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Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

 - Lynn Stuart Parramore writes about our increasingly traumatic social and political culture, along with the response which can help to overcome it: A 2012 study of hospital patients in Atlanta’s inner-city communities showed that rates of post-traumatic stress are now on par with those of veterans returning from war zones. At least 1 out of 3 surveyed said they had experienced stress responses like flashbacks, persistent fear, a sense of alienation, and aggressive behavior. All across the country, in Detroit, New Orleans, and in what historian Louis Ferleger describes as economic “ (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Tom Sullivan’s advice for Democrats south of the border that it’s essential to reach out to dispossessed voters of all types of backgrounds with a compelling alternative to the status quo is equally relevant to progressives in Canada.

- But the good news is that here, somebody’s actually applying it. And we’re also hearing plenty about how our local reactionaries are ignoring the vast majority of families – with Ashley Splawinski offering this look at the Cons’ income splitting scheme compared to the obvious alternative:  About 86 per cent of all families including (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Dennis Raphael and Toba Bryant write about the devastating health effects of income inequality in Canada: Imagine the response, from industry, government and the public, if a plane was crashing every day. If there were something that killed as many people in a day as this kind of disaster, you’d expect it to provoke a similarly concentrated response.

A recent report by Statistics Canada highlights a preventable cause of premature death that is having exactly that kind of impact. This study demonstrates that income inequality is associated with the premature death of 40,000 (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- George Monbiot comments on the far more important values we’re endangering in the name of constant financial and material growth: To try to stabilise this system, governments behave like soldiers billeted in an ancient manor, burning the furniture, the paintings and the stairs to keep themselves warm for a night. They are breaking up the postwar settlement, our public health services and social safety nets, above all the living world, to produce ephemeral spurts of growth. Magnificent habitats, the benign and fragile climate in which we have prospered, species that have lived (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- The 25th anniversary of Parliament’s unanimous – if failed – commitment to eliminate child poverty has given rise to plenty of worthwhile commentary. Marco Chown Oved talks to Ed Broadbent about what the resolution meant at the time (as well as how it came to be ignored), while also interviewing social justice advocates about the need to effective start from scratch now. And Olivia Carville explores one life which could have been changed for the better if Canada had made good on its promise.

- Meanwhile, Dennis Raphael discusses the need to combat (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Richard Wike notes that inequality is properly being recognized as a higher priority around the globe. But Steven Rattner observes that recognition of the issue isn’t doing anything to resolve it, as income and wealth concentration are only getting worse. And Linda McQuaig discusses the need for far more political attention to the gap in Canada: Apart from the obvious issue of fairness, this diversion of money to the top raises other issues that should be central to meaningful public debate.

For instance, there is growing evidence that a high level of inequality (Read more…)

Progressive Proselytizing: Dealing with Climate Change and Inequality

Two of the defining problems of our times are wealth inequality (both globally and within the first world) and climate change. With any socioeconomic order – our mixture of capitalism and government being just one – there are going to be consequences both good and bad. There are going to be challenges that the socioeconomic order is particularly good or bad at addressing. The point of this post is to expand on how these two defining problems – global warming and inequality – are products of our particular socioeconomic order, that they are two problems that our system is particularly (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- The Economist discusses how a tiny elite group is taking a startling share of the U.S.’ total wealth: The ratio of household wealth to national income has risen back toward the level of the 1920s, but the share in the hands of middle-class families has tumbled (see chart). Tepid growth in middle-class incomes is partly to blame; real incomes for the top 1% of families grew 3.4% a year from 1986-2012 while those for the bottom 90% grew 0.7%. But Messrs Saez and Zucman reckon the main cause (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: Forget About the 1%. It’s the .1% Who Are the Emerging Problem.

They’re now buying elections as efficiently as they once had to settle for buying politicians (or judges) and they’re buying their way to ever dizzying heights of aberrant prosperity.

They’re the top one-tenth of the top one per cent and, thanks to rampaging inequality in the United States, their wealth today is about the same as the bottom 90%.

And spare us the nonsense about a rising tide lifting all boats. 

The growing indebtedness of most Americans is the main reason behind the erosion of the wealth share of the bottom 90%, according to the report’s authors. Many middle-class (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Jonas Fossli Gherso discusses the unfortunate (and unnecessary) acceptance of burgeoning inequality even by the people who suffer most from its presence. And Ryan Meili interviews Gabor Mate about the ill health effects of an economic system designed to keep people under stress: (T)he very nature of the system in which people live their lives is a significant source of illness. Now there are obvious factors like environmental pollution, toxins, and then of course there are the social determinants of health that you write about in A Healthy Society: the impact of (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Barrie McKenna looks to Norway as an example of how an oil-rich country can both ensure long-term benefits from its non-renewable resources, and be far more environmentally responsible than Canada has been to date.

- Michal Rozworski discusses how the devaluing of work is a largely political phenomenon. And Paul Mason wonders what it will take for workers who now see themselves as disenfranchised to fight back again a system that’s rigged against them. 

- Speaking of which, Brendan James discusses a new study suggesting that the U.S. is past the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- The Globe and Mail reminds us why we should demand the restoration of an effective census, while Evidence for Democracy is making a public push toward that goal. And Tavia Grant discusses how the destruction of effective data collection is affecting Canadian workplace: Reliable, complete and up-to-date labour market data is a crucial component of government policy, influencing everything from educational priorities to immigration.

Yet, fallout from faulty or missing labour market information has made headlines on a number of issues this year alone. It’s been hard to pinpoint the size of the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Robert Reich discusses the right’s utter lack of – and aversion to – empathy as either a personal or political value. Bob Norman reports on a particularly galling example of that phenomenon, as Fort Lauderdale has begun arresting people for feeding the homeless. And CBC reports on one of the systemic effects of a government which couldn’t care less about the people under its jurisdiction, as Saskatchewan is seeing a drastic increase in people having to rely on food banks.

- Speaking of the Saskatchewan Party’s contempt for social issues, Simon Enoch highlights (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: Forget income splitting, tax the rich!

For now, I’ll keep double-posting my pieces for Ricochet here. The latest is on income splitting and taxing the rich more generally. The idea is that even though taxing the rich won’t get generate huge revenue, there are lots of other good reasons to do it, like even just slightly shifting the balance of power in the workplace. On the flip side, the income-splitting tax cut does more than just funnel money disproportionately to the rich, it also reinforces 1950s-style gender roles. Here is the piece in full:

Tax may not to be a four-letter word, but neither is it (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Will Hutton rightly slams David Cameron for his antisocial view of taxes and public institutions – which should of course sound all too familiar in Canada: Believe the prime minister and it is morality, rather than economics, which requires him to cut taxes. In an important article in the Times last week that was factually incorrect, philosophically incoherent and economically bonkers, David Cameron set out the Tory credo. He was wrong on all counts. Trying to argue why every reader should vote Conservative, he instead revealed the darkness of the blind alley (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Chris Matthews takes note of the gross growth of inequality in the U.S. Dean Baker notes that much of the wealth built on what’s branded as “innovation” reflects little more than successful attempts to evade health, safety and consumer protection laws. And Mike De Souza explores how the notorious ALEC pushes climate denial and other anti-social policies with an alarming amount of support from businesses who (once challenged) claim not to know who they’re funding.

- Meanwhile, Digby points out that the corporatist right is downright eager to work people to the (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Natasha Luckhardt examines what we can expect from Burger King’s takeover of Tim Hortons – and the news isn’t good for Canadian workers and citizens alike. But Jim Stanford reminds us that we’re not without some public policy options by following up on the employment effects of an increased minimum wage.

- Of course, that would require a government committed to ensuring that the benefits of public policy go where they’re needed. And we plainly can’t count on that as long as the Cons are in power – as Kathleen Lahey, Jennifer (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Oxfam studies the spread of extreme inequality around the globe, as well as the policies needed to combat it: Oxfam’s decades of experience in the world’s poorest communities have taught us that poverty and inequality are not inevitable or accidental, but the result of deliberate policy choices. Inequality can be reversed. The world needs concerted action to build a fairer economic and political system that values everyone. The rules and systems that have led to today’s inequality explosion must change. Urgent action is needed to level the playing field by implementing policies (Read more…)

Progressive Proselytizing: Government’s dominant role: redistributing wealth

The dominant effect of government on society is to redistribute wealth from the richer members of society to the poorer. One can support or oppose this idea, but as a simply descriptive point about what the effect of governments are, this is by far the dominant one. We live in a capitalist society that has a lot of forces which create inequality (which, again, one can support or oppose) and governments act as a partially countervailing measure, reducing the degree of inequality but hardly eliminating it.

There are two major sides: taxation and spending. From a taxation perspective the point (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Sarah Lazare reports on UNICEF’s research showing an appalling increase in child poverty in many of the world’s richest countries: “Many affluent countries have suffered a ‘great leap backwards’ in terms of household income, and the impact on children will have long-lasting repercussions for them and their communities,” said Jeffrey O’Malley, UNICEF’s Head of Global Policy and Strategy.

In 23 of the 41 wealthy countries examined, the rate of child poverty has increased since 2008. In some countries, this rise was drastic: Ireland, Croatia, Latvia, Greece, and Iceland saw child poverty climb by (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman look into the spread of wealth inequality in the U.S., and find that it may be worse than we already knew. And Paul Krugman discusses how toxic anti-government ideology is preventing the U.S. from both getting its economy on track in the short term, and investing in infrastructure it will need down the road: More than seven years have passed since the housing bubble burst, and ever since, America has been awash in savings — or more accurately, desired savings — with nowhere to (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Erika Shaker points out how condescending attitudes toward public benefits are both making it unduly difficult to develop new programs which would benefit everybody, and threatening existing social safety net. Sean McElwee writes that inequality only figures to grow as an issue as the wealthy try to disassociate themselves from everybody else. And Scott Santens discusses how the U.S.’ social benefits are needlessly costly and difficult to access because they’re designed more to exclude than to include: As citizens, we are doing everything we can. Some of us are even tragically (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Tony Burman comments on the increasing recognition of the dangers of inequality even among corporate and financial elites: (I)t is significant that the policy debate among many decision-makers seems to be changing. Rather than the nonsense about “the makers versus the takers,” there is increasing focus on the notion that income inequality could be a key factor in why overall economic growth has been sluggish in recent years.

There has always been a “common sense’ element to this argument. The wealthy tend to save a larger percentage of their income because they (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Paul Krugman writes that the ultra-wealthy’s contempt for anybody short of their own class is becoming more and more explicit around the globe – even when it comes to basic rights like the ability to vote: It’s always good when leaders tell the truth, especially if that wasn’t their intention. So we should be grateful to Leung Chun-ying, the Beijing-backed leader of Hong Kong, for blurting out the real reason pro-democracy demonstrators can’t get what they want: With open voting, “You would be talking to half of the people in Hong Kong who (Read more…)

Political Eh-conomy: On childcare in Ricochet

I forgot to post the piece I wrote on the NDP’s universal childcare proposal for Ricochet. Here it is belatedly. It was published last weekend and tries to situate the childcare proposal in the context of broader changes to the welfare state.

Why the NDP’s childcare proposal has irritated all the right people

The NDP’s universal childcare proposal has the right wing up in arms. Political opponents are playing up the spectre of big government. Their mouthpieces in the media are also predictably upset. The proposed program will be big spending, freedom limiting and unaffordable, they say. Social media (Read more…)