- Robert Reich confirms the seemingly obvious reality that poverty and inequality are in fact major obstacle facing the poor. And Paul Krugman explains why any successful progressive movement in the U.S. will need to discuss inequality and the hoarding of wealth to challenge the entrenched (and expanding) influence of those who already have the most:
(J)obs and inequality are closely linked if not identical issues. There’s a pretty good although not ironclad case that soaring inequality helped set the stage for our economic crisis, and that the highly unequal distribution of income since the crisis has perpetuated the slump, especially by making it hard for families in debt to work their way out.- And Jordan Weissman offers a reminder that Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy includes a commitment to a guaranteed income:
Moreover, there’s an even stronger case to be made that high unemployment — by destroying workers’ bargaining power — has become a major source of rising inequality and stagnating incomes even for those lucky enough to have jobs.
Beyond that, as a political matter, inequality and macroeconomic policy are already inseparably linked. It has been obvious for a long time that the deficit obsession that has exerted such a destructive effect on policy these past few years isn’t really driven by worries about the federal debt. It is, instead, mainly an effort to use debt fears to scare and bully the nation into slashing social programs — especially programs that help the poor.
King had an even more expansive vision. He laid out the case for the guaranteed income in his final book, 1967's Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? Washington's previous efforts to fight poverty, he concluded, had been "piecemeal and pygmy." The government believed it could lift up the poor by attacking the root causes of their impoverishment one by one—by providing better housing, better education, and better support for families. But these efforts had been too small and too disorganized. Moreover, he wrote, "the programs of the past all have another common failing—they are indirect. Each seeks to solve poverty by first solving something else."- Meanwhile, Chris Bowers shows that a genuinely progressive take on politics can be a political winner by looking at past U.S. partisan support. And Thomas Mulcair is likewise demonstrating that a challenge to corporate control can resonate with the general public in Canada.
It was time, he believed, for a more straightforward approach: the government needed to make sure every American had a reasonable income.
- Finally, following up on the theme of yesterday's column, Matthew Robinson and Mike de Souza report that the shipment of oil by rail is actually increasing even in the wake of the Lac-Mégantic explosion. And Adam Gamble highlights Regina's SomerSet development as a prime example of warnings being utterly ignored in the name of immediate gratification.