Capital controls and what you should know

When a government plans to do something unpopular, they try to hide it.
For instance, when the Democrats decided last month to renew the draconian Patriot Act, they hid it in a medicare reform bill. They originally tried to hide it in a Pentagon funding bill.

It turned out to be a very successful strategy because it was almost totally ignored by the major media. In fact, it was so successful that last week Congress slipped in what might be the most ominous law of the year.


Most people probably think of Social Security as a retirement system, which it is in part.  But at the same time it is also a welfare system, which explains why the retirement part is so minimal as compared to actuarially based pension systems.  That is, the welfare aspect costs money, to the detriment of the retirement aspect. 

My aim is to flesh out the details of this a bit.  My source of data is the official website of the Social Security Administration: 


1. SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and Disability

Virtues of the Public - Part 4 (Power of the Purse)


For earlier parts in the series, see here and here.

In the history of public policy, like in other disciplines, sometimes the most fascinating topics are the most ordinary, the most overlooked. The things we don’t really notice can be the most powerful influences in our lives, because they can function unseen. And that brings us to the topic for today’s post.

We grumble about taxes, we handle money every day, but we don’t really think about what the power of the public purse means.


“Rough Equality of Means” – Reversing Economic Inequality

Note: this is a cross-post from The Realignment Project. In order to not clog up the front page with lots of re-posts, I'll just mention that I have additional posts out this week that are on a similar topic - one on the abolition of poverty (a similar, but different object from ending inequality), and the other on the establishment of a Fisc - that might interest people here at Economic Populist.


A recent paper by Professor Emmanuel Saez of U.C Berkeley provides further evidence for something that we've sensed already - economic inequality has never been greater in American history. We have finally succeeded in accomplishing that most dubious of accomplishments: we are now officially more unequal, more elitist, and more disproportionally in-egalitarian than the benighted America of 1929.

In 2007, the top 10% of Americans received 50% of the nation's wages. That number, the sheer unreality of the idea that a tiny fraction of the population should have the sheer unmitigated selfishness to claim every other dollar in wages paid out, pales before an even more troubling figure. The top 1% of Americans captured 2/3rds of income growth and 1/2 of economic growth from 2002-2007. At the same time that the rich have gotten even richer, the rest of us have not fared as well - indeed, even before the recession, the average working-age household lost $2000/year of income since the year 2000.

Can this state of affairs continue? And how can we stop it?

Economic things I learned or overheard this Memorial Day

I’m a sucker for barbeques, especially good ones.  Normally I’m not a “family” person, but I am a people person.  When it comes to barbeques, though I tend to even go to the ones my family puts out.  This year I hosted, unfortunately the weather was not on my side and being someone into risk management I decided to hold an “indoor bbq.”  The food, as always, was good, but my other type of appetite was also satisfied, my hunger for news and tid bits. 

We're Going to Stop Offshore Outsourcing, Really, Swear!

There has been enormous campaign rhetoric on tax incentives to offshore outsource American jobs. But can corporate tax policy alone really do much?

Firstly, what are Politicians even talking about? When corporations keep profits in a foreign country, they don't pay taxes on that money in the United States. A reasonable explanation:

$2.5 Trillion in Sales, Uncle Sam Gets Zero

Corporations. $2.5 trillion in sales. Tax liability, zero

brought to you by your tax code at work

Sounds like a slogan to do business in the US doesn't it? Yet assuredly that is not what is happening when corporations line up like the Oklahoma land rush to move to China and India.

Oklahoma Land Rush 1889

Yet, maybe that multinational corporate land rush has something to do with these results?

The Government General Accountability Office just released a report on how many large corporations do not pay taxes yet have strong sales. AP sums it up:

Hocus Pocus

Hocus Pocus


Things are not always as they seem.

When I worked as a school teacher, I never saw, touched, felt or smelled funds that were supposedly taken from me for Social Security or income taxes. The same was true for the school janitor and the superintendent of Schools. Maybe each of us had the money for an imaginary instant in the mind of some bookkeeper, but where did the money come from? Maybe where the money came from is even more important than who paid it. Obviously it came from the taxpayers in our school district.