Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Neil Irwin highlights the reality that top-heavy economic growth has done nothing to reduce poverty in the U.S. over the past 40 years:
In Kennedy’s era, [the "rising tide lifts all boats" theory] had the benefit of being true. From 1959 to 1973, the nation’s economy per person grew 82 percent, and that was enough to drive the proportion of the poor population from 22 percent to 11 percent.

But over the last generation in the United States, that simply hasn’t happened. Growth has been pretty good, up 147 percent per capita. But rather than decline further, the poverty rate has bounced around in the 12 to 15 percent range — higher than it was even in the early 1970s. The mystery of why — and how to change that — is one of the most fundamental challenges in the nation’s fight against poverty.
The 1959 to 1973 period might be an unfair benchmark. The Great Society social safety net programs were being put in place, and they may have had a poverty-lowering effect separate from that of the overall economic trends. In other words, it may be simply that during that time, strong growth and a falling poverty rate happened to take place simultaneously for unrelated reasons. And there presumably is some level of poverty below which the official poverty rate will never fall, driven by people whose problems run much deeper than economics.

But the facts still cast doubt on the notion that growth alone will solve America’s poverty problem.
The reality is that low-income workers are putting in more hours on the job than they did a generation ago — and the financial rewards for doing so just haven’t increased.

That’s the real lesson of the data: If you want to address poverty in the United States, it’s not enough to say that you need to create better incentives for lower-income people to work. You also have to devise strategies that make the benefits of a stronger economy show up in the wages of the people on the edge of poverty, who need it most desperately.
- Kate Allen reports that 300 scientists have teamed up to call attention to the flawed assessment process applied to the Gateway pipeline, while Kai Nagata theorizes that the Cons might well scrap the project themselves. But I have my doubts about that theory in light of the Harper Cons' continued devotion to Keystone XL even as it produces a constant flow of shutdowns, leaks and spills.

- Meanwhile, the Montreal Gazette laments the Cons' continued climate change obstruction.

- PressProgress offers ten reasons to be worried about the Cons' disregard for privacy. Colin Horgan recognizes that while the Cons' arguments against an effective census were nonsensical in that context, they would represent a strong case against the accountability-free sharing of personal information which the Cons now want to ram into law. And Michael Harris discusses how fits into Harper's Genghis Khan-like view of power.

- Frances Russell writes about Canada's descent from being internationally admired for its model democratic system, to serving as a cautionary tale.

- Finally, Seth Klein points out how modest tax increases on the wealthy could fully fund needed improvements to B.C.'s education system. But naturally, the Clark Libs are fully focused on attacking the province's teachers instead.

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