Now that public health and robust government investment has COVID-19 on the run, can we finally admit that libertarianism bears no relationship to how societies really work?

Like a lot of white males, I read Ayn Rand’s bestselling novel Atlas Shrugged when I was 18. And like a lot of white males, Atlas Shrugged turned me into a huge jerk for a couple of months.

Atlas Shrugged, which was published in 1959 and came in second only after The Bible in a Library of Congress survey of influential books, is a 1,200-page sci-fi novel about what would happen if all the “makers” in the world were to go on strike. The mysterious hero of the book, John Galt, encourages captains of industry, inventors, and other heroes of…


Full steam ahead, captain!

Why building the economy from the middle out might be the most revolutionary concept in modern politics

At the end of his time in office, Barack Obama famously compared the presidency to an ocean liner. “Sometimes the task of government is to make incremental improvements or try to steer the ocean liner two degrees north or south so that, ten years from now, suddenly we’re in a very different place than we were,” he told podcaster Marc Maron in a 2016 interview.

Obama was arguing against using the power of the presidency to affect change too rapidly. If you try to make a hairpin turn with a Carnival cruise ship, you’re going to kill a lot of…


Will President Biden’s break from neoliberalism to invest in the middle class unleash America’s economic potential?

On a recent episode of “Pitchfork Economics,” Nick Hanauer and David Goldstein talk with Anusar Farooqui, who writes probing analytic essays about economic policy on Substack under the pseudonym Policy Tensor.

Farooqui researches and thinks deeply about some of the most complex systems shaping our world today, and he’s not afraid to take big swings on bold predictions. One such prediction in a recent essay, “ The Making of the Mother of All Economic Booms,” caught Hanauer’s attention

In the piece, Hanauer says, Farooqui “argues that the Biden administration is making a really profound break with the last 45 years…


Does your employer have the freedom to rake in record profits if their freedoms impinge on your right to earn a living wage?

The best brief definition of the limits of American freedom is a very old line that’s often misattributed to Abraham Lincoln: “My freedom to swing my fists ends where your nose begins.”

In other words, you can do what you want in America as long as you’re not hurting anyone. So far as rules of thumb go, it’s an elegant one.

And it also serves as a simple illustration of a difficult truth that isn’t often acknowledged in American politics: Freedom is never a zero-sum game.

Since Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency, for example, we’ve established a minimum wage that (most)…


Government partnership with big business created the internet and cell phones — an economist says it can deliver a new generation of innovations, too

When you trim away all the complications and high-minded theories, the single mission statement of an economy under capitalism is to grow. We say an economy is healthy when it’s adding jobs, productivity, and profits, and we say an economy is sick when it’s contracting, losing jobs, and failing to hit profitability markers.

But shouldn’t we expect more than aimless growth from an economy? Shouldn’t our economy reward growth in sectors that would benefit everyone — environmental science, say — and discourage growth in sectors that harm the public good, such as the privatization of our water supply?

Government is…


Basecamp banned political discussions in the office. Ben & Jerry’s cofounders say companies have a responsibility to get political and stand up for society.

Last month, Jason Fried, the cofounder of productivity software company Basecamp, published a controversial blog post issuing several changes in corporate culture at the popular tech company.

The first item on the list, “No more societal and political discussions on our company Basecamp account,” has sparked the most conversation online.

“Today’s social and political waters are especially choppy. Sensitivities are at 11, and every discussion remotely related to politics, advocacy, or society at large quickly spins away from pleasant,” Fried wrote.

Fried also referred to politics as “not healthy” and “a major distraction” that “saps our energy, and redirects our…


Speaker of the House Laurie Jinkins shows off the high-tech set-up that helps her manage a team of lawmakers who are largely working from home, due to the pandemic.

Here are six ways the 2021 Washington State Legislative session will positively impact your life.

The 2021 Washington Legislative Session was, by far, the single most consequential session this state has seen in living memory. In less than four months, our part-time state legislature worked together to pass a staggering and consequential slate of progressive legislation that will make Washington a fairer, more equitable place to live and do business.

And look, I get it. It’s not easy for the average person to keep track of the state legislature’s accomplishments. Our cash-strapped local media has consistently diminished its coverage of the happenings in Olympia, and there’s a pandemic on. It’s hard to stay focused on…


The new budgets from Democratic lawmakers in Olympia are very clear about who really powers the economy and creates jobs in Washington state—everyday people, not CEOs.

The new budgets from state Democrats correctly identify ordinary people as the center of Washington’s economy. That’s a big deal.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking of a budget as an Excel spreadsheet — impenetrable columns of numbers that lawmakers in Washington have to balance every session, like a really dull video game. But a government budget is a roadmap for the future, a moral document explaining which people, causes, and policies should be prioritized in the next year or two years.

Washington state’s budget has for too long been balanced on the backs of the working poor. Our upside-down tax code requires the poorest households to pay up to six times more of their annual income…


State leaders are considering a new tax on the exorbitant capital gains profits of the super-rich. Here’s what it will and will not do.

Let’s be clear about what SB 5096, the wealth tax on capital gains that the Washington State Senate approved on Saturday, actually does and does not do. This is a tax on the extraordinary capital gains profits made through the sale of stocks, bonds, and other luxury assets—meaning more than 99 percent of the people in Washington state won’t pay it.

The proposed capital gains wealth tax would go into effect once you make more than $250,000 in profits on the sale of certain assets over the course of a year. So for example, if you bought $750,000 in Microsoft…


Kroger announced it would close two Seattle stores rather than pay workers $4/hour hazard wages. Does their math add up?

Time to face the music, QFC: the drumbeat for hero wages can’t be ignored any longer.

Last March, when lockdowns began, grocery store workers and delivery drivers were rightfully hailed as heroes of the pandemic. Even as restaurants and bars closed to stop the spread of coronavirus, grocery store employees risked their health, and the health of their families, to keep Americans fed while white-collar workers transitioned to home offices. From the very beginning of the pandemic they put on homemade masks to stock shelves, ring up customers, and keep the supply chain working when everything else shut down.

At the beginning of the pandemic, public respect for grocery workers was overwhelming and unanimous. Rodney McMullen…

Paul Constant

Political writer at Civic Ventures. Co-founder of the Seattle Review of Books. Author of comics including PLANET OF THE NERDS.

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