Old Growth and Climate Change (Gorgeous Video)

This short (11-minute) video, made by KQED QUEST, is both fascinating and — ironically, considering its serious subject — gorgeous.

It follows a team of UC Berekely researchers as they climb up into the crown of a huge old-growth redwood and install monitoring equipment.

As the planet warms, will the progressive loss of coastal fog doom these beauties?

We Screwed Up

Reprinted with permission from TomDispatch.com (March 27, 2012)

A Letter of Apology to My Granddaughter

By Chip Ward

[Note: I became politically active and committed on the day 20 years ago when I realized I could stand on the front porch of my house and point to three homes where children were in wheelchairs, to a home where a child had just died of leukemia, to another where a child was born missing a kidney, and yet another where a child suffered from spina bifida.  All my parental alarms went off at once and I asked the obvious question: What’s going on here?  Did I inadvertently move my three children into harm’s way when we settled in this high desert valley in Utah?  A quest to find answers in Utah’s nuclear history and then seek solutions followed.  Politics for me was never motivated by ideology.  It was always about parenting.

Today my three kids are, thankfully, healthy adults.  But now that grandchildren are being added to our family, my blood runs cold whenever I project out 50 years and imagine what their world will be like at middle age — assuming they get that far and that there is still a recognizable “world” to be part of.  I wrote the following letter to my granddaughter, Madeline, who is almost four years old.  Although she cannot read it today, I hope she will read it in a future that proves so much better than the one that is probable, and so terribly unfair.  I’m sharing this letter with other parents and grandparents in the hope that it may move them to embrace their roles as citizens and commit to the hard work of making the planet viable, the economy equitable, and our culture democratic for the many Madelines to come.]

March 20, 2012

Dear Maddie,

I address this letter to you, but please share it with Jack, Tasiah, and other grandchildren who are yet unborn.  Also, with your children and theirs.  My unconditional love for my children and grandchildren convinces me that, if I could live long enough to embrace my great-grandchildren, I would love them as deeply as I love you.

On behalf of my generation of grandparents to all of you, I want to apologize.

I am sorry we used up all the oil.  It took a million years for those layers of carbon goo to form under the Earth’s crust and we used up most of it in a geological instant.  No doubt there will be some left and perhaps you can get around the fact that what remains is already distant, dirty, and dangerous, but the low-hanging fruit will be long-gone by the time you are my age.  We took it all.

There’s no excuse, really.  We are gas-hogs, plain and simple.  We got hooked on faster-bigger-more and charged right over the carrying capacity of the planet.  Oil made it possible.

Machines are our slaves and coal, oil, and gas are their food.  They helped us grow so much of our own food that we could overpopulate the Earth.  We could ship stuff and travel all over the globe, and still have enough fuel left to drive home alone in trucks in time to watch Monday Night Football.

Rocket fuel, fertilizer, baby bottles, lawn chairs: we made everything and anything out of oil and could never get enough of it.  We could have conserved more for you to use in your lifetime.  Instead, we demonstrated the self-restraint of crack addicts. It’s been great having all that oil to play with and we built our entire world around that.  Living without it will be tough.  Sorry.

I hope we develop clean, renewable energy sources soon, or that you and your generation figure out how to do that quickly.  In the meantime, sorry about the climate.  We just didn’t realize our addiction to carbon would come with monster storms, epic droughts, Biblical floods, wildfire infernos, rising seas, migration, starvation, pestilence, civil war, failed states, police states, and resource wars.

I’m sure Henry Ford didn’t see that coming when he figured out how to mass-produce automobiles and sell them to Everyman.  I know my parents didn’t see the downside of using so much gas and coal.  The all-electric house and a car in the driveway was their American Dream.  For my generation, owning a car became a birthright.  Today, it would be hard for most of us to live without a car.  I have no idea what you’ll do to get around or how you will heat your home.  Oops!

We also pigged out on most of the fertile soil, the forests and their timber, and the oceans that teemed with fish before we scraped the seabed raw, dumped our poisonous wastes in the water, and turned it acid and barren.  Hey, that ocean was an awesome place and it’s too bad you can’t know it like we did.  There were bright coral reefs, vibrant runs of red salmon, ribbons of birds embroidering the shores, graceful shells, the solace and majesty of the wild sea…

…But then I never saw the vast herds of bison that roamed the American heartland, so I know it is hard to miss something you only saw in pictures.  We took lots of photos.

We thought we were pretty smart because we walked a man on the moon.  Our technology is indeed amazing.  I was raised without computers, smart phones, and the World Wide Web, so I appreciate how our engineering prowess has enhanced our lives, but I also know it has a downside.

When I was a kid we worried that the Cold War would go nuclear.  And it wasn’t until a river caught fire near Cleveland that we realized fouling your own nest isn’t so smart after all.  Well, you know about the rest — the coal-fired power plants, acid rain, the hole in the ozone…

There were plenty of signs we took a wrong turn but we kept on going.  Dumb, stubborn, blind: Who knows why we couldn’t stop?  Greed maybe — powerful corporations we couldn’t overcome. It won’t matter much to you who is to blame.  You’ll be too busy coping in the diminished world we bequeath you.

One set of problems we pass on to you is not altogether our fault.  It was handed down to us by our parents’ generation so hammered by cataclysmic world wars and economic hardship that they armed themselves to the teeth and saw enemies everywhere.  Their paranoia was understandable, but they passed their fears on to us and we should have seen through them.  I have lived through four major American wars in my 62 years, and by now defense and homeland security are powerful industries with a stranglehold on Congress and the economy.  We knew that was a lousy deal, but trauma and terror darkened our imaginations and distorted our priorities.  And, like you, we needed jobs.

Sorry we spent your inheritance on all that cheap bling and, especially, all those weapons of mass destruction.  That was crazy and wasteful.   I can’t explain it.  I guess we’ve been confused for a long time now.

Oh, and sorry about the confusion.  We called it advertising and it seemed like it would be easy enough to control.  When I was a kid, commercials merely interrupted entertainment.  Don’t know when the lines all blurred and the buy, buy, buy message became so ubiquitous and all-consuming.  It just got outta hand and we couldn’t stop it, even when we realized we hated it and that it was taking us over.  We turned away from one another, tuned in, and got lost.

I’m betting you can still download this note, copy it, share it, bust it up and remake it, and that you do so while plugged into some sort of electrical device you can’t live without — so maybe you don’t think that an apology for technology is needed and, if that’s the case, an apology is especially relevant.  The tools we gave you are fine, but the apps are mostly bogus.  We made an industry of silly distraction.  When our spirits hungered, we fed them clay that filled but did not nourish them.  If you still don’t know the difference, blame us because we started it.

And sorry about the chemicals.  I mean the ones you were born with in your blood and bones that stay there — even though we don’t know what they’ll do to you).  Who thought that the fire retardant that kept smokers from igniting their pillows and children’s clothes from bursting into flames would end up in umbilical cords and infants?

It just seemed like better living through chemistry at the time.  Same with all the other chemicals you carry.  We learned to accept cancer and I guess you will, too.  I’m sure there will be better treatments for that in your lifetime than we have today.  If you can afford them, that is.  Turning healthcare over to predatory corporations was another bad move.

All in all, our chemical obsession was pretty reckless and we got into that same old pattern: just couldn’t give up all the neat stuff.  Oh, we tried.  We took the lead out of gasoline and banned DDT, but mostly we did too little, too late.  I hope you’ve done better.  Maybe it will help your generation to run out of oil, since so many of the toxic chemicals came from that.  Anyway, we didn’t see it coming and we could have, should have. Our bad.

There are so many other things I wish I could change for you.  We leave behind a noisy world.  Silence is rare today, and unless some future catastrophe has left your numbers greatly diminished, your machines stilled, and your streets ghostly empty, it is likely that the last remnants of tranquility will be gone by the time you are my age.

And how about all those species, the abundant and wondrous creatures that are fading away forever as I write these words?  I never saw a polar bear and I guess you can live without that, too, but when I think of the peep and chirp of frogs at night, the hum of bees busy on a flower bed, the trill of birds at dawn, and so many other splendorous pleasures that you may no longer have, I ache with regret.  We should have done more to keep the planet whole and well, but we couldn’t get clear of the old ways of seeing, the ingrained habits, the way we hobble one another’s choices so that the best intentions never get realized.

Mostly I’m sorry about taking all the good water.  When I was a child I could kneel down and drink from a brook or spring wherever we camped and played.  We could still hike up to glaciers and ski down snow-capped mountains.

Clean, crisp, cold, fresh water is life’s most precious taste.  A life-giving gift, all water is holy.  I repeat: holy.  We treated it, instead, as if it were merely useful.  We wasted and tainted it and, again in a geological moment, sucked up aquifers that had taken 10,000 years to gather below ground.  In my lifetime, glaciers are melting away, wells are running dry, dust storms are blowing, and rivers like the mighty Colorado are running dry before they reach the sea.  I hate to think of what will be left for you.  Sorry.  So very, very sorry.

I’m sure there’s a boatload of other trouble we’re leaving you that I haven’t covered here.  My purpose is not to offer a complete catalog of our follies and atrocities, but to do what we taught your parents to do when they were as little as you are today.

When you make a mistake, we told them, admit it, and then do better.  If you do something wrong, own up and say you are sorry.  After that, you can work on making amends.

I am trying to see a way out of the hardship and turmoil we are making for you.  As I work to stop the madness, I will be mindful of how much harder your struggles will be as you deal with the challenges we leave you to face.

The best I can do to help you through the overheated future we are making is to love you now.  I cannot change the past and my struggle to make a healthier future for you is uncertain, but today I can teach you, encourage you, and help you be as strong and smart and confident as you can be, so that whatever the future holds, whatever crises you face, you are as ready as possible. We will learn to laugh together, too, because love and laughter can pull you through the toughest times.

I know a better world is possible. We create that better world by reaching out to one another, listening, learning, and speaking from our hearts, face to face, neighbor to neighbor, one community after another, openly, inclusively, bravely.  Democracy is not a gift to be practiced only when permitted. We empower ourselves. Our salvation is found in each other, together.

Across America this morning and all around the world, our better angels call to us, imploring us to rise up and be as resilient as our beloved, beautiful children and grandchildren, whose future we make today.   We can do better.  I promise.

Your grandfather,

Chip Ward

Chip Ward, a TomDispatch regular, co-founded HEAL Utah and led several grassroots campaigns to make polluters accountable.  He wrote Canaries on the Rim and Hope’s Horizon, was an administrator of the award-winning Salt Lake City Public Library, and then retired to the canyons of southern Utah. His latest work, just published, is Dance, Don’t Drive: Resilient Thinking for Turbulent Times. His essays can be read at chipwardessays.blogspot.com.  He can be written at moonbolt3@hotmail.com.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch and join us on Facebook.

Copyright 2012 Chip Ward

The Age of Obama: What Went Wrong (and How to Fix It)

Reprinted with permission from Yes! Magazine (March 29, 2012)

Van Jones reflects on his time in—and out of—the White House.

by Van Jones

This article is adapted from Rebuild the Dream, Van Jones’ new book.

The 2008 campaign was a campfire around which millions gathered. But after the election, it was nobody’s job or role to tend that campfire. The White House was focused on the minutiae of passing legislation, not on the magic of leading a movement. Obama For America did the best that it could, but the mass gatherings, the idealism, the expanded notions of American identity, the growing sense of a new national community, all of that disappeared.

It goes without saying that clear thinking and imaginative problem solving are easier in hindsight, away from the battlefield. I was in the White House for six months of 2009, and I was outside of it afterward. I had some of the above insights at the time, but many did not come to me in the middle of the drama and action. Most are the product of deeper reflection, which I was able to do only from a distance.

Nonetheless, the exercise of trying to sort out what might have been and trying to understand why nobody was able to make those things happen in real time has informed this book and shaped my arguments going forward.

Let me speak personally: looking back, I do not think those of us who believed in the agenda of change had to get beaten as badly as we were, after Obama was sworn in. We did not have to leave millions of once-inspired people feeling lost, deceived, and abandoned. We did not have to let our movement die down to the level that it did.

The simple truth is this: we overestimated our achievement in 2008, and we underestimated our opponents in 2009.

We did not lose because the backlashers got so loud. We lost because the rest of us got so quiet. Too many of us treated Obama’s inauguration as some kind of finish line, when we should have seen it as just the starting line. Too many of us sat down at the very moment when we should have stood up.

Among those who stayed active, too many of us (myself included) were in the suites when we should have been in the streets. Many “repositioned” our grassroots organizations to be “at the table” in order to “work with the administration.” Some of us (like me) took roles in the government. For a while at least, many were so enthralled with the idea of being a part of history that we forgot the courage, sacrifices, and risks that are sometimes required to make history.

That is hard, scary, and thankless work. It requires a willingness to walk with a White House when possible—and to walk boldly ahead of that same White House, when necessary. A few leaders were willing to play that role from the very beginning, but many more were not. Too many activists reverted to acting like either die-hard or disappointed fans of the president, not fighters for the people.

The conventional wisdom is that Obama went too far to the left to accommodate his liberal base. In my view, the liberal base went too far to the center to accommodate Obama. The conventional wisdom says that Obama relied on Congress too much. I say Obama relied on the people too little, and we tried to rely on him too much. Once it became obvious that he was committed to bipartisanship at all costs, even if it meant chasing an opposition party that was moving further to the right every day, progressives needed to reassess our strategies, defend our own interests, and go our own way. It took us way too long to internalize this lesson— and act upon it.

The independent movement for hope and change, which had been growing since 2003, was a goose that was laying golden eggs. But the bird could not be bossed. Caging it killed it. It died around conference tables in Washington, DC, long before the Tea Party got big enough to kick its carcass down the street.

The administration was naïve and hubristic enough to try to absorb and even direct the popular movement that had helped to elect the president. That was part of the problem. But the main problem was that the movement itself was naïve and enamored enough that it wanted to be absorbed and directed. Instead of marching on Washington, many of us longed to get marching orders from Washington. We so much wanted to be a part of something beautiful that we forgot how ugly and difficult political change can be. Somewhere along the line, a bottom-up, largely decentralized phenomenon found itself trying to function as a subcomponent of a national party apparatus. Despite the best intentions of practically everyone involved, the whole process wound up sucking the soul out of the movement.

As a result, when the backlash came, the hope-and-changers had no independent ground on which to stand and fight back. Grassroots activists had little independent ability to challenge the White House when it was wrong and, therefore, a dwindling capacity to defend it when it was right.

The Obama administration had the wrong theory of the movement, and the movement had the wrong theory of the presidency. In America, change comes when we have two kinds of leaders, not just one. We need a president who is willing to be pushed into doing the right thing, and we need independent leaders and movements that are willing to do the pushing. For a few years, Obama’s supporters expected the president to act like a movement leader, rather than a head of state.

The confusion was understandable: As a candidate, Obama performed many of the functions of a movement leader. He gave inspiring speeches, held massive rallies, and stirred our hearts. But when he became president, he could no longer play that role.

The expectation that he would or could arose from a fundamental misreading of U.S. history. After all, as head of state, President Lyndon Johnson did not lead the civil rights movement. That was the job of independent movement leaders, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Bayard Rustin, and Fannie Lou Hamer. There were moments of conflict and cooperation between Johnson and leaders in the freedom struggle, but the alchemy of political power and people power is what resulted in the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

As head of state, Franklin Delano Roosevelt did not lead the labor movement. That was the job of independent union leaders. Again, the alchemy of political power and people power resulted in the New Deal. As head of state, Woodrow Wilson did not lead the fight to enfranchise women. That was the role of independent movement leaders, such as suffragettes Susan B. Anthony and Ida B. Wells. The alchemy of political power and people power resulted in women’s right to vote. As head of state, Abraham Lincoln did not lead the abolitionists. That was the job of independent movement leaders Frederick Douglass, John Brown, and Harriet Tubman. The alchemy of political power and people power resulted in the emancipation of enslaved Africans. As head of state, Richard Nixon did not lead the environmental movement. That was the job of various environmental organizations, such as the Sierra Club, and other leaders, like those whom writer Rachel Carson inspired. Once again it was the alchemy of political power and people power that resulted in the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Environmental Protection Agency

The biggest reason for our frustrations and failures is that we have not yet understood that both of these are necessary—and they are distinct. We already have our head of state who arguably is willing to be pushed. We do not yet have a strong enough independent movement to do the pushing. The bulk of this book makes the case for how and why we should build one.

Van Jones adapted this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions, from his new book, Rebuild the Dream. Van Jones, a former contributing editor to YES! Magazine and a former adviser to President Obama, is the co-founder of Rebuild the Dream, a platform for bottom-up, people-powered innovations to help fix the U.S. economy. He is also the co-founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change, and Green for All.


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YES! Magazine encourages you to make free use of this article by taking these easy steps. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License

Esquire Magazine: Writer wanted to help convert class war into generational war. No skills required; pays top dollar

Reprinted with permission from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (March 30, 2012)

By Dean Baker

This could well have been the want-ad Esquire used to attract a writer for its story titled, “War Against Youth.” This lengthy piece is the best compendium of warped logic and misplaced facts on this topic since the Peter Peterson financed film, IOUSA.

The whole story is given away in the first paragraph:

“In 1984, American breadwinners who were sixty-five and over made ten times as much as those under thirty-five. The year Obama took office, older Americans made almost forty-seven times as much as the younger generation.”

That sounds really awful. Thankfully it is not true, as readers could find by looking at the chart that accompanies the article. This is a ratio of wealth not income.

This is a huge difference. Wealth adds up a household’s total assets. This means the value of their home, their 401(k) and other savings, their checking account and car. The calculation the n subtracts liabilities: mortgage debt, car loans, credit card debt, and student loans. This is very different from income, which for most people means their wages and for older people their Social Security.

If the writer, the editor, the fact checker or anyone at Esquire had a clue, they would have caught this mistaken first paragraph and killed the piece. As their chart shows, the median net worth for households over age 65 was $170,494. That merits repeating a couple more times. The median net worth for households over age 65 was $170,494. The median net worth for households over age 65 was $170,494.

Again, net worth refers to total assets minus liabilities. This means that if we add up the home equity of the typical household over age 65, their 401(k) and all other savings, the value of their car and any other possessions they might have, it comes to just over $170,000. This is a bit more than the price of the median home.

In other words, if the typical household over age 65 took all of their wealth, they would have enough money to pay off their mortgage. After that they would be entirely dependent for their living expenses on their Social Security benefit, which averages a bit more than $1,200 a month.

To take another comparison, the lifetime accumulation of wealth of the typical household over age 65 would be approximately equal to what the CEO of Goldman Sachs earns in two days. A top hedge fund manager, who makes $3-4 billion a year, can pocket this much money in ten minutes. Yet, Esquire tells us that it is the high living retirees getting by on their $1,200 a month Social Security checks who are responsible for the questionable future facing the young.

Even this comparison of net worth is misleading. It shows that the net worth of households over age 65 increased from $120,000 in 1983 to $170,000 in 2009. However these numbers do not include pension wealth. A household over age 65 in 1983 was far more likely to be receiving money from a defined benefit pension than a household today. The loss of pension wealth would offset much of this modest gain in wealth over the last quarter century.

Also, using the ratio of the wealth of households over age 65 to the wealth of households under age 35 is just a foolish exercise. Households under age 35 never had much wealth. Their 1983 median wealth of $11,500 was not going to carry them far in life. The fact that it fell to $3,660 is not of great consequence compared to their career opportunities.

This would be like saying that homeless people are in trouble because the median amount amount of money they had in their pockets fell from $1.20 to 60 cents. Just as the main factor that will determine the well-being of homeless people is not the amount of change in their pocket, the main factor that will determine the well-being of the young is not their wealth.

A 25-year-old Harvard MBA with $150,000 in student loan debt will do just fine. The relevant issue for young people is their career prospects. These will not be very good if the 1 percent continue to get most of the gains from economic growth.

But the first paragraph is just the beginning. This piece is a true cornucopia of bad logic and misinformation. It tells readers that:

“The biggest boondoggle of all is Social Security. The management of entitlement programs, already weighted heavily in favor of the older population, has a very specific terminal point that coincides neatly with the Boomers’ deaths. The 2011 report by the Social Security trustees estimates that, under its current administration, the fund will run out in 2036, so there’s just enough to get the oldest Boomers to age ninety.”

Social Security is projected to first face a shortfall in 2036, according to the Trustees projections (2038 according to the Congressional Budget Office), but it does not “run out in 2036,” even in the absurdly unlikely event that Congress never does anything to address the shortfall. (The share of beneficiaries in the voting population will be about 50 percent larger in 2036 than it is today. Any bets that Congress won’t pay full scheduled benefits?)

There will still be plenty of tax revenue being paid in 2037. This will be sufficient to pay about 80 percent of scheduled benefits. With benefits projected to be close to 40 percent higher (after adjusting for increases in the cost of living) in 2037, the payable benefit in 2037 would still be higher than what the typical retiree gets today.

Perhaps even more importantly, today’s beneficiaries paid for their benefits. The return on their payroll taxes is reasonable (@1-3 percent, after adjusting for inflation), but hardly excessive. This is why it is absurd that Esquire tells us that:

“According to a 2009 Brookings Institution study, ‘The United States spends 2.4 times as much on the elderly as on children, measured on a per capita basis, with the ratio rising to 7 to 1 if looking just at the federal budget.’”

Yes, using the Brookings Institution methodology the United States spends about 1000 times as much on billionaires as on children, measured on a per capita basis.

Figure it out yet? Billionaires own government bonds. The government pays them interest on these bonds. A billionaire like investment banker Peter Peterson might well get tens of millions of dollars a year in interest on these bonds. It’s true that Peter Peterson paid for these bonds, but the Brookings Institution and Esquire says this does not matter.

The next golden nugget of ignorance comes in the very next paragraph:

“But the government’s future ability to pay is decreasing rapidly precisely because the Boomers splurged so heavily during the Bush and Clinton years. Public debt per person in the United States currently stands at $33,777. George W. Bush inherited a public-debt-to-GDP ratio of 32.5 percent and brought it up to 54.1 percent during a period of economic growth.”

If the measure of splurging is the public debt, then Esquire is on the wrong planet here. The gross debt of the federal government was equal to 64.1 percent of GDP at the end of 1992. It had fallen to 57.3 percent of GDP by the end of 2000. How could they get something so simple so wrong?

Of course the debt is not a measure of intergenerational equity. At some point everyone alive today will be dead. The bonds that they hold will end up in the hands of the next generation. This means that the debt will be paid from some members of younger generations to other members of younger generations. There can be an issue of intra-generational equity, for example if Bill Gates’ children and grandchildren own all the debt, but there is no issue of inter-generational equity here.

What matters for inter-generational equity is the overall state of the economy and the physical and natural infrastructure that we hand down to future generations. By the first measure, we are doing quite well. Productivity is increasing at the rate of close to 2.5 percent annually. This means that after 30 years, the average worker will be producing more than twice as much in an hour of work as they do today. If this gain is relatively evenly shared (i.e. the distribution of income gets no worse), then the typical worker in 2041 will enjoy a standard of living that is close to twice as high as what workers today enjoy.

It’s true that if we ignore global warming then this may not be the case. Similarly, if the U.S. manages to antagonize the rest of the world with its foreign policy, people here may not be able to enjoy the fruits of productivity growth. But this will have nothing to do with the Social Security and Medicare benefits received by baby boomers.

There is way too much other nonsense to address in this post, but one item is too delicious to pass up. There is a box with the heading:

“How to disenfranchise a generation.”

The box then discusses the measures proposed by Republicans in many states to impose more restrictions on voting, most importantly requiring a government issued photo ID card to vote. Incredibly, Esquire tells readers that this rule is aimed at young people, as though they expect these measures to keep the children of Wall Street traders and Fortune 500 CEOs from having a vote.

In fact, these laws are quite obviously targeted at minorities of any age. The Republicans are not trying to keep their kids from voting. There are trying to keep the kids of African Americans and Hispanics from voting, as well as parents and grandparents. Does Esquire really not know this?

This article is a shameful effort to transform the realities of class war, where the wealthy have been rigging the rules to secure themselves most of the gains from economic growth, into a generational issue. The combination of ignorance and dishonesty in this piece is truly extraordinary.

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC.  He is frequently cited in economics reporting in major media outlets, including the New York TimesWashington Post, CNN, CNBC, and National Public Radio.  He writes a weekly column for the Guardian Unlimited (UK), the Huffington PostTruthOut, and his blog, Beat the Press, features commentary on economic reporting.  His analyses have appeared in many major publications, including the Atlantic Monthly, the Washington Post, the London Financial Times, and the New York Daily News. He received his Ph.D in economics from the University of Michigan.