Daniel Altman: The power of mobility has diminished enormously, because these days it’s much harder to close the gap with the highest earners. Thanks to rising inequality, the same level of mobility just can’t make as much difference anymore.
Today’s Medicaid could affect a small number of poor people within two years. Truly finding out how Medicaid might change their lives would take much longer. Moreover, Medicaid would change with time, too – and almost certainly for the better.
Big Think chief Economist Daniel Altman has a suggestion to end this long national nightmare: get rid of the corporate income tax.
Perhaps if the penalties for reneging hurt the politicians themselves – not the American people – then they would comply more readily.
Perhaps when mass killings really start to hurt the majority of the population, then we’ll take stronger action against them. But for now, we like them too much.
The debate over the fiscal cliff has spawned a multitude of suggestions for reforming the tax system, including my own. One possible reason for the wide range of proposals, even from mainstream economists, is that the recommendations of standard economic theory may be very different from what the American economy actually needs today. Here are two views of taxation, from the theoretical and realistic standpoints – can you find a happy medium between them?
Pervasive computing is all about interaction between the billions - soon to be trillions - of microprocessors that have infiltrated virtually every aspect of our lives. A new book,"Trillions", argues that we have to design an entire living environment where those devices communicate with each other and with us.
Plenty of people are happy for their leaders and bosses to make choices for them, as long as they probably would have made similar choices themselves. Yet when leaders and bosses don't truly represent the interests of their constituents and employees, nudging can be toxic.
Are the Republicans deliberately hurting the economy to hamper President Obama's chances of reelection, or are they just doing it because of misbegotten ideas?
The challenge for democracies is to become just as farsighted as the state capitalist systems that have drawn the world's envy. But while we try to bring about this small revolution in our thinking, the state capitalists may be dealing with a much bigger revolution of their own.
Sometimes it's better to do something - anything - rather than nothing at all. That's the lesson of the old parable of Buridan's ass, where the poor animal is faced with two haystacks and, unable to decide which is bigger, dies of hunger. . .
Like Occupy Wall Street, the Arab Spring in Tunisia began as a nonviolent protest for a more meritocratic society. The United States needs a new settlement, too. The problem now is that Americans cannot agree on what it should be.
Daniel Altman is Big Think's Chief Economist and an adjunct faculty member at New York University's Stern School of Business. Daniel wrote economic commentary for The Economist, The New York Times, and The International Herald Tribune before founding North Yard Economics, a non-profit consulting firm serving developing countries, in 2008. In between, he served as an economic advisor in the British government and wrote four books, most recently Outrageous Fortunes: The Twelve Surprising Trends That Will Reshape the Global Economy.