I've been remiss in reposting my New York Times comments, mainly because I've also been remiss in actually writing New York Times comments. To honor your requests, here are some of my replies to various articles, dating back as far as last month, and in no particular order:
Paul Theroux, The Hypocrisy of 'Helping' the Poor:
"Philanthrocapitalism" is one of the many ways that the rich get richer. It's an orchestrated attempt by oligarchs to discourage the politicians they own from raising their taxes. It pre-empts direct government aid to the poor.
If the rich didn't make so much money and gain so much influence by "giving," then they wouldn't be playing the game.
To many of them, helping the poor equates with controlling the poor. They wield their power by dividing the Deserving from the Undeserving Poor. Their noblesse oblige is not only undemocratic. It's anti-democratic.
Much plutocratic charity goes to elite universities and think tanks studying the poor from a distance, or to their own tax-exempt foundations. For example, Warren Buffett is giving away his billions, not directly to the needy, but directly to the Gates Foundation. Meanwhile, the Gates Foundation - besides concentrating on such worthy causes as polio eradication - has expanded its own financial empire into privatizing schools, funding Common Core, conducting teacher evaluations via corporations, inserting its own software into crumbling schools.
Paul Theroux tells it like it is. Enough with allowing obscenely rich people to stroke their egos by "raising awareness" through their platitudinous hashtag slogans and photo-ops.
Charity shouldn't be allowed to supplant or replace good public policy and programs.
Tax the rich. Tax them good and hard.
So much of this charity is nothing but legalized money-laundering.
Neil Irwin, How Hillary Would Regulate Wall Street:
Neil Irwin writes that the repeal of Glass-Steagall had less to do with causing the financial crisis than liberals suggest.
Granted, its repeal was not the only cause of the banking collapse. But it was indeed part and parcel of several deregulatory measures spawned by the neoliberal project, of which Bill Clinton was a main architect and enabler.
Besides the Glass-Steagall repeal, he also signed the Commodities Futures Modernization Act, which deregulated credit default swaps. He loosened lending rules via the Community Reinvestment Act, which paved the way for the subprime predatory lending epidemic and the subsequent foreclosure/fraudclosure free-for-all for which the too big to fails not only got a free pass, it made them even richer and bigger.
To be fair to Clinton, the repeal of Glass-Steagall effectively just gave retroactive immunity to Citigroup and other behemoths, who'd essentially been flouting the rules for years.
So bringing back Glass-Steagall would not be the miracle cure for what ails us. It would be far better to follow the advice of Sanders and Warren and just break up the banks as well as bringing back Glass-Steagall. Prosecuting and jailing financial crooks is also a must.
Hillary's nibbling around the edges of an oligarchy gone wild gives aid and comfort to the enemy. You don't hear Wall Street howling with pain over her tepid proposals, do you?
Paul Krugman, Dewey, Cheatham and Howe:
Jeb is selling himself as the perfect mattress for coddled corporations and plutocrats seeking sweet dreams for themselves and nightmares for everyone else. Trump is way too hard for their comfort, while Ben Carson's nihilism is soft in the head. Then along comes Jeb to pen a "just right" op-ed. He is that dangerous middle bear of the neoliberal brand. He sounds so darned reasonable the way he prescribes his mayhem.
Of course, regulations are only as good as how stringently they're enforced. This is the age of the deferred prosecution agreement and the slap-on-the-wrist fine. Not one Wall Street CEO has ever been held criminally accountable for frauds so epic that they collapsed the entire global banking system. Not one G.M. executive is being prosecuted for the scores of ignition switch deaths and injuries. If the Justice Dept. now offers a similar sweetheart deal to Volkswagen instead of throwing the prosecutorial book at the individuals who deliberately literally spewed tons of lethal contaminants into the air we all breathe, I think we can then rest assured that the corruption of government is well nigh complete.
When government agencies are headed by industry insiders. even the regulations remaining on the books can become travesties. A white collar criminal defense attorney heads the SEC, Citigroup effectively runs Treasury, and a scientist with deep ties to Big Pharma has just been nominated to head the FDA.
We need a clean-up -- and Howe.
Margaret Sullivan, Readers Will Rule, Says the Times, So Don't Be Shy:
At the risk of sounding like a broken record (I have asked about this several times without getting a satisfactory response), please consider giving more people with an established history of excellent comments the magical green check mark.
Also, if one of the cute$y ways to double your digital revenue is to cause the page to jump around so much that when I think I am clicking on a chosen article all I get is a grotesque ad for a luxury item I neither want nor can afford, please knock it off! It makes me too nauseous to continue consuming all the wonderful content. It's especially a downer to click on Krugman only to suddenly have David Brooks's latest book report staring you in the face. Not least because it unfairly moves him up on the Most Populuh List.
Finally, I am under no illusion that I am in any way "empowered" by answering this survey. But it definitely #Raises My Awareness. So thanks for asking -:)
(The above comment explains why I have been so remiss lately in contributing to the reader comment sections!)
Alan B. Krueger, The Minimum Wage: How Much Is Too Much?:
How much is too much, you ask? How about these annual CEO salaries:
David M. Zaslav, Discovery Communications: $156 million.
Mario J. Gabelli, Gamco Investors Inc: $88.5 million.
Satya Nadella, Microsoft: $84.3 million
Larry Ellison, Oracle Corp: $67.2 million
Poor Leonard Bell of Alexion Pharmaceuticals ranks at the rock bottom of the top 100 most highly paid CEOs, at a measly $20.5 million.
What we really need is a federal Maximum Wage Law. When the average CEO makes 350 times as much as the average worker, something is rotten in America. Yet here we have pundits and plutocrats moaning that it wouldn't be fair for hamburger flippers to actually be able to afford hamburger.
(Krueger's op-ed, posted early yesterday for the Sunday Review section, seems to be a ready-made centrist talking point for Hillary Clinton in this Tuesday's debate. Did I mention that Krueger just happens to be one of her economic advisers? Neither he nor the Times bothered to mention that little factoid.)
Gail Collins, House Chaos Crisis Inferno:
J.E.B. (John Ellis Bush) cluelessly speaks the truth as he whines that acronyms make no sense. The man himself is obfuscation personified, cravenly hiding behind a trio of initials in hopes of making us forget that he is a Bush. He is a misunderstander who complains about being misunderstood. But, just like his smarter brother George, he greatly misunderestimates the intelligence of the American voter. So don't count him out just yet. Ignorance is strength.
Ryan is another word-gamer. As the living anagram of his dead paramour, selfishness-cult author Ayn R(and), he absolutely deserves to be Speaker. For one thing, Speakers have had an uncanny historical tendency to resign in disgrace or exhaustion. For another thing, he'd no longer have the selfish Randian luxury of hiding his chicanery behind the fictional tripe and cherry-picked numbers and faked footnotes of his annual Budget of Social Darwinism. The Beltway myth of his astonishing wunderkind wonkery would crumble and fall as fast as the bridges and roads and schools that the Republicans refuse to fund.
The GOP has been a debacle for a long time. But the biggest disgraces of all are the centrist media types who still insist on taking these enemies of the people seriously. For them, the tragedy is not the death of democracy and the corruption of politics by big money: It's that there is no chief inmate in charge of the asylum.
I so look forward to next week's Democratic debate, and the sanity of Bernie Sanders.
(I normally don't comment on Collins's shooting GOP fish in a barrel pieces, but this one is important because she reminds us that the Speaker of the House need not even be an elected member of the House. They can pick anyone they want. Some early nominees include ex-Speaker Newt Gingrich, Jon Stewart, and the dead Three Stooges. So let your imaginations run as wild as the wild and crazy Freedom Caucus!)