Monday, March 10, 2014

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Matthew O'Brien is the latest to pick up on the connection between pre-transfer income equality, redistribution and sustainable economic growth:
Redistribution overall helps, and at least doesn't harm, growth spells. That's because the positive effects of less inequality add to or offset the negligible, or negative, effects of redistribution itself. When redistribution is in the bottom 75 percent, these positive effects are the only ones, and growth lasts longer. And when redistribution is in the top 25 percent, these positive effects make up for the negative ones from taxing-and-transferring so much—it's a statistically insignificant wash.

So countries that spread the wealth around more seem to grow more and grow longer than countries that don't.
[Update: Paul Krugman has more. ]

- And Laura D'Andrea Tyson points out that minimum wage increases are particularly important for women (who make up a disproportionate number of low-wage workers):
Less than half of all workers are women, but they account for 75 percent of workers in the 10 lowest-paid occupations and about 60 percent of minimum wage workers. And most women earning the minimum wage are not teenagers, or wives who can rely on a spouse’s income.

About three-quarters of female minimum wage workers are above the age of 20, and about three-quarters of these women are on their own. Many, of course, are working and taking care of children.
(T)he prevailing view among economists, reinforced by rigorous studies over the last decade, is that a modest increase would boost the wages of millions of workers and have little to no negative effect on employment. A higher minimum wage would also enhance labor productivity, reduce worker turnover and absenteeism, and lower the costs of recruiting and training employees.

Despite the evidence, Congressional Republicans have pounced on a recent estimate by the Congressional Budget Office that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, as Democrats have proposed, could reduce employment by 0.3 percent, or 500,000 jobs, by the end of 2015. For reasons that have been raised by a variety of experts, I doubt this estimate.

But even if it’s correct, let’s be careful to recognize what the C.B.O. also emphasized: The higher wage would directly benefit 16.5 million workers currently making less than $10.10 an hour, and as many as 8 million additional workers currently earning slightly more, and would lift 900,000 people out of poverty.
- Dr. Dawg and Stephen Maher both weigh in on the judicial appointment of Vic Toews. And on a similar theme, Michael Harris uses the Cons' cover-up of Brad Butt's legislative fraud to discuss how Stephen Harper rewards blatant lying within his caucus.

- Meanwhile, Jeffrey Simpson discusses the Cons' continued misuse of public resources for partisan self-promotion.

- Finally, Josh Bolotsky comments on the right's success in determining what issues are acceptable for public debate - and what progressive activists need to do to turn the tide in our favour:
The most important thing about the Overton that it can be shifted to the left or the right, with the once merely “acceptable” becoming “popular” or even imminent policy, and formerly “unthinkable” positions becoming the open position of a partisan base. The challenge for activists and advocates is to move the window in the direction of their preferred outcomes, so their desired outcome moves closer and closer to “common sense.”

There are two ways to do this: the long, hard way and the short, easy way. The long, hard way is to continue making your actual case persistently and persuasively until your position becomes more politically mainstream, whether it be due to the strength of your rhetoric or a long-term shift in societal values. By contrast, the short, easy way is to amplify and echo the voices of those who take a position a few notches more radical than what you really want.

For example, if what you actually want is a public health care option in the United States, coordinate with and promote those pushing for single-payer, universal health care. If the single-payer approach constitutes the “acceptable left” flank of the discourse, then the public option looks, by comparison, like the conservative option it was once considered back when it was first proposed by Orrin Hatch in 1994.

This is Negotiating 101. Unfortunately, the right has been far ahead of the left in moving the Overton window in their desired direction for a long time. If anything, the left often plays it in the exact wrong way, actively policing and seeking to silence its radicals for fear that strong left positions will serve to discredit moderate left positions. The irony is that the Overton window should actually be easier for progressives to play: if you look at the polling on issue after issue, from education to jobs to foreign policy, the actual majority stances tend to be to the left of the range of policy proposals on offer.

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