Author Archives: Harmful Economics

Website organization by categories

The analytical view taken in this website is that through control of a society and its key elements of the society (economy, government, social system) some people/groups in the society obtain income from others. This income is not based on production, but some form of taking away from others. This taking away is typically resisted. So, there are two basic aspects in a social system where harm is important: obtaining income and maintaining control.  This is expressed in the principal categories used in the website which can be seen in the right column of each page. 

For obtaining income, we have Obtaining income through the government – rent seeking – corruption, Harm through the market, two discrimination areas Discrimination: race – ethnic – religious – class, and Discrimination against women — gender inequality Also included Slavery, Forced Labor. Crime, Control of land and natural resources, which can be considered as important subcategories of one of the above categories. (Specific situations of harm can often fit into more than one of these categories.)

For control we have categories including  Staying in power – Struggle for control, Harming People – Keeping People Oppressed and Conflict.  Harming people and conflict are part of staying in power/the struggle for control; we have made them separate categories because of their importance.

These are the categories that help us understand the basic organization of a productive plus harmful economic system.

The second major section Topics covers important areas:

Harm through the government 2020

All the people Trump has pardoned since the election Washington Post Staff December 23, 2020

No president has ever misused the pardon power as thoroughly as Trump has Ruth Marcus Washington Post December 23, 2020

The rotting of the Republican mind. When one party becomes detached from reality. David Brooks New York Times November 26, 2020
“People need a secure order to feel safe. Deprived of that, people legitimately feel cynicism and distrust, alienation and anomie. This precarity has created, in nation after nation, intense populist backlashes against the highly educated folks who have migrated to the cities and accrued significant economic, cultural and political power….In the fervor of this enmity, millions of people have come to detest those who populate the epistemic regime, who are so distant, who appear to have it so easy, who have such different values, who can be so condescending. Millions not only distrust everything the “fake news” people say, but also the so-called rules they use to say them.” The Republican party has accepted this view according to Brooks.

Egypt arrests human rights leader, continuing crackdown on dissent Vivian Yee New York Times November 19, 2020
The head of a human rights group and two of its other staff members have joined thousands of opposition figures, protesters and activists already in prison.

A regulatory rush by federal agencies to secure Trump’s legacy Eric Lipton New York Times November 3, 2020
With the president’s re-election in doubt, cabinet departments are scrambling to finish dozens of new rules affecting millions of Americans.

Trump’s historic assault on the civil service was four years in the making Lisa Rein, Josh Dawsey and Toluse Olorunnipa Washington Post October 23, 2020

Democrats cannot cave to the Republican death cult on the stimulus bill Elie Mystal The Nation October 21, 2020
Liability protection might not sound like an issue worth fighting for, but lives literally depend on whether Democrats hold the line during stimulus negotiations.

Trump’s crony capitalism Anne O. Krueger Project Syndicate October 21, 2020
During his first presidential campaign four years ago, Donald Trump promised to change the way America does business. He has kept that promise: Now more than ever, America resembles the kind of crony-capitalist system that one more commonly associates with developing and post-communist countries.

This is not normal: A guide to what the next president will have to unwind Amy Siskind Washington Post October 16, 2020

Trump, lagging in polls, pressures Justice Dept. to target Democrats and criticizes Barr Ann Gearan, Matt Zapotosky, Karoun Demirjian and Josh Dawsey Washington Post October 9, 2020

Our democracy in peril. A series of editorials on the damage President Trump has caused — and the danger he would pose in a second term Editorial Board Washington Post September 22, 2020

How a massive bomb came together in Beirut’s port Ben Hubbard, Maria Abi-Habib, Mona El-Naggar, Allison McCann, Anjali Singhvi, James Glanz and Jeremy White New York Times September 9, 2020
Fifteen tons of fireworks. Jugs of kerosene and acid. Thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate. A system of corruption and bribes let the perfect bomb sit for years.

Justice Dept. intervenes on behalf of Trump in defamation case brought by woman who accused him of rape Matt Zapotosky Washington Post September 8, 2020

Louis DeJoy’s rise as GOP fundraiser was powered by contributions from company workers who were later reimbursed, former employees say Aaron C. Davis, Amy Gardner and Jon Swaine Washington Post September 6, 2020

Trump promises permanent cut to payroll tax funding Social Security and Medicare if he’s reelected Tony Romm Washington Post August 8, 2020
The president made the pledge after signing a directive postponing payroll tax payments into next year.

The corrupt political class that broke Lebanon Mohamad Bazzi Foreign Affairs August 14, 2020
A decaying sectarian system kindled Beirut’s port blast.

Inside the Iraqi kleptocracy Robert F. Worth New York Times July 29, 2020

DeVos aide played role in helping failing for-profit colleges, texts and emails show Danielle Douglas-Gabriel Washington Post July 28, 2020

Najib Razak, Malaysia’s former Prime Minister, found guilty in graft trial Richard C. Paddock New York Times July 28, 2020
Mr. Najib was sentenced to up to 12 years in prison and faces fines of nearly $50 million on charges of abuse of power, breach of trust and money laundering.

The Trump administration just admitted it lied about singling out New Yorkers for punishment Editorial Board Washington Post July 26, 2020

Powerful Ohio Republican is arrested in $60 million corruption scheme Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio New York Times July 22, 2020
The House speaker was connected with a conspiracy to enact a $1.3 billion bailout of an energy company, the F.B.I. said.

Trump’s request of an ambassador: Get the British Open for me Mark Landler, Lara Jakes and Maggie Haberman New York Times July 21, 2020
Woody Johnson, the N.F.L. owner, Trump donor and ambassador to Britain, was warned not to get involved in trying to move the tournament to a Trump resort in Scotland, but he raised the idea anyway — and he failed.

Trump’s corrupt dealings with Turkey are some of the most startling stories in Bolton’s book David Ignatius Washington Post June 23, 2020

Inspectors general warn that Trump administration is blocking scrutiny of coronavirus rescue programs Tom Hamburger, Jeff Stein, Jonathan O’Connell and Aaron Gregg Washington Post June 15, 2020
As uproar over small-business disclosures intensifies, watchdogs tell Congress the White House is trying to shield how money is being spent.

Former government spokesman pretended to be CIA operative in $4.4 million scam Rachel Weiner and Tom Jackman Washington Post June 11, 2020
The former chief spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration admitted Thursday that he ran a $4.4 million scam by manipulating officials from the DEA, the Army, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Institutes of Health as he falsely claimed he was part of a covert task force doing secret operations in Africa.

Ordinary investors have to pay a tax on the profits they have made when they sell the investment. However real estate investors do not if they invest their proceeds in a roughly similar real estate investment, thus enabling real estate investors to avoid capital gains taxes for a long time, possibly forever. The disruption in the real estate market caused by the pandemic may make it cheaper to pay capital gains taxes!
How a tax benefit for developers could backfire in the pandemic Paul Sullivan New York Times June 5, 2020

IRS fails to pursue thousands of rich tax cheats, watchdog says Laura Davison Bloomberg June 1, 2020
Report finds 879,415 high-income people didn’t pay tax bills. Budget cuts have forced agency to scale back enforcement.

The government has spent decades studying what a life is worth. It hasn’t made a difference in the covid-19 crisis. Todd C. Frankel Washington Post May 23, 2029
Economists at the University of Wyoming estimated the economic benefits from lives saved by efforts to “flatten the curve” outweighed the projected massive hit to the nation’s economy by a staggering $5.2 trillion. Another study by two University of Chicago economists estimated the savings from social distancing could be so huge, “it is difficult to think of any intervention with such large potential benefits to American citizens.”

The Trump administration is reversing nearly 100 environmental rules. Here’s the full list. Nadja Popovich, Livia Albeck-Ripka and Kendra Pierre-Louis New York Times Updated May 6, 2020

Private equity, lobbying the U.S. for help, Is mostly hearing ‘No’ Kate Kelly and Peter Eavis New York Times May 5, 2020
Many U.S. firms have used profits and the large corporate income tax reduction of 2018, not for investment, nor building up financial reserves, but for stock buybacks and other payouts to stockholders and corporate executives, in a process known as value extraction. Although many firms that practiced value extraction, such as the airlines, are eligible for Federal Reserve support funds, one group that has not, for the moment at least, has been the largest private equity firms with their holdings–Harmful Economics

Large, troubled companies got bailout money in small-business loan program Jessica Silver-Greenberg, David Enrich, Jesse Drucker and Stacy Cowley New York Times April 28, 2020
This article describes how companies which would be thought not qualified for a small-business loan program did in fact receive one. Of the $349 billion in low-interest loans for small businesses more than 200 publicly traded [= not-small] companies have disclosed receiving a total of more than $750 million in bailout loans.

The tax-break bonanza inside the economic rescue package Jesse Drucker New York Times April 24, 2020
As small businesses and individuals struggle to obtain federal aid, the wealthiest are poised to reap tens of billions of dollars in tax savings.

Banks gave richest clients ‘concierge treatment’ for pandemic aid Emily Flitter and Stacy Cowley New York Times April 22, 2020
Some businesses seeking coronavirus loans got to avoid flaky online portals or backed-up queues. Many other small businesses couldn’t get their loan requests submitted before the money dried up.

Mapping corruption: Donald Trump’s Executive Branch Jim Lardner American Prospect April 9, 2020

Inspector General fired by Trump urges whistle-blowers ‘to bravely speak up’ Charlie Savage New York Times April 6, 2020
Michael Atkinson, who President Trump made clear was dismissed in reprisal for his role in revealing the Ukraine matter, broke his silence.

Iran says U.S. sanctions are taking lives. U.S. officials disagree. Farnaz Fassihi New York Times April 1, 2020
Iran, devastated by the coronavirus, is asking the U.S. to lift sanctions on humanitarian grounds. U.S. officials say sanctions aren’t to blame; Iran is.

A Mexican oil chief’s hide-out: sea views and 2 golf courses Raphael Minder New York Times February 22, 2020
Before he was arrested this month, the former head of Pemex lay low in one of the world’s most discreet and exclusive locations on Spain’s sunny southern coast.

  DC Water tunnels constructed thus far helped save the Anacostia River from 4.5 billion gallons of sewage overflow in 2018, according to DC Water.  Credit: DC Water
DC Water tunnels constructed thus far helped save the Anacostia River from 4.5 billion gallons of sewage overflow in 2018, according to DC Water. Credit: DC Water

EPA is letting cities dump more raw sewage into rivers for years to come Christopher Flavelle New York Times January 24, 2020

Trump removes pollution controls on streams and wetlands Coral Davenport New York Times January 22, 2020

Harm through the market 2020

Risky loans secure private-equity payouts despite downturn. Companies borrow heavily to send cash to owners, boosting debt levels Brian Spegele and Laura Cooper Wall Street Journal December 17, 2020

Monopolies: Silent spreaders of poverty and economic inequality James A. Schmitz Jr. and David Fettig Promarket August 14, 2020

‘That loss of privacy Is the monopoly price’ Janine Jackson Fair December 24, 2020
CounterSpin interview with Mitch Stoltz on breaking up Google.

U.S., states sue Facebook as an illegal monopoly, setting stage for potential breakup Tony Romm Washington Post December 9, 2020

Uber and Lyft Drivers in California will remain contractors Kate Conger New York Times November 4, 2020
The victory of Proposition 22, the most expensive initiative in the state’s history, could help gig companies remake labor laws throughout the country.

The code: How genetic science helped expose a secret coronavirus outbreak Sarah Kaplan, Desmond Butler, Juliet Eilperin, Chris Mooney and Luis Velarde Washington Post September 24, 2020
It wasn’t until their colleagues began to disappear that workers at Agri Star Meat and Poultry in Postville, Iowa realized there was a killer in their midst

Long-concealed records show Trump’s chronic losses and years of tax avoidance Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig and Mike McIntire New York Times September 27, 2020

Virus’s unseen hot zone: The American farm Laura Reiley and Beth Reinhard Washington Post September 24, 2020
Across the country, fruit growers blocked testing of seasonal farmworkers and told those who caught the coronavirus to keep it quiet. County and state officials were largely unable to stop them.

Harvard’s Chetty finds economic carnage among lower-income workers Ben Steverman Bloomberg Businessweek September 24, 2020
By April, the bottom quarter of wage earners, those making less than $27,000 a year, had lost almost 11 million jobs, more than three times the number lost by the top quarter, which earn more than $60,000 annually. By late June the gap had widened further.

TurboTax and H&R Block used “unfair and abusive practices,” state regulator finds Justin Elliot ProPublica July 15, 2020
Last year alone, more than 14 million Americans paid around $1 billion to Intuit and other companies for tax prep that they should have gotten for free, according to a Treasury inspector general report.

Family farmers and farmworkers face the virus: how food sovereignty activists see the crisis as a pivotal moment for change David Bacon Food First June 11, 2020

With ‘systemic violations’ of worker rights, US comes in dead last in labor rankings of wealthy nations Julia Conley Common Dreams June 18, 2020
The U.S. was identified as a country where “the government and/or companies are engaged in serious efforts to crush the collective voice of workers, putting fundamental rights under threat.”

Emails reveal chaos as meatpacking companies fought health agencies over COVID-19 outbreaks in their plants Michael Grabell, Claire Perlman and Bernice Yeung ProPublica June 12, 2020

Farmworkers are dying, COVID-19 cases are spiking, and the food system is in peril Seth Holmes Salon May 31, 2020
Agricultural workers in one Florida town have what may be one of the highest coronavirus infection rates.

Former OSHA officials voice alarm as Trump tells corporations they don’t have to record coronavirus cases among their workers Jake Johnson Common Dreams April 12, 2020

J. Crew files for bankruptcy in virus’s first big retail casualty Vanessa Friedman, Sapna Maheshwari and Michael J. de la Merced New York Times May 3, 2020
J. Crew was carrying a debt burden of $1.7 billion based on a leveraged buyout in 2011 by two private equity firms — TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners — even before the coronavirus brought clothing sales to a near-halt in its 181 stores, 140 Madewells and 170 outlets.

Stop Wall Street Looting Act: a Letter to Elizabeth Warren Eileen Appelbaum Counterpunch July 26, 2019

How private equity firms squeeze hospital patients for profits Sheelah Kolhatkar New Yorker April 9, 2020

America can afford a world class health care system. Why don’t we have one? Anne Case and Angus Deaton New York Times April 14, 2020
Our system takes from the poor and working class to generate wealth for the already wealthy.

Trump calls new fuel economy rule a boon. Some experts see steep costs. Coral Davenport New York Times March 31, 2020

Airlines are now asking for a giant bailout from the government due to the coronavirus pandemic shrinking air traffic.  The opinion below describes how American Airlines did not put money aside for a rainy day. Despite earning billions of dollars (for example, $7.6 billion in 2015) in large part gathered from higher fares and checked bag charges allowed by the oligopolistic structure of the airline industry, It spent $15 billion dollars on stock buybacks, accumulated a debt of $30 billion (nearly 5 times the company’s current market value),  and actually decreased its cash reserves.

Don’t feel sorry for the airlines Tim Wu New York Times March 16, 2020
Before providing them any assistance, we must demand that they change how they treat their customers and employees.

Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism Anne Case and Angus Deaton Credit: Princeton University Press

How working class life is killing Americans, in charts David Leonhardt and Stuart A. Thompson Washington Post March 4, 2020

A $60 billion housing grab by Wall Street Francesca Mari New York Times March 4, 2020
Hundreds of thousands of single-family homes are now in the hands of giant companies — squeezing renters for revenue and putting the American dream even further out of reach.

Global financial giants swear off funding an especially dirty fuel Christopher Flavelle New York Times February 12, 2020

How Private Equity Makes You Sicker Eileen Applebaum American Prospect October 7, 2019
Investment firms have created consolidated hospital empires across America, leading to closures, higher prices, and suffering.

T-Mobile and Sprint are set to merge as the big get bigger Edmund Lee New York Times February 11, 2020

How U.S. firms helped Africa’s richest women exploit her country’s wealth Michael Forsythe, Kyra Gurney, Scilla Alecci and Ben Hallman New York Times January 19, 2020

Mr. Kristof and Ms. WuDunn are the authors of “Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope,” from which this essay is adapted.

Who killed the Knapp family? Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn New York Times January 9, 2020
Across America, working-class people — including many of our friends — are dying of despair. And we’re still blaming the wrong people.

More than a third of U.S. healthcare costs go to bureaucracy Linda Carroll Reuters January 6, 2020
U.S. insurers and providers spent more than $800 billion in 2017 on administration, or nearly $2,500 per person – more than four times the per-capita administrative costs in Canada’s single-payer system, a new study finds. The original journal article may be viewed at Health Care Administrative Costs in the United States and Canada, 2017

Global Market Power Jan De Loecker and Jan Eeckhout National Bureau of Economic Research (Working Paper Series) June 2018 (16 page PDF file)
The average global markup has gone up from close to 1.1 in 1980 to around 1.6 in 2016. Markups have risen most in North America and Europe, and least in emerging economies in Latin America and Asia. The paper discusses the distributional implications of the rise in global market power for the labor share and for the profit share.

Struggle for control – staying in power 2020

Peru President is impeached by Congress Anatol Kurmanaev and Mitra Taj New York Times November 9, 2020

Ethiopia escalates fight against its powerful Tigray region Declan Walsh and Simon Marks New York Times November 5, 2020
Clashes broke out between the federal military forces and local security units in the northern region of Tigray, where the ruling party has defied the authority of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Two West African presidents are out of terms. They’re running again, anyway. Danielle Paquette Washington Post October 16, 2020

Protests take on Thai monarchy, despite laws banning such criticism Hannah Beech New York Times August 13, 2020
The rare questioning of Thailand’s royal family comes as student-led demonstrations have gained momentum, testing the government and the boundaries of strict lèse-majesté laws.

Trump’s flagrant assault on the First Amendment is disguised as a defense of it Editorial Board Washington Post August 5, 2020

Voter ID law handed Wisconsin to Trump in 2016. It could happen again in 2020. Greg Palast Truthout July 31, 2020

The federal crackdown in Portland is ‘legal.’ That’s the problem with it. Garrett M. Graff Washington Post July 22, 2020
Department of Homeland Security officials are following the letter of the law — and flagrantly abusing its spirit.

Ahead of peace talks, a who’s who of Cameroon’s separatist movements R. Maxwell Bone New Humanitarian July 8, 2020

Pierre Nkurunziza, Burundian president who led authoritarian regime, dies at 55 Matt Schudel Washington Post June 9, 2020

Democrats open investigation into Trump’s replacement of acting Transportation Department inspector general Ian Duncan and Michael Laris Washington Post May 19, 2020

Trump removes State Dept. Inspector General Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman New York Times May 16, 2020
A top Democrat in Congress described the move as “an outrageous act,” and said that the inspector general, Steve Linick, had opened an investigation into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Young leader vowed change in El Salvador but wields same heavy hand Natalie Kitroeff New York Times May 5, 2020
Elected as a transformative leader who would propel the country forward, Nayib Bukele is now reminding critics of the country’s past autocrats, with his reliance on the military.

Health department official says doubts on hydroxychloroquine led to his ouster Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman New York Times April 22, 2020
Rick Bright was abruptly dismissed this week as the director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. The official who led the federal agency involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine said on Wednesday that he was removed from his post after he pressed for rigorous vetting of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug embraced by President Trump as a coronavirus treatment, and that the administration had put “politics and cronyism ahead of science.”

New study says Trump has ‘dangerously undermined truth’ with attacks on news media Paul Farhi Washington Post April 16, 2010
See full report from the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Trump to Governors: I’d like you to do us a favor, though Michelle Goldberg New York Times March 30, 2020 (opinion)
Once again, the president is using aid to extort re-election help.

Compromised encryption machines gave CIA window into major human rights abuses in South America Greg Miller and Peter F. Mueller Washington Post February 17, 2020
Argentina: Un ex militar admitió que tiraron vivas al mar a más de 4 mil personas Spanish Revolution June 3, 2019 (Argentina: ex-military admits that they threw [from planes] more than 4,000 persons alive into the ocean)

Trump seeks to bend the executive branch as part of impeachment vendetta Philip Rucker, Robert Costa and Josh Dawsey Washington Post February 12, 2020

These three firms own corporate America: BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street Jan Fichtner,  Eelke Heemskerk and Javier Garcia-Bernardo Ponderwall Together, these three firm are the largest single shareholder in almost 90% of S&P 500 firms and 40% of publicly listed firms in the United States. Their growth has occurred because of the rise in index funds, where these companies are by far the largest providers. While technically, the firms do not own the shares, the individuals purchasing the fund shares do, the firms do vote the shares and consult with the companies. See the original article published in Cambridge Business &Politics: Hidden power of the Big Three? Passive index funds, re-concentration of corporate ownership, and new financial risk.

Harm through the government 2019

Column: Trump’s tax cut was a mammoth fraud Steve Chapman Chicago Tribune December 21, 2019

95 environmental rules being rolled back under Trump Nadja Popovich, Livia Albeck-Ripka and Kendra Pierre-Louis New York Times December 21, 2019

How a Trump tax break to help poor communities became a windfall for the rich Jesse Drucker and Eric Lipton New York Times August 31, 2019
A multibillion-dollar tax break that is supposed to help low-income areas has fueled a wave of developments financed by and built for the wealthiest Americans.

An editorial in the New York Times sets out important ways in which worker’s rights have been reduced in the Trump administration. These include: easing the ability of firms to classify workers as temporary workers, thus eliminating the protections that full time workers have in law, restricting collective bargaining in various ways, limiting the ability of workers at franchised businesses to pursue claims against the franchiser, and failing to adequately enforce existing laws, such as OSHA.
Trump’s war on worker rights Editorial Board New York Times June 3, 2019 (opinion).

Robert Reich points out that about 25 percent of American workers are now temporary workers, eliminating protections that ordinary jobs have including “a minimum wage, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation for injuries, employer-provided Social Security, overtime, family and medical leave, disability insurance, or the right to form unions and collectively bargain.”
The jig is up on the gig economy Robert Reich Truthdig June 5, 2019 (opinion)

California to ban controversial pesticide, citing effects on child brain development Reed Anderson and Juliet Eilpern Washington Post May 8, 2019

Why both major political parties have failed to curb dangerous pesticides Elena Conis Washington Post April 9, 2019

How regulators, Republicans and big banks fought for a big increase in lucrative but risky corporate loans Damian Paletta Washington Post April 9, 2019