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Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Eduardo Porter writes about the rise of inequality in the U.S., while Tracy McVeigh reports on the eleven-figure annual cost of inequality in the UK. And Shamus Khan discusses the connection between inequality and poverty – as well as the policy which can do the most to address both: While a tiny fraction of Americans enjoy almost all the spoils of our national growth, the majority of Americans have a radically different experience. About 40 percent of Americans will live in poverty at some point in their lives, and many (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Michael Hiltzik writes about the efforts of the corporate sector – including the tobacco and food industries – to produce mass ignorance in order to preserve profits: Proctor, a professor of the history of science at Stanford, is one of the world’s leading experts in agnotology, a neologism signifying the study of the cultural production of ignorance. It’s a rich field, especially today when whole industries devote themselves to sowing public misinformation and doubt about their products and activities.

The tobacco industry was a pioneer at this. Its goal was to erode public (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Is A Flawed Tool

Rob Douglas

A couple of weeks ago, it was reported that Canada’s economy had grown by a modest 0.2 per cent during the last month on record, the fifth consecutive month of growth.

This was greeted as good news, as we define a healthy economy as a growing economy, and track our success with a tool called the gross domestic product – or GDP.

GDP measures the total value of all goods and services produced in a country within a specific period of time, such as a quarterly or annual basis.

For example, every time a grocery store sells (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz discusses the link between perpetually-increasing inequality and the loss of social trust: Unfortunately, however, trust is becoming yet another casualty of our country’s staggering inequality: As the gap between Americans widens, the bonds that hold society together weaken. So, too, as more and more people lose faith in a system that seems inexorably stacked against them, and the 1 percent ascend to ever more distant heights, this vital element of our institutions and our way of life is eroding.

The undervaluing of trust has its roots in our most popular economic traditions. (Read more…)

Northern Insight: Investment in society and in human beings?

A paper published in the journal International Political Science Review considered if the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was “Democracy’s Friend or Foe.” It noted that reforms required by the American based IMF, “may create an economically and politically marginalized population whose government is unwilling or incapable of responding to their needs. This may undermine the legitimacy of democracy for those who are marginalized…”

The article said research showed a declining proportion of Latin Americans preferred democracy to any other form of government. In emerging economic powerhouse Brazil, citizens of the world’s fifth most populated country showed only (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz reminds us that inequality isn’t an inevitability, but a choice favoured (and lobbied for) by the few who want to remove themselves from the general public: (W)idening income and wealth inequality in America is part of a trend seen across the Western world. A 2011 study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that income inequality first started to rise in the late ’70s and early ’80s in America and Britain (and also in Israel). The trend became more widespread starting in the late ’80s. Within the last (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Joseph Stiglitz On Income Inequality

Nobel Memorial Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz recently gave a powerful speech at the annual AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles. Watching this video leaves one little choice but to feel a deep dissatisfaction with the status quo:

Recommend this Post

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

This and that for your Labour Day reading.

- Jared Bernstein writes about the fight for fair wages in the U.S. fast food and retail industries. And Karen McVeigh notes that political decision-makers are starting to try to get in front of the parade of workers seeking a reasonable standard of living: Organisers said the strikes, scheduled a day after the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and a few days before Labor Day, were being held in 60 cities and had spread to the south – including Tampa and Raleigh – and the west, with workers in (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz comments on the wider lessons we should take from Detroit’s bankruptcy: Detroit’s travails arise in part from a distinctive aspect of America’s divided economy and society. As the sociologists Sean F. Reardon and Kendra Bischoff have pointed out, our country is becoming vastly more economically segregated, which can be even more pernicious than being racially segregated. Detroit is the example par excellence of the seclusion of affluent (and mostly white) elites in suburban enclaves. There is a rationale for battening down the hatches: the rich thus ensure that they don’t (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Murray Dobbin writes about the crisis of extreme capitalism: (T)he “free economy” romanticized by Friedman and his ilk is anything but. Completely dominated by giant corporations whose wealth outstrips all but the richest nations, economic freedom does not exist for anyone else, including the vast majority of businesses who are at the mercy of financial institutions and mega-corporations. This is to say nothing of workers whose “freedom” to sell their labour now means they are free to compete with those who earn a few dollars a day thousands of miles away from their (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz makes the case for free trade talks to be based on the public interest rather than the further entrenchment of corporate power and siphoning of wealth to the top. But there’s little reason to expect a meeting of corporate and government figures to produce that result – particularly when (as the New York Times editorial board points out) the main area of agreement between the U.S.’ main political parties involves a mutual willingness to make public services and regulatory bodies subservient to the immediate interests of the business (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading…

- Joseph Stiglitz discusses the abuse of intellectual property law to turn publicly-funded research into privately-held profit centres (no matter how many people die as a result): (A) Utah-based company, Myriad Genetics, claims more than that. It claims to own the rights to any test for the presence of the two critical genes associated with breast cancer – and has ruthlessly enforced that right, though their test is inferior to one that Yale University was willing to provide at much lower cost. The consequences have been tragic: Thorough, affordable testing that identifies high-risk (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Thomas Walkom offers an insider’s look at outsourcing: Arlene says any outsourcing scheme begins with the institution’s senior management. Usually, she says, the aim is to transfer about 60 per cent of the affected jobs — often in back-shop areas like information technology — to India where wages are a fraction of those paid in Canada.

The remaining 40 per cent, which generally require more local support, are outsourced to third-party firms in Canada. They in turn, subcontract the jobs to individual Canadians. The aim here, Arlene says, is to not only to . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz discusses how the combination of increasingly concentrated wealth and deteriorating has eliminated any pretense of equal opportunity within the U.S.: It’s not that social mobility is impossible, but that the upwardly mobile American is becoming a statistical oddity. According to research from the Brookings Institution, only 58 percent of Americans born into the bottom fifth of income earners move out of that category, and just 6 percent born into the bottom fifth move into the top. Economic mobility in the United States is lower than in most of

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Alex's Blog: The Age of Austerity

Notes: Keynote talk, CCPA Post-Austerity session, Toronto, January 9, 2013

We are living in the “Age of Austerity” or at least so says David Cameron, the UK’s Prime Minister. He made this announcement in 2009 at the Conservative convention just before becoming prime minister. This meant, he explained, that he would have to fix the errors, the folly of previous governments. He would restore the economy by cutting spending, reducing the size of government, and shifting resources from public to private.

In 2010, the G20 met in Toronto and, apart from arresting citizens, they were also talking austerity. Canada led

. . . → Read More: Alex’s Blog: The Age of Austerity

Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Joseph Stiglitz discusses how the U.S.’ extreme inequality is limiting its prospects for economic recovery: There are all kinds of excuses for inequality. Some say it’s beyond our control, pointing to market forces like globalization, trade liberalization, the technological revolution, the “rise of the rest.” Others assert that doing anything about it would make us all worse off, by stifling our already sputtering economic engine. These are self-serving, ignorant falsehoods.

Market forces don’t exist in a vacuum — we shape them. Other countries, like fast-growing Brazil, have shaped them in

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Sunday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that to start the new year.

- Lynn Stuart Parramore discusses the dangers of needless means-testing for basic social benefits: When I spoke to Joseph Stiglitz, he discussed the idea that “means-testing is mean.” Programs like Medicare and Social Security, he explained, are matters of political economy. They are important to social cohesion, where support comes from the fact that everybody is participating. “We don’t means-test public education,” explained Stiglitz, “because we believe that we want people to have the same opportunities and we lose out on that with means-testing.” The same is true of our

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Don Lenihan responds to Allan Gregg’s recent critique of Canadian politics, featuring this on the connection that ought to exist between ideology and policy: First, the fact that a policy is based on ideological conviction does not mean it is opposed to reason. According to Gregg, “to follow a course based on dogma or ideology, it becomes necessary to remove science and reason.” I disagree. As I wrote a few weeks ago, each of us has only a limited knowledge of the society around us. An ideology is a system

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- While a misleading “wealth equals health” headline seems to have been the main take-away from the CMA’s health polling, Iglika Ivanova frames the issue more accurately in pointing out that the non-wealth determinants of health are the areas where Canada has far more room for improvement: (L)ifestyle choices are a relatively small factor in shaping health outcomes, much less important than our living and working conditions. In fact, living and working conditions often constrain our choices to a very large extent. The health research is very clear (p. ix): “Chronic disease

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Joe Stiglitz discusses the link between increased inequality and the U.S.’ economic frailty: Any solution to today’s problems requires addressing the economy’s underlying weakness: a deficiency in aggregate demand. Firms won’t invest if there is no demand for their products. And one of the key reasons for lack of demand is America’s level of inequality — the highest in the advanced countries.

Because those at the top spend a much smaller portion of their income than those in the bottom and middle, when money moves from the bottom and middle to

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Monday Morning Links

Dead Wild Roses: Joseph Stiglitz – On Redistribution of Wealth

From a great interview on Alter.net –

“LP: Some say that if we redistribute income in a more equitable way, people won’t want to work as hard. Is that true? What happens to our motivation to work when things are so inequitable?

JS: One of the myths that I try to destroy is the myth that if we do anything about inequality it will weaken our economy. And that’s why the title of my book is The Price of Inequality. What I argue is that if we did attack these sources of inequality, we would actually have a stronger

. . . → Read More: Dead Wild Roses: Joseph Stiglitz – On Redistribution of Wealth

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Miles Corak comments on how inequality undercuts social mobility. And Joseph Stiglitz highlights the fact that the vast majority of people hold a strong interest in not having their path to a secure and successful life blocked by a wall of upper-class money.

- If there’s anything the Wall government can’t stand, it’s collective action. And following up on Murray Mandryk’s column, Erin points out that the Sask Party’s eagerness to set up an opt-out union dues system is a textbook example of how to make collective systems fail by encouraging free

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Northern Insight: Austerity and recession, invariably linked

UK is back in recession, OECD says, Phillip Inman, The Guardian, March 29, 2012

“The UK is heading back into recession and will be among the slowest of the world’s largest economies to recover in the first half of this year, according to a study by the Paris-based thinktank, the OECD.

Only Italy will struggle over a longer period to return to growth, highlighting the difficult situation confronting the British government as it battles to boost confidence and get the economy back on track…”

UK economy sinks back into recession, Norma Cohen, Economics Correspondent, Financial Times, April

. . . → Read More: Northern Insight: Austerity and recession, invariably linked

Alex's Blog: The Price Of Austerity

Austerity, we have been told repeatedly by pundits and political leaders, is the defining issue in these uncertain times, the solution to our economic challenges.

We have been given fair warning that the next federal budget will be first about cuts – cuts to government even as we continue to cut taxes. We can expect the same from most provincial budgets.

This, we are told, is what must be done. Austerity is not simply the best way, the argument goes, but the only way, and not just for us but for our friends and allies. Canada has become the champion

. . . → Read More: Alex’s Blog: The Price Of Austerity

Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- Thomas Walkom tries to be optimistic about the year ahead, and likely settles on the best reason for hope that Canada’s politics will see some change for the better: Canada, like Australia and Brazil, is getting by on sales of raw materials whose prices are kept high by seemingly insatiable Chinese demand.

But the key word here is “seemingly.” The world has seen so-called Asian miracles before, starting with Japan in the 1980s and running through various so-called Tigers such as Thailand in the ’90s.

In the end, these miracles proved

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Saturday Afternoon Links