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Feb 15, 2018 | www.unz.com
MICHAEL HUDSON: Well, many states and localities have blocks to prevent privatization, and they want to prevent what's happening to them from what happened in Indiana with the toll road. They say, "Wait a minute. Privatization is going to be a giveaway. It's going to triple the costs of providing infrastructure services. It's going to price our cities and states out of the market if we try to go along with this plan." And Trump says, "Well, in order to qualify for public funding, you have to abolish these restrictions on private funding."
You have to let yourself be robbed blind by the hedge funds and Wall Street. That's basically what he said. He said just as the hedge funds robbed Chicago blind on the parking meters getting a huge rate of return that probably will force Mayor Rahm out of office, you have to let other privatizers come in and vastly increase your cost of living.
So, the infrastructure is going to really destroy America's competitiveness instead of contributing to it. It's going to vastly raise the price of the cost of living rather than providing more resources and making things easier for the population.
SHARMINI PERIES: Michael, the American Society of Civil Engineers agrees with you that this is inadequate in terms of funding, that the Trump plan is just not sufficient. In fact, it needs, they say, just to deal with the backlog a $4.6-trillion investment by 2025 and Trump's plan doesn't even come close. What do you make of this?
MICHAEL HUDSON: Well, to begin with, Trump's plan would triple the cost of what the engineers say to $22 trillion and the reason is that it's a Thatcherite privatization plan. Trump's plan reverses the last 150 years of public infrastructure. And in fact, it's the biggest attack on industrial capitalism in over 100 years, more serious than a socialist attack.
Now, America's first professor of economics at the first business school, Simon Patten, said public infrastructure is a fourth factor of production, but unlike labor, land, and capital, the role of public infrastructure is not to make a profit. It's to provide public services that are basic for the economy's living standards and capacity to produce at a subsidized rate. So, America got rich and came to dominate the world industrial economy by subsidizing all of the basic costs. Low-cost roads, low-cost infrastructure. The government bore these costs so that, in effect, public infrastructure subsidizes the economy to lower the cost of production.
Trump's plan is to vastly increase it because he forces all of this into the marketplace. Instead of offering, say, roads at the cost of production, he'd actually triple the cost of production by insisting that it be privately financed, probably by hedge funds and by bank credit that would add the interest charges, the capital gains charges, the management fees, the oversight charges and the fines for criminal fraud that goes with it by factoring all these prices into the cost.
Look at the, for instance, the Indiana Toll Road. That was done by a Trump-style private and public infrastructure and the toll roads are so high to try to pay off the hedge fund backers that people don't use them. They go on the free, slower internal roads. And that sort of is a horror story that anyone who's thinking of Trump's plan should be there.
Trump mentions, for instance, water privatization. All you have to do is look at Thatcher's water privatization in Britain, which has vastly increased the price of water. The water companies have been bought out by hedge funds, registered abroad by foreign owners that are opaque and it's become probably the most unpopular privatization plan of all. So that part's a disaster.
SHARMINI PERIES: Michael, another part of the plan is what is known as value capture financing in order to raise more funds. First of all, what is value capture financing? And what are its implications for states and communities that apply this principle?
MICHAEL HUDSON: Value capture financing is a wonderful idea. It's so wonderful I don't know how it got into the plan. It says that if you build transportation along a route, sort of like the Second Avenue Subway in New York, that transportation is going to increase the value of land and real estate all along the route because now people are going to be closer in access to the subways, to the roads, to the railroads. Many Hollywood movies in the 1930s were all about building roads up to politicians' houses.
So, the idea is that in the future, if New York City were to do something like build the Second Avenue Subway for $3 billion, that this would raise the rental value, already has raised the rental value along the subway line by $6 billion because now, I'm sorry, 6 trillion, I forget whether it's billion or trillion at this point. But at any rate, it's raised it by so much because now people don't have to walk a mile to an overcrowded Lexington Subway.
Well, under Trump's plan, the cities, in order to get federal funding, would have to help themselves by recapturing the real estate value created by this added transportation instead of leaving it in the hands of the landlords as the Second Avenue Subway extension was left or as the West Side extension to the Javits Center increased value of real estate all along there or the Wall Street luxurious restructuring at the subway, another 3 billion there.
This is the best idea of the plan and the one thing that should be kept, which is, of course, why the Democrats don't mention it at all because they're backing the real estate and the financial interest in this. It's such a good idea, I don't know how, Rick Rybeck has written a wonderful article on this recently. So, there are a lot of followers of Henry George that love this aspect of the plan.
SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Michael, this is your opportunity to lay out a infrastructure plan that you think will work for this country.
MICHAEL HUDSON: The government would finance it, and it would finance it by creating its own credit in the same way that it created the 4.6 trillion to bailout the banks on Wall Street. Instead of creating money to give to Wall Street, you'd spend money into the economy to build up the infrastructure. And ideally, you'd tax the rich for this, but now that Trump has untaxed the wealthy, the only way that you could possibly do it under his tax giveaway to Wall Street is for the government simply to print the money, create the money as the Federal Reserve or the Treasure can easily do, and finance it all public, and provide the basic infrastructure services at cost or freely. So, instead of tripling the cost of water, instead of tripling the cost of transportation, you'd actually reduce the cost of transportation, you'd reduce the cost of water, and you'd still get the value recapture tax but at least, the whole idea is you'd make it less expensive for the economy to produce and to live.
SHARMINI PERIES: And Michael, much of this country doesn't believe that government is capable of doing this because they have been given example after example of how government bureaucratic structures aren't working. And, of course, this deterioration of the civil service, it plays a big role in all of this. How do you rebuild confidence in the state structures?
MICHAEL HUDSON: You write a history of America's success in doing this. You can look at Eisenhower's road building plan of the 1950s, for instance. You can look at the whole history of America's infrastructure spending and the whole logic that was spelled out by Simon Patten at the Wharton School and by the economic theorists of industrial capitalism when America was really taking off in the late 19th and early 20th century. The whole history of how America built its roads, how it built the communication system, public health are examples of how governments make things work.
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You can look at Germany, you can look at other successful economies. And you look at what went well, but you have to look at what went wrong so you see how the financial interests can take over these plans, privatize them, and somehow gut them, and turn them around and make them predatory instead of productive.
SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Michael. As always, great pleasure to have you on and thank you for joining us.
MICHAEL HUDSON: Thank you. It's good to be here, Sharmini.
SHARMINI PERIES: And thank you for joining us here on The Real News Network.
Michael Hudson is a Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He is the author of many books, including The Bubble and Beyond, and Finance Capitalism and its Discontents, Killing the Host- How Financial Parasites and Debt Destroy the Global Economy , and most recently J is for Junk Economics: A Survivor's Guide to Economic Vocabulary in an Age of Deception .
Mar 06, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org
Just on a different note, we haven't discussed donny senior's somewhat limpwristed attempt to reintroduce protected markets into the amerikan economy.
There is no doubt that 'something must be done' to provide a lifeline to the people of the Midwest aka 'the rustbelt'. I'm not sure that resurrecting old programs is the best way forward; at least not solely. There must be more diversification if any resurrection hopes to endure.
The whole thing is classic Trumpian right move for the wrong reason
When I began thinking about this I had a quick scout of the web to try to find out which nation is the largest supplier of steel to the US market. The financial times was about the only site which appeared to answer the query, but that was behind Murdoch's pay wall.
I have watched mainstream US/Oz/englander & Aotearoa coverage since donny said he was gonna tax steel imports and to my knowledge none of them have actually named the 'perps' aside from vague inferences vis a vis the People's Republic of China.
The allusions to China which is by far the largest producer of steel on the planet don't mention history. The Chinese did invent the steel-making process after all, but since 2007's allegations of dumping, China has moved well down the hierarchy of amerikan steel suppliers to somewhere around #8.
I don't like to guess but I suspect South Korea is copping the rough end of the pineapple too. That leaves India, Mexico, Brazil and Canada as the likely 'top 4'.
IMO steel manufacturing in America became unsustainable because manufacturers chose not to reinvest in newer tech/newer processes that would make production more efficient. Plus the neolibs refused to force foreign manufacturers to wear a surcharge based upon the (at that time) superior working conditions of American steel workers. Anyone else conclude that the badly thought through 'plan' was to force American steel workers to give up their conditions?
I suspect Trump will encourage the growth of non-union 'scab' steel plants to get around one issue while 'trusting' amerikan manufacturers to wake the fuck up amd modernise to cover the other.
I doubt the latter will eventuate to the point donny anticipates. Where new plants are constructed it will be in regions where there wasn't a steel industry previously so as to make acceptance of non-union plants easier.
Nobody ever screwed up underestimating Wall St cupidity & where possible there will be little investment in new steel manufacturing tech as that is akin to robbing stockholders as far as corporate capitalists believe.
Posted by: Debsisdead | Mar 5, 2018 9:19:41 PM | 87 NemesisCalling , Mar 6, 2018 1:31:42 AM | 92@87 debThere is no doubt that 'something must be done' to provide a lifeline to the people of the midwest aka 'the rustbelt'. I'm not sure that resurrecting old programs is the best way forward; at least not solely. There must be more diversification if any resurrection hopes to endure. The whole thing is classic trumpian right move for the wrong reason.
This is the same logic that Obama used to defend neoliberalism: "those jobs aren't coming back." Oh yeah...Americans can't make shoes and clothes anymore, huh? Too beneath us? Is that why the international intelligentsia rails against the ignorance of the fly-over states? Same twisted logic...same obfuscation. So which is it? Is America still a potentially diverse working force which needs a little help from combatting the hella-not-free-Chinese-protectionism and outright theft of intellectual property? Or are those days over with so America really doesn't need market commodities like domestically-produced shoes, clothes, steel, etc.? Did I miss something, because a lot of people feel like since the iPAD was created, we don't need a darn thing as long as Foxconn over in China is holding a gun to their workers temple and keeping up with demand. Or making a pair of Nikes for a dollar and selling it for $200.
My friend...anything would be an improvement.
Mar 22, 2019 | www.bloomberg.com
Attorney General William Barr said in a letter to Congress Friday that he may be able to provide lawmakers with the special counsel's principal conclusions "as soon as this weekend."
There were no instances in which Mueller was told not to take a specific action in his wide-ranging probe, Barr said.
Jun 28, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Christopher H. , June 28, 2017 at 08:10 AMWe can spend endless amounts of money on the NSA, wars overseas, political campaigns and bailing out banks, but PGL and the weak tea centrists demand "how are we going to pay for it???" now that single-payer is becoming a real possibility. Every other advanced nation does it better with massive savings for their taxpayers.
Op-Ed Single-payer healthcare for California is, in fact, very doable
by Robert Pollin
June 21, 2017
The California Senate recently voted to pass a bill that would establish a single-payer healthcare system for the entire state. The proposal, called the Healthy California Act, will now be taken up by the state Assembly. [not]
The plan enjoys widespread support - a recent poll commissioned by the California Nurses Assn. found that 70% of all Californians are in favor of a single-payer plan - and with good reason. Under Healthy California, all residents would be entitled to decent healthcare without having to pay premiums, deductibles or copays.
But as critics of the bill have pointed out, a crucial question remains: Is Healthy California economically viable? According to research I conducted with three colleagues at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, the answer is yes.
Enacting Healthy California would entail an overhaul of the state's existing healthcare system, which now constitutes about 14% of California's GDP. In particular, it would mean replacing the state's private health insurance industry with government-managed insurance. Our study - which was also commissioned by the California Nurses Assn. - concludes not only that the proposal is financially sound, but that it will produce greater equity in the healthcare sector for families and businesses of all sizes.
California will spend about $370 billion on healthcare in 2017. Assuming the state's existing system stayed intact, the cost of extending coverage to all California residents, including the nearly 15 million people who are currently uninsured or underinsured, would increase healthcare spending by about 10%, to roughly $400 billion.
That's not the full story, though. Enacting a single-payer system would yield considerable savings overall by lowering administrative costs, controlling the prices of pharmaceuticals and fees for physicians and hospitals, reducing unnecessary treatments and expanding preventive care. We found that Healthy California could ultimately result in savings of about 18%, bringing healthcare spending to about $331 billion, or 8% less than the current $370 billion.
How would California cover this $331-billion bill? For the most part, much the same way it covers healthcare spending right now. Roughly 70% of the state's current spending is paid for through public programs, including Medicare and MediCal. This funding - totaling about $225 billion - would continue, as is required by law. It would simply flow through Healthy California rather than existing programs.
The state would still need to raise about $106 billion a year to cover the cost of replacing private insurance. This could be done with two new taxes.
First, California could impose a gross receipts tax of 2.3% on businesses, but with an exemption for the first $2 million of revenue. Through such an exemption, about 80% of all businesses in California - small firms - would pay nothing in gross receipts tax, and medium-sized businesses would pay an effective tax rate of less than 1%.
Second, the state could institute a sales tax increase of 2.3%. The tax would not apply to housing, utilities, food purchased for the home or a range of services, and it could be offset for low-income families with a 2% income tax credit.
Relative to their current healthcare costs, most Californian families will end up spending less, even with these new taxes, and some will even enjoy large gains. Net healthcare spending for middle-income families would fall by between 2.6% and 9.1% of income. Most businesses would also see a drop in spending. Small firms that have been providing health insurance for their workers will see costs fall by 22% as a share of payroll. For medium-sized firms, costs will fall by an average of between 6.8% and 13.4% as a share of payroll. Even most large firms will see costs fall, by an average of between 0.6% and 5% of payroll.
At the moment, about 2.7 million of California's residents, or about 8% of the population, have no health insurance. Another 12 million residents, or about 33% of the population, are underinsured. A large proportion of the remaining 60% of the population who are adequately insured still face high costs, as well as anxiety over President Trump's proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Healthy California is capable of generating substantial savings for families at most income levels and businesses of most sizes. These savings are in addition to the benefits that the residents of California will gain through universal access to healthcare.
Mar 14, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.comNoni Mausa : March 13, 2017 at 04:13 PM What the wealthy right wing has decided in the past 40 years is that they don't need citizens. At least, not as many citizens as are actually citizens. What they are comfortable with is a large population of free range people, like the longhorn cattle of the old west, who care for themselves as best they can, and are convenient to be used when the "ranchers" want them.
Of course, this is their approach to foreign workers, also, but for the purpose of maintaining a domestic society within which the domestic rich can comfortably live, only native born Americans really suit.
With the development of high productivity production, farming, and hands-off war technology the need for a large number of citizens is reduced. The wealthy can sit in their towers and arrange the world as suits them, and use the rest of the world as a "farm team" to supply skills and labour as needed.
Proof of this is the fact that they talk about the economy's need for certain skills, training, services and so on, but never about the inherent value of citizens independent of their utility to someone else.
No wonder the unemployed increasingly kill themselves, or others. The whole economy tells them, indirectly but unmistakably, that their human value does not exist. ken melvin : , March 13, 2017 at 04:48 PMCan someone get me from $300 billion tax cut for the rich to getting the markets work for health care?ken melvin : , March 13, 2017 at 04:54 PMIt isn't about 'markets', never is. It is about extraction of as much profit as possible using whatever means necessary. This is what the CEOs of insurance companies get payed to do. Insurance policies they don't pay out, the ones Ryan is referring to, are as good as any for scoring.libezkova : , March 13, 2017 at 07:09 PM"It isn't about 'markets', never is. It is about extraction of as much profit as possible using whatever means necessary. This is what the CEOs of insurance companies get payed to do."ilsm : , March 13, 2017 at 01:41 PM
What surprises me most in this discussion is how Obamacare suddenly changed from a dismal and expensive failure enriching private insurers to a "good deal".
Lesseevilism in action ;-)When the PPACA band-aid is pulled off the US health care mess the gusher will be blamed on "the Russians running the White House".jeff fisher said in reply to ilsm... , March 13, 2017 at 01:58 PM
Cuba does better than the US despite being economically sanctioned for 55 years. Distribution of artificially scarce health care resources is utterly broken. This failed market is financed by a mix of 'for profit' insurance and medicare (which sublets a big part to 'for profit' insurance).
Coverage!!! PPACA added taxpayers' money to finance a bigger failed market. It did nothing to address the market fail!
Single payer would not address the market failure. Single payer would put the government financing most of the failed market.
Democrats have put band-aids on severe bleeds since Truman made the cold war more important than Americans.
At least we know what Trump stands for!
Cuba is the shining example of how doing the first 20% of healthcare well for everyone gets you 80% of the benefit cheap.jonny bakho : , March 13, 2017 at 12:09 PM
The US is the shining example of how refusing to do the first 20% of healthcare well for everyone only gets you 80% of the benefit no matter how much you spend.Mark's very nice argument does nothing to address The Official Trump Counter Argument:
[Shorter version: Obamacare is doomed, going to blow up. Any replacement is therefore better than Obamacare; Facts seldom win arguments against beliefs]
"During a listening session on healthcare at the White House on Monday, President Donald Trump said Republicans "are putting themselves in a very bad position by repealing Obamacare."
Trump said that his administration is "committed to repealing and replacing" Obamacare and that the House Obamacare replacement will lead to more choice at a lower cost. He further stated, "[T]he press is making Obamacare look so good all, of a sudden. I'm watching the news. It looks so good. They're showing these reports about this one gets so much, and this one gets so much. First of all, it covers very few people, and it's imploding. And '17 will be the worst year. And I said it once; I'll say it again: because Obama's gone."
He continued, "And the Republicans, frankly, are putting themselves in a very bad position - I tell this to Tom Price all the time - by repealing Obamacare. Because people aren't gonna see the truly devastating effects of Obamacare. They're not gonna see the devastation. In '17 and '18 and '19, it'll be gone by then. It'll - whether we do it or not, it'll be imploded off the map."
He added, "So, the press is making it look so wonderful, so that if we end it, everyone's going to say, 'Oh, remember how great Obamacare used to be? Remember how wonderful it used to be? It was so great.' It's a little bit like President Obama. When he left, people liked him. When he was here, people didn't like him so much. That's the way life goes. That's human nature."
Trump further stated that while letting Obamacare collapse on its own was the best thing to do politically, it wasn't the right thing to do for the country.
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