Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Jared Bernstein discusses how fair and progressive taxes on the rich are a necessary element of any effort to improve the lot of the poor:
The rising tide of inequality does more than create great economic distance between income classes. It also produces higher barriers to mobility. Increased investment in the poor’s economic opportunities and in their children, their health care, their housing and their education will be needed to overcome those barriers.

To be more precise, there are three reliable ways to help or “lift” the bottom: subsidies that increase the poor’s economic security today; investment in their future productivity; and targeted job opportunities at decent wages. The first two are more closely related than you might think, because researchers are discovering that anti-poverty consumption programs such as nutritional and income supports have long-lasting benefits to children in families that receive them.

None of these three approaches are free.
Yes, growth is necessary; in the age of high inequality, though, it is insufficient. What will work here is a large, publicly funded infrastructure program to begin to repair our deteriorating public goods, with the jobs targeted at the working poor.

All of the above — the expanded earned-income tax credit, universal preschool, job-creating infrastructure — will take more tax revenue, and much of that new revenue will need to come from those at the top of the wealth scale.
To be clear, the tax burden on all Americans, not just the wealthy, is low both in historical and international terms. We’re collecting less revenue than many other advanced economies and less than we have in the past. So it’s not just the rich that will ultimately have to pony up if we’re going to continue to fund the things we want and need in a sustainable way.

But since most of the pretax income growth in recent years has accrued to households at the top scale, that’s an obvious place to start.
- Mel Watkins comments on Arundhati Roy's observation that we're stuck with "gush-up economics". And Duncan Cameron weighs in on Tim Hudak's plan to create jobs by destroying jobs and public services alike.

- Bruce Campbell discusses the regulatory failure behind the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster while noting that the people most responsible for systemic problems aren't the ones facing charges. But then, Lauren Krugel reports that the Cons are trying to obstruct even an investigation of tar sands tailings which can't possibly lead to any direct consequences other than fact-finding - signalling that instead of caring about the health and safety of Canadians, Harper and company are fully occupied trying to make sure that nobody uncovers what they're so desperately sweeping under the rug.

- Meanwhile, Margo McDiarmid reports on the latest research showing the catastrophic effects of climate change. And Denise Robbins points out the Republican response that they'd rather try to uproot much of civilization in a few decades than lift a finger to reduce the damage today.

- Finally, Andrew Mitrovica rightly calls out the press gallery's groupthink (and willingness to mindlessly dispense other parties' talking points) about Tom Mulcair. And both thwap and Karl Nerenberg highlight how absurd the Con/Lib attempt to gang up on Mulcair and the NDP was in the first place.

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