Paul Krugman notes the most recent job gains (over 300,000 last month, plus an uptick in wages) teaches us some important lessons. Like: the recessions we have now are harder to end, because they generally reflect bursting bubbles rather than government design -- but the economy would have recovered more quickly with more vigorous government spending. Personal to people who actually believe Barack Obama injured the fragile recovery by being mean to Wall Street: if Wall Street folks are our best and brightest, surely they can handle criticism, or overcome its alleged effects on the market.
David Sirota keeps following the story of public pensions invested in risky Wall Street funds, this time writing about states unwilling to disclose to state workers how they're investing their funds. They say it's because TEH TRADE SECRETZ!!!!!, but we know the truth: state employees would be disgusted to find their money getting siphoned off in huge bankster fees, without seeing any benefit. The mention of Rhode Island treasurer/Governor-elect Gina Raimondo (who invested a huge chunk of state pension money in a Wall Street hedge fund) reminds me that the third-place finisher in that race got 21% of the vote, which shows how popular pension fund secrecy is with voters if anything does.
NBC News reports that the growth in U.S. health care spending in 2013 was the "lowest on record," at 3.6%, but neglects to provide more context -- like, for example, that growth has stayed between 3.8% and 4.1% since 2009, was 8.9% as recently as 2003, and was 11% in 1990. (Download the "NHE Tables" from this page, and see Table 23 for further information.) Perhaps the crappy economy has slowed health care spending -- or perhaps the Affordable Care Act has given private health insurers the incentive to slow growth. After all, if a health insurance corporation has to spend 85% of its income on actual health care, CEOs have less incentive to charge hostage prices and keep the rest for themselves.
Whistleblower alleges that mutual fund Vanguard has grown into a $3 trillion corporation at least partly through "transfer pricing abuse." The whistleblower, a former Vanguard tax attorney, filed suit in New York though he lives in Pennsylvania and Vanguard is also headquartered there; New York, apparently, has an unusually strong False Claims Act (which, like the federal law of the same name, allows governments to go after those who've defrauded them). And it strikes me that, in my ideal republic where no corporation could own another corporation, we wouldn't deal with "transfer pricing" at all.
Finally, Mary Hansen talks to Walidah Imarisha, a writer who says that science fiction and related genres (which she groups as "visionary fiction") can allow us to imagine alternatives to the unjust systems we contend with in our daily lives. I'm not entirely on board, as I also figure Dystopian cautionary tales serve a purpose, and I still contend that phrases like "the state keeping us safe" are redundant if we are the state, an ideal I still work toward. But I don't assume that vigorous action must always come from government, and the work of making a world where "(e)very single individual in our community is our community" is my work as well.