Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Barry Ritholtz comments on Donald Trump's choice to model his budgetary policy on the combination of freebies for the rich and attacks on everybody else that produced nothing but misery in Kansas:
Kansas has been a disaster, with giant budget shortfalls, service cuts, slashed education budgets and a brain drain with young people leaving the state. The economy has failed to keep up with growth in the rest of the country and is much weaker in terms of job gains, wage increases and gross domestic product growth than neighboring states with similar economies. In 2015, for example, Kansas had one of the worst job growth rates in the country, at 0.8 percent, adding just 10,900 nonfarm jobs.

In the five years before Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, no state economy performed worse than Kansas. Things became so bad that Kansas decided to simply stop updating the public about state economic news. There's no reason to do this other than to obscure the obvious: Kansas's wounds were self-inflicted.

Compare that record with California's robust economy, increased tax base, balanced budget and job growth that exceeds the national average. The president may criticize the politics of the state, but there is little to find fault with its economy. If California were its own country, its $2.75 trillion economy and would be the world’s fifth largest, after the U.S., China, Japan and Germany.

Yet despite the obvious failures in Kansas, Trump has championed that state, and not California, as his preferred model for economic growth via big tax cuts and deregulation.
(T)here are obvious lessons to be learned. When Jerry Brown retires as governor next year, part of his legacy will be leaving the state with a $6.1 billion budget surplus. Kansas, meanwhile, is trying to dig itself out from the deficits that are a consequence of tax cuts -- cuts that the state legislature has since reversed.

Between the two, there's really no choice. Take California.
- Bruce Campion-Smith reports on a new study by the Parliamentary Budget Office showing how minimum wage increases have been an important factor limiting income inequality over the past couple of decades.

- David Roberts discusses the Republicans' gaslighting on climate change - which of course matches the longtime strategy of Canada's oil-backed right-wing parties. And Frederic Simon reports on the International Energy Agency's latest data confirming the continued rise of greenhouse gas emissions (and increased difficulty reining them in quickly enough to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown).

- Meanwhile, J. David Hughes makes the point that conducting a fire sale of non-renewable resources isn't a viable energy plan.

- Finally, Gaby Hinscliff points out new research showing that the spread of microplastics in the environment has predictably resulted in their being ingested by people - signalling the need to both assess their effects, and limit their continued disposal.

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