- Following up on this morning's post, George Monbiot discusses the need for a progressive movement which goes beyond pointing out dangers to offer the promise of better things to come:
Twenty years of research, comprehensively ignored by these parties, reveals that shifts such as privatisation and cutting essential public services strongly promote people's extrinsic values (an attraction to power, prestige, image and status) while suppressing intrinsic values (intimacy, kindness, self-acceptance, independent thought and action). As extrinsic values are powerfully linked to conservative politics, pursuing policies that reinforce them is blatantly self-destructive.- And Laurie Monsebraaten reports on the hope that a consensus to move toward income equality is within reach.
One of the drivers of extrinsic values is a sense of threat. Experimental work suggests that when fears are whipped up, they trigger an instinctive survival response. You suppress your concern for other people and focus on your own interests. Conservative strategists seem to know this, which is why they emphasise crime, terrorism, deficits and immigration.
None of this is to suggest that we should not discuss the threats or pretend that the crises faced by this magnificent planet are not happening. Or that we should cease to employ rigorous research and statistics. What it means is that we should embed both the awareness of these threats and their scientific description in a different framework: one that emphasises the joy and awe to be found in the marvels at risk; one that proposes a better world, rather than (if we work really hard for it), just a slightly-less-shitty-one-than-there-would-otherwise-have-been.
- Robert Reich calls out three right-wing lies about poverty, while Ben Phillips notes that fighting poverty should be a matter of right and wrong rather than left and right in the first place. And Danielle Kurtzleben writes that poverty is just as incompatible with equality of opportunity as it is with fair outcomes:
In a new article in the spring issue of the Princeton University journal The Future of Children (and highlighted by the Brookings social mobility blog), researchers show that poverty is directly correlated to kindergarten performance. Children who live in poverty have far lower performance than their richer peers across a variety of measures, and those who live in near poverty in turn have dramatically worse performance than middle-class peers. The poorest kids, for example, are less than one-third as likely as middle-class kids to recognize letters.- Meanwhile, Jordon Cooper discusses the link between secure housing and mental health.
Early academic achievement can have lifelong effects. Harvard economist Raj Chetty found in a 2010 study that moving from an average to an excellent kindergarten teacher can boost a student's later work earnings by $1,000 per year on average. And Chetty and fellow economists from Harvard and Berkeley wrote in a wide-ranging study on economic mobility this year that primary education is one of the key factors in moving people up the ladder.
It's not that money directly buys better outcomes. Having extra cash does mean that adults can, for example, better invest in kids' development with games and toys at young ages and have more time to spend with kids. But the effects are also less direct, as growing up poor can create psychological stress and hurt development.
- Finally, Susan Adams refutes any justification for outsized CEO pay, pointing out that businesses which pay more money to their top executive are actually rewarded with worse performance. And Mariana Mazzucato observes that we should be working on developing far more entrepreneurial government - and coddling far less private-sector rent-seeking than we do now.