Rioting Mainly for Fun and Profit: The Neoconservative Origins of Our Police Problem

Aug 15, 2014Mike Konczal

Before it was anything else, the neoconservative movement was a theory of the urban crisis. As a reaction to the urban riots of the 1960s, it put an ideological and social-scientific veneer on a doctrine that called for overwhelming force against minor infractions -- a doctrine that is still with us today, as people are killed for walking down the street in Ferguson and allegedly selling single cigarettes in New York. But neoconservatives also sought, rather successfully, to position liberalism itself as the cause of the urban crisis, solvable only through the reassertion of order through the market and the police.

(Image by Jamelle Bouie.)

Edward Banfield was one of the first neoconservative thinkers who started writing in the 1960s and '70s and was a prominent figure in the movement, though he isn’t remembered as well as his close friends Milton Friedman or Leo Strauss, or his star student James Q. Wilson. Banfield contributed to the beginning of neoconservative urban crisis thinking, the Summer 1969 "Focus on New York" issue of The Public Interest, which began to formalize neoconservatives’ framing of the urban crisis as the result of not just the Great Society in particular but the liberal project as a whole.

In his major book The Unheavenly City (pdf here), Banfield set the tone for much of what would come in the movement. Commentary described the book as “a political scientist’s version of Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom” at the time. It sold 100,000 copies, and gathered both extensive news coverage and academic interest.

The Unheavenly City’s most infamous chapter is “Rioting Mainly for Fun and Profit.” Fresh off televised riots in Watts, Detroit, and Newark, Banfield argued that it was "naive to think that efforts to end racial injustice and to eliminate poverty, slums, and unemployment will have an appreciable effect upon the amount of rioting that will be done in the next decade or two.” Absolute living standards had been rising rapidly. For Banfield, this was entirely the result of market and social forces rather than the state, and the poor, with their short time-horizons and desire for immediate gratification, would largely be left behind and always be prone to rioting. Today’s classic, if often implicit, repudiations of poor people’s humanity were clearly expressed here.

Rather than political protests or rebellions, Banfield argued that riots were largely opportunistic displays of violence and theft. He broke down four types of riots: (1) rampages, where young men are simply looking for trouble and act out violently; (2) pillaging, where theft is the main focus, and the riot serves as a solution for a type of collective action problem for thieves; (3) righteous indignation, where people act against an insult against their community; and (4) demonstrations, which are neither spontaneous nor violent but instead designed for a specific political purpose.

Banfield argued that the poor mainly engaged in the first two types of riots. Righteous indignation riots were a feature of the working class, because the “lower-class individual is too alienated to be capable of much indignation.” Demonstrations were largely the focus of the middle and upper classes, as they ran organizations and were able to make coherent claims on the state.

At this point Banfield’s text reads like a list of cranky, armchair reactionary observations about riots. It received considerable blowback at the time. What was innovative, for a neoconservative agenda, was where he put the blame. Young men will be young men, the text seems to suggest. The problem is what enables them to riot.

The initial perpetrators included the media, whose neutral (or even sensationalistic) coverage “recruited rampagers, pillagers, and others to the scene.” They also made the rioting more dangerous by expanding the knowledge base of the rioters. The larger academic community was also at fault since, to Banfield’s ear, “explaining the riots tended to justify them.” Upper-class demonstrators were also responsible for raising expectations of what the poor could demand from the state and from society writ large.

But according to Banfield, the core problem was modern liberalism, and in an interesting way. The big issue was the “professionalism” and bureaucratization of city services. The rioters had nothing to fear from the police, who were blocked from exercising their own judgement on the ground by an administrative layer of police administrators. In the logic that would form the basis of Broken Windows policing, the poor learning “through experience that an infraction can be done leads, by an illogic characteristic of childish thought, to the conclusion that it may be done.” And potential rioters were learning this because “the patrolman’s discretion in the use of force declined rapidly” with the growth of the modern liberal state.

Returning, therefore, to a “pre-professional” model of policing is one of the stated goals of Broken Windows. As James Q. Wilson explained in the 1982 Atlantic Monthly article that popularized the topic, “the police in this earlier period assisted in that reassertion of authority by acting, sometimes violently, on behalf of the community.”

Before the modern liberal state of accountability and due process, the police force wasn't judged by “its compliance with appropriate procedures” but instead by its success in maintaining order. Since the 1960s, “the shift of police from order maintenance to law enforcement has brought them increasingly under the influence of legal restrictions… The order maintenance functions of the police are now governed by rules developed to control police relations with suspected criminals,” writes Wilson. According to this theory, order is preserved by the police out there, acting in the moment against minor infractions with a strong display of force, not by liberal notions of accountability and fairness.

This neoconservative vision that started in the 1960s and continues into today doesn’t just inform local arguments about policing, but rather the entire policy debate. So much of the debate over the (neo)conservative movement emphasizes suburban warriors, or evangelicals, or the Sun Belt, or the South. But as Alice O’Connor demonstrates in her paper "The Privatized City: The Manhattan Institute, the Urban Crisis, and the Conservative Counterrevolution in New York," there was a distinct urban character to this thinking as well. Rather than a crisis of race relations, police violence, poverty, or anything else, rioting and the broader urban crisis were framed by the neoconservative movement as a crisis of values and culture precipitated by liberalism.

The broader urban crisis, in this story, hinges not on structural issues but on personal morality and behavior that can be restored by the extension of the market. Crime and urban “disorder” fit right next to social engineering and failing state institutions as a corrupt legacy of the liberal project and its bureaucratic, administrative governing state. Only the conservative agenda, as O'Connor puts it, of “zero-tolerance law enforcement, school ‘choice,’ hard-nosed implementation of welfare reform, and the large-scale privatization of municipal and social services” is capable of dismantling it. Only through the market, individual responsibility, and freedom from government “interference” can order result from the restoration of “political and cultural authority to a resolutely anti-liberal elite.” This legacy harnesses police excess to the triumph of the market. And as we see, it will be hard to dislodge one while the other reigns supreme.

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Before it was anything else, the neoconservative movement was a theory of the urban crisis. As a reaction to the urban riots of the 1960s, it put an ideological and social-scientific veneer on a doctrine that called for overwhelming force against minor infractions -- a doctrine that is still with us today, as people are killed for walking down the street in Ferguson and allegedly selling single cigarettes in New York. But neoconservatives also sought, rather successfully, to position liberalism itself as the cause of the urban crisis, solvable only through the reassertion of order through the market and the police.

(Image by Jamelle Bouie.)

Edward Banfield was one of the first neoconservative thinkers who started writing in the 1960s and '70s and was a prominent figure in the movement, though he isn’t remembered as well as his close friends Milton Friedman or Leo Strauss, or his star student James Q. Wilson. Banfield contributed to the beginning of neoconservative urban crisis thinking, the Summer 1969 "Focus on New York" issue of The Public Interest, which began to formalize neoconservatives’ framing of the urban crisis as the result of not just the Great Society in particular but the liberal project as a whole.

In his major book The Unheavenly City (pdf here), Banfield set the tone for much of what would come in the movement. Commentary described the book as “a political scientist’s version of Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom” at the time. It sold 100,000 copies, and gathered both extensive news coverage and academic interest.

The Unheavenly City’s most infamous chapter is “Rioting Mainly for Fun and Profit.” Fresh off televised riots in Watts, Detroit, and Newark, Banfield argued that it was "naive to think that efforts to end racial injustice and to eliminate poverty, slums, and unemployment will have an appreciable effect upon the amount of rioting that will be done in the next decade or two.” Absolute living standards had been rising rapidly. For Banfield, this was entirely the result of market and social forces rather than the state, and the poor, with their short time-horizons and desire for immediate gratification, would largely be left behind and always be prone to rioting. Today’s classic, if often implicit, repudiations of poor people’s humanity were clearly expressed here.

Rather than political protests or rebellions, Banfield argued that riots were largely opportunistic displays of violence and theft. He broke down four types of riots: (1) rampages, where young men are simply looking for trouble and act out violently; (2) pillaging, where theft is the main focus, and the riot serves as a solution for a type of collective action problem for thieves; (3) righteous indignation, where people act against an insult against their community; and (4) demonstrations, which are neither spontaneous nor violent but instead designed for a specific political purpose.

Banfield argued that the poor mainly engaged in the first two types of riots. Righteous indignation riots were a feature of the working class, because the “lower-class individual is too alienated to be capable of much indignation.” Demonstrations were largely the focus of the middle and upper classes, as they ran organizations and were able to make coherent claims on the state.

At this point Banfield’s text reads like a list of cranky, armchair reactionary observations about riots. It received considerable blowback at the time. What was innovative, for a neoconservative agenda, was where he put the blame. Young men will be young men, the text seems to suggest. The problem is what enables them to riot.

The initial perpetrators included the media, whose neutral (or even sensationalistic) coverage “recruited rampagers, pillagers, and others to the scene.” They also made the rioting more dangerous by expanding the knowledge base of the rioters. The larger academic community was also at fault since, to Banfield’s ear, “explaining the riots tended to justify them.” Upper-class demonstrators were also responsible for raising expectations of what the poor could demand from the state and from society writ large.

But according to Banfield, the core problem was modern liberalism, and in an interesting way. The big issue was the “professionalism” and bureaucratization of city services. The rioters had nothing to fear from the police, who were blocked from exercising their own judgement on the ground by an administrative layer of police administrators. In the logic that would form the basis of Broken Windows policing, the poor learning “through experience that an infraction can be done leads, by an illogic characteristic of childish thought, to the conclusion that it may be done.” And potential rioters were learning this because “the patrolman’s discretion in the use of force declined rapidly” with the growth of the modern liberal state.

Returning, therefore, to a “pre-professional” model of policing is one of the stated goals of Broken Windows. As James Q. Wilson explained in the 1982 Atlantic Monthly article that popularized the topic, “the police in this earlier period assisted in that reassertion of authority by acting, sometimes violently, on behalf of the community.”

Before the modern liberal state of accountability and due process, the police force wasn't judged by “its compliance with appropriate procedures” but instead by its success in maintaining order. Since the 1960s, “the shift of police from order maintenance to law enforcement has brought them increasingly under the influence of legal restrictions… The order maintenance functions of the police are now governed by rules developed to control police relations with suspected criminals,” writes Wilson. According to this theory, order is preserved by the police out there, acting in the moment against minor infractions with a strong display of force, not by liberal notions of accountability and fairness.

This neoconservative vision that started in the 1960s and continues into today doesn’t just inform local arguments about policing, but rather the entire policy debate. So much of the debate over the (neo)conservative movement emphasizes suburban warriors, or evangelicals, or the Sun Belt, or the South. But as Alice O’Connor demonstrates in her paper "The Privatized City: The Manhattan Institute, the Urban Crisis, and the Conservative Counterrevolution in New York," there was a distinct urban character to this thinking as well. Rather than a crisis of race relations, police violence, poverty, or anything else, rioting and the broader urban crisis were framed by the neoconservative movement as a crisis of values and culture precipitated by liberalism.

The broader urban crisis, in this story, hinges not on structural issues but on personal morality and behavior that can be restored by the extension of the market. Crime and urban “disorder” fit right next to social engineering and failing state institutions as a corrupt legacy of the liberal project and its bureaucratic, administrative governing state. Only the conservative agenda, as O'Connor puts it, of “zero-tolerance law enforcement, school ‘choice,’ hard-nosed implementation of welfare reform, and the large-scale privatization of municipal and social services” is capable of dismantling it. Only through the market, individual responsibility, and freedom from government “interference” can order result from the restoration of “political and cultural authority to a resolutely anti-liberal elite.” This legacy harnesses police excess to the triumph of the market. And as we see, it will be hard to dislodge one while the other reigns supreme.

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Daily Digest - August 15: Social Security at 79

Aug 15, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our weekday morning email featuring the Daily Digest.

Social Security Marks 79th Birthday with Declining Service (WaPo)

Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our weekday morning email featuring the Daily Digest.

Social Security Marks 79th Birthday with Declining Service (WaPo)

Joe Davidson says that the Social Security Administration continues to aim for providing "the best possible service for the American public," but budget and staffing cuts have hampered that goal.

  • Roosevelt Take: Campus Network member Brian Lamberta calls for eliminating the cap on Social Security taxes to ensure the program's sustainability through Millennials' retirements and beyond.

Starbucks to Revise Policies to End Irregular Schedules for Its 130,000 Baristas (NYT)

In response to an article in The New York Times about a single mother's struggle with erratic scheduling, Starbucks plans to revise its scheduling practices to improve worker stability, writes Jodi Kantor.

Why the Minimum Wage Issue is a Win-Win for Obama (MSNBC)

Timothy Noah explains that if Congress won't pass a minimum wage increase, then Democrats have an easy wedge issue for the 2014 elections, which is especially important as they fight to hold the Senate.

Education Alone Is Not the Answer to Income Inequality and Slow Recovery (TAP)

Many economists are emphasizing education as a way to spread the economic recovery beyond the 1 percent, but Robert Kuttner argues for a job-creating solution instead: infrastructure investment.

It's Time to Pay Prisoners the Minimum Wage (TNR)

Josh Kovensky argues that using prison labor as a cost-cutting measure is ineffective and creates unexpected costs, particularly relating to the dependents of prisoners.

When Your Employer Doesn’t Consider You an Employee (AJAM)

The recently proposed Payroll Fraud Prevention Act would help balance power in the workplace by ensuring workers know their rights as employees or contractors, writes Malcolm Harris.

Why it’s No Easy Task to Determine What the GSEs Should Charge for Their Guarantee (MetroTrends Blog)

Laurie Goodman, Ellen Seidman, Jim Parrott, and Jun Zhu lay out the difficulties in determining what fees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should charge for guaranteeing mortgage-backed securities.

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Daily Digest - August 14: As Maine Goes, So Goes the Internet

Aug 14, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our weekday morning email featuring the Daily Digest.

Racial Discrimination Alive and Well in Reproductive Healthcare (The Hill)

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Racial Discrimination Alive and Well in Reproductive Healthcare (The Hill)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Andrea Flynn looks at racial disparities in access to health care in the U.S. in light of the U.N.'s periodic review of countries' work to dismantle racism.

How Maine Saved the Internet (Bloomberg View)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford explains how a town in Maine with a population of only 3,321 got a reasonably priced, high-speed fiber optic network.

What’s Lost in the Market Basket Stories (Working Economics)

Workers should not have to rely on a benevolent CEO to ensure they have "good" jobs, writes David Cooper. Better labor laws would make sure everyone had those benefits.

Why Is it So Controversial to Help Poor Mothers Afford Diapers? (The Nation)

Bryce Covert calls out those who see diaper subsidy programs as "controversial," because these programs help children and working families to thrive. They should be a no-brainer, she says.

Working Anything but 9 to 5 (NYT)

Jodi Kantor looks at one mother's struggle with automated scheduling software that threw her and her child's lives into chaos, as she worked unpredictable and sometimes unreasonable hours.

Virgin America Flight Attendants Vote To Join Union (HuffPo)

One worker who voted against unionization in 2011 explained that since the last vote, grievances continued unaddressed, leading to yesterday's decisive win, reports Dave Jamieson.

Silicon Valley Is Ruining "Sharing" for Everybody (TNR)

Noam Scheiber decries the Silicon Valley definition of "sharing," which is more along the lines of under-regulated economic activity that takes advantage of users' skills, possessions, or property.

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Daily Digest - August 13: Working Without a Net in the Gig Economy

Aug 13, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our weekday morning email featuring the Daily Digest.

America's Social Safety Net is Failing Workers in the 'Gig Economy' (The Week)

Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our weekday morning email featuring the Daily Digest.

America's Social Safety Net is Failing Workers in the 'Gig Economy' (The Week)

Particularly in today's economy of short-term gigs, contract work, and other forms of precarious employment, Sarah Jaffe says the current system of unemployment benefits isn't cutting it.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Operations Director Lydia Bowers looks at some of the other labor protections missing in the gig economy.

By Any Measure, The Job Market Is Getting Better (FiveThirtyEight)

No matter how he counts the unemployed, Ben Casselman finds the same pattern: the ratio of job-seekers to available jobs has dropped significantly, almost to pre-recession levels.

Graphic: Unpaid Interns Have Few Legal Rights (Bloomberg Businessweek)

In this flowchart, Josh Eidelson lays out the scant legal protections afforded interns throughout the country, with details about relevant court cases and state-by-state variations.

Yellen Resolved to Avoid Raising Rates Too Soon, Fearing Downturn (Reuters)

Howard Schneider and Jonathan Spicer report that Federal Reserve insiders say Janet Yellen is showing extreme caution on raising interest rates, because inflation is easier to fight than recessions.

Another Argument Against the Medicaid Expansion Just Got Weaker (WaPo)

Jason Millman looks at the history of Medicaid funding, and finds that states don't really have to worry about the federal government backing out of its share of expansion funding.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Fellow Andrea Flynn ties refusal to expand Medicaid to the U.S.'s high and increasing maternal mortality rate.

The Jobs Added In Today’s Economy Pay A Quarter Less Than The Ones We Lost In The Recession (ThinkProgress)

Bryce Covert looks at a new report from the U.S. Council of Mayors, which shows that the jobs added since the recession pay less largely due to the sectors in which jobs were lost and regained.

Labor and Small Businesses Team up on California Franchising Law (MSNBC)

The proposed law would make it harder to terminate franchise agreements. Ned Resnikoff says labor groups hope franchisees will treat workers better with less franchisor influence and interference.

New on Next New Deal

The Inconvenient Truth About Ineqality

In his video speculation for the Next American Economy project, Lenny Mendonca says a "vested set of interests" will keep the issues raised in Piketty's Capital out of real policy debates.

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Lenny Mendonca: The Inconvenient Truth About Inequality

Aug 13, 2014

The Next American Economy project brought together 30 experts from various disciplines to envision tomorrow's economic and political challenges and develop today's solutions. Their assignment: be bold, and leave the conventional wisdom -- and their own opinions -- behind. In today's video, Lenny Mendonca of McKinsey & Company discusses the groundwork that's been laid for a serious national debate about inequality -- and the forces working to silence it.

The Next American Economy project brought together 30 experts from various disciplines to envision tomorrow's economic and political challenges and develop today's solutions. Their assignment: be bold, and leave the conventional wisdom -- and their own opinions -- behind. In today's video, Lenny Mendonca of McKinsey & Company discusses the groundwork that's been laid for a serious national debate about inequality -- and the forces working to silence it.

"Thomas Piketty and Capital will be to this decade what Al Gore and An Inconvenient Truth were to the last decade," speculated McKinsey & Company Co Director Emeritus Lenny Mendonca. Piketty's findings on inequality are much discussed among academics and progressives; however, there is a set of vested interests preventing real policy discussion on the topic of inequality.

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Daily Digest - August 12: What Happens When the Workers Become the Owners?

Aug 12, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Is Worker Ownership a Way Forward for Market Basket? (Truthout)

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Is Worker Ownership a Way Forward for Market Basket? (Truthout)

Gar Alperovitz says the current protests at Market Basket are a sign of the desire for community and worker-friendly businesses, which he suggests are easier to achieve with employee ownership.

Surprise! North Carolina Cuts to Jobless Benefits Did Not Help Workers (TAP)

Valerie Wilson lays out the data, which shows that cutting the duration and amount of unemployment benefits did not magically improve the job market in North Carolina.

New York Prosecutors Charge Payday Lenders With Usury (NYT)

State prosecutors charged a group of lenders incorporated across the country with shared (and obscured) ownership of charging illegal interest rates to New Yorkers, reports Jessica Silver-Greenberg.

Give the President (and Yourself) a Break (U.S. News & World Report)

Instead of griping about the President's vacation, lawmakers should work to ensure that all Americans get paid vacation time and are able to use it, writes Pat Garofalo.

Unions Team Up With Fast-Food Owners (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Patrick Clark looks at the uneasy alliance between fast food franchisees and labor unions as they push for fairer franchising laws in California, which unions hope would translate into better working conditions.

It Matters How Rich the Rich Are (Policy Shop)

Matt Bruenig says that we must know how rich the rich are in order to fight poverty, since the distribution of wealth creates poverty. He also asks how we would know if policy is working without that data.

How Student Debt Crushes Your Chances of Buying a Home (WaPo)

Dina ElBoghdady looks at a new study that lays out the complex ways student debt interacts with homeownership, including a close look at total amount of debt and size of payments.

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Daily Digest - August 11: Big Business's Frenemy in the White House

Aug 11, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Your Call: The U.S.-Africa Summit and Corporate Taxes (KALW)

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Your Call: The U.S.-Africa Summit and Corporate Taxes (KALW)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal discusses President Obama's interview with The Economist, and explains the administration's relationship with big business. His segment begins at 34:00.

Libertarian Fantasies (NYT)

Paul Krugman says that the libertarian vision of society bears little resemblance to reality, and references Mike Konczal's recent piece on libertarians and basic guaranteed income as an example.

Paul Ryan's Magical Poverty Tour (AJAM)

Susan Greenbaum points to an existing welfare block grant – the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program – as proof that Ryan's plan would not serve enough of the eligible families.

Franchise Association Sues Over Seattle’s $15 Wage (MSNBC)

The law requires large businesses, including franchisees, to raise wages faster than smaller ones. Franchisees claims this discriminates against their business model, reports Ned Resnikoff.

Decline in 'Slack' Helps Fed Gauge Recovery (WSJ)

Pedro da Costa explains how the gap between economic resources we have and those that we use, particularly in the labor market, is influencing Federal Reserve decisions about interest rates.

Fed's Fischer Calls U.S. and Global Recoveries Disappointing (Reuters)

Howard Schneider reports on Federal Reserve Vice Chair Stanley Fischer's concerns regarding how central banks must respond to the possibility of permanently slowed growth post-recession.

‘Eat Your Vegetables’ Is Easier for Low-Income Mothers Who Get Help (Pacific Standard)

A new study shows financial incentives at farmers' markets do work to increase vegetable consumption, writes Avital Andrews, which makes a strong case for government nutrition incentives.

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The Score, a New Monthly Column, is Now Live!

Aug 9, 2014Mike Konczal

I'm excited to tell you about The Score, a new monthly economics column page in The Nation magazine, that I'll be writing with Bryce Covert. Each month will have a lead essay based on a chart, along with sidebars of information related to the economy as a whole. Check it out in print if you can, because the formatting of the page itself is very sharp.

It will also be online, and our first column on wealth inequality went up this week. Given so much interest in wealth inequality (it is the basis of the two best works from the left in 2014), what would a wealth equality agenda look like?

The Nation also recently launched The Curve, a great blog on the intersection of feminism and economics, spearheaded by Kathy Geier. It's great to see The Nation moving in this direction, and I hope you check it all out!

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I'm excited to tell you about The Score, a new monthly economics column page in The Nation magazine, that I'll be writing with Bryce Covert. Each month will have a lead essay based on a chart, along with sidebars of information related to the economy as a whole. Check it out in print if you can, because the formatting of the page itself is very sharp.

It will also be online, and our first column on wealth inequality went up this week. Given so much interest in wealth inequality (it is the basis of the two best works from the left in 2014), what would a wealth equality agenda look like?

The Nation also recently launched The Curve, a great blog on the intersection of feminism and economics, spearheaded by Kathy Geier. It's great to see The Nation moving in this direction, and I hope you check it all out!

Follow or contact the Rortybomb blog:
 
  

 

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Daily Digest - August 8: The Man with the Misguided Anti-Poverty Plan

Aug 8, 2014Rachel Goldfarb

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Paul Ryan’s Magical Thinking (The Baffler)

Paul Ryan's belief that poverty is rooted in personal failure isn't the only problem with his anti-poverty plan, writes Ned Resnikoff. It's also impractical to implement and too easily abused.

Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our weekday morning email featuring the Daily Digest.

Paul Ryan’s Magical Thinking (The Baffler)

Paul Ryan's belief that poverty is rooted in personal failure isn't the only problem with his anti-poverty plan, writes Ned Resnikoff. It's also impractical to implement and too easily abused.

An Interview With the President (The Economist)

While discussing corporate responsibility in this wide-ranging interview, President Obama points out that companies profess to care about social issues, but only lobby for their tax breaks.

Let's Do It! Let's Bring Back Earmarks! (HuffPo)

Ending earmarks has done nothing to reduce American cynicism about government's motives, and has contributed to congressional gridlock, writes Jason Linkins.

When U.S. Companies Skip the Country to Dodge Taxes, Their Shareholders Can Foot the Bill (Quartz)

Since shareholders are hit with a capital gains tax bill when companies use inversion (merging with a foreign company) to avoid taxes, Tim Fernholz says raising those rates could slow the problem.

These 7 Charts Show Why the Rent Is Too Damn High (MoJo)

Erika Eichelberger and AJ Vicens lay out the data explaining shifts in rental housing. They say that reducing government's role in housing finance could direct funds toward affordable rental housing.

New on Next New Deal

Without Public Investment, the U.S. Will Fall Into Chaos

In her video speculation for the Next American Economy project, Sarah Burd-Sharps, Co-Director of Measure for America, predicts that fiscal moderates will push public investment out of fear of a more costly future.

The Pragmatic Libertarian Case for a Basic Income Doesn't Add Up

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal says that Matt Zwolinski's case for a basic income guarantee makes faulty assumptions about what government is already providing through welfare.

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Sarah Burd-Sharps: Without Public Investment, the U.S. Will Fall Into Chaos

Aug 8, 2014

The Next American Economy project brought together 30 experts from various disciplines to envision tomorrow's economic and political challenges and develop today's solutions. Their assignment: be bold, and leave the conventional wisdom -- and their own opinions -- behind. In today's video, Measure of America's Sarah Burd-Sharps looks at the sweeping consequences of the government's failure to invest in the future.

The Next American Economy project brought together 30 experts from various disciplines to envision tomorrow's economic and political challenges and develop today's solutions. Their assignment: be bold, and leave the conventional wisdom -- and their own opinions -- behind. In today's video, Measure of America's Sarah Burd-Sharps looks at the sweeping consequences of the government's failure to invest in the future.

Sarah Burd-Sharps, Co-Director of Measure of America, speculates on the consequences of declining public investment in infrastructure, regulation, education, and more. With government abdicating its basic responsibilities, the U.S. will face increasing chaos -- collapsing bridges, food contamination outbreaks, falling elevators, and unemployed teenagers. Burd-Sharps imagines a moderate political wing moved to act by the rising economic costs of under-investment.

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