How Minnesota's governor performed an economic miracle by raising tax on the rich and increasing minimum wage

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By every measure, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton's five year run as governor has been a stellar success: while Tim Pawlenty, his tax-slashing, "fiscally-conservative" Republican predecessor presided over a $6.2B deficit and a 7% unemployment rate (the mere 6,200 jobs added under Pawlenty's 7-year run barely registered), Dayton added 172,000 new jobs to the Minnesota economy, brought Minnesota down to the fifth-lowest unemployment rate in the country, and brought the average Minnesotan income up to $8,000 more than the median US worker, while posting a $1B budget surplus. Read the rest

Rich people can afford to buy more sleep than poor people

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In Rich do not rise early: spatio-temporal patterns in the mobility networks of different socio-economic classes, a group of transportation engineers analyze an open data-set about the commutes of people in the Colombian cities of MedellĂ­n and Manizales, concluding that the rich and the poor commute the furthest distances, but that the rich have much shorter commutes, thanks to private transport and superior routing, which translates to substantially more sleep for the wealthy. Read the rest

Report paints UK as the sick man of Europe

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The pro-Brexit narrative insisted that the UK was one of Europe's greatest, most vibrant economies, and that, unshackled from European regulation, the country would be able to soar to the heights it deserves. Read the rest

Austerity kills the last steam-powered loom in the world

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Lancashire Council is shutting down five of its museums, including Burnley's Queen Street Mill Museum, widely known for its appearances in the King's Speech, home to the last steam-powered mill in the world. Read the rest

Black voter registration is inversely correlated with black death at police hands

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Correlation is not causation, and the data-set is awfully small (39 incidents), but computational epidemiologist Maimuna Majumder is working with what's available, because the federal government won't fund research into gun fatalities, and does not require states to gather data on police use of force. Read the rest

Lickspittle consigliere: how the super-rich abuse their wealth managers as loyalty tests

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Sociologist Brooke Harrington got her Trust and Estate Planning certification in order to study the super-secretive world of the wealth managers who are in charge of hiding the $21 trillion controlled by the world's super-rich from tax authorities, feckless descendants, religious leaders, tax justice activists, kidnappers and extortionists. Read the rest

UK inequality: top 1% owns more than bottom 20%

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Oxfam has released the latest version of its ongoing series of analyses of the relative net worth of the very richest when compared to the very poorest: in this case, they found that the top 1% of Britons own more wealth than the bottom 20% of Britons combined. Read the rest

Bill Gates' net worth hits $90B, proving Thomas Piketty's point

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When Thomas Piketty published his 2013 book Capital in the 21st Century, he said that capitalism's primary beneficiaries aren't those who make amazing things that improve the world (as its proponents claim) -- rather, it favors those who have a lot of money to begin with. Read the rest

Afterbrexit: Scotland trolls Theresa May by passing laws she has ridiculed

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The Brexit vote split firmly along the Scottish-English border, with the Scottish Remain vote leaving no doubt that the region wanted to stay in the EU; it's just the latest in a series of ever-more-obvious examples of the political incompatibility of the Scottish electorate with English Toryism. Read the rest

Whuffie would be a terrible currency

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My latest Locus column, Wealth Inequality Is Even Worse in Reputation Economies, explains the ways in which "reputation" makes a poor form of currency -- in a nutshell, reputation doesn't fulfill most of the roles we expect from currency (store of value, unit of exchange, unit of account), and it is literally a popularity contest where the rich always get richer. Read the rest

Tim O'Reilly schools Paul Graham on inequality

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Y Combinator founder and essayist Paul Graham's essay on the inevitability -- and desirability -- of income inequality sparked many scathing rebuttals, some of them quite brilliant, but the best so far comes from Tim O'Reilly, one of technology's towering figures. Read the rest

Independent economists: TPP will kill 450,000 US jobs; 75,000 Japanese jobs, 58,000 Canadian jobs

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Proponents of the secretly negotiated Trans Pacific Partnership -- which lets companies force governments to get rid of their labor, environmental and safety rules in confidential tribunals -- say it's all worth it because it will deliver growth and jobs to the stagnant economies of the rich world. Read the rest

Delhi's "Sleep Mafia" control the nights of 100,000 homeless workers

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With an estimated 100,000 homeless people living on the streets of Delhi, and 18,000 shelter beds, the city's nighttime sidewalks are the only bed for tens of thousands of workers. Read the rest

The world's richest 62 people have as much wealth as half the rest

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Just 62 people own as much wealth as the poorest half of the world together. Of this elite, 52 are men. Moreover, the richest 1 percent now own more than the other 99 percent.

The numbers come from UK-based anti-poverty charity Oxfam, which reports rising inequality worldwide just in time for this year's Davos.

But the divisions go far beyond those that exist between the haves and have-nots. In the Middle East, the divide between Shi'ites and Sunnis has reached crisis point, with Iran and Saudi Arabia jostling openly for influence in a region reeling from war and the barbarism of Islamic extremists.

The conflicts there have spilled over into Europe, causing deep ideological rifts over how to handle the worst refugee crisis since World War Two and - with Britain threatening to leave the European Union - raising doubts about the future of Europe's six-decade push towards ever closer integration.

The shock emergence of Donald Trump as the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination has exposed a gaping political divide in the United States, stirring anxiety among Washington's allies at a time of global turmoil.

Read the rest

Why Americans can't stop working: the poor can't afford to, and the rich are enjoying themselves

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Ever since Keynes's seminal 1930 paper Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren predicted that technological progress would virtually eliminate work by making labor much more productive, economists have puzzled over why Americans' working hours have gotten longer and longer, until they are some of the longest in the world. Read the rest

The more unequal your society is, the more your laws will favor the rich

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Political scientists and economists who've undertaken peer-reviewed research into policy outcomes have concluded that all over the world, and at every level of government, wealth inequality is correlated with corrupt policy-making in which politicians create laws and regulations that favor the rich at the expense of the wider public. Read the rest

Tragic rabies death in China

A 41-year-old Chinese man died from a rabies infection that he picked up in an attempt to save his son from the disease. The boy was bitten by a rabid dog. The father sucked blood out of the wound in hopes it would remove any poison. The family ended up taking the boy in for shots, anyway, but the father turned them down, largely because of the cost. Read the rest

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