Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wednesday Afternoon Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- In an excerpt from the Occupy Handbook, Paul Krugman and Robin Wells discuss how a right-wing obsession with exacerbating inequality led to the U.S.' disastrous response to the 2008 crash:
How did America become a nation that could not rise to the biggest economic challenge in three generations, a nation in which scorched-earth politics and politicized economics created policy paralysis?

We suggest it was the inequality that did it. Soaring inequality is at the root of our polarized politics, which made us unable to act together in the face of crisis. And because rising incomes at the top have also brought rising power to the wealthiest, our nation’s intellectual life has been warped, with too many economists co-opted into defending economic doctrines that were convenient for the wealthy despite being indefensible on logical and empirical grounds.
(T)he role of rising inequality in creating the economic crisis of 2008 is debatable; it probably did play an important role, if nothing else than by encouraging the financial deregulation that set the stage for crisis. What seems very clear to us, however, is that rising inequality played a central role in causing an ineffective response once crisis hit. Inequality bred a polarized political system, in which the right went all out to block any and all efforts by a modestly liberal president to do something about job creation. And rising inequality also gave rise to what we have called a Dark Age of macroeconomics, in which hard-won insights about how depressions happen and what to do about them were driven out of the national discourse, even in academic circles.

This implies, we believe, that the issue of inequality and the problem of economic recovery are not as separate as a purely economic analysis might suggest. We’re not going to have a good macroeconomic policy again unless inequality, and its distorting effect on policy debate, can be curbed.
- Meanwhile, in a Progressive Economics Forum guest post, Robyn Allan points out the deception behind the supposed benefits of a resource-driven economy. And Mike de Souza reports on how the Cons' latest attacks on Environment Canada will weaken environmental protection, while Mike McCarthy and John Ibbitson discuss other ways in which the Cons plan to make environmental oversight less effective.

- The Vancouver Observer digs into the work done by Front Porch Strategies for the federal Cons. And the four examples of candidates who didn't report their expenses look to me to be one of the stories crying out for further exploration, particularly since some of the expenses at issue in Robocon were also laundered through other people or entities.

- Naturally, needing to build prisons to house has left the Cons short on money for actual rehabilitation. But on the bright side, that should at least make increased prison capacity into a genuinely long-term investment.

- Finally, the CCPA finds that not surprisingly, the Cons' OAS cuts will disproportionately harm poorer seniors.

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