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The Politics of TED

Source: Dissent

Is the topic of income inequality “Too Hot for TED“? Controversy has erupted in the past week over this question after a talk planned for the organization’s popular website was pulled at the last minute. The incident has offered an interesting window into the politics of the group.

Here’s what happened: recently, wealthy Seattle-based venture capitalist Nick Hanauer gave a talk challenging the idea that the rich are “job creators.” Countering this concept, he made the demand-side argument that consumer spending is what generates employment, and that more equitable distribution of income, in turn, produces more robust consumer demand. read more

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Immigration Economics

Source: Foreign Policy in Focus

Facts or no facts, many people simply do not want to believe that undocumented immigrants coming to this country don’t steal jobs and undermine the American economy. When economic studies come along that challenge their preconceptions, they don’t take kindly to the troublesome conclusions.

Recently, economist Giovanni Peri — an associate professor at the University of California, Davis and visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco — wrote a paper for the Fed summarizing recent research in immigration economics. Evaluating the data, Peri concluded that, “on net, immigrants expand the U.S. economy’s productive capacity, stimulate investment, and promote specialization that in the long run boosts productivity. Consistent with previous research, there is no evidence that these effects take place at the expense of jobs for workers born in the United States.” read more

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The Gulf at the Gas Station Can We Calculate the True Cost of Our Dependence on Oil?

Source: Tom Dispatch

This might be an opportune time to make a disclosure: I am a BP shareholder. Admittedly, I’ve never attended the company’s annual meeting, and if I did, I would have very little weight to throw around.

I own two shares of BP stock. I received my stake in the company as a Christmas gift in 1989, when I was 14 years old. The previous June, I had taken a “summer enrichment” course in the Des Moines public schools, designed as an introduction to the world of business. The teacher gave each of us in the class a modest hypothetical budget to invest in the stock market. read more


The Robber Barons of Social Change

Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc., the maker of "Vermont's Finest" super-premium ice cream, was one of the feel-good business success stories of the 1990s. In addition to introducing frozen dessert lovers to now-famous flavors such as Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey, the company trumpeted its ability to make money and do good in the world at the same time. It publicized its decisions to buy ingredients from local farms, its refusal to use milk produced with bovine growth hormone, and its commitment to contributing 7.5 percent of all pre-tax profits to an employee-led charitable foundation. As the founders wrote, "We wanted to create a company we could be proud of."