11 August 2017

Jeff Sessions Is the Canary in the Coal Mine

Joshua Zeitz


Bosses want capitalism for themselves and feudalism for their workers

It's a reminder that economics isn't just about supply and demand. It's also about who has the power to make demands. Which actually has more to do with government policies than market forces. Things like how high the minimum wage is, how easy it is to form a union, and, yes, how tough noncompete laws are all affect the balance of power between capital and labor independent of the unemployment rate. So does the welfare state itself. Indeed, businesses have historically been opposed to Social Security, Medicare and, more recently, Obamacare not only because those programs cost them money, but also control over their workers. When the government helps people be able to afford to retire, companies can't afford to hire quite as many of them — not if they want to maintain their profit margins. That's because workers have more bargaining power when there aren't as many of them actually looking for, well, work.

The same kind of logic, by the way, applies to stimulus spending. As economist Michal Kalecki argued back in 1943, a government that hires unemployed people is a government that doesn't have to give business what it wants to get them to hire unemployed people. The more the government does, then, the less sway businesses have over the economy and everyone in it.

Matt O'Brien


10 August 2017

I’d Like to Report a Scam Against the Elderly

That Fox has ended up gulling a president is a programming accident. When the late Roger Ailes conceived Fox News two decades ago, he hoped to create shows that attracted—is there a polite way to put this?—an older demographic that seeks news that reinforces its prejudices and rarely challenges them. And he succeeded. It was only by chance that Ailes ended up creating a network that appealed to this particular flighty, low-attention-span 71-year-old.

The Ailes demographic wants to be told that the world is going to hell, a message that harmonizes with the declining status and health many of them experience. The Ailes demographic wants simple and reductionist viewpoints on America’s cultural and policy dilemmas—from crime to immigration to taxes to war and trade. The Ailes demographic seeks the restoration of the social mores it remembers from its youth, and if the past can’t be restored, it wants modern mores castigated. And it wants to be frightened and outraged. Fox almost never disappoints them.

Jack Shafer

How to Replace Jeff Sessions

Steve Vladek


08 August 2017

A Constitutional Crisis Is Inevitable

At this point, why would we expect anything else?

Yascha Mounck


Unpresidential Command

Trump is ordering service members to support the Republican agenda. That is terrifying.

Phillip Carter