Robert Reich says "We're All Becoming Independent Contractors," so that corporations can use our work without providing safe workplaces, health care benefits, and other legally-mandated protections. Those who retort that there's nothing wrong with being an independent contractor need to explain why corporations should compel you to become one as a condition of employment. Most interesting point: the Department of Labor has the power, without any interference from Congress though they'd most surely try, to set legally-binding guidelines by which we may fairly define "employee" and "employer." When I see an action alert supporting that notion, so will you.
David Sirota discusses recent Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy findings that the bottom fifth of households, income-wise, pay nearly twice as much of their income in state and local taxes as the top one percent of income-earners do. Take that, 53 percenters! Mr. Sirota also points out that making the rich pay more in state and local taxes would help shore up all the budget problems Republican Governors use as excuses to give out more taxpayer money to their cronies. But few Democrats will take his heed, lest they be excoriated as "anti-business," as if there's no difference between being anti-business and anti-greed.
Ho hum, noted climate change scientist/denialist Wei-Hock Soon has received more than $1 million from fossil fuel corporations to do his research, such as it is. Even worse, Mr. Soon failed to disclose funding sources in at least 10 of his papers. I suspect we'd find a much broader conflict-of-interest problem with GMO food research -- fossil fuel-funded climate deniers and pro-fracking scientists are easy to spot anymore, but too much GMO food research still gets done by the same corporations trying to make money off their GMO food, and that's partly because it's still pretty hard for independent researchers to get their hands on GMO seeds.
New Jersey Superior Court judge rules that Gov. Christie is obligated by law to make larger payments into state worker pension funds. His spokeshack doesn't seem to understand that a constitutional mandate to balance the state budget doesn't automatically give Mr. Christie a right to reduce pension payments, certainly not when other options for balancing budgets are available -- you know, like cutting out the handouts to his corporate cronies already, or hiking taxes on millionaire income.
In Yes! magazine, we learn how a group of college activists led by Keith Harrington are trying to get more diversity into mainstream economic thought. If you've read Moshe Adler's magnificent book Economics for the Rest of Us -- subtitled "Debunking the Science that Makes Life Dismal," said "science" including such easily-dispatchable yet somehow persistent notions as Pareto Efficiency -- then you know letting some air into mainstream economic thought is long overdue. I think Mr. Harrington gives neoclassical economists a bit too much credit -- he suggests the problem is a lack of "self-criticism," rather than a problem of knowing exactly where your bread is buttered -- but perhaps he's just being polite.
Finally, anyone been following Bill O'Reilly's own "Brian Williams problem," as Mother Jones called it? I'll say only one thing about it, that I noticed during his first on-air response to accusations that he'd never actually been in an actual war zone in Argentina or the Falklands: he opens by saying "more proof the American media is corrupt" can be found in Mother Jones "smear(ing) me, your humble correspondent." And so it goes that, just as George Tiller's death was all about him, corruption in the media, also, is all about him, and always bubbling underneath his words is a rage about the respect he doesn't have that he's never earned. Because people who are all about the drama don't earn respect! And though Fox News will do nothing about it, let us resolve, at least, never to speak of him again.