spending

  Runaway inequality is now America’s most critical economic fact of life. In 1970, the ratio of pay between the top 100 CEOs and the average worker was 45 to 1. Today it is a shocking 829 to one! During that time a new economic philosophy set in that cut taxes, deregulated finance, and trimmed social spending. Those policies set in motion a process that greatly expanded the power of financial interests to accelerate inequality. But how exactly does that happen?

In Runaway Inequality, Les Leopold explains the process by which corporation after corporation falls victim to systematic wealth extraction by banks, private equity firms, and hedge funds. It reveals how financial strip-mining puts enormous downward pressure on jobs, wages, benefits, and working conditions, while boosting the incomes of financial elites.

  What we consume has become a central—perhaps the central—feature of modern life. Our economies live or die by spending, we increasingly define ourselves by our possessions, and this ever-richer lifestyle has had an extraordinary impact on our planet. How have we come to live with so much stuff, and how has this changed the course of history?

In Empire of Things, Frank Trentmann unfolds the extraordinary story of our modern material world, from Renaissance Italy and late Ming China to today’s global economy. While consumption is often portrayed as a recent American export, this monumental and richly detailed account shows that it is in fact a truly international phenomenon with a much longer and more diverse history.

empirecenter.org

On Election Day next week, New Yorkers will decide three ballot questions. No. 3 is called the Smart Schools Bond Act of 2014, a measure from Governor Andrew Cuomo that would allow the state to borrow $2 billion to equip schools with computers, tablets, wireless internet and other technology. But on group think it's a bad idea. EJ McMahon, president of the Empire Center for Public Policy in Albany, says borrowing isn't the main objection. He says there appears to be no demand from educators.

  Washington could be headed for another standoff over spending.

In today’s Congressional Corner, Connecticut Representative Joe Courtney tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock that he hopes Republicans won’t push to shut down government.