Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Jack Peat argues for trickle-up economics to ensure that everybody shares in our common resources (while also encouraging economic development):
Good capitalism is the ability to promote incentives and opportunity in equal measure. Sway too far one way and the potential of human capital is stifled, sway too far in the other direction and the willingness to realise this potential also goes amiss. Of late, bad capitalism has manifested itself in incentives over opportunities, and has become a parasitic drag on our economic growth as a result.

A recent IMF study has caused quite a stir in the western world, finding inequality can sabotage a market economy and can be a hindrance on economic growth. The findings point to the fact that, particularly in the US, things like food stamps, universal health care and perhaps a few other basic human rights might actually be a good idea. Not that we can now all go home feeling a little better about ourselves at night, but it actually makes economic sense.
The IMF and S&P reports present politicians with a chance to act on inequality based on prudent economic factors. Rather than place spikes on doorsteps to prevent the homeless from getting shelter or squandering millions of pounds on water cannons to prevent the next London riots we could consider the impact trickle up economics could have on everyone, rather than the few. If “income distribution is robustly associated with higher and more durable growth”, why not consider passing a bit of wealth through the poor fellow’s hands?  Trickle up will benefit us all.
- Iglika Ivanova discusses how the B.C. Libs are using their own reckless tax slashing along with false spin about "affordability" as an excuse to needlessly attack health care and education:
The provincial government’s decision to underfund health care and education has nothing to do with affordability as defined by our ability to pay...
To sum it up: our ability to pay for education, and other much-needed public services, depends on two things: the size of our economy and our tax rates.

Our economy is not booming, but the BC budget projects it to grow by 19% over the next 5 years. This is before adjusting for inflation, but so is the BC government’s estimate that teachers’ demands for wages, class size and composition funding would add up to 14.5% over five years. Future economic growth would easily cover those.

Is it reasonable to expect that economic growth will translate into improvements in education? I’d say so.
The thing to keep in mind is that governments choose how much revenue they have available to spend on programs by setting tax rates. Saying there’s no money in the budget for education improvements doesn’t mean we can’t afford it. It just means we can’t fund them with our current taxes.
- Barbara Yaffe writes that the Clark Liberals have given British Columbians nothing but reason to doubt that their province's environment is safe from industrial disasters. Michael Smyth discusses the history of deregulation that led to the Mount Polley tailings pond failure - and figures to lead to far more tragedies to come. And Michal Rozworski examines the broader policy issues surrounding Mount Polley.

- Meanwhile, Marc Jaccard explains why a moratorium on new tar sands development makes a world of sense if we have any interest in combating climate change. (Spoiler alert: the Harper Cons have no interest in combating climate change.) And in an example of the hidden effects of underregulation, Matthew Yglesias points out the connection between lead contamination and all kinds of social problems.

- Finally, Gareth Kirkby writes that we should expect charities to fight back against the Cons' abuses of power rather than allowing themselves to be silenced. And Dean Beeby reports that foreign aid charities in particular are starting to do just that.

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