Any sincere theory of property rights would bankrupt the energy sector

If you believe in the sanctity of property rights, you believe that the law should entitle you to compensation if someone damages your property; the energy sector has knowingly, willfully destroyed some of the most valuable property on earth, in large coastal cities, and if libertarians and right-wingers were sincere in their belief in private property (as opposed to mere oligarchic consolidation of wealth and power), they would be baying for the liquidation of every energy company's fortunes to compensate the owners of all that property. After all, only 25 companies are responsible for more than half of the planet's emissions. Read the rest

America for sale: 38% of all election funding comes from 0.0001% of Americans (2,210 people account for 25% of the total)

0.5% of Americans given $200 or more in campaign contributions, accounting for 66% of all campaign funding, but that's nothing: only 0.0001% give $10,000 or more, and their donations are 38% of all the money sloshing around in US electoral campaign coffers. Read the rest

Wanna get into Harvard? Just ask your parents to donate a building.

A batch of internal Harvard admission-related emails have come into the public domain as part of a lawsuit alleging that Harvard discriminates against Asian applicants, and they reveal that the admissions process is tilted in favor of members of families who are major donors to Harvard. Read the rest

A data-driven look at the devastating efficacy of a far-right judge-education program

More than 40% of US federal judges have attended Manne seminars, a notionally "bipartisan" educational conference presented by a Florida "Law and Economics" institute whose invited ideological allies explained to judges why pollution is good for minorities (polluted neighborhoods are cheaper and therefore affordable by poor people), unions are bad, monopolies are economically efficient, discrimination in punishment is economically efficient, insider trading is economically efficient, and so on. Read the rest

Paul Ryan imagines "Cindy," a hypothetical beneficiary of his tax plan, doesn't realize she and her child are starving to death

Paul Ryan says his tax plan will be great for the poorest and most vulnerable people in America, and he tweeted a hypothetical to help you understand how that works: "Meet Cindy: a single mom, making $30,000 per year, who hopes to one day get beyond living paycheck to paycheck. With a $700 increase in her tax refund each year under our tax bill, Cindy can start saving for her future." Read the rest

Wall Street and Trump are about to kill the CFPB, the only government agency that effectively polices bank scams, crimes and frauds

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (previously) is practically the only US regulator we can be proud of -- founded by Elizabeth Warren before she ran for the Senate, the CFRB is a consumer protection agency that has been at the forefront of reining in criminal activities like Wells Fargo's nationwide frauds and Equifax's dox attack on the USA, as well as being the best defense Americans have against predatory loan-sharks masquerading as "payday lenders," abusive debt-collectors, racial discrimination in lending, and the student loan racket. Read the rest

The 0.2% of Americans exempted by the GOP estate-tax plan (including the Trump cabinet) have never paid tax on their millions and never will

The Republican tax plan will exempt the 0.2% of Americans who pass on estates of $5.49 million (each) to their heirs, a tiny elite that includes most of the Trump cabinet of one-percenter plutocrats; under the Senate proposal, that exemption would double. Read the rest

Economic recovery in the US actually made 99% of Americans poorer, top 1% captured 121% of gains

"Striking it Richer," a paper by Emmanuel Saez (an economist at UC Berkeley) looks at the way that the dividends of the slow US "economic recovery" have been distributed. Saez finds that 121% of the economic gains since 2009 have been captured by the richest 1% of Americans -- in other words, despite economic growth, the poorest 99% of Americans actually got poorer through the "recovery."

This confirms a pattern that Matt Stoller highlighted: that income inequality increased more under Obama than under Bush. And the new Saez paper also describes how it came about. In short form, income to the top 1% is significantly influenced by capital gains. Remember, the tax reporting is not clean here: rising equity and bond markets help all those private equity and hedge fund professionals, who are able to get capital gains treatment for what ought to be labor income. But the paper also stresses that the lower orders were hit hard in the aftermath of the global financial crisis than in the dot-bomb era, which also saw a big drop in capital gains. That isn’t as hard to understand. The collapse of the dot-com mania didn’t impair the real economy overmuch because it was not fueled in a meaningful way by borrowings. By contrast, the housing bubble, and more important (in terms of damage to the financial system) the much housing exposure created synthetically by CDOs that consisted entirely or mainly of credit default swaps was highly geared, hence when it collapsed, it took credit providers down with it.

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Canadian Conservative govt guts protections for 99+% of waterways, spare handful of lakes with high-cost cottages

David says, "Canada used to have 2.5 million protected lakes and other bodies of water. After recent Conservative Omnibus bills, we're down to 97. 87 of which are located in Conservative ridings (rich cottage country). More info." Read the rest

St Paul's Cathedral drops eviction effort against OccupyLondon; almighty Corporation of London plows ahead

Following an earlier signal from the Bishop of London, as well as the resignations of three prominent clerics, St Paul's cathedral has withdrawn from its legal action against the OccupyLondon demonstrators camped around its grounds.

A member of the group responsible for liaison with the cathedral said they had met the Chapter of St Paul's, the church's governing body, at 11am: "We were informed that they will no longer be proceeding with legal action against us." Cue loud cheers and applause.

Another activist then read out the full St Paul's statement to the assembly, which was punctuated with cheers - notably, when Giles Fraser's name was mentioned. News of Ken Costa's involvement was greeted with silence, apart from one man just behind me who muttered: "Yeah, great."

The church liaison committee will meet the St Paul's Chapter again tomorrow, with issues to be discussed including access to the cathedral during busy upcoming events such as Remembrance Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

That leaves the Corporation of London alone in its mission to evict OccupyLondon. The Corporation is a sinister and eccentric body that runs the "Square Mile" -- the headquarters of Britain's financial industry -- with near-total autonomy, as a kind of special economic zone or a country-within-a-country. Seriously, they make conspiracy nuts look reasonable:

What is this thing? Ostensibly it's the equivalent of a local council, responsible for a small area of London known as the Square Mile. But, as its website boasts, "among local authorities the City of London is unique".

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Why they call the Tories "the nasty party"

Steve Hilton, UK Prime Minister David Cameron's "strategy guru" has a cure for the sluggish British economy: temporarily abolishing all maternity rights and consumer protection laws. He's not interested in proposals for lowering executive pay in publicly backed financial institutions that drove the world's economy off a cliff, or for increasing transparency in the executive compensation packages offered to the heads of publicly traded companies. Read the rest