To All You Economic Populists! Happy Holidays!
Welcome to a roundup of great articles, facts and figures you may have missed that will make your eyes pop.
A Documentary on Santa
We're just showing this documentary because it's fun. Want to know where ole Saint Nick same from? Watch below.
Now onto something a little more financially serious. Don't let it wreck your holiday...
Taking on NAFTA and Mexican Trucks
Public Citizen, The Teamsters and the Sierra Club have taken on Mexican trucks being allowed into the United States by suing.
Public Citizen, the Teamsters, and the Sierra Club filed an opening brief earlier this week on our lawsuit to stop the Obama administration's illegal program to allow unsafe Mexico-domiciled trucks to travel throughout the United States. It's the latest development in the story about how NAFTA may force the United States to lower its highway safety standards by permitting Mexico-domiciled trucks on its roads.
NAFTA included a requirement that all three countries’ highways be fully accessible to trucking companies based in any NAFTA nation by 2000, an item pushed by large U.S. trucking firms seeking deregulation and lower wages. However, the Department of Transportation studies have found that Mexico-domiciled trucks have much worse safety records than U.S. trucks, so public opposition has stymied attempts to open all U.S. highways to these trucks. In 2007, Congress put strict conditions on any pilot program that would evaluate the performance of Mexico-domiciled trucks on U.S. highways.
The Obama administration chose to ignore some of Congress’s conditions when it initiated a pilot program this October. Under the program, Mexico-domiciled trucks entering the United States do not need to show that they are built to U.S. safety standards, nor do drivers of these trucks need to meet all physical standards required of U.S. drivers. Furthermore, the administration did not follow proper procedures when conducting an environmental impact assessment. The program does not even serve its stated purpose of evaluating the ability of Mexico-domiciled trucks to operate safely in the United States, since there is no plan to collect a statistically valid sample of program participants. Finally, Congress insisted that any pilot program achieve comparable access for U.S. trucks in Mexico, but due to the limited availability of certain fuels, the program does not guarantee reciprocal access to Mexico for U.S. trucks.
For more background on NAFTA trucks, visit our landing page on the issue.
50 Economic Facts That are Too Hard to Believe
We've covered many of the statistics in Business Insider's 50 Economic Numbers of 2011. That said, it's a must read. When you see 50 economic facts and statistics listed together, one after another it's a bombshell. Your jaw will hit the floor while mouthing oh my God. By the time you're done reading, you too will be wondering where America has gone.
United States Economic Inequality Worse Than Ancient Rome
This is an amazing analysis. The United States is more economically unjust than Ancient Rome, a slave state with an emperor!
Between 1997 and 2007, inequality in the U.S. grew by almost 10 percent, making it more unequal than Russia, infamous for its powerful oligarchs. The U.S. is not faring well historically, either. Even the Roman Empire, a society built on conquest and slave labor, had a more equitable income distribution.
Did You Know Facebook Can Hurt Your Credit Rating?
Great, here come the FICO police, analyzing your circle of friends to rate your credit. It's not what you know but...
You know those deadbeat friends of yours on Facebook? They could end up killing your credit score and costing you a loan. At the very least, your no-account pals could bump up your interest rate.
A chilling story in the New York Observer’ BetaBeat blog this week details the efforts of several online banks that plan to analyze your social media profiles to determine how big a credit risk you are. It’s yet more evidence that, unlike Las Vegas, what happens on Facebook doesn’t stay on Facebook – and could come back to bite you in unexpected and unpleasant ways.
Top 10 Worse Economic Ideas of 2011
New Deal 2.0 has a great list of terrible economic ideas, policies and fallacies of 2011. How did they manage to whittle it down?
Is it conceivable that we have learned nothing from history — or from economic theory, for that matter?
Murder of 70 Striking Oil Workers
Did you hear that 24/7 news cycle reporting on the mass murder of striking oil workers in Kazakhstan? Why of course not.
Last Friday in Kazakhstan, riot police slaughtered up to 70 striking oil workers, wounding somewhere between 500 and 800, and arresting scores. Almost as soon as the massacre went down in the western regional city of Zhanaozen, the Kazakh authorities cut off access to twitter and cell phone coverage–effectively cutting the region off from the rest of the world, relegating the massacre into the small news wire print.
The Watchdogs That Didn't Bark
Even Reuters is writing about the lack of regulatory action and criminal prosecutions from the financial crisis. They even authored a special report about it.
Four years after the banking system nearly collapsed from reckless mortgage lending, federal prosecutors have stayed on the sidelines, even as judges around the country are pointing fingers at possible wrongdoing.
One for the Heart
Paul Krugman blasts the University of Chicago. No kidding. I often wonder how many promising graduate students are lost because they didn't tout the party line.
Is it really possible that people at the University of Chicago have unlearned not only Keynes but Friedman? Alas, yes.
Watch Out for Holiday Stress
Some call it the Merry Christmas Coronary and understandably so. What has happened to a country which tramples each other over shoes and a store gives notice 3 weeks after purchase you won't receive those Christmas gifts you bought after all.
Best Buy Co. is scrambling to stem public relations damage after it was forced to tell some customers it couldn’t deliver by Christmas the merchandise they ordered online on Thanksgiving weekend.
Happy Holidays, be safe!