Perfectly Sensible Ideas From The ‘Radicals’ Sanders & Corbyn: Part 2 – Progressive Tax Reform

This is the second post in my series on the policies of the allegedly “radical” candidates for leadership of their respective countries, Bernie Sanders of the United States and Jeremy Corbyn of the United Kingdom. In this post, we discuss progressive tax reform. Progressive tax reform – a term I’m using to refer to the reform of taxes which tend to target the wealthy – has been targeted by both Sanders and Corbyn. Corbyn, being quite some time out from an election, has been thus far somewhat vague on the issue of taxes as such, but has indicated that a more progressive tax system is needed in the UK, and has targeted corporate taxes and tax avoidance as being of particular importance.[i] Sanders, being in the midst of a campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, has given a more detailed view of his tax reform.[ii] This includes, among other measures, raising the top income tax rate, raising the corporate tax rate, reforms to capital gains tax, and the imposition of a tax on financial transactions. These kinds of measures have the potential benefit not only of reducing the exorbitant inequality which has emerged over the past four decades in particular, but of making the government more able to do its work in a sustainable manner without crimping anyone’s lifestyle too much.

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Cutting The Crap On The Minimum Wage Issue

The issue of the minimum wage has been a hot topic in recent years. The Obama administration wants to increase the US minimum wage from its current rather stingy $7.25 to a modestly more reasonable $10.10, though there is currently a “Fight for 15” movement to increase the wage for fast food workers to $15. Last year, Germany set their first ever minimum wage at €8.50. In some parts of the world, a “Living Wage” movement in which exemplary employers pay a “living wage” to employees well above the minimum wage is beginning to gain traction. Meanwhile, in my home country of Australia, where we enjoy some of the highest minimum wages in the world, the so-called “Productivity Commission” is set to undertake a review of the relevance and impacts of the minimum wage, probably with the aim of reducing it, though whether that will have sufficient political support is another matter. Continue reading

The Mother Of All Corporate Power Grabs – The Trans-Pacific Partnership

At a secret meeting in the US this week representatives from governments in the Asia-Pacific region will be seeking to finalize the details of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP threatens to be the mother of all trade deals encompassing, if it comes to fruition, more than 40 percent of the world’s GDP. Led by the United States, it is being negotiated in secret by the 1 Percent and threatens to encroach on the rights and quality of life of the 99 Percent by ways and means unprecedented. Continue reading

The Postmortem On Federal Reserve Quantitative Easing

ImportantCool’s money man Joe McIvor on the ins and outs of creating money from nothing

The United States Federal Reserve has signaled that it is ending its program of “Quantitative Easing”, the controversial program of negative real interest rates and massive asset purchases funded by effectively “printing” money. So was printing a bunch of money to support the financial system a good thing? Well…and this may seem weird coming from someone on the political left…but sort of. Continue reading

From Ferguson to Finance: Understanding America via Matt Taibbi’s ‘The Divide’ (2014)

Matt Taibbi invites readers to compare how US law enforcement selectively enforces the law based on class and race
Matt Taibbi shot to fame in 2009 as Rolling Stone’s white-collar crime correspondent. Documenting Goldman Sachs’s role in the 2008 sub-prime mortgage scam, Taibbi dubbed the bank “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”

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Why Ecuador? Change The Media, Change The World (Part 1)

Pichincha Volcano looms over Quito, the capital of Ecuador.

Pichincha Volcano looms over Quito, the capital of Ecuador.

Part 1: The Three Greatest Disasters of Our Time

In the first part of this two-part series, ImportantCool explains why the corporate media aided and abetted the invasion of Iraq, the financial crisis, and fossil-fueled global warming; and why we’ve looked to Ecuador as our headquarters in our quest to change the media and change the world.

This is a story of hope, but to tell it we need to start with the three biggest disasters of our time. When I say “our”, I’m referring to you, me, and the rest of the English-speaking world. Let’s not make the mistake of tacitly assuming that America or Britain speaks for the entire so-called “international community”. Continue reading

Why Ecuador? Change The Media, Change The World (Part 2)

Corporate Media vs People’s Government

In Part 1, we discussed the corporate media’s interest in profitable disasters, before explaining how the Ecuadorian people have managed to throw off the yoke of the 1 Percent. In Part 2, we’re going to break down Ecuadorian people government’s ongoing battle with the corporate media in its own country and in the United States, as well as drawing some lessons from Ecuador’s efforts to change the media.

When Ecuador brought a people’s government to power in 2007, it became the ideal headquarters for ImportantCool. Yet all throughout the Ecuadorian government’s years of success in improving the basic standards of living of its people, it has been locked in a political battle with its own domestic and international corporate media. Ecuador’s recent history shows us not only why we need to change the media, but some of the ways that we can do it. Continue reading

There Is No ‘National Credit Card’

IMG_5987-sliderImportantCool’s money man, Dr Joe on the ‘Household Budget’  theory of government debt

For my first piece I wanted to have a quick look at the notion that the government budget is like a household budget, and that governments in debt need to cut their spending and pay down their debts or they will end up in some sort of economic disaster. It seems that in spite of the metaphor being repeatedly discredited, government debt is repeatedly compared to a household budget: they need to get their affairs in order by stopping profligate spending and thus reduce their reliance on the “national credit card” (a term that seems to get used a lot here in Australia). This seems to be the basis of the austerity programs persisting within parts of the European Union. There’s been a lot written on this and there are a lot of aspects to it (the perpetuity of the government and the lack of necessity of totally paying back debt, the potential role of central banking, etc). Maybe I’ll write more on this later, but for now I’m going to focus on what I think is perhaps the biggest difference between the two, and one that I don’t think is emphasized enough: the relationship between debt, deficit spending, and income. Continue reading