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What We Read Today 30 January 2016

Econintersect: Every day our editors collect the most interesting things they find from around the internet and present a summary "reading list" which will include very brief summaries (and sometimes longer ones) of why each item has gotten our attention. Suggestions from readers for "reading list" items are gratefully reviewed, although sometimes space limits the number included.

This feature is published every day late afternoon New York time. For early morning review of headlines see "The Early Bird" published every day in the early am at GEI News (membership not required for access to "The Early Bird".).

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Topics today include:

  • How the Moon Was Formed

  • U.S. is World's New Tax Haven

  • Wounded Warriors' Expenditures Questioned

  • Energy Companies Running Out of Money

  • More Migrants Drown

  • Syrian Rebels in Geneva

  • U.S. Warships Challenge China

  • Two Party System and Capitalism

  • Return on Coordination

  • New U.S. Slumdog Millionaire in the Making

  • And More

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world

Global

"The moon was formed by a violent, head-on collision between the early Earth and a 'planetary embryo' called Theia approximately 100 million years after the Earth formed." 

U.S.

  • Over 1 million face loss of food aid over work requirements (Associated Press)   More than 1 million low-income residents in 21 states could soon lose their government food stamps if they fail to meet work requirements that began kicking in this month.  The rule change in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was triggered by the improving economy — specifically, falling unemployment. But it is raising concerns among the poor, social service providers and food pantry workers, who fear an influx of hungry people.  Recent experience in other states indicates that most of those affected will probably not meet the work requirements and will be cut off from food stamps.

  • Top charities give larger portion to services than Wounded Warrior Project (Stars and Stripes)  As others strived to spend most of every dollar on people in need, the Wounded Warrior Project nonprofit group instead pumped one-third of its donations into more fundraising. It has grown into a charity colossus that collected $312 million in donations and modeled itself on Starbucks, CEO Steven Nardizzi told the New York Times this week.  The approach turned Wounded Warrior Project into the largest charity of its type – eclipsing others and drawing allegations this week of lavish spending on conferences and meetings.  See also Wounded Warrior Project denies claims of waste, lavish spending.

  • NY Times editorial board endorses Hillary Clinton and John Kasich (Al Jazeera)  The New York Times editorial board endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican John Kasich as they seek to become their parties' nominees in the U.S. presidential election, calling Clinton one of the most "deeply qualified presidential candidates in modern history".  Clinton, a front-runner facing a strong challenge from Senator Bernie Sanders, and Kasich, who has only dimly registered in the polls, received the endorsements from one of the nation's largest newspapers two days before voters in Iowa hold the first nominating contest for the Nov. 8 election.

  • These energy companies are running low on cash (CNBC)  The deep slide in global oil prices may start claiming the scalps of a number of oil companies.  One in 5 energy companies could be out of cash in less than six months, while 1 in 3 will hit that threshold in less than a year, according to a Big Crunch analysis.

Greece

  • Almost 40 dead after migrant boat sinks off Turkey (Reuters)  Almost 40 people drowned and 75 were rescued after a boat carrying migrants to Greece sank off Turkey's western coast on Saturday, according to local officials and the Turkish Dogan news agency.  More than one million refugees and migrants arrived in the European Union last year and some 3,600 died or went missing, forcing the EU to mull suspending its Schengen open-borders area for up to two years.  The onslaught is continuing right through the winter.

Turkey

  • Turkey says Russia violated its airspace near Syria border (BBC News)  Turkey has accused Russia of again violating its airspace and warned it would "face consequences" if such infringements continue.  The foreign ministry said a Russian jet flew into its airspace on the border with Syria on Friday. Moscow described the claim as "baseless propaganda".  Tensions between the two countries have been high since November, when Turkey shot down a Russian jet. Russia has been carrying out air strikes in Syria since September.

Syria

  • Syrian opposition representatives fly to Geneva to assess UN peace talks (Al Jazeera)  A delegation from Syria's main opposition group flew to Geneva on Saturday to assess whether to join Damascus government officials in United Nations-brokered peace talks, an opposition representative said.  The 17-strong team included the head of the Saudi-backed Higher Negotiation Committee (HNC), which includes political and armed opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country's five-year civil war.  The HNC has said it wants to discuss humanitarian issues including a stop to Russian and Syrian government bombing before engaging in the peace talks that started on Friday in Geneva.

China

  • U.S. Warship Enters Waters Claimed by China Without Approval (Bloomberg)  The Pentagon confirmed it had sent a ship into waters claimed by China, calling it a “freedom of navigation” operation meant to challenge attempts by that country and others to restrict navigation in the area.  The USS Curtis Wilbur got to within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of Triton Island in the South China Sea, Defense Department Spokesman Mark Wright said in an e-mail Saturday.  The island, administered by China, is also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan. The operation was not meant to take a position on the competing land sovereignty claims, only to affirm sea rights, Wright said.

Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

  • Why the Economics Of “Me” Can’t Replace the Economics Of “We” (Evonomics)  Preoccupation with extreme inequality in distribution of income and wealth is to focus on symptoms, not causes.  The causes, according to this author, are based on narrow philosophical thinking emphasizing the great value of the individual without due consideration for the commons. 

For more than two hundred years, mainstream thinking has regarded the market as the primary source of material “progress.” And indeed, to a large extent that’s been true. But yesterday is not forever. Today the market is approaching a point of diminishing returns – systemic diminishing returns. It is yielding less well-being per unit of output by practically any measure, and more problems instead: obesity instead of good health, congestion instead of mobility , time deficits instead of leisure, depression and stress instead of a sense of well-being, social fracture rather than cohesion, environmental degradation rather than improvement.

In place of wealth, the economic machinery increasingly turns out what John Ruskin, the 19th Century essayist on art and economics, called “illth,” which is accumulation that fosters ill results rather than towards weal, or well-being.This is not just a matter of distribution, which is the traditional concern of the Left. Inequitable distribution is a major problem, to be sure, and becoming more so. But to redistribute illth is not necessarily to do anyone a great favor.

  • 26-Year-Old Went From Living In A Motel to Shark Tank Victory (Ky Trang Ho, Forbes)  KTH has contributed to GEI.  A 26-year-old Yale Business School student who is also a UCLA Medical School student had a great night on Shark Tank.  Here is a new slumdog millionaire in the making.

  • How Two-Party Political Systems Bolster Capitalism (Truth-out.org)  Hat tip to Rob Carter.  To reproduce capitalism is to continue the existence of that particular economic system.  A two-party political system is the best suited (other than a one-party system, like China) to that formula.  No matter which party prevails, factories, offices and stores continue to display the same basic employer-employee organization.   Author:

Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, New York City. He also teaches classes regularly at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan. Earlier he taught economics at Yale University (1967-1969) and at the City College of the City University of New York (1969-1973). In 1994, he was a Visiting Professor of Economics at the University of Paris (France), I (Sorbonne). His work is available at rdwolff.com and at democracyatwork.info.

  • The Market Doesn't Solve Problems; People Do (Mises Institute)   Free markets are not solutions to problems, per se, but are rather what gives us the opportunity to find our own solutions to our own problems by finding the most valuable way to serve one another. For example, Frédéric Bastiat famously wrote in The Law that: “At whatever point of the scientific horizon I start from, I invariably come to the same thing — the solution of the social problem is in liberty.”  By speaking about the virtues of the market, we tend to forget that markets do not have virtues, only people do.  Econintersect:  We maintain that the "invisible hand" as a macro market force concept is completely bogus.  If there is an invisible hand it is one of many individuals who labor to achieve some goal and is invisible only because one has not looked at how things are being done.  There are actually billions of invisible hands, but their accomplishments as a sum of the individual efforts is a mere shadow of what can be accomplished if the individual efforts are coordinated.  Roger Erickson continually reminds us that we must always be aware of the great potential of "return on coordination".


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