Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

Beyond Protection v. Liberalization – Dealing With Trade and Manufacturing

In Economic Planning, Economics, European Politics, Financial Crisis, Full Employment, Globalization, History and Politics, Industrial Policy, Inequality, Liberalism, Living Wage, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Regulation, Social Democracy, Trade on January 23, 2011 at 10:04 am


In about two years of blogging at TRP (and another two years’ policy-blogging elsewhere), I’ve never discussed trade. It’s not because it’s unimportant, because trade is clearly a major issue within economic policy and politics, but rather because of when I came of age politically. In 2001 student politics, the free trade vs. anti-globalization/protectionism debate seemed remarkably deadlocked and somewhat sterile. Twin camps of policy contenders required allegiance with either side, and I found myself unhappy with the analysis and debate and more drawn to questions of domestic economic policy.

However, in the wake of the Great Recession and the increasingly-urgent need to reassess the structure of the U.S economy, I can’t avoid it any longer. The trade question isn’t the whole of our economic problems, I think it can be exaggerated in a way that obscures a more important class conflict inside nations. And yet, the global balance of trade – between Germany and the rest of Europe, between China and the U.S, and so on – is clearly out of whack.

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High-Speed Rail in an Age of Ideology

In Budget Politics, California, Culture, Economic Planning, Economics, High-Speed Rail, Mass Transit, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Public Works, Social Democracy, Urbanism on January 15, 2011 at 7:39 pm


To many, the decisions of the recently-elected governors of New Jersey (to reject Federal money for a second New Jersey-New York rail tunnel), Wisconsin, and Ohio (pulling the plug on Federally-financed high-speed rail project) seem illogical. High-speed rail projects spur growth, create jobs and tax revenue, they’re environmentally sustainable, and the state doesn’t even have to pay (mostly)! So why kill them?

The truth is that we shouldn’t be surprised by these decisions – or treat them as irrational. We are living in an age of ideology, and high-speed rail is no less ideological than any other public policy. They’re still wrong to kill the projects, but on ideological grounds.

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Time for a Labor Market Bailout

In Economic Planning, Economics, Full Employment, Inequality, Liberalism, Living Wage, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Welfare State on January 1, 2011 at 1:00 am


As the third year of recession ends, the scale of the task of undoing the social and economic damage of the recession is now made plain. It is already well-known that 15 million Americans are officially unemployed, with another 15 million unofficially unemployed. But the scope of the recession goes far beyond their ranks  – more than half of the U.S. labor force (55 percent) has “suffered a spell of unemployment, a cut in pay, a reduction in hours or have become involuntary part-time workers” since the recession began in December 2007.

The widespread nature of workers’ declining fortunes, even if they have not suffered unemployment, explains why it is that one-third of U.S working families are now low-income (i.e, under 200% of poverty), one lost paycheck, one illness, or one accident away from disaster. But as I have noted before, the underlying illness of stagnant wages and a weak labor market have existed before – the one-third figure discussed above is only 7% higher than before the recession, and during the previous recovery in ’02-05 we saw that figure increase, never falling below its 2007 level.

A rescue is deeply needed.

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