– No gain in death penalty for Sampson

James Alan Fox

It is the criminal justice version of déjà vu.

Two years ago, the death sentence previously given to serial killer Gary Lee Sampson was appropriately overturned because of juror misconduct during his 2003 trial in federal court. So now, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz must prepare a recommendation for Attorney General Eric Holder on whether the death penalty should be sought in this case, just as former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan did a decade ago for then Attorney General John Ashcroft. – Security clearance for terror

James Alan Fox

In the aftermath of Monday’s mass shooting at the Washington D.C. Naval Yard, many weighty questions abound surrounding the circumstances of the crime and the man believed to be responsible for the carnage. Perhaps the most disconcerting pertains to how Aaron Alexis, given his troubled past and troubled mind, could have security clearance that allowed him access to the military facility.

Report hails Mass. biotech spending as job creator


State’s $1b initiative said to yield economic strength

By Robert Weisman | GLOBE STAFF MARCH 26, 2013

Halfway through a decade of investment promised by Governor Deval Patrick’s 10-year, $1 billion life-sciences initiative, launched in 2008, the state has spent only about a third of the money targeted to promote the biotechnology and medical device industries in Massachusetts.

But the authors of a report set to be released Tuesday by the Boston Foundation, a philanthropic group, say the effort has helped stimulate a key sector of the state’s economy, creating more than 8,000 jobs through capital grants, tax incentives, and business loans. Read More

The fiscal cliff: tax the rich, cut the deficit, and grow the economy


By Barry Bluestone | | November 16, 2012

As we approach the “fiscal cliff” President Obama is adamant about raising tax rates on high income families to help reduce the deficit. House Speaker John Boehner now says Republicans are willing to consider some form of higher tax revenue as part of the solution – but only “under the right conditions.” Lower tax rates for all families, both rich and poor, is one one of them. If the Republicans were to reconsider this position, the President and the Congress could pull off a pretty neat trick – simultaneously reducing the deficit and stimulating the economy.

How could this possibly work?

Right now, the main reason why economic growth is so sluggish is a lack of consumer spending. If we want to increase demand for goods and services, we need to put money in the hands of spenders, not savers. Savers are good for investment, but savings are not our current problem. Businesses are sitting on the sidelines with something like $2 trillion in cash which they could use for investment. They are not investing because in the current economy they fear there is not enough consumer demand to purchase the output this investment would produce.

Right now the nation needs consumers. So who consumes and who saves? This is well-known. In general, savers are rich people. A family in the top 1% of all earners (those with incomes in excess of $569,000) spends only about 49 cents out of every additional dollar while those in the top 5% spend 63 cents out of every dollar. The rest goes into savings accounts, the stock market, and hedge funds – which in the short run create virtually no jobs. Read More

State’s economy slows as US growth picks up


By Megan Woolhouse | | October 26, 2012

Massachusetts’ economic growth slowed significantly over the summer while the nation showed a modest pick-up, according to two reports released Friday.

The diverging trajectories highlight the difference between the consumer-driven US economy and the Massachusetts economy, which is more dependent on business spending. Nationally consumer spending increased solidly while overall business investment declined.

The state’s economic fell to a 1.9 percent annual rate between July and September, down from 3.0 percent in the preceding three months, the University of Massachusetts reported. The U.S. economy grew at a 2.0 percent annual rate during the same period, an improvement over the spring’s slow 1.3 percent rate of growth, the US Commerce Department reported.

Robert Nakosteen, an economist at the University of Massachusetts and executive editor of the report, produced by the UMass Donahue Institute and Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, described Massachusetts’ pace of growth as “not very heartwarming.” Read More

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