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North Carolina’s recent wintry weather has helped give rise to a lot of pent up activity this week. Tonight at 7:00 pm for instance, is an excellent event at the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies entitled “Organizing the South: How a Southern Workers’ Movement Can Change the Nation.” Click here for more information and here to watch the video livestream tonight.

And speaking of not-to-be-missed events, be sure if you get the chance to check out the Raleigh showing of “Inequality for All,” Robert Reich’s powerful new movie about America’s modern economy. The event will be held on Tuesday, February 18 from 6:00-9:00 p.m. at William Peace University’s Browne-McPherson Music Building. Parking is free on campus. Click here for more information.

And speaking of the exploding inequality of the modern economy, check out economist Dean Baker’s essay from over the weekend in which he explains how America’s inequality hasn’t occurred by accident or simply as the result of the talent and hard work of the top 1%. To the contrary, as Baker explains, it’s happened “by design.”

And speaking of things that are exploding, the Duke Coal Ash disaster continues to be the biggest story in the North Carolina policy world. Read More

Here’s the intro to today’s “must read” from two of the nation’s most astute economists:

Taking aim at the wrong deficit
By Jared Bernstein and Dean Baker

Jared Bernstein

Dean BakerWASHINGTON – Ask most people in this city what the most important step is to increasing economic growth and job creation, and they’ll reply, “Reduce the budget deficit!”

They’re wrong. So-called austerity measures — lowering budget deficits while the economy is still weak — have been shown both here and in Europe to be precisely the wrong medicine. But they could be on to something important if they popped the word “trade” into that sentence.

Simply put, lowering the budget deficit right now leads to slower growth. But reducing the trade deficit would have the opposite effect. Not only that, but by increasing growth and getting more people back to work in higher-than-average value-added jobs, a lower trade deficit would itself help to reduce the budget deficit….

Read the rest of the essay at the New York Times by clicking here.

Not that very many people with any common sense really believe that cutting taxes on corporations and the wealthy would really jump-start the North Carolina economy, but here’s some additional info that places this patently absurd idea in its proper light.

As reported today by Travis Waldron at Think Progress:

“Even as American corporations are raking in record profits, the largest among them are shifting larger amounts of money away from the United States and into offshore tax havens that allow them to pad their bottom lines even more, according to multiple analyses of legal filings made since the beginning of 2013.

The Wall Street Journal found that the 60 largest companies moved $166 billion offshore in 2012, shielding 40 percent of their earnings from American taxes and costing the U.S. billions in lost revenue.”

Got it? The problem is not lack corporate profitability; it’s lack of demand from cash-strapped, debt-strapped consumers. Generally speaking, businesses generally have plenty to invest, but are holding back or squirreling money away because they don’t perceive a demand for the products and services they might produce. Cutting taxes and public spending further just perpetuates the vicious and destructive cycle in which we are already stuck.

There’s still more news this morning that the national economy is finally starting to pick up steam. CBS News reports:

“The U.S. economy expanded at a slightly faster 2 percent annual rate from July through September, buoyed by an uptick in consumer spending and a burst of government spending.

Growth improved from the 1.3 percent rate in the April-June quarter, the Commerce Department said Friday.”

Bloomberg.com reports this morning that austerity policies appear to be quickly guiding Greece toward a “1930′s style depression.”  Of course, the United Kingdom is already learning about the impact of failed Hoover-style economics.

Now, when will the American political right (and much of the so-called middle) wake up to the hard truth that slashing public spending is the last thing  we need to do in the U.S. and a surefire way to stop the progress made over the past three-plus years?