Wandering Eye: The strange behavior of John Harbaugh, a basic income, and more

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich says everyone ought to get a basic minimum income, and the money ought to come from patent holders. The question of what to do about the loss of work and income as technology allows more and more people to be served by fewer and fewer workers is an old one. Reich cites John Maynard Keynes' prediction that by 2028 everyone would be free to laze about and enjoy their leisure, as machines would do all the heavy lifting (and thinking, presumably). Reich sees us going a different way: "Since 2000, the vast majority of college graduates have seen little or no income gains." But you probably knew that. What is kind of staggering is where the money is going. It's kind of like a lottery for MIT grads. "When Facebook purchased the messaging company WhatsApp for $19 billion last year, WhatsApp had fifty-five employees serving 450 million customers," Reich writes. "WhatsApp's young co-founder and CEO, Jan Koum, got $6.8 billion in the deal." This can't abide, and not just because $6 billion is too much money for anyone's own good. It also means that most of the rest of us are getting too poor to buy the goods and services from the billionaires. Eventually they'll suffer too, Reich supposes. So he says we ought to—somehow—extract 20 percent of the corporate profits that are attributable to any patent, and just hand them out to everyone on an equal basis: "Such a basic minimum would allow people to pursue whatever arts or avocations provide them with meaning, thereby enabling society to enjoy the fruits of such artistry or voluntary efforts." Quietly, over the past few years, the basic income idea has been gaining momentum. It will be interesting to see how the debate plays out in the presidential elections. (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

It seems like the potential Republican presidential candidates are playing a super competitive game of who can dream up the most offensive or polarizing policies, where the winner gets, I dunno, a ton of articles and op-eds written about them. In one recent opinion piece in the Guardian, writer Julio Ricardo Varela unpacks Donald Trump's "Immigration Reform Plan That Will Make America Great Again," wherein 11 million undocumented people (mostly from Central America) who live in the U.S. will be immediately sought out and deported, which also puts the total 54 million Latinos living in the U.S.—80 percent of whom are citizens of the U.S.—at risk of racial profiling. Varela writes, "a push for national 'papers please' law and more concentrated enforcement would essentially take this country into a xenophobic overdrive rarely seen in American history, nearly akin to the Trail of Tears, the Mexican Removal and the Japanese American internments during World War II." Of course it's a ridiculous, amorphous, and expensive "plan" but worst of all, it doesn't address any of the complex issues of violence and gang activity in Central America, for example, that prompt people to seek refuge in the U.S. in the first place—problems the U.S. has direct involvement with, by the way. (Rebekah Kirkman)

 

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has been a bit, um, off lately. Two weeks ago, he turned a conversation on refereering into a quasi-endorsement of Donald Trump's immigration policy and an attack on Congress. Then last Saturday, Harbaugh caught attention for two different reasons: a heated exchange with Redskins coach Jay Gruden and being a complete dick to reporter Brent Harris during a routine halftime interview. The interview went viral and got reporters asking the coach about, well, doing halftime interviews. Sun columnist and team instigator Mike Preston writes that Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti needs to sit down with his head coach. "Here are some of the questions to be addressed: Are you OK? Is the stress getting to you? Are you in danger of losing control of this team?" Preston observes that: "When Harbaugh is focused, he is good. When he misbehaves, he can get out of control." Reminder: The season begins Sept. 13. (Brandon Weigel)

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