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Accidental Deliberations: Friday Afternoon Links

This and that to start your weekend.

- Robert Reich discusses how the increasing concentration of corporate wealth and power is undermining the U.S.’ democracy, while noting that there’s only one effective response: We entered a vicious cycle in which political power became more concentrated in monied interests that used the power to their advantage – getting tax cuts, expanding tax loopholes, benefiting from corporate welfare and free-trade agreements, slicing safety nets, enacting anti-union legislation, and reducing public investments.

These moves further concentrated economic gains at the top, while leaving out most of the rest of America.

No (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Olga Khazan writes about the connection between lower incomes and obesity in the U.S. And Truthout discusses how poverty and other stressors can directly affect individual and communal genetics for generations: (A) study by researchers at University College London’s Institute of Child Health found that, thanks to epigenetics, children whose parents and grandparents were born into poverty can, themselves, carry the scars of that past poverty with them for the rest of their lives. That’s because children born to families who’ve lived generations in poverty inherit genes configured to help them (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- David Leonhardt offers a revealing look at the relative priorities of wealthier and poorer regions of the U.S. And Patricia Cohen discusses the disproportionate effect of inequality and poverty on women: It’s at the lowest income levels that the burden on women stands out. Not only are they more likely than men to be in a minimum-wage job, but women are also much more likely to be raising a family on their own. “Inequality is rising among women as well as men, but at the bottom, women are struggling with some dimensions (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- John Abraham and Dana Nuccitelli discuss the worrisome spread of climate change denialism, particularly around the English-speaking developed world. But lest we accept the theory that declining public knowledge is independent of political choices, Margaret Munro reports that the Cons are suppressing factual scientific information about Arctic ice levels to avoid the Canadian public being better informed, while Tom Korski exposes a particularly galling example of their vilifying top scientists for reporting their results. And John O’Connor reminds us what’s been done to anybody who’s dared to speak out about the effect (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Rebecca Vallas, Melissa Boteach and Shawn Fremstad write about the need for a new social contract. And Drew Nelles takes a look at the role of a guaranteed basic income in ensuring a fair standard of living for everybody: Although implementing basic income would undoubtedly require a reorganization of social assistance provision, with some programs being eliminated or absorbed, it cannot be used as an excuse to dismantle what’s left of the welfare state. Instead, it’s a hopeful idea because it could act as just the opposite: the beginning of a turn away (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Jack Peat argues for trickle-up economics to ensure that everybody shares in our common resources (while also encouraging economic development): Good capitalism is the ability to promote incentives and opportunity in equal measure. Sway too far one way and the potential of human capital is stifled, sway too far in the other direction and the willingness to realise this potential also goes amiss. Of late, bad capitalism has manifested itself in incentives over opportunities, and has become a parasitic drag on our economic growth as a result.

A recent IMF study has (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- CJ Werleman writes that the U.S.’ inequality nightmare is getting worse even as the public gains a greater recognition of the issue. Nick Kristof recognizes that radically different levels of wealth result in a serious lack of opportunity for anybody who doesn’t win the genetic lottery. And Katharine Cukier notes that the type of empathy and generosity all too often lacking south of the border has given her and her family a fair chance at happiness in Canada.

- But Ralph Surette observes that the Cons are going out of their (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Robert Green looks at Quebec as a prime example of selective austerity – with tax cuts and other goodies for the wealthy considered sacrosanct, and well-connected insiders being paid substantial sums of public money to tell citizens they’ll have to make do with less: In a move that seems perfectly symbolic of the sort of politics his government represents, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard announced this week that the five members of the government commission charged with reviewing government programs and recommending where to make cuts will be paid the tidy sum of (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Monica Potts responds to the big lie that increasing inequality and perpetual poverty are necessary – or indeed remotely beneficial – as elements of economic growth: Hanauer and Piketty inspire these broadsides because they are challenging, in a far more aggressive way than plutocrats and economists usually do, the conservative economic orthodoxy that has reigned since at least the 1980s. Under Ronald Reagan, we called it trickle-down economics, the idea that the men who can afford their own private jets—they’re usually men—deserve gobs of money because they provide some special entrepreneurial or innovative (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Jenna Smialiek reports on Gabriel Zucman’s conclusion that the .1% has managed to prevent the rest of us from even approaching reasonable estimates as to how much wealth is being hoarded at the top. And Bryce Covert discusses how that carefully-cultivated lack of knowledge figures to distort policy debates.

- Meanwhile, Emily Schwartz Greco and William Collins note that even slight positive news for most of the population – such as modest employment growth in the U.S. – is being treated as a catastrophe by Wall Street since it could result in (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Robert Reich muses about how our economy would look if we actually paid people based on their contribution to society rather than their ability to exploit others. In related news, the Broadbent Institute’s next Progress Gala is looking all the more fascinating with the announcement that Reich will be the keynote speaker.

- David MacDonald studies the distribution of income from the tar sands, and predictably finds that the 1% has managed to suck up obscene amounts of income while leaving crumbs for everybody else. But let’s also note that the smallish gains (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Mike Konczal and Bryce Covert write that an effective solution to wealth inequality shouldn’t be limited to redistributing individual income or assets, but should also include the development of a commonwealth which benefits everybody: Instead of just giving people more purchasing power, we should be taking basic needs off the market altogether.

Consider Social Security, a wildly popular program that doesn’t count toward individual wealth. If Social Security were replaced with a private savings account, individuals would have more “wealth” (because they would have their own financial account) but less actual security. (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- John Millar writes that a determined effort to eliminate poverty would be a plus as a matter of mere public accounting (even without taking into account the improved lives of people avoiding the burden of poverty and income insecurity): According to many studies, the Canadian poverty rate remains high. A recent OECD report shows that the very rich are taking an ever greater share of income. And a new study from three leading Canadian academics shows the rich obscure the total extent of their individual wealth through private companies, which means they (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Rick Perlstein observes that Ronald Reagan’s most lasting contribution to American politics may be his admonition not to recognize flaws or past sins which might require serious responses – and that democratic discourse in the U.S. and elsewhere has yet to recover: (T)he baseline is this moment in 1973 when the Vietnam War ends, and that spring, Watergate breaks wide open, after basically disappearing from the political scene for a while. You have this remarkable thing, where Sam Ervin puts these hearings on television. And day after day the public hears White (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Linda McQuaig discusses how a burgeoning wealth gap is particularly obvious when it comes to retirement security: Quaint as it now seems, not long ago this was considered a good basic plan: Work hard all your life and then retire with a comfortable pension.

In recent times, a new plan has replaced it: Work hard all your life and then all bets are off.

The notion of retirement security in exchange for a lifetime of hard work — a central element in the implicit social contract between capital and labour in the (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Is r>g in Canada?

Here is a little bit of rainy day economic doodling that may be of interest.

Piketty famously argues that there is a tendency for r – the rate of return on capital- to exceed g- the rate of growth of income. If r>g, wealth and income inequality will grow inexorably since ownership of capital and claims on income from capital are highly concentrated in a few hands.

Piketty’s definition of capital is very broad, and boils down to wealth, including housing and financial assets.

I am not at all sure that house prices must or do increase at a faster (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Trish Garner highlights the futility of trying to answer poverty, equality and other social issues with the empty promise of low-paying “jobs! jobs! jobs!”: The central “solution” in the government’s action plan is jobs. The little money dedicated to this initiative is all directed to employment inclusion and skills training. It’s not surprising. It’s the same answer we receive when our supporters throughout the province advocate for a poverty reduction plan for B.C.  There are two important points to make in response. First, many people with disabilities are unable to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Danyaal Raza and Edward Xie write that a well-designed city environment can make all the difference in enabling individuals to live healthy lives: What if city council took our health into account when designing neighbourhoods? An idea gaining favour in major cities around the world is “complete streets,” a city-planning concept that promotes development of streets usable by all citizens, whether they are pedestrians, cyclists, drivers or transit users. As things stand now, getting to schools, parks and stores without a car is only a dream for residents without the lush tree cover, (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Pierre Beaulne discusses the inequality-related problems and solutions brought into the spotlight by Thomas Piketty, and notes that they can’t simply be swept under the rug: When all is said and done, the capitalist globalization has boosted economic growth for a certain time, but has by the same token greatly increased income inequalities and exacerbated wealth concentration. Tax breaks for the highest incomes and social spending cuts have intensified the trend. In Canada, for instance, the top marginal income tax rate at the federal level has gone down from 43% in 1981 to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Nicholas Kristof offers a primer on inequality in the U.S., while the Washington Post reports that a think tank looking to fund research into the issue couldn’t find a single conservative willing to discuss it. And PressProgress highlights the OECD’s finding that the prosperity gap stands to get a lot worse in the U.S. and Canada alike absent some significant change in course to improve the lot of the 99%: Increasing levels of economic inequality are the “new normal” and we can expect them to get worse, not better.

That’s (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Sarah Jaffe examines the “bad business fee” proposal which would require employers who pay wages below public assistance levels – receiving work while forcing the public to subsidize their employees’ livelihood – to at least make up the difference: As inequality has become a hot-button issue, the solutions on offer tend to focus either on taxing the extremely wealthy or on raising workers’ wages. What makes the bad business fee particularly attractive is that it does both of those things. It makes the connection conceptually between the low wages at the bottom (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Robert Reich discusses the rise of the non-working rich as an indicator that extreme wealth has less and less to do with merit – as well as the simple policy steps which can reverse the trend: In reality, most of America’s poor work hard, often in two or more jobs.

The real non-workers are the wealthy who inherit their fortunes. And their ranks are growing.

In fact, we’re on the cusp of the largest inter-generational wealth transfer in history.

The wealth is coming from those who over the last three decades earned huge (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: Political Eh-conomy Radio: Piketty Forum in Vancouver

On June 25th, a standing-room only crowd of 150 people attended a public forum and discussion titled “Pikettymania, Inequality and You” on Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Today, I’m happy to post in full the four talks that made up the first half of the event (the second half was all discussion). The total is about an hour in length with each speaker taking 15 minutes. Enjoy!

https://politicalehconomy.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/podcast-140718-piketty-forum-full.mp3

The speakers, in order of appearance:

Iglika Ivanova is an economist and public interest researcher at the CCPA-BC. Her slides are available here and may (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Paul Boothe responds to the C.D. Howe Institute’s unwarranted bias against public-sector investment: Is the public sector holding back provincial growth rates by crowding out private sector investment?  That’s the contention of a recent C.D. Howe paper by Philip Cross.  The paper provides a great case study of the danger of confusing correlation with causality.

Let’s begin with the simple arithmetic.  Gross domestic product (GDP) is the sum of spending on consumption, investment, government services and net exports.  Whether the investment spending is initiated by the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that to end your weekend.

- PressProgress takes a look at the OECD’s long-term economic projections – which feature a combination of increasing inequality and slow growth across the developed world, with Canada do worse than almost anybody else on the inequality front unless we see a shift toward more progressive policies when it comes to unions, employment protections and fair taxes.

- Meanwhile, Derek Leahy discusses how much we have to lose by relying on the tar sands as our sole economic engine.

- David Cay Johnston points out that several of the largest forms of consumer (Read more…)