Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Joshua Holland writes that for all the social and cultural factors contribution to U.S. sickness and death, inequality ranks at the top of the list:
Here in the United States, our high level of income inequality corresponds with 883, 914 unnecessary deaths each year. More specifically, the report concluded that if we had an income distribution more like that of the Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland — or eleven other wealthy countries — every year, about one in three deaths in the US could be avoided.

Put that into perspective. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), tobacco, including second-hand smoke, causes approximately 480,000 deaths every year, and in 2010, traffic accidents killed 33,687 people and 31,672 others died of gunshot wounds.

The mechanism by which a bullet or a car crash kills is readily apparent. Inequality is lethal in ways that are less obvious. It’s a silent killer – a deadly plague that we, as a society, tend not to acknowledge.
- Meanwhile, Paul Krugman highlights the important questions receiving renewed attention as a result of Thomas Piketty's work - along with the reasons why the corporate right doesn't want to see them discussed:
For the past couple of decades, the conservative response to attempts to make soaring incomes at the top into a political issue has involved two lines of defense: first, denial that the rich are actually doing as well and the rest as badly as they are, but when denial fails, claims that those soaring incomes at the top are a justified reward for services rendered. Don’t call them the 1 percent, or the wealthy; call them “job creators.”

But how do you make that defense if the rich derive much of their income not from the work they do but from the assets they own? And what if great wealth comes increasingly not from enterprise but from inheritance?

What Mr. Piketty shows is that these are not idle questions. Western societies before World War I were indeed dominated by an oligarchy of inherited wealth — and his book makes a compelling case that we’re well on our way back toward that state.
- Canadians for Tax Fairness comments on the connection between the Senate's corporate links and the preferential tax treatment of stock options.

- Mike Moffatt writes about the devastating effect of long-term unemployment on future hiring - and how that reality means it's futile to punish the long-term unemployed by cutting off benefits. But it's worth noting that rushing people back to whatever work is immediately available isn't necessarily the only available response - and I'd be particularly curious whether employer prejudice against applicants who have been out of the workforce can be addressed as a problem in and of itself, rather than being taken as an unchangeable assumption.

- Finally, Laura Beaulne-Stuebing reports on the role of social media activity in drawing attention to - and ultimately changing - the Unfair Elections Act.

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