New US Census Bureau data shows that while the median household income for the United States (and 14 states within the USA) increased a bit from 2017 to 2018, "income inequality was significantly higher during the same period for the nation and nine states.... Maryland ($83,242) was among the states with the highest median household income and West Virginia ($44,097) was among the lowest."
More data and an interactive version of the map: "2018 Median Household Income in the United States" (Census.gov)
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Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates made some comments this week on the 'tax the rich' ideas making the rounds in America.
Taxing the rich is fine, he said in an interview with The Verge, and "more progressive" taxes on the ultra rich are okay.
Gates then went on to characterize Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as an 'extreme' politician who is missing the point by focusing on targeting high income brackets. Read the rest
California is the United States agricultural juggernaut. Produce from California feeds the world and drives one of the largest economies on the planet. A side-effect of Trump's beloved, family destroying ICE raids is a massive labor shortage.
Fruit rots on the vine. Children lose their parents.
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Their absence threatens segments of the largest state economy, including retailers, restaurants and the Central Valley’s $47 billion agricultural industry, which provides more than half of the fruits, nuts and vegetables in the country. That broad, 450-mile swath of California yields an eighth of the country’s agricultural output.
The farm industry is already struggling to find workers like Maria’s husband. More than 55 percent of 762 farmers and ranchers surveyed in a California Farm Bureau Federation report from October 2017 said half of their land continues to go unattended because of an ongoing labor shortage directly related to U.S. immigration policy.
Of the state’s more than 2 million farm laborers, 1.5 million are undocumented, according to Tom Nassif, President of the Western Growers Association, a 92-year-old industry group representing farmers in California, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. Although Nassif and the association have supported Trump since the early days of his campaign, he says the raids and decades-old immigration policy for farm workers are harming the industry and state economy.
Legal marijuana comprises only about 10% of the total U.S. weed market, but it already eclipses total sales of foods like frozen pizza and services like music streaming, according to Alternet, who looks at other markets that will soon be dwarfed by weed sales. Read the rest
Compared to 75 years ago, Americans spend less on reading, alcohol, tobacco, clothing, and food. They spend more on education, entertainment, and transportation, but the real bank-breaker is how much more Americans spend on housing, even adjusted for inflation. Read the rest
I'm at Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, CA today (I'm on staff) at the Positive Platform Design Jam, where we had Cornell historian Louis Hyman give a presentation called "Unnatural Capitalism: How the New Deal Reinvented Capitalism and Why We Need to Do It Again." You can watch a video recording of his talk here.
In his talk, Hyman explained why today's economic climate is like that of the Herbert Hoover era -- lots of money sitting in banks because investment was too risky and there weren't that many big things worth investing in. Hyman said depressions happen when investment fails to connect with new leading sectors. The FDR government made it easy for banks to invest in high-risk industries (by insuring the investments and giving investors tax breaks), which jumpstarted the economy. We need to get that money out of banks and into new technology, or we risk entering a new depression. Unfortunately, the federal government has cut science funding, and it's likely the new administration won't invest in basic science research, either.
Hyman said his only choice is to remain optimistic:
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What happens if I'm not optimistic? Well, it's over. Then Marx was right. Profits go to zero, and all of this falls apart as the strongmen take everything away from you. Why am I doubling down on optimism? It's my only chance for survival. It's definitely your only chance for survival.
UC Irvine economist Peter Navarro, a hand-picked Trump economic advisor: "Navarro has never met Trump in person. And as for speaking with him by phone, he acknowledges, 'I have never had the pleasure.'" Read the rest
California governor Jerry Brown today approved a mandatory minimum wage of $15 an hour by 2022. The bill's enactment came within hours of a similar bill signing in New York by governor Andrew Cuomo. Read the rest
Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, could be the worst trade agreement ever negotiated in history. In an interview with CBC News, he recommended that the government of Canada insist on reworking it.
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Last week, Boing Boing pals Douglas Rushkoff, author of Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, and Marina Gorbis, executive director at Institute for the Future (where I'm a researcher), took the stage at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club to discuss why we've lost sight of the open Web and how the digital economy has gone terribly wrong. It was a fantastic freeform barrage of brilliant and witty criticism, insights, and ideas for rewriting the rules of this game that right now nobody can win.
Listen to it here!
Or download the podcast here.
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Kim Stanley Robinson's Aurora
is the best book I read in 2015, and by "best" I mean, "most poetic" and "most thought provoking" and "most scientific," a triple-crown in science fiction that's practically unheard of. I wouldn't have believed it possible, even from Robinson, had I not read it for myself.
China's state broadcast network today aired footage of Wang Xiaolu appearing to announce to the world that he solemnly regrets writing his influential story.
There's about $60 trillion in public government debt worldwide, and the folks at Visual Capitalist created a chart to show proportions and debt-to-GDP ratio in one handy image.
About two dozen countries carry over 90% of the world's debt, with Japan and Greece having the worst debt-to-GDP ratios.
• $60 Trillion of World Debt in One Visualization Read the rest
U.S. homeownership rate is 63.4%, the lowest since 1967. Bloomberg blames it on a combination of "stringent mortgage standards and wage growth that hasn’t kept up with surging home prices." As a result, rental vacancy rates a falling and rental rates are increasing. Read the rest
An excerpt from Linda Tirado's 2014 book Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America lays out some of the ways that being poor costs more than having a comfortable income -- it's more than having to pay for high daily rents in a motel because you can't afford first-and-last. Read the rest
"A capital gains tax rate (making money off money) that is lower than the earned income rate (making money off work) is just not fair; bestowing that rate on hedge-fund managers through a specially designed loophole is just not fair" -Wick Allison, American Conservative, Nov 12, 2012. Read the rest
It's well established that the US economy fares better when a democrat is president. Why is this? Read the rest