Adam Ruins the Economy

Adam Ruins the Economy

In this episode, Adam investigates why American’s can’t do their taxes for free in just five minutes each year, questions whether the Dow Jones Industrial Average is still useful and explains the importance of manufacturing on economic growth.  Here are his sources.

Sources

"Employers, banks, and other financial institutions already send detailed records to the IRS."

Michael Hiltzik. "The Tax-prep Industry Lobbies Hard to Keep Tax Day a Torture for You." Los Angeles Times, 14 Apr 2015.
 

"The government could quite literally do your taxes for you. It's an idea called return-free filing."

Liz Day. "How the Maker of Turbotax Fought Free, Simple Tax Filing." ProPublica, 26 Mar 2013.
 

"Return-free filing is already used by countries around the world, and could allow millions of Americans like you to do your taxes for free in just five minutes."

"Report to The Congress on Return-Free Tax Systems: Tax Simplification Is a Prerequisite." U.S. Department of the Treasury, 23 Dec 2003.
 

"Return-free filing bills are introduced in Congress all the time, and both Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan pushed for it."

Liz Day. "How the Maker of Turbotax Fought Free, Simple Tax Filing." ProPublica, 26 Mar 2013.
 

"The makers of tax software like TurboTax and H&R Block spend a buttload of money to make sure it never happens."

"Why So Tedious, Taxes?" On the Media. WNYC, 6 Apr 2017.
 

"These calculating companies have lobbied to kill multiple return-free filing bills over the past decade."

Jessica Huseman. "Filing Taxes Could Be Free and Simple. But H&R Block and Intuit Are Still Lobbying Against It." ProPublica, 20 Mar 2017.
 

"The stock market is an enormous system with over 3,000 publicly-traded companies in the U.S. alone."

Kathleen Kahle and René M. Stulz. "Is the U.s. Public Corporation in Trouble?" The National Bureau of Economic Research, Nov 2016.
 

"But the DOW includes just thirty of them."

"Episode 443: Don't Believe the Hype." Planet Money. NPR, 12 Mar 2013.
 

"And it's basically designed to go up over time. If a stock does too poorly it gets dropped and replaced."

Jay L. Zagorsky. "Dow 20,000 Is Arbitrary and Pointless — Just Like the Dow Itself." Quartz, 25 Jan 2017.
 

"The DOW became popular during the economic panics and depressions of the early 20th century, when people were desperate for any sign of how the economy was doing."

"Episode 443: Don't Believe the Hype." Planet Money. NPR, 12 Mar 2013.
 

"Back when our economy was simpler the performance of thirty big companies was actually pretty useful information, but as our economy grew and became more complex, the DOW started to tell us less and less. And, today, financial insiders don't even pay attention to it."

Adam Davidson. "Why Do We Still Care About the Dow?" The New York Times Magazine, 8 Feb 2012.
 

"The number we always hear reported as 'the unemployment rate' only counts people who are actively looking for work and excludes anyone who's earned more than twenty dollars in the past week."

Jim Clifton. "The Big Lie: 5.6% Unemployment." Gallup, 3 Feb 2015.
 

"GDP could also go up because something bad happened and we had to spend money to fix it."

Zachary Karabell. The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers that Rule Our World. Simon and Schuster, 2014.
 

"In the last two decades GDP has steadily risen..."

"Real Gross Domestic Product per Capita," retrieved from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, 3 Sep 2017.
 

"...but the average American's earnings haven't."

Drew DeSilver. "For Most Workers, Real Wages Have Barely Budged for Decades." Pew Research Center, 9 Oct 2014.
 

"It's actually possible to have the highest GDP and the most poverty at the same time."

Catherine Rampell. "Alternatives to the G.D.P." The New York Times, 30 Oct 2008.
 

"Between 1945 and 1973, American manufacturing gave us the greatest period of economic growth in human history."

Marc Levinson. "End of a Golden Age." Aeon, 22 Feb 2017.
 

"From the end of the war through the 1960s America made 50% of the world's stuff."

"That's Not What the GDP Means." On the Media, as told by Zachary Karabell. WNYC, 10 Nov 2016.
 

"By the '70s we more than doubled the standard of living for the average American family."

Enrico Moretti. The New Geography of Jobs. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.
 

"Their economies recovered, and they started rebuilding their own manufacturing."

Zachary Karabell. "Gdp Rules the World, but Should It?" PBS NewsHour, 28 Apr 2014.
 

"The Chinese factories that assemble the iPhone are massive. Just one can employ up to 350,000 people and produce half a million iPhones a day."

David Barboza. "An iPhone’s Journey, From the Factory Floor to the Retail Store." The New York Times, 29 Dec 2016.
 

"Apple estimated it would take up to 9 months to find enough engineers to oversee a factory in the U.S., but in China they found them in just 15 days."

Charles Duhigg and Keith Bradsher. "How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work." The New York Times, 21 Jan 2012.
 

"China sits at the center of a global supply chain, which means they're physically closer to most of the parts needed to make the iPhone."

Charles Duhigg and Keith Bradsher. "How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work." The New York Times, 21 Jan 2012.
 

"Heavy industry jobs like car manufacturing were lost almost entirely to advances in technology. For example, General Motors still makes tons of cars in America, but today they'd only need a quarter of the workers it took to do the same amount of work in the '50s."

Enrico Moretti. The New Geography of Jobs. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.
 

"We face the risk of federal and state taxing authorities developing ... electronic filing at no charge to tax payers."

"Fiscal 2012 Form 10-K.". Intuit Inc., 13 Sep 2012.
 

"Governmental encroachment ... may present a continued competitive threat to our business."

"Fiscal 2012 Form 10-K.". Intuit Inc., 13 Sep 2012.
 

"The IRS is doing its best job when the most in tax dollars are collected, and with a $300 billion tax gap from scofflaws, it's alarming and offensive..."

Liz Day. "Op-Eds and Letters Opposing Return-Free Tax Filing." ProPublica, 14 Apr 2014.

For More on This Topic

ProPublica's coverage of how tax software companies lobby to prevent return-free filing:

https://www.propublica.org/article/how-the-maker-of-turbotax-fought-free-simple-tax-filing

https://www.propublica.org/article/filing-taxes-could-be-free-simple-hr-block-intuit-lobbying-against-it

Adam Davidson's reporting on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, in the New York Times Magazine and Planet Money:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/12/magazine/dow-jones-problems.html?pagewanted=all http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2013/03/12/174139347/episode-443-dont-believe-the-hype

Ray Fisman has a great piece on why manufacturing jobs aren't coming back, in Slate:

http://www.slate.com/articles/business/the_dismal_science/2012/07/unemployment_manufacturing_and_construction_jobs_aren_t_coming_back_americans_need_new_skills_.html

And see the New York Times' Pulitzer-Prize-winning iEconomy series:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/business/ieconomy.html