Beyond the Bitcoin Bubble
The true believers behind blockchain platforms like Ethereum argue that a network of distributed trust is one of those advances in software architecture that will prove, in the long run, to have historic significance
for Mrs. Clinton, it’s the latest — and perhaps last — cruel twist in a public life full of them. Her loss to Mr. Trump helped ignite the kind of movement she’d once been poised to lead but that she now mostly watches from the sidelines.
Two political scientists specializing in how democracies decay and die have compiled four warning signs to determine if a political leader is a dangerous authoritarian:
1. The leader shows only a weak commitment to democratic rules. 2. He or she denies the legitimacy of opponents. 3. He or she tolerates violence. 4. He or she shows some willingness to curb civil liberties or the media.
people in the United States typically use about the same amount of health care as people in other wealthy countries do, but pay a lot more for it.
This is by the UNHCR about the USA!?!?!? This is how bad we’ve messed up, and accelerating in the wrong direction in 2017
The United States is one of the world’s richest, most powerful and technologically innovative countries; but neither its wealth nor its power nor its technology is being harnessed to address the situation in which 40 million people continue to live in poverty.
How you spend your resources is the truest indication of your morals and priorities. This is dumb and embarrassing
But what those critics don’t recognize is that the nationalistic, race-baiting, fear-mongering form of politics enthusiastically practiced by Mr. Trump and Roy Moore in Alabama is central to a new strain of American evangelicalism. This emerging religious worldview — let’s call it “Fox evangelicalism” — is preached from the pulpits of conservative media outlets like Fox News. It imbues secular practices like shopping for gifts with religious significance and declares sacred something as worldly and profane as gun culture.
Journalists and scholars have spent decades examining the influence of conservative religion on American politics, but we largely missed the impact conservative politics was having on religion itself. As a progressive evangelical and journalist covering religion, I’m as guilty as any of not noticing what was happening. We kept asking how white conservative evangelicals could support Mr. Trump, who luxuriates in divisive rhetoric and manages only the barest veneer of religiosity. But that was never the issue. Fox evangelicals don’t back Mr. Trump despite their beliefs, but because of them.
The lust for power is nauseating. Racism, appalling. The arrogance, terrifying. The misogyny so far from Christlikeness, it can’t be Christianity
This turned out to be not just an intellectual error, but a strategic one as well. Republicans were in thrall to what we now call Trumpism before Trump came around, and when chips were down, they hardened their alliance with his loyalists rather than splinter into factions. That was all it took for Republicans to unify the government under Trump while simultaneously preserving, for a time, conceptual distance in the public imagination between themselves and Trump’s most toxic qualities.
That conceptual space has largely evaporated, but at unknown expense. It should never have been allowed to open.
The persistence of Roy Moore’s Senate campaign in Alabama offers Republicans no similar quarter. Moore—a credibly accused pedophile—can’t boast a Trump-like history of heterodoxy. He has been a right-wing authoritarian, theocrat, and folk hero for a very long time. Should Moore win, his victory would not force Democrats into a new cycle of recriminations, the way Trump’s did, but it would underscore the fact that Republicans have doubled down on the Faustian bet they made last year.
Even before the newly-minted GOP tax plan passed the Senate, adding a whopping $1.5 trillion to the national debt in order to give away the store to corporations and the wealthiest Americans, these lawmakers were already “discovering” that their own profligacy requires bringing down the deficit by (you guessed it) cutting entitlements. Speaker Paul Ryan announced that “we’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” even as he began negotiations with his Senate counterparts over exactly how much they’re gleefully going to increase the very same debt and deficit.
Democrats, and most Americans, will rightly resist such a cynical gambit. But that leaves the very real challenges of the deficit, entitlements, and the future they largely will frame still unresolved.
The fundamental problem is that Social Security and Medicare were sold to the public on a fiction—and until Americans grapple with that, they’re unlikely to achieve a consensus on fixing the programs
It’s easy to see how Pence could put so much faith in the possibilities of divine intervention. The very fact that he is standing behind a lectern bearing the vice-presidential seal is, one could argue, a loaves-and-fishes-level miracle. Just a year earlier, he was an embattled small-state governor with underwater approval ratings, dismal reelection prospects, and a national reputation in tatters. In many ways, Pence was on the same doomed trajectory as the conservative-Christian movement he’d long championed—once a political force to be reckoned with, now a battered relic of the culture wars.
Because God works in mysterious ways (or, at the very least, has a postmodern sense of humor), it was Donald J. Trump—gracer of Playboy covers, delighter of shock jocks, collector of mistresses—who descended from the mountaintop in the summer of 2016, GOP presidential nomination in hand, offering salvation to both Pence and the religious right. The question of whether they should wed themselves to such a man was not without its theological considerations. But after eight years of Barack Obama and a string of disorienting political defeats, conservative Christians were in retreat and out of options. So they placed their faith in Trump—and then, incredibly, he won
I hoped the Trump era would be seen as an aberration and made less ugly by those who might have influence over the president. That hasn’t happened. Rather than Republicans and people of faith checking his most unappealing sides, the president is dragging down virtually everyone within his orbit.
Mr. Trump’s difficult adjustment to the presidency, people close to him say, is rooted in an unrealistic expectation of its powers, which he had assumed to be more akin to the popular image of imperial command than the sloppy reality of having to coexist with two other branches of government.
The Republican Party is doing harm to every cause it purports to serve. If Republicans accept Roy Moore as a United States senator, they may, for a couple years, have one more vote for a justice or a tax cut, but they will have made their party loathsome for an entire generation. The pro-life cause will be forever associated with moral hypocrisy on an epic scale. The word “evangelical” is already being discredited for an entire generation. Young people and people of color look at the Trump-Moore G.O.P. and they are repulsed, maybe forever.
Let me ask you a question; take your time in answering it. Would you be willing to take health care away from a thousand children with the bad luck to have been born into low-income families so that you could give millions of extra dollars to just one wealthy heir?
You might think that this question is silly, hypothetical and has an obvious answer. But it’s not at all hypothetical, and the answer apparently isn’t obvious. For it’s a literal description of the choice Republicans in Congress seem to be making as you read this.
Trump is susceptible to such giveaways, not only because he is ignorant, but because he does not see himself as the president of the United States. He sees himself as the president of his base. And because that’s the only support he has left, he feels the need to keep feeding his base by fulfilling crude, ill-conceived promises he threw out to them during the campaign. Today, again, he put another one of those promises ahead of the United States national interest.
American politicians now treat their rivals as enemies, intimidate the free press, and threaten to reject the results of elections. They try to weaken the institutional buffers of our democracy, including the courts, intelligence services, and ethics offices. American states, which were once praised by the great jurist Louis Brandeis as ‘laboratories of democracy,’ are in danger of becoming laboratories of authoritarianism as those in power rewrite electoral rules, redraw constituencies, and even rescind voting rights to ensure that they do not lose. And in 2016, for the first time in U.S. history, a man with no experience in public office, little observable commitment to constitutional rights, and clear authoritarian tendencies was elected president
“Republicans have been telling themselves for years that they wanted to get into power so they could balance the budget, reduce the debt, cut spending and fix entitlements,” Ms. MacGuineas said. “They’ve just made it harder, not easier.”
For weeks, Democrats and their allies have been accusing Republicans of a “two-step” deceit, warning that they would cut taxes now and then use the increase in the deficit they caused to demand entitlement cuts later.
“When you run up the deficit, your next argument will be, ‘Gee, you’ve got a large deficit,’” Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a former Democratic presidential candidate, said in an interview.
Now Republicans are beginning to acknowledge as much. Mr. Ryan said at a town hall-style meeting last month that Congress had to spur growth and cut entitlements to reduce the national debt.
Here’s how it works: If you point out that the bill hugely favors the wealthy at the expense of ordinary families, Republicans will point to the next few years, when the class-war nature of the plan is obscured by those temporary tax breaks — and claim that whatever the language of the law says, those tax breaks will actually be made permanent by later Congresses.
But if you point out that the bill is fiscally irresponsible, they’ll say that it “only” raises the deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next decade and doesn’t raise deficits at all after that — because, you see, those tax breaks will expire by 2027, so the tax hikes will raise a lot of revenue. By the way, the claim that middle-class taxes will rise is crucial to passing the bill: Only bills that don’t raise deficits after 10 years can bypass the filibuster and be enacted by a simple Senate majority.
The point, of course, is that these claims can’t both be true. Either this bill is a big tax hike on the middle class, or it’s a huge budget-buster. Which is it? Nobody really knows; probably even the people who wrote this monstrosity don’t know. But someone is being scammed, bigly.
They’re all piled into the getaway car wearing their robber masks. In some ways, the most profound and persuasive evidence that Republicans are poised to plunder the treasury for the rich requires no scrutiny of the contents of their tax bills at all. Rather, one could simply observe that if Republicans weren’t poised to plunder the treasury for the rich, they’d be behaving rather differently. If these were the kinds of tax bills Paul Ryan and others describe, Republicans wouldn’t be vulnerable to criticism, nor proceeding in a rushed and partisan fashion. A bona fide middle-class tax cut would pass overwhelmingly. A revenue- and distributionally-neutral tax reform initiative would likewise be a bipartisan undertaking, and produce legislation that congressional leaders would unveil upon completion of painstaking negotiations, and not a moment sooner. The reason these bills are advancing along party lines, through an arcane legislative process that allows partisan majorities to avoid filibusters, is because they don’t help the middle class and don’t fix major problems with the tax code. Republicans are acting like they’re about to get caught lining rich people’s pockets, because that’s exactly what they’re up to
The Congressional Budget Office said this week that the Senate bill, as written, would hurt workers earning less than $30,000 a year in short order, while delivering benefits to the highest earners throughout the next decade. Those estimates echo other analyses, like that by the Joint Committee on Taxation, which have found the biggest benefits of the bill increasingly flowing to the rich over time. By 2027, the budget office said, Americans earning $75,000 a year and below would, as a group, see their taxes increase, because individual tax cuts are set to expire at the end of 2025.
Most CHIP families, who earn too much for Medicaid but too little to afford private insurance, are not aware lawmakers’ inaction is endangering coverage. They’re about to find out, though. Virginia and several other states are preparing letters to go out as early as Monday warning families their children’s insurance may be taken away.
Republicans are lying coming and going. They hold down the sticker price of the bill and minimize its impact on the deficit by having the middle-class tax cuts (but not the corporate reductions) expire. But they insist that future Congresses would keep the middle-class tax cuts in place.
So they are either lying about the deficit or misleading the middle class.
resurgence of white nationalism, decrepit health system, waning global influence, eroding natural environment, and a national debt that’s growing to fund tax cuts for the wealthy of today..... American baby boomers really leaving their legacy for our kids/grandkids
Of all the lies Republican lawmakers and President Trump tell about their tax bills, the biggest whopper is that these windfall tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy would generate so much growth that they would pay for themselves.
The House and Senate tax bills probably would provide a tiny lift to the economy for a couple years — enough, supporters no doubt hope, for them to cynically claim success. It’s what comes next that the G.O.P. glosses over: the addition of more than a trillion dollars to the federal debt in just 10 years. Far from paying for themselves, these cuts would leave a bill for several future generations to pay off.
Roy Moore is a disgraceful, bigoted deviant, beneath our collective contempt. After December 12 either he, or Doug Jones, will be a United States senator. Those are the only options available to us.
For these reasons, I donated to Doug Jones. You should too. And if you join me, we neither deserve, nor require, a pat on the back for it.
Success has many fathers, the old saying goes, while failure is an orphan. Not in New York’s dilapidated subways. That’s where failure has plenty of fathers: governors and mayors who, one after another, siphoned money from mass transit to pay for whatever else suited their budgetary fancy. The sufferers, of course, are millions of riders for whom the daily commute is now a torment of delays, overcrowding, missed appointments and understandable anger.
How this meltdown came to be was chronicled in meticulous detail on the weekend in a Times article that explored a broad range of troubles. But almost everything boiled down to wrongheaded decisions by governors from George Pataki to Andrew Cuomo and by mayors from Rudolph Giuliani to Bill de Blasio, all of whom ride the subway about as often as they publicly admit error.
There are nearly three hundred million privately owned firearms in the United States: a hundred and six million handguns, a hundred and five million rifles, and eighty-three million shotguns. That works out to about one gun for every American. The gun that T. J. Lane brought to Chardon High School belonged to his uncle, who had bought it in 2010, at a gun shop. Both of Lane’s parents had been arrested on charges of domestic violence over the years. Lane found the gun in his grandfather’s barn.
The United States is the country with the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world. (The second highest is Yemen, where the rate is nevertheless only half that of the U.S.) No civilian population is more powerfully armed. Most Americans do not, however, own guns, because three-quarters of people with guns own two or more
White described the city as “a composite of tens of thousands of tiny neighborhood units,” each “virtually self-sufficient” with shops that met most residents’ basic needs, from groceries to shoes, from newspapers to haircuts. Every neighborhood was so complete, White wrote, “that many a New Yorker spends a lifetime within the confines of an area smaller than a country village.”
Credit Andrew Burton for The New York Times
Photo by: Andrew Burton for The New York Times
Nearly seven decades later, that observation is still largely valid, but it is being sorely tested by a scourge of store closings that afflicts one section of the city after another, notably in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. This plague has been underway for several years, but its familiarity does not diminish the damage inflicted on the economic and the psychic well-being of neighborhoods. One by one, cherished local shops are disappearing, replaced by national chains or, worse, nothing at all. To borrow from Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor who has examined the issue, “Blight extracts a social cost.”
Surely, we will have other debates in the future with thoughtful arguments on every side. But not this time. The numbers are in and it’s clear: this tax bill helps the rich and hurts everybody else. Just ask the very people who wrote it. The U.S. Congress Joint Committee on Taxation is run by the chairs of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee—Representative Kevin Brady and Senator Orrin Hatch, respectively. The Joint Committee’s reports of this week make startling reading, or as startling as a series of spreadsheets of tax revenue data can be. The report shows that this bill is much like a teaser rate on a new credit card: there are some goodies in the first couple of years, but those disappear fairly quickly, at least for those below the median income. In 2019, the first full year that this bill would be law, the benefits are concentrated on the bottom of the income stream, with middle-class people, on average, paying just under ten per cent less in taxes than they would if the law weren’t passed. With each passing year the benefits shift upward, toward the rich. By 2021, those making between twenty thousand and thirty thousand dollars a year are paying considerably more in taxes, those between thirty thousand and two hundred thousand see their benefit shrinking, and those making more start to see their taxes falling. By 2027, every income level below seventy-five thousand dollars a year sees a tax increase, while everybody above that level sees a continued decrease, with the greatest cut in taxes accruing to those making more than a million dollars a year.
Daily ridership has nearly doubled in the past two decades to 5.7 million, but New York is the only major city in the world with fewer miles of track than it had during World War II. Efforts to add new lines have been hampered by generous agreements with labor unions and private contractors that have inflated construction costs to five times the international average.
New York’s subway now has the worst on-time performance of any major rapid transit system in the world, according to data collected from the 20 biggest. Just 65 percent of weekday trains reach their destinations on time, the lowest rate since the transit crisis of the 1970s, when graffiti-covered cars regularly broke down.
The country has changed in the past year, and many of us have grown numb after unrelenting shocks. What now passes for ordinary would have once been inconceivable. The government is under the control of an erratic racist who engages in nuclear brinkmanship on Twitter. He is dismantling the State Department, defending the hollowing out of the diplomatic corps by saying, on Fox News, “I’m the only one that matters.”
He publicly pressures the Justice Department to investigate his political opponents. He’s called for reporters to be jailed, and his administration demanded that a sportscaster who criticized him be fired. Official government statements promote his hotels. You can’t protest it all; you’d never do anything else. After the election, many liberals pledged not to “normalize” Trump. But one lesson of this year is that we don’t get to decide what normal looks like
Republicans are right about the corporate tax system being broken, but wrong about why it’s failing and how to fix it.
The basic proposition put forth by President Trump and congressional leaders is that the present tax rate, 35 percent, makes it hard for American corporations to compete with foreign companies and ends up driving American businesses overseas. They would address this by slashing the rate to 20 percent, claiming that this would not only help companies but would also raise household income by $3,000 to $7,000, mainly in the form of higher wages.
Much of this is absurd.
Enter the universal basic income.
The idea is gaining traction in many countries as a proposal to soften the edges of capitalism. Though the details and philosophies vary from place to place, the general notion is that the government hands out regular checks to everyone, regardless of income or whether people are working. The money ensures food and shelter for all, while removing the stigma of public support.
Some posit basic income as a way to let market forces work their ruthless magic, delivering innovation and economic growth, while laying down a cushion for those who fail. Others present it as a means of liberating people from wretched, poverty-level jobs, allowing workers to organize for better conditions or devote time to artistic exploits. Another school sees it as the required response to an era in which work can no longer be relied upon to finance basic needs
The United States has always led the way in confronting global challenges, especially ones that profoundly affect our own country. President Trump’s vow to withdraw from the Paris agreement by 2020 was a troubling abdication of that leadership, and it threatened to send a dangerously wrong message: that we are abandoning the pledge we made in Paris to reduce emissions at least 26 percent by 2025.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Most Americans strongly support the Paris agreement, and thousands of mayors, governors, chief executives and others stepped forward to reaffirm their commitment to it after the president walked away from the accord. Together, these states, cities and businesses constitute more than half of the United States economy and, if they were a separate country, would make up the third-largest economy in the world.
President Trump’s action has had the effect of galvanizing these groups — and many have taken bold actions in recent months.
state of Kansas doesn’t discuss public business with Kansans.
Kansas runs one of the most secretive state governments in the nation, and its secrecy permeates nearly every aspect of service, The Star found in a months-long investigation.
From the governor’s office to state agencies, from police departments to business relationships to health care, on the floors of the House and Senate, a veil has descended over the years and through administrations on both sides of the political aisle.
Wagner’s Law, named for the 19th-century German economist Adolph Wagner, states that government spending as a share of the economy will increase as nations get richer and their citizens demand more and better public services. This may approximate public policy in other industrialized nations. In the United States, it fails.
Americans are paying dearly as a result, as their comparatively small government has proved incapable of providing an adequate safety net to protect those most vulnerable to globalization and technological change.
It is hard to understand the deep reasons behind the American aversion to taxes and government. Is it the vestigial expression of a rugged individualism born on the American frontier? Is it racial hostility — an unwillingness by whites to fund social programs that some believe unduly benefit minorities?
Watching Paul Ryan and his Republican colleagues struggling to finish writing their long-awaited tax bill over the past few weeks brought to mind an adage attributed to Al Smith, the street-schooled New York politician who served four terms as governor, during the nineteen-twenties: someone is going to be cheated; the question is who. The Republicans—having committed to huge tax cuts for corporations, unincorporated businesses, and very large estates, while also pledging to help out middle-class households—were in a bind. According to some reports, they were trying to fit five trillion dollars’ worth of tax cuts into the $1.5 trillion allotment they had pencilled into their budget for 2018.
You don’t need to have gone beyond eighth grade, which is where Smith completed his formal education, to know that this was a tricky task. The size of the math problem helps explain why the bill unveiled on Friday morning by Ryan, the House Speaker, and Kevin Brady, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, was so long (three hundred and thirty-six pages), complicated, and filled with the kind of accounting that would have fit in at Enron. But, despite its complexity, the basic thrust of the bill is straightforward: the Donald Trumps of the world get caviar; the ordinary person gets peanuts; and future taxpayers, who will bear the burden of all the new debt issuance necessary to finance the package, get shafted
More and more of the predicted impacts of global warming are now becoming a reality.
In 2017, everyone seems to be wondering: Is Facebook taking over the world? Most of us now realize that the social network has become far more than a repository for selfies and political rants of its more than two billion users. To ad sellers, Facebook is now a gluttonous monster, which, along with Google, is gobbling up the digital advertising business in the United States; according to Pivotal Research Group, the two companies controlled 70 percent of the market and most of the growth in 2016. From the perspective of American intelligence agencies, Facebook is practically a weapon, used by a company linked to the Kremlin to foment extremism and influence the 2016 presidential election with at least $100,000 worth of targeted ads. For those with privacy concerns, Facebook plays the role of Big Brother, compiling ever more data on what we like, what we post and what we buy and even tracking where we are both online and in the physical world by tapping into the GPS locator on our phones
But the biggest reason for Trump’s support from core Republicans is likely the simple pull of partisanship. When he wasn’t yet the face of the party, they found various principled and practical reasons to oppose him. But now that he’s their Republican president, all those doubts seem irrelevant, and identifying as a partisan means identifying with him.
This is a difficult environment in which to imagine a primary challenger flourishing. Indeed, it leaves the most common type of anti-Trump Republican politician, the Jeff Flake sort who imagine themselves the tribunes of a more principled and ideologically-consistent conservatism, without any obvious constituency at all — since the supposedly principled and ideologically-consistent conservative voters are now the heart of Trump’s support.
What Republicans believe to be good policy, they also quite clearly understand to be bad politics. But if these changes to the tax code genuinely did swell a tide that would lift all boats, they would have nothing to fear. Their conduct is an occasion for us to question what it is about regressive tax policy that appeals to them so much, and how credulous we should be when they claim to be acting in the interests of all Americans
Directly contradicting much of the Trump administration’s position on climate change, 13 federal agencies unveiled an exhaustive scientific report on Friday that says humans are the dominant cause of the global temperature rise that has occurred since the start of the 20th century, creating the warmest period in the history of civilization.
Over the past 115 years global average temperatures have increased 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, leading to record-breaking weather events and temperature extremes, the report says. The global, long-term warming trend is “unambiguous,” it says, and there is “no convincing alternative explanation” that anything other than humans — the cars we drive, the power plants we operate, the forests we destroy — are to blame.
Because what is destabilizing all of these countries in the Sahel region of Africa and spawning terrorist groups is a cocktail of climate change, desertification — as the Sahara steadily creeps south — population explosions and misgovernance.