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Daily Digest 5/7 - Tuition Rates Continue To Rise, Child Diabetes Skyrockets

Chris Martenson - May 7, 2014 - 08:20
  • Early Tap of 401(k) Replaces Homes as American Piggy Bank
  • States seek a spot in retirement plan landscape
  • Venezuela's Minimum Wage Hike Is No Match for Inflation
  • Tuition rates still going higher
  • One in seven hospital patients is diabetic: NHS now pays record £10billion a year to treat the condition
  • Diabetes Rates in American Children Skyrocket
  • Ruble Drop Hitting Russia Shoppers Speeds Slide to Recession
  • Rising Price of Metal Attracting Thieves to Utah Homes, Businesses
  • First-Quarter U.S. Economic Slump Looking Uglier by the Day
  • Canada’s public service pension plan has $152 billion in liabilities: AG

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Categories: Economics

"Weeds" as Soil Indicators

Chris Martenson - May 7, 2014 - 06:19

The types of “weeds” that grow seemingly spontaneously in your garden are telling you valuable information about your soil and microclimate if you care to listen. There are certain “weeds” that appear when the soil has been degraded to rehabilitate the soil back to life, or simply as a protectant cover when we leave the soil bare, and open to the elements. These unappreciated plants do all the hard work to make their home eventually no longer suitable for themselves. To add insult to injury we call these plants weeds, and pull, spray, and curse them.

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Categories: Economics

Fans Move to Buy LA Clippers After Owner Is Banned From NBA

Photo by Keith Allison / Flickr.

Everyone from the Commissioner of the National Basketball Association to the players and the fans seems to agree: Donald Sterling should not own the Los Angeles Clippers.

It wouldn’t be the first time fans owned a major sports team.

Last week, Sterling’s girlfriend recorded Sterling in a racist diatribe, in which he requested that she not associate with African Americans in public. The audio was released to the paparazzi website TMZ, and within 72 hours Sterling was banned for life from all NBA activities. The commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver, recommended the league’s 29 other owners vote to force Sterling to sell his team.

The legality of forcing Sterling to sell is open to question, but the rapid unfolding of events raises an important question: who should own the Clippers?

There’s been rumors of Oprah Winfrey being interested. But a couple of Clippers fans, Tim Nguyen and Russell Curry, have an idea that would not only take the team from Sterling, but move it in the direction of economic democracy too: Clipper fans should own the team. Nguyen and Curry are organizing fans to raise the money, buy the team, and make the Clippers a nonprofit organization.

The effort is real. The two started a campaign with the crowd funding platform Crowdtilt to raise the money for a bid. The goal? $600 million. That might seem lofty, but as Mr. Nguyen says in their campaign video: “If the people of Egypt can overthrow a corrupt government, why couldn’t we, as NBA basketball fans, overthrow Donald Sterling?”

It wouldn’t be the first time fans owned a major sports team. The Green Bay Packers are a publicly owned nonprofit organization with no majority shareholder. The public can buy shares (currently over 360,000 people are Packers’ owners ), and with shares comes the right to vote on directors for the organization and participate in an annual meeting.

The Clippers are worth $575 million. But where does all that value come from, if not the fans?

The model can also be found in European Football. In Germany, for example, all teams in the top league are at least 51 percent publicly owned, according to what German Soccer officials call “the 50 + 1 rule.” The rule means that Bundesliga teams “all have the same majority owner—their fans.” Some, like Borussia Dortmund, are 100 percent owned by the public.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the economics of professional sports is completely out of touch with the individual fan. The numbers can be staggering. According to Forbes, the Clippers have a value of $575 million, making them the 13th most valuable team in the NBA.

But where does that $575 million come from, if not the fans? Ticket sales, advertising deals, television rights, it all depends on the support of the fans. And what is the average annual Clippers revenue, per fan? $10.

This is the case Nguyen and Curry are making: For $10 bucks apiece, would you buy the LA Clippers?

Christopher Zumski Finke wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. Christopher blogs about pop culture and is editor of The Stake. Follow him on Twitter at @christopherzf.


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Categories: Economics

Dear Paul Krugman: Is GDP Growth Making Us Richer or Poorer? (Please Clarify.)

This article originally appeared at The Daly News.

Photo by Todd Rollins / Flickr.

Paul Krugman often writes sensibly and cogently about economic policy. But like many economists, he can become incoherent on the subject of growth. Consider his New York Times piece, published earlier this month:

… let’s talk for a minute about the overall relationship between economic growth and the environment.

Other things equal, more G.D.P. tends to mean more pollution. What transformed China into the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases? Explosive economic growth. But other things don’t have to be equal. There’s no necessary one-to-one relationship between growth and pollution.

People on both the left and the right often fail to understand this point … On the left, you sometimes find environmentalists asserting that to save the planet we must give up on the idea of an ever-growing economy; on the right, you often find assertions that any attempt to limit pollution will have devastating impacts on growth … [Krugman says both are wrong] … But there’s no reason we can’t become richer while reducing our impact on the environment.

The negative products of GDP growth go far beyond Krugman’s nondescript category of “pollution.”

Krugman distances himself from “leftist” environmentalists who say we must give up the idea of an ever-growing economy, and is himself apparently unwilling to give it up. But he thinks the “right-wingers” are wrong to believe that protecting the environment will devastate growth. Krugman then advocates the more sensible goal of “becoming richer,” but fails to ask if growth in GDP is any longer really making us richer.

He seems to equate, or at least fails to distinguish, “growing GDP” from “becoming richer.” Does he assume that because GDP growth did make us richer in yesterday’s empty world it must still do so in today’s full world? The usual but unjustified assumption of many economists is that a growing GDP increases measured wealth by more than it increases unmeasured “illth” (a word coined by [nineteenth-century English art critic] John Ruskin to designate the opposite of wealth).

To elaborate, illth is a joint product with wealth. At the current margin, it is likely that the GDP flow component of “bads” adds to the stock of illth faster than the GDP flow of goods adds to the stock of wealth.

Is Krugman advocating temporary growth up to some level of optimality, or an ever-growing economy?

We fail to measure bads and illth because there is no demand for them, consequently no market and no price, so there is no easy measure of negative value. However, what is unmeasured does not for that reason become unreal. It continues to exist and even grow. Since we do not measure illth, I cannot prove that growth is currently making us poorer, any more than Krugman can prove that it is making us richer. I am just pointing out that his GDP growthism assumes a proposition that, while true in the past, is very doubtful today in the United States.

To see why it is doubtful, just consider a catalog of negative joint products whose value should be measured under the rubric of illth: climate change from excess carbon in the atmosphere; radioactive wastes and risks of nuclear power plants; biodiversity loss; depleted mines; deforestation; eroded topsoil; dry wells, rivers, and aquifers; the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico; gyres of plastic trash in the oceans; the ozone hole; exhausting and dangerous labor; and the un-repayable debt from trying to push growth in the symbolic financial sector beyond what is possible in the real sector (not to mention military expenditures to maintain access to global resources).

These negative joint products of GDP growth go far beyond Krugman’s minimal and nondescript category of “pollution.” Not only are these public bads not subtracted, but the private anti-bads they make necessary are added to GDP! For example, the bad of eroded topsoil is not subtracted, but the anti-bad of fertilizer is added. The bad of Gulf and Arctic oil spills is not subtracted, but the anti-bad of clean-up is added. The natural capital depletion of mines, wells, forests, and fisheries is falsely accounted as income rather than capital drawdown.

Such asymmetric accounting alone is sufficient to refute growthism, but for good measure note that the growthists also neglect the most basic laws of economics: namely, the diminishing marginal benefit of income and increasing marginal cost of production. Why do they think these two curves will never intersect?

Is Krugman just advocating temporary growth up to some level of optimality or sufficiency, or an ever-growing economy? If the latter, then either the surface of the Earth must grow at a rate approximating the rate of interest, or real GDP must become “angel GDP” with no physical dimension.

Krugman is correct that that there is no necessary “one-to-one relationship between growth and pollution.” But there certainly is a strong positive correlation between real GDP growth and resource throughput (the entropic physical flow that begins with depletion and ends with pollution). Since when do economists dismiss significant correlations just because they are not “one-to-one”?

Probably we could indeed become richer (that is, increase net wealth) while reducing our impact on the environment, as Krugman hopes. But it will be by reducing uneconomic growth (in throughput and its close correlate, GDP) rather than by increasing it. I would be glad if this were what Krugman has in mind, but I doubt that it is.

In any case, it would be good if he would specify whether he thinks current growth in real GDP is still economic in the literal sense that its benefits exceed its costs at the margin. What specifically makes him think this is so? In other words, is GDP growth currently making us richer or poorer, and how do we know?

Since GDP is a conflation of both costly and beneficial activity, should we not separate the cost and benefit items into separate accounts and compare them at the margin, instead of adding them together? How do we know that growth in GDP is a sensible goal if we do not know if the associated benefits are growing more or less rapidly than the associated costs?

Mainstream economists, including Krugman, need to free their thinking from dogmatic GDP growthism.

Herman Daly wrote this article for The Daly News, where it originally appeared. Herman is an ecological economist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland.

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Categories: Economics

10 Ways to Homestead on a Small Property

Chris Martenson - May 6, 2014 - 10:11

10 great ways to get started on building your own little homestead, no matter the size or location of your property.

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Categories: Economics

Want a Garden? 7 Easy Ways to Start for Non-Gardeners

Shareable Magazine - May 6, 2014 - 08:15

Top image credit: looseends / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. Article cross-posted from

I grew up with huge backyard garden. My mother was a wonderful gardener. Each Spring, she would section out portions — a row here or a row there — for each child to plant seeds and be responsible for tending and growing.

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 5/6 - Time to Worry About Stock Market Bubbles, Fungus Affects Coffee Crops

Chris Martenson - May 6, 2014 - 08:02
  • America's Essentials Are Getting More Expensive While Its Toys Are Getting Cheap
  • Time to Admit that Gold Peaked in 2011?
  • China Is Quietly Profiting From the Russia-Ukraine Standoff: Here's How
  • Credit Suisse in talks to pay $1.6 billion to resolve U.S. tax probe: source
  • Time to Worry About Stock Market Bubbles
  • AAA: Drivers Should Soon See Relief At The Pump
  • A Coffee Crop Withers
  • Climate change is clear and present danger, says landmark US report

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Categories: Economics

20 + Latin American Cities Celebrate Collaborative Economy This Week

Shareable Magazine - May 5, 2014 - 18:42

From May 4th to the 11th, more than 20 cities around the world will celebrate the  Collaborative Economy Week: eight days to celebrate, practice and promote the culture of sharing.

Categories: Economics

Every LETS package I see starts from scratch and fragments the movement. After 2...

Community Currency Magazine - May 5, 2014 - 13:09
Every LETS package I see starts from scratch and fragments the movement. After 20 years still no standards and no interoperability. Reinventing the wheel...

OpenLETS | Open Source Local Trading System
Local communities use LETS systems in order to trade goods and services between themselves without the need or use of their national money.
Categories: Economics

Auroville has published a book about its considerable achievements in Economy, (...

Community Currency Magazine - May 5, 2014 - 12:44
Auroville has published a book about its considerable achievements in Economy, (including currency innovation).

Video presentation of the The Auroville Economy Book
“Auroville, an international township in South India, was founded in 1968. On a heavily eroded plateau, close to the Bay of Bengal near Pondicherry, a small group of about 200 pioneers set out to reforest the barren land and create a new socio-economic, ecological and spiritual habitat with a vision…
Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 5/5 - Safe Havens Since The Financial Crisis, Where The Wild Things Were

Chris Martenson - May 5, 2014 - 07:57
  • Ukraine suffers deadliest day in months; 34 killed in Odessa
  • Stephen Hawking: 'Transcendence looks at the implications of artificial intelligence - but are we taking AI seriously enough?'
  • Faber: The Market is Long Overdue for a Significant Correction
  • Safe Havens Since The Great Financial Crisis
  • Scientists race to develop farm animals to survive climate change
  • U.S. Announces First Superstorm-Related Oil Reserve
  • Michigan Takes Away the “Right to Farm” from Folks in the Suburbs
  • Where The Wild Things Were

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Categories: Economics

Conventional development agencies paying no attention to Bangla Pesa or compleme...

Community Currency Magazine - May 5, 2014 - 07:07
Conventional development agencies paying no attention to Bangla Pesa or complementary currencies. Crowdfunding campaign seeks to scale up the project.

Fight Poverty in Africa by Redefining Community Development
Help create community currencies in Kenya to reduce poverty by increasing trade among small businesses.
Categories: Economics

Top 10 SoKind Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Shareable Magazine - May 5, 2014 - 05:45

Top image credit: ~PhotograTree~ / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Article cross-posted from SoKind.

Categories: Economics

The Anti-Party: Spain's X Party Picks Up Steam

Shareable Magazine - May 5, 2014 - 05:44

Top image credit: conservas / Foter / CC BY-SA 2.0. Article cross-posted from

Categories: Economics

The many meanings of money

Matslats - May 5, 2014 - 04:05

Money is so much more than a means of settling debt or a measure of your claim on the productive wealth of the rest of the world.

If we are to design alternatives to money we need to understand not only the classical functions but the secondary effects and meanings which are not always recognised.

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Categories: Blogs

Daily Digest 5/4 - Many Faces Of Ukraine Rebellion, Robots Will Take Our Jobs

Chris Martenson - May 4, 2014 - 09:48
  • The Tale Of Two Schools
  • U.S. Media Covers Up Mass Murder in Odessa
  • Behind the Masks in Ukraine, Many Faces of Rebellion
  • Robots Will Take Our Jobs
  • Devices That Know How We Really Feel
  • Workin’ 9 to 5 (What a Way to Make a Living)
  • The other downside of antibiotics: Killing the useful bacteria
  • U.S. corn yields are growing, but so is sensitivity to drought

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Categories: Economics

Revolutionary aid project set to spread in Kenya

Beyond Money - May 4, 2014 - 05:05

On the heels of the successful Bangla-Pesa community currency project, the NGO, Koru Kenya has been asked by the government to create similar programs in other poor neighborhoods around Nairobi and Mumbasa. Unfortunately, no significant funding is being provided by the government, so private contributions are being solicited through a Crowdfunding campaign at Indiegogo: Fight Poverty in Africa by Redefining Community Development.

This is a revolutionary approach to aid, one that empowers people to sustainably provide for their own needs. I strongly endorse this project and encourage all to make a financial contribution. Even small amounts can make a big difference. –t.h.g.

Categories: Blogs

Warning: Ukraine Is At A Flashpoint

Chris Martenson - May 3, 2014 - 22:16

Regrettably I am very close to issuing an official Alert over the situation in Ukraine.  The situation has continued to both escalate and deteriorate and more than 50 people died on Friday, May 2 in violence in Odessa and other eastern cities in Ukraine.  Relations between Russia and the US are finding new lows while China and Russia grow closer. 

For those living in Europe who are exposed to the possible fallout that would result from the loss of supplies of Russian energy, the time to begin your preparations is right now.

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Categories: Economics

How This Situation Can Quickly Get Much Worse

Chris Martenson - May 3, 2014 - 22:16
Executive Summary
  • Why the US' antagonistic approach towards Russia is likely to backfire big time, in both the near and long term
  • How, by definition, the West has already initiated economic warfare against Russia
  • Why things will get very bad in a hurry for the West if Russia reacts by re-directing its energy exports 
  • And how things could get much worse indeed, for everyone, if this conflict erupts into a military confrontation

If you have not yet read Warning: The Ukraine Is At A Flashpoint, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

Poking The Bear

And that finally brings us to Russia, which has a long and complicated history with Ukraine. There are many Russian speaking people in the Ukraine, for whom Russia feels somewhat protective, as perhaps US citizens in Canada or Mexico might expect from the US.

Further, Russia quite rightfully feels that it is being systematically surrounded and cornered by the NATO military structure and they might reasonably ask themselves why and for what purpose(s)?  There are probably other ways to look at this, but it's certainly reasonable to think that Russia might feel just the tiniest bit provoked, if not threatened, at the West's obvious efforts to get Ukraine to join up with NATO.

Instead of sitting down with Russia to try and hammer things out, the US resorted almost immediately to a series of sanctions targeted at Russian individuals and companies, as well as the Russian stock and bond markets, with the intention of creating economic and financial hardship that would get Russia to leave Ukraine to the west.

Here are a few of the efforts so far...

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Categories: Economics