, nearly to the day, a curtain of gloom hung over progressives in Minnesota. A constitutional amendment was passed and sent on to the voters to enshrine in the state constitution that marriage was “between one man and one woman”. It was largely a cynical play to demonize homosexuals and get people out to the polls to vote Republican. The left was shocked and demoralized.
Today, Governor Dayton signed the bill which creates Marriage Equity in Minnesota, or legalizes gay marriage if you insist. It’s a remarkable achievement for this state, the 12th in the US to do so, but the two year path from despair to elation is a fantastic story too intricate to tell here. But one thing can certainly be said of this story:
It was one of the biggest political goofs in history – and if we learn from it this could be a turning point.
Income inequality is one of the biggest barriers to sustained growth today. You can’t have a consumer economy without income reasonably well distributed, and such an economy is going to have more sustained, reliable growth. But as we’ve shown before, income inequality has grown since 1968, threatening long term growth.
Here is another way to look at that rising inequality as part of a long-term trend that defined 1968-2000 – the expansion of the workforce and subsequent collapse of that expansion that will solidify when the Baby Boom hits retirement. Economic changes are often demographic at heart, and we are due for some major upheaval that we need to be ready for.
There’s no doubt that how the world comes together is changing. So much of it is beautiful and joyful as we discover new cultures, some is hateful and drenched in fear. But what we do know is that economies, how we all make our living and get the scratch we need to live, love, and be happy is changing faster than most of us can possibly keep up with. How can we build an economy on purpose?
You can read that last sentence several ways, and they are all important.
This is what the Social Enterprise Alliance (SEA) 2013 Summit in Minneapolis, starting 19 May, is about. Social Enterprises exist to use the power of free markets to promote social good – businesses that are self-sufficient, stable institutions out to not make a profit but to improve the world in some way. The techniques and lessons of making that happen are not always obvious, and these annual summits are a key tool for advancing the cause and making sure that the change we are all buffeted by eventually works for all of us – on purpose.