The World Economic Forum

The Observer (editorial)  The World Economic Forum’s annual Davos shindig “became a laughing stock a long time ago”, says The Observer newspaper.  All those denunciations of global inequality by “corporate captains clinking champagne glasses” in the snow at shareholders’ expense have long seemed ridiculous. But the penny seems finally to be drop­ping that the game …

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Food stamp program: 688,000 excluded

Over the summer of 2019 the president indicated that his team thought low-income families were getting a too greedy about food.  He announced a new plan designed to exclude hundreds of thousands of people from the food stamp program. This was done last December by tightening  work requirements for able-bodied adults with no dependents, the U.S. …

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What a relief! Help for deserving, struggling millionaires.

Slipped into the recent corona virus relief package was a $170 billion tax cut for the wealthy that will give people earning over $1 million a year an average tax cut of $1.6 million per year.   In 2020 alone, taxpayers will pay $90 billion for this wealth transfer to just 43,000 millionaires, 20 percent more than Congress …

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Epicurus would be aghast

Between 1980 and 2018, research shows, the tax obligations of America’s billionaires, measured as a percentage of their wealth, have fallen 79 percent. Since last year at this time, the ranks of U.S. billionaires have increased from 607 to 614, their collective wealth from $3.111 to $3.229 trillion. We have here in the United States today …

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The wild animal trade in China

Teams in China are racing to discover which wild animal at a Wuhan food market was the source of the corona virus:  snakes, pangolins or bats? We don’t know yet. What is clear is how seriously China is now clamping down on the trade in wildlife. Recently, the country’s highest authorities enacted a permanent ban. …

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Why are guns and ammo essential items?

Across America, people have been told to take refuge at home and to venture out only to get things they really need, like groceries, prescription drugs and petrol. But should weapons also be on that list? Gun rights advocates think they should. They’ve now achieved a federal shutdown-order exemption for gun shops( guns and ammo) …

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Auotopsy on the American Dream, part 2

Continued from yesterday: The core promise of the American dream has always been that you can do better than your parents. But we have to deal with the fact that our values have been hi-jacked. We decided that we needed more democracy in our politics. What better way to do that than to allow people to …

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An autopsy of the American dream, part 1

Over the past 50 years, lots of things have changed in the United States. Here are a few examples. 1) A child’s chance of earning more than his or her parents has plummeted from 90 to 50 percent. 2) Earnings by the top 1 percent of Americans nearly tripled, while middle-class wages have been basically …

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Fifty years of environmental regulations scrapped

The following are just a few of the reversals of environmental protection laws in the last three or so years. 1. Pulling out of the Paris climate accord. 2. Easing of the regulation of methane emissions. 3. Scale-back of requirements for storing and releasing waste from coal-fired power plants 4. Increase in allowable levels of …

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Can planting trees save civilization?

Recently, the World Economic Forum launched 1t.org, a plan to plant a trillion trees. Even Donald Trump, who has withdrawn the US from the Paris agreement, has backed the initiative. But can trees store enough carbon to buy us time to act on climate change? A recent paper said 0.9 billion hectares could lock up …

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Failing to face the reality of an ageing society

You’d never have guessed it from the recent election campaigns, but Britain has a major problem with its pensions.   It’s this: as the U.K. population ages, the state pensions of ever more retirees are having to be financed by ever fewer people in work. Hence the sensible plans to raise the pensionable age for …

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Some thoughts from Lucretius…

In the words of Lucretius:  “..we are all born from the same celestial seed;  all of us have the same father, from which the earth, the mother who feeds us, receives clear drops of rain, producing from them bright wheat and lush trees, and the human race, and the species of beasts, offering up the foods with which all …

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Electric scooters: the opinion of The Guardian

“The brakes may at last be coming off the “micromobility” revolution. This month, UK ministers are due to begin a consultation on legalising the use of electronic scooters on British roads. Not before time. There’s no justification for the current ban on these devices. A fast, heavy bike poses much more of a threat to …

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White, working class boys are performing badly academically

The educational under-performance of Britain’s white working-class males is “desperate”. Less then 10% of white boys from deprived backgrounds go to university, the lowest share of any demographic group. Boys lag behind girls at all stages of schooling – in few other areas, says the Higher Education Policy Institute, is there “such a big gender …

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$16 trillion bad dream?

The year 2019 saw the continuation of “the world’s most bizarre financial experiment ever”, said Merryn Somerset Webb on MoneyWeek.com – “negative interest rates”. The European Central Bank and the Swiss National Bank were among those charging investors for the privilege of holding their bonds. There are now $16trn-worth of negative-yielding government bonds in the …

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As the U.K. shuffles out of the EU, a revealing letter

To The Economist: “So, three-and-a-half years after the Brexit referendum, Britain is leaving the European Union on 31 January. For millions of people, particularly in eastern Europe, the country we tend to call “Anglia” has been a benchmark of nobility, of spirit and excellence. Britain is deeply embedded in our cultural make-up. During the War, …

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