Friday, August 08, 2014

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Jenna Smialiek reports on Gabriel Zucman's conclusion that the .1% has managed to prevent the rest of us from even approaching reasonable estimates as to how much wealth is being hoarded at the top. And Bryce Covert discusses how that carefully-cultivated lack of knowledge figures to distort policy debates.

- Meanwhile, Emily Schwartz Greco and William Collins note that even slight positive news for most of the population - such as modest employment growth in the U.S. - is being treated as a catastrophe by Wall Street since it could result in wealth being shared:
For the first time since 1997, the U.S. economy just added at least 200,000 jobs per month for six months running. GDP grew at a 4 percent annual clip between April and June. The percentage of Americans who describe the economy as “good” has climbed to the highest level of President Barack Obama’s presidency.

Who wouldn’t rejoice over these happy milestones on the bumpy road to a real recovery?

Wall Street. On July 31, within hours of the release of a bunch of sunny indicators, stocks sank more than they had on any day since early February. The decline wiped out all gains the S&P 500 stock index had racked up over the month.

Global instability contributed to the sharp drop, but so did investors’ fretting over indications that workers are finally getting higher wages and more benefits.
(W)hy exactly does Wall Street tank on news portending economic gains for most Americans? Don’t people with extra money in their pockets boost the economy when they spend more freely? Isn’t it something worth celebrating?

Not in an economy that caters to the rich.
- Peter Moskowitz offers a useful primer on tailings ponds, while Bob Weber reports on the Harper Cons' continued refusal to allow anybody to assess the dangers posed by the ones set up by tar sands operators. Barbara Yaffe chimes in on the lack of reason for confidence in environmental regulation at every level of government. And David Atkins recognizes that we're up against "Mordoresque" forces looking to keep dirty energy business booming at whatever cost necessary to the environment and the rest of humanity.

- Devon Black writes that the Cons are looking to censor opposing voices through any means available - including by imposing gratuitous audits on charities who dare to take up social causes.

- But Rick Salutin theorizes that the Con's focus on breaking systems and organizations which reflect Canadian values hints at their recognition that they'll never actually win if those values serve as the basis for public policy:
I wonder obsessively myself about Stephen Harper's efforts to reshape the Canadian character. I think he thought it was all due to media influence, but he's won that battle. He was endorsed by every paper in the country except the Star last election. Yet attitudes persist. He can still legislate massive changes, and does, but has he despaired of deeper, attitudinal change?

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