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Bloomberg Echoes


  • Originally published 06/27/2013

    Gavin Wright: Voting Rights Act Brought Major Economic Benefits

    Gavin Wright is the William Robertson Coe professor of American economic history at Stanford University. He is the author of “Sharing the Prize: The Economics of the Civil Rights Revolution in the American South.”The Supreme Court’s rejection yesterday of a central element of the 1965 Voting Rights Act took aim at a measure that not only broke down barriers to political participation in the South but also made significant contributions to the economic wellbeing of black southerners and to the region as a whole.Some of the economic benefits were apparent almost immediately after enactment. Surveys reported more paved roads and streetlights in black residential areas, better access to city and county services, and increased black hiring in public-sector jobs, including police and fire departments.

  • Originally published 06/26/2013

    Daniel Levinson Wilk: Paula Deen's Racist Wedding Fantasy Was Once Reality

    Daniel Levinson Wilk is an associate professor of American history at the Fashion Institute of Technology. The opinions expressed are his own.Paula Deen is in trouble. Last month, in a deposition for a discrimination suit brought by an employee, the Food Network star blithely admitted to using racial slurs. Perhaps equally disturbing, she also said she had fantasized about throwing a slavery-themed wedding for her brother, an idea that came to her after eating at a restaurant with an all-black staff.Deen has apologized, though the Food Network has announced that it won’t renew her contract. Whatever her motivations, she tapped into a long history of slavery fantasy in the U.S.

  • Originally published 05/17/2013

    Amy Reading: How a Texas Paper Brought Down Billie Sol Estes

    Amy Reading is the author of “The Mark Inside: A Perfect Swindle, a Cunning Revenge and a Small History of the Big Con,” recently published in paperback by Vintage.Billie Sol Estes, the Texan con man whose exploits rattled the administrations of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, died in his sleep May 14. From a penniless background, Estes built up a $40 million West Texas empire of cotton, grain, real estate and fertilizers, and then lost it all when a series of newspaper articles in 1962 revealed that many of his dealings were fraudulent.

  • Originally published 05/17/2013

    Robert E. Wright: How Nonprofits Became Tax-Exempt

    Robert E. Wright is the Nef Family Chair of Political Economy at Augustana College in South Dakota and the author of “Corporation Nation,” which will be published in December by the University of Pennsylvania Press.The uproar over allegations of politically motivated investigations by the Internal Revenue Service shouldn’t be surprising given Americans’ long love affair with nonprofits and their strong disdain of partisanship, especially within bureaucracies.After independence, and especially after ratification of the Constitution, Americans began forming businesses, charities and other associations at unprecedented rates. Unshackled from British law and the threat of monarchical tyranny, they sought to invest in long-term stability, and in each other, in ways that required the establishment of large and lasting organizations.To create these institutions, early Americans adapted corporate laws from Britain. At first, incorporation required both for-profit and nonprofit organizations to obtain a charter from state governments. Charters were special laws passed by state legislatures and signed by governors under the rules of state constitutions.

  • Originally published 05/07/2013

    Andrew Edwards: How Austerity Pushed American Colonists to Revolt

    Andrew Edwards is a PhD student in American history at Princeton University. The opinions expressed are his own.As the euro area tries to wrestle member states into fiscal submission through bailouts, austerity and capital controls, it would be well advised to consider a historical precedent: the American Revolution.In the early 18th century, North America held a role in the British Empire that was similar to the one occupied by Cyprus or Slovenia in the euro area today. Americans were slavers, smugglers, rumrunners and fanatics -- as “opulent, commercial, thriving” as they were irresponsible and fiscally profligate. But as the empire struggled to stay solvent after the Seven Years War, the government of Prime Minister George Grenville attempted to bring the colonists to heel in the name of fiscal austerity.“The Circumstances of the Times, the Necessities of the Country, and the Abilities of the Colonies, concur in requiring an American Revenue,” wrote Thomas Whately, a Grenville ally, in 1765.