Why Let Ex-Presidents Cash In?

President Harry Truman once said that he would never lend himself “to any transaction, however respectable, that would commercialize on the prestige and dignity of the office of the presidency.” His successors have not held themselves to the same standard. Ronald Reagan had a lucrative post-White House career trading on his presidential experience. So did George […]

The End of the American Middle Class?

Are we destined to be techno-serfs serving a ruling elite of information oligopolies? In the brave new world envisioned by pundits, we will all be micro-entrepreneurs with personal brands — each of us controlling our own destiny, selling our services into digitally enabled markets. Traditional employers and wage slavery will be extinct. Unfortunately, the companies […]

As Bricks and Clicks Merge, Geeks Are Discovering Politics

As with the first industrial revolution, the merger of Clicks and Bricks forces us to ask: Which laws need to be updated, which are just irrelevant, and which are barriers to entry created by special interests? Best placed to help our internet billionaires contribute to this important project are — politicians, civil servants, lobbyists and […]

The Claustrophobic Digital Village

Privacy in the future will resemble that in a small village. As with any small community, dissent from the prevailing conventional wisdom will be easy to spot and punish. Welcome to the world of social conformity enforced by hashtags. According to Eric Schmidt (Executive Chairman of Google), in our digital present and future: “If you have something […]

America as a Tale of Two Neighborhoods

Welcome to what Arianna Huffington has aptly called Third World America — we’d expect riots and revolution in any foreign city with NYC’s level of economic and racial segregation. Both the affluent and the impoverished in NYC can ride the same mass transit system (AKA the subway) and might work in the same office buildings. But at […]

Should U.S. Political Leaders Attend Davos?

In late January, the world’s political elite will meet privately for off-the-record discussions with high-ranking representatives of the world’s leading corporations, at the World Economic Forum (“Forum”)’s Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. These corporations (called Partners by the Forum), pay the expenses for the event, set the Meeting’s agenda, vet its proceedings and generally control […]

The Edamame Economy or Just Conspicuous Consumption?

According to David Brooks in his op-ed “The Edamame Economy” (all quotations are from the Brooks piece unless otherwise indicated), we’ve shifted from “the lima bean economy to the edamame economy.” Brooks views this shift as a cause for celebration, because the edamame economy makes us “significantly better off.” However, the edamame economy is (at […]

‘Welcome’ to the Sharing Economy — Also Known as the Collapse of the American Dream

Your opportunity to be a “micro-entrepreneur”: By cleaning other people’s homes or renting out your spare room. Thomas Friedman, and others, have recently extolled the virtues of the sharing economy (see “Welcome to the Sharing Economy,” or “How to Monetize Your Closet“). At the risk of bragging, my immigrant parents were clearly trendsetters in this […]

Is Economics a Religion?

Economics(1) has many attributes of a religion: Its high priests argue about arcane minutia, offer prophecies which don’t come to pass, and taking them seriously requires a leap of faith. Any serious politician requires an economic shaman — preferably one with an exalted academic position and a talent for soundbites. These high priests speak with […]

@JohnBoehner—Why Is a Recently Convicted Cocaine User Serving in the U.S. Congress?

“Our taxpayers don’t want to subsidize somebody’s drug addiction.” – Governor Scott (R-Florida). Unless, of course, that somebody is U.S. House of Representatives member Trey Radel (R-Florida) who was recently convicted of cocaine possession and is on one year probation. In his case, the Congressional GOP leadership thinks taxpayers should continue to subsidize him, and likely pay for his […]

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