Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism instructs us that the top 10% of income earners have increased their take of income growth during periods of American economic expansion -- and that includes the one under the Obama Administration, the first period the bottom 90%'s share of income growth actually fell. Even in the 1949-53 expansion, when we taxed millionaire income and corporate taxes more aggressively, the top 10% of income earners still took 20% of the total income growth; during the 2009-present expansion, they've taken, well, over 100%. With income being redistributed upward while work gets redistributed downward, it's difficult to say this is how things ought to be.
A special examiner hired (and then fired) by the New York Federal Reserve just so happened to make 46 hours of recordings documenting her difficult experience at the Fed, and they support the notion that the Fed is too deferential toward banks. Important to note: Ms. Segarra tried to discover if Goldman Sachs had a conflict-of-interest policy that would have met federal requirements, and while her supervisors played amateur semiotician with the word "policy," we remember, of course, that they either didn't have one or didn't take it seriously, since they advised investors to make bets they knew were bad ones (and had bet against). Why should we be "deferential" toward such people again?
The Consumerist notes that Comcast says that other corporations that oppose their proposed merger with Time-Warner are guilty of "extortion." Why? Because those corporations insist on certain conditions in exchange for their approval (or lack of opposition) to the merger. Hence negotiation equals extortion! If that's "extortion," how would we define stamping your feet and yelling until you get your way on everything? (There is also hostage-taking, of course -- if Comcast were to accede to the "extortionists"' demands, monthly consumer prices could go up four whole dollars over the next five years! Done laughing yet?)
Mike Konczal and Bryce Covert explain "Why Prisons Thrive Even When Budgets Shrink." You might well say it's because governments have to imprison people and because private prison CEOs are always someone's crony, but Messrs. Konczal and Covert actually point to increased power over the last three decades-plus for police, prosecutors, and judges to incarcerate people and impose harsher sentences, via far more aggressive enforcement of existing drug laws, the onset of mandatory minimum laws, and other "tough on crime" measures. Thinking the first explanation complements and reinforces the second? I'd say you're right.
Surprise, surprise: new Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos cuts retirement benefits for Post employees, perhaps because treating your employees fairly means less money for Mr. Bezos to buy absurdly huge clocks that say something or other about our relationship with time. FAIR can't help but point out that many Post writers have been arguing for years that we should be cutting such benefits for public employees and seniors, but I doubt Post writers will actually learn from this pointed irony. I would like to be wrong about that.
Finally, having dropped the phrase "survivor bias" in a post about Thom Tillis some weeks ago, I thought I would share Michael Shermer's essay explaining survivor bias in the September Scientific American. Best bit: Mr. Shermer explains why we shouldn't assume that if Steve Jobs can drop out of college and build a computer megacorporation with his buddies starting in his folks' garage, anyone can -- because how many people try that and fail that you never hear about, for one thing, and because venture capital is essential to such endeavors and venture capitalists fund perhaps one of every 200 pitches they hear, for another.