The OB Media Rundown for 4/15/12

Reducing taxes on the wealthy to ‘kick start’ economic growth is dangerous to our national well-being

In practice, we therefore see that proposals to “kick start” economic growth through reductions in tax rates are in fact proposals to lower tax rates on the wealthy. The wealthy are assumed to be productive and innovative, in general. However, it’s obvious that some of the wealthy – and perhaps even very many of them – will decide to invest their increased income or wealth in socially less desirable or even dangerous activities. They may buy real estate, which can lead to a housing bubble; they may speculate on the stock market or in toxic mortgage backed securities etc. There is rarely a trickle down effect of these activities; incentivizing them by keeping taxes low won’t help anyone but the incentivized, and may even – in the longer term – cause recessions. One should be conscious of this risk when claiming that low taxes promote growth.
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Another reason why low tax rates may not be particularly beneficial and perhaps even harmful to economic growth has to do with income inequality. The supposedly beneficial effect of low taxes on economic growth occurs not necessarily because everyone’s tax rates are low but rather because the productive and innovative segments of society and those who have the means to invest can benefit from low tax rates. The growth enhancing effects of low tax rates should be most obvious in those segments, although there may also be an effect for the rest of us. As stated before, the wealthy are often a proxy for those segments, given the difficulty of identifying the really productive and innovative individuals and of targeting tax reductions at them.

This means that low tax rates will tend to exacerbate income inequality. There is some evidence that income inequality reduces growth  and that it leads to credit bubbles, financial crises and recession.

Increasingly in Europe, Suicides ‘by Economic Crisis’

On New Year’s Eve, Antonio Tamiozzo, 53, hanged himself in the warehouse of his construction business near Vicenza, after several debtors did not pay what they owed him.

Three weeks earlier, Giovanni Schiavon, 59, a contractor, shot himself in the head at the headquarters of his debt-ridden construction company on the outskirts of Padua. As he faced the bleak prospect of ordering Christmas layoffs at his family firm of two generations, he wrote a last message: “Sorry, I cannot take it anymore.”

The economic downturn that has shaken Europe for the last three years has also swept away the foundations of once-sturdy lives, leading to an alarming spike in suicide rates. Especially in the most fragile nations like Greece, Ireland and Italy, small-business owners and entrepreneurs are increasingly taking their own lives in a phenomenon some European newspapers have started calling “suicide by economic crisis.”

Second victim in Modesto eviction shooting was a locksmith

The Stanislaus County Coroner’s office released the name of a locksmith fatally shot Thursday at a Modesto apartment when he accompanied a deputy trying to serve an eviction notice.

Glendon Engert, 35, of Modesto was one of two men killed by a gunman who authorities say opened fire as authorities attempted to evict him. The deputy, 16-year veteran Robert Paris, was also fatally wounded.

Corporations under pressure on political spending

American companies are discovering the perils of politics as activists and public pension fund officials apply new pressure on corporations to disclose their political spending – or cease it entirely.

Companies holding their annual meetings this spring will face a record number of shareholder resolutions demanding companies reveal whether corporate funds have been spent on politics. A coalition that includes Public Citizen, Common Cause and other groups that favor campaign limits has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to require publicly traded companies to disclose campaign spending on their filings to regulators.

And in recent days, Wendy’s and several of the nation’s most recognizable companies have dropped their affiliation with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group linked to the spread of Stand Your Ground laws and state efforts to toughen voter identification rules. The companies’ actions came after a civil rights group, ColorOfChange, spotlighted the firms’ ties to ALEC.

Occupy Wall Street – for Real This Time

rmed with nothing more than sleeping bags and revolutionary spirit, dozens of occupiers have slept on Wall Street for the past few days. Under a recently uncovered 2000 federal court ruling, protesters have a right to sleep on the sidewalk in New York City provided they only take up half of it and do not engage in disorderly conduct.

The real-deal occupation of Wall Street is an outgrowth of the Union Square occupation where occupiers recently conducted a teach-in aimed at the New York Police Department (NYPD). David Graeber read off from an enlarged copy of the 2000 federal court ruling to the NYPD (you know the country is in trouble when anarchists are schooling cops on court rulings), occupiers showed the NYPD a large map of the Union Square area, explained where they intended to lawfully sleep, and did so without evictions or mass arrests.

Occupy Grand Rapids holds first rally of 2012, sets date to ‘re-occupy’ downtown

Though we may not have seen the Occupy Grand Rapids group downtown recently, members say they are still meeting and will be out in full force this summer.

On Saturday, the group gathered at Monument Park in the city for their first rally of 2012. An open mic session allowed visitors a chance to speak out.

Members say the next few months will be spent planning to ‘re-occupy’ downtown, beginning on July 4.

Occupy Boulder planning 4/20 protest

Members of Occupy Boulder are planning a protest over the University of Colorado’s efforts to shut down the annual 4/20 celebration.

At a general assembly Saturday on Pearl Street, members of the group said the measures being taken by CU — including shutting down the campus to visitors and closing Norlin Quad — were turning the university into a “police state.”

“We need to address the police lockdown at CU, which is a response to a peaceful protest that has gone on for 20 years,” said Daniel Schwartz. “These are draconian measures that are suppressing our First Amendment rights.”

Occupy Lompoc to reclaim area at H St and Ocean Ave

About 30 Lompoc residents and members of Occupy Lompoc have reclaimed a 12 foot area in Liberty Park, on the corner of H St and Ocean Ave.

Occupy Lompoc member, Martin Schaefer, says they have been in the area since 12 p.m. and police have been driving around the block.

The group formerly used the park for weekly Occupy gatherings until the property was taken from its former owner, the Lompoc Housing and Community Development Corporation (LHCDC).

Milwaukee rally and march for justice for Trayvon and Bo Morrison

On Tuesday, April 10, members of the community in Milwaukee held a Rally and March for Justice for Trayvon and Bo Morrison in front of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Statue on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive. The deaths of Trayvon Martin in Florida, and Bo Morrison here in West Bend and victims of police brutality in Milwaukee has ignited an effort to seek solutions for these crimes.

University of North Carolina Seniors Planning Alternate Commencement

Every year, thousands of UNC seniors flood Kenan Stadium in a sea of ‘Carolina blue’ caps and gowns. But this year, some won’t head there-they’ll be a mile away at another commencement.

Students set up an alternative graduation event to protest the University-chosen commencement speaker, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. They say he doesn’t represent the values of Carolina.

So, instead, they’ve scheduled another set of speakers that includes a peace activist, a novelist and an Occupy Wall Street organizer.

Tuition stalemate keeps student strike going

Thousands of students and their supporters were back in the streets Saturday afternoon, but the tone of the protests against tuition hikes was decidedly less jovial than during earlier gatherings.

Several protesters who spoke to QMI Agency Saturday afternoon agreed that the mood was a little more subdued than they were used to.

“The protests have gone on for weeks now, and the government hasn’t changed its position,” said one woman. “Up until now it’s been peaceful, but people are getting frustrated.”

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